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Unprecedented (Again): Historical Perspectives on the Election of 2020 and Beyond

January 19, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 7:15 pm

A Preview Interview with Thomas Balcerski:

How will the election of 2020 be remembered by history? What, if any, are its historical antecedents, and to what degree is it unprecedented? And, as we look ahead to Inauguration Day, what can history tell us about the next four years?

Join us as we welcome presidential historian Thomas Balcerski for an evening of wide-ranging conversation about the election of 2020 in historical perspective. Topics will include the historic nature of voter turnout; comparisons to other contested elections across American history (1800, 1824, 1860, 1876, and 2000); a look at some other terrible transitions from outgoing president to incoming president in 1860-61 (Buchanan to Lincoln), 1932-33 (Hoover to FDR), and 2000-01 (Clinton to W. Bush); outgoing presidents who snubbed their successor’s inauguration (Adams, Quincy Adams, and Johnson); and a slew of other lame-duck concerns, from midnight appointments to presidential pardons.

Together, we will make sense of our present moment – President Donald Trump’s lame duck tenure, the ongoing transition to President-elect Joe Biden, and the upcoming Inauguration Day – and reflect on the future of the presidency and American politics.

Dr. Thomas Balcerski is Associate Professor of History at Eastern Connecticut State University. He received his doctorate in American History from Cornell University in 2014. A specialist in presidential history and political history, he is the author of Bosom Friends: The Intimate World of James Buchanan and William Rufus King (Oxford University Press). A regular contributor to CNN and the Washington Post, his new project focuses on the history of the Democratic Party, America’s oldest partisan institution.

Further Reading

Here, you’ll find more resources to feed your interest in the topics covered at this event.

Balcerski, T. (2020). A history lesson on presidents who snub their successors’ inaugurations. CNN. Retrieved January 16, 2021 from https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/11/opinions/presidents-history-skipping-inauguration-day-balcerski/index.html

Balcerski, T. (2020). What America’s former presidents can teach Trump about pardons. CNN. Retrieved January 16, 2021 from https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/01/opinions/presidential-pardons-trump-history-lesson-balcerski/index.html

Berkowitz, B. (2021). Laws and customs guide presidential transitions—but some go off the rails anyway. The Washington Post. Retrieved January 16, 2021 from https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/politics/abnormal-transitions-of-power-timeline/

NCC Staff. (2020). James Buchanan’s troubled legacy as president, National Constitution Center. Retrieved January 20, 2021 from https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/james-buchanan-why-is-he-considered-americas-worst-president/


January 19, 2021
6:00 pm - 7:15 pm
Event Category: