Noted Scholars to Examine American Presidency at Daemen Forum

By | January 10, 2017

As the U.S. prepares for the national election in November, the historical legacy of past presidents will be explored by renowned scholars at a forum on the American presidency scheduled from 1 to 6 p.m. Oct. 1 in Daemen College’s Wick Campus Center.

“The People’s Forum on the American Presidency” will feature experts who will discuss the presidential eras of Thomas Jefferson, Grover Cleveland, Warren Harding, and Woodrow Wilson, and their historical connection with today’s political landscape. The forum, which will include an exhibit of presidential memorabilia featuring a range of campaigns and presidencies, will also offer attendees the unique opportunity to engage in direct discussion with one of four noted historians during the break-out phase of the event.

“Building upon the public interest generated by this year’s presidential election, this forum will provide a better understanding of past presidents in order to illuminate issues that have been raised in this lively campaign season,” said Dr. Penny Messinger, chair of the Daemen History and Political Science Department. “We chose to focus on specific presidencies in order to highlight ways that race, gender, economic change, foreign policy, and other factors have affected how we understand and evaluate presidential greatness and failure, especially over time.”

To start the event, an overview on presidential reputations will be provided by Dr. James Campbell, University at Buffalo Distinguished Professor of Political Science and a leading analyst on American electoral politics and the presidency. A widely published political scientist, his new book, “Polarized: Making Sense of a Divided America,” examines political polarization in America.

Roundtable and break-out sessions led by noted historians will include discussions on:

  • Thomas Jefferson – Dr. Peter Onuf is a leading Jefferson scholar and Thomas Jefferson Memorial Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Virginia. He has authored several books, including “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination,” and co-hosts the public radio program “Backstory With the American History Guys.”
  • Grover Cleveland – Charles Lachman is executive producer of the television news magazine “Inside Edition” and author of two books on American presidents, including “The Last Lincolns: The Rise and Fall of a Great American Family” and “A Secret Life: The Lies and Scandals of Grover Cleveland.”
  • Warren Harding – Dr. Phillip Payne is professor of history at St. Bonaventure University and an expert on early 20th century American history. He has authored “Dead Last: The Public Memory of Warren G. Harding’s Scandalous Legacy” and “Crash! How the Boom and Bust of the 1920s Worked.”
  • Woodrow Wilson – Dr. John Milton Cooper is professor emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He has authored widely discussed books on Wilson, including “Woodrow Wilson: A Biography,” a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.

Break-out sessions and Q&A with the featured speakers and a forum on the role of the presidency will immediately follow the roundtable discussions. The event will conclude with a book-signing.

The half-day forum, which is being held as part of the Daemen History and Politics Event Series, is being funded by an action grant from the New York Council for the Humanities, with additional support provided by Daemen’s Office for Academic Affairs. It is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Dr. Penny Messinger at 839-8280 or