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presidential history


  • America's First Peaceful (Just Barely!) Transfer of Power

    by Akhil Reed Amar

    While the selection of Thomas Jefferson as the third president in 1801 (after an electoral college deadlock) is touted as a crucial peaceful transfer of presidential power from one party to another, the transition was far more fraught with peril than most realize. 



  • Are We Entering a New Political Era?

    A group of younger progressive activists is seeking to push the Democratic Party to see a new political alignment where active government and public programs are no longer considered impossible. Some members of the group of historians and scholars who met with President Biden in March also relayed that message.



  • Fritz Mondale and Decency

    by Kai Bird

    Jimmy Carter thought the vice presidency was "a wasted national asset." He gave Walter Mondale the charge and the freedom to redefine the role. 



  • 100 Days is a Ridiculous Way to Judge a Presidency

    by Lindsay M. Chervinsky

    FDR's 100 Days was a historical aberration; not least because of the lack of partisan opposition that is delaying the seating of Joe Biden's cabinet and the staffing of his administration. 



  • Walter Mondale Remade the Vice Presidency

    by Stuart E. Eizenstat

    "Walter Mondale created the modern vice presidency out of a position that was an afterthought at the Constitutional Convention. Mondale was a great public servant and a decent man, and his death comes at a time when his progressive politics have gotten a second breath in the Democratic Party."


  • Political Precedent for the Trump Cult of Personality

    by Donne Levy

    Their differences in character and personality should not obscure similarities between Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. Both men's ability to flout the truth and survive serious scandals, plus their dalliances with white racism, make their political careers resemble cults of personality.



  • Lindsay Chervinsky's Five Best Books on Presidential Cabinets

    The author of an acclaimed book about George Washington's creation of the cabinet recommends five books about presidential cabinets, including those of Lincoln, Eisenhower and JFK, the unofficial team of African American advisors to FDR, and the consequential relationship between George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. 


  • Is History Ready to Judge the Trump Presidency?

    by Samuel (Shenger) Zhou

    Understandings of presidential success and failure might have to be revised for Donald Trump; while Trump failed to win reelection, his media tactics will allow him, unlike the previous Republican president George W. Bush, to retain control of his party and remain a national force even out of office. Is this the future of the presidency?



  • From Washington to Trump: What Is Dereliction of Duty?

    by Lindsay Chervinsky

    Public ideas of the presidential duty to defend the nation against foreign and domestic enemies have evolved over two centuries; if Donald Trump had been president in 1793, his response to a pandemic wouldn't have cost him reelection.   


  • Photography Always Needed the Presidents

    by Cara Finnegan

    In the 1840s, the new technology of photography staked its place in the culture as an authoritative, reliable recording of events through the creation of images of the presidents or, in the case of George Washington, pictures of pictures of the presidents. 



  • How George Washington Didn’t Lead

    Historians Lindsay Chervinsky, Noemie Emery, David Head and Craig Bruce Smith offer reflections in a virtual forum on the first president's leadership.


  • Advice to POTUS 46 from POTUS 1

    by David O. Stewart

    The author of a recent political biography of George Washington wonders how the first president would guide the most recent one.