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March 19, 2020

From Me to All of You: A Quick Note

With the current global situation, I wanted to send out a quick note to express that my thoughts are with all of you out there and to assure you that Presidencies will continue (including with a new special episode coming out on Sunday, March 22nd!).

March 08, 2020

3.14 – Can I Make a Purchase?

Year(s) Discussed: 1803 Despite US Minister to France Robert R Livingston’s best efforts to conclude a treaty with France on his own, the arrival of Special Envoy James Monroe in Paris marked the beginning of a new phase of negotiations which soon led to the acquisition of a large swath of territory for the United States, an event known today as the Louisiana Purchase. Though swift, the diplomatic back and forth in April 1803 proved to be precarious from the first proposal until the signatures were on the final document.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

March 01, 2020

S003 – The Super Tuesday Spectacular

Year(s) Discussed: 1976-1988 Super Tuesday happens at least once every four years in the modern US presidential election cycle, but how much does anyone really know about this date on the campaign calendar? In this episode, I explore the history of Super Tuesday and how it impacted numerous presidential elections in the past.

US Presidential Elections Series

February 23, 2020

3.13 – Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Year(s) Discussed: 1801-1803, 1807 As James Monroe began his special mission to Europe in early 1803, he would come to find that the situation on the continent was rapidly changing as the Peace of Amiens was proving to be a shaky one. Meanwhile, President Jefferson had to deal with some staffing changes at home and abroad.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

February 08, 2020

3.12 – And the Beat Goes On

Year(s) Discussed: 1801-1803 As a new state joined the Union, state and federal leaders in the US worked to redefine the nation’s governmental institutions and its approach to foreign affairs. Jefferson put some plans into motion to stretch American influence through an expedition across western North America. Meanwhile, as Democratic-Republicans sought to wrest control of the judiciary from Federalists, the Supreme Court delivered a pivotal ruling.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

February 01, 2020

S002 – Primaries vs Caucuses

Year(s) Discussed: 1901-2008 What is the difference between a primary and a caucus anyway? Listen as I explore that question and discuss the various permutations of both as well as how the presidential primary calendar came to have Iowa and New Hampshire as the first contests in this episode.

US Presidential Elections Series

January 20, 2020

3.11 – Making Plans for Monroe

Year(s) Discussed: 1801-1803 As continued resistance in Saint-Domingue threatens French First Consul Napoléon Bonaparte’s plans to take control of Louisiana, President Jefferson works to keep tempers cool on the domestic front while turning to a trusted ally, James Monroe, to find a permanent solution to the New Orleans situation.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

January 05, 2020

S001 – A History of Primaries

Year(s) Discussed: 1816-1976 Did you know that presidential primaries in the United States are a rather modern innovation and that for a long time, presidential primary winners often didn’t end up as the party’s nominee? Learn how the primary system came to be what it is today, the varying impacts it has had on presidential campaigns since its inception, and why it took so long to play a key role in choosing presidential nominees.

US Presidential Elections Series

December 30, 2019

3.10 – We Need to Talk

Year(s) Discussed: 1801-1803 As French First Consul Napoléon Bonaparte begins to shift the balance of power in the Western Hemisphere in his favor, President Jefferson works to counter these ambitions through diplomatic efforts in both Washington and Paris. Meanwhile, a Mediterranean power declares war on the US, and Jefferson’s powers of persuasion are put to the test when dealing with family matters.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

December 15, 2019

3.09 – Yazoo to You Too

Year(s) Discussed: 1795-1802 While the Jefferson administration made a breakthrough in settling a long-standing dispute with the state of Georgia over its western land claims in 1802, the new US Minister to France, Robert Livingston, began his mission trying to get answers on the situation with the colony of Louisiana. Meanwhile, peace in Europe and a new phase of the conflict in Saint-Domingue threaten to upend Jefferson’s vision for the west.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

December 01, 2019

3.08 – The Enabler-in-Chief

Year(s) Discussed: 1801-1802 The Democratic-Republican reform agenda moved beyond appointments as the Seventh Congress began its session. From the federal judiciary to the organization of the west, Jefferson wielded the soft power of the presidency in order to move ideas along. However, he would not be the only one working to shape the future of the government and the nation, and there was no guarantee as to whose vision would prevail.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

November 17, 2019

3.07 – The Door to the West

Year(s) Discussed: 1798-1801 Jefferson and his administration early on focused their attention on the civilian and military operations in the western frontier of the US and worked through the year leading up to the convening of the first session of the Seventh Congress to determine who would stay and who would go. Meanwhile, despite his concerns about a standing army and navy, Jefferson also worked in his first year in office to establish two key supports for the US military establishment: a military academy and a dry dock.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

November 03, 2019

3.06 – To Limited Arms

Year(s) Discussed: 1795-1801 Jefferson managed to get a permanent Secretary of the Navy just in time for Commodore Dale’s naval squadron to engage in combat in the Mediterranean. In addition to that key post being filled, the administration was able to make some additional structural decisions during the final months of 1801 in time for the new congressional session in December. Meanwhile, a new opposition was organized by a key Federalist leader to ensure that Jefferson’s first annual message would not go unquestioned.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

