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[Abridged] Presidential Histories
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[Abridged] Presidential Histories

Author: Kenny Ryan

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From Yorktown to the Civil War, Pearl Harbor to 9/11, discover the pivotal moments that defined each president's life and legacy and the lessons we can draw from them. New episodes will be available the first day of each month.
18 Episodes
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Was James Buchanan secretly the nation's first gay president? Join me as I interview historian Thomas Balcerski, author of Bosom Friends, the intimate world of James Buchanan and William Rufus King, on the 150-year-old rumors about Buchanan's sexuality. We'll also dive into Buchanan's presidency and ask, what can we learn from a man widely considered one of the worst presidents we've ever had?Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/AbridgedPresidentialHistories)
In 1857, the debate over slavery had fractured Kansas, national political parties, and even national churches. It's easy to see why the country turned to James Buchanan, a man with one of the strongest resumes ever put in the white house.Unfortunately, he inherited 31 states, and left behind 27, as the pre-civil was secession crisis overwhelmed the nation during his final months in office.Follow along as Buchanan develops an affinity for southern slave culture, then vigorously advances that cause as a congressman, senator, minister abroad, secretary of state, and president, engages in all sorts of corruption to strengthen slavery as a president, and then sits by and does nothing to stop the secession of the south and the rapidly oncoming civil war.Bibliography1. James Buchanan – Jean H. Baker 2. Bosom Friends – Thomas Balcerski 3. Polk: The man who transformed the presidency – Walter R. Borneman 4. Millard Fillmore – Paul Finkelman5. Abraham Lincoln – David Herbert Donald6. Franklin Pierce – Michael F. Holta 7. Embattled Rebel – James M. McPhersonSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/AbridgedPresidentialHistories)
"We Polked  you in 44, we're Pierce you in 52!"Franklin Pierce may have my favorite campaign slogan yet. But in terms of presidencies, wow, this guy is a total disaster. I mean, Millard Fillmore just nuked the only major opposition party into oblivion. Governing should be easy, right? Not when you're Pierce, who do his best to one-up Fillmore and wreck the Democratic party on the bloody shoal known as "Bleeding Kansas."Follow along as Pierce falls hilariously short in his pursuit of military glory in the Mexican-American War, gets elected president anyway when Democratic partisans can't agree on any of the more-qualified candidates, and then triggers a mini Civil War in Kansas after he passes the Kansas-Nebraska act.By the time Pierce leaves office, we'll be four years away from The Civil War.Bibliography1. Franklin Pierce – Michael F. Holt2. Millard Fillmore – Paul Finkelman3. Bosom Friends – Thomas J. Balcerski4. James Buchanan - Jean H. Baker5. Abraham Lincoln – David Herbert DonaldSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/AbridgedPresidentialHistories)
When Millard Fillmore became president, the country was on the verge of collapse. President Taylor had just died, the Compromise of 1850 appeared dead, and southern secessionist were organizing a convention to plot disunion. The nation looked to Fillmore to save it.And he totally whiffed.Follow along as Fillmore uses the scapegoating of minorities to rise to power, postpones Civil War for a decade with the Compromise of 1850, destroys the Whig party with his overzealous enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act, and runs for president with the Know Nothings - a nativist secret-society-turned-political-party that dreamt of building an America where immigrants, catholics, and minorities are second-class citizens.Bibliography1. Millard Fillmore – Paul Finkelman2. Zachary Taylor – John D. Eisenhower3. Heirs of the Founders – H.W. Brands4. Abraham Lincoln – David Herbert Donald5. Franklin Pierce – Michael F. HoltSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/AbridgedPresidentialHistories)
