A new episode of the Madison presidency series is now available!
Jan. 5, 2020

S001 – A History of Primaries

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.


Special thanks to Ben of the Thugs and Miracles podcast, Emily and Kelley of the Wining About Herstory podcast, Dan, and Alex for their contributions to this episode!

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  • Jefferson, Thomas. “Inaugural Address [4 Mar 1801].” Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/201948. [Last Accessed: 15 Dec 2019]
  • Klar, Rebecca. “Hawaii GOP cancels presidential preference poll, commits delegates to Trump.” The Hill. 12 Dec 2019. https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/474243-hawaii-gop-cancels-presidential-preference-poll-and-commits-delegates-to [Last Accessed: 4 Jan 2020]
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  • Reagan, Ronald. “6 November 1984, Remarks at a Reelection Celebration in Los Angeles, California.” Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/260741. Last Accessed: 15 Dec 2019.
  • Remini, Robert V. “Election of 1832.” History of American Presidential Elections 1789-1968, Volume I. Arthur M Schlesinger Jr, ed. New York: Chelsea House Publishers and McGraw-Hill, 1971. pp. 495-574.
  • Stevenson, Adlai. “26 Jul 1952, Acceptance Speech at Democratic National Convention.” C-SPAN. https://www.c-span.org/video/?3392-1/adlai-stevenson-1952-acceptance-speech. [Last Accessed: 15 Dec 2019]
  • Taft, William Howard. “1 Aug 1912, Remarks Accepting the Presidential Nomination of the Republican Party.” Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/332424. [Last Accessed: 18 Dec 2019]
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  • Witcover, Jules. Marathon: The Pursuit of the Presidency 1972-1976. New York: Viking Press, 1977.

Featured Image: “Photo of John F. Kennedy arriving at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles in 1960” [13 Jul 1960], courtesy of Wikipedia


Featured Image: “For Auld Lang Syne” by Leonard Raven-Hill [May 1912], courtesy of Wikipedia