Friday, October 14, 2016

Today is the last day to register to vote for the November 8 presidential election!

Still haven't registered to vote?  It's not too late - here are your three options:

A. Register Online through the DMV:
1. Create an account at with your New York driver’s license, permit, or non-driver ID, 2. Sign in, select “Register to Vote”, and fill out the form. The DMV will automatically forward your completed form to your county board of elections for approval and processing.

B. Register by Mail:
1. Download and print the New York state voter registration form. 2. Fill out the form.
3. Mail the form - MUST BE POSTMARKED BY TODAY (OCTOBER 14) and received by your county Board of Elections no later than October 19. The mailing address for your county board of elections can be found on the back of the form or her. Erie County residents send to: Erie County Board of Elections, 134 W Eagle Street, Buffalo, NY. Blank Forms are also available for pickup in DS 139 - History & Political Science Department.

C. Register in Person: ​
You may also register in person at the DMV or the Erie County Board of Elections which is also open tomorrow, October 15. Please notethat due to a recent fire, in person voter registration has been temporarily moved from the Board of Elections on W Eagle Street to the Rath Building, 95 Franklin Street, Buffalo, NY, Room 230. To register in person please go to Room 230 of the Rath building.

You may check on your voter registration status here.

Still Waiting on your Voter Registration Card?

If you recently registered, your county board of elections will be sending your voter registration card in the mail. This may take several weeks. You do not physically need this card in order to vote on November 8. So, even if you haven't yet received your card in the mail, you should go to your polling place on November 8 -- your name will be in the voter registration rolls. If you do not know where your polling place is, you can check with your county board of elections. Erie County residents can look up their polling place by their street address here. You do not need ID, but it does not hurt to have some form of identification with you when you go to the polls.

The History and Government Club and Pre Law Student Association will be hosting a debate watching party on October 19 at 9:00 pm in the Wick Center (Den). Feel free to join us or stop by to share the debate experience. Light refreshments will be provided.
Image result for Election 2016

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Dr. Elizabeth Campbell Joins the History & Political Science Department

Dr. Elizabeth Campbell

By Elizabeth Campbell

I am happy to be a new member of the Department of History and Political Science.

I am originally from San Diego, California, and went to UC Berkeley as an undergraduate. I completed my PhD at the University of Washington in Seattle and was a post-doctoral associate at the University of Pittsburgh in the World History Center. During my PhD research I lived in Tunis, Damascus and Beirut.

I moved to Buffalo from the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, where I taught at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani for the past four years. The school was founded about ten years ago in order to bring American-style education to the region and instruction is in English. Students come from the Kurdish and Arab areas of Iraq. I taught world history, the history of the Middle East and history research methods. I hope to find ways to connect students at Daemen and AUIS, through joint online classes or research projects.

I am working on a Digital History project with students in Iraq and the library at UCLA that I will continue at Daemen. War and instability in the area have forced many people to leave their homes and the records of the ancient and recent history are in danger of being lost. In this project we collect documents and materials that people have in their homes, such as letters, diaries, pictures, maps, and records, and digitize them to preserve them and make them available to people in the region and to scholars.

My research focuses on the transition from the late antique to the early Islamic period in the Middle East. I am studying Christian monasteries and their role in the countryside of Iraq and Syria in this period using Arabic books about monasteries that describe their popularity as places to visit, enjoy their gardens, drink wine and sing poetry.

This semester I am teaching HST 105: Ancient World History and HST 225: The Indian Ocean in World History, which covers the connections and interactions between different peoples across the Indian Ocean world.

In the future I plan to teach classes on Digital History and Humanities that introduce ways of using digital resources for the study of history, mapping and visualizing information and creating local history projects, classes on the history of the Middle East, the Silk Road, the Mediterranean World, ancient Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome. I worked for two years helping refugees from Iraq settle in California, and I hope to offer a service learning course working with refugees in Buffalo.