October 13, 2019

3.05 – Affairs, Foreign and Domestic

Year(s) Discussed: 1799-1801 The beginning of Jefferson’s administration coincided with changes in other parts of the world including France, Great Britain, Spain, and Saint-Domingue that would ultimately come to impact the United States. Meanwhile, as Jefferson continued to assemble his Cabinet, he and his administration also had to deal with a new round of negotiation with Napoléon’s government and appeasing an irate office seeker who threatened to expose the President to public scandal.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

September 29, 2019

3.04 – A Deadly Revenge

Year(s) Discussed: 1801 Literally and figuratively, the new President worked to get his house in order following his inauguration. With a limited number of positions available and plans to shrink the size of the federal government even further, Jefferson set ground rules for his new administration to determine whether to retain Federalist office holders or oust them in favor of Democratic-Republicans. Despite a nod towards non-partisanship, Jefferson’s decisions were criticized by members of both parties.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

September 15, 2019

3.03 – The Revolution of 1800

Year(s) Discussed: 1800-1801 As Jefferson assumed office and Democratic-Republicans took control of the federal government in March 1801, new leaders emerged while others exited the stage or moved to the periphery. The new administration would get its start still dealing with the aftermath of the recent contentious election, and the new President had to weigh, with his words and his first decisions, how to balance his obligations to his party and the best interests of the nation.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

September 01, 2019

3.02 – Jefferson Pre-Presidency Part Two

Year(s) Discussed: 1774-1801 Between the publication of “Summary View of the Rights of British America” and his assuming the presidency, Jefferson made a name for himself by drafting the Declaration of Independence, struggled to see his home state of Virginia through the Revolution as governor, experienced a devastating personal loss, and served the new nation at home and abroad. Though his rise in national prominence as the leader of the opposition would ultimately lead to him becoming the third President, not only his public record but also various facets of Jefferson’s personal life would pose challenges for the new administration before it even began.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

August 17, 2019

3.01 – Jefferson Pre-Presidency Part One

Year(s) Discussed: 1612-1774 From his birth in Albemarle County, VA, Thomas Jefferson’s personality and public career began to take shape through his education at William and Mary, and his introduction to the world of politics in colonial Virginia. Along the way, he would be influenced by family members and mentors and would in turn start to impact his own young family, his neighbors, those individuals he enslaved, and the course of events in British North America.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

August 07, 2019

2.26 – Adams Q&A

Year(s) Discussed: 1735-1848 I asked for your questions to wrap up our series on the second POTUS, and you sent in some great ones! In this episode, we discuss everything from Adams’s tenure as US Minister to the Netherlands to his relationship with his family members to his and JQA’s legacies to what kind of food he liked. Thanks to everyone who sent in questions! For those listening through a podcatcher, my apologies for the audio quality – I recorded it as a video and had to add in alternate audio later as I referenced what would be shown on the screen.

02 - John Adams

July 21, 2019

V004 – Interview with Zacharie Kinslow

Year(s) Discussed: 1795-1891 On the anniversary of James K Polk’s death, I spoke with Zacharie Kinslow of the President James K Polk Home and Museum in Columbia, TN about the 11th President and his wife Sarah Childress Polk. Zach also shares his research on the life of Elias Polk, an enslaved individual whose life after attaining freedom following the Civil War provides insight into life for African-Americans in the Reconstruction Era and the Gilded Age. Images used for this episode as well as links to Zach’s article on Elias and video of a presentation at a conference on Polk can be found at https://www.presidenciespodcast.com.


July 04, 2019

2.25 – Adams Post-Presidency

Year(s) Discussed: 1801-1826 After leaving the presidency, John Adams searched for a path ahead. In the process, he dealt with emotions that had been building for years, rebuilt some bridges that had been burned in political battles, suffered numerous personal heartaches, and bore witness to a quarter century more of the nation’s history.

02 - John Adams

June 15, 2019

2.24 – The 36th Ballot

Year(s) Discussed: 1800-1801 The nation had little time to process the news that Adams was defeated in his bid for reelection as a constitutional crisis developed regarding who would succeed him to the post. Meanwhile, the outgoing president only had a few weeks remaining to secure the ratification of the Convention of Mortefontaine, get several federal judges confirmed including a new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and get a new Treasury Secretary in place.

02 - John Adams

June 08, 2019

2.23 – The Double-Edged Sword

Year(s) Discussed: 1796-1800 As the new federal capital comes alive with government officials and newspaper publishers moving in to be on hand for the congressional session opening in November 1800, President Adams waits with the rest of the nation to learn the results of electors being chosen across the United States. His path to reelection however grows ever darker due to a dispute with his running mate’s brother and a pamphlet released by Alexander Hamilton.

02 - John Adams

May 26, 2019

V003 – Interview with Jared Cohen, Accidental Presidents

Year(s) Discussed: 1835-2009 In this episode, I talk with Jared Cohen, author of Accidental Presidents: Eight Men Who Changed America, about the presidents who came to the office due to the untimely demise of their predecessor and how their becoming pr...