Presidents

James K. Polk appears doomed to remain one of our least appreciated presidents, despite Robert W. Merry’s valiant attempt to drag him from the shadows in A Country of Vast Designs. Read more >>

A diminutive, persuasive Virginian hijacked the Constitutional Convention and forced the moderates to accept a national government with vastly expanded powers

On May 5, 1787, James Madison arrived in Philadelphia. Read more >>

For all his previous successes, President Herbert Hoover proved incapable of arresting the economic free fall of the Depression— or soothing the fears of a distressed nation

On March 4, 1929, Herbert Hoover took the oath of office as the thirty-first president of the United States. America, its new leader told the rain-soaked crowd of 50,0000 around the Capitol and countless more listening to the radio, was “filled with millions of happy homes; blessed with comfort and opportunity.” Read more >>

What would Martin Luther King Jr.—had he been alive today—thought of our latest president’s oratory?

Standing in the cold with 2 million others near the Capitol as Barack Obama delivered his inaugural address, I couldn’t help but recall another crowded day 45 years earlier, when I heard Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” oration at the other end of the National Mall, in Read more >>

What a skeptical biographer discovered about a very elusive subject

Dick’s Last Trick

Watergate dominated the news in April, as it had for more than a year. Each day seemed to bring new evidence of malfeasance by President Richard Nixon and his staff, and in a nation unaccustomed to having a criminal in the White House, the revelations were taken quite seriously. As the House Judiciary Committee took up the question of impeachment, Nixon knew his time to wriggle out of the mess was running short. In the football metaphors that he loved so much, the President was trailing by two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter. So, like any coach in such a predicament, he called for an onside kick. Read more >>

AN OHIO UNDERTAKER’S LIFELONG obsession has left a mysterious outdoor gallery of American folk art

They’ve all had things to say about their fellow Executives. Once in a great while one was even flattering.

John Adams said Thomas Jefferson’s mind was “eaten to a honeycomb with ambition, yet weak, confused, uninformed, and ignorant.” Ulysses S. Read more >>

For a good part of his life, the governor of New York has used history as a guide—and a solace

Those who see Gov. Mario Cuomo of New York for the first time are likely to be surprised. Read more >>

A low comedy for high stakes:

To what extent did greatness inhere in the man, and to what degree was it a product of the situation?

Seldom has an eminent man been more conscious of his place in history than was Franklin D. Roosevelt. He regarded history as an imposing drama and himself as a conspicuous actor. Read more >>

All that the Adamses saw they were schooled to put down and save. The result is a collection of historical records beyond price and without peer.

Without doubt they were Washington, who walked carefully within the Constitution, and Lincoln, who stretched it as far as he dared

Discreet helpers have worked on the speeches and papers of many Presidents, but a nation in a time of trial will respond best “to the Great Man himself, standing alone”

No matter how busy he was, Theodore Roosevelt always found time for his children. The charming “picture” letters below, addressed to his thirteen-year-old son Archie from a Louisiana hunting camp, recall a man who for millions of Americans will always live on, forever vigorous, forever young.

Tenesas Bayou, Oct. 10, 1907. Blessed Archie: I just loved your letter. I was so glad to hear from you. I was afraid you would have trouble with your Latin. What a funny little fellow Opdyke must be; I am glad you like him. How do you get on at football? We have found no bear. I shot a deer; I sent a picture of it to Kermit. Read more >>