I look forward to meeting everyone this semester.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Guest Blogger: Brianna Zichettella

The Final Frontier: 
Political Honesty and the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness

Great Divide Ranch, home of the non-partisan Project Vote Smart where Brianna
completed a 10-week internship in Summer 2016. 
     Project Vote Smart calls itself the most important organization you have never heard of. And in some   ways, that is true. It was founded in 1992 and housed at Oregon State University. Seven years later, the program moved out to the Great Divide Ranch in southwestern Montana. Its mission statement is to collect and disseminate information on those holding and running for political offices in America. This research covers all levels of government from local to federal and stretches across several different types of information. In an effort to create comprehensive information about America’s electoral process, Vote Smart brings interns and paid staff to Montana. They make up the workforce of several departments ranging from candidate biographies to campaign finance information. And, as promised by Vote Smart’s slogan, very few people have heard of it. I experienced this first hand when I found myself constantly explaining to family and friends exactly what I was doing on the other side of the country.
Moose Lake, at the edge of the Great Divide Ranch
During ten weeks between May and August, I was one of fifty interns living and working at Vote Smart’s Montana headquarters. Having come from a bucolic hometown and attending college in suburban Amherst, spending the summer at the near-wilderness location was unlike anything I had ever done before. The ranch itself is situated at the edge of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness at an elevation of 6000 feet. The closest town, Philipsburg, is a forty-five minute drive, and the closest airport is about two hours to the east. However, the ranch’s isolated location does not mean that the interns are lacking in things to do. Vote Smart’s property touches the edge of Moose Lake, and the organization owns a dock and several boats. Additionally, several trailheads can be found down the road from the ranch, and most can be completed in an afternoon. A particularly memorable trail – dubbed Huff Puff by a few decades of Vote Smart interns - switchbacks up an Anaconda-Pintler foothill. The aptly-named trail ends about 1000 feet higher than the ranch and features an amazing view of the Pintler Mountain Range. 
Trailways surrounding the Project Vote Smart Camp

But my time in Montana was spent doing more than hiking and spending time on the lake. Over the course of ten weeks, each of Vote Smart’s interns spends 40 hours per week contributing to the organization’s extensive research. During my internship, I was assigned to Vote Smart’s Political Courage Test department. To attempt to provide the public with information about political candidates, the organization sends out Political Courage questionnaires to everyone running for office. This test poses fifteen yes-or-no questions across various policy areas and gives politicians the opportunity to elaborate on their responses. It is the department’s responsibility to send out these letters and post candidate responses on the Vote Smart website. Unfortunately, a very small number of candidates respond to the surveys, and those that do often return only partially completed tests. Because of this, my main obligation in the department was to research candidate websites and speeches to extrapolate their answers to the questions.
Brianna, far left, and fellow interns enjoying the outdoor activities. Interns work on a variety of
projects, collecting information that assists voters with reliable, non-partisan information. 
The work was engaging, if repetitive. Throughout the ten weeks I researched congressional candidates across the country. Some had professionally designed websites with comprehensive issue positions and governance plans. Others had typed a few sentences into WordPress and called it a day. However, the common thread linking candidates from Alabama to Wyoming was that this information is not well publicized. It usually is not too difficult to find, but the process of finding the most relevant information can take a while. The average American often does not have the time or inclination to conduct comprehensive research on all of a candidate’s positions. That is the reason Vote Smart exists. The research done by interns and staff is aggregated on Vote Smart’s website; one place with everything a voter would need to make an informed decision. Every candidate has a page that lists biographical information, public statements, voting records, submitted or extrapolated PCT answers, special interest support, and other relevant information. Considering the controversy and polarization of this election cycle, this kind of data is more important than ever. As said by Thomas Jefferson, a well-informed electorate is a prerequisite for democracy. In 2016, it seems that voters will need all the resources at their disposal to parse through rampant misinformation about their candidates and electoral process. In my opinion, a resource like Vote Smart would be invaluable.
The compound where Project Vote Smart staff and interns engage
in voter education. 
This summer was an extremely rewarding experience, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to contribute to increasing political clarity in America. However, I could not have worked through the ins and outs of completing a successful internship by myself. I would like to thank Dr. Lisa Parshall and the History and Political Science Department for all the help and support I received during the application process and throughout the summer. I would also like to thank the staff and interns at Vote Smart. It was great to work with such a wonderful group of people. Thank you for making my ten weeks a truly amazing experience; it was absolutely one of the best summers of my life. 
The author, Brianna Zichettella is majoring in Political Science
with a minor in  Political Communications.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Register to Vote!

Update:  If you sent in your registration form you should be receiving your voter information card in the mail from the county board of elections sometime before Nov. 8. 

They are understandably very busy at this time of year. Please note: you do not physically need your voter registration card to vote - although it does tell you where your local polling place is.  

