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Great Presidents

Part I

Professor Allan J. Lichtman

THE TEACHING COMPANY

Allan J. Lichtman, Ph.D.


Professor of History, American University
Allan J. Lichtman received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and is a professor and Chair of the Department of
History at American University in Washington, D.C. He is the author or coauthor of six books, including Prejudice
and the Old Politics: The Presidential Election of 1928, Historians and the Living Past, and The Thirteen Keys to
the Presidency. He is editor of the book series Studies in Modern American History, published by Lexington Books.
Professor Lichtmans forthcoming book is entitled The Keys to the White House, 2000. The Keys system
predicted well ahead of time the outcome of every presidential election from 1984 to 1996. Dr. Lichtman has
provided commentary for CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, CNBC, C-SPAN, Worldnet, Voice of America,
the BBC, and many other networks worldwide. He worked with Dan Rather as a CBS news consultant during the
impeachment and trial of Bill Clinton.
Dr. Lichtman has published more than 100 scholarly and popular articles that have appeared in such journals and
newspapers as the American Historical Review, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, New Republic,
Washington Monthly, New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and Los Angeles Times. He
lectures frequently on politics and public affairs and is often cited by the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France
Presse, and other news services. He currently writes a biweekly column for the Montgomery Gazette and a
presidential election year column for Reuters.
Dr. Lichtman has been a Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the California Institute of
Technology. He has been an expert witness in more than sixty federal voting rights and redistricting cases. He
received the 199293 Scholar/Teacher award at American University. His biography is published in Whos Who in
America and Whos Who in the World.

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Table of Contents
Great Presidents
Part I
Professor Biography............................................................................................i
Course Scope.......................................................................................................1
Lecture One
The American Presidency..........................................2
Lecture Two
George Washington: The Rise of a Patriot ................5
Lecture Three
George Washington: American Liberator..................8
Lecture Four
George Washington: The First President.................10
Lecture Five
George Washington: American Icon .......................12
Lecture Six
Thomas Jefferson: The Pen of Freedom ..................14
Lecture Seven
Thomas Jefferson: Party Leader ..............................17
Lecture Eight
Thomas Jefferson: Expansionist President ..............20
Lecture Nine
Thomas Jefferson: The Agonies of a
Second Term............................................................23
Lecture Ten
Andrew Jackson: Hero of the New Republic ..........26
Lecture Eleven
Andrew Jackson: The Conqueror Returns...............29
Lecture Twelve
Andrew Jackson: The Warrior President.................32
Timeline .............................................................................................................35
Bibliography......................................................................................................45

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Great Presidents
Scope:
The founders of the American Republic, in one of their most audacious decisions, created a strong and independent
president who commanded the armed forces and led the executive branch of government. Through this act of
geniusthe world had never seen an office quite like the American presidencythe founders put in place the rock
of the Republic. Americas great presidents secured the stability of the nation and the peaceful transition of political
power. Each one of the twelve leaders explored in this course led the nation through a pivotal era of its history, and
advanced the power and authority of the presidential office.
These presidents, from George Washington to Ronald Reagan, led the nation through its founding years, its
expansion to the west, and its transformation into an industrial society. They dealt with Americas struggle over
slavery, the civil war, two world wars, the Great Depression, the revolution in civil and womens rights, and the
Cold War. Through them we learn how America responded to an increasingly complex and diverse society and met
the crises of war, economic collapse, and social upheaval.
We consider the personal histories, character, and values of each president. We trace their responses to Americas
various and historically changing peoples, and their transformation of the presidency itself. We see how presidential
decisions shaped American and world history and we explore inside stories of the modern worlds most powerful
office. How did early presidents reconcile their slave holding with their support for democracy and liberty? How did
Thomas Jefferson, the champion of limited government, magnify presidential powers? Why did Abraham Lincoln
believe that he could not be reelected in 1864? In what ways did accidental president Harry Truman transform
Americas role in the world? How did master politician Lyndon Johnson blunder into the Vietnam War? Why did
Ronald Reagan abandon the Christian conservatives who fought for his election as president?
The study of Americas great presidents shows that there is no single pathway to political power and historical
consequence in the United States. The backgrounds of great presidents range from the privileged heritage of George
Washington, the Roosevelts, and John Kennedy to the humble origins of Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and
Harry Truman. Some, like Washington and Jefferson, achieved early prominence. Others, like James Polk, Lincoln,
and Truman, were unlikely presidents who rose to the challenges of their times. The few qualities that do seem to
unite the great presidents are an unsinkable ambition, a synchrony with the American people, and a strong inner
core of guiding values and principles.

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Lecture One
The American Presidency
Scope: This lecture first reviews the selection of twelve great American presidents who led the nation through
crises of war, depression, and social upheaval. In the course of these lectures, we will consider both the
personal and public lives of these leaders and explore inside stories of their presidencies to show how they
shaped both the office of the presidency and the history of the United States. We also explore the origins,
powers, and significance of the presidency itself.

Outline
I.

The American presidency was the first leadership office in the modern Western world to be consciously created
as a constitutional position, based on the consent of the governed and independent of the prerogatives of
lineage and conquest.
A. The creation of a strong, independent, and unitary executive was one of the most audacious reforms of the
Constitutional Convention of 1787.
B. Throughout American history, the presidency has become the focal point of American government.
C. The presidency has combined the roles of head of state and head of government, assured the peaceful
transition of power, and responded to the challenges of continental expansion, economic development, civil
war, racial conflict, demographic change, economic depressions, world wars, and the perils of the atomic
age.

II. The most successful American presidents have been those who reshaped the politics of their times.
A. Although the formal constitutional authority of the president has changed only modestly since 1787,
presidential practice, congressional legislation, and judicial interpretations have altered the powers and role
of the presidency.
B. Presidential powers have grown, but at the same time, new restrictions and limitations have developed on
the exercise of those powers. Thus, the presidency remains an evolving institution.
III. This course takes a case study approach to the American presidency.
A. It examines the lives, leadership, and impact of twelve great American presidents.
1. Although judgements of presidential greatness are value dependent, these are all significant presidents
who presided over pivotal years of American history and shaped the future of the United States.
2. The presidents will be studied in chronological order with an emphasis on how they viewed their
office, the goals they sought to pursue, their triumphs and disappointments, and their role in the history
of the United States.
B. The lectures will also consider how the personalities, political values, and personal histories of these men
contributed to their conduct as president.
IV. Delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 consciously shaped the presidency as a unique leadership
position.
A. The powers of the president were based on the Constitution and the people rather than on lineage or
conquest.
1. European leaders had usually attained their positions through birthright or through military action.
2. After George Washington rejected suggestions that he become an American monarch, leadership came
to rest on the sovereignty of the people and on authority granted under a formal system of government.
3. However, the first American government under the Articles of Confederation lacked executive
authority, which contributed to difficulties in conducting foreign affairs, protecting the nation from
external enemies, collecting taxes, and resolving disputes among the states.
4. Delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were practical men who recognized the need for a
strong, independent executive, but they also feared the prospect of executive tyranny.
B. The framers of the Constitution created a strong, independent executive.

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1.

There would be a unitary executive, who had authority independent of Congress and was free to
exercise power without having to consult a council of advisors.
2. The president would not be elected directly by the people, but indirectly through an Electoral College,
for a four-year term, with no limits on reelection.
C. The president was granted both broad executive authority and specifically enumerated powers.
1. Broad grants of power included vesting the president with the Executive Power of the United States,
making him commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and mandating that the president take care
that the laws be faithfully executed.
2. More specific powers include the authority to veto congressional legislation, to appoint judges and
other unelected federal officials, pardon criminals, and make recommendations to Congress.
D. The president was part of a system of checks and balances built into the Constitution.
1. The president could be removed from office for serious abuse of power if impeached by a majority of
the House of Representatives and convicted by two-thirds of the Senate.
2. Senate approval was required for treaties and certain presidential appointments.
3. Congress could override a presidential veto by a two-thirds vote of both Houses.
4. Congress had the power to declare war and provide rules for the regulation of the armed forces.
5. Congress had authority to investigate actions of the executive branch.
6. The judiciary could review actions of the president and of the departments of government.
V. The powers of the president have expanded over time, but so too have limitations on the use of that power.
A. The presidency has become increasingly powerful during the course of American history.
1. Presidents and the courts have interpreted expansively the general grants of power provided for in the
Constitution, especially in foreign affairs.
2. Extra-constitutional powers of the president have expanded, as the president has become a party
leader, a molder of public opinion, and a guardian of the public interest.
3. The presidency has gained power as a result of the increasing involvement of the United States in
world affairs and the rise of the nation as the worlds supreme military power.
4. The president has come to appoint a vast White House staff, without confirmation by Congress, which
wields great power in foreign and domestic affairs.
5. The president has come to exercise great authority through the use of executive agreements.
B. Increasing restrictions on the exercise of presidential power have developed over time.
1. The rise of a party system created a base of party power in the Congress as a counterweight to the
presidency.
2. The Supreme Court developed the authority to become the final word (short of a constitutional
amendment) on the constitutionality of both acts of Congress and presidential decisions.
3. Interest groups have generally become more influential over time, exercising a powerful restraint on
presidential action.
4. The increasing scope and complexity of the federal government, modern society, and the world arena
serves as a brake on presidential initiative.
5. Presidential control over party politics and party members in Congress has weakened in recent years.
Presidential appeals to the public are unreliable as a source of stable power.
C. The American presidency remains an evolving institution.
1. It is no longer tenable, in the light of recent scholarship, to assert that the modern presidency is, on
balance, stronger and more significant than the presidency in the early days of the Republic.
2. Different patterns of strength and weaknesses characterize the presidency at different historical
moments.
3. The hallmark of presidential leadership is great presidential vision combined with the practical ability
to get things done.
Suggested Reading:
Milkis, Sidney M., and Nelson Michael. The American Presidency: Origins and Development, 17761998.
Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 1999.

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Skowronek, Stephen. The Politics Presidents Make: Leadership from John Adams to Bill Clinton. Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1997.
Pious, Richard M. The American Presidency. New York: Basic Books, 1979.
Questions to Consider:
1. What accounts for both the powers of the presidency and the limitations on those powers in the Constitution
itself?
2. Why has the presidency become the critical component of American government?
3. Is the presidency stronger or weaker today than in the era of the early Republic?
4. What are the main sources of presidential power external to the Constitution?

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Lecture Two
George Washington: The Rise of a Patriot
Scope: Although Washington molded his public image as carefully as any modern spin doctor, his thirst for public
approval never degenerated into a vanity that is satisfied by empty celebrity. He was a man of genuine
character and virtue, qualities that were often hard to find in subsequent leaders. He sought acclaim
through accomplishment, courage, and service. His life spanned some of the most turbulent times in
American history: the French and Indian Wars, the American Revolution, and the founding of the new
Republic. His education was self-made. His professional career began at age seventeen. He served in the
French and Indian Wars and transformed himself from military man to successful politician. After years of
service in the Virginia legislature, he began speaking out against British violations of American liberty. He
won election to the Continental Congressthe first American government. Members of the second
Congress unanimously elected him commander of the Continental Army.

Outline
I.

George Washington may not have been the single greatest American president, but he was the greatest figure in
American history.
A. Washington sought fame through accomplishment, beginning with service in the military.
B. It is difficult to think of anyone else leading the American army through the perils of the Revolution,
presiding over the Constitutional Convention, or pulling the fledgling Republic together as its first
president.
C. His prestige endures even after the Washington myths have been dispelled and historians have engaged in
substantial revision of the history of his times.

II. Washington was born in rural Virginia, an epicenter, along with Boston, of the American Revolution and the
birthplace of four of the first five presidents.
A. Washington was born in 1732 at the family home in Westmoreland County, Virginia.
1. Washington acquired the country skills of riding, shooting, and woodsmanship that served him well in
his later career.
2. His father died when he was eleven.
3. Unlike other early presidents, he did not go to college but studied at home. Still, Washington was
adept in mathematics and mastered the skills of a surveyor.
4. He sought to learn not only basic academic skills but also the values required to lead a virtuous life. He
copied rules of civility and decent behavior from a popular book of his time.
5. His mother, worried about finances, refused to send him to school in England, a benefit that his halfbrothers had enjoyed. There began a strained relationship between Washington and his mother that
would last until her death early in his presidency.
B. George Washington, like the other Virginia presidentsThomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James
Monroewas born into a slave-owning family.
1. Washington would himself come to own hundreds of slaves, whom he did not free until after his death.
2. He privately spoke of his opposition to slavery, especially after the Revolutionary War, but accepted
the supremacy of whites over blacks and never publicly addressed the issue of slavery.
3. He initially opposed having black people serve in the military; he later relented, and many blacks
served during the war.
C. Washington had an early career as a surveyor in the Virginia backcountry.
1. He was appointed to his first public office as surveyor of Culpeper County, Virginia, at age seventeen.
2. He used his positions and his knowledge of the land throughout his life to accumulate enough land to
become one of the wealthiest men of his time, although he would struggle with personal debt.
III. Washington matured as a soldier and a man during his early military service.
A. Washington was appointed major in the Virginia militia and would later be propelled into the violence of
the French and Indian Wars.

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1.

His first mission, a difficult reconnaissance trip into French and Indian Territory in the Ohio Valley
during 1753, earned him widespread acclaim and promotion to lieutenant colonel.
2. In 1754, he was forced to surrender Fort Necessity in Pennsylvania. He resigned his commission,
partly as a result of this defeat and the disillusionment resulting from the advantages enjoyed by
British officers over their colonial counterparts, even when the colonials were more able and
experienced than the British.
3. Later, he volunteered to join General Edward Braddock and, by 1758, his men had captured their
objective at Fort Duquesne.
4. He won the admiration of his troops. However, Washington, who was sometimes vain, opinionated,
and self-promoting during these early years, also felt the sting of criticism and disrespect when he was
blasted in the press for his alleged failure to protect the frontier from Indian attacks. He was also
criticized for his many complaints to the governor over such issues as supplies for the troops.
5. He was determined to rectify his early mistakes and to build on his experience in commanding an illtrained, undermanned, and ill-supplied army; dealing with tight-fisted civilian authorities; and using
both the threat and reality of punishment to achieve discipline and respect. He learned to develop a
cordial but distant relationship to his men.
B. After a short infatuation, Washington began to court Martha Custis.
1. Despite his attraction to Sally Fairfax, who was married to a friend, Washington married Martha
Custis, a widow and one of the wealthiest available women in Virginia at the time. Marthas wealth
appealed to the acquisitive young man.
2. Unable to have children of his own, he turned his parental instincts toward public service and toward
Marthas two children.
3. Washington would add to Marthas wealth by grabbing the lions share of the bounty land set aside for
the Virginia militiamen who had served in the French and Indian wars.
IV. Washington pursued a legislative career in the House of Burgesses and the Continental Congress.
A. Washington was elected to the Virginia colonial legislature (the House of Burgesses) in 1758 at age
twenty-six.
1. Washington and other upper-class colonial leaders were not democrats who favored open elections.
They believed that people should defer to a natural aristocracy of men of property, standing, and
morality, for whom public office was an exercise in civic virtue.
2. He achieved little distinction as a legislator, even as the conflict between Britain and the colonies
began to escalate in the mid-1760s. Then, in 1769, he began speaking out against what he believed
were British assaults on American liberties, especially through her attempts to tax the colonists, efforts
that adversely affected Washingtons own pocketbook.
3. In 1774, after the imposition of the Tea Tax, the drama of the Boston Tea Party, and the British closing
of the port of Boston, Washington became a prominent patriot when he coauthored the Fairfax County
Resolves that denied Parliaments authority over the colonies.
B. In 1774 and 1775, Washington served as a delegate in the first and second Continental Congresses in
Philadelphia.
1. At the second Congress, Washington was unanimously elected commander of the Continental Army.
2. Washington was chosen for his record as a patriot and his military experience. Northern members also
sought to secure the support of the crucial colony of Virginia for the revolutionary effort.
Suggested Reading:
Higginbotham, Don. George Washington and the American Military Tradition. Athens: University of Georgia
Press, 1985.
Hofstra, Warren R. ed. George Washington and the Virginia Backcountry. Madison: Madison House, 1998.
Randall, Willard Sterne. George Washington: A Life. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1997.
Brookhiser, Richard. Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington. New York: Free Press, 1996.

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Questions to Consider:
1. How was George Washingtons career influenced by his combination of military and political experience?
2. Why was Washington selected over better-known figures as commander-in-chief of the American army?
3. What was the significance of Washingtons ownership and use of slaves in his business life?

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Lecture Three
George Washington: American Liberator
Scope: Washington provided indispensable leadership through many of the critical moments of the Revolution and
the nations infancy. In leading the Continental Army to success against the British, he confronted the
worlds most powerful navy and a professional army aided by German mercenaries. He also dealt with the
frustrations of a tight-fisted Congress that barely kept his men minimally fed, clothed, and supplied. He
endured untrained and unreliable troops, mutinies among his officers, and conflicts among the regular
army, the state militia, and the civilian population. Yet, he kept his army intact, even in defeat, and won the
crucial victory that convinced the British to abandon the war. After the war, he became a leading supporter
of the effort to strengthen American government. He was unanimously elected the first president of the
new Republic in 1788.

Outline
I.

Washington served as revolutionary commander throughout the war, not taking a single day off for some eight
and a half years.
A. He suffered both defeats and victories, but kept his army alive until he could achieve a decisive victory.
1. Washington won a public relations victory when he forced the British to evacuate Boston after a battle
in March of 1776.
2. His army, however, suffered a crushing defeat in New York City in the summer of 1776. His narrow
escape with his army taught him that preservation of the army, not defense of place, should be the key
to his military strategy.
3. On the verge of defeat after being chased south through New Jersey, Washington executed an
audacious maneuver that probably saved the Revolution. He led his troops across the Delaware River
on Christmas Eve, defeating superior enemy forces at Trenton and Princeton, and ultimately drove the
British from New Jersey.
4. General Horatio Gatess victory at Saratoga, New York, in 1777 led to an alliance with the French the
following year.
5. Washington now realized that, for the first time, he would have the opportunity to gain superiority at
sea and augment his troops with foreign soldiers.
6. On October 19, 1781, a combined American-French force defeated the British under General
Cornwallis at Yorktown, effectively ending the war.
7. An American government was formed under the Articles of Confederation.
8. Many thousands of African Americans had fought for American independence, mainly in the lower
ranks of the military. They gained little as a result of their participation in the war.
9. Most Native Americans sided with the British during the war, fearing the threat of western expansion
to their lands and culture. Conflicts between native and white Americans would continue long after the
Revolutionary War.
B. Washington experienced some conflicts with his troops and Congress but set important precedents for the
future of the country.
1. With the war ending, Washington averted a potential coup by some of his officers, backed by
Congressmen who believed that threats from the troops could expand their own power. Washingtons
action discredited use of the military for political purposes and established the supremacy of civilian
authority.
2. Washington established the priority of national over state authority. He declared that his men served
the national government and refused to take orders from individual states.
3. Supporting Republican government, Washington rejected the suggestion that he become a limited
monarch in a mixed British-style system.
4. He retired from the military and public service without any attempt to acquire power for himselfa
most unusual act in an era when victory in battle often led to authoritarian control of government.
5. His magnanimous, if carefully orchestrated, retirement from public life resonated deeply with a public
that was suspicious of military dictatorship and admiring of selfless service.

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II. Washington became disillusioned with the Articles of Confederation and won the first presidential election.
A. Washington worried about the lack of federal power to collect taxes, hold the nation together, control
interstate commerce, conduct foreign affairs, and deal with the Indians and foreign powers on the nations
borders.
B. He was especially alarmed by the outbreak of Shays Rebellion in 1786an uprising of debtor farmers
against the authority of the government of Massachusetts.
C. Convinced that it was necessary to seek alternatives to the Articles of Confederation, Washington served as
president at the Constitutional Convention held in Philadelphia in 1787.
1. Although he did not speak at the convention, Washingtons reputation and work behind the scenes was
important for the development and passage of the Constitution.
2. Coming out of the convention, Washington was the uncontested choice to be the first president of the
nation.
3. His prestige facilitated the creation of an independent president who was both chief executive and
commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president and the vice president would neither be chosen
by Congress nor elected directly by the people, but by an Electoral College of members selected by
each state.
4. The Constitution also established the supremacy of federal law over state law and vested in the central
government control over interstate commerce, broad powers to tax, and the sole power to declare war
and issue money.
D. Washington was elected the first president under the Constitution in 1788.
1. Washington did not have to or want to campaign in 1788 and was unanimously elected by the
Electoral College. John Adams became the vice president.
2. In 1788, the members of the Electoral College were chosen by the vote of the people in some states
and by the state legislature in about an equal number of states. The electorate was restricted to white
males and, in many states, to those who met property or religious qualifications.
Suggested Reading:
Smith, Richard Norton. Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Company, 1993.
Wills, Garry. Cincinnatus: George Washington and the Enlightenment. Garden City: Doubleday & Company, 1984.
Higginbotham, Don. George Washington and the American Military Tradition. Athens: University of Georgia
Press, 1985.
Questions to Consider:
1. What were Washingtons greatest strengths as a military commander?
2. Was he truly indispensable as military commander and first president?
3. Could Washington have become a king at the end of the war if he had so chosen?
4. Why did he come to oppose the Articles of Confederation?

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Lecture Four
George Washington: The First President
Scope: As the first president of the nation created at the Constitutional Convention, Washington had to establish
precedents for relating to the public and administering the new government. His presidency succeeded
more because of whom he was than because of what he said and did. Later presidents could emulate
Washingtonpresenting themselves as above politics, disinterested in personal gain, and concerned only
with the national welfarebut no other president could be George Washington. The American nation had
but a single father. During his first term in office, President Washington and his cabinet established a new
financial system, developed a foreign policy based on noninvolvement in European affairs, and pursued the
western expansion of the nation. Washington began a protracted war against the Indians in the Northwest
Territories that established a basis for similar Indian policies by other presidents.

Outline
I.

Washington established procedures for running the federal government.


A. He set up the office of president and developed his own style for relating to the public.
1. Washingtons relations to the public were distant and formal, befitting the dignity of his office. Martha
preferred staying home and performed limited social duties as the presidents wife.
2. Although Washington traveled extensively, he made few public speeches or appearances. Throughout
his eight years in office, most Americans never saw or heard their beloved president.
3. Consistent with his federalist belief in government by respected upper-class men, Washington chose
leaders of experience, talent, and renown for his top positions. But he also sought geographic and
ideological balance.
B. Washington established important distinctions among the different branches of the federal government.
1. Washington strongly believed in the independence of each branch of the federal government. Unlike
later presidents, he did not directly intervene in legislative matters, although he occasionally made
recommendations for the consideration of Congress.
2. He established a distance between the president and the Senate in conducting foreign affairs, relying
instead on his cabinet for advice, although formal meetings would not begin until his second term.
3. He was also reluctant to use the weapon of the veto against congressional legislation. He issued his
first veto in 1792, the last full year of his first term.
4. He established the precedent that the president alone would run the executive branch of government.

II. Washington established crucial economic policies during his first term.
A. He had to finance the government and deal with the national debt.
1. The two major issues facing the new government were financial operations and debts inherited from
the Revolutionary War.
2. In both cases, Congress adopted policies proposed by Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton,
whose objectives were to strengthen the national government, bind the interests of wealthy Americans
to the government, and promote industry and commerce.
3. Based on Alexander Hamiltons policies, the government began raising money through import tariffs
and excise taxes.
4. Hamiltons plans also called for paying the debt at face value and assuming individual state debts.
5. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Hamilton fought over these policies. Jefferson agreed to go
along with Hamiltons financial proposals in return for moving the permanent capital of the United
States to the south.
6. By the mid-1790s, American bonds used to fund the debt were selling at a premium, the economy was
growing, and a flow of European capital was helping to build the new nation.
B. A constitutional debate arose between Hamilton and Jefferson over federal authority to establish a national
bank.
1. Washington supported Hamiltons plan for a national bank but not all his plans for protective tariffs
and infrastructure development.

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2.
3.
4.
5.

Hamilton and Jefferson split over the bank plan. Jefferson argued for a strict construction of the
Constitution that gave the federal government only specifically enumerated powers that did not
include the creation of a national bank.
Hamilton argued for a more expansive view of the Constitution, including implied powers that
authorized the government to enact the means needed to carry out its enumerated powers.
Washington, and ultimately the Supreme Court, supported Hamiltons view of government authority.
The debate would reverberate across the centuries as Americans continued to dispute the so-called
strict versus loose construction of the Constitution.

III. The new administration established the nation on a world scale and formulated a distinctly American approach
to foreign policy.
A. The United States, as a small nation highly dependent on foreign commerce and lacking a major military
establishment, was extremely vulnerable to the fallout of conflict among the powers of Europe.
B. Washington formulated a pragmatic foreign policy based on noninvolvement in Europes internal affairs.
C. He dealt with conflicts on Americas western borders.
1. He pushed for the expansion of the nation to the west and exploitation of the economic opportunities
of that region.
2. The British continued to occupy northwestern forts and to forge alliances with Native Americans.
3. Washingtons negotiations with Native Americans in the northwest failed. Federal military action
began, lasting into Washingtons second term.
Suggested Reading:
McDonald, Forrest. The Presidency of George Washington. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1974.
Nordham, George W. The Age of Washington: George Washingtons Presidency, 17891797. Chicago: Adams
Press, 1989.
Phelps, Glenn A. George Washington and American Constitutionalism. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas,
1993.
Questions to Consider:
1. What were the key precedents that George Washington set for future presidents?
2. Why was Washington elected president without a single dissenting Electoral College vote?
3. How did Alexander Hamiltons financial plans shape the economic future of the nation?
4. Could Washington have established peaceful relations with the Native Americans on the new republics
borders?

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11

Lecture Five
George Washington: American Icon
Scope: During Washingtons second term as President of the United States, the nations politicians splintered
along party lines. The Federalists began to coalesce around Alexander Hamilton, who advocated a strong
national government, promotion of commerce and industry, and support for Great Britain. The DemocraticRepublicans began to coalesce around Thomas Jefferson, who supported limited government, states rights,
an agrarian-based Republic, and revolutionary France. Washington was generally sympathetic to the
Federalist perspective, but like many other founding fathers, he strongly opposed parties, viewing them as
detrimental to the unity needed for the survival of Americas fragile Republic. He dealt with conflicts with
both France and England, fought against Indians on the northwestern frontier, and suppressed the Whiskey
Rebellion of 1794. Refusing to serve a third term in office, he stepped down in 1797 and died two years
later, leaving a rich legacy and a long list of accomplishments.

Outline
I.

Washington was reelected as president in 1792.


A. By the beginning of the 1790s, two political factions began to form in the first Washington administration.
1. One group, led by Alexander Hamilton, was known as the Federalists. The other group, led by Thomas
Jefferson, was known as the Democratic-Republicans or the Jeffersonians.
2. Washington seemed uniquely able to remain above the partisan conflict. He feared that partisanship
would threaten the survival of the fledgling American Republic.
B. Washington faced the question of whether he should seek a second term in office.
1. He decided to serve to dampen partisan conflict and to maintain the stability of government in the
middle of a financial panic and the uncertainty in Europe that followed the French Revolution.
2. Partisan warfare erupted in the election of a vice president. The incumbent and favored Federalist
candidate, John Adams, met strong, if unsuccessful, opposition from the Jeffersonians, who supported
New York Governor George Clinton.
3. The Jeffersonians were learning the new game of electoral politics.

II. Far more than in his first term, foreign events and internal conflict would set the rhythm of Washingtons
second four years in office.
A. He established influential principles for the conduct of foreign affairs.
1. The new French Ambassador, Citizen Edmond Genet, interfered with American domestic policy. He
commissioned privateers to prey on the British and formed organized groups called democratic
societies to drum up public opinion in favor of France.
2. Washington detested this interference in American internal affairs.
3. He recognized Genet as the ambassador of a duly constituted regime but later dismissed him. He
established a precedent that would stand until the emergence of communist nations in the twentieth
century: that nations recognized each other regardless of the rise and fall of particular governments
and leaders.
4. Faced with potential conflicts with both France and Britain, Washington issued a formal statement of
United States neutrality in 1793. He set the precedent of presidential action in foreign affairs
independent of Congress.
B. He settled disputes with foreign nations and Native Americans through treaty arrangements.
1. The British were interfering with American shipping. They boarded American ships, impressing
alleged deserters into the British navy.
2. Jays Treaty, ratified in 1795, averted war and removed the British from western forts but did little else
to protect American shipping, neutrality rights, and security concerns. For the first time, Americans
broadly questioned Washingtons leadership.
3. The House asked the president to release all documents relating to the treaty, including his instructions
to John Jay.

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Washington refused, setting a precedent for executive privilegethe privilege of the president to
engage in confidential communications with members of the executive branchand limiting the role
of the House in foreign affairs.
5. He fared better with Pinckneys treaty with Spain, ratified in 1796, which granted American ships
navigation rights on the Mississippi River, among other provisions.
6. In the Northwest Territory, Washington sought to subdue Indians who were allied with the British and
feared American expansion.
7. After General Anthony Wayne ultimately secured victory against Indians in the northwest, the Treaty
of Greenville ceded large amounts of Indian land to the United States. It set a precedent for the
acquisition of Indian lands and for the policy of removing Indians beyond the line of Americas
westward settlement.
C. Washington dealt with the issue of slavery and with insurrection on the Pennsylvania frontier.
1. The issue of slavery divided the nation north and south during the Washington administration.
2. Under pressure from southern states, Washington signed a strict Fugitive Slave Law, putting the
weight of the federal government on the side of slavery.
3. In 1794, Washington crushed the Whiskey Rebellion of farmers in western Pennsylvania who opposed
the excise tax on whiskey and what they believed to be a high-handed federal government. He showed
both foreign governments and domestic dissenters the power of the federal government and the
strength of the Union.
D. Washington chose not to run again in 1796. He believed the time had come for a peaceful transfer of
power, thus establishing a two-term tradition that endured until Franklin Roosevelt was elected to a third
term in 1940.
1. Washingtons farewell address called for national unity and independence from foreign conflicts and
warned of the danger of party conflict.
2. After Federalist John Adams defeated Thomas Jefferson in the presidential election of 1796,
Washington retired to Mount Vernon but remained prepared to serve his country once again.
3. He was asked to be commander-in-chief when war with France was expected in 1798, but war never
came.
4. He died in 1799 and was transformed into a mythical figure.
5. As president, Washington held the Republic together during its precarious early days. He established
Americas financial stability, avoided war, and opened the west to settlement. He set crucial
precedents for the future of the nation.
Suggested Reading:
Schwartz, Barry. George Washington: The Making of an American Symbol. New York: Free Press, 1987.
Smith, Richard Norton. Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Company, 1993.
Spalding, Matthew, and J. Patrick Garrity. A Sacred Union of Citizens: George Washingtons Farewell Address and
the American Character. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 1996.
Longmore, Paul K. The Invention of George Washington. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.
Questions to Consider:
1. Why was Washington unable to contain the development of competing political parties?
2. What were the major successes and failures of Washingtons second term?
3. Why did Washington confront the Whiskey Rebellion with such an overwhelming show of force?
4. Why did Washington inspire such adulation from his fellow Americans?

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Lecture Six
Thomas Jefferson: The Pen of Freedom
Scope: Today, Americans of every political persuasion find inspiration in the deeds and words of Thomas
Jefferson. Conservatives revere Jefferson as an exponent of natural rights and limited government. Yet the
architect of modern American liberalism, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, embraced Jefferson as the founder of
the Democratic Party. Modern liberals still find inspiration in Jeffersons opposition to special privilege,
his campaign against superstition and ignorance, his crusade for religious and intellectual freedom, and his
support for the common people against the wealthy interests. But Jefferson has also been criticized for
racism, anti-government bias, and violence justified in the guise of patriotism. The period of Jeffersons
wartime experience and service in the Continental Congress includes notable accomplishments: his
pioneering advocacy of religious freedom, his writing of the Declaration of Independence, and his role in
drafting the Northwest Ordinance.

Outline
I.

Thomas Jefferson was one of the most intriguing figures in American history.
A. Jefferson was responsible for two of the greatest achievements of any American, the writing of the
Declaration of Independence and the Louisiana Purchase.
B. He was perhaps the most accomplished of American presidents: a political philosopher, a naturalist, an
inventor, and an architect, as well as a statesman and diplomat.
C. His political legacy is claimed by both conservatives and liberals.
1. Conservatives revere Jeffersons opposition to taxes and big government, his backing of states rights,
his advocacy of individual freedom, and his belief in natural rights deriving from God.
2. Liberals find inspiration in Jeffersons opposition to special privilege, his campaign against
superstition and ignorance, his crusade for religious and intellectual freedom, and his support for the
common people against the wealthy interests.
D. Both his words and actions are remembered, making him a man of unresolved contradictions.
E. Some critics condemn Jefferson as an Anglo-Saxon imperialist, a slaveholder who physically and sexually
exploited his slaves, an opponent of positive government, and an advocate of violence justified in the name
of patriotism.

II. Thomas Jefferson was raised on a plantation in rural Virginia.


A. Jefferson was born in 1743 in Albemarle County, Virginia.
1. His father died when he was fourteen, and he was distant from his mother.
2. A fire destroyed the family home, including the records of his early life. Little is known of his earliest
years.
B. Like most other members of the so-called Virginia dynasty that would dominate early American politics,
Jeffersons lifestyle was sustained by slave labor.
1. Slaves would continue to be essential to the comfortableeven luxuriouslifestyle that Jefferson
would enjoy in his later life.
2. Jefferson owned some 200 slaves at his death and engaged in the buying and leasing of slaves to cover
his never-ending personal debts.
3. He worked slaves hard on his plantation, relentlessly hunted down escaping slaves, and meted out stiff
punishments to recaptured fugitives.
4. His will freed but a few slaves; most were sold to pay the debts of his estate.
C. Jefferson was a model of good education and classical training.
1. Jefferson successfully dedicated his early years to the goal of becoming an educated and sophisticated
gentleman of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, or Age of Reason.
2. There is perhaps no better example in American history of the value of a good education.
3. His success through education and hard work reinforced his belief that the ideal society should be a
meritocracy of talent and ability, not an aristocracy of birth and privilege.

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He attended the College of William and Mary and studied law with the prominent George Wythe.

III. Jefferson earned a reputation as a brilliant writer, which led to his selection to draft the Declaration of
Independence.
A. His career in politics and public service began at an early age.
1. In 1768, at age twenty-five, Jefferson was elected to Virginias colonial assembly.
2. American colonists were engaged at this time in a dispute with Great Britain centered on Britains
rights to tax the colonies.
3. In 1774, Jefferson showed himself to be an advanced thinker, even among patriots, when he wrote a
pamphlet entitled A Summary View of Rights of British America, which denied the authority of the
British Parliament over America. This tract also established Jeffersons reputation for graceful, fluent,
and persuasive writing.
B. In 1775, Jefferson was elected to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.
1. Known for his prose, Jefferson was asked to compose a justification for the recent colonial actions.
2. His final project was the Declaration of Independence.
3. In a single bold stroke, Jeffersons words swept away Europes old regime of kings and aristocrats,
with its frozen privileges and disabilities of birth. All men are now leveledno, better, upliftedto
the same plane of equality, free to pursue their fulfillment as individuals to the best of their abilities.
4. Under the Declaration, there is no higher sovereignty than the people themselves, who come together
voluntarily as a government to secure their individual rights.
5. Although it is not evident in the Declaration, some historians have argued that a broad view of
Jefferson shows that he was both a classic liberal concerned with individual rights and a classic
Republican concerned with peoples duties and virtues.
6. Americans of every ideological persuasion, from Abraham Lincoln to the defenders of slavery, from
Franklin Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan, have sought to claim the Declaration for their own political
tradition.
C. Jefferson has been criticized for writing broadly but having a narrow view of rights and virtues.
1. Questions arise about his attitude toward women and what he thought of their limitations in the world
outside the home.
2. Although he declared his objection to slavery, Jefferson did not make room in his vision of the nation
for free African Americans. He believed that African Americans were inferior to whites.
3. Likewise, Indians had no place in Jeffersons Republic unless they abandoned their own culture and
assimilated themselves into white society.
4. Despite Jeffersons time-bound limitations when it came to women, blacks, and Indians, his ideas
about natural rights and human equality had an explosive force of their own that cannot be contained
in his own ethnocentric, Anglo-Saxon worldview.
5. As women, blacks, Indians, and other groups struggled for equal rights, they would all invoke
Jeffersons legacy in its all-encompassing visiona vision that transcended the man himself.
IV. Jefferson returned to Virginia during the Revolutionary War.
A. As a member of the Virginia Legislature in the late 1770s, Jefferson succeeded in getting his idea of
religious freedom placed in the Virginia Constitution.
B. Jefferson served as governor of Virginia.
1. He was ineffective as governor during the height of the war, with some questioning his courage and
competence.
2. In 1782, Martha, Jeffersons wife, died. Jefferson would never remarry.
3. Jefferson later served in the Continental Congress, where he helped design the coinage system and
draft the Northwest Ordinance, which established fair and orderly procedures for organizing and
governing the Northwest Territories.
Suggested Reading:
Ellis, Joseph J. American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.

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Lockridge, Kenneth A. On the Sources of Patriarchal Rage: The Commonplace Books of William Byrd and Thomas
Jefferson and the Gendering of Power in the Eighteenth Century. New York: New York University Press, 1992.
Cunningham, Noble E. In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State
University Press, 1987.
Questions to Consider:
1. Did Thomas Jefferson intend the Declaration of Independence to apply to all persons, regardless of race or sex?
2. Was Jefferson an original political thinker or primarily an eloquent exponent of ideas developed by others?
3. What is the significance of Jeffersons contributions to religious freedom?

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Lecture Seven
Thomas Jefferson: Party Leader
Scope: During the years between the end of the Revolutionary War and his election to the presidency of the
United States in 1800, Jefferson, as an ambassador to France and, later, as Secretary of State, formulated
his approach to foreign policy. He viewed the French Revolution as a progressive development that would
spread the contagious spirit of liberty to the Old World. Although he would come to regret the more violent
turn that the French Revolution would takeand its capture by Napoleonhe would remain more
sympathetic to France than to England. In the 1790s, Jefferson became the center of an opposition group
that challenged Federalist policies. He helped formulate an opposition philosophy of government, a party
press, national political alliances, and Congressional voting blocs. His election to the presidency brought
with it electoral reform and major changes in national policy. It established a precedent for the peaceful
transition of power and presaged the demise of the Federalist Party.

Outline
I.

Jefferson became a diplomat and statesman after the wars end.


A. As a minister to France in the 1780s, Jefferson paid attention both to the situation in revolutionary France
and to what was happening in the United States.
1. Jefferson supported the Constitution, and some of his ideas on the freedom of religion and the
separation of church and state became part of the Bill of Rights, but he did not participate in the
Constitutional Convention of 1787.
2. In France, Jefferson negotiated commercial treaties while observing the events surrounding the French
Revolution.
3. Despite his revulsion at some of the early violence, he viewed the revolution as a progressive
development that would spread the contagious spirit of liberty to the Old World.
4. Even though he would come to regret the more violent turn that the revolution would take and its
capture by Napoleon, Jefferson was more sympathetic to France than to England throughout his public
life. England, he believed, was in the grip of a corrupt, old-fashioned regime and France had at least
shown some progressive tendencies.
5. While in France, Jefferson wrote his famous Tree of Liberty letter, stating with typical rhetorical
flair that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and
tyrants.
B. In the United States, Jefferson became Washingtons first Secretary of State, organizing the new
Department of State in 1790 on a budget of some $5,000, not counting his own salary.
1. As Secretary of State, Jefferson laid the groundwork for his later presidential diplomacy.
2. He opposed close ties with England, sought to secure for the United States unhampered navigation of
the Mississippi River, defended American commercial interests, and favored strong action against the
Barbary pirates who preyed on Mediterranean shipping from their bases in North Africa.

II. Jefferson became the leader of the opposition Democratic-Republicans who opposed the Federalists of
Washington and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.
A. Political parties began to take shape in the 1790s.
1. The development of parties reflected conflicting political ideologies. Jeffersons ideas of limited
government, strict construction of the Constitution, and states rights, along with his support for
agrarian interests, challenged the ideas of the Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton.
2. Jefferson became Americas first opposition political leader. He was both a visionary and a practical
politician who often worked from behind the scenes.
3. He cultivated a party press to marshal public opinion in support of his ideas. Despite his warnings
about the corrupting influence of an alliance between government and private interests, Jefferson used
the powers of his position as Secretary of State to establish a national newspaper in support of his
ideas and those of his allies, who became known as the Democratic-Republicans. The early partisan

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press, whether Federalist or Democratic-Republican, made no sharp distinction between opinion and
hard news.
4. Jefferson began consolidating political leaders, such as James Madison, James Monroe, and Aaron
Burr, into a party designed to challenge the dominant Federalists.
5. These party alliances of the 1790s were reflected in party bloc voting in Congress. During this period,
James Madison emerged as the key Jeffersonian leader in Congress.
6. Political parties grew slowly and painfully in the early Republic. Parties were not mentioned in the
Constitution, and early leaders, including Jefferson himself, worried about the divisive effects of
parties. But Jefferson believed that the Federalists were corrupting the ideals of the Revolution and
that opposition politics was essential to the restoration of those ideals.
B. Federalist candidate John Adams defeated Jefferson for president in 1796, and party conflict intensified
during the Adams administration.
1. Without a true campaign, Jefferson became a presidential candidate in 1796 and finished a close
second to John Adams, making him vice president under the election system in place at the time.
2. Jefferson was at odds with Adams, especially after the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798,
which restricted criticism of government and extended the residency requirement for naturalization.
Federalists were trying to crack down on Republican-leaning Irish immigrants and French refugees
and on Republican editors who were critical of the administration.
3. Jefferson responded with the anti-Federalist, pro-states rights Kentucky Resolutions.
4. These resolutions charged that the Federalists, like the British before them, were trampling on the
rights of a free people. Jefferson asserted the rights of the states to determine the validity of laws
passed by the government that exceeded the powers granted by the Constitution.
5. This was Jeffersons most extreme position on states rights, and one that he would not again raise
until long after his retirement from politics, when he opposed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 that
prohibited slavery in territories north of the Mason-Dixon line.
III. Jefferson defeated Adams in the presidential election of 1800, leading to the first transfer of power in American
history, the so-called Revolution of 1800.
A. Jefferson became president in 1800, after an Electoral College tie with his vice presidential pick, Aaron
Burr, was broken in the House of Representatives. It was a peaceful revolution wrought by ballots, not
bullets.
1. The flawed process of the election led to the passage of the Twelfth Amendment, which created the
modern presidential and vice presidential ticket.
2. Jeffersons administration was a dramatic shift from that of Adams, giving more deference to the
states, reducing the size of government, reducing taxes, and moving relations closer to France than
Britain.
3. The peaceful transition of power between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans set a
precedent that has continued until this day.
4. The election also led to the beginning of the end of Federalist power. After controlling government for
twelve years, the Federalists would never again win the presidency or control Congress. The
Federalists were still caught up in the old politics of office holding as nonpartisan service and of public
deference to the nations supposedly natural leaders. They never fully adjusted to the new era of
electioneering and the mobilization of public opinion.
B. The hard-fought election also had negative personal consequences for Jefferson.
1. Pivotal elections that threaten the established order, such as the one in 1800, typically produce vicious
campaigns. This election was one of the nastiest in American history.
2. In deference to the idea that it was unseemly to seek the presidency personally, neither Jefferson nor
Adams campaigned in 1800. However, Jefferson was attacked for his supposed atheism, radicalism,
and even incest, while Adams was attacked as a pro-monarchist and anti-revolutionary.
Suggested Reading:
Ellis, Joseph J. American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.
Johnstone, Robert M. Jefferson and the Presidency: Leadership in the Young Republic. Ithaca: Cornell University
Press, 1978.

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Sloan, Herbert E. Principle and Interest: Thomas Jefferson and the Problem of Debt. New York: Oxford University
Press, 1995.
Cunningham, Noble E. In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State
University Press, 1987.
Questions to Consider:
1. Why was Thomas Jefferson so sympathetic to the French Revolution?
2. To what extent did Jefferson and Hamilton represent conflicting ideas for the governing of the new nation?
3. Why did an idealist such as Jefferson become so deeply involved in the formation of political parties?
4. Why did the transition of power take place so smoothly in 1800?

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Lecture Eight
Thomas Jefferson: Expansionist President
Scope: To change the course of American government after twelve years of Federalist rule, Jefferson had to be a
very different president from the aloof and distant Washington and Adams. He became Americas first
modern president, implementing his program by mobilizing public opinion, leading his political party, and
steering legislation through Congress. He reconstructed the presidency largely through behind-the-scenes
leadership. During his first term, Jefferson executed the Louisiana Purchase, his greatest accomplishment
as president. He completed the purchase even though he believed that under his own philosophy of strict
construction of the Constitution, he did not have the constitutional authority to do so. The Louisiana
Purchase expanded greatly the territory of the United States and extended the power of the presidency.

Outline
I.

20

Jefferson recast domestic policy during his first term.


A. Jefferson can be described as the first modern president.
1. Jefferson was a more hands-on president than Washington or Adams, guiding legislation through
Congress, becoming a party leader, supporting a party press, and mobilizing public opinion, although
from a secretive position.
2. He made the presidency less formal and more relaxed than under his Federalist predecessors. He even
discontinued the previous practice of delivering the annual message to Congresstoday known as the
State of the Union addressin person to the Congress. Instead, he submitted his message in writing, a
practice that would continue until the administration of Woodrow Wilson.
3. Yet this symbol of Republican simplicity lived lavishly in Washington and threw splendid White
House dinners at his own expense, contributing to his lifelong personal debt.
4. The beginnings of a party system not only expanded the reach of presidential power but also posed a
threat to presidential power by forming a basis for the disciplined organization of Congress.
B. Jefferson implemented major changes in domestic policy.
1. Jefferson did not just cut taxes; he eliminated taxes entirely, ending the collection of excise taxes. The
government would be financed solely by tariff revenues. The hated tax collector would no longer be
knocking on American doors.
2. To reduce the national debt, a policy that he thought would lessen governmental corruption, Jefferson
cut domestic and defense spending. Despite his economy measures, Jefferson would have been unable
to avoid budget deficits without the booming international trade that boosted tariff revenues. Great
presidents are often not only good but also lucky.
3. These cuts did not prevent an undeclared war against the Barbary pirates, the first instance in which
the pragmatic Jefferson would part with his belief in the strict construction of the Constitution.
Subsequent presidents would follow Jeffersons precedent of engaging in military operations abroad
without a declaration of war from Congress.
4. Jefferson allowed such measures as the Alien and Sedition Acts to lapse. Congress also repealed the
Judiciary Act of 1801 that had authorized Adams to appoint judges at the very end of his
administration after he had already lost to Jefferson. A Supreme Court interpretation of the Judiciary
Act led to the decision that established the precedent of judicial review of the Constitution,
establishing the Court as the primary guardian of the Constitution.
5. Jefferson also slowly and methodically replaced Federalist appointees with his own loyalists.
6. Jefferson left in place many of the core economic policies of the Federalists, including the Bank of the
United States that he had so strongly opposed during the Washington administration. His was not an
administration dedicated to the indiscriminate rollback of all federal policies. He thus established the
precedent that, after a transfer of party power, presidents would not generally dismantle the
governmental structures built up during the previous administration.
C. Jefferson sought to put his own stamp on the judiciary.
1. Unlike the Federalists, Jefferson believed in rule by popular majorities with only minimal interference
from unelected judges.

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He tried to use the weapon of impeachment to remove Federalist judges, notably Supreme Court
Justice Samuel Chase.
3. With the failure of the Senate to convict Justice Chase, Jeffersons tactics backfired and the judiciary
emerged stronger and more independent than before. Neither Jefferson nor any succeeding president
would again use impeachment as a political weapon against federal judges. Later presidents would try
to curb the judiciary in other ways but with no more success than Jefferson.
4. Jefferson appointed three Supreme Court justices, but his appointees failed, owing to the domination
of the Court by the brilliant and crafty Chief Justice John Marshall, an Adams appointee. Marshall
would serve as Chief Justice for thirty-four years and to Jeffersons chagrin, would establish such antiRepublican precedents as judicial review and an expansive interpretation of federal power.
5. Although Jefferson opposed action against the press in federal courts, he was willing to use state
power to curb his critics.
II. Jeffersons major accomplishment was in foreign policy.
A. Jefferson pursued multiple goals in foreign policy.
1. He sought to preserve freedom of the seas, to expand American territory, to avoid war, and to keep
America isolated from European quarrels.
2. Jefferson believed that war would bring on all the evils his administration sought to avoid, such as
high taxes and government control of the individual.
3. Like later presidents, Jefferson often expressed foreign policy in moralistic terms and pursued
objectives that were not necessarily compatible with one another.
B. The Louisiana Purchase was Jeffersons greatest achievement as president.
1. Jefferson believed that western expansion was essential to the future of the United States.
2. Spain, a chronically weak power, had ceded the Louisiana Territory to France, one of the worlds great
powers. Jefferson feared that French control over Louisiana would make the United States
dangerously dependent on Britain. Fortunately, Napoleon, distracted by European developments and
disheartened by French failure to subdue a slave revolt in Santo Domingo, was willing to sell the
Territory to the United States in 1803. The cost was $15 million, just a few cents an acre.
3. Jefferson held that public officials possessed only the powers explicitly granted them under the
Constitution. Given this strict constructionist philosophy, he did not believe he had the constitutional
authority to acquire new territory.
4. Even without a constitutional amendment, he completed the purchase as an extraordinary exception to
usual practice, supported by Congress and public opinion. The purchase demonstrated Jeffersons
pragmatic commitment to promoting Americas interests through strong presidential power.
5. In Jeffersons view, a nation dedicated to self-government and human freedom could now expand
across a doubled expanse of territory, with ample opportunities for the yeoman farmers that were the
backbone of America.
6. Even before completing the purchase, Jefferson had authorized an expedition to the west by his
personal secretary, Meriwether Lewis, and William Clark. The expedition brought back valuable
information and helped advanced the settlement of the west.
C. Not all of Jeffersons plans for the nations expansion went as smoothly as the Louisiana Purchase.
1. Jefferson failed in his efforts to bring Spanish Florida into the United States.
2. His new empire of liberty was apparently for whites only. Native Americans that had coexisted with
the French and Spanish were pushed out, and Jefferson refused to support a Senate bill limiting slavery
in the Louisiana territory.
Suggested Reading:
Ellis, Joseph J. American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.
Gordon-Reed, Annette. Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy. Charlottesville:
University Press of Virginia, 1997.
Ronda, James P., ed. Thomas Jefferson and the Changing West: From Conquest to Conservation. Albuquerque:
University of New Mexico Press, 1997.
Questions to Consider:

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1.
2.
3.

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In what ways was Thomas Jefferson Americas first modern president?


Why did Jefferson overcome his own constitutional doubts and go ahead with the Louisiana Purchase? What
effect did the purchase have on the power of the presidency?
What are the implications of the Sally Hemings affair for the historical legacy of Thomas Jefferson?

2000 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership

Lecture Nine
Thomas Jefferson: The Agonies of a Second Term
Scope: Jeffersons first term as president was beset by a sex scandal, alleging an affair between Jefferson and his
slave Sally Hemings. The scandal did not, however, affect his reelection to a second term. Despite a strong
mandate from the American people in 1804, Jeffersons second term would prove to be disappointing. At
home, the greatest challenge to his administrationthe Aaron Burr conspiracywould not be resolved to
the Presidentss satisfaction. But the real test of his second term would come from abroad. International
events would turn ominous in his second term, exposing the contradictions embedded in a policy that
combined isolationism, commercial freedom, avoidance of war, and economy in government. Jefferson
faced a crisis with Great Britain that he failed to resolve with economic sanctions. When he left office the
crisis remained unresolved. He lived for many years after his presidency and remains a deeply influential
and controversial figure.

Outline
I.

A sex scandal erupted during Jeffersons first term.


A. During his first term, allegations about an affair between Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings began to
surface in the press.
1. In 1802, a sex scandal exploded with allegations that Jefferson had fathered children with Sally
Hemings. The charges came from scandalmonger James Callender and were picked up by opposition
editors.
2. Jefferson never publicly responded to the attack, setting a precedent for how other nineteenth-century
presidents would deal with charges of sexual impropriety.
3. Recent DNA testing and circumstantial evidence indicate that Jefferson fathered at least one and
probably several of Hemingss children.
4. This was not a story of romantic love. Jefferson never provided for the education of Sallys children.
In his will, Jefferson freed the children but not Sally herself.
5. Jeffersons relationship to the Hemings family was a microcosm of the mixed racial heritage of early
America. Sally Hemings was the daughter of a slave and a white master, John Wayles, the father of
Jeffersons wife, Martha Wayles. Thus, Sally, whom contemporary observers described as nearly
white in appearance, was the half-sister of Thomas Jeffersons wife.
B. The scandal faded in the glow of the triumph of the Louisiana Purchase and did not influence Jeffersons
successful bid for reelection in 1804.

II. Domestic and foreign affairs did not go smoothly during Thomas Jeffersons second term.
A. The election of 1804 ushered in the new presidential ticket voting system.
1. Jefferson dumped party pariah Aaron Burr in favor of George Clinton and achieved an easy win in
1804. His loyalists also dominated both houses of Congress.
2. The easy victory, however, masked the difficulties that Jefferson would face at home and especially
abroad in his second term.
B. After being ousted as vice president, Burr came back to haunt Jefferson.
1. The discredited Burr launched a bizarre scheme to establish his own empire in the west by forcibly
detaching from the United States a portion of the Louisiana Territory.
2. Federal officials arrested Burr in 1807, and he was tried for treason in federal court, with Jeffersons
old enemy, Chief Justice John Marshall, presiding.
3. During the trial, Jefferson sparred with Justice John Marshall over executive privilege and the release
of some of his private documents. He strengthened and extended the precedent of executive privilege
established during Washingtons administration.
4. Marshalls ruling on the law of the case so narrowly defined the grounds for a treason prosecution that
the government was not able to pursue its case successfully. Burr, still under the threat of a lesser
charge, fled to England.
C. Jefferson did oversee some important legislation in his second term.

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1.
2.

Signed in 1807, the ban on international slave trading marked one of the high points of Jeffersons
presidency.
Although he was unsure about using federal funds for internal improvements, Jefferson initiated what
became the National Road. The question of the federal role in internal improvements would continue
to vex other administrations of the early Republic.

III. Foreign affairs preoccupied Jefferson, especially relations with Great Britain.
A. War in Europe pressed Jefferson into dangerous action.
1. British interference with American trade and the impressment of American sailors into the British
Navy led to tensions and even some skirmishes between British and American ships.
2. American conflict with Britain came to a head in June of 1807 when the British warship Leopard fired
on the unprepared U.S. frigate Chesapeake.
3. Jefferson decided that he had three painful choices: War, Embargo, or Nothing. Jeffersons own
economy measures had diminished Americas preparedness for war.
4. Jefferson initiated the controversial Embargo Act, signed in 1807. It was designed to place economic
pressure on Great Britain. Later presidents facing international crises would likewise resort to
economic sanctions.
B. The embargo dragged on as Jeffersons term came to an end.
1. For a president who had so skillfully mastered Congress and public opinion in his first term, Jefferson
failed to explain clearly the purpose of the embargo or rally the public behind his policy. At the same
time Jefferson also made himself a lame duck president by declining to violate Washingtons tradition
of two terms in office.
2. The embargo achieved few results. Britain was engaged in a war of survival against France and could
not give in to economic pressure. What Jefferson viewed as an assertion of American neutral rights,
Britain viewed as an American intervention in the war that aided France.
3. The embargo was publicly unpopular and its enforcement required Jefferson to adopt the kind of
coercive government policies that he had opposed throughout his political career.
4. Just before Jefferson left office, Congress repealed the embargo. On the plus side of the embargo, it
postponed war and stimulated domestic industry in the absence of manufactured goods from Europe.
Ironically, the agrarian-minded president helped promote industry in Federalist New England.
5. When Jefferson left office, he was tired and relieved; the problems with the embargo had taken their
toll on him.
IV. Jefferson lived an active life for many years after his presidency.
A. The last years of Jeffersons life were filled with philanthropic and philosophic endeavors.
1. Jefferson sold a large collection of books to what would become the Library of Congress.
2. He kept up his correspondence well into his last days with other leaders, including John Adams, with
whom he wrangled over weighty political matters, such as the Missouri Compromise of 1820.
3. The crowning achievement of Jeffersons later life was the building of the University of Virginia,
which opened its doors just before his death.
4. Jefferson died a few hours apart from Adams, at age eighty-three, on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth
anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
B. Up until the present day, Jefferson remains an often-quoted, often-emulated public figure who has inspired
much praise and much controversy.
1. Jefferson set the crucial precedents for modern presidential leadership: directing his party, mobilizing
public opinion, and guiding legislation through Congress.
2. He expanded the authority of both the presidency and the federal government, an ironic legacy for the
champion of strict construction and states rights.
3. He established the American tradition of continental expansion. He doubled the size of the Union,
swept away constitutional barriers to expansion, and laid an ideological and cultural foundation for
expansion with a vision of an empire of liberty that stretched across the continent.
4. His policies of political isolation combined with continental expansion and commercial freedom would
profoundly influence the future course of American foreign policy.

