;

presidential history


  • 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. 



  • What Good Is Impeachment, Anyway?

    by Lindsay M. Chervinsky

    The Constitution sets forth an expectation that Congress will check the power of the executive, through impeachment if necessary. The fact that it has failed to do so in th past doesn't excuse inaction in the present. 



  • The Difference Between a Great President and a Terrible One is Empathy

    by Lindsay Chervinsky

    "As President Trump begins his post-presidential life, Americans will start to reckon with his legacy. They need look no farther than his callous indifference to human life — his response to the crisis marks the ultimate failure of presidential leadership."


  • How Biden used the VP Springboard to Vault into the Oval Office

    by Joel K. Goldstein

    Joe Biden's leap from VP to POTUS is a rarity. Vice presidents are often contenders, but seldom successful. Circumstance helped Biden break the mold, but so did learning on the job as second-in-command to become a more credible candidate for the top job. 


  • Biden's Inaugural and the Return of History

    by Paul J. Welch Behringer

    Joseph Biden's inaugural address signals a willingness to return to learning from history that may encourage the empathy and humilty elected officials need to solve the nation's problems. 


  • George Washington Resisted the Siren Call of Absolute Power

    by Jan-Benedict Steenkamp

    George Washington is celebrated for his refusal to continue past two terms as President. But his earlier actions in refusing the leadership of a military coup against the Continental Congress in 1783 put the new nation on track to have civilian leadership under law. 


  • Kamala Harris and the Modern Vice Presidency

    by Richard Moe

    Kamala Harris seems poised to exert influence over policy and legislation as vice president. In this sense, she will carry forward the evolution of the office, according to a former vice presidential chief of staff who contributed to the development of the "modern vice presidency." 



  • The Lessons of the Nixon Pardon

    Isaac Chotiner interviews Rick Perlstein on the nature of presidential misconduct and accountability. 



  • The Worst President in History

    by Tim Naftali

    Previously condemned presidents have failed in some aspect of their oaths of office, whether by abusing power, failing to confront national crises, or putting self-interest over the nation. Trump has done all of this, argues the first director of the Nixon Library.