You may look up your polling place on most county board of election sites (for Erie County go here).  So, even if you haven't yet received your voter registration card in the mail, you should still go to the polls on election day - if your form was processed your name will be in the voter rolls allowing you to cast your ballot. 

As noted below, you can check the status of your registration online (here) -- the database is updated regularly -- or you can call your county board of elections directly to check on the status of your registration. 

To check on the status of your application for an absentee ballot, please call the county board of elections (county where you are registered to vote). 

Election Day is November 8, 2016

Daemen College encourages all students, faculty, and staff to exercise their political and civil rights by registering to vote and participating in the electoral process.

The History & Political Science Department is more than happy to help you get registered to vote. Watch for our nonpartisan, voter registration table  which we will host as part of National Constitution and Citizenship Day, on Friday, September 16 at the Wick Center Lobby from 11:30-1:00. 

In the meantime, here is some information to help you vote in New York State:

Registering to Vote:
How do I check if I'm already registered to vote or not? You can look up your voter registration information with the New York Board of Elections here.

How to I register to Vote? 
New York Voter Registration forms are always available through the New York State Board of Elections online here (English version) and here (Spanish version).

You can also pick up a voter registration form in the History & Political Science Department. Just stop by DS 139 and ask for a blank voter registration form: we're always happy to help you with any questions you might have about the voting registration process.

Am I Eligible to Vote? 

In order to vote you must:
  • be a United States citizen;
  • be 18 years old by December 31 of the year in which you file this form (note: you must be 18 years old by the date of the general, primary or other election in which you want to vote);
  • live at your present address at least 30 days before an election;
  • not be in prison or on parole for a felony conviction; 
  • not be adjudged mentally incompetent by a court; 
  • not claim the right to vote elsewhere.
At what address should I register? 
As a college student you may register at either your local college address (provided you will have lived there for at least 30 days before the election) or at your home-town address.  The address at which you are registered will determine your polling place on election day.  So, if you want to vote here in Erie county, you should register using your Erie County address.  

What if I am not registered to vote at my local (Erie County) address? 
If you are registered to vote at your non-college address (for example, if you are registered to vote in NYC but you physically will be in Buffalo on November 8) then you will need to apply for an absentee ballot. 

How do I apply for an Absentee ballot? 
If you are filling out a new voter registration form you can simply check the box on Item 15 in order to have an absentee ballot application sent to your local address.

If you are already registered, you can request an absentee ballot from your county board of election. Absentee ballot requests forms can be found here (English) and here (Spanish).  The application request must be received by the board of election by mail no later than 7 days before the election (or the day before if submitted in person at the Erie County Board of Elections). 

See here  for complete information on absentee voting.  

You may also choose to fill out a new voter registration form to update/change your registration to your local (Erie County) address, provided you will have lived there at least 30 days before the election in which you are seeking to vote.  

What do I do with the completed voter registration form? 
Once you've filled out and signed the form you should then mail it to your county board of elections.  In Erie County, the address to which you should direct your voter registration form is: 134 West Eagle St., Buffalo, NY 14202.  You can look up the addresses for other New York counties here.

What is the deadline for registering to vote? 
Voter Registration forms must be postmarked no later than October 14 and received by a county Board of Elections no later than October 19 in order for you to be eligible to vote in the General Election on November 8.

You may also register in person at any Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or at the Erie County Board of Elections on 134 West Eagle St., in Buffalo up to October 14, 2016.

What happens after I mail in my voter registration form? 
After you mail it in and once the board of elections has processed the form, you will receive your voter registration card in the mail. This card will list the polling location where you must vote.

You can also look up your registration/polling place information with the New York State Board of Elections here.

I'm Already Registered, but How Do I Change or Update my Information? 
To update or change your  name or address just fill out a new voter registration form and mail it, same as above, to your county Board of Elections

You may also fill out a new form to change your party registration, but please note that in New York, party membership changes will not be processed until after the next general election.

Should I register as a member of a Political Party? 
In New York you may only vote in a political party's primary (nominating) elections if you are a registered member of that political party.  So, if you want to vote in the primaries, on Box 14 of the voter registration form, you should select the party in whose primaries you wish to regularly participate.  You will be recorded as member of that party and will be eligible to vote in only that party's primary elections.

You can change your party affiliation by filling out a new voter registration form, but please note that in New York, such changes will not be processed until after the next general election. See here for information on changing your party registration.

If you wish to remain unaffiliated or independent (no party registration) then you should check the box "No party" on Box 14 of the voter registration form.

