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George Washington’s Legacy: A Review of Presidential Leadership

Why does George Washington’s Presidency still matter? Join us for a panel discussion featuring prominent historians Edward Larson, Susan Dunn, and Michael Beschloss who will explore the significance of Washington’s Presidency through the years.

Date and Time




Robert H. and Clarice Smith Auditorium located at the Mount Vernon Inn Complex. Reception to take place in the same facility immediately following the lecture.

As the first President of the United States, George Washington famously noted that he walked on “untrodden ground.” Now that ground has been trodden by forty-three others, and we’re beginning to look for our next President--what are the leadership legacies of America’s first President? How have the ways in which Presidents lead changed our nation’s highest office? How have precedents set by George Washington continued to shape the institution? Each panel member is a leading historian of the American Presidency and each have been influenced by the work of noted political scientist and leadership scholar, James MacGregor Burns. Join us for an engaging evening of conversation with these renowned thinkers who will share their insights and respond to audience questions about the past, present, and future of the American Presidency. Guests are invited to a cocktail reception immediately following the panel discussion.

This public event is associated with an academic conference honoring the work of James MacGregor Burns. For more information on that event, click here.

Michael Beschloss

Michael Beschloss is an award-winning historian, best-selling author of nine books, New York Times columnist and Emmy-winning contributor to NBC News and the PBS NewsHour. Beschloss also has the largest Twitter following of any historian on earth (with more than 110,000 followers); his site appears on TIME magazine’s list of the world’s top Twitter feeds. Beschloss serves as the NBC News Presidential Historian—the first time any major TV network created such a position; he appears on all NBC programs.

Susan Dunn, Ph.D.

Dr. Dunn is the Preston Parish Third Century Professor of Humanities at Williams College where she teaches in the Leadership Studies program. She is the author of many books, including the critically acclaimed Sister Revolutions (Faber & Faber/ Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999); Roosevelt’s Purge (Harvard University Press, 2010) winner of the Henry Adams Prize and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History; 1940: FDR, Willkie, Lindbergh, Hitler -- the Election Amid the Storm (Yale University Press, 2013); and two books written with James MacGregor Burns -- The Three Roosevelts (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2001) and George Washington: The American Presidents Series (Times Books/Holt, 2004).

Ed Larson, Ph.D.

The author of nine books and nearly one hundred published articles, Dr. Larson teaches, lectures, and writes about issues of law, politics, science, and medicine from an historical perspective. Dr. Larson is a Pulitzer Prize winning author and has tremendous success with his most recent book, The Return of George Washington: 1783-1984. He is interviewed frequently for broadcast and print media, including The Daily Show and multiple appearances on PBS, BBC, the History Channel, C-SPAN, and NPR. Dr. Larson is the Hugh & Hazel Darling Chair for Pepperdine University’s School of Law and was an inaugural fellow for The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington.


Attendees should park in Mount Vernon visitor parking lots and walk across the street to the Mount Vernon Inn complex.