This year's online symposium focuses on elections that shaped the American presidency.

Learn from some of the nation's leading historians about how Americans have elected their presidents from Washington's time to our own.

Register

The George Washington Symposium is supported by a generous endowment established by the Barra Foundation.

Additional support is provided by the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy at the University of Missouri.

Add to Calendar 10/26/2020 12:00:00 10/30/2020 13:00:00 America/New_York 2020 George Washington Symposium

This year's online symposium focuses on elections that shaped the American presidency.

Learn from some of the nation's leading historians about how Americans have elected their presidents from Washington's time to our own.

Register

The George Washington Symposium is supported by a generous endowment established by the Barra Foundation.

Additional support is provided by the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy at the University of Missouri.

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Dates

Cost

Free

Location

Online

Elections that Shaped the American Presidency

As our nation approaches its next presidential election, our symposium focuses on several pivotal contests throughout American history that shaped and defined the election process and the American Presidency.

Each day at noon during the week of October 26-30, we will invite an eminent scholar to join us in a conversation to explore elections during Washington’s lifetime and key elections that followed, including those from the Civil War era, the depths of the Great Depression, and the volatile mid-twentieth century. 

  • Monday: Running for Office before the Revolution: George Washington’s First Elections with David O. Stewart
  • Tuesday: America’s First Presidential Elections, from Washington to Jefferson with Jeffrey L. Pasley
  • Wednesday: Lincoln’s Two Elections and the American Civil War with Elizabeth R. Varon
  • Thursday: The Election of 1932: Washington’s Bicentennial and FDR’s Triumph with Donald Ritchie
  • Friday: The Election of 1960 and the Birth of the Modern Campaign with Alan Price

 

Monday, October 26, Noon ET: David O. Stewart

Running for Office Before the Revolution: George Washington’s First Elections

On Monday, we will talk with David O. Stewart, author of the forthcoming, George Washington: The Political Rise of America’s Founding Father, about elections in colonial Virginia, Washington’s sixteen years as a legislator in the Virginia House of Burgesses, and what he learned from those early political experiences.

About the Speaker:

David O. Stewart practiced law for more than 25 years, before turning to writing history. His award-winning book, The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution, was a Washington Post bestseller. He is also the author of American Emperor: Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America and Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy.

 

Tuesday, October 27, Noon ET: Jeffrey L. Pasley

America’s First Presidential Elections, from Washington to Jefferson

On Tuesday, we will talk with Prof. Jeff Pasley of the University of Missouri about the first American presidential elections, from Washington’s unanimous election to two terms in office to the first contested election in our history, when John Adams defeated Thomas Jefferson in 1796, only to lose to him in 1800.

About the Speaker:

Jeffrey L. Pasley’s research focuses on American political culture between the American Revolution and the Civil War, with particular emphasis on the practical aspects and middle levels of political life. This interest has led him to such misunderstood or little-studied topics as the histories of the partisan press, lobbying, and campaigning. He is the author of The First Presidential Contest: 1796 and the Founding of American Democracy, which was a finalist for the 2014 George Washington Prize.

 

Wednesday, October 28, Noon ET: Elizabeth R. Varon

Lincoln’s Two Elections and the American Civil War

On Wednesday, we will talk with Prof. Elizabeth Varon of the University of Virginia about the extraordinarily consequential election of 1860, when Abraham Lincoln was elected president and the nation soon broke apart. We will also look at the election of 1864, when Lincoln sought re-election in the midst of civil war.

About the Speaker:

Elizabeth R. Varon is the Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History at the University of Virginia and serves on the Executive Council of UVA's John L. Nau Center for Civil War History. Her most recent book, Armies of Deliverance: A New History of the Civil War, was awarded the 2020 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize.

 

Thursday, October 29, Noon ET: Donald Ritchie

The Election of 1932: Washington’s Bicentennial and FDR’s Triumph

On Thursday, we will talk with Dr. Donald Ritchie, Historian Emeritus of the U.S. Senate, about the election of 1932, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt defeated the incumbent, Herbert Hoover, during a time of national crisis, and reversed the course of American politics.

About the Speaker:

Donald Ritchie served as Historian of the United States Senate from 2009 to 2015. He is the author of a number of books including Electing FDR. His book Press Gallery: Congress and the Washington Correspondents won him the Richard W. Leopold Prize of the Organization of American Historians. He has served as president of the Oral History Association and on the councils of the American Historical Association and the International Oral History Association, as well as on the board of the Society for History in the Federal Government.

 

Friday, October 30, Noon ET: Alan Price

The Election of 1960 and the Birth of the Modern Campaign

On Friday, we will talk with Alan Price, Director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, about the historic and closely contested race for the presidency in 1960, when Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon.

About the Speaker:

Alan Price is the Director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. He has served as Associate Director of Management at the Peace Corps and Acting Chief of Staff for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

Contact

Stephen A. McLeod

Director, Library Programs

703.799.8686

smcleod@mountvernon.org

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