Registering as a member of a political party only affects eligibility to vote in partisan primary elections. It does not in any way affect which candidate or party you may vote for in the general election.

On election day, you must report to the designated polling place for the address at which you are registered to vote. If you're not sure where your polling place is, or you lost your voter registration card, you may look up your information here.

In New York, POLLS OPEN AT 6 AM - CLOSE AT 9 PM on November 8. New York does not have an early voting period. 

What if I'm not able to go to my polling place on November 8? 
If you are not able to report to your registered polling place on election day for any of the reasons listed below, then you will need to request an absentee (mail in) ballot. Information on requesting an absentee (mail-in) ballot, along with the absentee ballot request form, can be found here. Upon completion, applications must be mailed to your county board no later than the seventh day before the election or delivered in person no later than the day before the election.

You are eligible to vote absentee if you are:
  • Absent from your county or, if a resident of New York City absent from said city, on Election Day. 
  • Unable to appear at the polls due to temporary or permanent illness or disability; or because you are the primary care giver of one or more individuals who are ill or physically disabled. 
  • A patient or inmate in a Veterans' Administration Hospital. 
  • Detained in jail awaiting Grand Jury action or confined in prison after conviction for an offense other than a felony.
Students: You should check "absent from county" (i.e, away at college) when filling out your absentee ballot form.

Do I need ID to vote? 
New York does not have a voter ID requirement, but it does not hurt to have some form of ID with you when you go to the polls in the event your identity or eligibility is challenged. 

I've never voted before, what can I expect? 
There will be trained poll workers to assist you at the polling place. Generally, there is a line/table with poll workers where you check in.  The poll workers will check the voter registration rolls for your name.  Once you are verified as properly registered, you will be given directions by the poll workers as to the voting process.

Erie County uses a DS 200 ballot scanner. You will be given a paper ballot and directed to booth or area where you complete the ballot in privacy.  You will then feed the completed paper ballot into a scanning machine in order to have it counted.  A video on the process can be found here. You can find information on the various voting equipment used in other New York counties here.  If you encounter any difficulties, just ask a poll worker for assistance. 

What if I am turned away at the polls? 
If, for whatever reason, a poll worker tells you that you are not eligible to vote and you believe that this is an error and you are lawfully entitled to vote, you may ask for a provisional ballot.  

Provisional ballots are set aside until the Board of Elections clarifies your eligibility/registration status. If it is determined that you are legally entitled to vote, your ballot will be counted.  If it is determined that you are not eligible/properly registered, the ballot will be destroyed.  You may be asked to fill out/sign an affidavit as to your eligibility/status when casting a provisional ballot.

What if I'm working on Election Day? 
New York does not allow voting by absentee ballot due to your work schedule but it does entitle all workers who do not have at least four consecutive hours free during the period in which the polls are open, to take time off of work (without a loss of pay for up to two hours) in order to vote. Please note that the law requires that you notify your employer and verify eligibility at least 2 days (but no earlier than 10 days) before election day.  You can read the law here and should consult with your employer. 
What if I'm Out of State Resident/Voter? 

If you are not a New York state resident, you may register to vote by completing the National Mail Voter Registration Form:

You may also contact your State's board of elections for state-specific information on registration and absentee voting rules in your state of residency. 

Information for Military and Overseas Federal Voting can be found here.

Still have questions?
Feel free to stop by the History & Political Science Department for help. We're always happy to answer your question or help direct you to the right place to get information.  And remember, you can always contact the NY State Board of Elections, or the Erie County Board of Elections, directly for voter registration assistance.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

People's Forum on the American Presidency: Oct 1

By Penny Messinger 

Why do Presidencies matter? How should we commemorate presidents? How do historical interpretations shift as new issues and questions change our understanding of public and personal behavior? 

Image created by Gabrielle Sinnott (Daemen, '19)

From 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 1, the History & Political Science Department of Daemen College will host an in-depth exploration of these questions, focusing on history and memory, Presidential reputation, and the understanding of past Presidents at "The People's Forum on the American Presidency." As with previous events in our History & Politics events series, the goal of the People's Forum on the American Presidency is to bring together members of campus community and the general public with scholars who have deep knowledge of issues from history and political science. Our "People's Forum on the American Presidency" takes as its model the "People's Forums" held in Buffalo a century ago, which regularly brought together people from all walks of life to discuss matters of public importance and common interest. 