"Ol' Rough n' Ready" hadn't even been sworn in yet when the discovery of California gold derailed whatever plans he'd held for his presidency. 100,000 Americans flooded west to California In 1849 and quickly began clamoring for statehood - statehood without slavery. The north loved the idea, the south threatened to secede over it, and Zachary Taylor had to bridge the gap or die trying.Follow Taylor as he participates in four wars and becomes a national hero for his generalship in the Mexican-American War, gets pulled into politics by a Whig party desperate to reclaim the White House, and then shows he won't be bullied by anyone when the California Gold Rush leads to the threat of a secessionist crisis In 1850.Bibliography1. Zachary Taylor – John D. Eisenhower2. Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America – Walter R. Borneman 3. Millard Fillmore – Paul Finkelman4. Martin Van Buren and the American Political System – Donald B. Cole5. Heirs of the Founders – H.W. Brands6. Abraham Lincoln – David Herbert DonaldSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/AbridgedPresidentialHistories)
No president better captures the spirit of Manifest Destiny than James K. Polk. When he entered office, the United States had a disputed claim to Oregon, and that's about it. When he left office, the United States looked like the continent-spanning empire it is today..Follow along as Polk revives his dead-end political career to shock everyone and win the White House, manipulates the United States into war with Mexico to steal the American Southwest, acquires the Oregon Territory from Great Britain through bold negotiation, and accomplishes all of his domestic priorities in a single action-packed term.Bibliography1. Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America – Walter R. Borneman2. Zachary Taylor – John D. Eisenhower3. John Tyler - Gary May4. Heirs of the Founders – H.W. Brands5. John Quincy Adams - Harlow G Unger6. James Buchanan – Jean H. Baker7. Abraham Lincoln – David Herbert Donald8. Franklin Pierce – Michael F. HoltSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/AbridgedPresidentialHistories)
President John Tyler was so hated, he was burned in effigy by his own party before being kicked out of the party and made into a political pariah. And that's BEFORE he committed treason.Follow along as John Tyler sneaks into the presidency in a fluke, vetoes his own party's agenda to incur their wrath, engages in some of the most ambitious backroom political plotting so far, and then annexes Texas during his final days in office - lighting a 16-year fuse to Civil War.Bibliography1. John Tyler - Gary May2. William Henry Harrison – Gail Collins3. Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America – Walter R. Borneman 4. Sam Houston – James L. Haley5. Martin Van Buren and the American Political System – Donald B. Cole6. Heirs of the Founders – H.W. Brands7. John Quincy Adams - Harlow G UngerSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/AbridgedPresidentialHistories)
Sam Houston was never president of the United States, but he was the first president of the Independent Republic of Texas, one of the first senators of the state of Texas, and was ejected from the governorship of Texas for refusing to swear loyalty to the confederacy on the eve of the Civil War.Follow Houston as he runs away from home to live with the Cherokee, joins the army to fight under Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812, becomes Jackson's most likely heir as governor of Tennessee, flees Tennessee in disgrace when his first wife abandons him after 11 weeks, spends three years earning the name "Big Drunk" in the Indian territory, sobers up to lead Texas to independence from Mexico and then to annexation into the United States, and becomes a presidential hopeful before finally being forced out of office on the eve of the Civil War.In case you didn't notice, it's going to be a heck of a life!Bibliography1. Sam Houston – James L. Haley 4. Heirs of the Founders – H.W. BrandsSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/AbridgedPresidentialHistories)
When William Henry Harrison pledged to only serve one term as president, he probably didn't anticipate fulfilling that promise by dying after a month in office. But Harrison is far more than just the shortest-serving president of all time. He's also the reason England didn't capture the American midwest during the war of 1812, and his presidential campaign introduced the word "Booze" to American culture.So, rock on.Follow Harrison as he joins the army on the frontier, saves midwest from British invasion, defeats the shawnee warrior Tecumseh at the battle of Tippecanoe, and wins one of the wildest presidential campaigns of all time, only to die a month after being sworn in. But hey, you can't knock him for breaking campaign promises.Bibliography1. William Henry Harrison – Gail Collins2. John Tyler - Gary May3. Martin Van Buren and the American Political System – Donald B. Cole4. Heirs of the Founders – H.W. BrandsSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/AbridgedPresidentialHistories)
