The Washington Post's Presidential podcast explores how each former American president reached office, made decisions, handled crises and redefined the role of commander-in-chief. It was released leading up to up to Election Day 2016, starting with George Washington in week one and ending on week 44 with the president-elect. Hosted by Lillian Cunningham, the series features Pulitzer Prize-winning biographers like David McCullough and Washington Post journalists like Bob Woodward.
In the premier episode of “Constitutional,” we go back in time to that hot Philadelphia summer in 1787 when a group of revolutionary Americans drafted the U.S. Constitution. Subscribe to the "Constitutional" podcast for the full episode!
In this final episode of the podcast, Library of Congress historians Michelle Krowl and Julie Miller return--along with Washington Post journalist Dan Balz--to reflect on the changing nature of the American presidency.
Peter Baker, author of "Days of Fire" and a journalist with the New York Times, joins historian Mark Updegrove to examine how George W. Bush's presidency marked the beginning of a new era in American history.
David Maraniss, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on Bill Clinton, explores how Clinton's core character traits had both a bright and a dark side. And Post reporter Jim Tankersley examines a similar duality in his policy legacy.
Historians Jon Meacham and Jeffrey Engel discuss President Bush's unique form of presidential leadership--a vintage combination of public service, conservatism and emotional restraint--and examine why his legacy has grown more positive over time.
Lou Cannon, biographer and senior White House correspondent for The Washington Post during President Reagan's administration, helps us separate the fact from fiction about who Ronald Reagan really was.
Longtime Carter political adviser Pat Caddell, theologian and biographer Randall Balmer, and Washington Post reporter Robert Costa examine how Jimmy Carter's faith has shaped his leadership in and out of the White House.
The president's son Steven Ford joins White House photographer David Hume Kennerly and Berkeley professor Daniel Sargent to talk about how Gerald Ford's experience working across the aisle in Congress affected his leadership style as president.
Bob Woodward, one of the Washington Post investigative reporters who helped uncover the Watergate scandal, examines what was at the heart of Richard Nixon's presidential downfall. The Washington Post's current executive editor, Marty Baron, joins as well.
The LBJ Presidential Library's director, Mark Updegrove, helps us examine how Johnson worked his will--at times darkly--to get some of the most transformative legislation of the 20th century through Congress.
Biographer David McCullough looks at some of the most difficult decisions President Truman made during his time in the White House, and Washington Post polling manager Scott Clement examines the biggest polling failure in presidential history.
Allida Black, editor of the Eleanor Roosevelt papers, along with FDR Library Director Paul Sparrow and White House speechwriter Sarada Peri, examine Franklin Roosevelt's leadership through the lens of the first lady's own contributions to his presidency.
Herbert Hoover entered the White House with an array of high-profile experiences leading disaster relief. So why was his handling of the Great Depression considered a failure? Biographer Charles Rappleye guest stars.
Former politician Michael Dukakis, biographer Amity Shlaes and political scientist Robert Gilbert join Washington Post economics reporter Steven Pearlstein to offer a version of Calvin Coolidge's legacy that doesn't follow the standard story.
Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of 'The Bully Pulpit,' along with historian Michelle Krowl and Supreme Court reporter Robert Barnes discuss why President Taft made a better chief justice than commander-in-chief.
Republican political strategist Karl Rove dissects what was so transformative about William McKinley's 1896 presidential campaign. And Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig discusses how his assassination modernized the Secret Service.
Benjamin Harrison: The president as conservationist
Benjamin Harrison was the first U.S. president to use his position to try to save a species, the fur seal. He also set aside more than 13 million acres of forest reserves. This episode looks at the roots of conservation as a presidential responsibility.
Known for his forthrightness, Cleveland came clean when news broke that he had fathered an illegitimate child; yet he later covered up a cancer surgery at sea. Guests Matthew Algeo, Michelle Krowl and Roman Mars explore candor and the presidency.
How does one of the greatest beneficiaries of the spoils system end up being the president who passes civil service reform? Post reporter David Fahrenthold and Stateline editor Scott Greenberger tell the amazing story of Arthur's personal transformation.
Only 100 days into office, President Garfield was shot down in a train station by a disturbed office seeker. 'Destiny of the Republic' author Candice Millard, along with Michelle Krowl of the Library of Congress, examine the life cut short.
How does a vicious, close and disputed election spill over into a presidency? We examine the razor-thin election results for Rutherford B. Hayes, and the equally fine line he then had to tread as president during the end of Reconstruction.
Ulysses S. Grant's memoirs are considered the best ever written by a president. In this episode, Washington Post nonfiction book critic Carlos Lozada and biographer David Maraniss discuss what they found funny, touching and illuminating about the work.
What kind of president can repair America's deepest divisions? Michelle Krowl of the Library of Congress walks us through Andrew Johnson's time in office right after the Civil War and sheds light on why he struggled to bring the country together.
Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of 'Team of Rivals,' and Michelle Krowl of the Library of Congress guide us through Lincoln's love for language--and how his gift for writing and oratory became one of his greatest presidential leadership tools.
America is on the eve of civil war, and James Buchanan is alone in the White House as our first and only bachelor president. Historians Jean Baker and Jim Loewen, and The Washington Post's Jim Tankersley, explore the lack of personal and political union.
Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer James McPherson and historian Edna Greene Medford discuss Franklin Pierce's role in the country's progression toward civil war, as well as the personal tragedy that unfolded right before he took office.
Should we teach the presidency of Millard Fillmore? What do we lose if we don't? Historians Jean Baker and James McPherson, along with Washington Post education reporter T. Rees Shapiro, tackle these questions in our 13th episode.
Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank joins historians Catherine Clinton and Joseph Uscinski to talk about military hero Zachary Taylor and the assassination theories that swirled around his death in the White House.
They Might Be Giants singer John Linnell and historian Amy Greenberg are guests on this episode. Through hard work and strategic lying, the 11th president managed to accomplish everything on his agenda. But is being effective the same as being great?
When Vice President Tyler took over the White House, he set a precedent that would forever shape the office. This episode features experts Barbara Bair and Joel Goldstein, as well as descendants who talk about the ghost who haunts the Tyler home.
William Henry Harrison: Great song, horrible death
Washington Post humor columnist Alexandra Petri, along with Barbara Bair and Dr. Philip Mackowiak, deconstruct Harrison's transformative presidential campaign and debunk the myth of what killed him after only 32 days in office.
Martin Van Buren: The story of our two-party system
Martin Van Buren did much to create the political party establishments we have today. Experts Barbara Bair and Mark Cheathem, along with Washington Post reporter Chris Cillizza, examine his mark on modern politics.
Barbara Bair, Steve Inskeep and Jon Meacham examine the tragedy of Andrew Jackson's personal life, the brutality of his battles and his policies against Native Americans, and the conflict that makes up a dynamic democracy.
Though he's our first wartime president, James Madison is usually better remembered for his work on the Constitution rather than his time as commander-in-chief while the White House went up in flames. But maybe that's the wrong way to look at it.
In the second episode of Presidential, biographer David McCullough as well as noted art and architecture experts explore why there's no monument to John Adams in Washington, DC -- and how that omission shapes our sense of his legacy.