This March 1913 story from The Buffalo Courier informed readers about the topics discussed at Buffalo's People's Forum. 

In keeping with the times, discussion centered on political corruption and reform, and such third party movements as the Progressive Party and the Socialist Labor Party.

The “People’s Forum on the American Presidency” is structured as a half-day public forum. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage directly with five nationally prominent scholars to explore the intersection of history and memory, Presidential reputations, and the scholarly and popular understandings of past Presidents. Our experts will provide an overview of the presidency, along with in-depth discussions of four past presidents: Thomas Jefferson, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, and Warren G. Harding.

The afternoon forum includes three sessions, and attendees can choose to attend any or all of these. We start at 1:00 with an overview of the presidency and a round-table discussion that features our five Presidential scholars. From 3:00 until 4:00, participants will choose among breakout sessions, each led by a scholar who will focus upon a particular President; this enables members of the public to able to engage directly in Q&A with that scholar about the president of their choice. In the final session, running from 4:15 to 5:15, participants will reassemble for a final group conversation to share insights and observations derived from the earlier sessions. The day will conclude with a book signing by the authors (titles are available for purchase on-site).

Full Schedule:

1:00--1:15:  Introduction and Welcome (Wick Social Room)

1:15--1:45:  Introductory overview by Political Scientist James Campbell on the focal issue of presidential reputations (Q: Why do presidencies matter?)

1:45--2:45:  Roundtable Panel of historians discussing presidents:
        Peter Onuf on Thomas Jefferson
        Charles Lachman on Grover Cleveland
        Phillip Payne on Warren G. Harding
        John Milton Cooper on Woodrow Wilson

3:00--4:00:  Concurrent breakout sessions. Attend a session with the scholar of your choice:
Members of the audience have the opportunity for direct Q&A/discussion in smaller groups with our presidential scholars. Each scholar will have a separate space for this session. (Breakout sessions may pick up on themes we identify but participants will have a significant role in shaping the direction of these sessions.)

4:15--5:15:  People’s Forum on historical memory and the role of the Presidency (Wick Social Room):
Participants reassemble for an open discussion about topics and issues sparked by the opening sessions (overview of presidency and roundtable discussion of individual presidents), along with questions and insights shared from the individual breakout sessions. 

5:15--5:45: Book sale/signing:  Books by our scholars are available for purchase.

** An exhibit of presidential memorabilia created for The People's Forum on the American Presidency by members of The American Political Items Collectors will be on display throughout the event and during the following week. 

The People's Forum on the American Presidency is supported by an Action Grant from the New York State Council for the Humanities, by the Office of Academic Affairs, the Division of Arts & Sciences, and the History & Political Science Department at Daemen College. We also wish to acknowledge our two community partners: the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site (NPS) and the Association for a Buffalo Presidential Center. Additional thanks to members of The American Political Items Collectors for creating an exhibit of presidential memorabilia.

**For more information about this event, contact
Dr. Penny Messinger: or
Dr. Andrew Wise:

Key themes and questions:

The daily news is flooded by the controversies swirling around historical issues, symbols, and individuals (for examples, see the links at the end of this blog post). Our speakers will address a number of questions, many of them inspired by this year's lively campaign season, with discussion focusing around four presidents: Jefferson, Cleveland, Wilson, and Harding:

* Q:  How does our understanding of history shape public debate in this presidential election year?

* Q:  How do citizens acknowledge the important role of men such as Thomas Jefferson who founded this nation, while also wrestling with their less than stellar actions in personal and public life?

Renowned as the author of the Declaration of Independence and as the first Secretary of State (in Washington's administration) before being twice elected to the presidency (1801-09), President Thomas Jefferson's personal behavior has been the topic of historical scrutiny. This is most notable with his relationship with Sally Hemings, his enslaved concubine who gave birth to their four children.

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, ca. 1805. (Image from U.S. National Archives

*Q:  How should communities commemorate or remember Presidents with difficult (and negative) reputations? 

President Grover Cleveland (president 1885-89, 1893-97) was a civic leader from Buffalo and a two-term president, but recent scholarship has highlighted charges of sexual assault against Maria Halpin, who gave birth to a son for whom Cleveland acknowledged paternity.

1892 photo of Grover Cleveland from U.S. Library of Congress, digital ID: cph.3a10549

Evaluating the legacy of President Warren G. Harding (1921-23) is even more difficult. Harding regularly comes in dead last in presidential rankings, thanks to the combination of scandals in his administration and his private life.