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5.
6.
7.

His domestic policies of low taxes, economy in government, and minimal military establishments
would become part of policy debates in America through the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Jefferson shared the prejudices of his time regarding women and non-whites. He could be remarkably
obtuse to the dangers of revolution and disorder. He probably sexually exploited his slave Sally
Hemings and did not acknowledge or provide for his mixed-race children.
Jefferson was neither a flawless icon nor a deceitful rogue. He
played a vital role in establishing the freedom and self-government that we enjoy today. But he was
also a human being, torn by passions beyond his control, beset with the prejudices of his day, and
filled with the uncertainties and contradictions that define the human condition.

Suggested Reading:
Cunningham, Noble E. In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State
University Press, 1987.
Ellis, Joseph J. American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.
Questions to Consider:
1. Why was Thomas Jeffersons second term much less successful than his first?
2. What were the consequences of imposing an embargo on Americas foreign trade? Why did Jefferson adopt
such a seemingly extreme measure?
3. Why do Americans today remain so interested in assessing and reassessing the legacy of Thomas Jefferson?

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Lecture Ten
Andrew Jackson: Hero of the New Republic
Scope: Andrew Jackson was the first American president from a state other than Virginia or Massachusetts. He
was a frontiersman who became a successful businessman and military leader before his election to the
presidency. He represented the aspirations of frontier settlers and white men on the make across a nation
expanding rapidly in terms of territory, industrialization, and the democratic voteat least for white men.
Issues of banks and money, internal improvements, slavery, and Indian policy would arise during what
came to be known as the Era of Jacksonian Democracy. A new political party system would also take root.
During his early career as a businessman and military leader, Jackson developed views that would affect
his presidency, including a distrust of banks and a belief in the need to confront enemies that surrounded
the United States: the Spanish, British, and Native Americans. His victory at the Battle of New Orleans in
1815 made him the first great American war hero since George Washington.

Outline
I.

Jackson was a quite different president from the men who had come before him and led the nation at a very
different moment.
A. Jackson was born in South Carolina, lived in Tennessee, and was seen as a frontier brawler.
B. He came to power during a wave of massive western expansion, technological change, and growth in
industry and commerce.
C. The nations stability was tenuous, however, as issues of religion, slavery, and wealth threatened to tear the
country apart.
D. Jackson stepped into this firestorm and rallied the political power of so-called common men, while
fashioning the ideology of the nineteenth-century Democratic Party.
E. This party, would attempt to represent common folk not through government activismthat was the
twentieth-century partybut by limiting government, nurturing local institutions, and supporting the
freedom of individuals to follow their own religious and cultural inclinations.

II. Unlike the six previous American presidents, Andrew Jackson grew up without the advantages of either
affluence or important family connections.
A. Jackson largely grew up on his own and became a self-made lawyer, businessman, war hero, and politician.
1. The son of Irish immigrants, he was born on a frontier settlement in South Carolina in 1767, during the
period of conflict between Great Britain and the colonies.
2. His father died before Andrew was born, and his mother and two brothers both died of illness during
the American Revolution. His life would be a struggle, for wealth, for respectability, for honor, and for
glory.
3. Jackson joined a band of militia at age thirteen during the Revolutionary War. He was captured and
abused, leaving a scar on his face and a loathing for the British.
4. An orphan after the war, Jackson managed to acquire enough education to gain admittance to the bar
in North Carolina.
5. After a social scandal in North Carolina, Jackson moved west to Nashville and entered the high ranks
of the fluid frontier society.
B. Jackson began courting Rachel Donelson Robards, who belonged to one of the wealthiest and most
respectable families in the new territory.
1. Jackson and Rachel were married, or at least lived together as man and wife, before Rachel obtained a
divorce from her first marriage.
2. Later, after the divorce came through, they were legally married.
3. The charge that the couple had committed adultery would haunt Jackson throughout his career,
although it would not prevent his rise to wealth and prominence.

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4.

Perhaps because of the origins of the marriage, Jackson became hair-trigger sensitive to alleged slurs
on his wife and their questionable marriage, sometimes challenging the offender to a duel. In 1806,
Jackson killed Charles Dickinson in a highly controversial duel.
C. Under the guidance of Governor William Blount, Jackson began to accumulate wealth and positions; his
first was as judge advocate for a regiment in the Tennessee militia.
1. He spent some of his rising fortune on slaves, owning up to 150 of them. Unlike other early leaders,
such as Washington or Jefferson, Jackson did not seem to have any reservations about owning slaves
or about the slave system itself.
2. He became critical of the national government for its failure to provide sufficient protection on the
southern frontier from the ever-present threat of Indians. For Jackson, Indians were a threat to white
settlers who could be dealt with only through force. This view would greatly influence Jacksons
military career and his tenure as president of the United States.
3. He experienced a near bankruptcy when promissory notes that he had endorsed proved to be
worthless. He retained a lifelong distrust of paper money, debts, and banks.
4. He began his political career in the 1790s, with a term in the House and then the Senate, but did not
enjoy the positions and contributed little to the governing of the nation.
III. Jackson made his mark as a military commander.
A. Jackson became major general of the Tennessee militia in 1802.
1. Jackson viewed military command as an opportunity to enact his sense of justice against the multiple
enemies of the United States, including the British, Spanish, and Native Americans. He was ready to
wage war against any or all of them.
2. Officials in Washington distrusted the hot-tempered and uncontrollable Jackson. In the field, however,
his courage, endurance, and extraordinary power of will earned him the nickname Old Hickory. That
same determination and willpower would be a hallmark of his later career as general and politician.
3. During the War of 1812, Jackson finally had a chance for a major military campaign. His war against
the Creek Indians culminated in victory at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814.
4. The subsequent treaty he imposed was quite harsh. It resulted in the cession of considerable Indian
land and the removal of Indians from areas of white settlement. The treaty set a precedent for
Jacksons policies as president.
B. Jacksons victory gained him a regular army appointment.
1. In 1814, Jackson was in command of a ragtag collection of troops, pirates, and volunteers attempting
to defend New Orleans from a British invasion.
2. His troops successfully defended the city in January of 1815, inflicting some 2,000 British casualties
while losing few Americans.
3. To a nation fearful of military defeat and perhaps even subjugation again by the British, news of
Jacksons victory at New Orleans came like a grant of deliverance from the Lord. Instantly, Jackson
became a national icon, the savior of his nation, and by far the greatest American hero since George
Washington.
4. It did not matter to Americans that the victory came after the signing of the Peace of Ghent, ending the
war. The treaty had not been ratified before the battle and many Americans linked the victory to the
end of the war. Jacksons victory also removed a threat to the Louisiana Purchase and opened the way
to continued western expansion of the United States.
Suggested Reading:
Ratner, Lorman. Andrew Jackson and His Tennessee Lieutenants. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1997.
Remini, Robert V. The Legacy of Andrew Jackson. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988.
Rogin, Michael Paul. Fathers and Children: Andrew Jackson and the Subjugation of the American Indian. New
York: Knopf Press, 1975.

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Questions to Consider:
1. What are the pros and cons of Jacksons military experiences as a preparation for the presidency? How was his
military background similar to, and different from, that of George Washington?
2. Did alternatives exist in early America to General Jacksons aggressive approach to dealing with Native
Americans?

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Lecture Eleven
Andrew Jackson: The Conqueror Returns
Scope: The period from 1817 to 1821 saw Jacksons military career close with campaigns against Native
Americans and the Spanish in the southeast. During his years of military command, Jackson established
characteristics that would guide his presidency. He combined paternalistic regard for his men with
demands for absolute obedience and loyalty. He was relentless and ruthless toward his enemies and the
enemies of his nation and made little distinction between the two. After briefly serving as governor of
Florida, he ran unsuccessfully for president in 1824. In 1828, he easily defeated Adams, who had promoted
a nationalist program of economic development and had sought to stand above party and personality.
Jackson was seen as the virtuous outsider, uncorrupted by the intrigues of the capital. He represented the
ideals of states rights and an agrarian-based republic. Yet he was able to inspire a broad and diverse
following.

Outline
I.

Jackson ended his military career when he became governor of Florida.


A. Beginning in 1817, Washington officials empowered Jackson to deal with Native Americans in the
southeastern region of the United States.
1. His largely successful objective, sometimes pursued without approval from Washington, was to
eliminate utterly the Indian threat to white settlement. He did not believe that whites and Indians could
peacefully coexist in the same areas.
2. It is estimated that Jacksons actions resulted in the acquisition of most of Florida and Alabama and
other key components of the slave-holding South.
3. With government sanction, he began the forceful removal of tribes in the east to zones west of the
Mississippi River. Removal was considered to be the final solution to the problem of opening land to
white settlement. De facto it repudiated the idea that Indian tribes were separate, autonomous nations.
B. Jackson engaged in an undeclared war against the Spanish in Florida.
1. His objective was to acquire Florida for the United States by whatever means necessary.
2. He was, in essence, waging a war against Spain without a declaration of war or even explicit
authorization from the federal government. He even executed two British citizens for inciting Native
Americans to revolt, actions that would come back to haunt him in his presidential campaigns.
3. Although his actions were militarily successful, he incurred the wrath of some in Congress.
4. Critics, such as Speaker of the House Henry Clay, feared that Jackson could become a military
dictator, a man who might disregard the law and turn his military genius against his own country.
5. Prompted by Clay, Congress debated whether to censure Jackson for attacking Spanish posts and
executing British subjects. The House eventually voted to clear Jackson of all charges. This victory
added to Jacksons popularity and instilled in him an abiding hatred of Clay.
6. After retiring from the army in 1821, Jackson served briefly as governor of the new Florida Territory.
Largely because of the skillful diplomacy of Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, America had
acquired Florida in 1819. Jackson served only briefly as governor before resigning in preparation for a
presidential bid.

II. Although a strong contender, Jackson lost the presidential election of 1824.
A. The period of single-party rule that had prevailed since the era of Thomas Jefferson was beginning to break
down in the 1820s as the dominant Democratic-Republican Party that Jefferson founded began to break
into factions.
1. To control the process of presidential succession, the Democratic-Republican Party developed the
system of the congressional caucus to sort out the ambitions of competing candidates and nominate a
single chosen leader. The system worked well until 1824, when it collapsed entirely.
2. The caucus system was the first formal system in U.S. history for nominating presidential candidates.
It would be supplanted in the 1830s by the national nominating convention.

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3.

The election of 1824 became the most open contest to that point in history. A crowded presidential
field emerged that included Jackson the first truly outsider candidate in American historyand
three prominent Washington insiders: Treasury Secretary William Crawford, Secretary of State John
Quincy Adams, and Speaker of the House Henry Clay.
4. Jacksons enemies saw him as the antithesis of reluctant candidate and war hero George Washington.
They viewed Jackson as a cunning and ambitious leader who was trying to exploit his military success
to seize power, perhaps even become a dictator.
5. Jackson, who had been appointed to the United States Senate by the Tennessee legislature in 1822,
used his presence in Washington to try to calm the fears of his critics.
B. Jackson, following the custom of the times, left the campaigning to his supporters.
1. Jackson used biographical letters written by campaign manager John Eaton to promote the image of
the virtuous outsider, who would clean up the corruption in government. Many future presidential
candidates would adopt the Jacksonian persona of the crusading outsider, uncorrupted by the intrigues
of the capital.
2. He received a clear plurality of the popular and Electoral College vote but fell short of an Electoral
College majority.
3. With the help of Henry Clay, Adams won the election in the House of Representatives. Jackson did
not dispute the result, but charged Adams with a corrupt bargain after Adams appointed Clay as
Secretary of State.
III. Andrew Jackson won the key presidential election of 1828, which was important in leading to a new political
party system.
A. Jackson won support from Americans with a wide range of backgrounds in his one-on-one contest against
incumbent president John Quincy Adams.
1. His supporters portrayed Jackson as the virtuous outsider, able to protect states rights and an agrarianbased Republic.
2. Jackson put together a diverse coalition of supporters, including such men as John Calhoun, a proslavery Southerner, and Martin Van Buren, a New York patronage politician.
3. During the election, Jacksons supporters spent a huge amount of money and set up Hickory clubs and
other public events to play up Jacksons hero status. Jacksonians organized the first rapid response
team in American history to answer charges against their candidate.
4. In this nasty campaign, opponents attacked Jackson for his alleged brutality as a military commander
and charged that Jackson and his wife had committed adultery or at least lived in sin. Jacksons
advisors made sure that the candidate, like Jefferson before him, did not personally respond to charges
of sexual impropriety.
B. The attacks on Jackson backfired for Adamss supporters.
1. Jackson won with huge margins in both the popular and electoral counts, and inspired an increase in
voter turnout. Voter turnout also expanded because states were increasingly selecting electors by
popular vote rather than the vote of state legislatures.
2. Jackson, however, did not have time to celebrate; his wife Rachel died just before he took office.
Jackson blamed her death on his opponents vicious personal attacks, and his own political ambitions.
3. The election began a style of politics in which candidates were more vigorously sold to the public than
in earlier years. Still, a full-scale party system and the ideals of Jacksonian Democracy would not be in
place until the 1830s.
Suggested Reading:
Remini, Robert V. The Legacy of Andrew Jackson. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988.
Rogin, Michael Paul. Fathers and Children: Andrew Jackson and the Subjugation of the American Indian. New
York: Knopf Press, 1975.
Feller, Daniel. The Jacksonian Promise. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.
Questions to Consider:
1. Was Andrew Jackson truly a victim of a corrupt bargain in the election of 1824?

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2.
3.

How did the elections of 1824 and 1828 change American politics?
What has been the influence of the outsider image on presidential elections since 1828?

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Lecture Twelve
Andrew Jackson: The Warrior President
Scope: Despite his hot temper, personal feuds, and sometimes apocalyptic language, Jackson actually took
compromise positions on most key issues of the day, including states rights, tariffs, and internal
improvements. However, he took on the National Bank, waging a relentless war against the most powerful
institution of his time. He believed the Banks president, Nicholas Biddle, represented the kind of special
privilege that he had come to Washington to drive out of power. Other events in Jacksons first term
include the development of the spoils system of federal appointments, the Peggy Eaton affair, the struggle
over the nullification of federal law, and Jacksons policy on the forced removal of Native Americans from
the eastern states. He was an exponent of the new democratic spirit and the force behind the creation of the
Democratic Party and a new party system.

Outline
I.

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Jackson became a new kind of popularly oriented president in 1829.


A. The common people of America followed him to Washington, expecting a new reform era of government.
B. Jacksons followers witnessed the first open-air inauguration and attended a raucous party at the White
House.
C. Jacksons advisors were a mixed group that represented the diversity of his followers.
1. Jackson appointed a moderate and relatively undistinguished cabinet that balanced the interests of the
Jacksonian coalition.
2. The leading members were Secretary of War John Eaton, Jacksons campaign manager and Secretary
of State Martin Van Buren, a leading practitioner of the newly emerging party politics.
3. In contrast to the fear of parties expressed by the founding fathers, Van Buren and other emerging
party leaders embraced parties as a means for channeling public opinion into policy.
4. Rather than depending solely on his cabinet for advice, Jackson relied on an unofficial group of
supporters, known as his kitchen cabinet.
D. As in other phases of his life, Jackson created controversy when he defended a womans honor in the Eaton
affair.
1. Peggy Eaton, the wife of the Secretary of War, had a reputation for loose morality; Jackson came to
her defense in the face of poor treatment by the leading Washington wives. Jackson rose to defend
Peggy Eaton, aware of the parallels with criticism of Rachel Jackson. Jackson believed the attacks on
Peggy Eaton were also attacks against him and his government.
2. The Eaton affair mirrored the conflict between Jackson, the outsider, and the status-conscious insiders
of the capital. It also reflected major controversies over proper morality and codes of conduct.
3. Eventually, the crisis cost Jackson politically; in 1831, every member of his cabinet resigned save the
Postmaster General. John Calhoun, the vice president, also resigned to become a senator from South
Carolina. Calhoun championed an extreme view of states rights and opposed Jackson.
4. The Eaton affair established Secretary of State Van Buren, who had supported Peggy Eaton from the
start, as the heir apparent to President Jackson.
E. Jacksons first major act in office was to rotate new supporters into offices currently held by so-called old
aristocrats.
1. The spoils system allowed Jackson to move men of questionable loyalty out of government and
replace them with his supporters.
2. Jackson was not the first to install his own loyalists in office, but he was the most open and
controversial practitioner of the spoils system. He portrayed the rotation of offices as a means for
eliminating the corrupting influence of officials who had been too long installed in the capital.
3. The Jacksonian spoils system established a precedent for the use of patronage to support a political
party system. Eventually, abuses of the patronage system would lead to demands for civil service
reform in the post-Civil War era.

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II. Jacksons domestic policy concerns centered on the Bank of the United States, the tariff, Indian removal, and
internal improvements.
A. The destruction of the Bank of the United States was his most important project.
1. Jackson opposed rechartering the National Bank, a predominantly private institution dedicated to
making a profit and the most powerful institution of its day. Jackson viewed it as a bastion of special
privilege and undue private power, a means for arranging corrupt bargains between government and
private interests, and a source of opposition to his presidency.
2. Jackson vetoed the charter of the Bank after it narrowly passed Congress in 1832. The veto galvanized
Jacksons opponents into an anti-Jackson party that would become the Whig Party by the end of the
decade.
3. In attacking the bank, Jackson was appealing to a broad audience of Americans, suggesting, as he did
with his policies on rotation in office, that a corrupting influence could be removed from society, that
people could be given equal opportunities, and that America could be restored to tranquillity and
virtue.
4. Still, the egalitarian society of Jacksons vision had never existed in America and certainly would not
exist in a rapidly industrializing market economy.
B. Under Jacksons watch, the North and South became embroiled in a number of feuds, the first involving
the souths call for the right of nullification.
1. Given that the southern economy was heavily dependent on cotton exports, southern officials
generally favored low tariff policies. In response to tariff laws opposed in the South, South Carolina,
and especially John Calhoun, attempted to use the power of nullification.
2. The doctrine of nullification asserted the right of each state to declare federal laws null and void within
the jurisdiction of the state. It directly threatened the survival of the Union.
3. In 1832, South Carolina declared that the tariff would be null and void. Jackson, ever intent on
preserving the union, struck back with his Nullification Proclamation that affirmed the supremacy of
federal law. He also asked for passage of a force bill to enable the military to enforce the law.
4. Before the South Carolina ordinance could take effect, agreement was reached on a compromise tariff
and the immediate crisis passed. The compromise encouraged the nullifiers, and the idea of
nullification would reemerge during the conflict over slavery.
C. Jackson removed Native Americans from the eastern states.
1. Jackson persuaded Congress to begin putting into action the plan to remove all Native Americans to
west of the Mississippi River, following precedents established by President Jefferson.
2. Even when the Cherokee won a Supreme Court case that might have enabled them to stay on their
land, they were forcibly removed along what became known as the deadly Trail of Tears.
3. Removal of the Cherokees and the so-called Five Civilized Tribes was controversial. These tribes
had established stable communities based on agriculture and commerce. Jackson removed over 50,000
people, acquiring more than 100 million acres of land.
4. Jackson did not hate Indians, but he believed that Indians were inferior to whites and a threat to white
settlements. In his view, removal was the only alternative to elimination.
D. Jacksons administration had to deal with increased calls to improve both the infrastructure and the social
welfare of the nation.
1. He vetoed money for the Maysville Road, arguing that strict construction of the Constitution
prohibited the use of federal money for state or local projects.
2. Democracy, at least for whites and men, was increasing during the Jackson era through expansion of
the vote and increases in the number of elected, as opposed to appointed, offices.
3. His coalition pushed for elected judgeships; more direct voting, as opposed to election through state
legislatures; the direct popular election of the president, and the limitation of federal appointments for
four years. The idea was that federal office-holding should not be subject to the will of the people.
III. Andrew Jackson won reelection in 1832.
A. For the first time, presidential candidates were selected in national conventions, with delegates selected by
state party organizations.
1. The conventions strengthened the emerging two-party system.

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2.

From the age of Jackson to the present, America would have a relatively stable two-party system, with
third parties emerging to channel discontent and promote political reform.
B. New party alliances began to take shape in the election of 1832 as Jackson faced Henry Clay, of the
opposition National Republicans, and William Wirt, a third-party candidate who opposed the allegedly
dangerous influence of the Society of Masons on American life.
C. Jackson came under attack in the election as a tyrant with the nickname King Andrew I, but in the end, he
triumphed with more votes than Clay and Wirt combined.
Suggested Reading:
Marszalek, John. The Petticoat Affair: Manners, Mutiny, and Sex in Andrew Jacksons White House. New York:
The Free Press, 1997.
Watson, Harry. Liberty and Power. New York: Hill and Wang, 1990.
Cole, Donald. The Presidency of Andrew Jackson. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1993.
Temin, Peter. The Jacksonian Economy. New York: Norton Press, 1969.
Questions to Consider:
1. How did Andrew Jacksons approach to the presidency differ from that of his predecessors?
2. Why was Jackson so obsessed with the war against the Bank of the United States?
3. Why did Jackson, a states rights Democrat, take such a strongly nationalist position in the nullification
controversy?

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Timeline
22 February 1732............................ George Washington is born in Westmoreland County, Virginia.
13 April 1743.................................. Thomas Jefferson is born in Albemarle County, Virginia.
1752 ................................................ Washington enters the military. He would become a commander of the Virginia
forces during the French and Indian Wars.
1758 ................................................ Washington wins election to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
1759 ................................................ Washington marries Martha Dandridge Custis, a wealthy widow with two
children.
1767 ................................................ Andrew Jackson was born on a frontier settlement in South Carolina.
1768 ................................................ Jefferson is elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
1772 ................................................ Jefferson marries Martha Wayles Skelton, a widow who would die ten years
later. He never remarried.
1774 ................................................ Washington coauthors the Fairfax County Resolves that denied Parliaments
authority over the colonies.
1774 ................................................ Thomas Jefferson publishes the influential pamphlet A Summary View of the
Rights of British America.
17741775 ...................................... First and second Continental Congresses meet in Philadelphia. Washington
serves as delegate.
1775 ................................................ The Revolutionary War begins. Second Continental Congress elects
Washington as commander of the Continental Army.
1776 ................................................ Thomas Jefferson writes the Declaration of Independence.
25 December 1776.......................... Washington crosses the Delaware River and wins victory at Trenton and later at
Princeton in New Jersey.
October 1777 .................................. General Horatio Gates defeats the British at the Battle of Saratoga, the battle
that would lead to an alliance with the French.
Winter 17771778.......................... Winter headquarters established at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
19 October 1781 ............................. General Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown, Virginia, effectively ending the
war.
1783 ................................................ Washington resigns his commission and returns to private life.
17831784 ...................................... Jefferson serves in the Continental Congress.
1787 ................................................ Constitutional Convention meets in Philadelphia. Washington serves as
president.
1789 ................................................ Electoral College unanimously elects Washington as first president of the
United States under the new Constitution.
1790 ................................................ District of Columbia is chosen as the future permanent capital of the United
States.
1790 ................................................ Jefferson becomes the first Secretary of State.
17911793 ...................................... Conflicts between Jefferson and Secretary of State Alexander Hamilton lead to
the development of the first political party system, with Hamiltons Federalist
Party opposed by Jeffersons Democratic-Republican Party.
1791 ................................................ The Bank of the United States is chartered.

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1792 ................................................ Washington issues his first veto of a congressional bill.


1792 ................................................ Washington is reelected for a second term.
1793 ................................................ Faced with potential conflicts with both France and Britain, Washington issues a
formal statement of United States neutrality.
1793 ................................................ Washington signs a Fugitive Slave Law, despite his own ambivalent beliefs
about slavery.
1794 ................................................ Washington suppresses with overwhelming force the Whiskey Rebellion of
farmers in western Pennsylvania.
Early 1790s..................................... Andrew Jackson marries, then remarries Rachel Donelson Robertson after her
divorce from her first husband is finally secured. Controversy about their first
marriage would haunt the couple until Rachels death shortly after Jackson was
elected president in 1824.
1794 ................................................ General Anthony Wayne defeats Indian forces in Ohio. A subsequent treaty
would cede large amounts of land to the United States.
1795 ................................................ The Senate ratifies Jays Treaty, which averted war and removed the British
from western forts but did little else to protect American shipping and security
concerns.
2 November 1795 ........................... James K. Polk is born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
1796 ................................................ The Senate ratifies Pinckneys treaty with Spain, which granted American ships
navigation rights on the Mississippi River.
1796 ................................................ Washington chooses not to run again, establishing a two-term tradition that
endured for nearly 150 years. His farewell address called for national unity and
independence from foreign conflicts and warned of the danger of party conflict.
1796 ................................................ Jefferson loses presidential election to John Adams. Jefferson receives the
second highest number of electoral votes and become vice president.
1800 ................................................ Jefferson defeats John Adams in the presidential election, but the election goes
to the House of Representatives, because Jefferson and Aaron Burr receive the
same number of electoral votes.
1801 ................................................ The House of Representatives elects Jefferson as president, leading to the first
transfer of power in American history. The Federalist Party of Washington and
Hamilton would not win another presidential election.
1801 ................................................ Jefferson begins war against Barbary states in the Mediterranean without
authorization from Congress.
18011802 ...................................... Under Jeffersons leadership, taxes are cut and economies in government
achieved.
1802 ................................................ Jefferson is accused of fathering children with his slave, Sally Hemings.
1803 ................................................ The United States purchases from France the vast Louisiana territory between
the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains.
1804 ................................................ The Lewis and Clark expedition begins.
1804 ................................................ The Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution establishes the modern system in
which the president and vice president are separately elected.
1804 ................................................ Jefferson is elected easily to a second term.

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18041805 ...................................... Jefferson supporters in the House impeach Federalist Supreme Court Justice
Samuel Chase, but he is acquitted by the Senate.
1806 ................................................ Congress authorizes construction of what would become the National Road.
1807 ................................................ The federal government unsuccessfully prosecutes Aaron Burr for treason.
1807 ................................................ Jefferson signs a ban on the international slave trade.
1807 ................................................ Congress approves the Embargo Act against international commerce. It was
designed to place economic pressure on Great Britain in any effort to restore
Americas commercial rights.
1808 ................................................ Jefferson honors the Washington tradition and declines to seek a third
presidential term.
12 February 1809............................ Abraham Lincoln is born in Larue County, Kentucky.
1809 ................................................ Congress repeals the Embargo Act shortly before Jefferson leaves office.
1815 ................................................ Jackson wins the Battle of New Orleans, thwarting a British invasion.
1819 ................................................ Jacksons military campaigns result in the ceding of Spanish Florida to the
United States.
1824 ................................................ Jackson wins a plurality of the popular and Electoral College vote, but the
House of Representative elects John Quincy Adams as president.
1824 ................................................ Polk marries Sarah Childress, who would become an important influence on his
political life.
1825 ................................................ Polk wins election to Congress as a supporter of Andrew Jackson.
1828 ................................................ Jackson easily defeats Adams and is elected president. The coalition that forms
around Jacksons candidacy would become the Democratic Party.
1829 ................................................ Jackson establishes an informal group of advisors known as the kitchen
cabinet and inaugurates the spoils system for the replacement of federal
officials.
1830 ................................................ Jackson vetoes the Maysville Road Bill, which would have provided federal
support for a road in Kentucky.
1830 ................................................ Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act, granting authority to move Eastern
Indian tribes to western lands.
1831 ................................................ Nearly all of Jacksons cabinet resigns as a result of conflict over the treatment
of Peggy Eaton, who was considered socially unacceptable by some cabinet
members and their wives.
1832 ................................................ Jackson begins the bank war by vetoing the charter of the Bank after it narrowly
passed Congress in 1832. The veto galvanized Jacksons opponents into an antiJackson party that would become the Whig Party by the end of the decade.
1832 ................................................ Jackson issues his Nullification Proclamation that affirmed the supremacy of
federal law over state action.
1832 ................................................ Jackson easily wins reelection in the first contest in which parties nominated
candidates at national conventions.
1833 ................................................ Jackson escalates the bank war by removing government deposits from the Bank
of the United States.
1834 ................................................ The Senate censures Jackson for his actions in removing the deposits.
1834 ................................................ Lincoln is elected to the Illinois State legislature.

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1835 ................................................ A would-be assassin attempts to shoot President Jackson, but his pistols misfire.
1835 ................................................ Polks close alliance with Jackson helps him become Speaker of the House.
1836 ................................................ Jackson issues his Specie Circular, requiring purchasers of large federal lands to
pay in gold or silver.
1836 ................................................ The House of Representatives establishes a gag rule to prevent consideration
of anti-slavery petitions.
1836 ................................................ Jackson retires from politics, and his hand-picked successor, Martin Van Buren,
is elected over the candidates of the newly established Whig Party.
1837 ................................................ The newly elected Senate revokes the censure of President Jackson and
expunges it from the record of the Senate.
1839 ................................................ Polk is elected governor of Tennessee. He would fail in two attempts at
reelection.
1844 ................................................ The Democratic Convention nominates Polk as the first dark horse presidential
candidate in American history.
1844 ................................................ Polk narrowly defeats the favored Henry Clay in the presidential election.
1845 ................................................ Congress passes a joint resolution authorizing the annexation of Texas, which
the outgoing President John Tyler signed.
13 May 1846................................... Congress, at the request of President Polk, approves a declaration of war against
Mexico.
1846 ................................................ Congress adopts Polks proposals for tariff reduction and for establishing an
Independent Treasury as the repository for federal funds.
1846 ................................................ Lincoln is elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves for a single
term. It is his last elected office before winning the presidency.
1846 ................................................ The United States reaches an agreement with Britain over the disputed Oregon
territory, setting the boundary at the 49th parallel as Polk had earlier proposed.
1846 ................................................ Congress fails to pass legislation introduced by Representative David Wilmot to
prohibit slavery in territory acquired from Mexico.
September 1847 .............................. U.S. forces under General Winfield Scott take Mexico City, effectively ending
the Mexican War.
February 1848................................. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo formally ends the Mexican War, ceding vast
amounts of Mexican territory to the United States.
1848 ................................................ Polk honors an early pledge and declines to seek reelection. The presidency
would be captured by the candidate of the rival Whig Party.
28 December 1856.......................... Woodrow Wilson is born in Staunton, Virginia.
1858 ................................................ The Lincoln-Douglas debates take place.
27 October 1858 ............................. Theodore Roosevelt is born in New York City.
1860 ................................................ Lincoln is elected president with just 40 percent of the popular vote in a fourperson race. South Carolina secedes from the Union. Ten other states would
eventually follow.
April 1861....................................... The Civil War begins with the shelling of Fort Sumter. Lincoln calls out the
militia.
July 1861 ........................................ The South wins the Battle of Bull Run.

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September 1862 .............................. After a Union victory at Antietam in September 1862, Lincoln issues the
preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in areas still under
the control of the Confederacy.
1862 ................................................ The Homestead Act, providing free land for settlement of the west, and the
Morrill Act, establishing land grant colleges, are enacted.
1 January 1863................................ The Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect.
July 1863 ........................................ The Union wins the Battle of Gettysburg; draft riots occur in New York City.
19 November 1863 ......................... Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address.
1864 ................................................ General Ulysses S. Grant is appointed as commander of all Union forces and
launches a coordinated attack to box in the Confederate Army.
1864 ................................................ Sherman takes Atlanta and begins his march to the sea.
1864 ................................................ Lincoln wins reelection as president, defeating George McClellan, the general
he had fired for inaction. Andrew Johnson is elected vice president.
February 1865................................. The Hampton Roads Peace Conference.
April 1865....................................... Union troops enter the Confederate capital of Richmond; Confederate General
Robert E. Lee surrenders to Grant.
14 April 1865.................................. John Wilkes Booth shoots Lincoln at Fords Theater. Lincoln would die the next
morning, and Andrew Johnson would become president of the United States.
1880 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt marries Alice Hathaway Lee. After her death, he would
marry Edith Kermit Carow in 1886.
1881 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt is elected to the New York State Assembly.
30 January 1882.............................. Franklin Delano Roosevelt is born in Hyde Park, New York.
1885 ................................................ Woodrow Wilson marries Ellen Louise Axson. After her death, he would marry
Edith Bolling Gault in 1915.
1897 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt is appointed assistant secretary of the navy.
1898 ................................................ The Spanish-American War takes place. Theodore Roosevelt leads the Rough
Riders.
1898 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt is elected governor of New York State.
1900 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt is elected as William McKinleys vice president.
14 September 1901 ......................... Theodore Roosevelt becomes president of the United States after the
assassination of McKinley.
1902 ................................................ The Roosevelt administration brings an anti-trust suit against the Northern
Securities Company.
1902 ................................................ Roosevelt mediates the Anthracite Coal Strike.
1902 ................................................ Wilson becomes president of Princeton University.
1903 ................................................ Roosevelt acquires the territory needed to build the Panama Canal.
1904 ................................................ Roosevelt issues the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, which asserts
Americas power to intervene in the internal affairs of Latin American nations.
1904 ................................................ Roosevelt wins a landslide election to a full term.
1905 ................................................ Roosevelt mediates a settlement of the Russo-Japanese war.
1905 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt marries Eleanor Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelts niece.

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1906 ................................................ The federal Meat Inspection and Food and Drug Acts are enacted.
1907 ................................................ Roosevelt, with the help of J. P. Morgan, steers the government through the
Panic of 1907.
1907 ................................................ Under the terms of the so-called Gentlemens Agreement, Japan pledged to
restrict immigration to the United States, and the United States, in turn, would
refrain from enacting Japanese exclusion into law.
1908 ................................................ Lyndon Johnson is born near Stonewall, Texas.
1908 ................................................ Roosevelt honors an earlier pledge and declines to run for reelection. His chosen
successor, William Howard Taft, is elected.
1910 ................................................ Wilson is elected governor of New Jersey.
1910 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is elected to the New York State Senate.
6 February 1911.............................. Ronald Reagan is born in Tampico, Illinois.
1912 ................................................ Wilson wins the Democratic nomination and is elected president after Roosevelt
splits the Republican Party with his insurgent campaign.
19131914 ...................................... Wilson wins enactment of his domestic program of tariff reduction, creation of
the Federal Reserve system, and anti-trust legislation.
1913 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is appointed assistant secretary of the navy.
1914 ................................................ World War I begins. Wilson tries to maintain neutrality while seeking to
mediate an end to the war.
May 1915........................................ A German submarine torpedoes the British liner Lusitania.
1916 ................................................ Under Wilsons guidance, Congress adopts federal loans for farmers, a model
workmens compensation act, a federal child labor law, an eight-hour day for
railroad workers, and federal highway assistance.
1916 ................................................ The United States begins preparedness measures.
1916 ................................................ Wilson narrowly wins reelection with the slogan he kept us out of war.
2 April 1917.................................... Wilson asks Congress for a declaration of war against Germany.
27 May 1917................................... John F. Kennedy is born in Brookline, Massachusetts. He would be the first
president to be born in the twentieth century.
1918 ................................................ Wilson sets out his Fourteen Points as a basis for a lasting peace.
1918 ................................................ The American Expeditionary Force plays an important role in running the war
for the Allies.
1919 ................................................ Wilson leads the American delegation to Paris to negotiate the peace settlement.
The Treaty of Versailles would include his plan for a league of nations.
September 1919 .............................. Wilson suffers a stroke while campaigning for the treaty, which the Senate fails
to ratify.
1920 ................................................ The states ratify constitutional amendments for prohibition and womens
suffrage. The 1920 election would be the first in American history with women
in all states eligible to vote.
1920 ................................................ The Republicans recapture the presidency as Warren Harding wins a landslide
victory. Franklin Roosevelt runs for vice president on the losing Democratic
ticket.
1921 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is stricken with polio.

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1928 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is elected governor of New York. Republican Herbert
Hoover wins the presidency.
1929 ................................................ The Great Depression begins.
1932 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt easily defeats Herbert Hoover in the presidential election.
1933 ................................................ In the first hundred days of the administration, Congress enacts Roosevelts
New Deal agenda of work and relief programs, banking reform, homeowner
assistance, economy in government, and programs for the recovery of industry
and agriculture.
1933 ................................................ The prohibition amendment is repealed.
1934 ................................................ The incumbent Democrats win congressional seats in the midterm elections.
1935 ................................................ The Supreme Court declares the National Recovery Act unconstitutional.
1935 ................................................ Elements of the second New Deal are enacted, including the Works Progress
Administration, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Social Security Act.
1936 ................................................ Roosevelt wins a landslide reelection, taking every state except Maine and
Vermont.
1937 ................................................ Johnson wins a special election for the U.S. House of Representatives.
1937 ................................................ The Supreme Court upholds the Social Security Act.
1937 ................................................ Congress rejects Roosevelts court-packing plan.
1937 ................................................ An economic recession begins.
1937 ................................................ Reagan begins his acting career.
1938 ................................................ Congress enacts the Fair Labor Standards Act, establishing minimum wages and
maximum hours.
1938 ................................................ Republicans make major gains in the midterm elections of 1938, although
Democrats retain both houses of Congress.
1939 ................................................ World War II begins. A strong isolationist movement would develop in the
United States.
1940 ................................................ Under Roosevelts prodding, the United States begins to aid the Allies and
develop preparedness measures, including the Selective Training and Service
Act.
1940 ................................................ Roosevelt wins an unprecedented third term, defeating dark horse Republican
candidate Wendell Willkie.
1941 ................................................ The United States becomes more deeply involved in the war, especially after the
passage of Lend-Lease in March.
August 1941 ................................... The United States and Britain issue the Atlantic Charter with an eight-point
statement of principles for peace.
December 1941............................... Japan attacks Pearl Harbor. The United States declares war against Japan.
Germany and Italy declare war against the United States. The United States
declares war on Germany and Italy.
1942 ................................................ The United States adopts measures to mobilize the nation and to finance the war
effort.
1942 ................................................ President Roosevelt authorizes the internment of Japanese Americans.
1942 ................................................ The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration, key
components of the New Deal, come to an end.

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January 1943................................... Crucial decisions about the war, including a demand for unconditional
surrender, are made by Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and other Allied
representatives at Casablanca.
6 June 1944..................................... The Allied invasion of France begins.
1944 ................................................ Congress enacts the G.I. Bill of Rights.
1944 ................................................ Representatives of the Allies establish the basis for the foundation of the United
Nations.
1944 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is elected to a third term. He selects Harry Truman as his
running mate after dumping Vice President Henry Wallace.
February 1945................................. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin meet at Yalta to discuss Russian entry into the
war against Japan, the United Nations, and postwar arrangements in Germany,
Poland, and Eastern Europe.
12 April 1945.................................. Truman becomes president after Roosevelts death.
7 May 1945..................................... V-E Day: Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies.
August 1945 ................................... The United States drops atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki.
2 September 1945 ........................... V-J Day: Japanese formally surrender aboard the U.S.S. Missouri.
1945 ................................................ Truman proposes an ambitious program of domestic reform, most of which will
not be enacted by Congress.
1946 ................................................ The Republicans win control of both houses of Congress for the first time since
the 1920s. Kennedy is elected as a Democrat to the U.S. House of
Representatives.
March 1947..................................... Truman announces the Truman Doctrine on the containment of communism.
1947 ................................................ The National Security Act establishes the Department of Defense, the Central
Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Council.
1947 ................................................ Congress enacts the Taft-Hartley Act over the veto of President Truman.
1947 ................................................ Secretary of State Marshall announces his plan for the recovery of Europe.
1948 ................................................ Truman issues an executive order to end segregation in the armed forces.
1948 ................................................ Truman recognizes the newly created state of Israel.
1948 ................................................ Truman surprises the pundits by defeating Thomas Dewey in the presidential
election. Democrats regain control of Congress. Johnson is elected to the
Senate.
1949 ................................................ Truman announces Four Point program to improve and modernize the
economies of less developed nations.
1949 ................................................ Communist forces take over the mainland of China. Recriminations begin in the
United States.
1949 ................................................ The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is established.
1950 ................................................ The Korean War begins.
October 1950 .................................. The U.N. Army crosses the 38th parallel into North Korea.
November 1950 .............................. The Chinese communists enter the Korean War.
1951 ................................................ Truman fires General MacArthur for insubordination.

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1952 ................................................ The Supreme Court declares unconstitutional Trumans seizure of the steel mills
in Youngstown, Ohio.
1952 ................................................ Truman declines to run for another term. The Republicans win their first
presidential election since 1928 as Dwight Eisenhower defeats Adlai Stevenson.
Kennedy is elected to the Senate.
1953 ................................................ Kennedy marries Jacqueline Bouvier.
1960 ................................................ Kennedy is elected president, narrowly defeating Republican Vice President
Richard Nixon. Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson of Texas is elected
vice president.
March 1961..................................... Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps by executive order.
April 1961....................................... Kennedy authorizes the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
1961 ................................................ The Alliance for Progress is established to promote democracy and economic
development in Latin America.
1961 ................................................ The Berlin Wall is constructed.
October 1962 .................................. After discovering the installation of Soviet missiles in Cuba, Kennedy imposes a
quarantine. The crisis is resolved when Russia agrees to remove the missiles and
the United States agrees not to invade Cuba.
1962 ................................................ Kennedy embraces an expansionary fiscal policy, including tax cuts to stimulate
the economy.
1962 ................................................ The United States and other nations agree to protect the independence and
neutrality of Laos.
1963 ................................................ Kennedy continues to increase American military personnel in Vietnam but
resists pressure for a large-scale American military campaign.
1963 ............................................... Kennedy supports a military coup in South Vietnam that resulted in the
assassination of President Ngo Diem.
1963 ................................................ The civil rights movement intensifies and the Kennedy administration responds
by drafting omnibus civil rights legislation.
1963 ................................................ The United States, the Soviet Union, and numerous other nations agree to ban
atmospheric and oceanic nuclear testing.
22 November 1963 ......................... Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Johnson becomes president. The
Warren Commission appointed by Johnson would find that Lee Harvey Oswald,
a former marine and self-avowed Marxist, had shot the president.
1964 ................................................ Enactment of the Civil Rights Act, ending segregation of public facilities and
accommodations.
1964 ................................................ Enactment of the Economic Opportunity Act, implementing Johnsons War on
Poverty program.
August 1964 ................................... The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gives Johnson a free hand to expand Americas
military involvement in Vietnam.
1964 ................................................ Johnson wins a landslide victory over conservative Republican candidate Barry
Goldwater.
1965 ................................................ Lyndon Johnson proposes a Great Society program. Congress responds by
enacting such programs as Medicare and Medicaid.
1965 ................................................ Enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, eliminating literacy tests and
providing for the expansion of minority registration and voting.

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1965 ................................................ Enactment of the Water Quality Act begins a succession of major environmental
initiatives during the Johnson administration.
1965 ................................................ Johnson begins a substantial escalation of American military involvement in
Vietnam, including both an air war and a ground war.
1965 ................................................ Northern race riots begin with an outbreak in the Watts neighborhood of Los
Angeles.
1966 ................................................ Democrats suffer major losses in the midterm elections. Reagan is elected
Republican Governor of California.
1967 ................................................ The war in Vietnam intensifies, as do anti-war demonstrations.
1968 ................................................ The communists in Vietnam win a major propaganda victory with an offensive
launched on the eve of Tet, the lunar New Year.
31 March 1968 ............................... Johnson withdraws from the presidential race to concentrate on bringing peace
to Vietnam.
1968 ................................................ Johnsons vice president, Hubert Humphrey, loses the presidential election to
Richard Nixon.
1980 ................................................ Reagan is elected president, defeating incumbent Democratic President Jimmy
Carter. Republicans win control of the Senate for the first time since the 1950s.
March 1981..................................... Reagan narrowly survives an assassination attempt.
19811982 ...................................... Congress enacts Reagans major tax cut and deregulation proposals and
redirects priorities from domestic to military spending.
1982 ................................................ The economy is in recession and Democrats make gains in the midterm
elections.
1983 ................................................ The economy begins a recovery from the recession. The economy would
continue to grow throughout the remainder of Reagans two terms.
October 1983 .................................. The United States invades the tiny island of Grenada to dislodge a leftist
government.
November 1984 .............................. Reagan wins a decisive reelection victory over Walter Mondale, Carters vice
president. Mondales running mate, Geraldine Ferraro, was the first woman on a
major party ticket.
1985 ................................................ Mikhail Gorbachev becomes the leader of the Soviet Union.
1986 ................................................ Emergence of the Iran-Contra scandal, involving the sale of arms to the terrorist
state of Iran and the illegal diversion of the profits to the Contra resistance
movement in Nicaragua.
1986 ................................................ Republicans lose control of the Senate.
1986 ................................................ Congress enacts major tax reform legislation.
October 1987 .................................. The Dow Jones Industrial Average drops 500 points, but the market recovers
and the economy continues to expand through Reagans term.
1987 ................................................ The United States and the Soviet Union reach agreement on the removal of
intermediate-range ballistic missiles from Europe. The Senate ratifies the treaty
the following year.
1988 ................................................ Reagans vice president, George Bush, wins the presidency.

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Davis, Kenneth S. FDR: Into the Storm, 19371940. New York: Random House, 1993.
. FDR: The Beckoning of Destiny, 18821928. New York: Putnam, 1971.
Eden, Robert. The New Deal and Its Legacy: Critique and Reappraisal. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1985.
Fraser, Steve, and Gary Gerstle. The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order, 19301980. Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1989.
Freidel, Frank B. Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Rendezvous with Destiny. Boston: Little, Brown, 1990.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. No Ordinary Time. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II.
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994.
Heale, M. J. Franklin D. Roosevelt: The New Deal and War. New York: Routledge, 1999.
Heinrichs, Waldo. Threshold of War: Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Entry into World War II. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1988.
Kimball, Warren F. The Juggler: Franklin Roosevelt as Wartime Statesman. Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1991.

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Leuchtenburg, William E. The FDR Years: On Roosevelt and His Legacy. New York: Columbia University Press,
1995.
Sullivan, Patricia. Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era. Chapel Hill: University of North
Carolina Press, 1996.
Ward, Geoffrey C. Before the Trumpet: Young Franklin Roosevelt, 18821905. New York: Perennial Library, 1986.
10. Harry Truman
Donovan, Robert J. Conflict and Crisis: The Presidency of Harry S. Truman, 19451948. New York: W.W. Norton
& Company, 1977.
Ferrell, Robert H. Harry S. Truman: A Life. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1994.
Gosnell, Harold. Trumans Crises: A Political Biography of Harry S. Truman. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press,
1980.
Hamby, Alonzo L. Man of the People: A Life of Harry S. Truman. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Leffler, Melvyn P. A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War.
Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992.
McCormick, Thomas J. Americas Half Century: United States Foreign Policy in the Cold War and After.
Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.
McCoy, Donald R. The Presidency of Harry S. Truman. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1984.
McCullough, David. Truman. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.
Miller, Richard Lawrence. Truman: The Rise to Power. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1986.
Savage, Sean J. Truman and the Democratic Party. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1997.
Sherwin, Martin J. A World Destroyed: Hiroshima and the Origins of the Arms Race. New York: Vintage Books,
1987.
Winkler, Allan M. Life under a Cloud: American Anxiety about the Atom. New York: Oxford University Press,
1993.
11. John F. Kennedy
Bernstein, Irving. Promises Kept: John F. Kennedys New Frontier. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Beschloss, Michael R. The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 19601963. New York: Edward Burlingame,
1991.
Blair, Joan, and Clay Blair, Jr. The Search for JFK. New York: Berkley Medallion Books, 1976.
Branch, Taylor. Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 19541963. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988.
Brown, Thomas. JFK: History of an Image. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.
Davis, John H. The Kennedys: Dynasty and Disaster, 18481984. New York: McGraw Hill, 1984.
Giglio, James N. The Presidency of John F. Kennedy. Lawrence: University Press of
Kansas, 1991.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga. New York: Simon & Schuster,
1987.
Kaiser, David. American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson, and the Origins of the Vietnam War. Cambridge: Harvard
University Press, 2000.
Logsdon, John M. The Decision to Go to the Moon: Project Apollo and the National Interest. Cambridge: MIT
Press, 1970.
Parmet, Herbert S. JFK: The Presidency of John F. Kennedy. New York: Dial Press, 1983.
Reeves, Thomas C. A Question of Character: A Life of John F. Kennedy. New York: Free Press, 1991.
White, Mark J. The Cuban Missile Crisis. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996.
12. Lyndon Johnson
Beschloss, Michael R. Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 19631964. New York: Simon &
Schuster, 1997.

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Bornet, Vaughn D. The Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1983.
Dallek, Robert. Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 19611973. New York: Oxford University Press,
1998.
. Lone Star Rising: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 19081960. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. New York: St. Martins Griffin, 1991.
Herring, George C. Americas Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 19501975. New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 1996.
Murray, Charles. Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 19501980. New York: Basic Books, 1984.
Schulman, Bruce J. Lyndon B. Johnson and American Liberalism; A Brief Biography with Documents. New York:
Bedford Books, 1995.
Unger, Irwin, and Debi Unger. LBJ: A Life. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999.
Weisbrot, Robert. Freedom Bound: A History of Americas Civil Rights Movement. New York: Plume Books, 1990.
13. Ronald Reagan
Adler, Bill. Ronnie and Nancy: A Very Special Love Story. New York: Crown Publishers, 1985.
Anderson, Martin. Revolution. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988.
Boaz, David, ed. Assessing the Reagan Years. Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 1988.
Cannon, Lou. Reagan. New York: G.P. Putnams Sons, 1982.
Dallek, Robert. Ronald Reagan: The Politics of Symbolism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984.
Detlefsen, Robert R. Civil Rights under Reagan. San Francisco: Institute for Contemporary Studies, 1991.
Evans, Rowland, and Robert Novak. The Reagan Revolution. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1981.
Fitzgerald, Frances. Way out There in the Blue. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000.
Johnson, Haynes. Sleepwalking through History: America in the Reagan Years. New York: W.W. Norton, 1991.
Morris, Edmund. Dutch. New York: Random House, 1999.
Oye, Kenneth A., et al. The Eagle Resurgent? The Reagan Era in American Foreign Policy. Boston: Little, Brown,
1987.
Schweizer, Peter. Victory: The Reagan Administrations Secret Strategy That Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet
Union. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1994.
Stockman, David. The Triumph of Politics: How the Reagan Revolution Failed. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.

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49

Great Presidents
Part II

Professor Allan J. Lichtman

THE TEACHING COMPANY

Allan J. Lichtman, Ph.D.


Professor of History, American University
Allan J. Lichtman received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and is a professor and Chair of the Department of
History at American University in Washington, D.C. He is the author or coauthor of six books, including Prejudice
and the Old Politics: The Presidential Election of 1928, Historians and the Living Past, and The Thirteen Keys to
the Presidency. He is editor of the book series Studies in Modern American History, published by Lexington Books.
Professor Lichtmans forthcoming book is entitled The Keys to the White House, 2000. The Keys system
predicted well ahead of time the outcome of every presidential election from 1984 to 1996. Dr. Lichtman has
provided commentary for CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, CNBC, C-SPAN, Worldnet, Voice of America,
the BBC, and many other networks worldwide. He worked with Dan Rather as a CBS news consultant during the
impeachment and trial of Bill Clinton.
Dr. Lichtman has published more than 100 scholarly and popular articles that have appeared in such journals and
newspapers as the American Historical Review, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, New Republic,
Washington Monthly, New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and Los Angeles Times. He
lectures frequently on politics and public affairs and is often cited by the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France
Presse, and other news services. He currently writes a biweekly column for the Montgomery Gazette and a
presidential election year column for Reuters.
Dr. Lichtman has been a Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the California Institute of
Technology. He has been an expert witness in more than sixty federal voting rights and redistricting cases. He
received the 199293 Scholar/Teacher award at American University. His biography is published in Whos Who in
America and Whos Who in the World.

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Table of Contents
Great Presidents
Part II
Professor Biography............................................................................................i
Course Scope.......................................................................................................1
Lecture Thirteen
Andrew Jackson: A President Defiant.......................2
Lecture Fourteen
James K. Polk: Party Loyalist....................................5
Lecture Fifteen
James K. Polk: The First Dark Horse ........................7
Lecture Sixteen
James K. Polk: Apostle of Manifest Destiny ...........10
Lecture Seventeen
Abraham Lincoln: Frontier Politician......................13
Lecture Eighteen
Abraham Lincoln: The First Republican
President ..................................................................16
Lecture Nineteen
Abraham Lincoln: Wartime Leader.........................18
Lecture Twenty
Abraham Lincoln: The Martyred President .............21
Lecture Twenty-One
Theodore Roosevelt: Patrician Reformer ................23
Lecture Twenty-Two
Theodore Roosevelt: The Cowboy as President ......26
Lecture Twenty-Three Theodore Roosevelt: Progressive Dynamo..............28
Lecture Twenty-Four
Theodore Roosevelt: Third-Party Crusader.............30
Timeline .............................................................................................................33
Bibliography......................................................................................................43

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Great Presidents
Scope:
The founders of the American Republic, in one of their most audacious decisions, created a strong and independent
president who commanded the armed forces and led the executive branch of government. Through this act of
geniusthe world had never seen an office quite like the American presidencythe founders put in place the rock
of the Republic. Americas great presidents secured the stability of the nation and the peaceful transition of political
power. Each one of the twelve leaders explored in this course led the nation through a pivotal era of its history, and
advanced the power and authority of the presidential office.
These presidents, from George Washington to Ronald Reagan, led the nation through its founding years, its
expansion to the west, and its transformation into an industrial society. They dealt with Americas struggle over
slavery, the civil war, two world wars, the Great Depression, the revolution in civil and womens rights, and the
Cold War. Through them we learn how America responded to an increasingly complex and diverse society and met
the crises of war, economic collapse, and social upheaval.
We consider the personal histories, character, and values of each president. We trace their responses to Americas
various and historically changing peoples, and their transformation of the presidency itself. We see how presidential
decisions shaped American and world history and we explore inside stories of the modern worlds most powerful
office. How did early presidents reconcile their slave holding with their support for democracy and liberty? How did
Thomas Jefferson, the champion of limited government, magnify presidential powers? Why did Abraham Lincoln
believe that he could not be reelected in 1864? In what ways did accidental president Harry Truman transform
Americas role in the world? How did master politician Lyndon Johnson blunder into the Vietnam War? Why did
Ronald Reagan abandon the Christian conservatives who fought for his election as president?
The study of Americas great presidents shows that there is no single pathway to political power and historical
consequence in the United States. The backgrounds of great presidents range from the privileged heritage of George
Washington, the Roosevelts, and John Kennedy to the humble origins of Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and
Harry Truman. Some, like Washington and Jefferson, achieved early prominence. Others, like James Polk, Lincoln,
and Truman, were unlikely presidents who rose to the challenges of their times. The few qualities that do seem to
unite the great presidents are an unsinkable ambition, a synchrony with the American people, and a strong inner
core of guiding values and principles.

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Lecture Thirteen
Andrew Jackson: A President Defiant
Scope: Soon after his second inauguration, Jackson renewed the war against the Bank of the United States, which
became the most important episode of his second term. This time, the war was even more intense, personal,
and consequential. As a result, Jackson became the first and only president to be censured by the United
States Senate. Jackson and his party also attempted to suppress the conflict over slavery that was emerging
with new force during his second term. During his final years in the presidency, Jackson introduced
reforms to modernize the government. Jackson has been seen as both a progressive and a reactionary. Most
would agree, however, that the development of popular politics in the United States and the growth of the
modern political party system owe much to him.

