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  • Originally published 06/25/2013

    Gary Gallagher joins UVa Miller Center, will lead lecture series on presidency

    Leading Civil War historian and University of Virginia professor Gary W. Gallagher has joined U.Va.’s Miller Center as a senior faculty associate. Gallagher has written and edited more than 30 books on the Civil War.Gallagher will supervise the Center’s Historical Presidency lecture series, a new initiative that will offer perspective on how presidential leadership has evolved over time. The theme for the 2013-14 academic year will be “The American Presidency and the Crises of the Nineteenth Century.” Speakers will focus on moments of national crisis that provide good vantage points from which to perceive the strength and weaknesses of leaders and political institutions.“Gary Gallagher is one of the nation’s pre-eminent scholars of the Civil War and the nineteenth century,” said William I. Hitchcock, the Miller Center’s director of research and scholarship. “In fact he is a national treasure, and known to thousands of U.Va. students for his thrilling lectures on the Civil War era. We are extremely fortunate to have him join our ranks, and to take up the leadership of this exciting presidential lecture series.”

  • Originally published 05/07/2013

    Al Kamen: A Step Back on Cabinet Diversity

    Al Kamen writes for the Washington Post.Important segments of President Obama’s base have been hammering him for not appointing enough Latinos and African Americans — and no gays — to his second-term Cabinet.Thirty-two years ago, when Ronald Reagan’s first-term team was coming together, the Cabinet included one woman, U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, and one African American, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Samuel Pierce.But the number of women and minorities increased later in Reagan’s term, and he named the first Hispanic Cabinet member.Quick Loop Quiz! Who was that person?Ah, you guessed it: Education Secretary Lauro Cavazos....

  • Originally published 03/21/2013

    Hacker releases paintings by GWB

    Guccifer, the notorious hacker who shared George W. Bush’s magnificent nude portraits with the rest of the world, is at it again, having released six more paintings in Bush’s seemingly expanding collection. Since images of the paintings first surfaced, the nation has learned that the former president is also an accomplished dog painter, having painted more than 50 dogs....

  • Originally published 01/23/2013

    In Defense of Transactional Presidents

    Five presidents: Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter. Taken in 1991.Many people assume that leaders with transformational objectives and an inspirational style are better or more ethical than leaders with more modest objectives and a transactional style. We tend to think of Woodrow Wilson, John F. Kennedy or Ronald Reagan as more impressive than Dwight Eisenhower or George H. W. Bush. Leadership theorists often dismiss transactional leaders as mere “managers.” But that is a mistake.

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Robert O. Self: Have We Reached a Political Realignment Yet?

    Robert O. Self is a professor of history at Brown and the author, most recently, of “All in the Family: The Realignment of American Democracy Since the 1960s.”BARACK OBAMA has arrived at a historical moment enjoyed by only one other Democratic president since Franklin D. Roosevelt: he gets to deliver a second Inaugural Address.The second inaugurals we remember bear witness to political realignment. The words of Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, in particular, testify to the closing of one era and the opening of another. In 1936 and 1984, Roosevelt and Reagan each won big. Their triumphs consolidated political transformations that had been building for some time and allowed their respective parties to reset the nation’s political center of gravity.Without the benefit of historical distance, how do we judge whether we are in the midst of such a realignment? Are the country’s deepest political instincts undergoing fundamental change? Coming up with an answer is not easy....

  • Originally published 01/18/2013

    Jonathan Zimmerman: Americans Want a Good Inauguration Show -- Corporate Funding or Not

    Jonathan Zimmerman is a professor of history and education at New York University and is currently teaching a three-week course at NYU’s campus in Abu Dhabi. He is the author of “Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory” (Yale University Press).On March 4, 1801, Thomas Jefferson walked from a nearby boardinghouse to the Capitol to be inaugurated as the third president of the United States. His two predecessors, George Washington and John Adams, had arrived at their own inaugurations by stagecoach, clad in elegant suits.But Jefferson went on foot, wearing the clothes “of a plain citizen without any distinctive badge of office,” as a Virginia newspaper reported. Jefferson swore his presidential oath, gave a brief speech, and then walked back to have dinner with his fellow boarders.

  • Originally published 01/18/2013

    A Brief History of Presidential Inaugurations

    HNN Hot Topics: Presidential Inaugurations President Kennedy giving his inaugural address. Credit: JFK Library.Worth ReadingHNN Hot Topics: Presidential InaugurationsHighlights of Past InauguralsNixon Pigeon-Proofed His Inaugural Parade RouteBackground

  • Originally published 10/12/2011

    Welcome Home, General Grant

    Ulysses S. Grant as president. Credit: Wiki Commons.IThis year of 2011, marking the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, gives us an opportunity to see the difference between history as fact and history as perception.No better example of this exists than the life of Ulysses S. Grant.  He died in 1885; to the end of the nineteenth century, there was one Ulysses S. Grant, based on fact and seen in that light.  During almost all of the twentieth century, he was the subject of various forms of "revisionism."  In recent years he is being restored to his rightful place in our history.

  • Originally published 01/28/2009

    HNN Hot Topics: Presidential Inaugurations

    IndexGeneralBarack Obama's 2009 InaugurationGeorge W. Bush's 2005 InaugurationGeneral Highlights of Past Inaugurals Rick Shenkman: Nixon Pigeon-Proofed His Inaugural Parade Route Why Do Presidential Inaugurals Often Sound So Much Alike? Library of Congress:"I do solemnly swear" NYT Video: Inaugurations in times of peril Food served at inaugurals ... delicious sometimes Jill Lepore: Have inaugural addresses been getting worse?