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presidential history


  • Ranking Donald Trump: No Cause for National Happiness

    by James M. Banner, Jr.

    He’s accomplished what no other president has been able to achieve since the first presidential ranking in 1948.  He’s managed to raise James Buchanan, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, and Warren Harding off the floor.  The sad thing is that this is no achievement we can cheer.



  • A History Of October Surprises (audio)

    Although Trump's COVID diagnosis was, perhaps, unexpected, October Surprises have historically involved presidents announcing policy initiatives to improve their reelection prospects. Presidential historians Tim Naftali and Tim Walch discuss.



  • Politics, not Public Good, Will Guide what We Know about Trump’s Health

    by William I. Hitchcock

    "Should a president choose to hide crucial health details from the public, as Trump and his doctors have done, citizens have little recourse. All they can do is draw their own conclusions about the trustworthiness of the president."



  • A Brief History of the Taxpayer in Chief

    by Margaret O'Mara

    The revelation, at the height of the Watergate investigation, that Richard Nixon had abused deductions to avoid nearly all of his tax obligations initiated modern interest in presidential candidates' tax returns. 



  • On the Peaceful Transfer of Power: Lessons from 1800

    by Sara Georgini

    Adams lost the presidency amid violent factionalism, a seething press, rampant electioneering, and the eruption of party politics, yet became a champion for the peaceful transfer of power. 


  • Debates Are Unpredictable

    by Ron Faucheux

    In a close election, a debate can matter, and debates are lost more than they are won. Some examples from the television era of campaigning should give viewers a sense of how to judge Biden and Trump on Tuesday night. 


  • Dirty Politics, Then and Now

    by George Herring

    Political mudslinging by presidential surrogates is nothing new. But Trump digs in personally to his social media smears in a way that is unprecedented and degrading to the office and the nation.



  • How Do We Fix the American Presidency?

    Kevin Kruse and Julian Zelizer, along with political scientists William Howell and Terry M. Moe, offer context for growing concerns about the power of the Presidency.