Outline
I.

During his second term, Jackson continued his fight against the Bank of the United States.
A. Jackson tried to hasten the demise of the National Bank by withdrawing funds and moving them to state
banks.
1. Jackson had to fire and replace his Secretary of the Treasury, who would not carry out the withdrawal
order.
2. Bank Chairman Nicholas Biddle struck back and tightened credit, leading to economic troubles in
1833 and 1834.
B. Jacksons strong tactics produced intense political controversy.
1. Jackson believed that the Bank imperiled the future of American freedom and liberty, whereas his
opponents believed that Jacksons autocratic leadership threatened democracy in the United States. In
March of 1834, for the only time in the nations history, the Senate, led by Jacksons old enemy and
now Senator Henry Clay, censured the presidents actions for overstepping his constitutional duties.
2. The Senate acted unilaterally because Jackson loyalists controlled the House. Impeachment, which had
to originate in the House, was not a viable alternative. Although censure had no legal force, Jackson
fought back, attacking the Senates right to censure him. He claimed that censure carried with it the
kind of moral stigma that would tarnish his precious legacy. The conflict over censure also reflected
conflict over the powers of the Congress versus those of the presidency.
3. The deposits were never put back in the Bank, and it died in 1836.
4. A Democratic Senate in 1837 revoked the censure, expunging it from the record of the Senate.
C. The results of the Bank war were significant politically and economically.
1. One outcome was the coalescing of anti-Jackson forces under the name Whigs. The Whigs and
Democrats would continue their political battles into the 1850s.
2. Jackson used the Banks deposits to build his party by putting funds into so-called pet banks
controlled by Democrats, especially early in the controversy.
3. In 1836, Jackson issued his Specie Circular, requiring purchasers of large federal lands to pay in gold
or silver. His issue of the Circular once again set a precedent that expanded presidential power.
4. This policy may have backfired and contributed to the devastating Panic of 1837 and the ensuing
economic depression.

II. Industrialization and shifts in the economy demanded a governmental response.


A. Social tension during the 1830s was prompted by rising tensions over slavery and industrialization.
1. There was mob violence against abolitionists and labor riots by an increasingly militant labor
movement, abetted by ethnic tensions.
2. The violence of the era touched the president himself. In January 1835, an insane would-be assassin
tried to shoot Jackson, but his pistols misfired.
3. Even though he was called the champion of the common man, Jackson deplored labor violence and did
not side with workers during the strike wave of the mid-1830s.
4. The issue of slavery became a dividing point for the nation in the aftermath of Nat Turners slave
rebellion of 1831 and the rise of abolitionism. Jackson and his followers opposed efforts to interfere

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with slavery. They even instituted a gag order in the House of Representatives that prevented
consideration of anti-slavery petitions.
5. In his farewell address, Jackson warned of the possibility of the nation splitting apart over issues like
slavery.
B. Although not a proponent of activist government, Jackson introduced reforms to modernize government.
1. Under Jackson, the number of post offices more than tripled and won enactment of the 1836 Postal
Reform Act.
2. Jackson also oversaw legislation that expanded the Supreme Court, Patent Office, and General Land
Office.
3. More than ever before, the federal government was taking on a modern bureaucratic form.
4. Some of the new postal reforms were used to prevent the mailing of anti-slavery materials in the
South, paralleling the gag rule in Congress that blocked consideration of anti-slavery petitions.
III. In his second term, Jackson also faced his greatest foreign policy challenge.
A. In its first term, the Jackson administration had negotiated commercial treaties and a settlement with France
regarding payment for damage done by the French to American shipping during the Napoleonic wars.
B. Faced with a lack of payment by France, Jackson threatened that the United States might take redress into
their own hands.
C. Eventually, through a combination of bluster and diplomacy, Jackson persuaded the French to make
payment. This established a new degree of respect for the United States among European powers.
IV. Jackson retired from politics after the election of 1836.
A. The election of 1836 showed the strength of both Jackson and the Democratic Party he had helped create.
B. Martin Van Buren, Jacksons chosen successor, won on a Jacksonian platform of strict construction,
opposition to interference with slavery, and opposition to the Bank.
C. Jackson returned to Tennessee and private life in 1837.
1. Jackson retired to Tennessee and dealt with financial problems resulting from the hard times that
followed the Panic of 1837.
2. In 1844, his protg, James K. Polk, won the race for president. Just after Polks inauguration in 1845,
Jackson died at age seventy-eight.
D. Jacksons place in history is controversial; he has been seen as forward- looking and reactionary, a
democrat and a tyrant.
1. For some historians, he was in the forefront of the development of the new industrial and commercial
economy. For others, he was a backward leader who fought a losing rear-guard action in support of the
old agrarian order.
2. Some historians have condemned his support for slavery, his policy of Indian removal, his hostility to
organized labor, and his tight-money policies that contributed to the depression that began in 1837.
Others have emphasized his role in defending the integrity of the Union and in opening up democracy
and opportunity in early Americaat least for whites and males.
3. Most authorities agree, however, that he played a crucial role in developing a new kind of popular
politics in the United States and in building a strong American party system.
Suggested Reading:
Cole, Donald. The Presidency of Andrew Jackson. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1993.
Remini, Robert. Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 18331845. New York: Harper and
Row, 1984.
. The Legacy of Andrew Jackson. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988.

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Questions to Consider:
1. What is the significance of the censure of Andrew Jackson by the Senate and the subsequent expunging of the
censure resolution?
2. Why is Jackson generally considered one of Americas greatest presidents despite the lack of a foreign policy
triumph or pivotal domestic legislation?
3. To what extent were Jacksons policies responsible for the Panic of 1837 and subsequent hard economic times
for the nation?

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Lecture Fourteen
James K. Polk: Party Loyalist
Scope: Polk was the first president who was not a military hero or an experienced elder statesman. He was not
even one of the more successful politicians of his time. But he was the right man in the right place at the
right time. He was a protg of Andrew Jackson when Jackson dominated the American political scene. He
was a loyal Democratic Party man intent on fulfilling the Jacksonian program at precisely the time when a
modern-style party system was taking shape in the United States. He was an ardent expansionist when
white Americans were advancing across the continent, seeing land as a source of wealth, independence,
and increased opportunities. After overcoming health problems, Polk turned his intense energies to
obtaining an excellent education. After a successful career in Congress and one term as governor of
Tennessee, Polks career would seemingly hit a dead end in the 1840s when he lost the next two
gubernatorial elections.

Outline
I.

Despite Polks relative obscurity, he was one of Americas more significant presidents.
A. Although he was a one-term president, Polk led the nation through war with Mexico and oversaw the most
crucial period of continental expansion in the nations history.
B. He was the first dark horse candidate to be elected president of the United States.
C. He was the right man for his historical moment, a Jacksonian and westerner with an intense ambition to
promote the expansion of the nation across the North American continent.

II. Polks early life was marked by illness and a dedication to education.
A. Polk had a difficult childhood on the western frontier.
1. He was born in North Carolina in 1795 of Scotch-Irish ancestry. His family was one of many involved
in the western land grab when they moved to Tennessee to become planters.
2. Even though he was a frontiersman, Polk was a sickly child and had to have a risky operation just to
survive his teen years.
B. Finally in good health, Polk began his education and career in earnest.
1. He graduated at the top of his class at the University of North Carolina before returning to Tennessee.
2. Under the tutelage of State Senator Felix Grundy, Polk learned about politics and law before being
admitted to the bar at age twenty-five.
III. Polk entered Tennessee politics at an early age.
A. Polk became a young Tennessee legislator soon after beginning his law practice.
1. In 1822, he was elected to the State House by running a local, grassroots campaign.
2. He married Sarah Childress, the daughter of a prominent family, in 1824. Local hero Andrew Jackson
sanctioned the marriage.
3. The marriage, although childless, was a good match, and Sarah became a behind-the-scenes influence
on Polks political life.
4. She was a source of shrewd political advice, a consummate hostess, and a partner in his presidency. In
an age when women couldnt vote or hold office, Sarah Polk didnt engage publicly in political
activity but was one of the most influential and important First Ladies, nonetheless.
5. In 1848, during Polks last year in office, the first womens rights convention was held at Seneca Falls,
New York. Among other demands, delegates sought the right to vote for women. There is no evidence
that either James or Sarah Polk responded to the women and men of Seneca Falls.
B. Polk became a supporter of Jackson and found his career intertwined with that of Old Hickory.
1. In 1825, Polk won election to Congress on a pro-Jackson platform. He did not have the charisma or
heroic image of his mentor, but he made up for it with tireless campaigning and solid debating skills.
2. Polk became a congressional leader during Jacksons presidency. He was a pioneer of the modern-day
practice of grassroots campaigning and constituent service. He followed Jacksons lead politically in
calling for limited government, states rights, low tariffs, economy in government, and opposition to

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the National Bank. He also followed Jacksons lead personally by maintaining a large plantation with
slave labor and without moral reservations about slavery.
3. His close alliance with Jackson won him the speakership of the House in 1835, but also made him
enemies as anti-Jackson forces converged in the newly developing Whig Party.
C. To broaden his political base, Polk resigned from Congress in 1839 to run for governor of Tennessee.
1. No one to that point in history, or for that matter through the end of the twentieth century, had ever
gone directly from the House of Representatives to the presidency.
2. Polk won the governorship with his usual grinding political style. His debating skills made up for his
lack of easy charm and his will to win made him better prepared on the issues than any of his rivals.
3. He also had the advantage of Sarah Polk who served as his campaign manager, setting his schedule,
handling correspondence, distributing literature, and keeping him informed of the latest news.
However, he was not able to parlay the momentum into a higher office, such as vice president, as he
had hoped to do.
4. After the Panic of 1837 and the Whigs successful presidential campaign in 1840, Polk saw his career
fall apart when he lost the race for governor of Tennessee in both 1841 and 1843.
Suggested Reading:
Haynes, Sam. James K. Polk and the Expansionist Impulse. New York: Longman, 1997.
Sellers, Charles. James K. Polk, Jacksonian, 17951843. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966.
Hietala, Thomas. Manifest Design: Anxious Aggrandizement in Late Jacksonian America. Ithaca: Cornell
University Press, 1985.
Questions to Consider:
1. To what extent does Polks early career illustrate the growth of party organizations in the Jacksonian Era?
2. How does the experience of Sarah Polk illustrate the ambivalent position of women in early nineteenth-century
America?
3. Was Polks political career through 1843 a suitable preparation for the presidency?

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Lecture Fifteen
James K. Polk: The First Dark Horse
Scope: In 1844, Polk resurrected his political career to become the first dark horse candidate nominated for
president and won an upset victory over veteran Whig leader Henry Clay. Much was at stake in 1844,
including the fate of the Democratic Party and Jacksons policies and the future of American
expansionism. Polk ran on an expansionist platform and pledged to serve but a single term in office. He
advocated such Jacksonian policies as tariff reform, states rights, economy in government, the separation
of government financial operations from the banking system, and the removal of Native Americans from
eastern states. Polk was a proponent of the Manifest Destiny of Americans to expand across the
continent. He welcomed the annexation of Texas, asserted American claims to the Oregon territory in
dispute with Great Britain, and sought to acquire California from Mexico.

Outline
I.

Polk won a dark horse victory in the presidential election of 1844.


A. Martin Van Buren, the favorite for the nomination, made two errors early in the campaign.
1. Van Buren allowed the Democratic convention to be held in May of 1844 instead of November of
1843, giving the opposition time to rally against him.
2. Van Buren came out against the annexation of Texas, a move that antagonized Andrew Jackson and
many southern Democrats.
B. With the prodding of Andrew Jackson, Polk entered the race as a pro-annexation candidate.
1. Jackson told a surprised Polk that only an expansionist from the southwest could hold the party
together and that Polk was the most available man.
2. At the convention, Van Buren won a majority of the delegates on at the first ballot but could not
muster the two-thirds needed for nomination.
3. By the ninth ballot, Polk emerged as a compromise candidate. He was the first surprise or dark horse
candidate in American history.
C. The Polk campaign introduced the nation to their dark horse candidate.
1. Polk was billed as a friend of Jackson and an expansionist, who pledged to serve but a single term. He
was to that point the only candidate in American history to pledge to finish his job as president in a
single term. It was a clever political move, but one that made him a kind of lame duck president.
2. He was a hard worker and a master of political detail who worried that the opposition would attempt to
steal the presidency through fraud.
3. He narrowly prevailed over the favored Henry Clay by less than 40,000 votes out of 2.7 million cast.
The presence in the North of an anti-slavery party, the Liberty Party, may have drained just enough
votes from Clay in New York State to give Polk the election.
4. The election of 1844 was the last presidential contest held without a national Election Day. In 1845,
Congress established Election Day (with the exception of Maine) as the first Tuesday after the first
Monday in November.
5. The nation would likely have followed very different policies in the late 1840s if the anti-expansionist
Clay, rather than Polk, had won the presidential election of 1844.
6. Polks victory led Congress to pass a joint resolution on the annexation of Texas, which the outgoing
president, John Tyler, signed. It was the first time that a major international agreement was ratified by
a congressional joint resolution rather than through a treaty approved by two-thirds of the Senate.

II. Polk developed his own distinctive goals and methods as president.
A. Polk pledged to follow Jacksonian principles but had a list of issues, including expansion, that required
strong government action.
1. In his inauguration address, Polk, the youngest president to date in American history, promised limited
government, states rights, expansionism, and economy in government. He asserted the nations claim
to the Oregon Territory, which was in dispute between the United States and Britain.

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2.

Polk tried to balance different factions of the Democratic Party in his cabinet but left out Van Burens
wing. This led to a break with Van Buren, the defection of his New York loyalists from the party in
1848, and to Van Burens candidacy for president on the ticket of an anti-slavery third party known as
the Free Soil Party.
3. The Free Soil Party contributed to the Democratic Partys defeat in the presidential election of 1848
and signaled the emergence of a new and bitter conflict over slavery.
4. The diverse political alliance forged by Andrew Jackson was experiencing considerable internal
strains that Polk would not be able to contain.
5. In a cabinet meeting, Polk also indicated that he intended to acquire California, the gateway to the
potentially lucrative Asian trade.
6. He pledged himself to tariff reduction, supported in the south; the formation of an independent
treasury, supported in the northeast; and expansion into Oregon and California, supported in the west
and north.
B. Polk was open and simple in his personal style and maintained close personal control over the activities of
government.
1. In twice-weekly White House receptions and general meetings four mornings a week, Polk was
accessible to the public.
2. In the tradition of Jackson, Polk openly engaged in the spoils system and actively monitored the
activities of Congress.
III. Polk dealt with many of the same domestic issues as his mentor Jackson, including the tariff, banking, Indian
removal, and internal improvements.
A. Polk embraced a program of tariff reduction.
1. Polk opposed the protective tariff and sought to reduce it, despite objections from northeastern leaders
of his own party.
2. Congress enacted Polks tariff reform measure in 1846, but the vote was close and the tariff passed by
only a single vote in the Senate. The tariff opened a rift between north and south in the party and
showed the difficulty of maintaining a strong party at a time when such issues as the tariff and slavery
broke along sectional, rather than party, lines.
B. Polk sought to separate the governments financial operations from the corrupting influence of the banking
system.
1. Polk fought to reestablish the Independent Treasurya repository for federal funds that was separate
from the banking systemthat had been in place under Van Buren.
2. Although some feared it was risky, Polk got Congress to put the Independent Treasury into law in
1846.
C. Polk followed Jacksons policy of removal of Native Americans but even passed the cost of the project on
to the Native Americans themselves.
D. Polk acquired nearly 20 million acres of land from the Indians, at an expense of about $1.8 million, mainly
from eastern tribes living within the borders of states.
E. As a proponent of the strict construction of the Constitution, Polk vetoed a bill sponsored by fellow
Democrats for the development of river and harbor projects.
1. Polk warned that federal involvement in projects of internal improvement would inflame sectional
tensions, because federal assistance would not be equally distributed to all states.
2. He also feared that federal spending on internal improvement would lead to a scramble for federal
funds, regardless of the merits of the projects being sought.
F. Polk succeeded in enacting his entire domestic program, demonstrating the great power and authority that
even early presidents could wield over the nation.
IV. James Polks fame and notoriety as president came in foreign affairs. He was a proponent of the Manifest
Destiny of Americans to expand their form of government, their culture, and their religion across the
continent. In this view, such expansionism was Americas God-given destiny and would benefit all peoples.
Suggested Reading:

2000 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership

Bergeron, Paul. The Presidency of James K. Polk. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1987.
Haynes, Sam. James K. Polk and the Expansionist Impulse. New York: Longman, 1997
Hietala, Thomas. Manifest Design: Anxious Aggrandizement in Late Jacksonian America. Ithaca: Cornell
University Press, 1985.
Sellers, Charles. James K. Polk, Jacksonian, 17951843. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966.
Questions to Consider:
1. How did such a dark horse candidate as James K. Polk become nominated for president and elected to office?
2. Why did the idea of Manifest Destiny have such an appeal for Americans of the 1840s?
3. To what extent was Manifest Destiny an expression of a belief in the superiority of white, Protestant
Americans?

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Lecture Sixteen
James K. Polk: Apostle of Manifest Destiny
Scope: Polk dealt with important domestic matters, such as tariff policy and the establishment of an Independent
Treasury for the deposit of federal funds. However, the two biggest issues of Polks administration were
matters of foreign policy: the dispute with Great Britain over the boundaries of the Oregon Territory and
the conflict with Mexico. In 1846, an agreement with Britain settled the northern boundary of the United
States at the 49th parallel. Two years later, Polks success in prosecuting the Mexican War led to an
enormous expansion of national territory and to the formation of California, Arizona, New Mexico,
Nevada, and Utah, as well as parts of other states. In his one term as president, Polk achieved all his goals
in foreign and domestic policy. Yet his success in the Mexican War inflamed the issue of slavery, and he
would be unable to pass on the presidency to a member of his own party.

Outline
I.

President Polk settled the dispute with Britain over the Oregon Territory.
A. Americas claim over the northern area of the Oregon Territory was at the heart of the dispute with Britain.
B. Even though he may have favored the boundary at latitude 54-40, Polk was not willing to go to war with
Britain over the dispute and pragmatically suggested a compromise line at the 49th parallel.
C. Polk also played on hostility to British ambitions in the western borderlands and wound up inspiring many
midwestern Democrats into a 54-40 or fight frenzy.
D. Trying to deflate the anger on the Oregon issue, the House passed a resolution calling for an amicable
settlement.
E. In 1846, the United States reached an agreement with Britain, setting the boundary at the 49th parallel, as
Polk had earlier proposed.
F. The most ardent expansionists were unhappy with the abandonment of the demand for 54-40 or fight.
Polk never formally endorsed the treaty. He submitted it to the Senate without a recommendation pro or
con. Still, the Senate passed the treaty overwhelmingly, ending the dispute.

II. The expansionists achieved their major objectives when President Polk, in effect, provoked war with Mexico.
A. The Mexican War was both significant and controversial.
1. To critics, Polk was an imperialist and a racist who could have resolved the crisis with Mexico by
means other than war.
2. To supporters, however, Polk was a hero who expanded democracy and helped ensure the future
stability and prosperity of a continental United States.
B. Polks expansionist plans led to war with Mexico.
1. Polk had his designs squarely set on California, even if it was part of Mexico. Polk had no qualms
about bullying Mexico and believed that Americas culture, religion, and racial stock were superior to
those of other peoples and societies.
2. Relations with Mexico had been tense since Texas had broken with Mexico and declared itself a
Republic in 1836. The annexation of Texas by the United States in 1845 enraged Mexico, which
severed diplomatic relations. There was also a dispute over whether the southern border of Texas
should be the Nueces River or the Rio Grande River to the south.
3. Fearing the use of the Mexican military against Texas, Polk, in 1845, dispatched General Zachary
Taylor and American troops to the Texas frontier.
4. Behind the scenes, Polk was working for a peaceful settlement of the boundary dispute over the border
between Texas and Mexico and for the purchase of Mexican territory.
5. He appointed John Mason Slidell as U.S. minister to Mexico, instructing Slidell to attempt to settle the
border dispute on Americas terms and to purchase huge amounts of Mexican land. A military coup in
Mexico, however, prevented any deal from going through.
6. Polk put military pressure on Mexico by having Taylor move his troops south of the Nueces River,
into disputed territory that traditionally had been part of Mexico.

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7.

Polk believed that Mexicos failure to cede territory to the United States was grounds for war.
However, Polk did not ask Congress for a declaration of war until May 11, 1846, after he had learned
of a clash between American and Mexican forces. This was the provocation that gave Polk his
justification for war.
C. For only the second time in United States history, the nation declared war on a foreign nation.
1. President Polk followed his usual practice and closely supervised the war, as would later presidents in
subsequent wars.
2. Mexicos poorly trained and supplied troops proved to be no match for the well executed American
strategy under Generals Taylor and Winfield Scott, both of whom gained national prominence through
the war.
3. Even as Polk suffered at home through the Democratic loss of the House in midterm elections, the
American army performed well. The United States gained control of California, New Mexico, and
northern Mexico and took Mexico City in September of 1847.
D. Although the fighting was relatively brief, the war and its aftermath had important and long-lasting effects
on the United States.
1. It was a brutal war with racist overtones. Reports from the front indicated that American troops,
especially volunteers from Texas, had committed atrocities against Mexican civilians.
2. Even though some in Congress called for the annexation of all of Mexico, Polk wanted to conclude a
treaty quickly. There were also many who looked with disdain at the Latino culture and Catholic
religion of Mexico and did not want to acquire the entire nation. The Treaty of Guadeloupe-Hidalgo
was signed in February of 1848, ceding California and New Mexico to the United States in return for
about $15 million and setting the boundary of Texas at the Rio Grande.
3. The treaty vastly increased the size of the United States. The territory acquired from Mexico included
all or substantial parts of the states of Arizona, New Mexico, California, Utah, Colorado, and Nevada.
4. The United States had not only achieved its expansionist goals without having to maintain an army of
occupation on foreign soil, but it also gained new standing among European powers and forcefully
asserted its supremacy in the Western Hemisphere. James K. Polks strong action in foreign policy
became a model for subsequent presidents.
5. The United States suffered approximately 12,000 casualties during the war.
6. Mexicans also developed a deep fear and distrust of the United States and entered a period of extreme
instability, partly as a result of the war. The war had essentially cut Mexico in half, detaching some of
its most valuable territory.
E. The war led to new controversies over the expansion of slavery to the territories.
1. As early as 1846, a member of Polks own party, Congressman David Wilmot, added the so-called
Wilmot Proviso to a wartime appropriation bill that would prohibit slavery in any of the territory
acquired from Mexico.
2. The appropriation bill with the Proviso attached passed the House and was defeated in the Senate only
through a filibuster.
3. The Wilmot Proviso became a rallying cry for anti-slavery forces throughout the Polk administration.
The broad question of the expansion of slavery would in the 1850s become the uncontrollable conflict
that led to break up of the existing party system and, ultimately, to the Civil War.
III. The ratification of the treaty with Mexico marked the last achievement of Polks one term in office.
A. Polk upheld his pledge and left office after only one term.
B. Ironically, the Mexican war hero Zachary Taylor, who had clashed with Polk over the conduct of the war,
became the Whig nominee for president in 1848 and defeated Michigan Senator Lewis Cass, the candidate
of Polks Democratic Party.
C. Former Democratic president Martin Van Buren, who had been spurned by Polk, campaigned as the
candidate of the anti-slavery Free Soil Party, contributing to the Democratic defeat.
D. Polk died of cholera in June of 1849, only three months after leaving office. He left the nation the hard task
of dealing with the sectional conflict brought on by the acquisition of new lands in the west.

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E. At the very time the United States was proclaiming the superiority of its culture and its destiny to expand
across the continent, it was itself falling victim to a conflict over slavery that American culture and
government could not resolve and would ultimately lead to the bloodiest war in American history.
Suggested Reading:
Bergeron, Paul. The Presidency of James K. Polk. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1987.
Mahin, Dean B. Olive Branch and Sword: The United States and Mexico, 18451848. Jefferson: McFarland & Co.,
1997.
Winders, Richard. Mr. Polks Army: The American Military Experience in the Mexican War. College Station: Texas
A & M Press, 1997.
Nelson, Anna. Secret Agents: President Polk and the Search for Peace with Mexico. New York: Garland Press,
1988.
Questions to Consider:
1. Did President Polk deliberately provoke war with Mexico to achieve his territorial ambitions?
2. Why did Polks party fail to win the presidency in 1848 despite the apparent success of the war with Mexico?
3. What were the immediate and long-term consequences of the Mexican War?

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Lecture Seventeen
Abraham Lincoln: Frontier Politician
Scope: Through a style of tough but compassionate leadership that still provokes analysis and emulation today,
Lincoln helped restore faith in Americas democratic institutions. He led the nation through the Civil War
and the restoration of the Union. He was an early critic of slavery, and although he stopped short of
advocating abolition, he made the decisive moves that brought the end of slavery. He expressed his broad
national vision of American life through his commitment to the Union and his support for such measures as
the Homestead Act, which facilitated settlement of the west. He demonstrated an extraordinary ability to
grow and learn throughout his life. He was the most eloquent of the presidents and an inspiration to all
those who believe that there are no limits to the aspirations and attainments of any American. Lincoln arose
from humble frontier origins to serve in the Illinois legislature, win a single term in Congress, and become
a leader of the newly formed Republican Party in the 1850s.

Outline
I.

Lincoln has been the subject of extraordinary historical inquiry and debate.
A. Historians rank Lincoln as one of the nations greatest presidents.
B. Still, some have criticized him for his attitudes toward slavery and his assumption of powers during the
Civil War.
C. Lincolns assassination in office has also fed the debate.
D. Overall, he restored power to the presidency, aided in the end of slavery, successfully prosecuted the Civil
War, held the Union together, and showed the ability to grow and develop over time.

II. Lincoln grew up poor on Americas western frontier.


A. Unlike other presidents with mythical log cabin stories, Lincoln genuinely came from humble roots.
1. Lincoln was born in 1809 on the Kentucky frontier to uneducated parents.
2. Lincolns family lost their land and he lost his mother all before he was ten.
3. He did, however, become devoted to his stepmother.
B. Lincoln used his ambition and aptitude for education to improve his situation.
1. Lincoln gathered what bits and pieces of schooling he could in local log cabin classrooms. Despite
receiving only about a year of formal education, the young man could read, write, and do arithmetic.
He voraciously read whatever books he could acquire on the frontier.
2. He grew into a large but awkward frame that established him as a strong frontier laborer with a good
sense of humor.
3. When Lincoln was twenty-one, his family moved to New Salem, Illinois, where he rose from clerk to
county surveyor, then to local postmaster.
III. Lincoln began his political career at an early age.
A. In his early twenties, Lincoln joined the Whig Party and became involved in Illinois politics. He supported
the ideas of fellow westerner Henry Clay and favored improved schools and government financing of
internal improvements to enhance the western economy and encourage settlement.
1. Lincolns first try at politics, a bid for a seat in the Illinois lower House, ended in defeat; he became
sidetracked during the campaign by joining the militia that had been called to put down a rebellion of
the Sac and Fox Indian tribes. Lincoln was elected captain of his company but saw no action.
2. He was elected to the State House in 1834 and reelected through 1840.
3. He became skilled at political debate andever the practical politicianat the tactic of trading favors
among legislators. This tactic became known as logrolling, after the frontier tradition of families
helping each other to build log cabins.
4. Lincoln became a leader of the young Whigs and a follower of the ideas of fellow westerner Henry
Clay. Like Clay, he favored improved schools and government financing of internal improvements to
enhance the western economy and encourage settlement.
B. Lincoln began a family and a profession.

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1.

In 1842, Lincoln married Mary Ann Todd after a rocky courtship plagued by the opposition of her
socially prominent family, who looked at Lincoln as a rough-hewn country rube with an uncertain
future.
2. The marriage proved stormy but generally happy. Lincoln overcame his doubts and made a
commitment to the marriage, which marked a crucial phase in his development as a mature and
confident young man.
3. In 1844, Lincoln and his new junior partner, William H. Herndon, opened a law practice.
4. As a circuit-riding attorney, Lincoln handled numerous cases of every kind and became well known
among the people of Illinois. He developed a wide acquaintance with the practice of law over the next
seventeen years, including many appeals before the Illinois State Supreme Court.
5. He established a reputation for wit, perseverance, and erudition.
C. Lincoln began to form some of his initial ideas on such issues as slavery and temperance.
1. At a time when his party was sponsored by moral reform, including temperance, Lincoln showed a
tolerance for peoples personal problems, including drinking. His empathy for people with drinking
problems led critics to charge that he was too lax when it came to sin. This rift with moral reformers
widened, because Lincoln was not a church member or a traditional religious thinker.
2. Although Lincoln was not an abolitionist or even a believer in racial equality, he did condemn slavery
in these years. However, he did not believe in taking government action against slavery.
3. Lincoln pushed the slavery issue about as far as was politically feasible for his place and time. No
abolitionist could have been elected to the Illinois legislature from Lincolns region of the state.
4. Lincoln also preferred to use persuasion, rather than attempt to forcibly impose his will on others.
D. As a Whig, Lincoln won election to the U.S. House in 1846.
1. His most important preoccupation was to promote economic development and opportunity. He also
emerged as a critic of James Polks Mexican War.
2. Lincoln supported the Wilmot Proviso, banning slavery in the new western territories that came out of
the war.
3. He stepped down in the election year of 1848, conforming to a one-term tradition in his district. In his
view, however, he was not sufficiently rewarded for helping the Whigs elect Zachary Taylor in the
presidential election of 1848.
4. Lincoln returned to the practice of law in Illinois.
E. When the Whig Party disintegrated in the early 1850s, Lincoln became a leader in the new Republican
Party.
1. Lincoln returned to politics in 1854 to oppose the Kansas-Nebraska Act that embodied the idea of
popular sovereignty in order to sidestep the controversy over the expansion of slavery. He believed
that the act was a pretext for expanding slavery.
2. Lincoln ran unsuccessfully for Senator from Illinois in 1854.
3. Pressure over the slavery issue divided and destroyed the Whig Party in 1854. Lincoln joined the
newly formed Republican Party, even though he had reservations about the abolitionist faction of the
party.
4. In 1856, Lincoln emerged as a party leader in Illinois and campaigned for Republican candidate John
C. Fremont in the presidential election. This was a critical election, because it established the
Republican Party as one of the two main political parties in the United States.
Suggested Reading:
Cox, LaWanda. Lincoln and Black Freedom: A Study in Presidential Leadership. Columbia: University of South
Carolina Press, 1981.
Oates, Stephen B. With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Harper Perennial, 1994.
Zall, Paul M. Abe Lincoln Laughing: Humorous Anecdotes from Original Sources by and about Abraham Lincoln.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.
Donald, David Herbert. Lincoln. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
Hanchett, William. Out of the Wilderness: The Life of Abraham Lincoln. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.
Questions to Consider:

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1.
2.

How did Lincoln reconcile his moral opposition to slavery with the demands of practical politics in Illinois
during the 1830s and 1840s?
To what extent did Lincolns humble origins and self-made success influence both his political style and his
political beliefs?

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Lecture Eighteen
Abraham Lincoln: The First Republican President
Scope: Lincolns campaign for the Illinois Senate in 1858 was highlighted by his famous debates with Democratic
opponent Stephen Douglas. Although he lost that campaign, he made a national name for himself that
eventually won him the presidential election of 1860. The election itself precipitated the events that would
lead to war. Secession from the Union by southern states began even before Lincolns inauguration, and
the war itself began just five weeks later. Despite an utter lack of administrative experience, Lincoln
successfully dealt with both those who thought he was moving too swiftly and recklessly in the war and
those who thought he was not doing nearly enough to crush the rebellion and extinguish slavery. Lincoln
was devoted to preservation of the Union. But he was not devoted to its preservation at all coststo
sacrifice American freedom and give in to the slave power. He took decisive action to try to suppress what
he believed was not a war between nations but a lawless domestic insurrection.

Outline
I.

The 1858 Illinois Senate race featured debates over slavery between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas.
A. As the slavery issue began to dominate politics in the mid-1850s, Lincoln challenged Democrat Stephen
Douglas for Douglass U.S. Senate seat.
1. Earlier, in the landmark Dred Scott case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protected
slavery everywhere in the United States. A war between pro- and anti-slavery forces was raging in the
Kansas Territory. Southerners were defending slavery as part of a vision for a moral, stable republic.
2. Lincoln began his 1858 campaign against Douglas with the rousing A house divided against itself
speech. Lincoln did not advocate the break up of the Union, nor did he expect it. But he did understand
that the issue of slavery needed to be finally settled in the United States.
B. In the legendary debates between Lincoln and Douglas, slavery would be at the forefront of discussion.
1. Lincoln used the legacy of Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence to highlight Americas long
tradition of freedom and to oppose the expansion of slavery. He assailed Douglass doctrine of
popular sovereignty that would allow each territory to decide for itself whether to become slave or
free.
2. The debates attracted huge crowds of 10,000 and more spectators and captivated the entire nation. The
people understood how critical the issue of slavery was to the future of the United States.
3. Lincoln denied that he favored social or political equality. He did alter his views somewhat later, but
he always remained a pragmatic politician who adapted to his times and circumstances. Lincoln
denied, however, that it was possible to take a neutral position on the morality of slavery.
4. Lincoln lost the election in the state legislature but made a national name for himself.
5. The sectional conflict over slavery became more bitter and divisive from 1858 to 1860, and President
James Buchanan would be unable to contain the conflict.

II. Abraham Lincoln won the complex presidential election of 1860.


A. Lincoln represented the moderate wing of the Republican Party.
1. The Republicans nominated Abraham Lincoln as a moderate candidate, one who strongly opposed the
expansion of slavery, but who did not believe in interfering with slavery where it existed.
2. Lincoln and the Republican Party also supported homestead legislation, protective tariffs, and internal
improvements.
B. Lincoln won an election with multiple candidates.
1. Democrats split into regular and pro-southern factions in 1860. A compromise Constitutional Union
Party also formed, making the election a four-candidate race.
2. Lincoln won with some 40 percent of the popular vote, carrying almost every northern state.
Republicans, however, would have strong majorities of both houses of Congress in 1861.
III. The aftermath of the election led to secession and war.
A. Lincolns election divided the nation.

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1.

The selection of a president from the anti-slavery Republican Party was unacceptable to many
southerners who were committed to the defense of slavery. In late 1860, South Carolina voted to
secede from the Union. By February of 1861, six other states voted to secede from the Union.
2. So agitated were passions by inauguration eve that Lincolns advisers had the new president steal into
the capital under cover of night.
3. Lincoln appointed a cabinet that represented the different regions and factions of the Republican Party.
4. Lincoln ordered Fort Sumter, off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, to be resupplied.
5. This led to the South firing the first shots of the warthe shelling of Sumter early on the morning of
April 12, 1861. Lincoln called out the militia, and the remaining four southern states seceded.
6. The fact that the South had initiated hostilities helped unite northern states behind the war effort.
B. Lincoln had to set war policies under difficult conditions and great uncertainty.
1. Although lacking military or administrative experience, Lincoln had to act as commander-in-chief. He
had to satisfy the liberal wing of his own Republican Party while keeping the Border States in the
Union.
2. He had to placate both those who thought he was moving too swiftly and those who thought he was
not doing enough to suppress the rebellion. Also, most of the troops were sent to Lincoln from
individual states and even the time of their arrival in the capital was uncertain.
C. Lincoln did not present the conflict as a war between two countries but as a lawless domestic insurrection.
In his view, the United States was fighting to restore its constitutional authority on its own territory.
1. Lincoln assumed broad powers to subdue the insurrection. He was devoted to preservation of the
Union but would not sacrifice principle and give in to the slave power simply to hold the Union
together.
2. Lincoln summoned the militia, ordered a blockade of Confederate ports, expanded the regular army
beyond its legal limit, and made expenditures in advance of congressional appropriations.
3. He suspended the writ of habeas corpus, which meant that persons could be imprisoned without
charges, and authorized army commanders to declare martial law in areas behind the lines.
4. This suspension aroused great opposition, but Lincoln had little tolerance for opponents of the war,
known as Copperheads.
5. Lincoln, however, did try where possible to avoid arbitrary arrests and to avoid suppression of
newspapers and popular assemblies.
6. After the war, the Supreme Court ruled that a president could not authorize the court martial of
civilians in places where the civil courts were still open.
D. Lincoln came to see the conflict as one of total war, with unconditional surrender as the only option that
would preserve the Union and vindicate the democratic principles on which the Union was based.
1. Just as George Washington had defended the Union by forcefully suppressing the Whiskey Rebellion,
Lincoln believed that he, too, must forcefully suppress the current insurrection.
2. To pursue the war effort, Lincoln sponsored major changes in national economic policy, such as the
issuance of paper currency, the adoption of a graduated income tax, and the formation of a unified
national banking system. Congress also established a nationwide draft in 1863.
Suggested Reading:
Hanchett, William. Out of the Wilderness: The Life of Abraham Lincoln. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.
Neely, Mark E. The Last Best Hope of Earth. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993.
Oates, Stephen B. With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Harper Perennial, 1994.
Questions to Consider:
1. Why did the Lincoln-Douglas debates captivate the national imagination in 1858? Did they actually help
resolve the issues facing the nation at that time?
2. Could Lincoln have been elected president if the Democratic Party had not splintered in 1860? Did his lack of a
popular-vote majority weaken his mandate to govern the nation?
3. Did Lincoln overstep his authority as president with the emergency powers that he assumed during the war?

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Lecture Nineteen
Abraham Lincoln: Wartime Leader
Scope: Dashing Lincolns expectations of a quick and decisive victory over the South, the war dragged on
throughout his presidential term. Lincoln had problems in finding competent generals, and the high cost of
the war led him to issue an unpopular military draft. During this period, he instituted several important
domestic policy decisions, including the Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 and the Homestead and
Morrill Acts. Even before the 1864 campaign, he began thinking about reconstructing the Union. He
proposed a preliminary plan for Reconstruction designed to restore the Union without undue delay or
conflict or strong federal control over race relations in the South. His ideas for Reconstruction led to
conflict with radical members of his own party. Despite the debate over Reconstruction, the military
consequences of the war and Lincolns reelection were still uncertain when the parties nominated their
presidential candidates in 1864.

Outline
I.

18

Lincoln acted as commander-in-chief during his first term.


A. Dashing expectations of an early end to the war, the North did not fare well in early battles.
1. Lincoln lacked effective commanders and lost the first major encounter of the war, the Battle of Bull
Run, in July 1861.
2. Lincoln replaced aging Winfield Scott with George McClellan, but McClellan failed to capitalize on
superior numbers to take the southern capital of Richmond.
3. McClellan was superb at training and inspiring his troops but proved to be a reluctant warrior.
4. Lincoln followed the fighting closely, often visiting the front and formulating strategy. He had a
difficult time finding competent and activist generals to command the Union forces.
5. In 1862, Lincolns young son, Willie, died and Lincolns fatalistic streak grew stronger. Despite his
earlier religious skepticism, Lincoln came to believe that he was carrying on Gods design.
B. After a Union victory at Antietam in September 1862, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation,
which freed slaves in areas still under the control of the Confederacy.
1. In 1862, radicals in his party had pushed through a new law over Lincolns objections, mandating the
emancipation of slaves belonging to southern rebels. Abolitionist and African American groups
pressured him to adopt an emancipation policy.
2. Lincolns own views on slavery were evolving as well. In his own words, Without slavery, the
rebellion could never have existed; without slavery, it could not continue.
3. The Emancipation Proclamation of September 1862, which went into effect on January 1, 1863, did
not apply to slavery in areas under Union control. Still, for the first time in American history, the
federal government had taken a decisive stand against slavery. The Emancipation also confirmed the
breakdown of the slave system that was already taking place in the South.
4. The Emancipation opened the northern army to African American soldiers. The performance of
African American troops shattered the myth of black incompetence and passivity.
5. Critics charged that the Emancipation did not go far enough toward ending slavery, but Lincoln had to
balance many conflicting objectives. The objective of saving the Union over time became united with
the objective of ending slavery. Lincoln believed that the future of democracy and freedom worldwide
was at stake in the Civil War.
6. Emancipation also helped dissuade foreign powers from recognizing the Confederacy.
7. In the short run, the Emancipation was not a political success; Republicans suffered at the polls in the
midterm elections of 1862.
C. The high cost of the war led Lincoln to issue a draft call in March of 1863.
1. The draft was unpopular, partly because rich men could buy themselves out of service.
2. White workers not only feared and opposed the draft but also feared losing their jobs to African
Americans who were migrating to northern cities. The New York City draft riots in July of 1863
resulted in considerable losses of life and property, with white violence directed against the citys
black community.

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D. In 1863, Lincoln delivered his most memorable speech and found a general in Ulysses S. Grant.
1. In the summer of 1863, the Union won a major victory at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, once again halting
southern efforts to invade the North. General Ulysses S. Grant also achieved victories in other crucial
theaters of war.
2. In November of 1863, Lincoln delivered his two-and-a-half-minute Gettysburg Address that gave
eloquent meaning to the sacrifices of war.
3. The war, Lincoln explained, was a challenge to preserve the Union and the principles of freedom and
liberty on which it was based. The cause of the Union was the same cause for which America fought
the Revolutionary War and established the United States.
4. In March 1864, Lincoln decisively changed the course of the war by appointing General Grant as
commander of all Union forces. Two months later, Grant began a coordinated attack to bring the war
to an end.
II. Lincolns instituted significant domestic policies and began preparing for Reconstruction.
A. Lincoln instituted a number of important domestic policy decisions in his first term.
1. Lincolns racial legislation opened federal courts and Washington streetcars to African Americans.
2. He also revoked an order by General Grant that expelled Jews from Grants Department of Tennessee
and supported a law permitting Jews to serve as army chaplains.
3. With the South out of Congress, Lincoln and other pro-growth northerners passed the Homestead Act
that provided free land for settlement of the west and the Morrill Act that provided for Americas Land
Grant Colleges.
4. He supported the building of a transcontinental railroad to be completed in 1869.
5. Immigration also soared during the war years, and many American settled in the west.
6. The war temporarily submerged the agitation for suffrage. However, it also opened up new
opportunities for wartime service by women, many of whom would press for womens rights and
opportunities after the war.
B. In December of 1863, Lincoln began pondering the question of how to reconstruct the Union after the war.
1. In his preliminary plan, Lincoln sought to restore the Union without undue delay or conflict or strong
federal control over race relations. His plan was designed to persuade potential supporters to join the
Union.
2. Radical Republicans in Congress enacted their own, more stringent, Reconstruction legislation, known
as the Wade-Davis Act. Lincoln pocket vetoed the new law, that is, he failed to sign the legislation
but did not issue a formal veto. Lincoln wanted to keep his options open.
3. The controversy over Reconstruction plans led to disputes over presidential versus congressional
power and to divisions in the Republican Party as the 1864 campaign approached.
C. Lincolns reelection was in doubt as the election of 1864 approached.
1. Despite some Union victories, the outcome of the war was not clear, and some Radicals had lost faith
in Lincoln. Simultaneously, some conservatives criticized Lincoln for missing opportunities for peace.
2. A radical faction bolted the party to nominate John C. Fremont.
3. Lincoln was nominated by the regular Republicans without opposition and insisted that a
constitutional amendment ending slavery be included in the Republican Partys platform.
4. To broaden his appeal, Lincoln dumped Vice President Hannibal Hamlin from Maine in favor of War
Democrat Andrew Johnson from Tennessee. This would prove to be one of the most consequential
vice presidential choices in the history of the nation.
Suggested Reading:
Boritt, Gabor S., ed. Lincoln, the War President: The Gettysburg Lectures. New York: Oxford University Press,
1992.
Foner, Eric. Politics and Ideology in the Age of the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.
Oates, Stephen B. With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Harper Perennial, 1994.
Rawley, James A. Abraham Lincoln and a Nation Worth Fighting For. Wheeling: Harlan Davidson, 1996.

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Questions to Consider:
1. Why did the numerically and industrially superior North fail to achieve an early end to the war?
2. What is the significance of the Emancipation Proclamation, both for the time of its announcement and for the
future history of the nation?
3. How did Lincoln deal with the competing demands of holding the Union together and ending slavery?
4. Why was Lincoln in a relatively weak position politically in 1864?

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Lecture Twenty
Abraham Lincoln: The Martyred President
Scope: The Civil War ended six months after Lincolns reelection in 1864. Lincoln proposed a relatively lenient
policy toward the rebellious southern states that failed to satisfy the radicals in his own party. In his second
inaugural address, he declared that the nation must see the war to final conclusion, for only then could
expiation be achieved and the nation become united once again. He pushed for a constitutional amendment
to end slavery and began to deal with the realities of Reconstruction. But he did not formulate his final
approach to Reconstruction before his assassination in April 1865. In the face of opposition from Lincolns
successor, former Democrat Andrew Johnson, Congress enacted a fairly ambitious program of
Reconstruction. Still, Republicans would be unable to prevent the unraveling of the Reconstruction and the
redemption of southern states by Democratic leaders committed to white only government.

Outline
I.

President Lincoln was reelected in 1864.


A. Despite his efforts to broaden his appeal, Lincolns success in the election of 1864 was still in doubt in the
summer of 1864.
1. The Democrats nominated a compromise candidate, former general George McClellan.
2. Without a particularly strong challenger, Lincolns fate would be based on the armys performance.
B. Good news from the front led Lincoln to victory in the election of 1864.
1. General Sherman captured Atlanta; General Sheridan drove rebels from the Shenandoah Valley.
2. These victories convinced even radicals that the war was coming to an end. They persuaded Fremont
to end his third-party campaign.
3. Although the campaign was dirty and hard fought, Lincoln crushed McClellan, and Republicans
strengthened their hold on Congress.

II. The war ended six months after the election.


A. General Sherman, who was marching from Atlanta to the sea, emerged as the leading exponent of the
relatively new idea of total war.
B. Shermans army then turned northward, where General Grant was snagged in a siege of Petersburg, near
the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.
C. By the beginning of 1865, the policy of total war had led to peace talks.
1. In February of 1865, Lincoln, Secretary of State Seward, Confederate Vice President Alexander
Stephens, and two other representatives met at Hampton Roads, Virginia, to discuss possible peace
terms.
2. Although Lincoln offered concessions on the leniency of Reconstruction and to consider the
compensation of slave owners, he refused to offer more to the South and the talks ended.
D. Lincoln believed that an amendment was the only way to ensure a permanent resolution to the problem of
slavery, and pushed the measure through Congress in January of 1865; the states would ratify it after his
death in December.
E. In his second inaugural address, Lincoln portrayed the war as divine retribution for the sin of slavery.
F. The nation must see the war to final conclusion, for only then could expiation for slavery be achieved and
the nation be united once again.
G. As the end of the war approached, Lincoln began to deal with the realities of Reconstruction, the process of
reintegrating southern states into the Union, and the development of policies for establishing the rights of
newly freed slaves.
1. After the failure of the Hampton Roads Conference, Grant finally cracked Lees lines at Petersburg
and took Richmond.
2. On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House.
3. The war was a bloody and brutal one that left over 600,000 Union and Confederate dead and
devastated the southern states.

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4.
5.

But Lincoln continued to fight Congress over their conflicting plans for Reconstruction. The war did
not settle the issues of reconstructing the Union, protecting the rights and liberties of freed slaves, and
providing for their assimilation into the mainstream of American society.
Lincoln tried to compromise, but Congress rejected his proposal to admit Louisiana under his plan.
Shortly before his death, he hinted at the pragmatic course that he wished to follow during
Reconstruction and advocated limited black suffrage.

III. Lincoln was assassinated shortly after beginning his second term.
A. In the days leading up to his assassination, those around the president and Lincoln himself became uneasy
about his safety.
1. Days before his death, Lincoln had a prophetic nightmare.
2. When he made plans to attend the play Our American Cousin at Fords Theater on April 14, 1865, a
security guard urged him not to go or at least to tighten his security. Lincoln did not listen to the
advice and attended the show with only one guard.
3. At some point during the show, the guard left his post and John Wilkes Booth shot the president.
B. The nation groped to deal with the future as it paid its respects to the first president to be killed in office.
1. Booths activities were part of a larger conspiracy that also left the Secretary of State injured.
2. The big questions of Reconstruction, still unresolved at the time of Lincolns death, would be battled
over by Congress and the new president, Andrew Johnson.
3. Despite Johnsons opposition, Congress enacted an ambitious program of Reconstruction that included
the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution.
4. In the late 1860s and 1870s, Republicans would be unable to prevent the unraveling of Reconstruction
and the redemption of southern states by Democratic leaders committed to white only government
and to exploitation of the cheap, black labor that for so long had been the mainstay of the southern
economy.
IV. Lincolns legacy was substantial.
A. He led the nation through the Civil War, restored the Union, and ended slavery.
B. He established a model of compassionate and flexible but principled leadership.
C. He embodied the American dream of self-made success. He expressed the ideas of American democracy
and freedom as eloquently as any figure in American history.
Suggested Reading:
Boritt, Gabor S., ed. Lincoln, the War President: The Gettysburg Lectures. New York: Oxford University Press,
1992.
Donald, David Herbert. Lincoln. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
Strozier. Charles B. Lincolns Quest for Union: Public and Private Meanings. New York: Basic Books, 1982.
Oates, Stephen B. With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Harper Perennial, 1994.
Questions to Consider:
1. What were the long-term consequences of the Civil War?
2. Why were Lincolns preliminary plans for Reconstruction relatively lenient toward the South?
3. How might Lincolns legacy have changed if he had survived to serve a second term in office?

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Lecture Twenty-One
Theodore Roosevelt: Patrician Reformer
Scope: Theodore Roosevelts youth involved his transformation from a sickly child into a vigorous young man.
Born into a wealthy family, Roosevelt enjoyed an early career as politician, amateur historian, and author
and rose to national prominence in William McKinleys administration. He became a heroic Rough
Rider in the Spanish-American War of 1898. The war, like so many things in Roosevelts life, was more
than personalit became a political launching pad for his meteoric rise to power. Roosevelt was a man of
great and diverse abilities, excelling in many realms of life. He was also a romantic and an egotist who
believed in his capacity to achieve great deeds, irrespective of the obstacles in his path. As a politician,
Roosevelt was a showman with substance who had a transforming effect on the presidency, the nation, and
his Republican Party. As president, Roosevelt was both an activist diplomat abroad and a reformer at
home. He transformed the agenda of the Republican Party by adding a progressive domestic component to
the expansionist policies of his predecessor, William McKinley.

Outline
I.

Roosevelt was a man of many talents, achievements, and contradictions.


A. As a reformer, Roosevelt would become the first president to champion the use of federal power to protect
the public interest and to curb abuses of the new corporate order.
1. Ultimately, he would became the leader of progressive movements throughout the nation that worked
toward improving social conditions, purifying American civilization, ending corrupt political
practices, conserving resources, and regulating business.
2. Reform, he believed, would ease the harshest consequences of industrial society and prevent the nation
from taking a radical turn to the left.
B. Like Thomas Jefferson, Roosevelt was also a man of extraordinary accomplishments beyond his career in
public life.
1. He was a prolific author, a well-known historian, a prominent naturalist, and an enthusiastic
sportsman.
2. He was also one of the original members of the American Institute of Arts and Letters, a founder of the
National Collegiate Athletic Association, and a president of the American Historical Association.
C. Roosevelt was an egotist and a braggart, but also a man of genuine courage, determination, and
accomplishment.
D. The career of Theodore Roosevelt embodied the tensions of an industrializing, expanding, and diversifying
nation.
1. He was a warrior and a man of peace, a reformer and a supporter of the new era of corporate
enterprise, a representative of the people and of the privileged. He advocated a domestic role for
women but came to embrace the reform of womens suffrage.
2. He advocated military might for his nation but also fought for international peace.
3. Theodore Roosevelt embodied the strains of the nations transition from a rural, agrarian, and
relatively isolated state to a modern industrialized society taking its place among the great world
powers.

II. Roosevelts early life involved his transformation from a sickly child into a vigorous young adult.
A. Roosevelts family had wealth and social standing.
B. He was born in 1858 in New York City. He parents came from wealthy families and he enjoyed the status
and privileges of upper-class New Yorkers.
C. Like other presidents, he showed an aptitude for learning and became a voracious reader.
D. He also developed a romantic view of the world, believing that great heroes struggling against impossible
odds could achieve noble victories for humanity. Throughout his life, Roosevelt would strive to achieve
that ideal.

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E. His fathers expectations and urgings led him to transform his sickly body into that of an athlete. His
determination to live a vigorous life was coupled with an equally strong desire for power and strength.
F. Roosevelt developed a strong sense of family obligation, especially after his fathers death. His fathers
failure to serve in the Civil War greatly contributed to Theodores own obsession with war and living life
as a warrior. He grew eager to test himself in battle.
G. Roosevelt received a Harvard education. He was a determined, if not a brilliant, student. Throughout his
life, he relished challenges, intellectual, political, and physical.
H. The death of his father while Roosevelt was at Harvard had a profound effect on his life. He considered
entering politics, a realm in which he could make momentous decisions and achieve the kind of success
that had eluded his father.
I. After graduation, he married Alice Hathaway Lee.
III. Roosevelt had an early career as politician, amateur historian, and author.
A. Roosevelt entered politics at a young age.
1. At twenty-three, he became the youngest member of the New York State Assembly.
2. He ran as a Republican, because he believed the Democrats to be the party of Tammany Hall, the
corrupt political machine of New York City, as well as the party of disunion and rebellion. He became
known as a reformer and rose to become Republican minority leader of the Assembly.
B. Roosevelt experienced personal tragedy early in his career.
1. In 1884, his mother and wife died on the same day; Roosevelt experienced the darkest period of his
life.
2. From 1884 to 1886, Roosevelt worked as a cattle rancher in the Dakota Territory.
3. In 1886, he ran unsuccessfully for mayor of New York City.
4. In the same year, he married his boyhood friend, Edith Kermit Carow. He had five children with Edith
Carow in addition to the daughter he had with his first wife.
5. During the next decade, he became a successful author.
IV. Roosevelt rose to national prominence as a young man in the 1890s.
A. Roosevelt entered the administration of President William McKinley.
1. He returned to New York in 1895 and became the reform-minded president of the citys Board of
Police Commissioners.
2. He supported Republican William McKinleys successful campaign for president in 1896.
3. To make his mark on the nation, Roosevelt knew that he had to advance his political career. He was
rewarded with an appointment as Assistant Secretary of Navy in the McKinley administration, which
was embroiled in a conflict with Spain over Spains occupation of Cuba.
B. This appointment not only suited his interest in naval power and expansionism but also satisfied his
growing appetite for power.
C. Roosevelts interest in expansionism was linked to his vision of white, Protestant, Nordic superiority and
the destiny of such people to spread their superior culture, religion, and civilization throughout the world.
This was similar to James Polks vision of continental expansion.
V. The Spanish-American War of 1898 transformed Roosevelt into a national hero.
A. Roosevelt decided to serve in the military.
1. The Spanish-American War resulted both from conflict over the Spanish occupation of Cuba and
powerful expansionist sentiment in the United States.
2. An ardent expansionist on a global scale who believed that a great power must maintain a firm
command of the sea, Roosevelt issued orders, in the absence of the Secretary of the Navy, that in the
event of war, the Pacific fleet should take offensive measures against Spain.
3. The United States fought a ground war in Cuba and a naval war against Spanish possessions in the
Pacific.
4. The war offered Roosevelt a chance to take what he believed to be the ultimate test of manhoodthe
test of combat.
5. He received a commission to join the First Volunteer Cavalry.

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B. Roosevelt became the Rough Rider hero.


1. He distinguished himself in combat, especially after he led the heroic charge up San Juan Hill, and he
actively publicized his achievements.
2. The war was a defining moment for Roosevelt that would stay with him throughout his life. The war
was more than personal for Roosevelt. It was also political, becoming the launching pad for a revived
political career.
Suggested Reading:
McCullough, David. Mornings on Horseback. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1981.
Morris, Edmund. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. New York: Coward, McCann, and Geoghegan, 1979.
Walker, Dale L. The Boys of 98: Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. New York: A Tom Doherty
Associates Books, 1998.
Questions to Consider:
1. How did Roosevelts views on race and civilization influence his approaches to international relations?
2. To what extent does Roosevelts early political career provide an example of the virtues of the self-made man
rather than of the special advantages that result from wealth and social standing?
3. To what extent did Roosevelts relentless self-promotion set a precedent for politicians of the twentieth
century?