Photograph of Warren G. Harding from Business Insider: "Ancient US Presidential Sex Scandal Revealed," July 8, 2014.

* Q:  How does the Wilsonian legacy continue to shape public debate about domestic and foreign policies in this presidential election year?

President Woodrow Wilson (1913-21) also has a complex presidential legacy; Wilson’s world vision still guides American foreign policy and international relations, yet his administration also oversaw the segregation of Washington, D.C., and the federal government. 

This photograph of Woodrow Wilson accompanied the CNN story: "Erasing Woodrow Wilson's name is not that easy,"

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Politicians are flawed vehicles for expressing private virtues, a point that is perhaps more evident when viewed more dispassionately through the lens of time than in the heat of the present moment. Both symbolically and practically, the president represents the United States, and history is a profoundly public endeavor, since it belongs to all of us. Historians and political scientists have much to contribute to public discussions about past and present presidents, memory, and commemoration.

While the presidencies to be discussed during The People's Forum on the American Presidency should be understood through the historical lens of their own time, participants will be interested in the ways that the issues of these past presidencies continue to resonate today. We will also consider how past issues continue to spark public debate.

One area of connection between past and present lies in the 2016 presidential campaign, which has unfolded in unexpected ways with outsider candidates such as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and businessman Donald Trump injecting energy into the campaign and drawing the interest of many voters. Ironically, Hillary Clinton's insider status as the candidate of choice for Democratic Party leaders overshadowed her groundbreaking role as the first female nominee of a major party. Divisive issues, personalities, and controversies threaten party unity, reflecting current social tensions in ways that evoke concerns of past  generations. While the 2016 election seems like a new event, it is actually very similar to previous elections where popular discontent has disrupted the plans of party regulars. Our five presidential scholars--four historians and one political scientist--will help participants explore the legacies of Thomas Jefferson, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, and Warren G. Harding, leaders whose presidencies collectively raise issues of institutional politics and matters of individual character during eras characterized by important social, economic, and political changes:

Thomas Jefferson’s election in the “Revolution of 1800” made him the first president to oversee a transition of power from one political party to another as Jefferson’s Republicans defeated John Adams’s Federalists. This transition followed one of the most bitter campaigns in United States history. Jefferson’s party represented the boisterous frontier states, filled with voters eager to embrace a more democratic form of politics than the Federalists were comfortable with.

The eagle on this 1800 textile holds two banners: "T. JEFFERSON President of the United States of America" and "JOHN ADAMS no more."

Grover Cleveland was elected in 1884 but lost his reelection bid in 1888 by losing the Electoral
College, even as he won the popular vote. He went on to victory in the election of 1892 only to see the economy collapse in the Panic of 1893 as insurgent populists angry over Cleveland’s conservative economic policies overtook the Democratic Party.

In this 1896 political cartoon from Judge, Cleveland is front and center among several politicians already attracted (and destroyed) by the appeal of "Free Silver," the central economic issue of the Populist movement of the 1890s.

Uncle Sam eyes Progressive, Republican, & Democrat candidates in 1912 (LOC)

Woodrow Wilson was a latecomer to politics after an academic career. Following his brief stint as governor of New Jersey, he tossed his hat in the ring and won the Democratic Party nomination in the election of 1912. This election was a high water mark for the Progressive Movement, with voters divided between rival plans to address the social and economic disruption of industrialization, urbanization, and globalization. Wilson won despite the Democratic Party’s minority status because the GOP split between the progressive Teddy Roosevelt and the conservative William Howard Taft.

Peace was a major theme in 1916

With the emergency of WWI in Europe in 1914, Wilson urged neutrality and his 1916 re-election campaign used the slogan, "He kept us out of war."  A year later, the US entry into the war launched an "American century" of increased power and influence in world affairs. Although Wilson's vision shaped the post-war world, both Wilson and the peace treaty were deeply unpopular in the US. A post-war recession was accompanied by continuing racial backlash, nativism, and a "red scare" that targeted political radicals.

● By 1920, World War I had left voters disillusioned with Wilson and with progressivism. The Republican Party failed, however, to unite behind a candidate and so nominated Warren G. Harding of Ohio as a compromise nominee at a contested convention. Harding went on to win a landslide victory that began a political realignment resulting in a decade of conservative Republican rule.