How does Martin Van Buren rise from being an impoverished child with no education to taking over New York State politics, forging the Democratic Party, and creating the modern two-party system? He does it by being sly. Sly as a fox.Follow Van Buren, the "Little Magician," as he outwits and manipulates every foe and ally alike to remake the American political landscape, only for it all to collapse on him just four days after reaching the White House when America's first great depression destroys the economy and any dreams Van Buren might have held for what his presidency might have been.Bibliography1. Martin Van Buren and the American Political System – Donald B. Cole2. The Life of Andrew Jackson – Robert V. Remin3. Heirs of the Founders – H.W. Brands4. John Quincy Adams – Harlow G Unger5. Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America – Walter R. Borneman6. William Henry Harrison – Gail CollinsSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/AbridgedPresidentialHistories)
How does an uneducated man with a fiery temper, a treasonous past, and a propensity for murder become president? He does it by winning a famous military victory, of course! Andrew Jackson is the Hero of New Orleans, our seventh president, and a pretty terrible person beyond that.From his youth as a Revolutionary War orphan to his military victories, war crimes, cruelty toward Native Americans, disastrous economic policies, and that time he almost fought a civil war against his own former Vice President (really!), we'll follow Jackson as he begrudges his way to the top of American politics and an enduring popularity that can be explained only one way - Americans love a winner.Bibliography1. The Life of Andrew Jackson – Robert V. Remin2. Martin Van Buren and the American Political System – Donald B. Cole3. John Quincy Adams – Harlow G Unger4. The Last Founding Father, James Monroe and A Nation’s Call to Greatness – Harlow G Unger5. Heirs of the Founders – H.W. Brands6. Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America – Walter R. Borneman7. James Madison - Richard BrookhiserSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/AbridgedPresidentialHistories)
Full disclosure, John Quincy Adams is my favorite early president. Not for anything he did as president - he was a total failure there. But because of what he did after the presidency, when he returned to D.C. as a humble Congressman and became the loudest voice against slavery in Congress. John Quincy will roar so loud, the South will pass a series of unconstitutional gag rules to try and shut him up. They won't succeed.From his first diplomatic mission at the age of 14, to the Napoleonic Wars, to negotiating an end to the War of 1812 and the acquisition of Florida, to the controversial election of 1824, the White House, and his post-presidential career as a voice against slavery in Congress, we'll follow John Quincy as strives to live up to his father's legacy as a man who always stands up for what is right, no matter the cost.Bibliography1. John Quincy Adams – Harlow G Unger2. The Last Founding Father, James Monroe and A Nation’s Call to Greatness – Harlow G Unger3. Heirs of the Founders – H.W. Brands 4. John Adams – David McCullough5. The Life of Andrew Jackson – Robert V. Remin6. Martin Van Buren and the American Political System – Donald B. Cole7. John Tyler – Gary May8. Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America – Walter R. Borneman9. Zachary Taylor – John D. EisenhowerSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/AbridgedPresidentialHistories)
James Monroe has been called the Forrest Gump of Founding Fathers - he just keeps showing up everywhere! But that doesn't mean he isn't sharp. Monroe dropped out of college to fight in the revolution, and his life rarely slowed down after that. He'll dine with emperor's, oversee wars, and destroy his political opponents In a globe-trotting career that takes him from nearly being orphaned to the White House.From his service In Washington's army during the Revolutionary War, to Valley Forge, to his vote against ratifying the Constitution, to his signing of the Louisiana Purchase, to his leadership as Secretary of State and War during the War of 1812, and finally the presidency, we'll follow Monroe as overcomes setbacks and learns from his mistakes to become one of the most influential presidents and Founding Fathers our country ever produced.Bibliography1. The Last Founding Father, James Monroe and A Nation’s Call to Greatness - Harlow G Unger2. James Madison - Richard Brookhiser3. Thomas Jefferson, The Art of Power - Jon Meacham4. John Quincy Adams - Harlow G Unger5. The Life of Andrew Jackson - Robert V. Remin6. Martin Van Buren and the American Political System - Donald B. Cole7. The Presidents Fact Book - Roger MatuzSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/AbridgedPresidentialHistories)