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Lecture Twenty-Two
Theodore Roosevelt: The Cowboy as President
Scope: Roosevelts rise to political power was meteoric. In 1898, he was elected as a reform-minded governor of
New York. He became William McKinleys vice presidential running mate in 1900, when the Republican
boss of New York State sought to remove Roosevelt from state politics. After McKinleys assassination in
1901, he became the youngest president in the history of the United States. He was far more willing than
his nineteenth-century predecessors to take an expansive view of presidential powers. As president, he
used the bully pulpit more effectively than any prior president to appeal directly to the American people.
Americans were adjusting to a more bureaucratic, centralized, industrialized, international, urbanized,
scientifically managed, and professionalized society and came to expect a government that could be
responsive to their changing needs. These new expectations perfectly suited Roosevelt, who believed that
in his role as steward of the nation, he represented all Americans and must, therefore, do all he could on
their behalf. He put a distinctly progressive stamp on the presidency, took an activist approach to world
affairs, and redefined the presidency as an office that protects the public interest.

Outline
I.

After his triumphant return from the war, Roosevelt won election as governor of New York.
A. Roosevelts popularity as a war hero helped him win the Republican nomination for New York governor
and the general election in 1898.
B. Roosevelt became a reform-minded and independent governor who antagonized New York Republican
boss Tom Platt by refusing to accept Platts dictates or follow conventional Old Guard Republican
politics.

II. Roosevelt became the Republican vice presidential nominee in 1900.


A. Tom Platt sought to remove Roosevelt from New York politics.
1. McKinleys vice president died in office.
2. Platt proposed Roosevelt as vice presidential nominee for 1900 to put him on the shelf for four years
in what was considered to be a useless and powerless position.
3. Roosevelt did not want to run, believing that he had a more promising future as governor, but Platt
threatened to deny him renomination as governor.
B. Roosevelt was nominated for vice president at the Republican convention of 1900.
1. Over the objections of McKinleys campaign manager, Mark Hanna, Roosevelt won the nomination.
Hanna worried that theres only one life between this madman and the White House.
2. Roosevelt vigorously campaigned for the winning Republican ticket.
III. Roosevelt became the youngest president in American history.
A. After only six months as vice president, Roosevelt became president when McKinley was assassinated in
September of 1901.
B. At age forty-two, he was the youngest president, before or since. Roosevelt had always lived life as a great
adventure and was hardly daunted by this new challenge. A life worth living meant exercising power and
leaving ones mark on the nation.
C. Roosevelt sought to advance the common good and to advance the interests of the United States as an
international power.
IV. Roosevelt emerged as an unconventional, activist, and reformer president.
A. Roosevelt redefined the presidency as an office that protects the public interest.
1. Both Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln had strengthened the presidency, but Congress had
regained considerable power after the assassination of Lincoln and the conflict with Andrew Johnson
that led to his impeachment.
2. Although President McKinley had done much to advance the international involvement of the United
States, the twentieth-century president began to take shape under Roosevelt.

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3.

Teddy Roosevelt, unlike most of his predecessors, believed that he could do anything as president that
was not specifically prohibited by the Constitution, provided, of course, that what he did was in the
best interests of the people.
4. His role models were strong presidents, such as Washington, Jackson, and Lincoln. He believed that
the president was the steward of all the people.
5. He actively sought and marshaled the publics support for a variety of causesforeign and
domesticas he doggedly redefined the executive through a series of bold initiatives. This ability to
draw strength from the people would be seen again in other great presidencies.
B. He placed his distinctive stamp on the presidency.
1. The old guard of the GOP was dismayed at the elevation of the uncontrollable, reform-minded
Roosevelt.
2. To ensure stability in the transition, Roosevelt reassured Republican leaders and their business allies
that he would largely continue McKinleys policies, especially in foreign affairs.
3. He was a shrewd and successful politician. He effectively utilized the bully pulpit and the
burgeoning mass media as political advertising tools, promoting himself as well as his policies.
4. Edith Roosevelt was important for the institutional development of the office of the First Lady.
5. Roosevelt relied on informal advisers, as well as his cabinet, and was not afraid of breaking with the
Old Guard of the Republican Party.
6. He continued his vigorous physical activities as president, including boxing.
C. By 1902, Roosevelt began to implement his progressive vision of the presidency. He tried to steer a middle
course between unchecked corporate greed and socialistic remedies.
1. He became a trustbuster and an arbiter between labor and capital.
2. In 1902, he filed an antitrust suit against the powerful Northern Securities Company. He symbolically
established the supremacy of the people over the trusts and won some significant Supreme Court
precedents. He also became the first American president to arbitrate a major strike.
Suggested Reading:
Brands, H. W. T. R.: The Last Romantic. New York: Basic Books, 1997.
Harbaugh, William. Power and Responsibility: The Life and Times of Theodore Roosevelt. New York: Farrar,
Straus and Cudahy, rev. ed., 1975.
Gould, Lewis L. The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1991.
Questions to Consider:
1. How does Roosevelts rise to the presidency illustrate the tensions in the Republican Party at the turn of the
twentieth century?
2. Does Roosevelts idea of a presidency that operates in the public interest necessarily lead to a major expansion
of government itself?
3. Is it possible for a president to impartially arbitrate the interests of both labor and capital?

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Lecture Twenty-Three
Theodore Roosevelt: Progressive Dynamo
Scope: In his first term, Roosevelt steered a program of progressive reform through Congress and played a critical
role in shaping foreign policy of the early twentieth century. He gained the territory needed to build the
Panama Canal and expanded the Monroe Doctrine to assert Americas right to intervene in the affairs of
Latin American nations. He thereby established a precedent for interventions by future presidents in the
affairs of less developed nations. He expanded his progressive agenda during his second term, creating
difficulties with conservative members of his own party. He also confronted his first major economic
challenge with the Panic of 1907. Although he successfully responded to the economic crisis, with the help
of financier J.P. Morgan, the Panic disclosed the weakness of the governments financial capacity and set
in motion events that led to the creation of the Federal Reserve System.

Outline
I.

Roosevelt became a progressive reformer as president.


A. Roosevelt won passage of important domestic reforms.
1. His reforms included railroad regulation, measures to expedite antitrust suits, and a federal Bureau of
Corporations.
2. Roosevelt used his presidential power through executive order to preserve wilderness. He won passage
of the National Reclamation Act of 1902 to irrigate arid lands of the west. By pressuring Congress, he
established the Forest Service and a 150-million-acre forest preserve, and expanded the national park
system.
3. Roosevelt would label his new approach to national policy a Square Deal for the American people.
B. The Square Deal did not extend to racial issues.
1. Although Roosevelt did not exploit racism politically, he believed in the inferiority of blacks to whites.
In his view, only a few worthy blacks merited full inclusion in American life.
2. The Roosevelt years witnessed rising discrimination and violence against African Americans. As
president, Roosevelt did virtually nothing to improve the situation of black people overall.
3. Roosevelt also antagonized black leaders nationwide with his hasty dishonorable discharge of black
soldiers accused of fomenting violence against white townspeople in Brownsville, Texas. In 1972, the
United States Army changed all of the discharges to honorable.

II. Roosevelt, a shrewd international negotiator and expansionist, believed in the prudent exercise of power to
advance Americas overseas interests.
A. Speak softly and carry a big stick was his motto for the conduct of foreign affairs.
1. He crushed the nationalist rebellion in the Philippines, which the United States had acquired after the
Spanish-American War.
2. He gained a permanent lease to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
3. His Secretary of War, Elihu Root, reformed the antiquated structure of the American military.
4. He helped foment a separatist revolt in Panama, which was part of Colombia. As a result, in 1903, he
acquired the territory needed to build the Panama Canal.
B. In 1904, he issued the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, which asserted Americas power to
intervene in the internal affairs of Latin American nations.
1. Roosevelt believed that the United States needed to supervise less civilized peoples and maintain
stability in the western hemisphere. He worried that chaos in Latin American countries could lead to
European intervention.
2. The president of the United States, of course, would be the judge of when such intervention would be
necessaryanother significant expansion of presidential power under Theodore Roosevelt.
3. Roosevelts new departure in foreign policy became the theoretical basis for Americas subsequent
hemispheric and global interventions in less developed nations.

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III. Roosevelt won the presidential election of 1904.


A. Roosevelt was easily nominated, despite tensions with the Old Guard.
1. The first presidential primary elections in 1904 began a nearly seventy-year period in which both party
bosses and primary voters would choose delegates to the nominating conventions.
2. But the first serious primary contests were not held until 1912.
B. The Democrats virtually conceded the election, nominating Alton B. Parker, a little-known New York State
judge.
C. Roosevelt won the greatest popular-vote victory to that point in history.
1. Roosevelt as president had sponsored controls on campaign contributions. As a candidate, however, he
readily accepted contributions from business interests.
2. His electoral mandate encouraged him to extend his progressive domestic policies and continue an
aggressive policy abroad.
3. Like Polk in the 1840s, he pledged not to seek another term.
IV. Roosevelt began an activist second term in office.
A. He expanded his program of progressive reform during his second term.
1. He did not seek to recast American society, but to make moderate reforms that would prevent the
nation from moving to the left.
2. He won legislation for the government regulation of railroad rates.
3. To protect the safety of Americans and control political corruption, Roosevelt achieved reforms that
included the Meat Inspection Act, the Pure Food and Drug Act, and laws prohibiting corporate
contributions to national political campaigns.
4. Conservative members of his party blocked other ambitious reforms. They also called Roosevelts
integrity into question.
B. Roosevelt, with the help of J. P. Morgan, steered the government through the Panic of 1907.
1. In 1907, sliding stock prices and a chaotic financial system led to the nations first severe financial
crisis since 1893. Several large companies failed and runs on the nations bank had begun.
2. The Panic of 1907 unsettled the nations political and economic leaders, who had been lulled to
complacency by a decade of prosperity.
3. Congress, worried about the governments capacity to deal with financial crises, commissioned two
major studies of the nations banking and credit systems that would contribute to the creation of the
Federal Reserve System in 1913.
4. Social unrest began after the onset of the Panic of 1907. In response to a major race riot, a conference
was held in 1909 that led to the formation of the NAACP.
Suggested Reading:
Brands, H. W. T. R.: The Last Romantic. New York: Basic Books, 1997.
Dyer, Thomas G. Theodore Roosevelt and the Idea of Race. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1980.
Gould, Lewis L. The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1991.
Questions to Consider:
1. Why are racial issues an exception to Roosevelts otherwise ambitious agenda of reform?
2. Is there a contradiction between Roosevelt progressive policies at home and his big stick initiatives in foreign
policy?
3. Was there legal or moral justification for Roosevelts intervention in Panama to acquire the land to build the
Panama Canal?
4. What were the elements of idealism and self-interest that contributed to the Roosevelt Corollary?

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Lecture Twenty-Four
Theodore Roosevelt: Third-Party Crusader
Scope: Issues that arose during Roosevelts second term included immigration policy and new challenges in world
affairs. Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His efforts to wrest the Republican nomination from
Taft in 1912 were unsuccessful. He sought to serve his nation again during World War I, but President
Woodrow Wilson denied his request for a military commission. He died prematurely at age sixty but left an
extraordinary legacy. He expanded the power of the presidency and advanced Americas progressive
agenda, promoting social, electoral, and economic change. Just as significantly, his participation in the rise
of the United States as a great power ready to impose its will beyond its borders set new standards that
profoundly and enduringly influenced the nations international policies. To this day, Roosevelt is cited as
a role model for subsequent presidents and presidential contenders.

Outline
I.

Roosevelt faced new issues in his second term.


A. An influx of new immigrants from areas outside of northern and western Europe increased pressure for
immigration restriction.
1. Roosevelt, who viewed the world from a white, Protestant perspective, worried that black, Latin
American, and Oriental immigrants simply could not be assimilated into American life.
2. He advocated various forms of immigration restriction, as well as efforts to Americanize immigrants.
Major immigration restriction laws, however, would not be enacted until the 1920s.
3. In response to agitation in California against Japanese immigrants, Roosevelt negotiated a private
agreement with Japanese officials.
4. Under the terms of the so-called Gentlemens Agreement of 1907, Japan pledged to restrict
immigration to the United States, which, in turn, would refrain from enacting Japanese exclusion into
law.
B. Roosevelt continued to expand Americas role in world affairs.
1. In 1905 he mediated an end to the Russo-Japanese war. He earned international acclaim, but dismayed
American isolationists.
2. In 1906, he interceded in a conflict among France, Germany, and Russia over the control of Morocco,
serving as an arbiter among nations, just as he had earlier arbitrated between labor and capital.
3. For his successful diplomacy, Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906, the first American
statesman to be so honored.
4. He approved the Root-Takahira agreement on policy toward the Far East and sent Americas Great
White Fleet around the world in a grand show of American power and will.

II. Honoring his pledge, he did not seek another presidential term in 1908.
A. He gained the nomination of his handpicked successor, Secretary of War, William Howard Taft.
B. Taft defeated William Jennings Bryan, who was running for the presidency for the third time. Under
Roosevelt, however, the GOP had co-opted much of Bryans reform agenda.
C. This election helped establish the practice of candidates routinely campaigning nationwide on their own
behalf.
III. Roosevelt ran again for president in 1912 as a third-party candidate.
A. He believed the Taft administration was neither advancing the progressive agenda, nor exercising
presidential leadership.
B. He challenged Taft for the 1912 Republican presidential nomination.
1. Progressive Republicans split with Taft after he had tried to purge progressives from the Republican
Party during the midterm elections of 1910. Progressives formed the National Progressive Republican
League in 1911, led by Senator Robert M. La Follette of Wisconsin, a noted proponent of progressive
reform.

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2.

La Follette believed that he had earned the right to lead the progressive opposition to Taft, but
Roosevelt challenged both Taft and La Follette for the 1912 GOP nomination for president.
3. Roosevelt, La Follette, and Taft fought the first primary election campaign in American history.
4. Roosevelt won the primary battle but lost the nomination to Taft. Most delegates were chosen by party
organizations rather than by votes in primary elections.
C. Roosevelt ran as the candidate of the Progressive, or Bull Moose, Party.
1. Roosevelt developed the idea of a New Nationalism that extended the progressive policies of his
presidential years.
2. The Progressive platform called for numerous measures to open the political processincluding
womens suffrageand to greatly expand the role of government in promoting social welfare and
regulating the economy.
3. Not just Roosevelt, but also Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson and even President Taft
campaigned to some degree as Progressives.
4. Roosevelt siphoned off the support of nearly half the 1908 Taft voters, giving the election to Wilson.
He finished second in the popular vote. His twenty-seven percent of the popular vote was the most
ever gained by a third-party candidate.
5. His unsuccessful bid for the nomination and presidency weakened the position of the progressives in
the Republican Party.
IV. Roosevelt retired from politics after the election of 1912.
A. His retirement came when he was still in the prime of life.
1. He supported the losing Republican nominee, Charles Evans Hughes, in the presidential election of
1916.
2. He unsuccessfully sought a commission from President Wilson to serve his country during World War
I.
3. He died in 1919 at the premature age of sixty.
B. Roosevelt left behind an extraordinary legacy.
1. He understood that unlike the great Republican president before him, Abraham Lincoln, he had not
withstood the greatest test of a presidentleading the country through a great national period.
2. Still, he expanded the power of the presidency, creating a more direct relationship than ever before
between the presidency and the people and the presidency and interest groups.
3. He greatly advanced Americas progressive agenda, advancing social, electoral, and economic change
and offering an alternative to the radicalism that he despised even more than the old fossilized preRoosevelt Republican Party.
4. Roosevelt did not fundamentally reconstruct his party and American politics. But even the new
conservatives of the 1920s would not dismantle the structures of Roosevelts progressive era.
5. He expanded the role of the United States as a great power prepared to impose its will beyond its
borders.
Suggested Reading:
Cooper, John Milton. The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt. Cambridge: Belknap
Press, 1983.
Gable, John Allen. The Bull Moose Years: Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Party. Port Washington:
Kennikat, 1978.
Barber, James G. Theodore Roosevelt: Icon of the American Century. Washington, D.C.: National Portrait Gallery,
1998.
Gould, Lewis L. The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1991.

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Questions to Consider:
1. What lasting precedents did Roosevelt establish with the federal regulatory policies of his second term?
2. What does Roosevelts Bull Moose campaign of 1912 reveal about the ability of third-party candidates to
compete successfully for political office in the United States?
3. Evaluate the argument that the leadership and legacy of Theodore Roosevelt contains both modern-day liberal
and conservative elements.

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Timeline
22 February 1732............................ George Washington is born in Westmoreland County, Virginia.
13 April 1743.................................. Thomas Jefferson is born in Albemarle County, Virginia.
1752 ................................................ Washington enters the military. He would become a commander of the Virginia
forces during the French and Indian Wars.
1758 ................................................ Washington wins election to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
1759 ................................................ Washington marries Martha Dandridge Custis, a wealthy widow with two
children.
1767 ................................................ Andrew Jackson was born on a frontier settlement in South Carolina.
1768 ................................................ Jefferson is elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
1772 ................................................ Jefferson marries Martha Wayles Skelton, a widow who would die ten years
later. He never remarried.
1774 ................................................ Washington coauthors the Fairfax County Resolves that denied Parliaments
authority over the colonies.
1774 ................................................ Thomas Jefferson publishes the influential pamphlet A Summary View of the
Rights of British America.
17741775 ...................................... First and second Continental Congresses meet in Philadelphia. Washington
serves as delegate.
1775 ................................................ The Revolutionary War begins. Second Continental Congress, elects
Washington as commander of the Continental Army.
1776 ................................................ Thomas Jefferson writes the Declaration of Independence.
25 December 1776.......................... Washington crosses the Delaware River and wins victory at Trenton and later at
Princeton in New Jersey.
October 1777 .................................. General Horatio Gates defeats the British at the Battle of Saratoga, the battle
that would lead to an alliance with the French.
Winter 17771778.......................... Winter headquarters established at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
19 October 1781 ............................. General Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown, Virginia, effectively ending the
war.
1783 ................................................ Washington resigns his commission and returns to private life.
17831784 ...................................... Jefferson serves in the Continental Congress.
1787 ................................................ Constitutional Convention meets in Philadelphia. Washington serves as
president.
1789 ................................................ Electoral College unanimously elects Washington as first president of the
United States under the new Constitution.
1790 ................................................ District of Columbia is chosen as the future permanent capital of the United
States.
1790 ................................................ Jefferson becomes the first Secretary of State.
17911793 ...................................... Conflicts between Jefferson and Secretary of State Alexander Hamilton lead to
the development of the first political party system, with Hamiltons Federalist
Party opposed by Jeffersons Democratic-Republican Party.
1791 ................................................ The Bank of the United States is chartered.

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1792 ................................................ Washington issues his first veto of a congressional bill.


1792 ................................................ Washington is reelected for a second term.
1793 ................................................ Faced with potential conflicts with both France and Britain, Washington issues a
formal statement of United States neutrality.
1793 ................................................ Washington signs a Fugitive Slave Law, despite his own ambivalent beliefs
about slavery.
1794 ................................................ Washington suppresses with overwhelming force the Whiskey Rebellion of
farmers in western Pennsylvania.
Early 1790s..................................... Andrew Jackson marries, then remarries Rachel Donelson Robertson after her
divorce from her first husband is finally secured. Controversy about their first
marriage would haunt the couple until Rachels death shortly after Jackson was
elected president in 1824.
1794 ................................................ General Anthony Wayne defeats Indian forces in Ohio. A subsequent treaty
would cede large amounts of land to the United States.
1795 ................................................ The Senate ratifies Jays Treaty, which averted war and removed the British
from western forts but did little else to protect American shipping and security
concerns.
2 November 1795 ........................... James K. Polk is born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
1796 ................................................ The Senate ratifies Pinckneys treaty with Spain, which granted American ships
navigation rights on the Mississippi River.
1796 ................................................ Washington chooses not to run again, establishing a two-term tradition that
endured for nearly 150 years. His farewell address called for national unity and
independence from foreign conflicts and warned of the danger of party conflict.
1796 ................................................ Jefferson loses presidential election to John Adams. Jefferson receives the
second highest number of electoral votes and become vice president.
1800 ................................................ Jefferson defeats John Adams in the presidential election, but the election goes
to the House of Representatives, because Jefferson and Aaron Burr receive the
same number of electoral votes.
1801 ................................................ The House of Representatives elects Jefferson as president, leading to the first
transfer of power in American history. The Federalist Party of Washington and
Hamilton would not win another presidential election.
1801 ................................................ Jefferson begins war against Barbary states in the Mediterranean without
authorization from Congress.
18011802 ...................................... Under Jeffersons leadership, taxes are cut and economies in government
achieved.
1802 ................................................ Jefferson is accused of fathering children with his slave, Sally Hemings.
1803 ................................................ The United States purchases from France the vast Louisiana territory between
the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains.
1804 ................................................ The Lewis and Clark expedition begins.
1804 ................................................ The Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution establishes the modern system in
which the president and vice president are separately elected.
1804 ................................................ Jefferson is elected easily to a second term.

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18041805 ...................................... Jefferson supporters in the House impeach Federalist Supreme Court Justice
Samuel Chase, but he is acquitted by the Senate.
1806 ................................................ Congress authorizes construction of what would become the National Road.
1807 ................................................ The federal government unsuccessfully prosecutes Aaron Burr for treason.
1807 ................................................ Jefferson signs a ban on the international slave trade.
1807 ................................................ Congress approves the Embargo Act against international commerce. It was
designed to place economic pressure on Great Britain in any effort to restore
Americas commercial rights.
1808 ................................................ Jefferson honors the Washington tradition and declines to seek a third
presidential term.
12 February 1809............................ Abraham Lincoln is born in Larue County, Kentucky.
1809 ................................................ Congress repeals the Embargo Act shortly before Jefferson leaves office.
1815 ................................................ Jackson wins the Battle of New Orleans, thwarting a British invasion.
1819 ................................................ Jacksons military campaigns result in the ceding of Spanish Florida to the
United States.
1824 ................................................ Jackson wins a plurality of the popular and Electoral College vote, but the
House of Representative elects John Quincy Adams as president.
1824 ................................................ Polk marries Sarah Childress, who would become an important influence on his
political life.
1825 ................................................ Polk wins election to Congress as a supporter of Andrew Jackson.
1828 ................................................ Jackson easily defeats Adams and is elected president. The coalition that forms
around Jacksons candidacy would become the Democratic Party.
1829 ................................................ Jackson establishes an informal group of advisors known as the kitchen
cabinet and inaugurates the spoils system for the replacement of federal
officials.
1830 ................................................ Jackson vetoes the Maysville Road Bill, which would have provided federal
support for a road in Kentucky.
1830 ................................................ Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act, granting authority to move Eastern
Indian tribes to western lands.
1831 ................................................ Nearly all of Jacksons cabinet resigns as a result of conflict over the treatment
of Peggy Eaton, who was considered socially unacceptable by some cabinet
members and their wives.
1832 ................................................ Jackson begins the bank war by vetoing the charter of the Bank after it narrowly
passed Congress in 1832. The veto galvanized Jacksons opponents into an antiJackson party that would become the Whig Party by the end of the decade.
1832 ................................................ Jackson issues his Nullification Proclamation that affirmed the supremacy of
federal law over state action.
1832 ................................................ Jackson easily wins reelection in the first contest in which parties nominated
candidates at national conventions.
1833 ................................................ Jackson escalates the bank war by removing government deposits from the Bank
of the United States.
1834 ................................................ The Senate censures Jackson for his actions in removing the deposits.
1834 ................................................ Lincoln is elected to the Illinois State legislature.

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1835 ................................................ A would-be assassin attempts to shoot President Jackson, but his pistols misfire.
1835 ................................................ Polks close alliance with Jackson helps him become Speaker of the House.
1836 ................................................ Jackson issues his Specie Circular, requiring purchasers of large federal lands to
pay in gold or silver.
1836 ................................................ The House of Representatives establishes a gag rule to prevent consideration
of anti-slavery petitions.
1836 ................................................ Jackson retires from politics, and his hand-picked successor, Martin Van Buren,
is elected over the candidates of the newly established Whig Party.
1837 ................................................ The newly elected Senate revokes the censure of President Jackson and
expunges it from the record of the Senate.
1839 ................................................ Polk is elected governor of Tennessee. He would fail in two attempts at
reelection.
1844 ................................................ The Democratic Convention nominates Polk as the first dark horse presidential
candidate in American history.
1844 ................................................ Polk narrowly defeats the favored Henry Clay in the presidential election.
1845 ................................................ Congress passes a joint resolution authorizing the annexation of Texas, which
the outgoing president, John Tyler, signed.
13 May 1846................................... Congress, at the request of President Polk, approves a declaration of war against
Mexico.
1846 ................................................ Congress adopts Polks proposals for tariff reduction and for establishing an
Independent Treasury as the repository for federal funds.
1846 ................................................ Lincoln is elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves for a single
term. It is his last elected office before winning the presidency.
1846 ................................................ The United States reaches an agreement with Britain over the disputed Oregon
territory, setting the boundary at the 49th parallel as Polk had earlier proposed.
1846 ................................................ Congress fails to pass legislation introduced by Representative David Wilmot to
prohibit slavery in territory acquired from Mexico.
September 1847 .............................. U.S. forces under General Winfield Scott take Mexico City, effectively ending
the Mexican War.
February 1848................................. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo formally ends the Mexican War, ceding vast
amounts of Mexican territory to the United States.
1848 ................................................ Polk honors an early pledge and declines to seek reelection. The presidency
would be captured by the candidate of the rival Whig Party.
28 December 1856.......................... Woodrow Wilson is born in Staunton, Virginia.
1858 ................................................ The Lincoln-Douglas debates take place.
27 October 1858 ............................. Theodore Roosevelt is born in New York City.
1860 ................................................ Lincoln is elected president with just 40 percent of the popular vote in a fourperson race. South Carolina secedes from the Union. Ten other states would
eventually follow.
April 1861....................................... The Civil War begins with the shelling of Fort Sumter. Lincoln calls out the
militia.
July 1861 ........................................ The South wins the Battle of Bull Run.

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September 1862 .............................. After a Union victory at Antietam in September 1862, Lincoln issues the
preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in areas still under
the control of the Confederacy.
1862 ................................................ The Homestead Act, providing free land for settlement of the west, and the
Morrill Act, establishing land grant colleges, are enacted.
1 January 1863................................ The Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect.
July 1863 ........................................ The Union wins the Battle of Gettysburg; draft riots occur in New York City.
19 November 1863 ......................... Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address.
1864 ................................................ General Ulysses S. Grant is appointed as commander of all Union forces and
launches a coordinated attack to box in the Confederate Army.
1864 ................................................ Sherman takes Atlanta and begins his march to the sea.
1864 ................................................ Lincoln wins reelection as president, defeating George McClellan, the general
he had fired for inaction. Andrew Johnson is elected vice president.
February 1865................................. The Hampton Roads Peace Conference.
April 1865....................................... Union troops enter the Confederate capital of Richmond; Confederate General
Robert E. Lee surrenders to Grant.
14 April 1865.................................. John Wilkes Booth shoots Lincoln at Fords Theater. Lincoln would die the next
morning, and Andrew Johnson would become president of the United States.
1880 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt marries Alice Hathaway Lee. After her death, he would
marry Edith Kermit Carow in 1886.
1881 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt is elected to the New York State Assembly.
30 January 1882.............................. Franklin Delano Roosevelt is born in Hyde Park, New York.
1885 ................................................ Woodrow Wilson marries Ellen Louise Axson. After her death, he would marry
Edith Bolling Gault in 1915.
1897 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt is appointed assistant secretary of the navy.
1898 ................................................ The Spanish-American War takes place. Theodore Roosevelt leads the Rough
Riders.
1898 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt is elected governor of New York State.
1900 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt is elected as William McKinleys vice president.
14 September 1901 ......................... Theodore Roosevelt becomes president of the United States after the
assassination of McKinley.
1902 ................................................ The Roosevelt administration brings an anti-trust suit against the Northern
Securities Company.
1902 ................................................ Roosevelt mediates the Anthracite Coal Strike.
1902 ................................................ Wilson becomes president of Princeton University.
1903 ................................................ Roosevelt acquires the territory needed to build the Panama Canal.
1904 ................................................ Roosevelt issues the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, which asserts
Americas power to intervene in the internal affairs of Latin American nations.
1904 ................................................ Roosevelt wins a landslide election to a full term.
1905 ................................................ Roosevelt mediates a settlement of the Russo-Japanese war.
1905 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt marries Eleanor Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelts niece.

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1906 ................................................ The federal Meat Inspection and Food and Drug Acts are enacted.
1907 ................................................ Roosevelt, with the help of J. P. Morgan, steers the government through the
Panic of 1907.
1907 ................................................ Under the terms of the so-called Gentlemens Agreement, Japan pledged to
restrict immigration to the United States, and the United States, in turn, would
refrain from enacting Japanese exclusion into law.
1908 ................................................ Lyndon Johnson is born near Stonewall, Texas.
1908 ................................................ Roosevelt honors an earlier pledge and declines to run for reelection. His chosen
successor, William Howard Taft, is elected.
1910 ................................................ Wilson is elected governor of New Jersey.
1910 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is elected to the New York State Senate.
6 February 1911.............................. Ronald Reagan is born in Tampico, Illinois.
1912 ................................................ Wilson wins the Democratic nomination and is elected president after Roosevelt
splits the Republican Party with his insurgent campaign.
19131914 ...................................... Wilson wins enactment of his domestic program of tariff reduction, creation of
the Federal Reserve System, and anti-trust legislation.
1913 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
1914 ................................................ World War I begins. Wilson tries to maintain neutrality while seeking to
mediate an end to the war.
May 1915........................................ A German submarine torpedoes the British liner Lusitania.
1916 ................................................ Under Wilsons guidance, Congress adopts federal loans for farmers, a model
workmens compensation act, a federal child labor law, an eight-hour day for
railroad workers, and federal highway assistance.
1916 ................................................ The United States begins preparedness measures.
1916 ................................................ Wilson narrowly wins reelection with the slogan he kept us out of war.
2 April 1917.................................... Wilson asks Congress for a declaration of war against Germany.
27 May 1917................................... John F. Kennedy is born in Brookline, Massachusetts. He would be the first
president to be born in the twentieth century.
1918 ................................................ Wilson sets out his Fourteen Points as a basis for a lasting peace.
1918 ................................................ The American Expeditionary Force plays an important role in running the war
for the Allies.
1919 ................................................ Wilson leads the American delegation to Paris to negotiate the peace settlement.
The Treaty of Versailles would include his plan for a league of nations.
September 1919 .............................. Wilson suffers a stroke while campaigning for the treaty, which the Senate fails
to ratify.
1920 ................................................ The states ratify constitutional amendments for prohibition and womens
suffrage. The 1920 election would be the first in American history with women
in all states eligible to vote.
1920 ................................................ The Republicans recapture the presidency as Warren Harding wins a landslide
victory. Franklin Roosevelt runs for vice president on the losing Democratic
ticket.
1921 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is stricken with polio.

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1928 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is elected governor of New York. Republican Herbert
Hoover wins the presidency.
1929 ................................................ The Great Depression begins.
1932 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt easily defeats Herbert Hoover in the presidential election.
1933 ................................................ In the first hundred days of the administration, Congress enacts Roosevelts
New Deal agenda of work and relief programs, banking reform, homeowner
assistance, economy in government, and programs for the recovery of industry
and agriculture.
1933 ................................................ The prohibition amendment is repealed.
1934 ................................................ The incumbent Democrats win congressional seats in the midterm elections.
1935 ................................................ The Supreme Court declares the National Recovery Act unconstitutional.
1935 ................................................ Elements of the second New Deal are enacted, including the Works Progress
Administration, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Social Security Act.
1936 ................................................ Roosevelt wins a landslide reelection, taking every state except Maine and
Vermont.
1937 ................................................ Johnson wins a special election for the U.S. House of Representatives.
1937 ................................................ The Supreme Court upholds the Social Security Act.
1937 ................................................ Congress rejects Roosevelts court-packing plan.
1937 ................................................ An economic recession begins.
1937 ................................................ Reagan begins his acting career.
1938 ................................................ Congress enacts the Fair Labor Standards Act, establishing minimum wages and
maximum hours.
1938 ................................................ Republicans make major gains in the midterm elections of 1938, although
Democrats retain both houses of Congress.
1939 ................................................ World War II begins. A strong isolationist movement would develop in the
United States.
1940 ................................................ Under Roosevelts prodding, the United States begins to aid the Allies and
develop preparedness measures, including the Selective Training and Service
Act.
1940 ................................................ Roosevelt wins an unprecedented third term, defeating dark horse Republican
candidate Wendell Willkie.
1941 ................................................ The United States becomes more deeply involved in the war, especially after the
passage of Lend-Lease in March.
August 1941 ................................... The United States and Britain issue the Atlantic Charter with an eight-point
statement of principles for peace.
December 1941............................... Japan attacks Pearl Harbor. The United States declares war against Japan.
Germany and Italy declare war against the United States. The United States
declares war on Germany and Italy.
1942 ................................................ The United States adopts measures to mobilize the nation and to finance the war
effort.
1942 ................................................ President Roosevelt authorizes the internment of Japanese Americans.
1942 ................................................ The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration, key
components of the New Deal, come to an end.

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January 1943................................... Crucial decisions about the war, including a demand for unconditional
surrender, are made by Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and other Allied
representatives at Casablanca.
6 June 1944..................................... The Allied invasion of France begins.
1944 ................................................ Congress enacts the G.I. Bill of Rights.
1944 ................................................ Representatives of the Allies establish the basis for the foundation of the United
Nations.
1944 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is elected to a third term. He selects Harry Truman as his
running mate after dumping Vice President Henry Wallace.
February 1945................................. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin meet at Yalta to discuss Russian entry into the
war against Japan, the United Nations, and postwar arrangements in Germany,
Poland, and Eastern Europe.
12 April 1945.................................. Truman becomes president after Roosevelts death.
7 May 1945..................................... V-E Day: Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies.
August 1945 ................................... The United States drops atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki.
2 September 1945 ........................... V-J Day: Japanese formally surrender aboard the U.S.S. Missouri.
1945 ................................................ Truman proposes an ambitious program of domestic reform, most of which will
not be enacted by Congress.
1946 ................................................ The Republicans win control of both houses of Congress for the first time since
the 1920s. Kennedy is elected as a Democrat to the U.S. House of
Representatives.
March 1947..................................... Truman announces the Truman Doctrine on the containment of communism.
1947 ................................................ The National Security Act establishes the Department of Defense, the Central
Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Council.
1947 ................................................ Congress enacts the Taft-Hartley Act over the veto of President Truman.
1947 ................................................ Secretary of State Marshall announces his plan for the recovery of Europe.
1948 ................................................ Truman issues an executive order to end segregation in the armed forces.
1948 ................................................ Truman recognizes the newly created state of Israel.
1948 ................................................ Truman surprises the pundits by defeating Thomas Dewey in the presidential
election. Democrats regain control of Congress. Johnson is elected to the
Senate.
1949 ................................................ Truman announces Four Point program to improve and modernize the
economies of less developed nations.
1949 ................................................ Communist forces take over the mainland of China. Recriminations begin in the
United States.
1949 ................................................ The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is established.
1950 ................................................ The Korean War begins.
October 1950 .................................. The U.N. Army crosses the 38th parallel into North Korea.
November 1950 .............................. The Chinese communists enter the Korean War.
1951 ................................................ Truman fires General MacArthur for insubordination.

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1952 ................................................ The Supreme Court declares unconstitutional Trumans seizure of the steel mills
in Youngstown, Ohio.
1952 ................................................ Truman declines to run for another term. The Republicans win their first
presidential election since 1928 as Dwight Eisenhower defeats Adlai Stevenson.
Kennedy is elected to the Senate.
1953 ................................................ Kennedy marries Jacqueline Bouvier.
1960 ................................................ Kennedy is elected president, narrowly defeating Republican Vice President
Richard Nixon. Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson of Texas is elected
vice president.
March 1961..................................... Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps by executive order.
April 1961....................................... Kennedy authorizes the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
1961 ................................................ The Alliance for Progress is established to promote democracy and economic
development in Latin America.
1961 ................................................ The Berlin Wall is constructed.
October 1962 .................................. After discovering the installation of Soviet missiles in Cuba, Kennedy imposes a
quarantine. The crisis is resolved when Russia agrees to remove the missiles and
the United States agrees not to invade Cuba.
1962 ................................................ Kennedy embraces an expansionary fiscal policy, including tax cuts to stimulate
the economy.
1962 ................................................ The United States and other nations agree to protect the independence and
neutrality of Laos.
1963 ................................................ Kennedy continues to increase American military personnel in Vietnam but
resists pressure for a large-scale American military campaign.
1963 ............................................... Kennedy supports a military coup in South Vietnam that resulted in the
assassination of President Ngo Diem.
1963 ................................................ The civil rights movement intensifies and the Kennedy administration responds
by drafting omnibus civil rights legislation.
1963 ................................................ The United States, the Soviet Union, and numerous other nations agree to ban
atmospheric and oceanic nuclear testing.
22 November 1963 ......................... Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Johnson becomes president. The
Warren Commission appointed by Johnson would find that Lee Harvey Oswald,
a former marine and self-avowed Marxist, had shot the president.
1964 ................................................ Enactment of the Civil Rights Act, ending segregation of public facilities and
accommodations.
1964 ................................................ Enactment of the Economic Opportunity Act, implementing Johnsons War on
Poverty program.
August 1964 ................................... The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gives Johnson a free hand to expand Americas
military involvement in Vietnam.
1964 ................................................ Johnson wins a landslide victory over conservative Republican candidate Barry
Goldwater.
1965 ................................................ Lyndon Johnson proposes a Great Society program. Congress responds by
enacting such programs as Medicare and Medicaid.
1965 ................................................ Enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, eliminating literacy tests and
providing for the expansion of minority registration and voting.

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1965 ................................................ Enactment of the Water Quality Act begins a succession of major environmental
initiatives during the Johnson administration.
1965 ................................................ Johnson begins a substantial escalation of American military involvement in
Vietnam, including both an air war and a ground war.
1965 ................................................ Northern race riots begin with an outbreak in the Watts neighborhood of Los
Angeles.
1966 ................................................ Democrats suffer major losses in the midterm elections. Reagan is elected
Republican governor of California.
1967 ................................................ The war in Vietnam intensifies, as do anti-war demonstrations.
1968 ................................................ The communists in Vietnam win a major propaganda victory with an offensive
launched on the eve of Tet, the lunar New Year.
31 March 1968 ............................... Johnson withdraws from the presidential race to concentrate on bringing peace
to Vietnam.
1968 ................................................ Johnsons vice president, Hubert Humphrey, loses the presidential election to
Richard Nixon.
1980 ................................................ Reagan is elected president, defeating incumbent Democratic President Jimmy
Carter. Republicans win control of the Senate for the first time since the 1950s.
March 1981..................................... Reagan narrowly survives an assassination attempt.
19811982 ...................................... Congress enacts Reagans major tax cut and deregulation proposals and
redirects priorities from domestic to military spending.
1982 ................................................ The economy is in recession and Democrats make gains in the midterm
elections.
1983 ................................................ The economy begins a recovery from the recession. The economy would
continue to grow throughout the remainder of Reagans two terms.
October 1983 .................................. The United States invades the tiny island of Grenada to dislodge a leftist
government.
November 1984 .............................. Reagan wins a decisive reelection victory over Walter Mondale, Carters vice
president. Mondales running mate, Geraldine Ferraro, was the first woman on a
major party ticket.
1985 ................................................ Mikhail Gorbachev becomes the leader of the Soviet Union.
1986 ................................................ Emergence of the Iran-Contra scandal, involving the sale of arms to the terrorist
state of Iran and the illegal diversion of the profits to the Contra resistance
movement in Nicaragua.
1986 ................................................ Republicans lose control of the Senate.
1986 ................................................ Congress enacts major tax reform legislation.
October 1987 .................................. The Dow Jones Industrial Average drops 500 points, but the market recovers
and the economy continues to expand through Reagans term.
1987 ................................................ The United States and the Soviet Union reach agreement on the removal of
intermediate-range ballistic missiles from Europe. The Senate ratifies the treaty
the following year.
1988 ................................................ Reagans vice president, George Bush, wins the presidency.

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Remini, Robert. Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 18331845. New York: Harper and
Row, 1984.
. The Legacy of Andrew Jackson. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988.
Rogin, Michael Paul. Fathers and Children: Andrew Jackson and the Subjugation of the American Indian. New
York: Knopf Press, 1975.
Temin, Peter. The Jacksonian Economy. New York: Norton Press, 1969.
Watson, Harry. Liberty and Power. New York: Hill and Wang, 1990.
5. James K. Polk
Bergeron, Paul. The Presidency of James K. Polk. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1987.
Bumgarner, John R. Sarah Childress Polk: A Biography of the Remarkable First Lady. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland
& Co., 1997.
Haynes, Sam. James K. Polk and the Expansionist Impulse. New York: Longman, 1997.
Hietala, Thomas. Manifest Design: Anxious Aggrandizement in Late Jacksonian America. Ithaca: Cornell
University Press, 1985.
Mahin, Dean B. Olive Branch and Sword: The United States and Mexico, 18451848. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland
& Co., 1997.
Nelson, Anna. Secret Agents: President Polk and the Search for Peace with Mexico. New York: Garland Press
1988.
Sellers, Charles. James K. Polk, Jacksonian, 17951843. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966.
Winders, Richard. Mr. Polks Army: The American Military Experience in the Mexican War. College Station: Texas
A & M Press, 1997.
6. Abraham Lincoln
Boritt, Gabor S., ed. Lincoln, the War President: The Gettysburg Lectures. New York: Oxford University Press,
1992.
Cox, LaWanda. Lincoln and Black Freedom: A Study in Presidential Leadership. Columbia: University of South
Carolina Press, 1981.
Donald, David Herbert. Lincoln. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
Foner, Eric. Politics and Ideology in the Age of the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.
Hanchett, William. Out of the Wilderness: The Life of Abraham Lincoln. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.
Neely. Mark E. The Last Best Hope of Earth. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993.
Oates. Stephen B. With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Harper Perennial, 1994.
Rawley. James A. Abraham Lincoln and a Nation Worth Fighting For. Wheeling: Harlan Davidson, 1996.
Strozier. Charles B. Lincolns Quest for Union: Public and Private Meanings. New York: Basic Books, 1982.
Zall, Paul M. Abe Lincoln Laughing: Humorous Anecdotes from Original Sources by and about Abraham Lincoln.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.
7. Theodore Roosevelt
Barber, James G. Theodore Roosevelt: Icon of the American Century. Washington, D.C.: National Portrait Gallery,
1998.
Brands, H. W. T. R.: The Last Romantic. New York: Basic Books, 1997.
Cooper, John Milton. The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt. Cambridge: Belknap
Press, 1983.
Dyer, Thomas G. Theodore Roosevelt and the Idea of Race. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1980.
Gable, John Allen. The Bull Moose Years: Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Party. Port Washington:
Kennikat, 1978.
Gould, Lewis L. The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1991.

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Harbaugh, William. Power and Responsibility: The Life and Times of Theodore Roosevelt. New York: Farrar,
Straus and Cudahy, rev. ed., 1975.
McCullough, David. Mornings on Horseback. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1981.
Morris, Edmund. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. New York: Coward, McCann, and Geoghegan, 1979.
Walker, Dale L. The Boys of 98: Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. New York: A Tom Doherty
Associates Books, 1998.
8. Woodrow Wilson
Hirst, David W. Woodrow Wilson, Reform Governor: A Documentary Narrative. Princeton: Van Nostrand, 1965.
Knock, Thomas J. To End All Wars: Woodrow Wilson and the Quest for a New World Order. Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1992.
Latham, Earl. The Philosophy and Policies of Woodrow Wilson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958.
Levin, Gordon N. Woodrow Wilson and World Politics: Americas Response to War and Revolution. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1968.
Link, Arthur S. The Higher Realism of Woodrow Wilson and Other Essays. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press,
1971.
. Woodrow Wilson: Revolution, War, and Peace. Arlington Heights, Ill.: Harlan Davidson, 1979.
Mulder, John M. Woodrow Wilson: The Years of Preparation. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978.
Schulte-Nordholt, Jan Willem. Woodrow Wilson: A Life for World Peace. Berkeley: University of California Press,
1991.
Thorsen, Niels Aage. The Political Thought of Woodrow Wilson, 18751910. Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1988.
9. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Adams, Michael. The Best War Ever: America and World War II. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
Amenta, Edwin. Bold Relief: Institutional Politics and the Origins of Modern American Social Policy. Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1998.
Badger, Anthony J. The New Deal: The Depression Years, 19331940. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989.
Brinkley, Alan. The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War. New York: Vintage Books, 1995.
Burns, James MacGregor. Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox, 18821940. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1956.
. Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970.
Cohen, Lizabeth. Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 19191939. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1990.
Cole, Wayne S. Roosevelt and the Isolationists, 193245. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983.
Conkin, Paul K. The New Deal. Arlington Heights, Ill.: Harlan Davidson, 1992.
Davis, Kenneth S. FDR: Into the Storm, 19371940. New York: Random House, 1993.
. FDR: The Beckoning of Destiny, 18821928. New York: Putnam, 1971.
Eden, Robert. The New Deal and Its Legacy: Critique and Reappraisal. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1985.
Fraser, Steve, and Gary Gerstle. The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order, 19301980. Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1989.
Freidel, Frank B. Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Rendezvous with Destiny. Boston: Little, Brown, 1990.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. No Ordinary Time. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II.
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994.
Heale, M. J. Franklin D. Roosevelt: The New Deal and War. New York: Routledge, 1999.
Heinrichs, Waldo. Threshold of War: Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Entry into World War II. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1988.
Kimball, Warren F. The Juggler: Franklin Roosevelt as Wartime Statesman. Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1991.

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45

Leuchtenburg, William E. The FDR Years: On Roosevelt and His Legacy. New York: Columbia University Press,
1995.
Sullivan, Patricia. Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era. Chapel Hill: University of North
Carolina Press, 1996.
Ward, Geoffrey C. Before the Trumpet: Young Franklin Roosevelt, 18821905. New York: Perennial Library, 1986.
10. Harry Truman
Donovan, Robert J. Conflict and Crisis: The Presidency of Harry S. Truman, 19451948. New York: W.W. Norton
& Company, 1977.
Ferrell, Robert H. Harry S. Truman: A Life. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1994.
Gosnell, Harold. Trumans Crises: A Political Biography of Harry S. Truman. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press,
1980.
Hamby, Alonzo L. Man of the People: A Life of Harry S. Truman. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Leffler, Melvyn P. A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War.
Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992.
McCormick, Thomas J. Americas Half Century: United States Foreign Policy in the Cold War and After.
Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.
McCoy, Donald R. The Presidency of Harry S. Truman. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1984.
McCullough, David. Truman. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.
Miller, Richard Lawrence. Truman: The Rise to Power. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1986.
Savage, Sean J. Truman and the Democratic Party. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1997.
Sherwin, Martin J. A World Destroyed: Hiroshima and the Origins of the Arms Race. New York: Vintage Books,
1987.
Winkler, Allan M. Life under a Cloud: American Anxiety about the Atom. New York: Oxford University Press,
1993.
11. John F. Kennedy
Bernstein, Irving. Promises Kept: John F. Kennedys New Frontier. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Beschloss, Michael R. The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 19601963. New York: Edward Burlingame,
1991.
Blair, Joan, and Clay Blair, Jr. The Search for JFK. New York: Berkley Medallion Books, 1976.
Branch, Taylor. Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 19541963. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988.
Brown, Thomas. JFK: History of an Image. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.
Davis, John H. The Kennedys: Dynasty and Disaster, 18481984. New York: McGraw Hill, 1984.
Giglio, James N. The Presidency of John F. Kennedy. Lawrence: University Press of
Kansas, 1991.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga. New York: Simon & Schuster,
1987.
Kaiser, David. American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson, and the Origins of the Vietnam War. Cambridge: Harvard
University Press, 2000.
Logsdon, John M. The Decision to Go to the Moon: Project Apollo and the National Interest. Cambridge: MIT
Press, 1970.
Parmet, Herbert S. JFK: The Presidency of John F. Kennedy. New York: Dial Press, 1983.
Reeves, Thomas C. A Question of Character: A Life of John F. Kennedy. New York: Free Press, 1991.
White, Mark J. The Cuban Missile Crisis. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996.
12. Lyndon Johnson
Beschloss, Michael R. Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 19631964. New York: Simon &
Schuster, 1997.

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Bornet, Vaughn D. The Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1983.
Dallek, Robert. Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 19611973. New York: Oxford University Press,
1998.
. Lone Star Rising: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 19081960. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. New York: St. Martins Griffin, 1991.
Herring, George C. Americas Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 19501975. New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 1996.
Murray, Charles. Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 19501980. New York: Basic Books, 1984.
Schulman, Bruce J. Lyndon B. Johnson and American Liberalism; A Brief Biography with Documents. New York:
Bedford Books, 1995.
Unger, Irwin, and Debi Unger. LBJ: A Life. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999.
Weisbrot, Robert. Freedom Bound: A History of Americas Civil Rights Movement. New York: Plume Books, 1990.
13. Ronald Reagan
Adler, Bill. Ronnie and Nancy: A Very Special Love Story. New York: Crown Publishers, 1985.
Anderson, Martin. Revolution. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988.
Boaz, David, ed. Assessing the Reagan Years. Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 1988.
Cannon, Lou. Reagan. New York: G.P. Putnams Sons, 1982.
Dallek, Robert. Ronald Reagan: The Politics of Symbolism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984.
Detlefsen, Robert R. Civil Rights under Reagan. San Francisco: Institute for Contemporary Studies, 1991.
Evans, Rowland, and Robert Novak. The Reagan Revolution. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1981.
Fitzgerald, Frances. Way out There in the Blue. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000.
Johnson, Haynes. Sleepwalking through History: America in the Reagan Years. New York: W.W. Norton, 1991.
Morris, Edmund. Dutch. New York: Random House, 1999.
Oye, Kenneth A., et al. The Eagle Resurgent? The Reagan Era in American Foreign Policy. Boston: Little, Brown,
1987.
Schweizer, Peter. Victory: The Reagan Administrations Secret Strategy That Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet
Union. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1994.
Stockman, David. The Triumph of Politics: How the Reagan Revolution Failed. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.

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47

Great Presidents
Part III

Professor Allan J. Lichtman

THE TEACHING COMPANY y

Allan J. Lichtman, Ph.D.


Professor of History, American University
Allan J. Lichtman received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and is a professor and Chair of the Department of
History at American University in Washington, D.C. He is the author or coauthor of six books, including Prejudice
and the Old Politics: The Presidential Election of 1928, Historians and the Living Past, and The Thirteen Keys to
the Presidency. He is editor of the book series Studies in Modern American History, published by Lexington Books.
Professor Lichtmans forthcoming book is entitled The Keys to the White House, 2000. The Keys system
predicted well ahead of time the outcome of every presidential election from 1984 to 1996. Dr. Lichtman has
provided commentary for CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, CNBC, C-SPAN, Worldnet, Voice of America,
the BBC, and many other networks worldwide. He worked with Dan Rather as a CBS news consultant during the
impeachment and trial of Bill Clinton.
Dr. Lichtman has published more than 100 scholarly and popular articles that have appeared in such journals and
newspapers as the American Historical Review, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, New Republic,
Washington Monthly, New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and Los Angeles Times. He
lectures frequently on politics and public affairs and is often cited by the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France
Presse, and other news services. He currently writes a biweekly column for the Montgomery Gazette and a
presidential election year column for Reuters.
Dr. Lichtman has been a Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the California Institute of
Technology. He has been an expert witness in more than sixty federal voting rights and redistricting cases. He
received the 199293 Scholar/Teacher award at American University. His biography is published in Whos Who in
America and Whos Who in the World.

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Table of Contents
Great Presidents
Part III
Professor Biography............................................................................................i
Course Scope.......................................................................................................1
Lecture Twenty-Five
Woodrow Wilson: American Visionary ....................2
Lecture Twenty-Six
Woodrow Wilson: The Professor as Politician..........5
Lecture Twenty-Seven Woodrow Wilson: The World Stage .........................8
Lecture Twenty-Eight Woodrow Wilson: The Fight for Postwar Peace .....11
Lecture Twenty-Nine
Franklin D. Roosevelt: Provocative Politician ........14
Lecture Thirty
Franklin D. Roosevelt: New Dealer.........................17
Lecture Thirty-One
Franklin D. Roosevelt: Into the Storm.....................21
Lecture Thirty-Two
Franklin D. Roosevelt: President in a
World at War ...........................................................24
Lecture Thirty-Three
Harry S Truman: A Struggle for Success ................26
Lecture Thirty-Four
Harry S Truman: Needing Americas Prayers .........29
Lecture Thirty-Five
Harry S Truman: Winning the Peace.......................31
Lecture Thirty-Six
Harry S Truman: No Accidental President ..............34
Timeline .............................................................................................................37
Bibliography......................................................................................................47

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Great Presidents
Scope:
The founders of the American Republic, in one of their most audacious decisions, created a strong and independent
president who commanded the armed forces and led the executive branch of government. Through this act of
geniusthe world had never seen an office quite like the American presidencythe founders put in place the rock
of the Republic. Americas great presidents secured the stability of the nation and the peaceful transition of political
power. Each one of the twelve leaders explored in this course led the nation through a pivotal era of its history, and
advanced the power and authority of the presidential office.
These presidents, from George Washington to Ronald Reagan, led the nation through its founding years, its
expansion to the west, and its transformation into an industrial society. They dealt with Americas struggle over
slavery, the civil war, two world wars, the Great Depression, the revolution in civil and womens rights, and the
Cold War. Through them we learn how America responded to an increasingly complex and diverse society and met
the crises of war, economic collapse, and social upheaval.
We consider the personal histories, character, and values of each president. We trace their responses to Americas
various and historically changing peoples, and their transformation of the presidency itself. We see how presidential
decisions shaped American and world history and we explore inside stories of the modern worlds most powerful
office. How did early presidents reconcile their slave holding with their support for democracy and liberty? How did
Thomas Jefferson, the champion of limited government, magnify presidential powers? Why did Abraham Lincoln
believe that he could not be reelected in 1864? In what ways did accidental president Harry Truman transform
Americas role in the world? How did master politician Lyndon Johnson blunder into the Vietnam War? Why did
Ronald Reagan abandon the Christian conservatives who fought for his election as president?
The study of Americas great presidents shows that there is no single pathway to political power and historical
consequence in the United States. The backgrounds of great presidents range from the privileged heritage of George
Washington, the Roosevelts, and John Kennedy to the humble origins of Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and
Harry Truman. Some, like Washington and Jefferson, achieved early prominence. Others, like James Polk, Lincoln,
and Truman, were unlikely presidents who rose to the challenges of their times. The few qualities that do seem to
unite the great presidents are an unsinkable ambition, a synchrony with the American people, and a strong inner
core of guiding values and principles.

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Lecture Twenty-Five
Woodrow Wilson: American Visionary
Scope: Woodrow Wilsons administration began the transformation from the Jacksonian party of states rights and
limited government to the modern Democratic Party of federal initiative and government activism. Wilson
maintained Americas involvement abroad, and used Americas participation in the Great War to formulate
an idealistic vision of a league of nations, designed to achieve a new, international, liberal order based on
Americas moral and material example. Like Theodore Roosevelt, he expanded the scope and power of the
presidency. He grew up in the South during the Civil War and Reconstruction era, and pursued a literary
and academic career before emerging on the political scene relatively late in life as a candidate for
governor of New Jersey.

Outline
I.

Wilson did not follow a typical path to the presidency.


A. The son of a minister, he became a professor and college president.
B. His conventional image is that of an aloof, intellectual moralist, committed to a rigid set of idealistic
principles, but he was also a professor whose students adored him.
C. He was a tough and pragmatic politician, campaigning against the party bosses who had made him the
Democratic Party nominee for governor.
D. He was a brilliant and effective champion of reformist causes, who achieved more significant domestic
legislation in his first term than was achieved during all the years under Roosevelt and Taft.
E. He advanced the modern liberal tradition in the Democratic Party and extended the trend toward increasing
American involvement abroad.
F. Despite having no military experience, he successfully led the United States through World War I.
G. He was the first president to openly advocate a strong international program, based on U.S. participation in
a league of nations.
H. Like Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson presided over an era of demographic and social change and corporate
growth. Like Roosevelt, he significantly redefined the presidency and Americas role in world affairs,
making both more powerful and active.

