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The American Presidency in Historical Perspective

Photo of David M Kennedy
The Stanford Alumni Association
September 30, 2020

How has the office of the presidency evolved since its inception more than two centuries ago?

America's founders invented a novel institution in that fateful Philadelphia summer of 1787: the presidency. Its basic character remains fixed in Article II of the Constitution. Yet over the republic's more than two centuries under that constitution, the scale and complexity of American society have changed dramatically.

Professor Kennedy joins the Stanford Alumni Association to explore the parallel evolutionary pathways of the presidency as an institution and the character of American society, with special emphasis on the role of the media amidst that increasingly vexed relationship.

David Kennedy, ’63, is the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History, emeritus, and founding director of The Bill Lane Center for the American West. For more than four decades he has taught 20th-century U.S. history, American political and social thought, American literature, and the comparative development of democracy.