presidential history

  • The Unlikely Success of James Garfield in an Age of Division

    by C.W. Goodyear

    In a bitterly divided and restive political climate, James Garfield was too old, too esconced in the Washington establishment, and too conciliatory to be a credible candidate or a successful President. But he did ultimately change politics, though he didn't live to see it. 

  • Should Jimmy Carter's Coming Departure Change How We Memorialize Presidents?

    by Lindsay M. Chervinsky

    "When does respect and gratitude transfer from the office to the person—and when does that become inappropriate in a republic?" A presidential historian argues for emphasizing Carter's service while a private citizen as a way of emphasizing that the president is a first-among-equals citizen. 

  • Thomas Jefferson Would be Following the Met Gala

    by Camille Davis

    Finely attuned to the symbolic politics of fashion as the president of a young, republican nation, Thomas Jefferson probably had more in common with Karl Lagerfeld than you think. 

  • The Carter Presidency Wasn't How we Remember It

    by Kai Bird

    While he was pessimistic about the moral quality of politics, a biographer says that the 39th president was capable of ruthless pragmatism that helped him achieve more than he is credited for, though it cost him reelection. 

  • How the Baton is Passed (Review)

    by Lindsay M. Chervinsky

    David Marchick has headed the Partnership for Public Service's Center for Presidential Transition; he is the author of a new book that presents his practical knowledge of what is needed for the transfer of power to run smoothly between one administration and the next. 

  • Steve Knott: Coming to Terms with "Camelot"

    by Tom Nichols

    Tom Nichols interviews presidential historian Steve Knott, who discusses how the JFK legacy has shifted with political trends and how the JFK Library has sometimes put politics over history. 

  • How Long Until We Hear "Madam President"?

    by Lindsay M. Chervinsky

    In the early republic, the perception of ambition was a negative for a political candidate, especially for president. That norm mostly survives today in its application to women candidates. 

  • The Reputation of Presidents Takes a Hit in Their Second Term

    by Ronald L. Feinman

    The 2024 presidential campaign is fast approaching, with speculation rampant about whether Biden should seek a second term. Although his political fortunes have improved recently, the record of second-term presidents might give him pause. 

  • President as Change Agent: Breakers vs. Builders

    by Michael A. Genovese

    While Joe Biden has recently enjoyed policy successes that point toward a revival of the Democrats' political fortunes, his brand of change is handicapped by a lack of excitement. Will Americans ultimately choose a "disruptor" over an incrementalist?