II. Wilsons early life was greatly influenced by war, politics, and religion.
A. Wilson was born in 1856 in Staunton, Virginia.
1. His father, a prominent Presbyterian minister, taught young Woodrow that it was his Christian duty to
help others.
2. As a child growing up in Augusta, Georgia, he saw the wounded die inside his fathers church, and
was witness to the devastation and misery of war and its aftermath.
3. Christian doctrine played an essential role in shaping his personal views and political thought. He
grew up believing the United States had a divine mandate to improve the world, and that individual
and national success came from obedience to Gods word.
4. He also believed that the white race was superior.
B. Wilsons parents nurtured their sons interests and inclinations.
1. His father taught him the art of rhetoric. He demanded perfection, and imbued his son with a desire for
attention and achievement.
2. His mother taught her son to be self-sufficient and self-confident.
III. Wilson enrolled at Princeton University in 1875. His four years at Princeton affected the rest of his life.
A. He pursued his love of learning, especially history and politics.
B. He founded a debating club and edited the universitys newspaper.
1. His first major article, Cabinet Government in the United States, (International Review), argued that
the president should imitate British practices by choosing his cabinet from Congress.

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C.
D.

E.

F.

2. The articles success encouraged him to pursue a political career.


He entered law school at the University of Virginia in 1879, but grew sick and finished his legal studies at
home.
When his law practice failed in Atlanta, he left to further his studies of history and political science at
Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. During these years, he experienced a great deal of personal and
professional success.
1. Finding a way to a better form of government became one of Wilsons consuming intellectual
passions.
2. His doctoral dissertation, Congressional Government, was published and attracted widespread
attention and acclaim.
3. He became engaged to and married Ellen Louise Axson, herself a daughter of a Presbyterian minister.
Wilson began teaching after receiving his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins.
1. In 1890 Wilson returned to his alma mater, Princeton.
2. He was consistently voted the most popular teacher at Princeton. He was admired for his teaching and
because he took a personal interest in students lives and represented high moral standards.
3. His renown as a lecturer and writer made him one of the nations foremost academic personalities.
4. In June 1902, he became Princetons new president.
Wilsons dynamic Princeton presidency revealed his reformist tendencies, and prepared him for the
political life he sought.
1. By raising admission and achievement standards, improving facilities, bringing in large sums of
money, adding to the physical plant, and attracting an excellent faculty, Wilson put himself and the
university in the national spotlight.
2. He articulated the ideal of an integrated university that fused students personal and academic
experiences. He called for a more egalitarian, democratic academic environment, where students
would live with their professors in quadrangles.
3. Controversies resulting from his reformist views made him more rigid and less flexible. A series of
mini-strokes may also have contributed to these personality traits.
4. Controversy over his quadrangle plan and the location of a proposed graduate college led to his
resignation, but not before the media cast him as an academic star.

IV. In 1910, New Jerseys Democratic bosses recruited Wilson for governor without knowing about his changing
political views.
A. Wilson was known as a political conservative who had opposed William Jennings Bryans vision of
activist, progressive government. But he was actually shifting his earlier Jeffersonian views and becoming
more of a progressive.
B. New Jerseys party bosses felt that Wilson was respectable and malleable enough to support the interests of
the partys old guard.
C. But Wilson had developed a disdain for the rich and a concern for the common man; government must
change with the times.
Suggested Reading:
Cooper, John Milton. The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt. Cambridge: Bellknap
Press, 1983.
Hirst, David W. Woodrow Wilson, Reform Governor: A Documentary Narrative. Princeton: Van Nostrand, 1965.
Mulder, John M. Woodrow Wilson: The Years of Preparation. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978.
Thorsen, Niels Aage. The Political Thought of Woodrow Wilson, 18751910. Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1988.
Questions to Consider:
1. How did Wilsons childhood influence his world views?
2. To what extent did Wilsons years as an academician prepare him for political office?

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3.

What were the crucial turning points in Woodrow Wilsons early life?

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Lecture Twenty-Six
Woodrow Wilson: The Professor as Politician
Scope: After the 1904 election, Wilson appeared to be a traditional conservative Democrat. Like Andrew Jackson,
he advocated limited government and states rights; expressed distrust of organized labor, agrarians, and
radicals, and urged the Democratic Party to embrace the conservative principles it once represented.
However, his conflicts with Princetons trustees set him on a new course. Moreover, political expediency
and personal principles merged, prompting him to rethink and reevaluate his conservative views.
Understanding Wilsons change of political direction is the key to understanding his successful reformist
efforts as governor of New Jersey and president of the United States. After winning the presidency in
1912, Wilson achieved such notable domestic accomplishments as tariff reform, antitrust initiatives, and
creation of the Federal Reserve Board.

Outline
I.

Once nominated, Wilson pursued his own course.


A. He got the best of both worlds: nomination by the party bosses and a campaign based on reform issues,
including cleaning up the boss system and fighting special privileges enjoyed by the rich.
B. After winning the election as governor of New Jersey in 1910, Wilson kept his campaign reform promises.
1. He became governor at age 54. No other great president studied in this course had entered politics so
late in life.
2. He secured a direct primary law, tax equalization laws, regulation of public utilities, a corrupt practices
act, and an employers liability law.
3. He transformed New Jersey from a bastion of bossism to the nations leading progressive state.

II. The 1912 election revealed the progressive tenor of the times.
A. Wilsons success as governor made him an attractive candidate for the 1912 Democratic presidential
nomination.
1. Democrats had not won a presidential election since Grover Cleveland in 1892. For the first time in
Democratic history a primary battle had preceded the convention.
2. With the support of William Jennings Bryan, Wilson became the partys compromise choice after the
two-thirds rule blocked the nomination of Speaker of the House Champ Clark.
3. Wilson prepared to do battle with incumbent President William Howard Taft, the socialist candidate
Eugene V. Debs, and the dynamic Theodore Roosevelt, who ran as the candidate of the newly formed
Progressive, or Bull Moose, party.
B. In many ways, the 1912 election was the nations first modern presidential contest.
1. It marked the nations first extensive use of direct primaries.
2. The predominance of progressive issues and the pressures exerted by interest groups promoted
challenges to traditional party loyalties.
C. The presidential race pitted the progressive ideals of Wilsons New Freedom against Roosevelts New
Nationalism.
1. The New Freedom proposed to restore equality of opportunity and economic competition without
governmental paternalism or intrusion.
2. Wilson portrayed himself and his program as a sensible alternative to the more radical Roosevelt.
3. Wilson vaguely promised justice for blacks and sought to overcome his earlier anti-immigrant
writings. However, like Roosevelt before him, Wilson viewed the world from a white, Protestant,
Anglo-Saxon perspective.
D. Wilsons cautious campaign strategy coupled with the split in the GOP led to his victory and a Democratic
majority in both houses of Congress.
1. With but forty-two percent of the popular vote, Wilson had won the presidency with the most limited
public mandate of any president since Abraham Lincoln in 1860.
2. Many observers believed that his election was an aberration and that America would return to its
normal Republican majority after this accidental president served but a single term.

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3.

Wilson would confound expectations and serve two of the most significant presidential terms in the
history of the nation.

III. Wilsons first term was marked by unprecedented legislative achievements.


A. Despite his forty-two percent win, Wilson entered office with a mandate, that of the nations progressive
majority, both Republican and Democrat.
B. In his inaugural address, Wilson became the first Democratic party president in American history to
commit himself to an activist government, empowered to regulate the financial system, improve social
conditions, promote international trade, and spur business competition at home.
C. He became the most active and sophisticated leader yet to occupy the White House, succeeding in
implementing initiatives that had eluded a generation of reformers.
1. A month after his inauguration, he personally addressed Congress on tariff reform. The professor who
loved to speak also reestablished the practice, discontinued under Jefferson, of delivering the State of
the Union address in person to a joint session of Congress.
2. He believed that Americas new industrial order could withstand foreign competition and would
benefit from a world that was broadly open to trade and investment.
3. The 1913 tariff decreased duties on numerous items and reserved the deepest cuts for industries
dominated by the trusts. The law also imposed a small but graduated surtax on incomes. The Sixteenth
Amendment had just allowed Congress to tax incomes.
4. The Federal Reserve Act, signed in December 1913, restructured the nations banking and currency
system with the creation of a Federal Reserve Board and Federal Reserve banks.
D. Wilson also pursued his interest in promoting competition through antitrust measures.
1. The Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 promoted competition and limited the use of court injunctions
against labor strikes, boycotts, and picketing.
2. With the creation of the Federal Trade Commission that same year, the government now had
regulatory control over corporations to prevent unfair trade practices, notably the suppression of
competition.
3. Despite his New Freedom rhetoric, Wilson had no intention of breaking up big business to return to a
nation of small entrepreneurs.
4. Unlike Roosevelt, he did not favor the direct supervision and licensing of corporations. Instead his
version of antitrust sought to promote competition and make room for small producers by controlling
specific business practices.
5. Neither the Wilson initiatives nor subsequent antitrust laws would check the growth of large-scale
enterprise. The protections for labor in the Clayton Act proved to be of little practical value.
E. Wilson moved cautiously on social reform issues and largely considered his reform mission completed
with these reforms.
1. Economic decline, sharp setbacks in the midterm elections of 1914, and the prospect of losing voters
to the GOP reformist candidate Charles Evans Hughes in the upcoming election prompted Wilson to
move to the left.
2. In 1916, under Wilsons guidance, Congress adopted federal loans for farmers, a model workmens
compensation act, a federal child labor law, an eight-hour day for railroad workers, and federal
highway assistance.
3. Several of these laws established crucial new precedents for the federal government. These include the
first effort to regulate labor conditions through federal control over interstate commerce and the first
significant federal grant-in-aid program for the states.
4. In response to the war in Europe, Wilson sponsored the National Defense Act, which established a
reserve army, doubled the number of regular forces, and gave the executive sweeping control over the
economy in a wartime emergency.
5. Wilson made a progressive and courageous Supreme Court appointment with Louis Dembitz Brandeis,
who became the first Jewish justice.
F. Wilsons reform agenda lacked a program for African Americans or suffrage for women.
1. Wilson sanctioned segregation in federal government offices and never publicly denounced Jim Crow.
However, protests did result in the moderation of his Jim Crow policies after 1913.

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3.

He did not respond positively to the significant and growing movement for womens suffrage.
Despite these deficiencies and the fact that he did not satisfy all progressives, Wilsons first
administration had enacted the most extensive program of economic and social legislation in the
nations history.

Suggested Reading:
Clements, Kendrick A. The Presidency of Woodrow Wilson. Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, 1992.
Hirst, David W. Woodrow Wilson, Reform Governor: A Documentary Narrative. Princeton: Van Nostrand, 1965.
Latham, Earl. The Philosophy and Policies of Woodrow Wilson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958.
Link, Arthur S. The Higher Realism of Woodrow Wilson and Other Essays. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press,
1971.
Weinstein, Edwin. Woodrow Wilson: A Medical and Psychological Biography. New York: Harper, 1981.
Questions to Consider:
1. What were the reasons for Wilsons shift to the left?
2. How progressive was Wilson, considering the context of his times?
3. What are some of the enduring legacies of Wilsons domestic reforms?

2000 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership

Lecture Twenty-Seven
Woodrow Wilson: The World Stage
Scope: The war in Europe, which began in 1914, made neutrality increasingly difficult for the United States.
Wilson took the country to war in 1917, despite his 1916 campaign promise to keep us out of war. He
argued for a new internationalism and believed it was Americas mission to make the world safe for
democracy. Progressives feared that Americas growing activism in international affairs, especially the
decision to go to war, would divert resources and attention from domestic problems. Wilson also believed
war and progressivism were antithetical, but once in the war, he used progressive rhetoric to support his
foreign policy decisions. Wilson proved that the modern president could both fulfill a national mandate for
domestic reform and an international call for the nation to take its place among the great powers.

Outline
I.

Despite his lack of experience in foreign affairs, Wilson development a distinctive approach to foreign policy
based on three basic ideas.
A. He sought a new world order guided by liberal American values.
B. He thought that an enlightened American leadership could judge what was best for other nations and
exercise a benevolent global influence.

II. Wilson abandoned the dollar diplomacy of his predecessor, William Howard Taft, and set his own course in
foreign affairs.
A. Like Theodore Roosevelt before him and Franklin Roosevelt after him, Wilson took personal responsibility
for important diplomatic decisions.
1. He opposed dollar diplomacy as a policy that unwisely placed the weight of government behind the
special interests of businessmen and financiers. Instead, he sought to help mankind by spreading
Americas socially and morally responsible democratic capitalist system.
2. Despite his belief in self-determination and Christian ethics, Wilson kept troops sent by Taft in
Nicaragua and dispatched more troops to Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
3. Wilson viewed the use of troops as an unfortunate but necessary to bringing peace, unity, and
democracy to the western hemisphere.
4. He also tried to compensate Colombia for Americas acquisition of the land for the Panama Canal,
antagonizing Theodore Roosevelt.
B. Wilsons new missionary diplomacy was most evident in his Mexican policy, which showed the limits of
American interventionism.
1. Wilsons Mexican policy was initially one of non-recognition as that nation experienced a series of
revolutions beginning in 1910.
2. Reacting to Francisco Pancho Villas border raids in 1916, Wilson sent thousands of soldiers into
Mexico to capture Villa. Mexico and the United States narrowly avoided full-scale war.
3. Wilson believed he was acting altruistically in Latin America, despite the anti-American sentiment that
his actions provoked.
4. Latin Americans did not discern any difference between the interventionism of Taft and Wilson.
American intervention in Latin America would continue throughout the twentieth century.
III. In August 1914, two events profoundly affected Wilson.
A. His wife, Ellen, died. However, he soon met Edith Bolling Galt, and the two married in December 1915,
prompting gossip and rumors.
B. The second event shattered the international peace movement and hopes for increasing global prosperity:
the Great War in Europe had begun.
IV. Wilson insisted that Americas proper role was to stay out of the conflict and to work for peace.
A. Privately, Wilson favored the allies, especially Great Britain.

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1.

Like Jefferson before him, Wilsons policies to maintain neutral rights and freedom of the seas did
impact the belligerents equally.
2. The policy favored Britain, which had control of the seas and had launched a successful blockade of
Germany.
B. Wilson tried unsuccessfully to mediate a peace from 1914 to 1917 based on the status quo before the
outbreak of war. Wilsons tilt toward the Allies made it difficult for the Germans to respond.
C. Freedom of the seas proved the greatest obstacle to U.S. neutrality.
1. Although Wilson disliked Britains blockade, he accepted it.
2. Far worse was the loss of American lives to German U-boats. For Germany, the submarine campaign
was a desperate effort to cut off supplies to Britain. Wilson warned Germany that it would be held
strictly accountable for the results of its policies on the high seas.
3. The sinking of the British liner Lusitania in May of 1915 caused an outburst of condemnation against
Germany.
4. Wilson resisted the pressure for war and American protests persuaded Germany to suspend
unrestricted submarine warfare.
V. Wilson prevailed in the presidential election of 1916, with submarine warfare still restricted.
A. The Democratic party renominated Wilson by acclamation in 1916.
1. Wilson drafted the Democratic platform that for the first time committed the Democrats to a
combination of internationalism abroad and social and economic reform at home.
2. Wilson campaigned on the slogan that he kept us out of war.
B. The Republicans nominated former New York Governor and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans
Hughes.
1. Hughes was a mild progressive who lacked personal charisma.
2. Former president Theodore Roosevelt declined to run again on the Progressive Party ticket. The dying
party followed Roosevelts recommendation and endorsed Hughes.
C. Wilson narrowly defeated Hughes to become the first Democrat elected to consecutive terms since Andrew
Jackson in 1832.
1. Wilson again failed to gain a popular vote majority, winning forty-nine percent to forty-six percent for
Hughes.
2. The presidents initiatives in domestic and foreign affairs and his ability to maintain the unity of his
party had secured Wilsons victory and confounded those who expected the country to return to its
normal Republican majority.
D. U-boat attacks stopped but were resumed in February 1917, before Wilsons second inauguration.
1. The resumption of Germanys unrestricted submarine warfare, coupled with the publication of the
Zimmerman note (which suggested that Mexico could recapture lost territory if Germany and America
went to war), made war all but inevitable.
2. Wilson went to war reluctantly, worried that war would divert attention from domestic issues and that
war and tolerance could not coexist.
3. The United States went to war in April 1917. Only by doing so did Wilson believe that it would be
possible to achieve a reasonable peace settlement and a prosperous postwar international order based
on Americas moral leadership.
Suggested Reading:
Clements, Kendrick A. The Presidency of Woodrow Wilson. Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, 1992.
Cooper, John Milton. The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt. Cambridge: Bellknap
Press, 1983.
Levin, Gordon H. Woodrow Wilson and World Politics: Americas Response to War and Revolution. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1968.
Link, Arthur S. Woodrow Wilson: Revolution, War, and Peace. Arlington Heights, Ill.: Harlan Davidson, 1979.

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Questions to Consider:
1. Was Wilson wise to intervene in the internal affairs of neighboring nations?
2. Could the United States have remained neutral and stayed out of the Great War?
3. How did Wilsons foreign policy ideas and actions influence future policy decisions?

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Lecture Twenty-Eight
Woodrow Wilson: The Fight for Postwar Peace
Scope: Wilson believed that Americas involvement in the war was a necessary evil to bring about the greater
good. After American forces helped achieve an Allied victory, Wilson outlined a fourteen-point peace
proposal that became the basis for Americas postwar vision and included, as the fourteenth point, a
general association of nations. Wilson faced the Herculean task of persuading the Allies, especially the
British and French, not to punish the Germans, grab territory, or seek reparations as compensation for their
sacrifices. At home, he made several important errors that undermined hopes for a just peace and
Americas ability to shape the postwar world through the League of Nations. Ultimately, Wilson lost his
fight for the League. Still, he was one of Americas most consequential presidents in both domestic and
foreign affairs.

Outline
I.

America played an important roll in the Allied victory in World War I, emerging as a great world power.
A. Within a month of his second inauguration, Wilson obtained a declaration of war from Congress.
1. The federal government mobilized the economy behind the war effort. For the first time in history, it
nationalized the rail, telegraph, and telephone systems; built merchant ships; took over coal
distribution; and purchased and sold agricultural staples. New agencies apportioned raw materials,
directed production, set prices, conducted foreign trade, loaned money to business, and arbitrated labor
disputes.
2. Like any war, WWI became part of the popular culture.
3. The government drafted soldiers for the first time since the Civil War, raised taxes, and ran up
unprecedented budget deficits.
4. Through repression and persuasion, the government marshaled public opinion in favor of the war. The
war was not universally popular and stirred considerable dissent.
B. American troops helped the Allies to achieve final victory.
1. The United States moved rapidly to raise and transport to Europe the American Expeditionary Force.
Ultimately, two million American troops would be dispatched to Europe.
2. The American forces helped the Allies resist the final German advances and pursue the ultimately
successful offensive against the German army.
C. The war had significant repercussions at home.
1. The United States suffered some 116,000 dead in the war, a small fraction of European military and
civilian losses.
2. The war contributed to the passage of constitutional amendments for prohibition and womens
suffrage.
3. The quest for prohibition was part of the development of a powerful conservative movement that
sought to defend white Protestant American against threats posed by changing values and reflected the
rise of new interest groups in America.
4. Suffrage for women followed the reorganization of the movement into a militant and mainstream
component. Democrats trailed behind Republicans in endorsing suffrage.
5. The war was followed by considerable social unrest, including race riots, strikes, and the campaign
against radicals known as the Red Scare.
6. The United States emerged from the war as one of the worlds great powers.
7. The United States rapidly demobilized after World War I and relinquished government control over
the economy. The country suffered a sharp economic downturn after the war, followed by a long
period of expansion until the Great Crash of 1929.

II. Wilsons Fourteen Points formed the basis of Americas plan for postwar peace.
A. Wilson believed in Americas progressive, liberal values and the nations historic mission to lead mankind
toward a new world order.

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B. The Fourteen Points countered the peace plan of Bolshevik Russia just as Wilsons vision of a liberal
capitalist order under the League of Nations offered an alternative to Lenins vision of inevitable war
among capitalist nations, leading to a worldwide proletarian revolution.
C. The Fourteen Points called for open diplomacy, openly arrived at; freedom of the seas in peace and war;
unfettered trade; arms reduction; self-determination of peoples and nations; an end to colonialism;
territorial readjustments; and the establishment of a League of Nations to protect great and small states
alike.
III. Wilson ran into a number of obstacles in implementing his vision of a just peace as the Paris Peace Conference
began.
A. Each of the victor nations had its own agenda as negotiations took place intermittently from January to
June 1919, when Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles.
1. The victor nations pursued their own particular postwar economic, strategic, and territorial interests.
Wilson had to compromise on his fourteen points.
2. The peace treaty burdened the Germans economically, with reparations amounting to many billions of
dollars, and legally, with a war guilt clause. These terms would contribute to the economic and
political decline of Germany in the years before the rise of Adolph Hitler.
B. Despite some shortcomingsthere were no provisions for freedom of the seas or free tradeWilson had
achieved his overriding goal: the inclusion of the League of Nations as part of the peace treaty.
1. Wilson also kept Germany from being dismembered, helped create a new Poland, and won
commitments to administer former colonies in trust and to work for future disarmament.
2. The treaty would be a tough sell at home.
IV. Political errors cost Wilson vital support for the League.
A. Wilson abandoned bipartisan support for the war effort.
B. Voters responded negatively to his appeal for Americans to show their patriotism by voting for a
Democratic Congress.
C. Republicans gained control of both houses.
D. Wilson decided to personally head the delegation to the Paris Peace Conference following the end of the
war.
1. He ignored the Senate and included only one nominal Republican.
2. This angered Republicans and intensified the debate over who was in charge of Americas foreign
policythe president or Congress?
E. Two groups of senators opposed the Versailles Treaty.
1. A group of irreconcilables opposed the treaty outright, largely because of Article Ten, which they
believed threatened Americas ability to act unilaterally in foreign affairs.
2. Another group of influential Republican senators, known as the strong reservationists or limited
internationalists, led by Henry Cabot Lodge, argued that only Congress could decide whether or not
to act under Article Ten.
3. A deadlock resulted, and the treaty failed to gain the required two-thirds vote, either with Lodges
reservations or Wilsons version.
F. Wilson demanded unqualified approval of the treaty, and rather than negotiate with the Senate, he decided
to go to the American people.
1. In September, Wilson set out on an ambitious cross-country tour to garner public support for the
League.
2. The schedule proved too exhausting and Wilson suffered a debilitating stroke.
3. The peace treaty died in the Senate. Until the end of his term in March of 1921, Wilsons wife and a
few close aides helped him run the country.
V. Like James K. Polk, who also led the nation through a successful war, Wilson could not pass on the presidency
to a member of his own party.
A. Although Wilson did not remove his name from consideration, Democrats nominated Governor James M.
Cox of Ohio in 1920.

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B. Republican Warren G. Harding, promising a return to normalcy, won the 1920 election, the first in
which women went to the polls, by a landslide.
1. Republicans would win the presidential elections of 1920 through 1928 by overwhelming margins.
2. Women voted for Harding in greater proportion than men and would continue to vote conservatively
for several decades.
3. The Nobel Peace Prize was little consolation in the face of such losses. Wilson left office tired and
dejected and died in 1924.
C. Wilson left behind a significant legacy.
1. He was the first modern Democratic party president, supporting activist government and progressive
reforms. He was a master legislative leader in steering his program through Congress.
2. He led the nation through its first international war and attempted to commit the country to an
international peacekeeping role after the war.
3. Much of his vision for the world was achieved after the end of World War II.
4. His vision of self-determination for all peoples and a world order dedicated to peace and stability has
inspired generations of Americans and people worldwide.
Suggested Reading:
Clements, Kendrick A. The Presidency of Woodrow Wilson. Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, 1992.
Levin, Gordon H. Woodrow Wilson and World Politics: Americas Response to War and Revolution. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1968.
Link, Arthur S. Woodrow Wilson: Revolution, War, and Peace. Arlington Heights, Ill.: Harlan Davidson, 1979.
Schulte-Nordholt, Jan Willem. Woodrow Wilson: A Life for World Peace. Berkeley: University of California Press,
1991.
Questions to Consider:
1. Was Woodrow Wilson truly a failure at Paris?
2. Why did the United States not join the League of Nations?
3. At the end of his presidency, Wilson commented: I would rather fail in a cause that will ultimately triumph,
than triumph in a cause that will ultimately fail. Was Wilson correct in his view that America should assert
itself on the world stage?

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Lecture Twenty-Nine
Franklin D. Roosevelt: Provocative Politician
Scope: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, elected to an unprecedented four terms in office, led the nation through the
worst depression in its history and the most destructive war the world had ever known. Roosevelt redefined
the presidency and dramatically expanded the power and responsibilities of government. The Roosevelt
revolution, which still influences the course of American politics, resulted in a dramatic realignment of the
American electorate and advanced the creation of the modern liberal Democratic party. Americas modern
welfare state and its involvement in world affairs are directly linked to Roosevelts New Deal and wartime
policies. The resulting social, economic, and political changes provoked disparate reactions. His enemies
thought him misguided and his policies dangerous. His admirers thought him a hero who reshaped society
and fought tyranny for the betterment of all. Despite a privileged childhood and early success in politics
and government, Roosevelt rose to prominence as New Yorks governor only after great adversity,
personally and politically.

Outline
I.

Roosevelts unprecedented presidency has been the subject of great debate.


A. Historians rank Roosevelt as the greatest president of the twentieth century and one of the three greatest
presidents of all time.
1. Roosevelts performance and popularity led to a fundamental realignment of the American electorate
and the development of the modern liberal Democratic party.
2. He revamped both domestic and foreign policy in the United States.
3. He strengthened the presidency and the federal government, while revealing the limitations on
presidential power inherent in the separation of powers and the growth of modern interest groups.
B. Roosevelts New Deal and foreign policy innovations sparked great controversy.
1. Conservatives claimed Roosevelt was creating a socialist state at the expense of personal liberty.
2. Leftists believed the president was too cautious and his policies, too limited.
3. Isolationists complained that he was pushing the United States into the war in Europe.
4. Interventionists argued for an end to United States neutrality and great preparatory efforts.
C. Roosevelt was a pragmatist and a flexible leader, who had no intention of reordering American society.
D. However one evaluates the New Deal and Americas wartime policies, it is clear that partly as a result of
Roosevelts leadership, the nation and the world were very different in 1945 when he died, than in 1933
when he first came into office.

II. Roosevelt grew up in a wealthy and nurturing environment in Hyde Park, New York.
A. Roosevelt was born in 1882 at his familys estate in Hyde Park.
B. This estate on the banks of the Hudson became a place of refuge for Roosevelt throughout his life.
C. His parents, James Roosevelt and Sara Delano, were both privileged.
1. Franklins father was a well-educated financier. He grew up in Hyde Park and spent most of his time
living as a country squire, enjoying the outdoors, leisure activities, and the income from the companies
he owned and operated.
2. Sara Delano was Jamess second wife and also brought considerable income into the family.
3. She met James at a party hosted by Theodore Roosevelt. After a ten-week courtship, they married in
1880. Sara was just twenty-six, half Jamess age.
D. Sara had a particularly powerful influence on young Franklin.
1. She closely regulated and monitored her only childs early life.
2. Franklin grew up in a very loving, though sheltered, environment.
3. Sara imbued in her son great confidence and self-reliance. He was taught to hide pain and sorrow. He
rarely confided his true feelings to anyone, including his mother and wife.
4. The precocious Franklin grew up in the company of adults with few childhood friends. He felt it
important to meet his parents high expectations and to demonstrate his sense of privilege and station

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in life even in adversity, especially after his father suffered a debilitating heart attack when Franklin
was eight years old.
5. Jamess illness and death in 1900 brought Sara and Franklin even closer together. The two developed
an extraordinary lifetime bond that influenced Franklins adult life, including his marriage.
E. Roosevelt enjoyed the advantages of Hyde Park, his parents privileged status, and his educational
opportunities.
1. Hyde Park and the Roosevelts summer retreat at Campobello Island allowed Franklin to hunt, fish,
and bird watch free from worry and fear. At home in the woods and waters, he appreciated the
importance of natural resources and conservationvalues later reflected in New Deal programs.
2. He was indulged by his parents constant attention. Young Franklin learned from private tutors, loved
winning, and was usually the center of attention. He cared about people and their problems, although
his relationships with others were casual, even with his future wife, Eleanor.
3. Roosevelt first entered the White House at the age of five when he accompanied his father to meet
President Grover Cleveland, who made the curious wish that the young boy should never be president
of the United States.
F. Roosevelt received a privileged education.
1. He attended Groton, where he came under the influence of headmaster Endicott Peabody, who taught
good character, manly Christian virtues, and service to humanity.
2. Groton was followed by Harvard, where Franklin again earned mediocre grades and participated in a
wide variety of activities, including work as editor of the Harvard Crimson.
3. He then attended Columbia Law School but dropped out after passing the bar exam. While at
Columbia, he married his distant cousin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelts niece. They raised
one daughter and four sons.
4. Franklins self-confidence, composure, and certainty about life kept him from probing deeply into
philosophical or religious matters. Yet he maintained an unswerving, if unsophisticated, commitment
to serve God and the nation.
III. Roosevelt entered politics, patterning himself after his hero, Theodore Roosevelt.
A. In 1910, at age twenty-eight, Roosevelt was elected to the New York State Senate.
1. Roosevelt established a reputation as a progressive politician.
2. He helped lead a group of insurgent Democrats against Tammany Hall, New York Citys Democratic
political machine. Roosevelt was reelected in 1912, with the help of journalist/political adviser Louis
Howe, who guided much of Roosevelts political career.
3. Roosevelt supported farmers and workers, the direct election of senators, conservation, womens
suffrage, and local-option prohibition.
4. Like Theodore, he had a talent for self-promotion.
B. In return for supporting Woodrow Wilsons 1912 campaign, Roosevelt was appointed Assistant Secretary
of the Navy in 1913 under Josephus Daniels.
1. This was the same position in which his cousin Theodore Roosevelt had served in the 1890s. Like
Theodore, Franklin sought to use the position as a launching pad for high office.
2. During his eight-year tenure, he followed Theodore Roosevelts example in supporting an expanded
navy. He also supported U.S. military efforts in the Caribbean and advocated U.S. involvement in the
Great War.
3. Like Theodore, Franklin was denied a request to serve in the military. As Lincoln did in the Civil War
and Wilson did in World War I, Roosevelt would lead the nation through World War II without any
combat experience.
C. Roosevelts loss to a Tammany candidate for the Democratic nomination in 1914 for U.S. Senator from
New York prompted him to work with the New York machine to better his political career.
IV. Roosevelt came to a personal and political crossroads before the age of forty.
A. In 1918, Eleanor discovered Franklins affair with Lucy Mercer.
1. Eleanor said that the bottom dropped out of her worldtheir marriage would never be the same, and
their relationship became purely professional.

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2.

From that time on, Eleanor resolved to carve out a life for herself and seek accomplishment in the
world outside the home.
3. In the 1940s, Roosevelt would resume a relationship with Lucy.
B. He accepted the vice presidential nomination alongside presidential hopeful James M. Cox in the 1920 race
against Republican Warren G. Harding.
1. Roosevelt made one major mistake in the campaign, claiming he had written the constitution of Haiti
while in the Department of the Navy.
2. Roosevelt became a widely known figure, despite the Harding landslide.
C. In August of 1921, Roosevelt contracted poliomyelitis.
1. The crippling disease paralyzed him from the waist down.
2. Yet what Eleanor called his trial by fire changed Roosevelt for the better. The arrogant, aristocratic
politician now empathized with the underprivileged and related to all who suffered hardship. He also
gained in patience, determination, and resiliency.
3. Roosevelt did his best to conceal his disability and to make sure that it did not hamper the performance
of his public duties.
V. The following decade was perhaps the most important in Roosevelts political life.
A. After three years of convalescence, Roosevelt, supported by Eleanor and Louis Howe, returned to work
campaigning for Alfred E. Smith for president in 1924.
B. His mental victory over polio and enthusiastic support for Smith marked the turning point in Roosevelts
political career.
C. At Smiths urging, Roosevelt ran for governor of New York in 1928.
1. Roosevelt ran a vigorous and progressive campaign and urged Smith to run a more progressive
campaign for president.
2. Roosevelt narrowly prevailed, even though Smith lost New York State.
3. Roosevelt established himself as a progressive governor in a key political state. He increased public
works, backed reforms in agriculture and welfare, increased regulation of utilities, extended
workmens compensation, and set up a Temporary Emergency Relief Administration.
4. He used radio to promote his ideas.
5. He initiated at the state level what he later became famous for at the national level: New Deal
programs and fireside chats.
6. By 1932, he was ready to run for the presidency.
Suggested Reading:
Burns, James MacGregor. Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox, 18821940. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World,
1956.
Davis, Kenneth S. FDR: The Beckoning of Destiny, 18821928. New York: Putnam, 1971.
Freidel, Frank B. Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Rendezvous with Destiny. Boston: Little, Brown, 1990.
Graff, Robert D., and Robert Emmet Ginna. FDR. New York: Harper & Row, 1963.
Morgan, Ted. FDR: A Biography. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985.
Schlesinger, Arthur M. The Age of Roosevelt: The Crisis of the Old Order, 19191933. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Company, 1957.
Ward, Geoffrey C. Before the Trumpet: Young Franklin Roosevelt, 18821905. New York: Perennial Library, 1986.
Questions to Consider:
1. Biographers and historians often speculate about the effects of Roosevelts struggles with polio. How did the
disease help or harm Roosevelt as a person and a politician?
2. How did Roosevelts childhood experiences affect his views of the world?
3. How was Franklin Roosevelts early career similar to and different from that of Theodore Roosevelt?

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Lecture Thirty
Franklin D. Roosevelt: New Dealer
Scope: Roosevelts victory in the critical election of 1932 and his management of the Great Depression revitalized
the Democratic party, realigned the electorate, and transformed the role of the federal government and the
presidency itself. The political realignment of the 1930s took place in two stages. The first stage (1930
1932) represented the depression effect, as voters rejected the leadership of President Herbert Hoover
and his Republican Party. The second stage (19341936) represented the Roosevelt effect, as voters
responded positively to Roosevelts policies, the Democratic party became the normal majority party in the
United States, and the Roosevelt coalition took shape. The first wave of New Deal legislation, known as
the Hundred Days, focused on relief and recovery programs. Faced with a Supreme Court that declared
key elements of this first New Deal unconstitutional, among other pressures, Roosevelt pursued new
policies focusing more on structural reform in a second wave of New Deal welfare legislation.

Outline
I.

The Great Depression dominated Herbert Hoovers presidency and the 1932 presidential campaign.
A. Hoover was unable to deal effectively with the stock market crash of October 1929 and the subsequent
depression.
1. The economy continued to slide throughout Hoovers four years, hitting unprecedented depths by the
election year of 1932, with some one-quarter of the labor force unemployed.
2. Ubiquitous shack cities, termed Hoovervilles; the dispersal with military force of a group of veterans
demanding payment of the World War I bonus (known as the Bonus Army); and increasing social
unrest symbolized Hoovers deteriorating presidency.
B. The Democrats chose Roosevelt as their presidential candidate.
1. Roosevelt secured the nomination by gaining the support of House Speaker John Nancy Garner of
Texas, a rival nominee, whom Roosevelt then chose as his running mate.
2. Roosevelt had charisma, charm, and contagious optimism. He broke precedent to accept the
nomination in person at the Democratic Convention, signaling his commitment to changing the party
and the nation.
3. He had executive experience and an established national reputation with his progressive record as
governor of New York.
4. Although urged by some politicians not to campaign, Roosevelt waged a vigorous, well-organized
campaign, supported by wealthy financiers and articulated by a Brain Trust of policy advisers.
Unlike Hoover, he was ready to repudiate the old order and achieve a New Deal for the American
people.
5. He promised to help the forgotten man, end prohibition, bring relief to farmers, increase benefits for
businessmen, offer immediate relief and public works programs for the unemployed, and do it all
within a balanced budget.
C. On Election Day, Roosevelt won a sweeping victory. Not since 1912, when the Republican Party was split,
had a Republican candidate been so badly beaten.
D. The election of 1932 marked the first stage of a fundamental two-stage realignment of the American
electorate: the depression effect.
1. Democrats gained control of Congress and dominated state and local elections across the nation.
2. But the election results were primarily a negative reaction to the Great Depression and Hoovers failed
leadership.
3. The election gave Democrats an opportunity to effect basic policy change and expand their partisan
base. But Democrats were not yet the majority party in the United States.
4. The second stage of the realignment would come in 1934 and 1936 as the Democrats took advantage
of this opportunity. This was the Roosevelt effect.

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II. Roosevelt began his presidency with an overwhelming mandate to deal decisively with the nations economic
woes.
A. Roosevelts inaugural address called for broad executive power to wage a war against the emergency as
great as the power that would have been given to me if we were, in fact, invaded by a foreign foe. He then
reassured his listeners by stating: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
B. Congress gave Roosevelt the broad executive power he requested.
C. Like Andrew Jackson, Roosevelt sought to reform and reconstruct the existing order in the United States.
III. The first wave of the New Deal saw an unprecedented volume of legislation pass through the new Democratic
Congress.
A. During his first one hundred days in office, this flexible and pragmatic leader became the most active
legislative initiator in presidential history. In the Hundred Days, Congress passed fifteen major bills
addressing the banking crisis, repealing prohibition, creating substantial relief and public works programs,
establishing recovery programs for agriculture and industry, and promoting the peoples faith in Roosevelt,
the Democratic party, and the federal government.
1. Responding to the banking crisis, Roosevelt declared a bank holiday, then reopened many major banks
under the auspices of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Other laws helped to
refinance farm and home mortgages.
2. A Securities Act followed with the establishment in 1934 of the Securities Exchange Commission to
regulate the securities markets.
3. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and the Civil Works Administration (CWA)
provided assistance to the needy and, together with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the
Public Works Administration (PWA), established work programs for the unemployed. The Federal
Surplus Relief Corporation distributed food to the poor, while the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
provided electricity and economic development assistance.
4. The Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) and the National Recovery Administration (NRA)
were designed to break the depression. The AAA reduced agricultural production in order to boost
prices. The NRA suspended the antitrust laws to authorize the negotiation of compensation,
production, and pricing agreements, enforced by the federal government.
5. Congress also passed Roosevelts measure to achieve economy in government, and the Twenty-First
Amendment on the repeal of prohibition was making its way through the states.
B. In one of his first fireside chats, Roosevelt went on the radio to explain his program to the American
people.
1. He became the first president to master this new medium.
2. He was also a master at using the press, holding twice weekly press conferences.
3. When Congress adjourned in June, the nation believed that thanks to Roosevelt, the Democrats , and
the federal governments efforts, it was on the road to recovery.
IV. Roosevelts New Deal successes revitalized the ailing Democratic Party and transformed the role of the federal
government and the presidency in American society.
A. The 1934 midterm elections reflected the electorates endorsement of Roosevelt and the New Deal.
1. Extraordinary voter turnout resulted in unprecedented gains for the Democratsuntil 1998, the 1934
elections were the only midterm elections in the twentieth century in which the executive party
expanded its percentage of seats in Congress.
2. Democrats also increased their command of the party loyalties of voters.
3. Americans increasingly looked to the federal government to solve a myriad of social and economic
problems.
4. Already, Roosevelt had greatly expanded the powers and influence of the presidency. But he would
soon be forced to confront the independent power of the Supreme Court.
B. The second stage of the realignment of the American electorate was a positive response to Roosevelts
policies and personal leadership that began in 1934.

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V. A second wave of New Deal legislation followed the midterm elections, reflecting the new Democratic
coalitions influence, the new Congresss activism, and a fear that left-wing party candidates could drain votes
from Roosevelt.
A. The second New Deal included work programs for the employable, entitlement programs for various
categories of people who could not or should not work, and support for the organization of labor as a
counterweight to the power of business.
1. The Works Progress Administration (WPA), administered by Harry Hopkins, provided useful,
remunerative work for more than three million Americans, from writers and actors to unskilled or
semiskilled workers.
2. The Social Security Act created the modern Social Security system to provide old-age pensions,
unemployment compensation, and financial assistance for the disabled and for mothers with dependent
children.
3. The Social Security Act established the precedent for government entitlement programs, but it was
financed by a regressive payroll tax.
4. The National Labor Relations (or Wagner) Act created a National Labor Relations Board that
protected workers interests and assisted in the growth of the Congress of Industrial Organizations
(CIO) and the rise of union membership nationwide.
B. Roosevelt also took an interest in foreign policy, although he focused on domestic matters.
1. His major initiatives were the Good Neighbor Policy in Latin American and recognition of the Soviet
Union.
2. He did not respond strongly to the rise of fascist aggression during the mid-1930s.
VI. Although Roosevelt suffered a few setbacks, his chances for reelection in 1936 were promising.
A. The conservative Supreme Court struck down the NRA in May 1935, declaring it promoted monopoly. It
would also strike down the AAA as unconstitutional.
B. Business opposition grew as Roosevelt abandoned his concert of all interests philosophy and supported
work relief, labor organization, a soak the wealthy tax, and new antitrust measures.
C. Roosevelts New Deal initiatives and an upward turn of the economy aided his reelection prospects.
1. Roosevelts initiatives against special privilege stole the thunder from critics, such as Radio Priest
Father Charles Coughlin, Dr. Francis Townsend, and Louisianas charismatic Senator Huey Long, all
of whom felt that the New Deal was too limited and left too many disaffected.
2. Long, Roosevelts main opponent on the left, was assassinated in September 1935.
3. From 1933 to 1936, unemployment dropped one-third, manufacturing production and farm parity
prices increased fifty percent, wholesale and retail trade nearly doubled, and real per capita economic
growth soared by about one-third.
4. In 1936, Democrats enthusiastically renominated Roosevelt.
Suggested Reading:
Badger, Anthony J. The New Deal: The Depression Years, 19331940. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989.
Brinkley, Alan. The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War. New York: Vintage Books, 1995.
Cohen, Lizabeth. Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 19191939. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1990.
Conkin, Paul K. The New Deal. Arlington Heights, Ill.: Harlan Davidson, 1992.
Heale, M. J. Franklin D. Roosevelt: The New Deal and War. New York: Routledge, 1999.
Leuchtenburg, William E. The FDR Years: On Roosevelt and His Legacy. New York: Columbia University Press,
1995.
. Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal 19321940. New York: Harper & Row, 1963.
Schlesinger, Arthur M. The Age of Roosevelt: The Coming of the New Deal. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company,
1958.

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Questions to Consider:
1. How did the Great Depression affect the 1932 election and Roosevelts first term?
2. Why is the 1932 election regarded as a realigning election?
3. What are some of the New Deals legacies?
4. The New Deal has been criticized from many points of view. Some thought it too radical, while others thought
it too conservative or reactionary. In what ways are such criticisms justified?

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Lecture Thirty-One
Franklin D. Roosevelt: Into the Storm
Scope: Roosevelts landslide reelection in 1936 completed the realignment of American politics that had begun in
1930, but Roosevelt faced a number of difficulties during these times. Despite some significant secondterm accomplishments, the New Deal stalled and Roosevelt fell victim to his own hubris. Even a president
of Roosevelts stature and popularity can make political errors and extend the powers of the presidency
only so far: his scheme to pack the Supreme Court with new justices and his efforts to purge
conservatives from Congress backfired. Sit-down strikes and the so-called Roosevelt recession of 1937
1938 further diminished Roosevelts authority with Congress and credibility with the people. Still,
Roosevelt achieved some major domestic policy successes in his second term, including minimum wage
and maximum hour legislation. With the beginning of World War II, Americans increasingly looked to
Roosevelt for leadership and supported his decision to build up the nations defenses, aid the Allies, and
maintain Americans neutrality. The war in Europe also opened the way to an unprecedented third term for
the president.

Outline
I.

Roosevelts popularity and successes led to a landslide victory in the 1936 election, completing the second
stage of the realignment of the 1930s.
A. Roosevelt won, despite the concerted opposition of business.
1. Business lined up solidly against Roosevelt by contributing its money primarily to the opposition
Republicans.
2. Never again in American history would business enjoy the confidence and power it had enjoyed in the
1920s.
B. The Roosevelt coalition took shape in the election of 1936.
1. Roosevelts victory included overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress.
2. African Americans, northern white ethnic groups, industrial workers, and the poor joined forces with
traditional southern Democrats and voted overwhelmingly for Roosevelt.
3. This coalition dominated American politics for nearly fifty years.
4. African Americans abandoned the party of Lincoln as a result of New Deal economic programs,
despite Roosevelts lack of a civil rights agenda.
C. With a renewed mandate from the people and Democrats in complete control of Congress, Roosevelt
seemed poised to extend the New Deal and further increase the power of the presidency.
D. Roosevelt began his second term on January 20, the first president to be inaugurated on that day, as a result
of the Twentieth Amendment of 1933.

II. The New Deal stalled for several reasons, yet Roosevelt managed to win passage of several important new
programs.
A. In February of 1937, Roosevelt asked Congress to increase the size of the Supreme Court and add new
judges to the federal courts. The court packing scheme provoked an outcry, even among Roosevelt
supporters, and led to Roosevelts first political defeat.
1. Roosevelt was seen as tampering with the separation of powers established by the Constitution.
2. The Court was already rendering favorable New Deal decisions.
3. A Roosevelt court emerged as five Court vacancies were filled over the next three years. Ultimately,
Roosevelt appointed eight justices, more than any other president except Washington.
4. Roosevelts battle with the Court undermined the Democratic coalition, strengthened the bipartisan
anti-New Deal movement in Congress, and alarmed the nation as a whole.
5. Following the struggle over the Court, a new conservative coalition of southern Democrats and
northern Republicans emerged in Congress.
B. Prominent Congressmen and business leaders blamed the Roosevelt administration for the CIO-inspired
sit-down strikes of 19361937.

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C. In August of 1937, the economy rapidly declined.


1. The decline followed efforts to put into effect Roosevelts commitment to a balanced budget and
monetary restraint.
2. Within a year, industrial production and wages fell by one-third and unemployment soared.
3. Roosevelt finally adopted the Keynesian tactic of deficit spending that helped move the nation out of
the recession by 1939, too late for midterm elections.
D. As midterm elections approached, Roosevelt made another error in trying to lure progressive Republicans
into the Democratic party, while purging the party of conservatives.
1. Roosevelt had long dreamed of reorganizing the Democratic party into a solidly progressive party, and
the failed purge was an attempt to achieve that goal.
2. The Democrats lost badly in the 1938 midterm elections. Republicans made substantial gains in both
houses of Congress and in gubernatorial elections.
3. The conservative coalition in Congress gained in power and influence after the 1938 elections. It
would continue to be a powerful constraint on the president throughout his tenure and an important
force in American politics through our own time.
E. Despite political setbacks, Roosevelt achieved several important domestic policy goals in 1938 and 1939.
1. Roosevelts achievements included a revised Agriculture Adjustment Act; a Fair Labor Standards Act
with minimum wages, maximum hours, and child labor laws; and the creation of a federal housing
authority.
2. Congress rejected the presidents proposal for a fundamental reorganization of the executive branch,
but it did pass more limited reorganization legislation in 1939.
3. Executive Order 8248, which established the Executive Office, went nearly unnoticed, although it
created the modern presidency.
4. Through the end of his second term, Roosevelt failed to advance civil rights for women or minorities.
III. Roosevelt readied the nation for war, despite the prevailing isolationist outlook of Congress and the public.
A. Roosevelts first term saw the spread of aggression in Asia and Europe.
1. Congress passed a series of Neutrality Acts in the mid-1930s, including a 1937 law prohibiting
Americans from traveling on belligerent ships and requiring non-embargoed goods to be bought and
transported on non-American ships. This provision became known as cash and carry.
2. The America First Committee formed in 1940 to keep America out of the European war. The
committee included Charles Lindbergh as its most prominent spokesperson.
B. With the fall of France and the Battle of Britain in 1940, Roosevelt finally persuaded Congress and the
American people to build up the nations defenses and aid the Allies.
1. During that year, Congress voted large sums for defense.
2. Roosevelt helped initiate the nations first peacetime draft.
3. The Smith Act required the registration of aliens and prohibited individuals from advocating the
violent overthrow of the government.
4. Roosevelt bypassed Congress and negotiated a destroyer-for-bases deal with Winston Churchill.
Britain gained fifty older U.S. destroyers in exchange for the use of British military bases in the
Atlantic and Caribbean.
5. Without authorization from Congress, Roosevelt also extended American involvement in the naval
conflict in the Atlantic. This would mark a trend in foreign policy for independent and often secret
actions by presidents.
6. The United States, however, failed to respond strongly to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.
IV. The specter of war and the possibility of a third term for Roosevelt dominated the 1940 campaign.
A. The war in Europe made a third term acceptable to the American people.
B. Americans were more concerned about the possibility of going to war than Roosevelt going beyond the
two-term precedent established by George Washington.
C. Roosevelt and the Republican candidate Wendell Wilkie promised not to send Americans to fight in
Europe.

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D. By the time of the campaign, the economy was once again improving, the nation agreed with Roosevelts
preparedness policies, and Roosevelt had a strong record of proven leadership in times of crisis.
E. On Election Day, Roosevelt lost the margin of victory achieved during his first two campaigns, but he still
won by an impressive ten percentage points.
Suggested Reading:
Cole, Wayne S. Roosevelt and the Isolationists: 19321945. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983.
Davis, Kenneth S. FDR: Into the Storm, 19371940. New York: Random House, 1993.
Eden, Robert. The New Deal and Its Legacy: Critique and Reappraisal. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1985.
Fraser, Steve, and Gary Gerstle. The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order, 19301980. Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1989.
Heinrichs, Waldo. Threshold of War: Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Entry into World War II. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1988.
Leuchtenburg, William E. The FDR Years: On Roosevelt and His Legacy. New York: Columbia University Press,
1995.
. Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, 19321940. New York: Harper & Row, 1963.
Questions to Consider:
1. What led to the New Deal stalemate?
2. How did the growing threat of war affect Roosevelt and the nation?
3. Why did Republicans make a comeback in the midterm elections of 1938?

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Lecture Thirty-Two
Franklin D. Roosevelt: President in a World at War
Scope: Franklin Roosevelt offered as much military aid to the Allies as he could without actually taking the nation
to war. Not until the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, did the United States
finally enter the war. Fighting the war required the greatest mobilization of manpower and resources in the
history of the United States. It brought about not only economic recovery but also economic prosperity.
The war united the nation as never before, as America and Britain joined the Soviet Union in an uneasy
alliance. Finally, the war let Roosevelt win one more election and complete the transformation of the
modern presidency and Americas role in world affairs.

Outline
I.

Following his reelection in 1940, Roosevelt readied America for war by converting the nation into a great
arsenal of democracy.
A. Under the Lend-Lease Act of March 1941, the United States provided some fifty billion dollars in military
equipment and supplies to Britain, and other allied nations throughout the course of the war.
B. Lend-Lease marked an end to U.S. neutrality by virtually ensuring an encounter between American
destroyers and German U-boats.
C. Roosevelt announced his Four Freedoms in his State of the Union address in January 1941. Freedom of
speech and worship, freedom from fear and want became the ideals of the Allies.
D. Responding to Japanese aggression in China and Southeast Asia, Roosevelt imposed increasingly
burdensome economic sanctions, including an embargo on iron, steel, and oil, on Japan in 1940-41.
E. In August, 1941, Roosevelt met secretly with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and concluded the
Atlantic Charter, in which they enunciated war aims, including the disarmament of aggressors and the right
of people to choose their own form of government.

II. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 finally brought the United States directly into World
War II.
A. The attack united Americans as never before.
B. Isolationist arguments all but ended.
III. The war had a tremendous impact on every facet of American life.
A. The federal budget swelled from $9 billion in 1940 to $98 billion in 1945. In all, the government spent
some $300 billion directly on the war effort.
1. Wages rose, income distribution improved, and unemployment was negligible.
2. Real per capita GNP rose by about fifty percent.
3. The war accelerated the growth of a large middle class and increased the employment of women.
Women as well as men would serve in the armed forces. African Americans would participate in the
war but in segregated units.
4. Wartime prosperity gave conservatives in Congress an opportunity to eliminate such New Deal reform
measures as the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps.
5. The war resulted in the expansion of income taxes, income withholding, and a vast increase in the
federal budget deficit.
6. Rather than providing comprehensive assistance for education, health care, houses, and job training,
Congress passed the G.I. Bill of Rights that limited such benefits mainly to veterans, skewing
assistance to males and whites.
B. The power of the presidency increased substantially as Roosevelt followed the Wilson precedent of all-out
mobilization for war.
1. A number of agencies, including the Office of War Information, War Production Board, War
Manpower Commission, and Office of Price Administration, helped Roosevelt manage and direct the
war.

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2.
3.

The government relocated and interned thousands of German, Italian, and Japanese Americans.
Racial tensions erupted in northern cities, and the president created a Fair Employment Practices
Commission.
C. As the leader of a major Allied power, Roosevelt strongly influenced how the war was fought and defined
postwar objectives.
1. Postwar politics brought Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin together for the first time in November 1943.
Roosevelt described his idea of a postwar international organization, in which the great powers would
act as guarantors of the peace. The Big Three also agreed on an invasion of France the following
year.
2. At Yalta in February 1945, the Big Three agreed to a postwar international organization (the United
Nations), the postwar division of Germany, the entry of the USSR into the war against Japan, and free
elections in Eastern Europe.
3. Although Roosevelt did not live to see the end of the war, his support of the Manhattan project
brought about a swift end to the war against Japan, when two atomic bombs obliterated Hiroshima and
Nagasaki in August 1945. The bomb greatly influenced the postwar world and ushered in the Nuclear
Age.
4. Neither the United States nor the Allies responded strongly to Hitlers efforts to exterminate the Jews,
despite warnings about the final solution in the early 1940s.
5. Roosevelt also established a precedent for secret diplomacy and actions independent of both
congressional and public scrutiny.
IV. In the midst of war, Roosevelt promoted his grand domestic and foreign policy visions and won a fourth term
as president, defeating Republican Thomas Dewey.
A. In his 1944 campaign, Roosevelt articulated his vision for an economic Bill of Rights that would guarantee
Americans jobs, food, clothing, housing, education, medical care, and other forms of aid.
1. Roosevelt and the Democrats replaced incumbent Vice President Henry Wallace with Missouri senator
Harry S Truman.
2. Roosevelt won an unprecedented fourth term in the context of an improving military situation.
3. When Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, Truman was left to carry on the war and continue Roosevelts
policies.
B. Roosevelts legacy included leadership through two of Americas greatest crises, the realignment of the
American political system, the transformation of the Democratic Party, the recasting of American domestic
and foreign policy, and the strengthening of the presidency and the executive branch of government.
Suggested Reading:
Adams, Michael. The Best War Ever: America and World War II. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
Blum, John Morton. V Was for Victory: Politics and American Culture During World War II. New York: Harcourt
Brace Jovanovich, 1976.
Burns, James MacGregor. Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II.
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994.
Heale, M. J. Franklin D. Roosevelt: The New Deal and War. New York: Routledge, 1999.
Heinrichs, Waldo. Threshold of War: Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Entry into World War II. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1988.
Kimball, Warren F. The Juggler: Franklin Roosevelt as Wartime Statesman. Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1991.
Polenberg, Richard. War and Society: The United States 19411945. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1972.
Questions to Consider:
1. How did World War II affect Americas place on the world stage?
2. How did the war affect the home front?

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Lecture Thirty-Three
Harry S Truman: A Struggle for Success
Scope: Although Harry Truman was the least esteemed of presidents, as measured by opinion polls, scholars have
rehabilitated his reputation, and he now usually ranks among the top eight presidents. Both Republicans
and Democrats today seek inspiration in the life and leadership of Harry Truman. After a difficult
childhood, Truman struggled for success. He entered politics for the first time in his late thirties and
remained an obscure local leader until the Kansas City Democratic organizationthe Pendergast
machinetapped him to run for the United States Senate at age fifty. As a senator, he established a
reputation for hard work, honesty, compatibility, and reliable New Deal voting. His selection as Franklin
Delano Roosevelts vice president would soon thrust him into the worlds most important position at one of
the great turning points in world history.