James Madison is known as the father of the Constitution. Unfortunately, he's also the father of the War of 1812 and the Embargo act of 1807. The first was a disastrous conflict that burned down the White House, the second was a well-intentioned policy that totally failed and plunged the American economy into depression.From his time helping create the modern American government to his year's building the Jeffersonian-Republican Party and his two terms in the (badly burnt) White House, we'll follow Madison as he does his best to advance the country with big, bold ideas, and only sometimes has them blow up in his face.Bibliography1. James Madison - Richard Brookhiser2. The Last Founding Father, James Monroe and A Nation’s Call to Greatness - Harlow G Unger3. Thomas Jefferson, The Art of Power - Jon Meacham4. John Adams - David McCullough5. John Quincy Adams - Harlow G Unger6. Washington, A Life - Ron Chernow7. Hamilton - Ron Chernow8. The Life of Andrew Jackson - Robert V. Remin9. The Presidents Fact Book - Roger MatuzSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/AbridgedPresidentialHistories)
Thomas Jefferson was once regarded as the greatest of Founding Fathers, and It's easy to see why. He wrote the Declaration of Independents, founded the nation's first political party, and acquired the Louisiana Purchase. But in recent years, his standing has taken a hit. There's his embrace of partisan politics, his embargo policy that caused the nation's first economic depression, and his long-running affair with Sally Hemings, his dead wife's half-sister who was 30 years younger than him and, oh yeah, also happened to be his slave.A mixed legacy, to say the least.From the Continental Congress to revolutionary France and the Louisiana Purchase, we'll follow Thomas Jefferson as he outmaneuvers his political rivals in pursuit of power to mold the nation's destiny, and does just about whatever else he pleases along the way.Bibliography1. Thomas Jefferson, The Art of Power - Jon Meacham2. James Madison - Richard Brookhiser3. The Last Founding Father, James Monroe and A Nation’s Call to Greatness - Harlow G Unger4. John Adams - David McCullough5. John Quincy Adams - Harlow G Unger6. Washington, A Life - Ron Chernow7. Hamilton - Ron Chernow8. The Life of Andrew Jackson - Robert V. Remin9. The Presidents Fact Book - Roger MatuzSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/AbridgedPresidentialHistories)
John Adams is the Devil's Advocate of the Founding Fathers. A revolutionary turned international diplomat turned President who was never afraid to stand alone if he was convinced that standing alone was the right thing to do. From the Boston Massacre to the Continental Congresses to the Treaty of Paris and the Quasi War with France, we'll follow Adams as he charts the unique path of a man who refused to be carried by the tides of history, and instead sought to control them.Bibliography1. John Adams - David McCullough2. John Quincy Adams - Harlow G Unger3. Washington, A Life - Ron Chernow4. Hamilton - Ron Chernow5. Thomas Jefferson, The Art of Power - Jon Meacham6. James Madison - Richard Brookhiser7. The Last Founding Father, James Monroe and A Nation’s Call to Greatness - Harlow G Unger8. The Presidents Fact Book - Roger MatuzSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/AbridgedPresidentialHistories)
Everyone knows George Washington was the first president of the United States. But that little phrase, "First president of the United States," hides a big story. Washington entered an office imbued with few clear powers or expectations and responsible for a young nation surrounded by potential enemies. Luckily for us, Washington had nerves of steel.From his youth as a frontier warrior to his campaigns as a revolutionary general and his two terms in the White House, we'll follow Washington as he learns from his shortcomings and grows into the father of a nation.Bibliography1. Washington, A Life - Ron Chernow2. Hamilton - Ron Chernow3. John Adams - David McCullough4. Thomas Jefferson, The Art of Power - Jon Meacham5. James Madison - Richard Brookhiser6. The Last Founding Father, James Monroe and A Nation’s Call to Greatness - Harlow G Unger7. The Presidents Fact Book - Roger MatuzSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/AbridgedPresidentialHistories)
0.) Introduction

0.) Introduction

2020-03-3006:41

What can listeners expect from the [Abridged] Presidential Histories podcast? What was the inspiration? And who's hosting it? This brief introduction answers those basic questions.If you don't care about any of that and just want to get to the presidential history, skip ahead to episode 1 on George Washington!https://www.patreon.com/AbridgedPresidentialHistoriesSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/AbridgedPresidentialHistories)
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