KC Johnson

History 7446: American Presidency

This course will explore the history of the American presidency from George Washington until the present day.


  • Research Paper: 50%
  • Participation: 30%
  • Study Questions/Supplementary Reading: 20%

Books: (all available through amazon.com)

My Contact Information:


August 28: Introduction

  • Forrest MacDonald, The American Presidency

September 4: The Constitutional Era

  • Joseph Ellis, His Excellency [study questions:]

supplementary readings:

  • Lynn Parsons, The Birth of Modern Politics

September 11, 18–transition days

September 25: The Transitional Era

Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy [study questions: ]

supplementary readings:

  • Walter Borneman, Polk
  • Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wraught


David Herbert Donald, Lincoln [study questions:]

supplementary readings:

  • Mark Neely, The Fate of Liberty [] 

October 9: The Post-Civil War Era

Brooks Simpson, The Reconstruction Presidents [study questions:]

supplementary readings:

  • Henry Graff, Grover Cleveland []

October 16: Wilson

John Milton Cooper, Woodrow Wilson [study questions: ]

supplementary readings:

  • Thomas Knock, To End All Wars []

October 23: No class

October 30:  FDR

David Kennedy, Freedom from Fear [study questions]

supplementary readings:

  • Frank Freidel, Franklin D. Roosevelt: Rendezvous with Destiny []

November 6: The Postwar Presidency

James McCullough, Truman  [study questions: ]

supplementary readings:

  • Jean Smith, Eisenhower in War and Peace []

November 13: 1960s

Joshua Zeitz, Building a Great Society [study questions: ]

supplementary readings:

  • Robert Caro, The Passage to Power []

November 20: Nixon

Stanley Kutler, The Wars of Watergate []

supplementary readings:

  • Rick Perlstein, Nixonland

November 27: The Transition to Reaganism

Rick Perlstein, The Invisible Bridge []

supplementary readings:

  • Taylor Branch, The Clinton Tapes []

December 4: Modern Presidency

  • Selena Zito, The Great Revolt
  • supplementary readings:
  • Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, Double Down

December 9: Review


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