Outline
I.

Truman became the leader of the worlds most powerful nation at a crucial turning point in world history.
A. His decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan ended World War II, began the nuclear age, and led to a
nuclear arms race.
B. He helped create the United Nations and established the policy of containing communism that would
largely guide the United States through more than forty years of Cold War.
C. Truman has been praised for containing communism and criticized for beginning the arms race and the
Cold War.
D. His domestic policies set the agenda for postwar American liberalism, including the first significant
commitment of the Democratic Party to a civil rights agenda.
E. Like Lincoln, Truman has become a genuine American hero who rose above his humble beginnings and
his own limitations to lead the nation through one of the most difficult times in history.

II. Truman grew up and worked on his familys farm until the age of thirty.
A. Harry Truman was born in Lamar, Missouri in 1884 to a hard-working farm family of middling status.
1. His father, John Anderson Truman, was a farmer and livestock salesman. His mother, Martha Ellen
Young Truman, was also born and raised on a farm.
2. John died in 1914 when Harry was thirty; Martha lived until 1947 and maintained a close and
affectionate relationship with Harry.
3. Harrys father, just 54 tall, was a difficult and pugnacious man, who sought to prove himself in
fights with larger men.
B. Harry developed an early interest in reading and music.
1. Along with reading the Bible, he particularly enjoyed reading about history, and government. He came
to admire the exploits of great leaders who defended principle and honor.
2. Unlike his aggressive father, he did not prove himself in physical confrontation but learned to be liked
and accepted and to get his way through persuasion and conciliation.
3. Like Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman was a relatively weak and sickly child. Unlike Roosevelt, he
did not build himself into a strong and athletic young man.
4. Because he played the piano and wore thick glasses, other boys teased him. Truman later admitted that
he was kind of a sissy.
C. Trumans father suffered a severe financial loss as Harry graduated from Independence High School in
1901.
1. There was not enough money for him to go to college.
2. Instead, he worked over the next five years at various jobs.
3. In 1906, even though he despised the work, he returned to help his parents on the farm, working hard
there for the next ten years.
4. In 1906, he joined Mike Pendergasts Kansas City Tenth Ward Democratic Club, the local Democratic
machine, and served as an election clerk, road overseer, and postmaster.

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5. He joined the Missouri Masons in 1908.


D. His fathers death in 1914 allowed Truman to expand his interests.
1. He tried and failed at several speculative business ventures.
2. He had served in the Missouri National Guard from 1905 to 1911 and rejoined in 1917.
III. World War I allowed Truman to leave the farm and prove himself.
A. Truman served with the 129th Field Artillery from 1917 to 1919.
B. He later credited his military service with helping his political career and developing valuable leadership
skills, along with self-confidence.
IV. Returning home in 1919, Truman began the next phase of his life.
A. At age 35, he married Elizabeth Bess Virginia Wallace in 1919.
1. They first met at Sunday school; Harry was six and Bess was five.
2. Truman later said that he had only one sweetheart from the time I was six. They knew each other the
rest of their lives.
3. They had one child, Margaret, in 1924.
B. Truman tried another business venture and it, too, failed.
1. He refused to declare bankruptcy and eventually repaid his creditors.
2. He blamed President Hardings Republican administration for his business failure.
3. Unlike any of the other presidents studied in this course, even by his late thirties, Truman had achieved
no notable accomplishments of any kind in his life.
C. With the backing of Kansas Citys Pendergast Democratic machine, Truman entered politics.
1. In November 1922, he was elected judge for the Eastern District of Jackson County, Missouri.
2. Deciding on a political career, he went to Kansas City Law School.
3. He was defeated in a reelection attempt in 1924, but Tom Pendergast, the Democratic boss of Kansas
City, helped him become presiding judge of the county court in 1926.
4. He learned to balance the demands of party politics and public service.
V. Trumans political career steadily advanced over the next quarter century.
A. As presiding judge of Jackson County from 1926 to 1934, Truman established a reputation as an honest,
hard-working public official.
1. His county improvements included cutting waste; constructing roads, a hospital, and a new
courthouse; reducing the debt; and firing political appointees while hiring reputable workers.
2. He still struggled with the Pendergasts and his conscience, because their political machine was known
for its support of gambling, bootlegging, bribery, and gangster-style assassinations. Yet Truman knew
that without the Pendergasts support, he had no political future. Each helped advance the others
interests.
3. He enhanced his reputation as director of the Federal Reemployment Service in Missouri in 1933
1934. It was his first experience with the federal government and national politics.
B. Trumans experience, vigorous campaigning, the Pendergasts continued backing, and his association with
Roosevelt and the New Deal led to his election to the U. S. Senate in November of 1934.
1. Truman was picked as the Pendergast machines candidate for the Senate only after several other
potential candidates declined to run.
2. Like James K. Polk, he ran an industrious, grassroots campaign, and as senator, closely attended to
constituency interests.
3. Although the Pendergast machine did not control Trumans vote, it did influence his patronage
decisions.
4. Initially known as the senator from Pendergast, Truman impressed influential party leaders with his
honesty, industry, and ability to get along with his fellow senators.
5. He was assigned to the Appropriations and Interstate Commerce committees. He helped draft the Civil
Aeronautics Act of 1938 and the Transportation Act of 1940.
6. As a small-town border-state politician, Truman had considered himself a Jeffersonian who believed in
individualism, hard work, merit, and government close to the people. But his life experience had given

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him a Jacksonian appreciation of the common man and a distrust of large business and financial
organizations.
7. Truman also came to understand the role of government in combating the depression and providing
security and opportunity for ordinary citizens. He usually voted as a loyal New Deal senator; he had
only a distant relationship with President Roosevelt.
C. Elected to a second term without Roosevelts explicit backing, Truman became a powerful and popular
senator.
1. Although Truman did not believe in the social equality of the races, he made a special effort in the
campaign of 1940 to win black votes and supported equal opportunity for African Americans.
2. His star began to rise through his chairmanship of the Committee to Investigate the National Defense
Program. The committee gave him a chance to defend the little guy and hard-working taxpayers by
increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the nations defense programs, saving the country
billions of dollars.
3. Trumans work on the committee greatly enhanced his reputation and won him favorable press
coverage.
4. He had also positioned himself as a solid Democratic liberal and one of President Roosevelts
strongest supporters on the Hill.
5. At the Democratic National Convention in 1944, Truman was selected to be Roosevelts running mate.
Suggested Reading:
Ferrell, Robert H. Harry S. Truman: A Life. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1944.
Gosnell, Harold. Trumans Crises: A Political Biography of Harry S. Truman. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press,
1980.
Hamby, Alonzo L. Man of the People: A Life of Harry S. Truman. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
McCullough, David. Truman. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.
Miller, Richard Lawrence. Truman: The Rise to Power. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1986.
Questions to Consider:
1. How did Trumans upbringing and life before politics influence him?
2. Why did Truman enter politics and associate with the Pendergast machine?
3. How was Truman able to balance the demands of conscience with his loyalty to the Pendergast machine?

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Lecture Thirty-Four
Harry S Truman: Needing Americas Prayers
Scope: Trumans nomination as vice president was controversial and divisive, and he accepted only with
reluctance. The Roosevelt-Truman ticket went on to victory, and what Truman thought was an
inconsequential office led him to the presidency when Franklin D. Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945.
Truman suddenly found himself president, just eighty-two days after his inauguration as vice president. A
vice president whom Roosevelt had largely ignored, Truman was now charged with ending World War II
and making foreign and domestic policy for the postwar world. The bold decisions he made over the next
few months profoundly affected the world and Americas place in it.

Outline
I.

The Democrats selected Truman, and he reluctantly accepted his partys nomination for vice president in 1944.
A. Worried about Roosevelts health and the politics of ultraliberal Vice President Henry A. Wallace,
Democratic leaders urged Roosevelt to select a new running mate.
B. Truman was the partys compromise choice, although the American people preferred Wallace. At the
Democratic National Convention in 1944, the party pros thwarted a stampede to Wallace, and Truman was
nominated as Roosevelts running mate on the second ballot.
C. The Roosevelt-Truman ticket swept to victory in the 1944 campaign. Truman was not a prominent player
in the campaign and was attacked by Republicans as lacking qualifications for high office.

II. Truman was determined to make his mark, even though he was not privy to the Manhattan Project or plans for
postwar peace.
A. Truman demonstrated loyalty and effectiveness by winning Senate confirmation of Henry Wallace as
Commerce Secretary.
B. He cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate to continue the Lend-Lease program after the end of the war.
C. He had little contact with the tired Roosevelt.
D. The president left for the Yalta Conference in January of 1945 and met with Truman only twice before
leaving in late March for Warm Springs, Georgia, for some much needed rest.
E. Roosevelt had not informed Truman about critical wartime developments, especially the atomic bomb
project, nor had the two discussed the postwar plans agreed on at Yalta.
III. Truman became U.S. President shortly after Roosevelts death.
A. Shortly after 7:00 p.m. on April 12, 1945, just hours after Roosevelt suffered a cerebral hemorrhage.
B. Shocked, nervous, and unprepared for the presidency, Truman quickly demonstrated his ability to act
boldly, confidently, and decisively.
1. Trumans immediate priority was to conclude the war in Europe.
2. He insisted on Germanys unconditional surrender. The Germans surrendered in early May.
IV. Truman had to make decisions that would shape the future of the postwar world, including the fulfillment of
Woodrow Wilsons dream of establishing a world organization dedicated to the preservation of peace and
security.
A. His first official action was to confirm a United Nations conference that reached agreement on a charter on
June 26.
B. The United States would not revert to isolationism as it had after the First World War.
C. Truman shared the Wilsonian vision for a peaceful, cooperative postwar order, guided by liberal ideals and
made prosperous by capitalism and free trade.
V. In one of the most momentous decisions in world history, Truman used the newly developed atomic bomb to
end the war with Japan.
A. Truman met with Churchill and Stalin in Potsdam, Germany, from July 17 to August 2, 1945.

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1.

Trumans goals were to defeat Japan; save American lives; stabilize Western Europe, including
western Germany; and limit Soviet influence in Eastern Europe and Asia.
2. At Potsdam, he became a changed man after learning about the atomic bomb. The man who as a child,
had run away from fights, could now stand up to any international bully.
3. Stalin agreed at Potsdam to enter the war against Japan. Truman also told Stalin that the United States
had developed a new weapon of mass destruction. Soviet espionage had already revealed to Stalin
much about the American nuclear program.
4. Truman never fully discussed with Stalin the implications of atomic weapons or the possibility of
international control.
5. On July 26, Trumans Potsdam Declaration demanded that Japan surrender unconditionally or face
prompt and utter destruction.
6. Trumans terms did not allow retention of the Japanese emperor.
B. Japan rejected the ultimatum; Truman authorized the use of the bomb.
1. Following the guidance of his advisers, Truman decided to use
the bomb, despite his fear that it could lead to global destruction.
2. His immediate motives were to end the war quickly and avoid any additional loss of American life.
3. Some historians also argue that he was practicing atomic diplomacy, demonstrating the power of the
bomb, not just to the Japanese, but also to the Soviets.
4. On August 6, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, killing many tens of thousands instantly;
many more died from radiation.
5. On August 9, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki .
6. Japan sued for peace the next day and formally surrendered on September 2, 1945, onboard the USS
Missouri.
7. World War II, the most brutal, destructive, and costly war in human history, had finally ended. The
Nuclear Age and the Cold War were just beginning.
C. Truman adopted a hard-line policy toward the Soviet Union.
1. Hard-line advisers gained predominant influence with Truman, reinforcing his own inclinations to
stand up to the Russians.
2. His meetings with Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov in April revealed a sharp reversal in attitude
toward the Soviets. Some historians mark the origins of the Cold War with the changes in AngloAmerican/Soviet relations in the spring of 1945.
3. Truman, however, did not abandon the idea of negotiating with the Russians, especially if he could
deal man to man with Stalin.
4. Negotiations did achieve some results, especially in gaining Russian cooperation with the creation of
the United Nations. Other matters, such as the status of Germany and Russian domination of Eastern
Europe, proved to be far more intractable.
5. Each nation increasingly became more suspicious of the others motives, goals, and honesty.
Suggested Reading:
Donovan, Robert J. Conflict and Crisis: The Presidency of Harry S. Truman, 19451948. New York: W.W. Norton
& Company, 1977.
Gosnell, Harold. Trumans Crises: A Political Biography of Harry S. Truman. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press,
1980.
Hamby, Alonzo L. Man of the People: A Life of Harry S. Truman. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Sherwin, Martin J. A World Destroyed: Hiroshima and the Origins of the Arms Race. New York: Vintage Books,
1987.
Questions to Consider:
1. How was the role of the president and Americas place in the world changing by the end of World War II?
2. Should the United States have insisted on the unconditional surrender of Germany and Japan and used all
means necessary, including the atomic bomb, to end the war?

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Lecture Thirty-Five
Harry S Truman: Winning the Peace
Scope: The strategy of containing the expansion of communism, as it developed during the first Truman
administration, became the hallmark of U.S. foreign policy throughout the Cold War era. The desire to
compete with and contain Soviet influence was inextricably linked with Trumans views on international
economic affairs. Peace and prosperity at home depended on unfettered access to markets and sufficient
military might to ensure freed trade. America, as the leading superpower in the postwar bipolar world,
assumed, for the first time in its history, enormous global responsibilities that would also have major
implications for life at home and for the future of the American presidency.

Outline
I.

Truman developed an ambitious domestic agenda for reform and conversion to a peacetime economy.
A. Truman proposed an Economic Bill of Rights for the American people.
1. On September 6, just four days after Japans surrender (V-J Day), Truman presented a twenty-one
point program that asked Congress to strengthen and extend the New Deal.
2. The address confounded the expectations of those who thought that Truman would be a more
conservative president than Franklin Roosevelt had been.
3. His call for a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission to aid African Americans, an end to
poll taxes, federal aid for education and public housing, adequate medical care, federal guarantees of
full employment, and a national health insurance program were all defeated by Republicans and
southern Democrats in Congress.
4. Although Truman became the first Democrat to adopt a civil rights agenda, his cabinet and advisers
did not include either racial minorities or women.
5. Truman-style liberalism continued the New Deals emphasis on welfare and work but largely
abandoned earlier efforts to significantly regulate and control the free enterprise economy.
6. The booming growth of the wartime economy also convinced liberals that continued expansion could
be achieved through appropriate fiscal and monetary policies.
B. Truman worked hard to ease the transition from war to peace.
1. The armed forces, numbering 12 million in 1945, had only 3 million by mid-1946; returning soldiers
searched for jobs, housing, and education, aided by the benefits of the G.I. Bill.
2. With the end of wartime production, workers lost jobs, pay, and benefits, while prices climbed and
some products were in short supply.
3. These conditions prompted millions of Americans to go on strike in late 1945 and early 1946. These
strikes increased tensions between labor and the administration and undermined labors public
standing. Labor also failed to achieve the objectives of Operation Dixie, its campaign to organize
workers in the south.
4. Conversion actually proceeded more smoothly than after World War I. Inflation and unemployment
were both lower than after World War I. The G.I. Bill also provided significant benefits to returning
veterans.
5. Still, postwar dislocations and hardship were sufficient to produce a Republican takeover of both
houses of Congress in 1946.
6. In a major blow to the administration and to labor, the new Congress passed, over Trumans veto, the
Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which curbed labor rights.
7. It also passed, over Trumans vetoes, tax cuts favoring the middle and upper classes.
8. Congress, however, agreed to Trumans plans for altering the lineup for presidential succession.

II. The Cold War became entrenched by the end of Trumans first term.
A. Relations between the United States and the Soviet Union deteriorated after the end of World War II.
1. The Soviet Union, abrogating wartime pledges, imposed pro-Soviet regimes in Poland and Hungary
and began consolidating Soviet influence in Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Romania.

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2.

The United States began consolidating its control over atomic power, establishing the Atomic Energy
Commission in 1946.
3. In 1946, Truman fired Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace after Wallace had made a speech calling
for a more conciliatory policy toward the Soviet Union. The departure of Wallace marked the virtual
elimination of former Roosevelt officials from the cabinet and White House staff. It also eliminated
the major dissenter from the administrations hard-line anti-Soviet policy.
B. Both the United States and the Soviet Union were coming to believe that the other nation was an
aggressive power bent on world domination and the destruction of its way of life.
1. In March of 1947, the president issued the Truman Doctrine, which established the policy of
containing the expansion of communism.
2. The Truman Doctrine committed the United States to providing military and economic assistance to
targets of communist aggression, the initial recipients being Greece and Italy.
3. The Truman Doctrine was followed by adoption of the National Security Act, which reorganized the
military, consolidated military command under a new Secretary of Defense, established a Central
Intelligence Agency, and expanded executive powers in foreign policy. A second government was
being created in the White House and a covert arm of government was being established.
4. In 1948, the United States implemented the Marshall Plan, a massive and unprecedented aid program
to rehabilitate war-torn economies and blunt the appeal of communism to their impoverished
politicians.
5. The Soviet Union interpreted the Marshall Plan as an attempt to encircle it with hostile powers and
extend capitalism into Eastern Europe.
6. The United States established what became known as the National Security State, which included
security interests around the globe, unprecedented levels of peacetime defense spending, and a
crackdown against a purported Red menace at home.
7. A military industrial complex developed as high defense budgets benefited defense contractors, gave
presidents new latitude in foreign policy, and gave legislators projects that benefited their constituents.
C. Truman made other critical decisions in foreign and military policy.
1. In August 1945, the United States joined with its wartime allies to try military and civilian leaders of
Nazi Germany for war crimes.
2. Truman desegregated the armed forces by executive order when Congress refused.
3. The United States attempted, but failed, to mediate the war between nationalist and communist forces
in China.
4. In 1947, Truman supported the U.N. plan to partition Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states.
He recognized Israel minutes after the Israelis proclaimed the founding of their new nation on May 14,
1948.
5. In 1948, Truman began a massive airlift of supplies to West Berlin to break the Russian blockade of
that city contained in the Russian occupation zone.
D. With its new international economic and security interests, the United States never fully demobilized as it
did after other wars.
1. Although a budget-conscious president tried to keep military expenditures under control, the 1948
defense outlay still exceeded the entire federal budget of 1940.
2. Levels of defense spending would expand again after the Korean War.
3. Despite his surprisingly strong leadership in foreign affairs, an upturn in the economy, and relative
social harmony, President Truman had not won great favor by the election year of 1948.
4. Former World War II General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas
both rejected overtures from some Democratic leaders to challenge Truman for the partys nomination.
Suggested Reading:
Donovan, Robert J. Conflict and Crisis: The Presidency of Harry S. Truman, 19451948. New York: W.W. Norton
& Company, 1977.
Hamby, Alonzo L. Beyond the New Deal: Harry S. Truman and American Liberalism. New York: Columbia
University Press, 1973.
. Man of the People: A Life of Harry S. Truman. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

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Leffler, Melvyn P. A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War.
Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992.
McCoy, Donald R. The Presidency of Harry S. Truman. Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, 1984.
Savage, Sean J. Truman and the Democratic Party. Lexington, Ky.: The University Press of Kentucky, 1997.
Questions to Consider:
1. Why did the Cold War begin and what was the basic U.S. strategy for waging the Cold War?
2. Was the Soviet Union the threat that U.S. policymakers thought it was?

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Lecture Thirty-Six
Harry S Truman: No Accidental President
Scope: Dewey Defeats Truman was the headline many Americans read as they awoke following the 1948
presidential election. When the votes were counted, they showed not only that Truman had beaten Dewey,
but also that the Democrats had actually regained their majorities in both houses of Congress. In his second
term, Truman continued to push for liberal domestic programs and continued the battle to contain
communism. In a reversal of earlier Democratic-Republican roles, Democrats now represented civil rights,
government activism, and internationalism, while Republicans favored retrenchment at home and less
intervention abroad. Truman declined to seek reelection for a third term and retired from politics. His
presidency had a profound influence on the future of his country and the world.

Outline
I.

Truman shocked the pollsters and pundits by winning the 1948 election.
A. At the convention in Philadelphia in July 1948, few Democrats thought Truman could win the next
election.
B. The Dixiecrats bolted the Democratic convention.
C. Henry Wallace also broke from the Democrats and campaigned for president as the candidate of a
progressive party of liberals, socialists, and communists.
D. Although divisions within the Democratic party hurt Trumans chances, he won the Democratic
nomination and vigorously campaigned against a do-nothing Republican Congress.
E. His opponent was once again New York Governor Thomas Dewey.

II. Truman called Congress back into special session and when Republicans failed to act, Truman gave em hell,
blasting Republicans with hundreds of speeches on a series of transcontinental, whistle-stop railroad tours.
A. Truman defeated Republican Thomas Dewey and proved the national pollsters wrong on Election Day.
B. Proving that Trumans victory was no aberration, Democrats recaptured both houses of Congress.
III. Trumans 1949 State of the Union message called for a Fair Deal for every segment of the population. The
Fair Deal sought a broad range of reforms.
A. Although Democrats held majorities in Congress, the conservative coalitionmade up of mostly
Republicans and southern Democratsgenerally fought against Trumans major legislative proposals.
B. Truman achieved some successes, including a new Housing Law and legislation that strengthened New
Deal programs, but Congress failed to pass his national health insurance program, civil rights proposals,
and the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act.
IV. Truman faced increasing problems at home.
A. The Cold War reached home as fears and tensions increased.
1. The United States lost its monopoly on the atomic bomb when the Soviet Union exploded one of its
own in September 1949.
2. The Red Scare began as spies, such as Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, were convicted of giving
classified military secrets to the Soviets.
3. Congress passed the Internal Security Act of 1950 over Trumans veto. It required communists to
register with the Justice Department, restricted their activities, allowed the government to intern them
during an emergency, and set up a Subversives Activities Board to review the loyalty of government
employees.
4. In 1950, Senator Joseph McCarthy took advantage of the nations fears to advance his own political
agenda. He claimed that the Democrats were soft on communism and the government was infested
with communist agents.

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5.

The once-active communist spy network had largely been dismantled by the time McCarthy made his
charges. There is no evidence that McCarthy or his supporters actually halted subversive activities by
Soviet agents.
B. Corruption also tainted Trumans second term.
C. A series of scandals involving bribes, gifts, and favors in the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the
Reconstruction Finance Corporation, and the Tax Division of the Justice Department created the publics
perception of a mess in Washington.
V. Foreign affairs once again dominated the Truman presidency.
A. Truman outlined a comprehensive anticommunist program at the beginning of his second term.
1. It called for supporting the United Nations, continuing the Marshall Plan, promoting mutual defense
against communist aggression, and giving aid and technical assistance to underdeveloped countries.
2. Although aide and assistance to underdeveloped nations helped improve the quality of life for millions
in Asia and Africa, Truman primarily sought to keep nations from falling to the communists.
B. The United States developed an alliance system to forestall communist aggression.
1. In 1947, the United States and other nations in the Western Hemisphere signed a mutual defense treaty
known as the Rio Pact.
2. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), created in 1949, marked the first time in history that
the United States had entered into a military alliance with European nations. The anti-alliance
philosophy of Washington and Jefferson was finally put to rest.
VI. After the formation of NATO, the focus of the Cold War shifted to Asia.
A. The administration was blamed for the loss of China in December 1949 to communist forces led by Mao
Zedong.
B. When North Korean communist forces invaded South Korea in June 1950, a bloody three-year conflict
ensued.
1. Truman believed that the attack was a Soviet initiative, although recently available documents now
indicate that North Korea planned the attack itself, then persuaded the Soviets to provide assistance.
2. Without obtaining congressional approval, Truman dispatched American troops to keep South Korea
from conquest by the invading army.
3. After American forces drove North Koreans from the south, they pushed into North Korea, prompting
Chinese intervention.
4. General Douglas MacArthur, commander of American forces in Asia, advocated all-out war against
China and publicly criticized the restrictions Truman had placed on the war to keep it from becoming a
much wider conflict.
5. Truman fired MacArthur, and the fighting stabilized around the north/south border, but the war
dragged on until the summer of 1953.
6. Truman survived an assassination attempt during the war.
C. The Korean War greatly expanded the national security state.
1. Before the outbreak of war, Trumans National Security Council recommended a massive military
buildup to fight global communism. The secret document became known as NSC-68.
2. Congress was unlikely to approve the billions of dollars required, but the Korean War provided the
necessary reason for such a tremendous allocation of funds and resources to fight communism.
3. NSC-68 became Americas strategy for waging the Cold War.
4. After Truman ordered a federal takeover of the steel mills to avert a strike, the Supreme Court ruled
that the president had exceeded his constitutional authority.
VII. Truman decided not to seek a third term.
A. Republicans nominated World War II hero Dwight Eisenhower, who would become the first Republican
president in twenty years.
B. Truman attended the inauguration of his successor, then retired to his home in Independence, Missouri.
C. He died in 1972.

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VIII. Truman left behind a legacy of great significance for his country and the world.
A. He consolidated New Deal reforms, extended the liberal agenda, and largely completed the twentiethcentury transformation of party positions.
B. He began the nuclear age and committed the United States to containing communism and defending its
security and economic interests around the globe.
C. He greatly expanded the ability of the president to develop capacities for domestic and foreign policy
decision making in the White House.
D. He established the national security state and what became known as the military industrial complex.
Suggested Reading:
Donovan, Robert J. Tumultuous Years: The Presidency of Harry S. Truman, 19491953. New York: W.W. Norton
& Company, 1982.
Hamby, Alonzo L. Beyond the New Deal: Harry S. Truman and American Liberalism. New York: Columbia
University Press, 1973.
. Man of the People: A Life of Harry S. Truman. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Leffler, Melvyn P. A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War.
Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992.
McCormick, Thomas J. Americas Half Century: United States Foreign Policy in the Cold War and After.
Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.
McCoy, Donald R. The Presidency of Harry S. Truman. Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, 1984.
Winkler, Allan M. Life under a Cloud: American Anxiety about the Atom. New York: Oxford University Press,
1993.
Questions to Consider:
1. How did foreign affairs affect the Fair Deal and American society during this time?
2. Why were communists seen as such a threat to the world and the United States?
3. Did the United States act and react responsibly to events overseas?

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Timeline
22 February 1732............................ George Washington is born in Westmoreland County, Virginia.
13 April 1743.................................. Thomas Jefferson is born in Albemarle County, Virginia.
1752 ................................................ Washington enters the military. He would become a commander of the Virginia
forces during the French and Indian Wars.
1758 ................................................ Washington wins election to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
1759 ................................................ Washington marries Martha Dandridge Custis, a wealthy widow with two
children.
1767 ................................................ Andrew Jackson was born on a frontier settlement in South Carolina.
1768 ................................................ Jefferson is elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
1772 ................................................ Jefferson marries Martha Wayles Skelton, a widow who would die ten years
later. He never remarried.
1774 ................................................ Washington coauthors the Fairfax County Resolves that denied Parliaments
authority over the colonies.
1774 ................................................ Thomas Jefferson publishes the influential pamphlet A Summary View of the
Rights of British America.
17741775 ...................................... First and second Continental Congresses meet in Philadelphia. Washington
serves as delegate.
1775 ................................................ The Revolutionary War begins. Second Continental Congress elects
Washington as commander of the Continental Army.
1776 ................................................ Thomas Jefferson writes the Declaration of Independence.
25 December 1776.......................... Washington crosses the Delaware River and wins victory at Trenton and later at
Princeton in New Jersey.
October 1777 .................................. General Horatio Gates defeats the British at the Battle of Saratoga, the battle
that would lead to an alliance with the French.
Winter 17771778.......................... Winter headquarters established at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
19 October 1781 ............................. General Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown, Virginia, effectively ending the
war.
1783 ................................................ Washington resigns his commission and returns to private life.
17831784 ...................................... Jefferson serves in the Continental Congress.
1787 ................................................ Constitutional Convention meets in Philadelphia. Washington serves as
president.
1789 ................................................ Electoral College unanimously elects Washington as first president of the
United States under the new Constitution.
1790 ................................................ District of Columbia is chosen as the future permanent capital of the United
States.
1790 ................................................ Jefferson becomes the first Secretary of State.
17911793 ...................................... Conflicts between Jefferson and Secretary of State Alexander Hamilton lead to
the development of the first political party system, with Hamiltons Federalist
Party opposed by Jeffersons Democratic-Republican Party.
1791 ................................................ The Bank of the United States is chartered.

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1792 ................................................ Washington issues his first veto of a congressional bill.


1792 ................................................ Washington is reelected for a second term.
1793 ................................................ Faced with potential conflicts with both France and Britain, Washington issues a
formal statement of United States neutrality.
1793 ................................................ Washington signs a Fugitive Slave Law, despite his own ambivalent beliefs
about slavery.
1794 ................................................ Washington suppresses with overwhelming force the Whiskey Rebellion of
farmers in western Pennsylvania.
Early 1790s..................................... Andrew Jackson marries, then remarries Rachel Donelson Robertson after her
divorce from her first husband is finally secured. Controversy about their first
marriage would haunt the couple until Rachels death shortly after Jackson was
elected president in 1824.
1794 ................................................ General Anthony Wayne defeats Indian forces in Ohio. A subsequent treaty
would cede large amounts of land to the United States.
1795 ................................................ The Senate ratifies Jays Treaty, which averted war and removed the British
from western forts but did little else to protect American shipping and security
concerns.
2 November 1795 ........................... James K. Polk is born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
1796 ................................................ The Senate ratifies Pinckneys treaty with Spain, which granted American ships
navigation rights on the Mississippi River.
1796 ................................................ Washington chooses not to run again, establishing a two-term tradition that
endured for nearly 150 years. His farewell address called for national unity and
independence from foreign conflicts and warned of the danger of party conflict.
1796 ................................................ Jefferson loses presidential election to John Adams. Jefferson receives the
second highest number of electoral votes and become vice president.
1800 ................................................ Jefferson defeats John Adams in the presidential election, but the election goes
to the House of Representatives, because Jefferson and Aaron Burr receive the
same number of electoral votes.
1801 ................................................ The House of Representatives elects Jefferson as president, leading to the first
transfer of power in American history. The Federalist Party of Washington and
Hamilton would not win another presidential election.
1801 ................................................ Jefferson begins war against Barbary states in the Mediterranean without
authorization from Congress.
18011802 ...................................... Under Jeffersons leadership, taxes are cut and economies in government
achieved.
1802 ................................................ Jefferson is accused of fathering children with his slave, Sally Hemings.
1803 ................................................ The United States purchases from France the vast Louisiana territory between
the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains.
1804 ................................................ The Lewis and Clark expedition begins.
1804 ................................................ The Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution establishes the modern system in
which the president and vice president are separately elected.
1804 ................................................ Jefferson is elected easily to a second term.

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18041805 ...................................... Jefferson supporters in the House impeach Federalist Supreme Court Justice
Samuel Chase, but he is acquitted by the Senate.
1806 ................................................ Congress authorizes construction of what would become the National Road.
1807 ................................................ The federal government unsuccessfully prosecutes Aaron Burr for treason.
1807 ................................................ Jefferson signs a ban on the international slave trade.
1807 ................................................ Congress approves the Embargo Act against international commerce. It was
designed to place economic pressure on Great Britain in any effort to restore
Americas commercial rights.
1808 ................................................ Jefferson honors the Washington tradition and declines to seek a third
presidential term.
12 February 1809............................ Abraham Lincoln is born in Larue County, Kentucky.
1809 ................................................ Congress repeals the Embargo Act shortly before Jefferson leaves office.
1815 ................................................ Jackson wins the Battle of New Orleans, thwarting a British invasion.
1819 ................................................ Jacksons military campaigns result in the ceding of Spanish Florida to the
United States.
1824 ................................................ Jackson wins a plurality of the popular and Electoral College vote, but the
House of Representative elects John Quincy Adams as president.
1824 ................................................ Polk marries Sarah Childress, who would become an important influence on his
political life.
1825 ................................................ Polk wins election to Congress as a supporter of Andrew Jackson.
1828 ................................................ Jackson easily defeats Adams and is elected president. The coalition that forms
around Jacksons candidacy would become the Democratic Party.
1829 ................................................ Jackson establishes an informal group of advisors known as the kitchen
cabinet and inaugurates the spoils system for the replacement of federal
officials.
1830 ................................................ Jackson vetoes the Maysville Road Bill, which would have provided federal
support for a road in Kentucky.
1830 ................................................ Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act, granting authority to move Eastern
Indian tribes to western lands.
1831 ................................................ Nearly all of Jacksons cabinet resigns as a result of conflict over the treatment
of Peggy Eaton, who was considered socially unacceptable by some cabinet
members and their wives.
1832 ................................................ Jackson begins the bank war by vetoing the charter of the Bank after it narrowly
passed Congress in 1832. The veto galvanized Jacksons opponents into an antiJackson party that would become the Whig party by the end of the decade.
1832 ................................................ Jackson issues his Nullification Proclamation that affirmed the supremacy of
federal law over state action.
1832 ................................................ Jackson easily wins reelection in the first contest in which parties nominated
candidates at national conventions.
1833 ................................................ Jackson escalates the bank war by removing government deposits from the Bank
of the United States.
1834 ................................................ The Senate censures Jackson for his actions in removing the deposits.
1834 ................................................ Lincoln is elected to the Illinois State legislature.

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1835 ................................................ A would-be assassin attempts to shoot President Jackson, but his pistols misfire.
1835 ................................................ Polks close alliance with Jackson helps him become Speaker of the House.
1836 ................................................ Jackson issues his Specie Circular, requiring purchasers of large federal lands to
pay in gold or silver.
1836 ................................................ The House of Representatives establishes a gag rule to prevent consideration
of anti-slavery petitions.
1836 ................................................ Jackson retires from politics, and his hand-picked successor, Martin Van Buren,
is elected over the candidates of the newly established Whig Party.
1837 ................................................ The newly elected Senate revokes the censure of President Jackson and
expunges it from the record of the Senate.
1839 ................................................ Polk is elected governor of Tennessee. He would fail in two attempts at
reelection.
1844 ................................................ The Democratic Convention nominates Polk as the first dark horse presidential
candidate in American history.
1844 ................................................ Polk narrowly defeats the favored Henry Clay in the presidential election.
1845 ................................................ Congress passes a joint resolution authorizing the annexation of Texas, which
the outgoing president, John Tyler, signed.
13 May 1846................................... Congress, at the request of President Polk, approves a declaration of war against
Mexico.
1846 ................................................ Congress adopts Polks proposals for tariff reduction and for establishing an
Independent Treasury as the repository for federal funds.
1846 ................................................ Lincoln is elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves for a single
term. It is his last elected office before winning the presidency.
1846 ................................................ The United States reaches an agreement with Britain over the disputed Oregon
territory, setting the boundary at the 49th parallel as Polk had earlier proposed.
1846 ................................................ Congress fails to pass legislation introduced by Representative David Wilmot to
prohibit slavery in territory acquired from Mexico.
September 1847 .............................. U.S. forces under General Winfield Scott take Mexico City, effectively ending
the Mexican War.
February 1848................................. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo formally ends the Mexican War, ceding vast
amounts of Mexican territory to the United States.
1848 ................................................ Polk honors an early pledge and declines to seek reelection. The presidency
would be captured by the candidate of the rival Whig Party.
28 December 1856.......................... Woodrow Wilson is born in Staunton, Virginia.
1858 ................................................ The Lincoln-Douglas debates take place.
27 October 1858 ............................. Theodore Roosevelt is born in New York City.
1860 ................................................ Lincoln is elected president with just 40 percent of the popular vote in a fourperson race. South Carolina secedes from the Union. Ten other states would
eventually follow.
April 1861....................................... The Civil War begins with the shelling of Fort Sumter. Lincoln calls out the
militia.
July 1861 ........................................ The South wins the Battle of Bull Run.

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September 1862 .............................. After a Union victory at Antietam in September 1862, Lincoln issues the
preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in areas still under
the control of the confederacy.
1862 ................................................ The Homestead Act, providing free land for settlement of the west, and the
Morrill Act, establishing land grant colleges, are enacted.
1 January 1863................................ The Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect.
July 1863 ........................................ The Union wins the Battle of Gettysburg; draft riots occur in New York City.
19 November 1863 ......................... Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address.
1864 ................................................ General Ulysses S. Grant is appointed as commander of all Union forces and
launches a coordinated attack to box in the Confederate Army.
1864 ................................................ Sherman takes Atlanta and begins his march to the sea.
1864 ................................................ Lincoln wins reelection as president, defeating George McClellan, the general
he had fired for inaction. Andrew Johnson is elected vice president.
February 1865................................. The Hampton Roads Peace Conference.
April 1865....................................... Union troops enter the Confederate capital of Richmond; Confederate General
Robert E. Lee surrenders to Grant.
14 April 1865.................................. John Wilkes Booth shoots Lincoln at Fords Theater. Lincoln would die the next
morning, and Andrew Johnson would become president of the United States.
1880 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt marries Alice Hathaway Lee. After her death, he would
marry Edith Kermit Carow in 1886.
1881 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt is elected to the New York State Assembly.
30 January 1882.............................. Franklin Delano Roosevelt is born in Hyde Park, New York.
1885 ................................................ Woodrow Wilson marries Ellen Louise Axson. After her death, he would marry
Edith Bolling Gault in 1915.
1897 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt is appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
1898 ................................................ The Spanish-American War takes place. Theodore Roosevelt leads the Rough
Riders.
1898 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt is elected Governor of New York State.
1900 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt is elected as William McKinleys vice president.
14 September 1901 ......................... Theodore Roosevelt becomes President of the United States after the
assassination of McKinley.
1902 ................................................ The Roosevelt administration brings an anti-trust suit against the Northern
Securities Company.
1902 ................................................ Roosevelt mediates the Anthracite Coal Strike.
1902 ................................................ Wilson becomes president of Princeton University.
1903 ................................................ Roosevelt acquires the territory needed to build the Panama Canal.
1904 ................................................ Roosevelt issues the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, which asserts
Americas power to intervene in the internal affairs of Latin American nations.
1904 ................................................ Roosevelt wins a landslide election to a full term.
1905 ................................................ Roosevelt mediates a settlement of the Russo-Japanese war.
1905 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt marries Eleanor Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelts niece.

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1906 ................................................ The federal Meat Inspection and Food and Drug Acts are enacted.
1907 ................................................ Roosevelt, with the help of J. P. Morgan, steers the government through the
Panic of 1907.
1907 ................................................ Under the terms of the so-called Gentlemens Agreement, Japan pledged to
restrict immigration to the United States, and the United States, in turn, would
refrain from enacting Japanese exclusion into law.
1908 ................................................ Lyndon Johnson is born near Stonewall, Texas.
1908 ................................................ Roosevelt honors an earlier pledge and declines to run for reelection. His chosen
successor, William Howard Taft, is elected.
1910 ................................................ Wilson is elected governor of New Jersey.
1910 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is elected to the New York State Senate.
6 February 1911.............................. Ronald Reagan is born in Tampico, Illinois.
1912 ................................................ Wilson wins the Democratic nomination and is elected president after Roosevelt
splits the Republican Party with his insurgent campaign.
19131914 ...................................... Wilson wins enactment of his domestic program of tariff reduction, creation of
the Federal Reserve System, and anti-trust legislation.
1913 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
1914 ................................................ World War I begins. Wilson tries to maintain neutrality while seeking to
mediate an end to the war.
May 1915........................................ A German submarine torpedoes the British liner Lusitania.
1916 ................................................ Under Wilsons guidance, Congress adopts federal loans for farmers, a model
workmens compensation act, a federal child labor law, an eight-hour day for
railroad workers, and federal highway assistance.
1916 ................................................ The United States begins preparedness measures.
1916 ................................................ Wilson narrowly wins reelection with the slogan he kept us out of war.
2 April 1917.................................... Wilson asks Congress for a declaration of war against Germany.
27 May 1917................................... John F. Kennedy is born in Brookline, Massachusetts. He would be the first
U.S. president to be born in the twentieth century.
1918 ................................................ Wilson sets out his Fourteen Points as a basis for a lasting peace.
1918 ................................................ The American Expeditionary Force plays an important role in running the war
for the Allies.
1919 ................................................ Wilson leads the American delegation to Paris to negotiate the peace settlement.
The Treaty of Versailles would include his plan for a league of nations.
September 1919 .............................. Wilson suffers a stroke while campaigning for the treaty, which the Senate fails
to ratify.
1920 ................................................ The states ratify constitutional amendments for prohibition and womens
suffrage. The 1920 election would be the first in American history with women
in all states eligible to vote.
1920 ................................................ The Republicans recapture the presidency as Warren Harding wins a landslide
victory. Franklin Roosevelt runs for vice president on the losing Democratic
ticket.
1921 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is stricken with polio.

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1928 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is elected Governor of New York. Republican Herbert
Hoover wins the presidency.
1929 ................................................ The Great Depression begins.
1932 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt easily defeats Herbert Hoover in the presidential election.
1933 ................................................ In the first hundred days of the administration, Congress enacts Roosevelts
New Deal agenda of work and relief programs, banking reform, homeowner
assistance, economy in government, and programs for the recovery of industry
and agriculture.
1933 ................................................ The prohibition amendment is repealed.
1934 ................................................ The incumbent Democrats win congressional seats in the midterm elections.
1935 ................................................ The Supreme Court declares the National Recovery Act unconstitutional.
1935 ................................................ Elements of the second New Deal are enacted, including the Works Progress
Administration, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Social Security Act.
1936 ................................................ Roosevelt wins a landslide reelection, taking every state except Maine and
Vermont.
1937 ................................................ Johnson wins a special election for the U.S. House of Representatives.
1937 ................................................ The Supreme Court upholds the Social Security Act.
1937 ................................................ Congress rejects Roosevelts court-packing plan.
1937 ................................................ An economic recession begins.
1937 ................................................ Reagan begins his acting career.
1938 ................................................ Congress enacts the Fair Labor Standards Act, establishing minimum wages and
maximum hours.
1938 ................................................ Republicans make major gains in the midterm elections of 1938, although
Democrats retain both houses of Congress.
1939 ................................................ World War II begins. A strong isolationist movement would develop in the
United States.
1940 ................................................ Under Roosevelts prodding, the United States begins to aid the Allies and
develop preparedness measures, including the Selective Training and Service
Act.
1940 ................................................ Roosevelt wins an unprecedented third term, defeating dark horse Republican
candidate Wendell Willkie.
1941 ................................................ The United States becomes more deeply involved in the war, especially after the
passage of Lend-Lease in March.
August 1941 ................................... The United States and Britain issue the Atlantic Charter with an eight-point
statement of principles for peace.
December 1941............................... Japan attacks Pearl Harbor. The United States declares war against Japan.
Germany and Italy declare war against the United States. The United States
declares war on Germany and Italy.
1942 ................................................ The United States adopts measures to mobilize the nation and to finance the war
effort.
1942 ................................................ President Roosevelt authorizes the internment of Japanese Americans.
1942 ................................................ The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration, key
components of the New Deal, come to an end.

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January 1943................................... Crucial decisions about the war, including a demand for unconditional
surrender, are made by Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and other Allied
representatives at Casablanca.
6 June 1944..................................... The Allied invasion of France begins.
1944 ................................................ Congress enacts the G.I. Bill of Rights.
1944 ................................................ Representatives of the Allies establish the basis for the foundation of the United
Nations.
1944 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is elected to a third term. He selects Harry Truman as his
running mate after dumping Vice President Henry Wallace.
February 1945................................. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin meet at Yalta to discuss Russian entry into the
war against Japan, the United Nations, and postwar arrangements in Germany,
Poland, and Eastern Europe.
12 April 1945.................................. Truman becomes president after Roosevelts death.
7 May 1945..................................... V-E Day: Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies.
August 1945 ................................... The United States drops atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki.
2 September 1945 ........................... V-J Day: Japanese formally surrender aboard the U.S.S. Missouri.
1945 ................................................ Truman proposes an ambitious program of domestic reform, most of which will
not be enacted by Congress.
1946 ................................................ The Republicans win control of both houses of Congress for the first time since
the 1920s. Kennedy is elected as a Democrat to the U.S. House of
Representatives.
March 1947..................................... Truman announces the Truman Doctrine on the containment of communism.
1947 ................................................ The National Security Act establishes the Department of Defense, the Central
Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Council.
1947 ................................................ Congress enacts the Taft-Hartley Act over the veto of President Truman.
1947 ................................................ Secretary of State Marshall announces his plan for the recovery of Europe.
1948 ................................................ Truman issues an executive order to end segregation in the armed forces.
1948 ................................................ Truman recognizes the newly created state of Israel.
1948 ................................................ Truman surprises the pundits by defeating Thomas Dewey in the presidential
election. Democrats regain control of Congress. Johnson is elected to the
Senate.
1949 ................................................ Truman announces Four Point program to improve and modernize the
economies of less developed nations.
1949 ................................................ Communist forces take over the mainland of China. Recriminations begin in the
United States.
1949 ................................................ The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is established.
1950 ................................................ The Korean War begins.
October 1950 .................................. The U.N. Army crosses the 38th parallel into North Korea.
November 1950 .............................. Chinese Communists enter the Korean War.
1951 ................................................ Truman fires General MacArthur for insubordination.

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1952 ................................................ The Supreme Court declares unconstitutional Trumans seizure of the steel mills
in Youngstown, Ohio.
1952 ................................................ Truman declines to run for another term. The Republicans win their first
presidential election since 1928 as Dwight Eisenhower defeats Adlai Stevenson.
Kennedy is elected to the Senate.
1953 ................................................ Kennedy marries Jacqueline Bouvier.
1960 ................................................ Kennedy is elected president, narrowly defeating Republican Vice President
Richard Nixon. Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson of Texas is elected
vice president.
March 1961..................................... Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps by executive order.
April 1961....................................... Kennedy authorizes the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
1961 ................................................ The Alliance for Progress is established to promote democracy and economic
development in Latin America.
1961 ................................................ The Berlin Wall is constructed.
October 1962 .................................. After discovering the installation of Soviet missiles in Cuba, Kennedy imposes a
quarantine. The crisis is resolved when Russia agrees to remove the missiles and
the United States agrees not to invade Cuba.
1962 ................................................ Kennedy embraces an expansionary fiscal policy, including tax cuts to stimulate
the economy.
1962 ................................................ The United States and other nations agree to protect the independence and
neutrality of Laos.
1963 ................................................ Kennedy continues to increase American military personnel in Vietnam but
resists pressure for a large-scale American military campaign.
1963 ............................................... Kennedy supports a military coup in South Vietnam that resulted in the
assassination of President Ngo Diem.
1963 ................................................ The civil rights movement intensifies and the Kennedy administration responds
by drafting omnibus civil rights legislation.
1963 ................................................ The United States, the Soviet Union, and numerous other nations agree to ban
atmospheric and oceanic nuclear testing.
22 November 1963 ......................... Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Johnson becomes president. The
Warren Commission appointed by Johnson would find that Lee Harvey Oswald,
a former marine and self-avowed Marxist, had shot the president.
1964 ................................................ Enactment of the Civil Rights Act, ending segregation of public facilities and
accommodations.
1964 ................................................ Enactment of the Economic Opportunity Act, implementing Johnsons War on
Poverty program.
August 1964 ................................... The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gives Johnson a free hand to expand Americas
military involvement in Vietnam.
1964 ................................................ Johnson wins a landslide victory over conservative Republican candidate Barry
Goldwater.
1965 ................................................ Lyndon Johnson proposes a Great Society program. Congress responds by
enacting such programs as Medicare and Medicaid.
1965 ................................................ Enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, eliminating literacy tests and
providing for the expansion of minority registration and voting.

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1965 ................................................ Enactment of the Water Quality Act begins a succession of major environmental
initiatives during the Johnson administration.
1965 ................................................ Johnson begins a substantial escalation of American military involvement in
Vietnam, including both an air war and a ground war.
1965 ................................................ Northern race riots begin with an outbreak in the Watts neighborhood of Los
Angeles.
1966 ................................................ Democrats suffer major losses in the midterm elections. Reagan is elected
Republican Governor of California.
1967 ................................................ The war in Vietnam intensifies, as do anti-war demonstrations.
1968 ................................................ The Communists in Vietnam win a major propaganda victory with an offensive
launched on the eve of Tet, the lunar New Year.
31 March 1968 ............................... Johnson withdraws from the presidential race to concentrate on bringing peace
to Vietnam.
1968 ................................................ Johnsons vice president, Hubert Humphrey, loses the presidential election to
Richard Nixon.
1980 ................................................ Reagan is elected President, defeating incumbent Democratic President Jimmy
Carter. Republicans win control of the Senate for the first time since the 1950s.
March 1981..................................... Reagan narrowly survives an assassination attempt.
19811982 ...................................... Congress enacts Reagans major tax cut and deregulation proposals and
redirects priorities from domestic to military spending.
1982 ................................................ The economy is in recession and Democrats make gains in the midterm
elections.
1983 ................................................ The economy begins a recovery from the recession. The economy would
continue to grow throughout the remainder of Reagans two terms.
October 1983 .................................. The United States invades the tiny island of Grenada to dislodge a leftist
government.
November 1984 .............................. Reagan wins reelection victory over Walter Mondale, Carters vice president.
Mondales running mate, Geraldine Ferraro, was the first woman on a major
party ticket.
1985 ................................................ Mikhail Gorbachev becomes the leader of the Soviet Union.
1986 ................................................ Emergence of the Iran-Contra scandal, involving the sale of arms to the terrorist
state of Iran and the illegal diversion of the profits to the Contra resistance
movement in Nicaragua.
1986 ................................................ Republicans lose control of the Senate.
1986 ................................................ Congress enacts major tax reform legislation.
October 1987 .................................. Dow Jones Industrial Average drops 500 points; the market recovers and the
economy continues to expand through Reagans term.
1987..The United States and the Soviet Union reach agreement on the removal of
intermediate-range ballistic missiles from Europe.
1988 ................................................ Reagans vice president, George Bush, wins

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the presidency.

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Remini, Robert. Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 18331845. New York: Harper and
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Nelson, Anna. Secret Agents: President Polk and the Search for Peace with Mexico. New York: Garland Press
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Gable, John Allen. The Bull Moose Years: Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Party. Port Washington:
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Harbaugh, William. Power and Responsibility: The Life and Times of Theodore Roosevelt. New York: Farrar,
Straus and Cudahy, rev. ed., 1975.
McCullough, David. Mornings on Horseback. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1981.
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8. Woodrow Wilson
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Levin, Gordon N. Woodrow Wilson and World Politics: Americas Response to War and Revolution. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1968.
Link, Arthur S. The Higher Realism of Woodrow Wilson and Other Essays. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press,
1971.
. Woodrow Wilson: Revolution, War, and Peace. Arlington Heights, Ill.: Harlan Davidson, 1979.
Mulder, John M. Woodrow Wilson: The Years of Preparation. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978.
Schulte-Nordholt, Jan Willem. Woodrow Wilson: A Life for World Peace. Berkeley: University of California Press,
1991.
Thorsen, Niels Aage. The Political Thought of Woodrow Wilson, 18751910. Princeton: Princeton University Press,
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9. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Adams, Michael. The Best War Ever: America and World War II. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
Amenta, Edwin. Bold Relief: Institutional Politics and the Origins of Modern American Social Policy. Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1998.
Badger, Anthony J. The New Deal: The Depression Years, 19331940. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989.
Brinkley, Alan. The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War. New York: Vintage Books, 1995.
Burns, James MacGregor. Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox, 18821940. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1956.
. Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970.
Cohen, Lizabeth. Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 19191939. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1990.
Cole, Wayne S. Roosevelt and the Isolationists, 193245. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983.
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Davis, Kenneth S. FDR: Into the Storm, 19371940. New York: Random House, 1993.
. FDR: The Beckoning of Destiny, 18821928. New York: Putnam, 1971.
Eden, Robert. The New Deal and Its Legacy: Critique and Reappraisal. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1985.
Fraser, Steve, and Gary Gerstle. The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order, 19301980. Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1989.
Freidel, Frank B. Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Rendezvous with Destiny. Boston: Little, Brown, 1990.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. No Ordinary Time. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II.
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Heale, M. J. Franklin D. Roosevelt: The New Deal and War. New York: Routledge, 1999.
Heinrichs, Waldo. Threshold of War: Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Entry into World War II. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1988.
Kimball, Warren F. The Juggler: Franklin Roosevelt as Wartime Statesman. Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1991.

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Leuchtenburg, William E. The FDR Years: On Roosevelt and His Legacy. New York: Columbia University Press,
1995.
Sullivan, Patricia. Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era. Chapel Hill: University of North
Carolina Press, 1996.
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10. Harry Truman
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& Company, 1977.
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Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992.
McCormick, Thomas J. Americas Half Century: United States Foreign Policy in the Cold War and After.
Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.
McCoy, Donald R. The Presidency of Harry S. Truman. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1984.
McCullough, David. Truman. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.
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Savage, Sean J. Truman and the Democratic Party. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1997.
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1987.
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1993.
11. John F. Kennedy
Bernstein, Irving. Promises Kept: John F. Kennedys New Frontier. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Beschloss, Michael R. The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 19601963. New York: Edward Burlingame,
1991.
Blair, Joan, and Clay Blair, Jr. The Search for JFK. New York: Berkley Medallion Books, 1976.
Branch, Taylor. Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 19541963. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988.
Brown, Thomas. JFK: History of an Image. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.
Davis, John H. The Kennedys: Dynasty and Disaster, 18481984. New York: McGraw Hill, 1984.
Giglio, James N. The Presidency of John F. Kennedy. Lawrence: University Press of
Kansas, 1991.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga. New York: Simon & Schuster,
1987.
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University Press, 2000.
Logsdon, John M. The Decision to Go to the Moon: Project Apollo and the National Interest. Cambridge: MIT
Press, 1970.
Parmet, Herbert S. JFK: The Presidency of John F. Kennedy. New York: Dial Press, 1983.
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12. Lyndon Johnson
Beschloss, Michael R. Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 19631964. New York: Simon &
Schuster, 1997.

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Bornet, Vaughn D. The Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1983.
Dallek, Robert. Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 19611973. New York: Oxford University Press,
1998.
. Lone Star Rising: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 19081960. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. New York: St. Martins Griffin, 1991.
Herring, George C. Americas Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 19501975. New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 1996.
Murray, Charles. Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 19501980. New York: Basic Books, 1984.
Schulman, Bruce J. Lyndon B. Johnson and American Liberalism; A Brief Biography with Documents. New York:
Bedford Books, 1995.
Unger, Irwin, and Debi Unger. LBJ: A Life. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999.
Weisbrot, Robert. Freedom Bound: A History of Americas Civil Rights Movement. New York: Plume Books, 1990.
13. Ronald Reagan
Adler, Bill. Ronnie and Nancy: A Very Special Love Story. New York: Crown Publishers, 1985.
Anderson, Martin. Revolution. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988.
Boaz, David, ed. Assessing the Reagan Years. Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 1988.
Cannon, Lou. Reagan. New York: G.P. Putnams Sons, 1982.
Dallek, Robert. Ronald Reagan: The Politics of Symbolism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984.
Detlefsen, Robert R. Civil Rights under Reagan. San Francisco: Institute for Contemporary Studies, 1991.
Evans, Rowland, and Robert Novak. The Reagan Revolution. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1981.
Fitzgerald, Frances. Way out There in the Blue. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000.
Johnson, Haynes. Sleepwalking through History: America in the Reagan Years. New York: W.W. Norton, 1991.
Morris, Edmund. Dutch. New York: Random House, 1999.
Oye, Kenneth A., et al. The Eagle Resurgent? The Reagan Era in American Foreign Policy. Boston: Little, Brown,
1987.
Schweizer, Peter. Victory: The Reagan Administrations Secret Strategy That Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet
Union. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1994.
Stockman, David. The Triumph of Politics: How the Reagan Revolution Failed. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.

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51

Great Presidents
Part IV

Professor Allan J. Lichtman

THE TEACHING COMPANY

Allan J. Lichtman, Ph.D.


