Monday, February 18, 2013

Television biographies of American presidents

George Washington is the only president who did not occupy the White House.
It was built during the administration of John Adams, his immediate successor.

A number of university political science departments offer a class about the American Presidency, which is 3 credit hours, and thus includes 45 clock hours of lecture. I've watched over 50 hours' worth of presidential biography documentaries, and learned about the lives of 18 of the 44 Americans who have held the office, including every Cold War president but Gerald Ford, and every president shown on our currency. Their combined years in office add up to slightly over half of American presidential history.

It's not as good as a class, but still pretty cool to me. I've had some good "lectures" about a number of our presidents' lives, and all of them make use of visual sources of their subjects, such as period paintings and sketches - or for later presidents, photographs and film footage.

Here's a list of the presidents, with the total minutes of the longest documentary film I've watched about each one. (For those I've watched multiple documentaries about, I decided to only include the minutes of the longest one.)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Frederick Douglass: The forgotten antislavery leader

"Sincerely and earnestly hoping that this little book may do something toward throwing light on the American slave system, and hastening the glad day of deliverance to the millions of my brethren in bonds - faithfully relying upon the power of truth, love, and justice, for success in my humble efforts - and solemnly pledging my self anew to the sacred cause - I subscribe myself, FREDERICK DOUGLASS. Lynn, Massachusetts, April 28, 1845."

- Concluding words of the Appendix to the "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written By Himself"

Have you ever wondered what American slavery was like? If so, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better answer to this question than the "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave" - written by himself. This book was written by a former slave to influence Americans to oppose the "peculiar institution" of slavery.

Young Frederick Douglass

Follow by email

Google+ Badge