GOP party pin, ca 1940 (credit: Andrew Wise)

Themes from the 1920 campaign of Republican candidate Warren G. Harding (at R) and his running-mate Calvin Coolidge (at L) have reappeared in 2016 Presidential campaign of Donald Trump. (Inaugural artifact from the Library of Congress.)

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  Biographical Profiles of Scholars

Dr. James E. Campbell

James E. Campbell is University at Buffalo Distinguished Professor of Political Science, and a leading analyst of American electoral politics and the presidency. Campbell is the author of a number of studies, among which are Before the Vote: Forecasting American National Elections (2000); The American Campaign: U.S. Presidential Campaigns and the National Vote (second edition, 2008); and the widely anticipated Polarized: Making Sense of A Divided America, scheduled for publication in fall 2016.

John Milton Cooper (Princeton Alumni Weekly, 3-17-2010)

John Milton Cooper is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and a leading historian of early twentieth century American politics. He is the author of three widely discussed books on  Woodrow Wilson: The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt (1983); Breaking the Heart of the World: Woodrow Wilson and the Fight for the League of Nations (2001); and most recently Woodrow Wilson: A Biography (2009), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Charles Lachman (photo credit: Lisa Berg)
Charles Lachman is Executive Producer of the television news magazine Inside Edition, which has been on the air for over two decades and is consistently one of the top ten rated programs in national syndication. He still finds time to publish studies of history, and is the author of two works about American presidents: The Last Lincolns: The Rise and Fall of a Great American Family (2008); and A Secret Life: The Lies and Scandals of Grover Cleveland (2011).

Peter S. Onuf
A leading Jefferson scholar of recent decades, Peter S. Onuf is Thomas Jefferson Memorial Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Virginia, and a Senior Fellow at Monticello’s International Center for Jefferson Studies. His many publications on Jefferson include: Jefferson’s Empire: The Language of American Nationhood (2001); The Mind of Thomas Jefferson (2007); and with Annette Gordon Reed, “Most Blessed of Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination (2016). He cohosts the weekly public radio program and podcast Backstory with the  American History Guys.

Phillip G. Payne
Phillip Payne is Professor of History at St. Bonaventure University and an expert in early twentieth century American History, particularly issues around the presidency, political history, commemoration and public memory, and political economy. His publications include Dead Last: The Public Memory of Warren G. Harding’s Scandalous Legacy (2009) and Crash! How the Boom and Bust of the 1920s Worked ( 2015). He has also published articles and essays on popular culture, digital and public history.


This unique event was supported by an Action Grant from the New York State Council for the Humanities, and made possible by additional support from Daemen College's Office of Academic Affairs (student-faculty think-tank grants), by Division of Arts & Sciences, and by the History & Political Science Department at Daemen College.
We also wish to express appreciation for help with publicity to our two community partners: the Theodore Roosevelt (TR) Inaugural National Historic Site (National Park Service), and the Association for a  Buffalo Presidential Center. Additional thanks to members of The American Political Items Collectors for creating an exhibit of presidential memorabilia for our event.

Planning Committee:

Dr. David A Gerber, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University at Buffalo (SUNY);
Dr. Penny Messinger , Associate Professor of History and Chair of History & Political Science Department, Daemen College;
Dr. Phillip G. Payne, Professor of History, St. Bonaventure University;
Dr. Andrew Kier Wise, Professor of History, Daemen College.

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In the news: Recent press coverage about the presidents and issues related to our event:

Thomas Jefferson

Peter Onuf & Annette Gordon-Reed, (The New York Times, April 5, 2016)

  • Scott Jaschik, "Jefferson Is Next Target," Inside Higher Ed. November 23, 2015. This story discusses student-led efforts to remove statues of Thomas Jefferson from the University of Missouri and William & Mary College. The story makes comparisons with similar efforts aimed at removing statues of Woodrow Wilson from Princeton: 
Students comment on Jefferson's legacy (Inside Higher Ed)
"...Once again, students are raising the question of whether men seen as heroes in American history were decidedly unheroic when it came to issues of race -- and black students are demanding that colleges consider the impact of various honors for people whom they do not consider heroes. While Princeton has said it is considering the issue of the Wilson name, which could well remain, the student protest movement has led to widespread discussion of Wilson's record on race, which even fans of his idealistic internationalist vision admit was horrible. Publications such as Vox and Salon are running articles detailing just how bad Wilson was with regard to issues of race -- and giving prominence to a part of the historical record many have never considered...."