Professor of History, American University
Allan J. Lichtman received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and is a professor and Chair of the Department of
History at American University in Washington, D.C. He is the author or coauthor of six books, including Prejudice
and the Old Politics: The Presidential Election of 1928, Historians and the Living Past, and The Thirteen Keys to
the Presidency. He is editor of the book series Studies in Modern American History, published by Lexington Books.
Professor Lichtmans forthcoming book is entitled The Keys to the White House, 2000. The Keys system
predicted well ahead of time the outcome of every presidential election from 1984 to 1996. Dr. Lichtman has
provided commentary for CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, CNBC, C-SPAN, Worldnet, Voice of America,
the BBC, and many other networks worldwide. He worked with Dan Rather as a CBS news consultant during the
impeachment and trial of Bill Clinton.
Dr. Lichtman has published more than 100 scholarly and popular articles that have appeared in such journals and
newspapers as the American Historical Review, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, New Republic,
Washington Monthly, New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and Los Angeles Times. He
lectures frequently on politics and public affairs and is often cited by the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France
Presse, and other news services. He currently writes a biweekly column for the Montgomery Gazette and a
presidential election year column for Reuters.
Dr. Lichtman has been a Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the California Institute of
Technology. He has been an expert witness in more than sixty federal voting rights and redistricting cases. He
received the 199293 Scholar/Teacher award at American University. His biography is published in Whos Who in
America and Whos Who in the World.

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Table of Contents
Great Presidents
Part IV
Professor Biography............................................................................................i
Course Scope.......................................................................................................1
Lecture Thirty-Seven
John F. Kennedy: The Construction
of a Politician.............................................................2
Lecture Thirty-Eight
John F. Kennedy: The Emergence of a President......5
Lecture Thirty-Nine
John F. Kennedy: A President in Crisis.....................8
Lecture Forty
John F. Kennedy: His Final Challenges ..................11
Lecture Forty-One
Lyndon Johnson: Politician in the Rough................13
Lecture Forty-Two
Lyndon Johnson: Professional Politician.................16
Lecture Forty-Three
Lyndon Johnson: Building the Great Society ..........18
Lecture Forty-Four
Lyndon Johnson: Acrimony at Home
and Abroad ..............................................................20
Lecture Forty-Five
Ronald Reagan: The Gipper.................................24
Lecture Forty-Six
Ronald Reagan: A Conservative in the
White House ............................................................27
Lecture Forty-Seven
Ronald Reagan: The Acting President.....................30
Lecture Forty-Eight
Ronald Reagan: The Teflon President .....................33
Timeline .............................................................................................................36
Bibliography......................................................................................................46

ii

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Great Presidents
Scope:
The founders of the American Republic, in one of their most audacious decisions, created a strong and independent
president who commanded the armed forces and led the executive branch of government. Through this act of
geniusthe world had never seen an office quite like the American presidencythe founders put in place the rock
of the Republic. Americas great presidents secured the stability of the nation and the peaceful transition of political
power. Each one of the twelve leaders explored in this course led the nation through a pivotal era of its history, and
advanced the power and authority of the presidential office.
These presidents, from George Washington to Ronald Reagan, led the nation through its founding years, its
expansion to the west, and its transformation into an industrial society. They dealt with Americas struggle over
slavery, the civil war, two world wars, the Great Depression, the revolution in civil and womens rights, and the
Cold War. Through them we learn how America responded to an increasingly complex and diverse society and met
the crises of war, economic collapse, and social upheaval.
We consider the personal histories, character, and values of each president. We trace their responses to Americas
various and historically changing peoples, and their transformation of the presidency itself. We see how presidential
decisions shaped American and world history and we explore inside stories of the modern worlds most powerful
office. How did early presidents reconcile their slave holding with their support for democracy and liberty? How did
Thomas Jefferson, the champion of limited government, magnify presidential powers? Why did Abraham Lincoln
believe that he could not be reelected in 1864? In what ways did accidental president Harry Truman transform
Americas role in the world? How did master politician Lyndon Johnson blunder into the Vietnam War? Why did
Ronald Reagan abandon the Christian conservatives who fought for his election as president?
The study of Americas great presidents shows that there is no single pathway to political power and historical
consequence in the United States. The backgrounds of great presidents range from the privileged heritage of George
Washington, the Roosevelts, and John Kennedy to the humble origins of Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and
Harry Truman. Some, like Washington and Jefferson, achieved early prominence. Others, like James Polk, Lincoln,
and Truman, were unlikely presidents who rose to the challenges of their times. The few qualities that do seem to
unite the great presidents are an unsinkable ambition, a synchrony with the American people, and a strong inner
core of guiding values and principles.

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Lecture Thirty-Seven
John F. Kennedy: The Construction of a Politician
Scope: The mystique of John F. Kennedy continues to captivate a public that ranks him among the most esteemed
of presidents. Like Abraham Lincoln, Kennedy was cut down at the height of his powers, leaving
Americans to speculate about a brighter future had he survived. He led the nation through three turbulent
years marked by the Cuban missile crisisthe most dangerous moment of the Cold Warand the civil
rights movementthe most significant social movement of post-World War II America. Still, some of his
most important initiatives, including major civil rights legislation, would not emerge until after his death.
He was born into a family that had achieved both economic and political success. Unlike the alwaysembattled Truman, he developed a cool and detached approach to the world.

Outline
I.

As an assassinated president of bright promise and an uncompleted record, Kennedy has been the repository of
Americans hopes and dreams.
A. He inspired the idealism and admiration of the American people.
B. He led the nation through three turbulent years marked by the Cuban missile crisis the most dangerous
moment of the Cold Warand the civil rights movementthe most significant social movement of postDepression America.
1. He responded with considerable success to the missile crisis and negotiated the first major arms
control treaty with the Soviet Union.
2. He was slow to respond to the challenge of the civil rights movement but eventually came up with
proposals that became the landmark civil rights law of the twentieth century.
C. He began the initiative that led to Americas first campaign against poverty and committed the nation to
aggressive economic policies to maintain prosperity.
1. Still, some of his most important initiatives were not realized until his death.
2. We will never know whether Kennedy would have led the nation into the tragedy of Vietnam.
However, he did extend the trend of unilateral action by presidents in times of crisis.

II. As much as any other president studied, Kennedys family influenced his life and career. From his childhood
through his early political career, his father, Joseph Kennedy, was a central and guiding figure, who used his
influence to ensure that his son would be in a position to succeed.
A. Kennedy was born into a politically prominent, Irish Catholic, Boston family in 1917, in Brookline,
Massachusetts.
1. His father, Joseph P. Kennedy, was a businessman, political figure, and Ambassador to Great Britain.
He instilled in John a competitive spirit, a quest for achievement, and a sense of obligation to serve the
public.
2. Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, the daughter of John F. Fitzgerald, former mayor of Boston, instilled
discipline, morality, and security in John. She ensured that he received his religious and academic
training through private and parochial schools.
3. Kennedy suffered from a variety of childhood ailments. Yet he still managed to be fairly active, and
like Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Truman, he also became an avid reader.
B. The young Kennedy, in contrast to the young Truman, developed a sense of security and confidence from
his upbringing that contributed to the cool detachment with which he faced crises in later life.
C. He grew up to be strikingly handsome and early in his career learned to use the new medium of television.
III. Kennedys military career was crucial to his preparation for public office.
A. He became a PT boat commander in the Pacific during World War II.
1. In August of 1943, his boat was rammed by a Japanese war ship in the Solomon Islands. Kennedy,
who had shown good leadership qualities during his command, helped rescue his crew .
2. He became a war hero, and was awarded the Purple Heart for his bravery and service. Joseph Kennedy
used his various connections to ensure that his son received solid press coverage.

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3.

Kennedys narrow wartime escape contributed to a sense that the line between life and death, success
and failure was a narrow one. This view of life would be confirmed by his eyelash victory over
Richard Nixon in the presidential election of 1960.
B. Johns older brother, Joseph Kennedy, Jr., was being groomed by his father to become the first Catholic
president. When Joseph Jr. was killed in action in 1944, Joseph Kennedy, Sr., turned his attention to John
to achieve that goal.
IV. Kennedys fathers financial resources and political influence, and his own competitive spirit, contributed to his
early political success.
A. In 1946, he ran successfully for Congress in the 11th district of Massachusetts, the home of a sizable Irish
and Italian Catholic constituency, where his Irish Catholic background was a great asset.
1. Kennedy was a true carpetbagger. He didnt live in the district, and scarcely even knew anyone in the
district.
2. He developed his own, loyal organization, lavishly used his fathers money, and did whatever it took
to win.
B. During his time in Congress, Kennedy began establishing his positions on domestic and foreign policy
issues.
1. Despite his belief in balanced budgets, Kennedy also responded to the needs of the 11th district. He
supported low-income housing, expanded Social Security benefits, and increased minimum wages.
2. On foreign policy, Kennedy proved to be quite independent of the Democratic leadership at certain
times. He supported the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. He was also a strong advocate of
NATO. He saw all these policies as a way for the United States to have a guiding hand in the
containment of communism in Europe.
3. He was much more critical of the Truman administrations Asian policy, at times sounding like a
Republican. He blamed Truman for Chinas loss to communism, and he did not join the Democratic
stand against the rabidly anti-communist Joseph McCarthy.
4. He thus established, during his congressional years, a degree of independence from the orthodoxy of
his own party.
C. In 1952, with his fathers prompting, Kennedy decided to challenge Henry Cabot Lodge, the powerful
Republican senator of Massachusetts.
1. Ironically, the two candidates had similar ideologies. Lodge did not take the young challenger as
seriously as he should have.
2. Kennedy had money, an effective political team, and considerable persuasive skills.
3. He attacked Lodge on the loss of New England jobs to the south, and Lodges support of the Truman
administrations Asian policies.
D. Kennedys defeat of Lodge propelled him into the national spotlight, as did his subsequent marriage to
Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953.
1. Kennedys marriage would be a troubled one, despite the couples image as glamorous and well suited
for each other.
2. Jackie was an extravagant spender who did not share Johns interests in politics. Kennedy was a
philanderer, whose affairs continued through his presidency.
3. It took the complicity of a cooperative press to keep Kennedys affairs from public scrutiny.
E. Kennedy did not have a distinguished career as a senator.
1. He had trouble upholding his pledge to revitalize New Englands economy.
2. He created controversy with his passivity toward Joseph McCarthys infamous Red baiting. McCarthy
was a friend of the Kennedy family. Kennedys brother Robert served on McCarthys staff, and
McCarthy once dated Kennedys sister Patricia.
3. McCarthy was also popular in Massachusetts. Kennedy, recovering from back surgery, did not
participate in the Senate vote to censure McCarthy, and did not take a final stand on McCarthy.
4. Some charged that he avoided the vote purposely, but his back surgery was serious, even life
threatening.

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5.

During his recovery, Kennedy wrote Profiles in Courage, a collection of essays about politicians who
took politically unpopular stands. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for biography, despite controversy
surrounding Kennedys authorship of the work.
F. In 1956, Kennedy believed that he had gained enough political clout to seek the vice presidential
nomination under Adlai Stevenson.
1. He ultimately lost that bid, but with the subsequent defeat of Stevenson by Eisenhower, Kennedy put
himself in a good position to seek the presidential nomination in 1960.
2. He began to travel around the country making public appearances.
3. He also began to produce a number of articles, particularly on issues of foreign affairs. Concurrently,
such publications as Time presented feature articles about Kennedy.
4. He attacked the policies the French used in Algeria and Southeast Asia. He believed that the imperial
policies of such countries as France would force emerging countries into the communist camp.
5. He also criticized what he believed to be the excessive reliance of the Eisenhower administration on
nuclear threats, advocating a more flexible response to international crises.
6. He established moderate positions on civil rights and labor issues.
Suggested Reading:
Blair, Joan, and Clay Blair, Jr. The Search for J.F.K. New York: Berkley Medallion Books, 1976.
Davis, John H. The Kennedys: Dynasty and Disaster, 18481984. New York: McGraw Hill, 1984.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga. New York: Simon & Schuster,
1987.
Parmet, Herbert S. Jack: The Struggles of John F. Kennedy. New York: Dial Press, 1983.
Reeves, Thomas C. A Question of Character: A Life of John F. Kennedy. New York: Free Press, 1991.
Wills, Garry. The Kennedy Imprisonment: A Meditation on Power. Boston: Little, Brown, 1982.
Questions to Consider:
1. What influence did John F. Kennedys family and early life have on his decision to enter politics?
2. In what specific ways did Joseph Kennedy prove influential in his sons pre-political life?
3. What elements helped to contribute to Kennedys political appeal?

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Lecture Thirty-Eight
John F. Kennedy: The Emergence of a President
Scope: Kennedys meteoric rise continued in 1960, as the forty-three-year-old senator defeated more experienced
rivals to win the Democratic nomination for president. Kennedy positioned himself as a Democratic leader
for a new generation, poised to embark on a New Frontier. His campaign became the model for
subsequent political campaigns. His innovative use of television, polling, personal organization, and image
making was widely assumed to have been responsible for his narrow victory. Henceforth, presidential
campaigns would be frenzied affairs, conducted in every corner of the nation, yet geared toward maximum
television coverage and dominated by the candidates personal retinues of pollsters, organizers, press
handlers, advertising specialists, and consultants. Kennedy brought a new look, style, and vitality, as well
as a new idealism and realism to the presidency.

Outline
I.

Buoyed by his increasing popularity and role in the national spotlight and sustained by his fathers fortune,
John F. Kennedy declared his candidacy for president on January 2, 1960.
A. Kennedy promised to be a very different kind of leader than the allegedly passive Eisenhower. He wanted
to transform American public life as other great presidents before him had done.
B. Kennedy won impressive victories in the Democratic primaries, prevailing in all seven that he entered.
1. He defeated his major opponents, Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson of Texas and Senator
Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota.
2. Kennedy proved himself to be a dynamic campaigner. Kennedy possessed youthful good looks, an
appealing smile, a quick wit, an aura of easy confidence, and impressive oratorical abilities.
3. He convinced party leaders, who controlled a majority of delegations to the national convention during
this period, that he was the best candidate the party could nominate.
C. At the Democratic convention in July 1960, Kennedy won the nomination on the first ballot.
1. The Democratic partys platform was quite ambitious, including a strong civil rights plank, an
ambitious agenda of domestic reform, and a call for increased defense spending, combined with a
commitment to disarmament. The platform also called for more resources to the space program, as
well as aid to Third World countries as a way to stem the tide of communism.
2. In his acceptance speech, Kennedy presented elements of his program for the 1960s that he called the
New Frontier. He challenged the American people to take responsibility for solving the problems of
the times.
D. Kennedy selected one of his opponents, Senator Johnson of Texas, as his running mate.
1. Although the more liberal factions of the Democratic party had problems with the choice, Kennedy
believed he needed Johnson to help win the south.
2. By selecting Johnson, Kennedy also believed that he removed a potential obstacle in the Senate to his
legislative programs. In fact, the opposite proved to be true.
E. The incumbent Republicans selected Vice President Richard Nixon as their nominee in 1960.

II. The campaign became a referendum on the Eisenhower administration.


A. The two candidates did not greatly differ ideologically.
1. With Nixon on the defensive, Kennedy attacked the Eisenhower administration; he hammered on the
theme of a nation in decline.
2. Foreign policy was at the forefront of the campaign. Kennedy argued that the United States was
declining in world prestige, as well as lagging behind the Soviet Union in missile technology. He
assailed the administration for failing to support freedom fighters who were seeking to liberate Cuba
from Fidel Castro.
3. In a surprise move that demonstrated his deft political touch, Kennedy phoned Coretta Scott King
shortly before the election to voice his concern for a jailed Martin Luther King.
4. Kennedy benefited from his fathers money and connections.

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5.

As the candidate of the incumbent party, Nixon was burdened by a recession, foreign policy failures,
and a lack of strong support from President Eisenhower.
B. One of the major handicaps Kennedy faced was his Catholic religion; no Catholic had ever been elected
president of the United States.
1. Some Protestant critics worried about Kennedys ability to separate church and state.
2. Kennedy faced the issue directly on what many considered to be enemy turf, a gathering of the Greater
Houston Ministerial Association.
3. He invoked his military service and his belief in the constitutional doctrine of separation of church and
state. He pledged that he would not be influenced in any decision by his religion.
4. Kennedys performance gained favorable notice, but it did not end an underground anti-Catholic
campaign, nor would it stop millions of Americans from voting against him on religious grounds.
C. The most notable events of the 1960 campaign were the first televised presidential debates in American
history.
1. Estimates are that more than 100 million people watched at least one of the four debates.
2. Nixon, who had been arguing that Kennedy was not mature enough and too inexperienced to be
president, failed to exploit those weaknesses. Kennedy showed that he was at least as knowledgeable
as the vice president on a wide range of issues.
3. Kennedys good looks, eloquence, and poise played well to the camera. Nixon looked haggard, pale,
and menacing.
III. Kennedy prevailed in one of the closest elections in American history.
A. Kennedy garnered 49.7 percent of the popular vote, compared to 49.6 percent for Nixon.
1. Although religion probably cost Kennedy popular votes, it may have bolstered his Electoral College
majority, because Catholics were concentrated in states with large numbers of electoral votes.
2. Some Nixon associates, believing that corrupt Democratic machines had stolen the election, urged him
to challenge the results. Nixon demurred on the grounds that such a challenge would only upset the
pattern of the peaceful transfer of power that had prevailed since 1800.
B. Kennedys campaign set a precedent for subsequent campaigns.
1. Kennedys innovative use of polling, television, a personal organization separate from the party, and
image making was widely assumed to have produced his narrow victory.
2. The public responded well to the president-elect and anticipated an administration that would get
America moving again.
3. Despite being the first great president since Lincoln with no administrative experience, Kennedy
organized one of the most systematic and highly publicized transitions in history.
4. One of the transition documents ironically warned of the dangers of fighting limited wars.
5. Kennedy had a passion for preparedness that extended back to his educational experience. At Harvard
University, he wrote a senior thesis that with some help, was later published as a book that criticized
Englands lack of response to the rise of fascism. This study convinced him of the need for strong
leadership, preparedness, and a readiness to stand up to aggressors.
IV. Kennedys inaugural address summoned Americans to a new idealism in the pursuit of freedom abroad and
prosperity and justice at home.
A. Echoing themes of his campaign, he asked Americans to make sacrifices for the greater good.
B. But the idealism of the rhetoric soon collided with the reality of leading the country.
1. Kennedy appointed a moderate and, in some respects, lackluster cabinet.
2. He chose the relatively unknown Dean Rusk as Secretary of State and appointed Republicans to the
key posts of Treasury, Defense, and National Security Advisor. He appointed Robert Kennedy as
Attorney General, becoming the first president to appoint his brother to the cabinet.
3. Neither the cabinet nor Kennedys key White House positions included women or racial minorities.
4. Conservative southern Democrats controlled key committees of Congress.
5. Kennedy drew sharp distinctions between the situation he faced as president and that confronted by
Franklin Roosevelt in 1933.
C. Still, Kennedy was an independent-minded and pragmatic leader who, like other great presidents before
him, had an expansive view of presidential powers.

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D. These qualities would become most evident in his responses to international crises.
Suggested Reading:
Blair, Joan, and Clay Blair, Jr. The Search for J.F.K. New York: Berkley Medallion Books, 1976.
Brown, Thomas. JFK: History of an Image. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.
Giglio, James N. The Presidency of John F. Kennedy. Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, 1991.
Parmet, Herbert S. Jack: The Struggles of John F. Kennedy. New York: Dial Press, 1983.
Reeves, Thomas C. A Question of Character: A Life of John F. Kennedy. New York: Free Press, 1991.
Questions to Consider:
1. What were some of the tactics Kennedy used to gain visibility?
2. What were the political strengths and weaknesses Kennedy possessed?
3. Why did Kennedy choose Lyndon Johnson to be his running mate?
4. What role did televised debates play in the campaign of 1960?

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Lecture Thirty-Nine
John F. Kennedy: A President in Crisis
Scope: John F. Kennedy proceeded much more cautiously as president than his bold rhetoric might have
suggested. In domestic policy, he devoted much of his energy to dealing with major Cold War crises early
in his term. Like the last Democratic president, Harry Truman, Kennedy found that he could exercise
greater initiative in foreign affairs than in domestic matters. Before reaching the halfway point of his
administration, he had to deal with the humiliation of the failed invasion of Cuba, Soviet pressure on
Berlin, a crisis in Southeast Asia, and the Cuban missile crisis that brought the United States and the Soviet
Union to the brink of war. At home, he had to respond to challenges posed by the civil rights movement
and by the need to balance a reform agenda against the business confidence that Kennedy believed was
essential to economic expansion.

Outline
I.

Congress was not involved in many of Kennedys early initiatives.


A. He established the Peace Corps by executive order; ordered a review of the Food for Peace Program;
established a Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, as well as on space and employment
discrimination, headed by Vice President Johnson; and expanded food assistance to the war-torn Congo.
1. During the transition period, Kennedy relied on executive action in civil rights. He believed that
legislation could not be enacted and would antagonize powerful, southern leaders of Congress.
2. He failed to fulfill his campaign pledge to end racial discrimination in federally assisted housing with a
stroke of the pen.
B. He ordered an invasion of Cuba by exile forces that had been planned during the Eisenhower
administration.
1. The Bay of Pigs operation was designed to start an uprising to topple Cuban communist leader Fidel
Castro. The less developed world was a major Cold War battleground.
2. Despite reservations, Kennedy launched the invasion. He believed it was the last chance to overthrow
Castro, whom he viewed as a threat to other Latin American nations. But he restricted American
bombing operations and refused to provide air cover.
3. The invasion, (on April 17, 1961) failed miserably. Ill-conceived, incompetently planned, and poorly
executed, it never had a chance to succeed.
4. Kennedy accepted responsibility for the failure, and his approval ratings rose. The fiasco helped him to
realize the risks involved in hasty, dramatic actions in foreign arenas that the United States could not
control.
5. However, he never abandoned his obsession with dislodging the Castro regime from Cuba.
C. In May of 1961, Kennedy announced the American objective to put a man on the moon by the end of the
decade.

II. Kennedys legislative accomplishments were modest.


A. He implemented a limited reform agenda in domestic affairs.
1. During his first two years, he did not resurrect Fair Deal proposals for national health insurance,
revamp farm programs, or major civil rights measures.
2. His programs for Medicare and aid to education foundered in the politics of Congress.
3. His accomplishments included legislation on minimum wages, housing, aid to economically depressed
areas, investment tax credits, and equal pay for women.
4. He initially rejected proposals from his Council of Economic Advisors for an aggressively
expansionist fiscal policy and actively sought business support.
5. After a tumble in the stock market in 1962, Kennedy changed course and became the first American
president to propose an openly Keynesian approach to economic expansion. He called for major tax
cuts to stimulate the economy.
6. He also became less concerned with courting the favor of business and more willing to challenge
business priorities; this became most evident in his 1962 fight to combat a rise in steel prices.

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7.

When he was assassinated in November of 1963, ambitious domestic programs were in the works,
including path-breaking civil rights legislation and new initiatives to combat poverty.
B. Kennedy implemented new initiatives in foreign economic policy.
1. In the spirit of Franklin Roosevelts Good Neighbor policy, Kennedy initiated an Alliance for
Progress.
2. Under the Alliance, America committed billions of dollars in aid, focusing on land reform, economic
development, and democracy.
3. Kennedy also saw this effort as a way to stave off another Cuba in Latin America. The Alliance didnt
work as planned, although the communists made no major new advances in Latin America.
4. The president also won passage of a trade expansion act, a reorganized foreign aid program under the
new Agency for International Development, and an expanded foreign aid budget.
III. Kennedy had to turn his attention to Europe, particularly Germany.
A. Determined to seize the initiative in the Cold War, Kennedy traveled to Europe to meet with foreign
leaders in June of 1961.
1. The handsome young president and his stylish wife became the toasts of the continent.
2. In a meeting with President de Gaulle in France, Kennedy reaffirmed Americas commitment to
protect Europe from any threat from the East.
B. In Vienna, Kennedy met with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.
1. The two leaders affirmed their commitment to a neutral Laos but made no progress on other issues,
especially the status of Berlin and East Germany.
2. Khrushchev threatened to sign a treaty with East Germany abrogating Western rights in Berlin.
C. Soviet-American relations deteriorated after Vienna.
1. Moscow ended a nuclear-testing moratorium it had initiated during the Eisenhower years and began
the atmospheric detonation of hydrogen bombs.
2. Kennedy responded to threats to Berlin by mobilizing reserve U.S. forces, asking for increased defense
spending, and even indicating that he was prepared to go to war to keep Berlin free. Khrushchev
backed down, a reversal tacitly acknowledged by building a massive concrete and barbed-wire wall to
halt the flood of refugees from the Soviet-dominated Eastern sector to the West.
3. Although American and Russian tanks faced each other in Berlin, no serious incident occurred. The
military build up would continue, however, contributing to an escalating arms race.
4. Kennedy sought to strengthen the European Common Market and to develop a joint NATO nuclear
force.
IV. From Truman and Eisenhower, Kennedy inherited an unlimited horizon of American security and strategic
interests worldwide.
A. The administration faced considerable challenges in such areas of the world as the Congo, the Middle East
and the Indian subcontinent, but the greatest challenges would occur in Southeast Asia.
B. The country of Laos was in the throes of revolution when Kennedy became president, with the communist
Pathet Lao forces making considerable military progress.
1. Kennedy resisted pressure from the military and some of his key advisers to seek a military solution in
Laos.
2. Instead, he sought to use diplomacy, without flatly ruling out military intervention, to negotiate the
formation of a neutralist government.
3. In the Vienna summit, Khrushchev agreed to use his influence to promote a cease-fire in Laos and help
to create an independent and neutral government.
4. In May of 1962, continued fighting in Laos prompted the United States into a show of force with naval
and ground forces. In July of that year, at the Second Geneva Conference, the United States and other
nations agreed to protect the independence and neutrality of Laos.
5. Peace did not prevail in Laos, but the United States had avoided direct American involvement in the
conflict.
C. The situation in the country of Vietnam was more perilous than the situation in Laos.
1. By the time Kennedy became president, South Vietnam, under the control of Ngo Diem, was in a
fierce struggle against communist guerrillas supported from the North.

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2.
3.
4.

Kennedy was unwilling to back down in Vietnam, but as in Laos, resisted proposals for large-scale
American military involvement.
Kennedy would assist the South Vietnamese government in its campaign against the Vietcong. The
United States had less than a thousand advisors in South Vietnam at the beginning of his term. By
1963, that number would surpass sixteen thousand.
The final direction of Kennedys Vietnam policy will never be known. He resisted pressures for an
American military solution to the problem of communism in Southeast Asia but also said that he
would not abandon Vietnam to the communists.

Suggested Reading:
Bernstein, Irving. Promises Kept: John F. Kennedys New Frontier. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Beschloss, Michael R. The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 19601963. New York: Edward Burlingame,
1991.
Giglio, James N. The Presidency of John F. Kennedy. Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, 1991.
Kaiser, David. American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson, and the Origins of the Vietnam War. Cambridge: Harvard
University Press, 2000.
Logsdon, John M. The Decision to Go to the Moon: Project Apollo and the National Interest. Cambridge: MIT
Press, 1970.
Parmet, Herbert S. Jack: The Struggles of John F. Kennedy. New York: Dial Press, 1983.
Questions to Consider:
1. How did Kennedys anti-communist stance influence his foreign policy decisions?
2. Could Kennedy have implemented a bolder domestic policy agenda?
3. What is the likelihood that Kennedy could have avoided the Vietnam War?

10

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Lecture Forty
John F. Kennedy: His Final Challenges
Scope: The Cuban missile crisis showed Kennedy at his best as he deftly steered the nation through arguably the
most dangerous confrontation of the Cold War. The crisis once again demonstrated the tendency of
presidents to act without public and congressional input, even with the future of the country on the line.
The civil rights movement was the greatest social movement of post-World War II America. Ultimately,
Kennedy responded by abandoning his caution on civil rights and drafting landmark legislation. He also
began planning a major initiative against poverty. Despite his unfinished presidency, Kennedy brought a
new idealism to American government, kept the country from war with the Soviet Union, negotiated the
first arms control treaty of the Cold War, launched the space program that led to a man landing on the
moon, and began the process that would end segregation in America.

Outline
I.

Kennedys greatest crisis and greatest triumph was the Cuban missile crisis.
A. In the fall of 1962, intelligence flights revealed that the Soviet Union was constructing nuclear missile
bases in Cuba.
B. Determined not to repeat the mistakes of the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy set up a committee that included
domestic and military advisers. Like other great presidents, he showed a capacity to learn from mistakes.
1. He rejected military recommendations for air strikes against Cuba or an invasion. He called for the
Soviet Union to remove the missiles and imposed a naval blockade against Russian vessels heading for
the island.
2. The CIA, with Kennedys approval, continued to work on operations to topple Castro.
3. Kennedy also rejected the recommendations to negotiate a deal with the Soviets. The removal of the
missiles was nonnegotiable.
4. With the Strategic Air Command on alert, America waited to see if the Soviets would attempt to run
the blockade. These were the most dangerous few days of the Cold War.
5. The Soviet ships stopped short of the blockade, enabling the superpowers to reach an agreement that
called for the removal of the missiles in return for an American pledge not to invade Cuba.
6. Despite some criticism that Kennedy should have tried negotiation first, he had to act quickly and
opted for the least provocative of the options before him. The crisis highlights his independent
thinking, coolness and courage under pressure, and ability to learn from past mistakes.
D. The crisis also raised questions about the constitutional authority of the president to act unilaterally,
especially in the nuclear age.
E. Kennedy briefed congressional leaders but only after the decision had been made. Ironically, they favored
stronger action, such as air strikes.
F. The Cuban missile crisis convinced Kennedy to step up efforts to ease superpower tensions through arms
control agreements.
1. In July 1963, Kennedy was able to get the Soviet Union, along with more than one hundred other
countries, to sign a ban on atmospheric and oceanic nuclear testing.
2. Underground testing was allowed to continue. France and China refused to sign on.
3. It was the first major arms control treaty of the Cold War.
4. Ironically, one world leader who was impressed by Kennedys new initiatives was Castro of Cuba.
The result was secret talks to ease tensions between the United States and Cuba.

II. The burning domestic issue of Kennedys term was racial justice.
A. The civil rights movement that had been developing since the early 1950s intensified during the Kennedy
administration.
1. The civil rights movement was unhappy with gaps between the promise and the practice of the early
Kennedy administration.
2. Freedom riders boarded buses to test segregation in interstate commerce; blacks entered all-white
southern state universities.

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3.

Alabama Governor George Wallace gained national prominence by trying to stop black students from
entering the state university. He became the leader of a conservative populist movement.
B. The civil rights movement entered a new phase in 1963, the one hundredth anniversary of the
Emancipation Proclamation.
1. Under the leadership of Martin Luther King, civil rights organizations began the most widespread
campaign of demonstrations in history.
2. The violent response of white southerners generated national outrage and increased support for civil
rights.
3. The Kennedy administration responded by drafting the first comprehensive civil rights bill since the
Reconstruction period. Support for civil rights did not help Kennedy politically, and the bill stalled in
Congress.
4. With strengthening amendments coming from Congress, the bill
passed during the tenure of Kennedys successor, Lyndon Johnson.
5. Kennedy also began work on a program to attack poverty in the United States. His major initiatives
were stalled in Congress after his assassination.
III. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas.
A. President Johnson appointed a commission headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren to investigate the
assassination.
B. The Commission found that Lee Harvey Oswald, a former marine and self-avowed Marxist, had shot the
president.
C. Oswald was himself shot and killed by Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner, while being transferred to the
county jail.
D. The commissions finding, and its flawed methods, spawned decades of controversy and second-guessing,
but no hard evidence in support of an alternative theory of the assassination.
IV. Kennedys presidency was incomplete but left its mark on history.
A. For the American people, Kennedy remains one of the most esteemed presidents. Many believe that the late
years of the twentieth century would have been better for the nation and the world had he survived.
B. Although a pragmatic cold warrior, he conveyed a spirit of idealism. His rhetoric inspired millions of
ordinary Americans.
C. He led the nation safely through some of the most dangerous crises of the Cold War, and expanded
Americas international commitments.
D. He continued the trend of unilateral executive action in times of crisis, raising constitutional questions yet
to be resolved. He also began a new commitment to arms control and easing the tensions of the Cold War.
E. He set the nation on the path to end segregation and fight racial discrimination.
Suggested Reading:
Branch, Taylor. Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 19541963. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988.
Giglio, James N. The Presidency of John F. Kennedy. Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, 1991.
Parmet, Herbert S. Jack: The Struggles of John F. Kennedy. New York: Dial Press, 1983.
Sorenson, Theodore C. The Kennedy Legacy. New York: Macmillan, 1963.
White, Mark J. The Cuban Missile Crisis. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996.
Questions to Consider:
1. Why did Kennedy change his perspective on civil rights?
2. Could Kennedy have negotiated an end to the Cuban missile crisis without bringing the United States to the
brink of war?
3. Why was Cuba such an important component of Kennedys foreign policy?
4. Why do the American people continue to hold Kennedy in such high esteem?

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Lecture Forty-One
Lyndon Johnson: Politician in the Rough
Scope: Lyndon Johnson, one of the most activist presidents in history, completed the formation of twentiethcentury liberalism and left behind a legacy of grand achievement and tragic failure. Johnson became a
master manipulator, learning to work his way through childhood tensions, career obstacles, and political
conflicts. Growing up amid hardship in rural Texas, Johnson knew firsthand how the poor struggled. His
life centered on a deep need for attention and self-respect. He worked hard to gain his parents love and the
approval of others. Politics, Johnson eventually realized, was a vocation that could satisfy his craving for
personal and professional fulfillment. He became a successful six-term congressman from Texas, a senator,
and the youngest Senate majority leader in American history.

Outline
I.

Lyndon Baines Johnson always had a passion for politics and worked hard to help societys underprivileged
and to make his mark on the world.
A. Johnson developed his political interests from his father. He often accompanied his father on his campaigns
and listened to him talk politics at home and in the Texas legislature.
B. He honed his legislative skills as a congressman and senator. It was not unusual for him to work twelve
hours a day, including weekends. He expected the same work ethic from his staff.
C. Having grown up in difficult conditions and worked as a manual laborer, Lyndon developed a strong sense
of compassion for the poor.
D. As president, he extended the liberal agenda, achieved passage of some of the most notable domestic
legislation in the history of the United States, and fought the only clearly losing war in American history.

II. Johnson was born in 1908 on a farm near Stonewall, Texas. He was the first president to be born in the Deep
South.
A. Johnsons father, Sam Ealy Johnson, was a farmer, trader, and progressive politician, who served in the
Texas House of Representatives.
1. Sam instilled in his son the belief that government is supposed to help the people. He advocated
tolerance for minorities and oppressed groups and opposed groups that supported intolerance, such as
the Ku Klux Klan.
2. Johnsons mother, Rebekah Baines Johnson, was also born and raised in Texas. She graduated as a
journalism major from Baylor University, taught elocution, and later edited a local newspaper. She
helped young Lyndon learn to read and write at an early age.
3. Suffering from financial losses, the family moved to Johnson City, Texas. The city was named for
Lyndons paternal grandfather, a cattleman and Confederate soldier.
4. Johnson graduated from Johnson City High School in 1924.
5. Johnson was bright but found class work tedious. He was restless and got into trouble for
misbehaving.
B. Johnson was a drifter after high school.
C. After two years without success, he hitchhiked home in 1926 and worked for several months on a county
road crew.
III. Politics, Johnson decided, provided a means to be successful, make his parents proud of him, and help others.
A. Tired of eking out a living as a laborer, Lyndon finally took his mothers advice, borrowed some money,
and enrolled himself at Southwest Texas State Teachers College in 1927.
1. He would surpass his fathers achievements and satisfy his mothers expectations.
2. He did well in history and political science while putting himself through school, including work as an
assistant to the college president.
3. Johnson benefited from this association, gaining prestige and power. Johnson formed his own political
faction on campus.

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4.

A campus activist, Johnson wrote the school paper. Many of his later political themesincluding a
strong sense of duty, paternalism, and servicewere evident in his editorials.
B. While teaching at a local high school, Johnson accepted his first political appointment in 1931 as
legislative secretary to Democratic Congressman Richard Kleberg.
1. Arriving in Washington, Johnson immediately began making contacts and learning about politics on
Capitol Hill.
2. His persistence and interest paid off when he became the youngest Speaker of the Little Congress, a
group of legislative secretaries.
C. He met Claudia TaylorLady Birdon a trip to Austin in 1934.
1. They were married and Lady Bird became his closest adviser, loving companion, and source of
stability throughout Johnsons life. They had two daughters.
2. Johnson would not, however, prove to be a faithful husband.
D. During the mid-1930s, Johnson served in Franklin D. Roosevelts National Youth Administration (NYA).
1. The day Roosevelt created the NYA, Johnson convinced Texas congressmen to name him Director of
the Texas NYA.
2. As the youngest NYA director in the nation, Johnson once more won recognition for his success and
hard work.
IV. Johnsons meteoric rise in Congress began with a headline in a Houston.
A. Johnson came across a Houston papers headline that read: Congressman James P. Buchanan of Brenham
Dies.
1. From that moment, Johnson decided he must run for Congress.
2. Lady Birds father gave him $10,000 to run his first real campaign.
3. As a virtual unknown running against seven other Democrats, Johnson needed a way to distinguish
himself. He successfully gambled by becoming the only candidate to endorse Roosevelts
controversial court-packing scheme. He began his political career as the most loyal of the Roosevelt
Democrats.
4. Johnson impressed Roosevelt, who secured for the freshman member a coveted position on the Naval
Affairs Committee.
5. Johnson entered Congress just as a coalition of Republicans and southern Democrats was taking shape
to frustrate some of Roosevelts reform agenda. Johnson learned from both the New Deals successes
and failures.
6. During six terms in Congress, Johnsons career advanced through Roosevelts favor and his own
indefatigable efforts.
B. Johnson was no pristine liberal but used his political influence to gain the resources required of an
ambitious politician.
1. He formed an alliance with members of a Texas construction company. He would get the money he
needed in politics; they would get an advocate in Washington.
2. Later, he would use his political influence on his own behalf to develop lucrative family holdings in
radio and television.
V. With the beginning of World War II, Johnson focused more on defense issues and set his sights on the Senate.
A. In 1941, in a special election for the Senate, Johnson ran unsuccessfully against Governor W. Pappy Lee
O. Daniel.
1. Johnson lost by an eyelash margin. He decided not to contest the election.
2. Because the contest was a special election, Johnson kept his House seat.
3. Johnson described the time as the most miserable in my life. Yet he did not give up and instead
learned how to satisfy his Texas constituency.
B. The day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Johnson became the first congressman to enlist.
1. A member of the Naval Reserve since January 1940, Johnson requested active duty in the navy. He
was awarded the Silver Star after surviving an attack by Japanese fighter planes.
2. Complying with Roosevelts July 1942 order that all congressmen return to their duties, Johnson
returned to Washington.

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3.
4.

Johnsons brief military service helped his political careerhe was reelected to Congress unopposed.
His military service also convinced him that weakness encourages aggression. Such views later shaped
his policies in Southeast Asia.
C. After Roosevelts death and the end of the war, Johnson, with his eye on the Texas electorate, grew more
conservative and became less supportive of Roosevelts successor, President Harry S. Truman.
D. He voted with his fellow southern politicians against Trumans civil rights initiatives.
VI. In 1948, Johnson again ran for the Senate, this time successfully.
A. Johnson defeated Governor Coke Stevenson by eighty-seven votes in a campaign marked by charges of
fraud. He won the coveted Senate seat and the pejorative nickname Landslide Lyndon.
B. Johnsons career in the Senate skyrocketed as he applied his energy and intelligence to this new position.
1. His pattern of hard work, together with the political connections he had established during his years in
the House, enabled Johnson to advance rapidly to a series of important positions. He trod a narrow
path between New Deal liberalism and Texas conservatism.
2. In 1951 he was elected majority whip and in 1953, minority leader.
3. The following year, Johnson easily won reelection to the Senate.
4. In 1955, he became the youngest majority leader in that bodys history.
Suggested Reading:
Bornet, Vaughn D. The Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, 1983.
Dallek, Robert. Lone Star Rising: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 19081960. New York: Oxford University Press,
1991.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. New York: St. Martins Griffin, 1991.
Unger, Irwin, and Debi Unger. LBJ: A Life. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999.
Questions to Consider:
1. How did Johnsons childhood affect his later views regarding the Great Society and Vietnam?
2. Why did Johnson decide to get involved in politics?
3. What were the keys to his early success as a politician?

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Lecture Forty-Two
Lyndon Johnson: Professional Politician
Scope: As majority leader of the Senate, Johnson reversed some of his earlier conservative positions and embraced
elements of the Democratic partys liberal agenda. After failing in his bid for the Democratic presidential
nomination, he accepted the nomination as John F. Kennedys vice presidential running mate. Despite his
move to the left in the 1950s, some feared that he was too conservative to be just a heartbeat away from the
presidency. Johnson was never fully comfortable in the vice presidency, although he sought to be a loyal
member of the administration. After assuming the presidency after the assassination of Kennedy in
November 1963, Johnson was determined to follow the liberal precedents of his mentor, Franklin
Roosevelt.

Outline
I.

As Johnsons political power grew, he set his sights on the presidency.


A. After suffering a heart attack in the year of his election as majority leader, Johnson quit cigarette smoking,
watched his weight, and resumed his arduous schedule.
1. He became the most effective Senate leader in U.S. history.
2. He bent the fractious Democratic party to his will, perfecting his famous up-close treatment as a
means of getting senators and others to follow his lead.
3. He even made a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. He lost to Adlai Stevenson, who won
the nomination but lost to Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1956 campaign.
B. Johnson gradually shifted from promoting regional conservative programs to embracing some national
liberal issues and to promoting reform in cooperation with the Eisenhower administration.
1. He was instrumental in winning passage of the 1957 and 1960 Civil Rights Acts.
2. He investigated how the Russians beat Americans into space with their Sputnik satellite.
3. His efforts led to the creation of NASA and Americas quest to outdo the Russians.
4. He achieved a remarkable legacy for a Senate leader whose party did not control the presidency. He
had a major impact on the nation before becoming president.
C. In 1960, Johnson tried once more to win the Democratic nomination for president.
1. He lost to John F. Kennedy, whom he regarded as a much inferior leader to himself.
2. He ran an insiders campaign that did not work for the presidency.
3. He denied any interest in the vice presidency but accepted Kennedys offer. It was his best option at
the time and a means of bringing the south into the Democratic party mainstream.

II. As vice president, Johnson was uncomfortable with the Kennedy style. During the 1960 campaign, bad blood
had developed between Johnson and Robert Kennedy, now the attorney general.
A. Johnson failed in his efforts to gain special authority in the Senate or the administration.
B. He did hold several important posts and was kept reasonably well informed of most important foreign and
domestic policy matters.
C. He served as chairman of the National Aeronautics and Space Council, the Peace Corps Advisory Council,
and the Presidents Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity.
D. He backed Kennedys policies, traveled extensively, and had more responsibilities than most vice
presidents to that point in history.
E. It was all too little for his towering ambition and experience.
III. Johnson suddenly and unexpectedly assumed the presidency.
A. On November 22, 1963, Johnson was riding in a motorcade in Dallas two cars behind President Kennedy,
when an assassins bullets fatally wounded Americas youngest elected president.
B. Johnson became president that day as he flew back to Washington, D.C., aboard Air Force One.
1. A week later, he appointed a seven-member commission directed by Chief Justice Early Warren to
investigate the assassination of President Kennedy.

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2.

C.
D.
E.
F.

The following year, the Commission reported its conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone
assassin. It was a conclusion that Johnson privately doubted.
Liberals distrusted Johnson and feared he would lead the nation in a conservative direction.
Their fears were unfounded. Johnson had been steering a more liberal course since he had set his sights on
the White House back in 1956. He had also been a supporter of FDR and the New Deal.
Johnson brought an earthiness to the White House and launched the greatest legislative operation in the
history of the presidency.
His first objective was to reassure the American people that there would be continuity in the office.

IV. In just one year, Johnson, a master legislator, pushed through Congress some of the most significant social
reforms in the nations history.
A. He won passage of the long-stalled tax cut.
B. His legislative triumph was the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.
1. It was the first effective civil rights bill since Reconstruction and marked the end of the dual society
that had persisted in much of the south since the passage of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth
Amendments.
2. An omnibus law, the Civil Rights Act created a Fair Employment Practices Committee that, with Title
Seven, prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, or national origin.
It also barred discrimination in public accommodations, such as restaurants and hotels, and in public
facilities, such as beaches, hospitals, and parks. It included provisions to hasten the desegregation of
schools and promote fair voting practices.
3. The law was a landmark for women, as well as racial minorities, and helped generate the rise of a
womens movement in the late 1960s.
4. By executive order, Johnson also began affirmative action programs for women and minorities.
Suggested Reading:
Bornet, Vaughn D. The Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, 1983.
Dallek, Robert. Lone Star Rising: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 19081960. New York: Oxford University Press,
1991.
Evans, Rowland, and Robert Novak. Lyndon B. Johnson: The Exercise of Power.
Schulman, Bruce J. Lyndon B. Johnson and American Liberalism: A Brief Biography with Documents. New York:
Bedford Books, 1995.
Unger, Irwin, and Debi Unger. LBJ: A Life. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999.
Questions to Consider:
1. Is it possible for a congressman or senator to serve the nation and his or her own state?
2. What does Johnsons experience say about the role of the vice president in American government?
3. Why did Johnson return to his New Deal roots when he assumed the presidency?

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Lecture Forty-Three
Lyndon Johnson: Building the Great Society
Scope: Johnson capitalized on the national mood, Kennedys martyrdom, and his own legislative abilities to far
exceed Kennedys vision of a New Frontier for America. In 1964, Democrats nominated Johnson by
acclamation and that fall, Johnson received the voters mandate to continue. The Great Society, as
Johnsons grand vision was called, included his war on poverty, an omnibus civil rights package, Medicare
and Medicaid, environmental and consumer protection, aid to education, and an expansion of federal
welfare measures. Johnson was preeminently successful in winning passage of his domestic program,
achieving a record of reform rivaled only by that of Franklin Roosevelt. He had fulfilled his dream of
becoming one of Americas greatest domestic reformers.

Outline
I.

Johnson began landmark efforts to combat poverty.


A. The purpose was to provide the skills, experience, and organization needed as a basis for selfimprovement.
B. The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 created the Office of Economic Opportunity, designed to
implement a modestly funded self-help program.
C. Taken together, the tax cuts, the civil rights bill, and the war on poverty constituted the most significant
domestic policy innovation since the New Deal.
D. In May of 1964, Johnson delivered an address that envisioned a Great Society in the United States.

II. Johnson became president in his own right in the landslide election of 1964.
A. He won his partys nomination by acclamation when the Democrats met in Atlantic City in August of
1964.
B. The president pleased liberals by naming Senator Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota as his running mate.
C. He faced conservative Republican Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona.
1. During the campaign, Johnson played on voters fears that Goldwaters views were too extreme.
2. To no ones surprise, Johnson won one of the greatest landslide victories in American history.
3. Democrats also secured commanding majorities in both Houses.
4. Ironically, Goldwater won several southern states, breaking the Democrats hold on the solid south.
III. Johnson interpreted the election as a mandate for his Great Society programs.
A. Johnson continued his focus on civil rights and anti-poverty legislation, although the emphasis shifted from
self-help to direct-benefit programs.
1. Medicare, funded through Society Security, provided medical insurance for the elderly, while
Medicaid provided hospital and medical benefits for the poor, regardless of age.
2. Johnson provided the most ambitious aid programs for housing and education in U.S. history. He
engineered through Congress major increases in minimum wage and Social Security benefits.
3. The Food Stamp Program, begun modestly under Johnson, would eventually help feed many millions
of poor Americans.
4. Johnson won passage of major immigration reform legislation and a model cities program that was
controversial because it bypassed state and local governments to fund projects by inner-city residents.
B. The 1965 Voting Rights Act was one of Johnsons crowning achievements.
1. It outlawed literacy tests and authorized the federal government to ensure minority registration and
voting. Along with the Twenty-fourth Amendment, which outlawed the poll tax in federal elections,
the act opened the ballot box to millions of formerly disenfranchised African Americans throughout
the south.
2. The Voting Rights Act also greatly advanced minority representation in government by outlawing
political systems that denied minorities the opportunity to participate fully in the political process and
elect candidates of their choice.

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3.

Other civil rights accomplishments included the nomination of Thurgood Marshall as the first black
Supreme Court Justice and the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which barred discrimination in housing and
increased penalties for civil rights violations.
4. Johnsons civil rights initiatives contributed to the defection of white southerners from the Democratic
Party.
C. Johnson addressed other areas of society in the mid-1960s, including the environment, consumerism, and
the arts and humanities.
1. For the first time, the government began to combat water and air pollution through the Water Quality
Act, the Clean Water Restoration Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Air Quality Act.
2. To help consumers, Johnson pushed through the Wholesome Meat Act and the Fair Packaging and
Labeling Act, along with the national Traffic Safety Act and the Highway Safety Act.
3. Congress also created the National Foundation for the Arts and Humanities.
IV. Johnsons civil rights and welfare programs completed the development of twentieth-century American
liberalism.
A. He was the first Democratic Party president to achieve major civil rights legislation.
B. His direct-benefit welfare programs went beyond the New Deal.
C. His initiatives cemented black loyalty to the Democratic party, while weakening its position among the
white southerners and northern white ethnic voters, who had been key components of the Roosevelt
coalition.
D. Johnson, like Theodore Roosevelt before him, believed that his program of reform would benefit all
interests in American society: whites and minorities, northerners and southerners, labor and capital, and
avoid either a backlash to the right or a radical turn to the left.
V. Johnson would not realize this optimistic vision.
A. The war on poverty failed to meet expectations and was undermined by the Vietnam War.
B. The gap between expectations and reality among African Americans led to unprecedented outbreaks of
racial disorder.
1. Riots began in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles in 1965 and continued through Johnsons
second term.
2. A presidential commission concluded that the nation was disintegrating into separate and unequal
black and white societies.
3. The riots, together with the rise of the Black Power movement, created fears of racial insurrection and
social breakdown.
4. Demonstrations against the Vietnam War, racism, and militarism also erupted during Johnsons second
term.
5. Democratic losses in the presidential election of 1966 portended political problems to come for the
president and his party.
Suggested Reading:
Bornet, Vaughn D. The Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, 1983.
Dallek, Robert. Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 19611973. New York: Oxford University Press,
1998.
Murray, Charles. Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 19501980. New York: Basic Books, 1984.
Questions to Consider:
1. Did the Great Society promise too much? Was it realistic?
2. How did Johnsons civil rights and Great Society programs change American liberalism?
3. Why was Johnson so successful in implementing his ambitious legislative agenda?

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Lecture Forty-Four
Lyndon Johnson: Acrimony at Home and Abroad
Scope: Turmoil and social unrest would mark Johnsons last three years in office. Above all, the war in Vietnam
dominated events, detracting from the Great Society, undermining the economy, sapping the strength of
Johnsons Democratic Party, dividing Americans, and exacerbating other societal problems. Johnson
wanted to be remembered as the president who educated young children helped feed the hungry
helped the poor protected the right of every citizen to vote helped to end hatred among his fellow men
and ended war among the brothers of this earth. Unfortunately, this liberal reconstruction of American
life proved to be inconsistent with Johnsons effort to maintain the orthodoxy of containment in Vietnam.
On March 31, 1968, Johnson announced his decision not to accept his partys nomination for another term.
Johnson, the master legislator, could find no political remedies for the nations many ills. He left behind
one of the most mixed legacies in the history of the presidency.

Outline
I.

Johnson determined that South Vietnam should not fall to the communists.
A. Johnson inherited the policies of the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations that had already allocated
substantial military and economic aid to keep South Vietnam independent.
B. The United States had not yet taken over the war militarily. That decision would be left to President
Johnson.
C. Reports from the field as early as 1963 stated that the combined American-South Vietnamese effort was
failing
1. Right from the start, Johnson began a pattern of deception by concealing this reality of Vietnam from
the American people.
2. The administration escalated the war, despite grave doubts about the ability to win.
3. Despite his bold program in domestic affairs, Johnson was unwilling to take the political and national
security risks of abandoning the containment policies of his predecessors.
4. Like Truman before him, Johnson believed that the success of modern liberalism depended on a
combination of reform at home and containment of communism abroad. He believed that the nation
was battling a dangerous and monolithic communist bloc.

II. The gradual escalation in Vietnam began before the election of 1964.
A. In August of 1964, Johnson announced that American destroyers were attacked by North Vietnamese
torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin.
B. Johnson did not mention that the U.S. warships were assisting South Vietnamese commandos close to
North Vietnamese shores. Because the operations took place at night and under adverse weather
conditions, it is uncertain whether attacks actually occurred.
C. Johnson immediately condemned North Vietnam for its open aggression on the high seas and sought
open-ended authority to prevent further aggression.
D. He did not inform Congress about the provocative actions of U.S. warships and presented a misleading
picture of the attack itself.
E. He did not want Vietnam to become Mr. Johnsons war the way Korea had become Mr. Trumans war.
F. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed with only two dissenting votes in the Senate. The resolution, which
was not a formal declaration of war, became the legal basis by which Johnson waged war in Vietnam. It
was the high water mark of presidential war powers.
III. By the beginning of Johnsons new term, the situation in Vietnam had become desperate.
A. The administration decided upon limited escalation of the war. All-out military action was unacceptable
politically and posed the risk of a much wider war, perhaps against the Chinese communists, as in Korea.
Withdrawal was too damaging to Americas credibility in the region and worldwide.

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B. The administration had decided by December 1964 to expand the war significantly, even though it knew
that victory would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.
1. America stepped up its military attacks when Vietcong units attacked a U.S. army barracks in Pleiku in
February of 1965, killing several Americans.
2. Johnson immediately responded with air strikes, culminating in Operation Rolling Thunder later that
montha series of gradually intensifying air assaults over North Vietnam.
3. By June of 1965, the U.S. commander was authorized to commit U.S. ground troops to a combat role,
and troop strength rose to between 70,000 and 75,000.
4. From the start, Johnson and his advisers hoped to achieve not outright victory but a situation in which
the costs of war would be unacceptable to the North Vietnamese. Their doubts and policy were not
disclosed to the American people.
5. Eventually, U.S. troop strength would reach some 550,000 during Johnsons last year in office.
C. Americas military campaigns were not successful.
1. U.S. forces were not achieving their strategic objectives, nor could they wear down the ideologically
motivated enemy.
2. Northern leader Ho Chi Minh refused to negotiate. The American strategy of forcing the North to give
up its efforts as too costly was not working.
3. Vietnam became the first televised war in American history.
IV. The war became a divisive issue with no apparent solution.
A. At first, it seemed that the United States could afford guns and butter, because the war and the tax cuts
stimulated the economy.
B. Economic problems began to develop in Johnsons last two years, but most severe problems were yet to
come. The economy would remain generally prosperous through the end of the Johnson term.
C. Despite the presence of many hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, it became clear to many Johnson
advisers by late 1967 that the United States could not achieve its objectives in Vietnam.
1. The military had no solution other than a substantial increase in American forces or the use of nuclear
weapons.
2. These alternatives were neither acceptable politically, nor responsive to the problem that the South
Vietnamese government was not viable either politically or militarily.
D. The Tet Offensive, which began in the winter of 1968, was a psychological victory for North Vietnam.
1. A credibility gap developed, because the Johnson administrations repeated predictions of the
enemys defeat were contradicted by the enemys ability to wreak havoc in dozens of South
Vietnamese cities, including Saigon.
2. By the spring of 1968, most Americans believed the war could not be won. Both hawks and doves
disapproved of Johnsons Vietnam policies.
3. The administration was facing the worst of all worlds: deaths and casualties in Vietnam seemingly to
no end.
4. The war diverted attention from other foreign policy objectives. It drove a wedge through the Atlantic
Alliance and diminished U.S. prestige in the Third World. Ironically, a war fought to maintain
Americas international credibility was having the opposite effect.
5. In 1965 Johnson intervened against a leftist government in the Dominican Republic, announcing a
Johnson Doctrine against the creation of new communist regimes in the western hemisphere.
6. Johnson began a new round of negotiations with the Soviets but could not persuade them to call off Ho
Chi Minh, who was not under Soviet control. Johnson was more successful in achieving arms
limitation agreements, including a nonproliferation treaty.
V. The war divided the Democratic party and left Johnson an isolated president with few supporters outside his
own group of advisers.
A. As in 196465, Johnson failed to consider the alternative of withdrawal.
B. He was a man who wanted to become the greatest American president in history. He would not become the
first American president to lose a war. The war would drag on until 1975, with the end result no different
than it would have been eight or ten years earlier.

