Interviews

From time to time, I am joined by authors and historians to explore their work as it relates to presidential history. Interview episodes are listed below alphabetically by last name.

Cover Art and Link to Episode

Description

Years Discussed

Source Notes Link

Interview with Thomas Balcerski, Bosom Friends

Political partnerships are nothing new to American politics, but what happens when the domestic world and the political realm overlap? To examine that question and learn more about one of the most significant political partnerships in American history, I spoke with Thomas Balcerski, author of Bosom Friends: The Intimate World of James Buchanan and William Rufus King. In our conversation, Tom shared some great insights about the politics, ideologies, and society of antebellum America and not only how Buchanan and King fit in to all of that but what studying their lives and their relationship can tell us in turn about larger historical themes.

1786-1868

Source Notes

Interview with Lindsay Chervinsky, The Cabinet

George Washington established many precedents during his tenure of office, but one that had arguably the greatest impact was his establishment, not by law but by practice, of what we now know of as the Cabinet. To examine the beginnings of this institution and what it meant for the Washington presidency, I am joined in this special episode by Lindsay Chervinsky, a historian with the White House Historical Association and author of The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution. In our conversation, Lindsay provided great insights into Washington’s thought process in turning to the Cabinet as an advisory body as well as how the events and culture of the 1790s influenced the development of the executive branch.

1789-1809

Source Notes

Interview with Jared Cohen, Accidental Presidents

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 president altered the course of US history. In this wide-ranging discussion, we assess some of the successes and failures of these presidents as well as the history of how constitutional questions related to succession were answered and what questions still remain.

1835-2009

Source Notes

Interview with Jon Finkel, Jocks in Chief

The term “fit for office” is often bandied about when talking about the US presidency, but how exactly does physical fitness relate to the office or to presidential campaigning? To explore that question, I recently spoke with Jon Finkel, author of Jocks in Chief. In our conversation, Jon shared the system that he came up with to rank the athleticism of the 44 individuals who thus far have served as president, and we discussed how various presidents approached exercise in their lives as well as how impressions of the vigor of some presidential candidates impacted their campaigns and historical legacies.

1789-2020

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Interview with Zacharie Kinslow

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.

1795-1891

Source Notes