Cover image for The American presidency : a glorious burden
The American presidency : a glorious burden
Bunch, Lonnie G.
Publication Information:
Washington [D.C.] : Smithsonian Institution Press, in association with the National Museum of American History, [2000]

Physical Description:
xix, 187 pages : illustrations (some color), 1 map ; 29 cm
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E176.1 .A654 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
E176.1 .A654 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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This lavishly illustrated volume recounts the evolution of the presidency, from the age of George Washington until today. Drawing from the vast collections of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, it provides a revealing glimpse of the culture, particularly the material culture, of the presidency.

Using objects as varied as Thomas Jefferson's portable desk, Abraham Lincoln's stovepipe hat, a 1903 Teddy Bear named for Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt's pince-nez, and a drum played during John E Kennedy's funeral, the book explores how the presidency has changed, and how presidential administrations have shaped -- and been shaped by -- relationships with the American people. Advertisements, movies, and television programs are also invoked to show how popular culture has informed Americans' collective memory of the presidency.

The American Presidency accompanies a permanent exhibition of the same name at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The Smithsonian Institution draws on the massive collection of artifacts in its National Museum of American History for this millennial overview of the presidency. (For several similar recent publications, see "Surveying Presidential Politics," BKL N 1 00.) The authors--museum directors and curators, plus a Smithsonian Institution Press senior editor--organize their story thematically. They discuss "Creating the Presidency," campaigns and inaugurations, roles presidents have assumed and the limits to their power, the functions of the White House, the nation's mourning for assassinated leaders, the president's role as a communicator, the ways the populace views the office, and the activities of ex-presidents after they leave office. But the focus here is pictures, not words: pictures of swords and guns and suitcases and bicycles, broadsides and posters and campaign buttons, newspaper headlines and editorial cartoons; photos of presidents and their families, the press, and the public over the last 200-plus years. Not an essential purchase, but a valuable supplement to more text-heavy descriptions of the nation's highest office. --Mary Carroll

Library Journal Review

In November 2000 the Smithsonian National Museum of American History opened a permanent exhibit, "The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden." This companion volume is a worthy complement, with more than 300 color photos and an introduction by Richard Norton Smith, noted historian and director of the Gerald R. Ford Library. Smith sets the tone of the exhibit by criticizing the history profession for allowing the statisticians to crowd out the storytellers, and the subsequent compilation displays the presidency as a social and cultural institution more than a political one. Among the hundreds of fascinating artifacts are tickets to President Clinton's Senate impeachment; Lincoln Tea, which was said to be an effective laxative; inaugural gowns worn by First Ladies; and reminders of the dangers presidents face, a drum that played a somber cadence at President Kennedy's funeral procession and the top hat worn by President Lincoln the night he was assassinated. The compilers remind the reader of the important symbolic relationship that the American people share with their president. Strongly recommended for public libraries and academic collections of popular history.DKarl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. xi
Prefacep. xvii
Introductionp. 1
Creating The Presidencyp. 27
Presidential Campaignsp. 39
Celebrating Inaugurationsp. 53
Presidential Rolesp. 67
Limits of Presidential Powerp. 91
The White House As Symbol And Homep. 107
Assassination And Mourningp. 123
Communicating The Presidencyp. 139
The Presidency In Popular Imaginationp. 155
Life After The Presidencyp. 169
Further Readingp. 181
A Presidential Chronologyp. 183
Acknowledgmentsp. 185