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C. Antiwar protests intensified and broadened to include pacifists, students, veterans, civil rights activists, and
many who had been apolitical, including mainstream, middle-class Americans.
1. In 1967, protesters marched on the Pentagon as antiwar rallies were held in Washington, D.C., and
many major U.S. cities.
2. Students burned their draft cards to protest the war.
3. Racial unrest also resulted in considerable domestic disorder at this same time.
4. Many youths embraced the counterculture by revolting against traditional cultural and social norms.
Members of the counterculture questioned not only the war but also the value of the material well
being that Johnson was trying to promote with his Great Society programs.
5. Other previously marginalized groups, including gays and lesbians, Native Americans, Latinos, and
feminists, joined the fight against discrimination and inequality.
6. Johnson, the president who believed that his reforms would forestall a move to the left, was confronted
with some of the most powerful protests in the history of the United States.
VI. Johnson decided not to seek reelection in 1968.
A. As criticism of the war reached its zenith, Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota challenged Johnson for
the Democratic presidential nomination.
1. McCarthy stunned Johnson with a surprisingly strong showing in the New Hampshire primary.
2. Shortly thereafter, an even more formidable challenger emerged: Senator Robert Kennedy of New
York.
B. Johnson announced his retirement from politics to a shocked public in a nationally televised speech on
March 31, 1968.
1. Johnson would focus his remaining time in office searching for an elusive peace in Vietnam.
2. Although peace talks began in Paris in 1968, they remained inconclusive.
3. After the assassination of Robert Kennedy, Johnson successfully supported the nomination of his vice
president, Hubert Humphrey.
4. But he was unhappy with Humphreys efforts to break free of the presidents policies and did not give
Humphrey his wholehearted support in the general election that Humphrey narrowly lost to Richard
M. Nixon.
C. After Richard Nixons inauguration, Johnson returned to Texas to work on his memoirs.
D. He left office a bitter man, believing that the American people had not given him credit for all that he had
done for them.
E. He died in 1973.
VII. Johnson probably has the most mixed legacy of all American presidents.
A. He was one of the most talented legislative leaders to serve as president.
B. His domestic accomplishments are, perhaps, second only to those of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
C. He completed the transformation of liberalism in twentieth-century America.
D. His decisions on Vietnam were arguably the most tragic decisions made by any American president.
Suggested Reading:
Beschloss, Michael R. Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 19631964. New York: Simon &
Schuster, 1997.
Dallek, Robert. Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 19611973. New York: Oxford University Press,
1998.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. New York: St. Martins Griffin, 1991.
Herring, George C. Americas Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 19501975. New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 1986.
Kaiser, David. American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson, and the Origins of the Vietnam War. Cambridge: Harvard
University Press, 2000.
Unger, Irwin, and Debi Unger. LBJ: A Life. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999.

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Weisbrot, Robert. Freedom Bound: A History of Americas Civil Rights Movement. New York: Plume Books, 1990.
Questions to Consider:
1. Why did Johnson decide to send more troops and commit more resources to the war in Vietnam?
2. Why were so many Americans dissatisfied with the nation in the late 1960s?
3. Did Johnson suffer from events beyond his control or did he suffer from the way he controlled events?
4. Could another leader have managed more effectively than Johnson the multiple problems of America in the
1960s?

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Lecture Forty-Five
Ronald Reagan: The Gipper
Scope: Ronald Reagan made conservatism respectable in late twentieth-century America, slowed the growth of
domestic spending, shifted priorities to the military, deregulated industry, achieved a major arms reduction
treaty, and brought America to the brink of victory in the Cold War. For his supporters, he fulfilled his
campaign pledge of 1980 to restore the great, confident roar of American progress and growth and
optimism. For his detractors, he weakened the nations financial strength, favored the rich at the expense
of the poor and middle class, pursued a wasteful arms buildup, and abandoned efforts to achieve
opportunity for women and minorities. Following his early life in Dixon, Illinois, Reagan became an
accomplished athlete, actor, and politically active student in high school and college. He became a movie
star, president of the Screen Actors Guild, a prominent conservative speaker, and a two-term governor of
California.

Outline
I.

Ronald Reagan restored much of the prestige to the office of the presidency that had disappeared in the
previous decades.
A. Reagan came to the White House in 1980 at the height of a national revival of conservatism. Taking
advantage of an ideological majority in Congress, Reagan reversed many liberal priorities.
1. He reduced taxes, especially for the upper income brackets; slowed domestic spending, shifting
priorities to the military; and deregulated industry.
2. He de-emphasized enforcement of civil rights and environmental laws, opposed the Equal Rights
Amendment for women, and rhetorically supported a conservative social agenda.
B. Rather than continuing the twentieth-century tradition of solving problems though government
intervention, Reagan sought instead to limit the role of government, seeking solutions in the private sector.
C. Reagan looked to boost American morale, which had not recovered from the trials of Vietnam and
Watergate. One way to restore American pride was to take the offensive in the Cold War.

II. From childhood, Reagan made it evident that he wasnt going to let anything stand in the way of his success.
A. Reagan was born in 1911 in Tampico, Illinois.
1. His father was a peripatetic shoe salesman with a drinking problem.
2. His father was an admirer of Franklin Roosevelt and Reagan also became a Democrat, a Roosevelt fan,
and a supporter of the New Deal. His father was also a staunch opponent of bigotry.
3. His mother was deeply religious. She taught her son to read at an early age. She loved the theater and
encouraged her son to act.
B. Reagan graduated from Dixon High School in 1928.
1. He had served as the student body president, played basketball and football, and ran track. He earned
mediocre grades.
2. He began acting and was proud of his work as a lifeguard.
3. He enjoyed reading, but unlike other great presidents, he was not especially interested in works of
history.
C. After graduation, Reagan attended tiny Eureka College on a partial athletic scholarship.
1. Again, he was elected student body president; he majored in sociology and economics.
2. He played football, swam, and ran track. Like other great presidents, he also worked on the student
newspaper and participated in debates.
III. Reagan learned valuable media and communication skills.
A. After graduation, he became a sports announcer for a radio station in Iowa.
B. He provided commentary on major league baseball and Big Ten Conference Football.
C. He was introduced to a Los Angeles motion picture agent who got him a screen test that led to a contract
with Warner Brothers in 1937.

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IV. Reagan made a name for himself in motion pictures and television. Acting and traveling opened the world of
politics to him.
A. Reagans film career spanned more than twenty-five years.
1. He made his first film appearance in 1937 and ultimately appeared in more than fifty feature-length
films.
2. His two most celebrated films were Knute Rockne, All American (1940), in which he played George
Gipp, the famous Notre Dame football star known as the Gipper, and Kings Row (1942), in which
he played the victim of a sadistic surgeonconsidered his greatest performance by most critics.
B. In 1940, he married actress Jane Wyman; they had two children.
C. In April of 1942, Reagan enlisted in the U.S. Army.
D. His poor eyesight kept him from combat duty, so he made training films for the army.
E. In 1947, Reagan was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild, the major labor union in his industry.
1. He served six one-year terms, during which time he tried to remove alleged communists from the
movie industry.
2. In 1947, he testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
3. He questioned the Committees tactics but appeared as a friendly witness nonetheless. His belief that
communists had infiltrated Hollywood and other institutions pushed his politics to the right.
F. In 1949, Reagans marriage to Jane Wyman ended in divorce.
G. In 1952, Reagan married actress Nancy Reagan.
1. They would have two children.
2. The marriage would be a happy one, and Nancy would prove to be an influential if controversial First
Lady.
V. From 1954 to 1962, Reagan was employed by General Electric as a host, program supervisor, and actor on
General Electric Theater.
A. He gave public addresses as a spokesman at the companys plants.
1. He addressed many thousands of workers, giving him an opportunity to hone his public speaking
skills.
2. In these speeches, Reagan lauded free enterprise and warned against the evils of big government.
3. In contrast to other presidents who became more progressive over time, Reagan became more
conservative. He voted for Eisenhower and Nixon and abandoned his Democratic affiliation in 1962.
B. Politics became Reagans passion, and he was asked to campaign for Republican candidates.
VI. In 1964, Reagan became a political celebrity after delivering his A Time for Choosing speech on national
television on behalf of Barry Goldwater.
A. In the speech, Reagan exuded confidence and calm; he appealed to his listeners patriotismit would
become his hallmark.
B. Reagan revealed his nascent fear of big government in the speech.
C. Afterwards, campaign contributions poured into the Republican Party.
D. Pundits likened Reagans address to Bryans Cross of Gold speech. It made Reagan a major national
figure, and he delivered versions of the address on numerous subsequent occasions.
VII. Republican businessmen recruited Reagan to run as a Republican against Californias Democratic governor,
Edward G. Pat Brown.
A. He campaigned on a return to common sense government, winning easily. He was reelected four years
later.
B. Having to work with a Democratic legislature, he adopted a pragmatic approach that was not always in
accord with his conservative campaign speeches or the expectations of his conservative followers.
1. During his tenure, California had its largest budget increases ever.
2. He was a harsh critic of the student movements at Berkeley. He sharply reduced university spending,
but after the student protests eased, higher education funding substantially increased.

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3.
4.

He passed a major tax law that corrected a regressive state revenue system and the 1971 California
Welfare Reform Act, that reduced welfare rolls but increased benefits for remaining recipients.
Reagan vetoed numerous bills as governor, an example of his faith in himself and executive authority.

VIII. Twice, Reagan unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for president.
A. In 1968, he unsuccessfully challenged Richard Nixon.
B. In 1976, he challenged President Gerald Ford.
1. New rules that created an increased number of primaries and weakened the control of party bosses
over delegate selection strengthened the Reagan challenge.
2. Reagan sharply attacked Ford from the right.
3. He narrowly lost at the party convention. He learned from his defeat in 1976 and was a more effective
candidate four years later.
IX. In 1980, Reagan won the Republican Partys presidential nomination.
A. Reagan faithfully followed the conservative line in 1980 but did so in a way that didnt seem threatening to
moderates in the party.
B. At the GOP convention, he supported a conservative party platform.
C. He worked to reconcile the partys conservative and moderate wings by negotiating to make former
President Ford his running mate.
D. The negotiations failed when Ford sought authority as a kind of co-president. Reagan then chose another
moderate, his primary election opponent, George Bush.
Suggested Reading:
Adler, Bill. Ronnie and Nancy: A Very Special Love Story. New York: Crown Publishers, 1985.
Cannon, Lou. Reagan. New York: G.P. Putnams Sons, 1982.
Morris, Edmund. Dutch. New York: Random House, 1999.
Questions to Consider:
1. Was the conservative upheaval that swept Reagan into office in 1980 an aberration or a return to normalcy?
2. What was it about Reagans third run for the presidency that separated it from his first two unsuccessful
campaigns?
3. What skills did athletics, radio, and acting give Reagan that would benefit him in politics?

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Lecture Forty-Six
Ronald Reagan: A Conservative in the White House
Scope: Ronald Reagans victory in 1980 culminated a twenty-year revival of conservatism in the United States. He
sought to spearhead a conservative revolution by appealing to popular fears of communism, big
government, and moral degeneration. In practice, he focused on domestic economic issues and military and
foreign policy, avoiding such social issues as abortion that were so important to elements of the American
right. He came to the White House after two decades of presidential ineptitude, when a feeling of malaise
permeated the United States, brought on by rising crime and drug abuse, economic problems, and reverses
abroad. His first action in office was to fulfill his campaign pledge of placing a hiring freeze on
government employment. In 1981, he pushed through Congress a major tax cut, cuts in domestic programs,
an expanded military budget, and cutbacks in environmental and business regulation. The Reagan
Revolution had begun.

Outline
I.

Reagan won an overwhelming electoral majority in the 1980 campaign.


A. He sought to reconstruct American politics, but did not do so as thoroughly as such predecessors as
Jackson and Franklin Roosevelt.
B. He was clear in his objectives of cutting taxes, reducing domestic spending, returning power to the states,
strengthening the military, and forcefully challenging the Soviet Union for world leadership.
C. The election was a negative verdict on President Carter and the Democratic Party, because economic
problems and the Iran hostage crisis troubled voters.
D. Reagan won a smashing victory in 1980, surprising the pollsters and the pundits. The GOP won a majority
in the Senate for the first time since 1954 and gained more than thirty seats in the House, where the party
had a working ideological majority.
E. His victory culminated a twenty-year revival of conservative politics.
1. The neo-conservatives restored the intellectual respectability of conservative ideas.
2. Religious conservatives became organized and politically active.
3. The south was undergoing a realignment in favor of the GOP.
4. Ironically, it was moderate, not conservative, voters who accounted for Reagans win.
5. White ethnic, blue-collar voters loosened their ties to the Democratic Party and became a crucial swing
vote.

II. At sixty-nine years of age, Reagan was the oldest man to be elected president before or since. But his ideas
seemed new and fresh.
A. He brought to the presidency a uniquely disconnected leadership style.
1. He set the general direction for the government but was little concerned with details of policy or
management.
2. He was very much concerned with his image. Even the day-to-day activities of his presidency were
carefully scripted.
B. His presidency began on an auspicious note with the release of the hostages, who had been held in Iran
since November 1979.
C. In his first official act, he fulfilled a campaign promise by placing a freeze on federal hiring.
D. His presidency was nearly stopped before it got started. On March 30, 1981, he was shot as he left the
Washington Hilton Hotel.
E. His humor and his quick recovery enhanced his popularity. He would develop a public aura of warmth and
invincibility, becoming the so-called Teflon President. A deeper reason for his resistance to criticism is
that he had so significantly changed the terms of politics that it was difficult to find the words with which
to criticize him.

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III. Reagans first priority was to address the failing economy.


A. Reagan believed in supply-side economics: by dramatically reducing taxes and paring down the
regulation of business, the federal government would provide greater incentives to the suppliers of goods
and service, that is, entrepreneurs, investors, and workers.
B. Critics derided Reagans claim that it was possible to cut taxes, build up the military, and balance the
budget.
C. Reagans greatest victory came when Congress took a riverboat gamble and passed his proposal for deep
cuts in federal income taxes.
1. A conservative coalition of Republicans and southern Democrats, dubbed boll weevilsthe kind of
coalition traditionally dedicated to blocking, rather than passing, legislationwas essential to passing
the tax cut in the Democratic House.
2. Even after a tax increase the next year, the 1981 tax cut greatly reduced income-tax collections,
especially in the top brackets.
3. The tax cuts contributed to a shift in the federal tax burden from income to payroll taxes.
D. National priorities next shifted from domestic to military spending.
1. Substantially reducing domestic spending proved to be more difficult than cutting taxes.
2. Reagan confronted entrenched interests in Congress and a public that favored reducing government
but remained committed to specific entitlement programs.
3. Although Congress resisted the deep cuts that Reagan proposed,
real spending was sliced for such programs as grants to the states, aid to education, food stamps, mass
transit, and housing assistance.
4. Reagan accelerated the increase in military spending begun under President Carter.
5. Overall, federal spending continued to grow rapidly but the rate of increase slowed down compared to
the 1970s.
E. Reagan also expanded and redirected the deregulation program begun under Carter.
1. Reagan sought to free private enterprise from regulations designed to promote health and safety,
protect the environment, and advance the civil rights of women and minorities.
2. Primarily through budget cuts, appointments, and executive action, the Reagan administration reduced
the enforcement efforts of federal agencies.
F. Reagan appointed the first woman to the Supreme Court, Sandra Day OConnor.
G. Some conservatives found her views too moderate.
IV. Initially, Reagans economic program appeared to have failed.
A. In 1982, the United States economy entered a severe recession.
B. Republicans suffered major losses in House seats in 1982, dampening prospects for a realignment that
would make the GOP the nations majority party.
C. By the end of 1983 Reagans popularity experienced an upsurge due to economic recovery, but his
economic policy continued to set off alarms.
1. In 1980, the national deficit grew to $74 billion; in 1983, it reached $208 billion.
2. Much of the debt was funded from abroad, transforming the United States from a creditor to the
worlds leading debtor nation.
3. The high budget deficits kept interest rates high, and pumped up the value of the dollar, making it
difficult for U.S. manufacturers to compete abroad. Trade deficits reached record levels.
V. Reagan faced an early test of his leadership abilities when, in August 1981, air traffic controllers rejected a
government pay raise offer.
A. Reagan fired those who went on strike and refused to return to work.
B. In dealing with the air traffic controllers, Reagan showed a toughness that previous presidents had lacked.
C. Reagan would use the same tenacity to fight communism.

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VI. Reagan adopted a hard line in foreign policy but trod more carefully than his bellicose rhetoric led many to
expect.
A. Reagan sought to negotiate with the Soviets from a position of strength.
1. He postponed ongoing strategic arms control talks, rejected calls for a nuclear weapons freeze, and
began to expand and modernize strategic forces.
2. The administration proposed a zero-option plan for the elimination of intermediate-range nuclear
forces in Europe and began the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) with the Soviet Union.
3. Reagans continuing military buildup, resistance in the administration, and his insistence on building a
new space-based strategic defense system (popularly known as Star Wars) limited progress on arms
control.
4. Arms control talks were suspended in December 1983 after the United States began deploying a new
generation of medium-range missiles in Europe.
5. In a famous anti-communist speech, Reagan called the Soviet Union an evil empire.
6. He supported a guerilla war against Soviet forces in Afghanistan and the Contra campaign against
the leftwing Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.
B. The administration suffered some mixed results in foreign policy.
1. In April 1983, a car bomb demolished the U.S. embassy in Beirut. In October, a truck bomb destroyed
the Marine barracks in Beirut. The Teflon president escaped blame for these tragedies.
2. The administration restored a degree of American pride when it invaded the island of Grenada and
dismantled a leftist regime.
Suggested Reading:
Evans, Rowland, and Robert Novak. The Reagan Revolution. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1981.
Anderson, Martin. Revolution. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1988.
Stockman, David. The Triumph of Politics: How the Reagan Revolution Failed. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.
Questions to Consider:
1. What were some of the factors that led to the success of Republican candidates in the elections of 1980?
2. Based on his initial actions in office, who were the presidents that Reagan likely admired or tried to imitate?
3. To what extent was Reagans ability to pursue his economic strategies affected by the Republican majority in
the Senate? How might things have been different if Democrats were in the majority?

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Lecture Forty-Seven
Ronald Reagan: The Acting President
Scope: Despite the growing national debt and opposition to Reagans tough line in foreign policy, the revived
presidency and the economic recovery of 198384 kept most Americans in Reagans corner, and the
publics opinion of his performance remained high. The economy would grow briskly after 1983, inflation
would be under control, and the stock market would soar. Reagans foreign policy initiatives would
provoke criticism but also brought a sense of pride to the American people. Benefiting from peace,
prosperity, and his own communication skills, Ronald Reagan would win a smashing reelection victory in
1984. Reagan had successfully awakened Americans from the malaise they had been in since the mid1970s and made them believe again that America was a great place, a citadel of democracy, worth fighting
and dying for. But not everyone fell for the Reagan charm. Reagans domestic policies faltered in his
second term, because the administration failed to address problems of the late 1980s.

Outline
I.

Reagan won a landslide reelection victory in 1984.


A. With the economy rebounding strongly and the president highly rated in the polls, no Republican seriously
contested Reagans bid for a second-term nomination.
B. Not just leaders of the left, but also many conservatives, were unhappy with Reagans alleged departure
from conservative principles.
1. They lamented the control of his White House by moderates and pragmatists, rather than true
believers, and his failure to strongly pursue such social issues as abortion and to cut domestic spending
and taxes more deeply than he did.
2. Despite this griping, conservatives were not about to abandon the president who had given
conservatism clout and respectability. Conservatives also supported many of his initiatives.
C. The Democrats nominated Jimmy Carters former vice president, Walter Mondale.
1. Mondale shattered precedent by selecting a woman Representative Geraldine A. Ferraro of New
Yorkas his vice presidential running mate.
2. This selection reflected the new gender gap in American politics; women were favoring Democrats in
greater proportion than men.
3. Ferraro had to deal with allegations about questionable financial practices on the part of her husband.
D. Reagan crushed Mondale at the polls.
1. Reagan pointed to renewed economic opportunity, Americas enhanced prestige in the world, and the
promise of protection from nuclear attack through his Star Wars defense shield.
2. Mondale tried in vain to highlight such problems as budget and trade deficits, mounting poverty, and a
deteriorating environment.
3. With the economy humming along and the nation peaceful and tranquil, voters had no incentive for
change.
4. Reagan won fifty-nine percent of the popular vote to forty-one percent for Mondale. He won fortynine states.
E. Despite Reagans landslide victory in 1984, his coattails were short.
1. The GOP failed to win a House majority and lost a Senate seat.
2. The political realignment that some had predicted with Reagans victory in 1980 had failed to emerge
by 1984.

II. The administration was running short of the ideas that had led to the Reagan Revolution of the first term.
A. In his second term, Reagan was hemmed in by the limitations of his first-term innovations.
1. Rising budget deficits crimped further expansion of the military and increased pressure to find new
sources of revenue.
2. Limited federal resources prohibited government solutions to problemsinadequate education,
eroding infrastructure, gaps in health care coveragethat private enterprise could not solve.

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3.

Diminished regulation led to increased pollution, fraud in the thrift and securities industries, a more
hazardous workplace, and shrinking opportunities for minorities.
B. In his first term, Reagan had acted boldly and effectively to address concerns of the 1970s about a stagnant
economy at home and a feeble presence abroad.
C. When it came to the emerging issues of the late 1980s, budget and trade deficits, environmental problems,
AIDS, failing financial institutions, poverty and homelessness, drug abuse and its attendant crime, Reagan
seemed to lack interest and ideas.
III. Congress seized much of the initiative from the president on domestic policy in the second term.
A. Congress enacted a moderate reform program of its own.
1. The program included measures designed to reduce budget deficits, reform immigration policy, rewrite
the trade laws, strengthen anti-pollution regulations, and expand coverage of civil rights laws.
2. Congress also sliced the presidents defense budgets, keeping increases in military spending below
inflation.
3. The growing budget deficits and the defensive position of liberalism made it difficult for Congress to
enact any major new spending programs.
B. Reagan did achieve the top domestic priority of his second term, overhauling the federal tax system.
1. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 reduced rates for individuals, removed millions of low-income persons
from the tax rolls, lowered the number of tax brackets, and eliminated numerous loopholes.
2. But the tax measure was not a Reagan initiative. It originated mainly from ideas proposed by
Democrats, and its main opposition came from Republicans in Congress.
3. Critics blamed this law for the collapse in the real estate market that contributed to the collapse of the
savings and loan industry and the expensive federal bailout.
IV. A major scandal threatened the administration in its second term.
A. The Iran-Contra scandal, which first unfolded in late 1986, involved multiple elements.
1. In November of 1986, the press revealed that the administration had secretly sold arms to the terrorist
state of Iran.
2. The administration claimed that the sales were designed to gain influence with moderate elements in
the Iranian government.
3. It emerged, however, that other purposes of the arms sales had been to elicit the release of American
hostages held by Islamic fundamentalists in Lebanon and to illegally divert profits to the Contra
resistance movement that was opposing a leftist government in Nicaragua.
4. Reagan at first denied any arms-for-hostages deal but later admitted that he had been wrong in this
denial. He continued to deny any knowledge of the diversion to the Contras.
B. The Iran-Contra deal was a springboard for a larger mission to create an independent organization for
covert operations that was accountable to no one but its creators.
C. The Iran-Contra affair differed from past scandals, because it was motivated by ideological goals, rather
than the pursuit of personal or narrow political gain.
1. Oliver North, an NSC official, became a hero to some when he portrayed his role in the scandal as the
actions of a patriotic American.
2. A presidential commission found that lapses in Reagans management style and deficiencies in his
knowledge and attention had prevented him from supervising subordinates adequately. It did not
charge the president directly with illegal activity.
3. A congressional committee found it difficult to pin down the presidents role, but concluded that he
had failed to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Congress did not consider impeachment
proceedings.
4. In a crucial speech in March 1987, Reagan may have rescued his presidency. Reagan accepted
responsibility for the scandal but portrayed it as a lapse of management, not ethics.
5. Independent Council Lawrence Walsh found that top administration officials had fully reviewed and
developed the policies behind the scandal. He did not find criminal activities by the president. The
administration, however, had sought to circumvent congressional controls designed to limit
administration action.

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6.

Walsh released his report long after Reagan had left office. But on the eve of the 1992 election, with
George Bush seeking reelection, Walsh announced the indictment of Reagans Secretary of Defense
Caspar Weinberger.

V. The administration suffered other second-term setbacks.


A. The United States blamed Libya for the bombing of a West German discotheque frequented by Americans
and launched air strikes against that nation.
B. Congress also passed, over Reagans veto, economic sanctions against South Africa.
C. In 1986, Republicans lost control of the Senate, despite personal campaigning by President Reagan for
Republican candidates.
Suggested Reading:
Detlefsen, Robert R. Civil Rights under Reagan. San Francisco: Institute for Contemporary Studies, 1991.
Dallek, Robert. Ronald Reagan: The Politics of Symbolism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984.
Boaz, David, ed. Assessing the Reagan Years. Washington, D.C.: Cato Inst., 1988.
Questions to Consider:
1. What explains Reagans overwhelming popular and electoral victory in 1984 when the nation faced such a
significant number of domestic challenges?
2. Why was Congress able to seize the initiative from the president during his second term?
3. Why didnt Reagan pursue the conservative social agenda?

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Lecture Forty-Eight
Ronald Reagan: The Teflon President
Scope: Despite the Iran-Contra scandal and the loss of control of the Senate, Reagan emerged largely unscathed. A
change in Soviet leadership led to new opportunities for arms control and to the beginning of the end of the
Cold War. Reagans legacy is still debated among scholars, sometimes along partisan lines. But the nation
was stronger and more prosperous when he left office in 1989 than when he had been inaugurated in 1981.
His rhetoric and policies have also made him the conservative icon in the United States.
There is no single pathway to presidential greatness. Great public leadership does not always coincide with
an exemplary personal life. The presidency has gained power and influence over time, but the early
presidents were also powerful and significant. Overall, Americas great presidents were slow to come to
grips with the diversity of America. They generally had a strong vision for the nation combined with a
grasp of practical politics. They were flexible in responding to changed circumstances.

Outline
I.

The administration continued to face challenges in its last two years.


A. A stock market collapse late in 1987 raised questions about Reagans economic policies.
1. But stocks recovered and economic growth continued.
2. The Reagan boom continued through his last year as president. It contributed to his rebounding
popularity and to the election of his successor, Vice President George Bush.
3. The economy even weathered the budget deficits that had piled up during the Reagan years.
B. Terrorist attacks against Americans continued during the second term.
1. In June 1985, Muslim extremists hijacked a TWA jetliner.
2. In October 1985, members of the Palestine Liberation Front hijacked a cruise ship, the Achille Lauro,
and murdered an elderly American confined to a wheelchair.
3. In December 1988, a bomb destroyed a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 259 passengers
and several townspeople on the ground.
4. The administration found that it was difficult either to identify or punish alleged terrorists.
C. In 1987, the Senate rejected Reagans appointment of conservative Supreme Court Justice Robert Bork.
D. U.S. efforts to escort vessels in the Persian Gulf led to several military disasters.
E. There were some positive developments for which the administration could take credit.
1. The operations in the Persian Gulf may have hastened the end of the war between Iran and Iraq.
2. Reagan managed to move the Supreme Court to the right, despite the Bork defeat.

II. During his last two years, Reagan turned most of his attention to foreign policy, with some real success.
A. Tensions eased in trouble spots around the world toward the end of the Reagan administration.
B. In Soviet relations Reagan achieved a major breakthrough.
1. In 1985, a new Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, expanded democracy and civil liberties and
promoted economic reform at home and adopted a conciliatory approach to relations abroad.
2. The two superpowers nearly agreed to deep cuts in their nuclear arsenals.
3. The United States and Russia did agreed to eliminate intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Europe. It
was the first arms elimination treaty of the Cold War.
4. In December 1988, Gorbachev declared that he would unilaterally reduce Soviet armed forces and
withdraw tanks and troops from Eastern Europe.
5. During the administration of Reagans successor, the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union
disintegrated, ending forty-five years of Cold War.
6. Historians will long debate the extent to which Reagans military buildup and his commitment to the
Star Wars defense contributed to arms control breakthroughs and Americas victory in the Cold War.
7. Recent scholarship shows that the administration deliberately followed a policy of trying to win the
Cold War and push the Soviets over the brink.

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III. The nation ratified Ronald Reagans leadership by elevating Vice President George Bush to the presidency in
1988.
A. Reagans legacy is debated among scholars, sometimes along partisan lines.
1. The nation was stronger and more prosperous when he left office than it had been in 1981.
2. Supporters attribute the prosperity of the 1990s to Reagans policies that unleashed the forces of
private enterprise in the United States.
3. Reagan, like fellow Republican Teddy Roosevelt, effectively used the bully pulpit of the presidency.
B. Reagan was a gifted politician with a deep understanding of the American national psyche and, at the same
time, an executive who was almost totally disengaged from the policies of his administration and from the
people who surrounded him.
C. He did not achieve a thoroughgoing realignment, as some presidents did. The main initiatives of the New
Deal and Great Society remained intact after Reagans terms and little progress had been achieved on
conservative social issues.
D. But Reagan did substantially modify the old order in the United States. He made conservatism respectable
and formidable. He discredited liberalism to the point that the label itself became a political liability and
Democrats searched for a new ideology. His advocacy of free markets would become the conventional
wisdom by the 1990s.
E. Both critics and advocates agree that one of Reagans greatest accomplishments was to have restored the
office of the President of the United States to a position of power and prestige.
IV. There are lessons to be drawn from the study of twelve great presidents.
A. Different observers draw different conclusions, based on value judgments, about the greatest presidents.
B. Clearly, however, the presidents chosen for study presided over pivotal years of American history and
made decisions that affected the future of the country.
C. Like all presidents, the leaders we studied were all whites and males, but they came from diverse
backgrounds and followed different career paths.
1. Some, like Washington, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, and Kennedy, came from privileged
backgrounds.
2. Others, such as Lincoln, Truman, Johnson, and Reagan, came from relatively humble origins.
3. Some, like Polk, Kennedy, and Johnson, were career politicians.
4. Some great presidents followed other paths as well, including the military, the law, academics, and the
movies.
D. The great presidents exhibited a variety of personal styles.
1. Lincoln, Wilson, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Reagan were great communicators.
Others lacked this skill.
2. Polk was the ultimate hands-on president in control of government. Roosevelt thrived on
administrative chaos. Reagan was disconnected from the running of his administration.
E. The public leadership of many presidents was not reflected in their private lives.
F. The power and influence of the presidency grew over time.
1. Great presidents typically have been willing to exercise power unilaterally.
2. Early presidents also wielded considerable power and were highly influential.
3. Along with the expansion of presidential power have come limitations on presidential initiative.
G. The great presidents were slow to come to grips with the diversity of America.
1. Most of the great presidents before Lincoln were slaveholders. Some tried to protect slavery.
2. Presidents developed harsh and punitive policies toward Native Americans.
3. Progressive-era presidents had blind spots on issues of race.
4. Presidents did not support womens suffrage until the era of World War I and were slow to develop
civil rights agendas.
H. If there is a single quality that distinguishes the great presidents, it is that of idealism without illusions.
1. All had a strong vision for the nation but were also pragmatic and realistic politicians who knew how
to lead public opinion and get things done. The greatest presidents envisioned the next great challenge
for the nation.

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2.
3.

The great presidents faced difficulties when they lost their creative flexibility and tried to manipulate,
rather than lead, the American people.
Overall, they led the nation with great courage and skill.

Suggested Reading:
Johnson, Haynes. Sleepwalking through History: America in the Reagan Years. New York: W.W. Norton, 1991.
Oye, Kenneth A., et al. The Eagle Resurgent? The Reagan Era in American Foreign Policy. Boston: Little, Brown,
1987.
Fitzgerald, Frances. Way out There in the Blue. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000.
Questions to Consider:
1. To what extent did Reagan transform government in the United States?
2. In what ways is the Iran-Contra scandal comparable to other post-World War II presidential scandals? In what
ways is it different?
3. Was the defense buildup initiated by Reagan responsible for producing Soviet capitulation, or were other
factors primary?

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Timeline
22 February 1732............................ George Washington is born in Westmoreland County, Virginia.
13 April 1743.................................. Thomas Jefferson is born in Albemarle County, Virginia.
1752 ................................................ Washington enters the military. He would become a commander of the Virginia
forces during the French and Indian Wars.
1758 ................................................ Washington wins election to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
1759 ................................................ Washington marries Martha Dandridge Custis, a wealthy widow with two
children.
1767 ................................................ Andrew Jackson was born on a frontier settlement in South Carolina.
1768 ................................................ Jefferson is elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
1772 ................................................ Jefferson marries Martha Wayles Skelton, a widow who would die ten years
later. He never remarried.
1774 ................................................ Washington coauthors the Fairfax County Resolves that denied Parliaments
authority over the colonies.
1774 ................................................ Thomas Jefferson publishes the influential pamphlet A Summary View of the
Rights of British America.
17741775 ...................................... First and second Continental Congresses meet in Philadelphia. Washington
serves as delegate.
1775 ................................................ The Revolutionary War begins. Second Continental Congress elects
Washington as commander of the Continental Army.
1776 ................................................ Thomas Jefferson writes the Declaration of Independence.
25 December 1776.......................... Washington crosses the Delaware River and wins victory at Trenton and later at
Princeton in New Jersey.
October 1777 .................................. General Horatio Gates defeats the British at the Battle of Saratoga, the battle
that would lead to an alliance with the French.
Winter 17771778.......................... Winter headquarters established at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
19 October 1781 ............................. General Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown, Virginia, effectively ending the
war.
1783 ................................................ Washington resigns his commission and returns to private life.
17831784 ...................................... Jefferson serves in the Continental Congress.
1787 ................................................ Constitutional Convention meets in Philadelphia. Washington serves as
president.
1789 ................................................ Electoral College unanimously elects Washington as first president of the
United States under the new Constitution.
1790 ................................................ District of Columbia is chosen as the future permanent capital of the United
States.
1790 ................................................ Jefferson becomes the first Secretary of State.
17911793 ...................................... Conflicts between Jefferson and Secretary of State Alexander Hamilton lead to
the development of the first political party system, with Hamiltons Federalist
Party opposed by Jeffersons Democratic-Republican Party.
1791 ................................................ The Bank of the United States is chartered.

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1792 ................................................ Washington issues his first veto of a congressional bill.


1792 ................................................ Washington is reelected for a second term.
1793 ................................................ Faced with potential conflicts with both France and Britain, Washington issues a
formal statement of United States neutrality.
1793 ................................................ Washington signs a Fugitive Slave Law, despite his own ambivalent beliefs
about slavery.
1794 ................................................ Washington suppresses with overwhelming force the Whiskey Rebellion of
farmers in western Pennsylvania.
Early 1790s..................................... Andrew Jackson marries, then remarries Rachel Donelson Robertson after her
divorce from her first husband is finally secured. Controversy about their first
marriage would haunt the couple until Rachels death shortly after Jackson was
elected president in 1824.
1794 ................................................ General Anthony Wayne defeats Indian forces in Ohio. A subsequent treaty
would cede large amounts of land to the United States.
1795 ................................................ The Senate ratifies Jays Treaty, which averted war and removed the British
from western forts but did little else to protect American shipping and security
concerns.
2 November 1795 ........................... James K. Polk is born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
1796 ................................................ The Senate ratifies Pinckneys treaty with Spain, which granted American ships
navigation rights on the Mississippi River.
1796 ................................................ Washington chooses not to run again, establishing a two-term tradition that
endured for nearly 150 years. His farewell address called for national unity and
independence from foreign conflicts and warned of the danger of party conflict.
1796 ................................................ Jefferson loses presidential election to John Adams. Jefferson receives the
second highest number of electoral votes and become vice president.
1800 ................................................ Jefferson defeats John Adams in the presidential election, but the election goes
to the House of Representatives, because Jefferson and Aaron Burr receive the
same number of electoral votes.
1801 ................................................ The House of Representatives elects Jefferson as president, leading to the first
transfer of power in American history. The Federalist Party of Washington and
Hamilton would not win another presidential election.
1801 ................................................ Jefferson begins war against Barbary states in the Mediterranean without
authorization from Congress.
18011802 ...................................... Under Jeffersons leadership, taxes are cut and economies in government
achieved.
1802 ................................................ Jefferson is accused of fathering children with his slave, Sally Hemings.
1803 ................................................ The United States purchases from France the vast Louisiana territory between
the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains.
1804 ................................................ The Lewis and Clark expedition begins.
1804 ................................................ The Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution establishes the modern system in
which the president and vice president are separately elected.
1804 ................................................ Jefferson is elected easily to a second term.

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18041805 ...................................... Jefferson supporters in the House impeach Federalist Supreme Court Justice
Samuel Chase, but he is acquitted by the Senate.
1806 ................................................ Congress authorizes construction of what would become the National Road.
1807 ................................................ The federal government unsuccessfully prosecutes Aaron Burr for treason.
1807 ................................................ Jefferson signs a ban on the international slave trade.
1807 ................................................ Congress approves the Embargo Act against international commerce. It was
designed to place economic pressure on Great Britain in any effort to restore
Americas commercial rights.
1808 ................................................ Jefferson honors the Washington tradition and declines to seek a third
presidential term.
12 February 1809............................ Abraham Lincoln is born in Larue County, Kentucky.
1809 ................................................ Congress repeals the Embargo Act shortly before Jefferson leaves office.
1815 ................................................ Jackson wins the Battle of New Orleans, thwarting a British invasion.
1819 ................................................ Jacksons military campaigns result in the ceding of Spanish Florida to the
United States.
1824 ................................................ Jackson wins a plurality of the popular and Electoral College vote, but the
House of Representative elects John Quincy Adams as president.
1824 ................................................ Polk marries Sarah Childress, who would become an important influence on his
political life.
1825 ................................................ Polk wins election to Congress as a supporter of Andrew Jackson.
1828 ................................................ Jackson easily defeats Adams and is elected president. The coalition that forms
around Jacksons candidacy would become the Democratic Party.
1829 ................................................ Jackson establishes an informal group of advisors known as the kitchen
cabinet and inaugurates the spoils system for the replacement of federal
officials.
1830 ................................................ Jackson vetoes the Maysville Road Bill, which would have provided federal
support for a road in Kentucky.
1830 ................................................ Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act, granting authority to move Eastern
Indian tribes to western lands.
1831 ................................................ Nearly all of Jacksons cabinet resigns as a result of conflict over the treatment
of Peggy Eaton, who was considered socially unacceptable by some cabinet
members and their wives.
1832 ................................................ Jackson begins the bank war by vetoing the charter of the Bank after it narrowly
passed Congress in 1832. The veto galvanized Jacksons opponents into an antiJackson party that would become the Whig Party by the end of the decade.
1832 ................................................ Jackson issues his Nullification Proclamation that affirmed the supremacy of
federal law over state action.
1832 ................................................ Jackson easily wins reelection in the first contest in which parties nominated
candidates at national conventions.
1833 ................................................ Jackson escalates the bank war by removing government deposits from the Bank
of the United States.
1834 ................................................ The Senate censures Jackson for his actions in removing the deposits.
1834 ................................................ Lincoln is elected to the Illinois State legislature.

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1835 ................................................ A would-be assassin attempts to shoot President Jackson, but his pistols misfire.
1835 ................................................ Polks close alliance with Jackson helps him become Speaker of the House.
1836 ................................................ Jackson issues his Specie Circular, requiring purchasers of large federal lands to
pay in gold or silver.
1836 ................................................ The House of Representatives establishes a gag rule to prevent consideration
of anti-slavery petitions.
1836 ................................................ Jackson retires from politics, and his hand-picked successor, Martin Van Buren,
is elected over the candidates of the newly established Whig Party.
1837 ................................................ The newly elected Senate revokes the censure of President Jackson and
expunges it from the record of the Senate.
1839 ................................................ Polk is elected governor of Tennessee. He would fail in two attempts at
reelection.
1844 ................................................ The Democratic Convention nominates Polk as the first dark horse presidential
candidate in American history.
1844 ................................................ Polk narrowly defeats the favored Henry Clay in the presidential election.
1845 ................................................ Congress passes a joint resolution authorizing the annexation of Texas, which
the outgoing president, John Tyler, signed.
13 May 1846................................... Congress, at the request of President Polk, approves a declaration of war against
Mexico.
1846 ................................................ Congress adopts Polks proposals for tariff reduction and for establishing an
Independent Treasury as the repository for federal funds.
1846 ................................................ Lincoln is elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves for a single
term. It is his last elected office before winning the presidency.
1846 ................................................ The United States reaches an agreement with Britain over the disputed Oregon
territory, setting the boundary at the 49th parallel as Polk had earlier proposed.
1846 ................................................ Congress fails to pass legislation introduced by Representative David Wilmot to
prohibit slavery in territory acquired from Mexico.
September 1847 .............................. U.S. forces under General Winfield Scott take Mexico City, effectively ending
the Mexican War.
February 1848................................. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo formally ends the Mexican War, ceding vast
amounts of Mexican territory to the United States.
1848 ................................................ Polk honors an early pledge and declines to seek reelection. The presidency
would be captured by the candidate of the rival Whig Party.
28 December 1856.......................... Woodrow Wilson is born in Staunton, Virginia.
1858 ................................................ The Lincoln-Douglas debates take place.
27 October 1858 ............................. Theodore Roosevelt is born in New York City.
1860 ................................................ Lincoln is elected president with just 40 percent of the popular vote in a fourperson race. South Carolina secedes from the Union. Ten other states would
eventually follow.
April 1861....................................... The Civil War begins with the shelling of Fort Sumter. Lincoln calls out the
militia.
July 1861 ........................................ The South wins the Battle of Bull Run.

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September 1862 .............................. After a Union victory at Antietam in September 1862, Lincoln issues the
preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in areas still under
the control of the Confederacy.
1862 ................................................ The Homestead Act, providing free land for settlement of the west, and the
Morrill Act, establishing land grant colleges, are enacted.
1 January 1863................................ The Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect.
July 1863 ........................................ The Union wins the Battle of Gettysburg; draft riots occur in New York City.
19 November 1863 ......................... Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address.
1864 ................................................ General Ulysses S. Grant is appointed as commander of all Union forces and
launches a coordinated attack to box in the Confederate Army.
1864 ................................................ Sherman takes Atlanta and begins his march to the sea.
1864 ................................................ Lincoln wins reelection as president, defeating George McClellan, the general
he had fired for inaction. Andrew Johnson is elected vice president.
February 1865................................. The Hampton Roads Peace Conference.
April 1865....................................... Union troops enter the Confederate capital of Richmond; Confederate General
Robert E. Lee surrenders to Grant.
14 April 1865.................................. John Wilkes Booth shoots Lincoln at Fords Theater. Lincoln would die the next
morning, and Andrew Johnson would become president of the United States.
1880 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt marries Alice Hathaway Lee. After her death, he would
marry Edith Kermit Carow in 1886.
1881 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt is elected to the New York State Assembly.
30 January 1882.............................. Franklin Delano Roosevelt is born in Hyde Park, New York.
1885 ................................................ Woodrow Wilson marries Ellen Louise Axson. After her death, he would marry
Edith Bolling Gault in 1915.
1897 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt is appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
1898 ................................................ The Spanish-American War takes place. Theodore Roosevelt leads the Rough
Riders.
1898 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt is elected governor of New York State.
1900 ................................................ Theodore Roosevelt is elected as William McKinleys vice president.
14 September 1901 ......................... Theodore Roosevelt becomes president of the United States after the
assassination of McKinley.
1902 ................................................ The Roosevelt administration brings an anti-trust suit against the Northern
Securities Company.
1902 ................................................ Roosevelt mediates the Anthracite Coal Strike.
1902 ................................................ Wilson becomes president of Princeton University.
1903 ................................................ Roosevelt acquires the territory needed to build the Panama Canal.
1904 ................................................ Roosevelt issues the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, which asserts
Americas power to intervene in the internal affairs of Latin American nations.
1904 ................................................ Roosevelt wins a landslide election to a full term.
1905 ................................................ Roosevelt mediates a settlement of the Russo-Japanese war.
1905 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt marries Eleanor Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelts niece.

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1906 ................................................ The federal Meat Inspection and Food and Drug Acts are enacted.
1907 ................................................ Roosevelt, with the help of J. P. Morgan, steers the government through the
Panic of 1907.
1907 ................................................ Under the terms of the so-called Gentlemens Agreement, Japan pledged to
restrict immigration to the United States, and the United States, in turn, would
refrain from enacting Japanese exclusion into law.
1908 ................................................ Lyndon Johnson is born near Stonewall, Texas.
1908 ................................................ Roosevelt honors an earlier pledge and declines to run for reelection. His chosen
successor, William Howard Taft, is elected.
1910 ................................................ Wilson is elected governor of New Jersey.
1910 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is elected to the New York State Senate.
6 February 1911.............................. Ronald Reagan is born in Tampico, Illinois.
1912 ................................................ Wilson wins the Democratic nomination and is elected president after Roosevelt
splits the Republican Party with his insurgent campaign.
19131914 ...................................... Wilson wins enactment of his domestic program of tariff reduction, creation of
the Federal Reserve System, and anti-trust legislation.
1913 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
1914 ................................................ World War I begins. Wilson tries to maintain neutrality while seeking to
mediate an end to the war.
May 1915........................................ A German submarine torpedoes the British liner Lusitania.
1916 ................................................ Under Wilsons guidance, Congress adopts federal loans for farmers, a model
workmens compensation act, a federal child labor law, an eight-hour day for
railroad workers, and federal highway assistance.
1916 ................................................ The United States begins preparedness measures.
1916 ................................................ Wilson narrowly wins reelection with the slogan he kept us out of war.
2 April 1917.................................... Wilson asks Congress for a declaration of war against Germany.
27 May 1917................................... John F. Kennedy is born in Brookline, Massachusetts. He would be the first
president to be born in the twentieth century.
1918 ................................................ Wilson sets out his Fourteen Points as a basis for a lasting peace.
1918 ................................................ The American Expeditionary Force plays an important role in running the war
for the Allies.
1919 ................................................ Wilson leads the American delegation to Paris to negotiate the peace settlement.
The Treaty of Versailles would include his plan for a league of nations.
September 1919 .............................. Wilson suffers a stroke while campaigning for the treaty, which the Senate fails
to ratify.
1920 ................................................ The states ratify constitutional amendments for prohibition and womens
suffrage. The 1920 election would be the first in American history with women
in all states eligible to vote.
1920 ................................................ The Republicans recapture the presidency as Warren Harding wins a landslide
victory. Franklin Roosevelt runs for vice president on the losing Democratic
ticket.
1921 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is stricken with polio.

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1928 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is elected governor of New York. Republican Herbert
Hoover wins the presidency.
1929 ................................................ The Great Depression begins.
1932 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt easily defeats Herbert Hoover in the presidential election.
1933 ................................................ In the first hundred days of the administration, Congress enacts Roosevelts
New Deal agenda of work and relief programs, banking reform, homeowner
assistance, economy in government, and programs for the recovery of industry
and agriculture.
1933 ................................................ The prohibition amendment is repealed.
1934 ................................................ The incumbent Democrats win congressional seats in the midterm elections.
1935 ................................................ The Supreme Court declares the National Recovery Act unconstitutional.
1935 ................................................ Elements of the second New Deal are enacted, including the Works Progress
Administration, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Social Security Act.
1936 ................................................ Roosevelt wins a landslide reelection, taking every state except Maine and
Vermont.
1937 ................................................ Johnson wins a special election for the U.S. House of Representatives.
1937 ................................................ The Supreme Court upholds the Social Security Act.
1937 ................................................ Congress rejects Roosevelts court-packing plan.
1937 ................................................ An economic recession begins.
1937 ................................................ Reagan begins his acting career.
1938 ................................................ Congress enacts the Fair Labor Standards Act, establishing minimum wages and
maximum hours.
1938 ................................................ Republicans make major gains in the midterm elections of 1938, although
Democrats retain both houses of Congress.
1939 ................................................ World War II begins. A strong isolationist movement would develop in the
United States.
1940 ................................................ Under Roosevelts prodding, the United States begins to aid the Allies and
develop preparedness measures, including the Selective Training and Service
Act.
1940 ................................................ Roosevelt wins an unprecedented third term, defeating dark horse Republican
candidate Wendell Willkie.
1941 ................................................ The United States becomes more deeply involved in the war, especially after the
passage of Lend-Lease in March.
August 1941 ................................... The United States and Britain issue the Atlantic Charter with an eight-point
statement of principles for peace.
December 1941............................... Japan attacks Pearl Harbor. The United States declares war against Japan.
Germany and Italy declare war against the United States. The United States
declares war on Germany and Italy.
1942 ................................................ The United States adopts measures to mobilize the nation and to finance the war
effort.
1942 ................................................ President Roosevelt authorizes the internment of Japanese Americans.
1942 ................................................ The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration, key
components of the New Deal, come to an end.

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January 1943................................... Crucial decisions about the war, including a demand for unconditional
surrender, are made by Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and other Allied
representatives at Casablanca.
6 June 1944..................................... The Allied invasion of France begins.
1944 ................................................ Congress enacts the G.I. Bill of Rights.
1944 ................................................ Representatives of the Allies establish the basis for the foundation of the United
Nations.
1944 ................................................ Franklin Roosevelt is elected to a third term. He selects Harry Truman as his
running mate after dumping Vice President Henry Wallace.
February 1945................................. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin meet at Yalta to discuss Russian entry into the
war against Japan, the United Nations, and postwar arrangements in Germany,
Poland, and Eastern Europe.
12 April 1945.................................. Truman becomes president after Roosevelts death.
7 May 1945..................................... V-E Day: Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies.
August 1945 ................................... The United States drops atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki.
2 September 1945 ........................... V-J Day: Japanese formally surrender aboard the U.S.S. Missouri.
1945 ................................................ Truman proposes an ambitious program of domestic reform, most of which will
not be enacted by Congress.
1946 ................................................ The Republicans win control of both houses of Congress for the first time since
the 1920s. Kennedy is elected as a Democrat to the U.S. House of
Representatives.
March 1947..................................... Truman announces the Truman Doctrine on the containment of communism.
1947 ................................................ The National Security Act establishes the Department of Defense, the Central
Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Council.
1947 ................................................ Congress enacts the Taft-Hartley Act over the veto of President Truman.
1947 ................................................ Secretary of State Marshall announces his plan for the recovery of Europe.
1948 ................................................ Truman issues an executive order to end segregation in the armed forces.
1948 ................................................ Truman recognizes the newly created state of Israel.
1948 ................................................ Truman surprises the pundits by defeating Thomas Dewey in the presidential
election. Democrats regain control of Congress. Johnson is elected to the
Senate.
1949 ................................................ Truman announces Four Point program to improve and modernize the
economies of less developed nations.
1949 ................................................ Communist forces take over the mainland of China. Recriminations begin in the
United States.
1949 ................................................ The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is established.
1950 ................................................ The Korean War begins.
October 1950 .................................. The U.N. Army crosses the 38th parallel into North Korea.
November 1950 .............................. Chinese Communists enter the Korean War.
1951 ................................................ Truman fires General MacArthur for insubordination.

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1952 ................................................ The Supreme Court declares unconstitutional Trumans seizure of the steel mills
in Youngstown, Ohio.
1952 ................................................ Truman declines to run for another term. The Republicans win their first
presidential election since 1928 as Dwight Eisenhower defeats Adlai Stevenson.
Kennedy is elected to the Senate.
1953 ................................................ Kennedy marries Jacqueline Bouvier.
1960 ................................................ Kennedy is elected president, narrowly defeating Republican Vice President
Richard Nixon. Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson of Texas is elected
vice president.
March 1961..................................... Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps by executive order.
April 1961....................................... Kennedy authorizes the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
1961 ................................................ The Alliance for Progress is established to promote democracy and economic
development in Latin America.
1961 ................................................ The Berlin Wall is constructed.
October 1962 .................................. After discovering the installation of Soviet missiles in Cuba, Kennedy imposes a
quarantine. The crisis is resolved when Russia agrees to remove the missiles and
the United States agrees not to invade Cuba.
1962 ................................................ Kennedy embraces an expansionary fiscal policy, including tax cuts to stimulate
the economy.
1962 ................................................ The United States and other nations agree to protect the independence and
neutrality of Laos.
1963 ................................................ Kennedy continues to increase American military personnel in Vietnam but
resists pressure for a large-scale American military campaign.
1963 ............................................... Kennedy supports a military coup in South Vietnam that resulted in the
assassination of President Ngo Diem.
1963 ................................................ The civil rights movement intensifies and the Kennedy administration responds
by drafting omnibus civil rights legislation.
1963 ................................................ The United States, the Soviet Union, and numerous other nations agree to ban
atmospheric and oceanic nuclear testing.
22 November 1963 ......................... Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Johnson becomes president. The
Warren Commission appointed by Johnson would find that Lee Harvey Oswald,
a former marine and self-avowed Marxist, had shot the president.
1964 ................................................ Enactment of the Civil Rights Act, ending segregation of public facilities and
accommodations.
1964 ................................................ Enactment of the Economic Opportunity Act, implementing Johnsons War on
Poverty program.
August 1964 ................................... The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gives Johnson a free hand to expand Americas
military involvement in Vietnam.
1964 ................................................ Johnson wins a landslide victory over conservative Republican candidate Barry
Goldwater.
1965 ................................................ Lyndon Johnson proposes a Great Society program. Congress responds by
enacting such programs as Medicare and Medicaid.
1965 ................................................ Enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, eliminating literacy tests and
providing for the expansion of minority registration and voting.

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1965 ................................................ Enactment of the Water Quality Act begins a succession of major environmental
initiatives during the Johnson administration.
1965 ................................................ Johnson begins a substantial escalation of American military involvement in
Vietnam, including both an air war and a ground war.
1965 ................................................ Northern race riots begin with an outbreak in the Watts neighborhood of Los
Angeles.
1966 ................................................ Democrats suffer major losses in the midterm elections. Reagan is elected
Republican governor of California.
1967 ................................................ The war in Vietnam intensifies, as do anti-war demonstrations.
1968 ................................................ Communists in Vietnam win a major propaganda victory with an offensive
launched on the eve of Tet, the lunar New Year.
31 March 1968 ............................... Johnson withdraws from the presidential race to concentrate on bringing peace
to Vietnam.
1968 ................................................ Johnsons vice president, Hubert Humphrey, loses the presidential election to
Richard Nixon.
1980 ................................................ Reagan is elected president, defeating incumbent Democratic president Jimmy
Carter. Republicans win control of the Senate for the first time since the 1950s.
March 1981..................................... Reagan narrowly survives an assassination attempt.
19811982 ...................................... Congress enacts Reagans major tax cut and deregulation proposals and
redirects priorities from domestic to military spending.
1982 ................................................ The economy is in recession and Democrats make gains in the midterm
elections.
1983 ................................................ The economy begins a recovery from the recession, and would continue to grow
throughout the remainder of Reagans terms.
October 1983 .................................. The United States invades the tiny island of Grenada to dislodge a leftist
government.
November 1984 .............................. Reagan wins a decisive reelection victory over Walter Mondale, Carters vice
president. Mondales running mate, Geraldine Ferraro, was the first woman on a
major party ticket.
1985 ................................................ Mikhail Gorbachev becomes Soviet leader.
1986 ................................................ Iran-Contra scandal, involving the sale of arms to the terrorist state of Iran and
the illegal diversion of the profits to the Contra resistance movement in
Nicaragua.
1986 ................................................ Republicans lose control of the Senate.
1986 ................................................ Congress enacts major tax reform legislation.
October 1987 .................................. The Dow Jones Industrial Average drops 500 points, but the market recovers
and the economy continues to expand through Reagans term.
1987 ................................................ The United States and the Soviet Union reach agreement on the removal of
intermediate-range ballistic missiles from Europe. The Senate ratifies the treaty
the following year.
1988 ................................................ Reagans vice president, George Bush, wins the presidency.

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