Presidential Transfers of Power: From George Washington to Donald Trump

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Duration 01:02:34

Hunter College

Harold Holzer, winner of The 2015 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, is one of the country’s leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. A prolific writer and lecturer, and frequent guest on television, Holzer was co-chairman of the U. S. Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, appointed by President Clinton. President Bush awarded Holzer the National Humanities Medal in 2008. And in 2013, Holzer wrote a Lincoln essay for the official program at the re-inauguration of President Obama. He also served as historical consultant for the Steven Spielberg film “Lincoln”.


The most sacred of all American rituals—and the most crucial test of democracy—may be the passing of the torch from outgoing to incoming presidents—especially in cases when incumbents lose to challengers. Ever since the founding era, these moments have occasionally been fraught, frosty, and occasionally even dangerous. This talk explores the best and worst of transitions—and the kindest and sorest of losers and winners—as it covers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln, Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt, the extraordinary example of Jimmy Carter both arriving and departing, and of course the insurrection two weeks before the departure of Donald Trump.



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