Woodrow Wilson
"For a long time, the main legacy of President Woodrow Wilson’s hinged on his progressive domestic policies and his leadership during World War I that reshaped American diplomacy. But more recently, another part of his personal and presidential story—racism—is starting to overshadow those other elements."
Challenging Wilson's legacy at Princeton (NYT 11-29-15)
"Was Woodrow Wilson a key founder of modern liberalism, a visionary whose belief in an activist presidency laid the groundwork for the New Deal and the civil rights legislation of the 1960s?

"Or was he a virulent and unrepentant racist, a man who not only segregated the federal work force but nationalized the Southern view of politics, turning the federal government itself into an instrument of white supremacy for decades to come?"

  • Editorial: "The Case Against Woodrow Wilson at Princeton," The New York Times, Nov. 24, 2015.  The Times Editorial Board endorses efforts by students at Princeton College to highlight Wilson's racist actions as President of the College and as President of the United States. 

 Warren G. Harding
    President Harding (The Atlantic)
  • Russell Berman, "Warren G. Harding's Terrible Tenure," The Atlantic, August 14, 2015. This story discusses the reassessment of Harding's presidency following upon the results of DNA testing that validated claims of the extra-marital affair between Harding and Nan Britton. In addition to the personal scandals, the story highlights other shortcomings of Harding's presidency.    
Nan Britton & daughter Elizabeth (with Harding). (NYT)
"Long before Lucy Mercer, Kay Summersby or Monica Lewinsky, there was Nan Britton, who scandalized a nation with stories of carnal adventures in a White House coat closet and endured a ferocious backlash for publicly claiming that she bore the love child of President Warren G. Harding.

"Now nearly a century later, according to genealogists, new genetic tests confirm for the first time that Ms. Britton’s daughter, Elizabeth Ann Blaesing, was indeed Harding’s biological child. The tests have solved one of the enduring mysteries of presidential history and offer new insights into the secret life of America’s 29th president. At the least, they demonstrate how the march of technology is increasingly rewriting the nation’s history books..."

  Grover Cleveland
  • Angela Serratore, "President Cleveland's Problem Child." The Smithsonian, September 26, 2013. This article recounts details of Cleveland's actions in relation to Maria Halpin, who said that a sexual assault by Grover Cleveland had resulted in her pregnancy and the birth of a son (named Oscar Folsom Cleveland). Cleveland admitted paternity for the child, but later took action to consign Halpin to a Buffalo insane asylum. He was also involved in legal maneuvers that resulted in the loss of her parental rights and her surrendering of the child for adoption.

"Not even a specific allegation of philandering, illicit pregnancy and coverup barred Grover Cleveland from the White House."
Frank Beard's 1884 political cartoon about Cleveland
"...The story filled major newspapers during the summer and autumn of 1884—had Cleveland really taken part in the “seduction and ruination” of such a goodly woman? Was he indeed too much of a libertine to lead the nation? Or was his campaign telling the truth—that Maria Halpin was a harlot looking to cash in on a distant dalliance with the upstanding lawyer running for office on a clean-government ticket?"

Removing Statues
Removing statues--and redefining the standards for reputation, memory, and historical significance of "greatness"--occurs around the world:
  • Finlo Rohrer, "When is it right to remove a statue?" BBC News Magazine, December 23, 2015. Popular pressure has led to the removal of statues in many countries. This story highlights efforts aimed Confederate president Jefferson Davis and South Africa's Cecil Rhodes, among others:  
"The problem with statues is that stone or bronze is meant to last forever, but reputations crumble much more easily." Historian Madge Dresser commented: "I think it is a process, rather than the actual removal, starting a debate about collective values. Statues are lightning rods, symbols of the prevailing values of the society. When those values are not shared a debate needs to be started."
"He Denied Blacks Citizenship. Now a City is Deciding His Statue's Fate," The New York Times, September 4, 2016. Frederick, Maryland, is debating the future of a statue of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, author of the infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision that denied the citizenship of black Americans:
"Here in Frederick, the effort to purge Taney from city property has been led since 1998 by Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak, who says anything that so deeply offends a portion of the citizenry “needs to go.” She almost succeeded in 2009, but the city instead paired the bust with a plaque about Dred Scott and his wife, Harriet."
"Willie Mahone [r], a lawyer in Frederick, asked, “Why would we opt to display a symbol of racial hatred on the lawn of City Hall?”Credit Lexey Swall for The New York Times