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History First

History First

By History First
A podcast about presidential history and trivia. Based on the blog,
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What Was Life Like In 1921?

History First

On The Sidelines Of The Lincoln Assassination
The facts of Abraham Lincoln's assassination are well-known — the president was shot and killed by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theatre, on April 14, 1865. But what about the others close to the event? Today, we discuss the assassination attempt of William Seward, why Ulysses S. Grant didn't go to Ford's Theatre that night, and the tragic fate of the young couple who shared the Lincoln's theater box, Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris. 
April 13, 2021
American Presidents And Royal Weddings
How have American presidents interacted with the British Royal Family when one of the "Firm" weds? 
March 06, 2021
White House Weddings
Is the presidency romantic? Well, couples throughout history have thought so—multiple people have gotten married at the White House since the beginning of the 19th-century. Curiously, only one president has ever been married there.
February 27, 2021
When Gerald Ford Pardoned Richard Nixon
When Gerald Ford assumed the presidency following Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974, he had to decide whether not to pardon his predecessor. Ultimately, Ford decided to pardon Nixon—to the outrage of many. The Ford pardon was so unpopular that it may have even cost him reelection. So, how did Ford reach his decision? And how do Americans regard Ford’s pardon of Nixon today?
January 21, 2021
The First Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln
When it comes to Inauguration Days, nothing quite tops Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration in 1861. By the time Lincoln took the oath of office on March 4th, seven Southern states had seceded from the Union. 
January 13, 2021
What Was Life Like In 1921?
In this episode, we check in with three American presidents—Warren G. Harding, William Howard Taft, and Franklin Roosevelt—who all had an eventful 1921. We'll also discuss what life was like in America 100 years ago. 
January 04, 2021
Grover Cleveland: The Only President to Serve Non-Consecutive Terms
If President Trump were to run again in 2024, and win, he would become only the second president to serve two, non-consecutive terms. The first was Grover Cleveland. He won the election of 1884, lost the election of 1888, and returned to the White House after the election of 1892. This made him the 22nd AND 24th president of the United States.
December 09, 2020
Awkward Presidential Transitions
We take a look back at a few awkward Inauguration Days in the 20th-century. We'll discuss the transition from Harry Truman to Dwight D. Eisenhower; Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan; and Bill Clinton to George W. Bush
November 26, 2020
Ghosts of the White House
Happy Halloween! Here's a short episode about White House ghosts. Presidents, first ladies, and White House visitors have reported supernatural sightings at the executive mansion. 
October 30, 2020
When Presidents Hide Health Scares
At the beginning of the month, President Trump was diagnoses with coronavirus—and questions quickly followed. For several days, the truth about the president’s condition seemed foggy, especially after he went to the hospital. That got us thinking about other presidents who have hidden health scares. Today, we’re going to talk about two cases—Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson—who went to great lengths to hide the truth about their health from the American people.
October 15, 2020
Calvin Coolidge Goes to Cuba (And it Gets Crazy)
Today, we’re going to delve into Calvin Coolidge’s 1928 trip to Cuba. At the time, it seemed like a rather serene affair. The wild truth about the trip didn’t come out until thirty years later.
October 08, 2020
4 Memorable Moments from US Political Conventions
Conventions are historically pretty wild. (This has changed in the last several election cycles…they’ve become much more predictable). We look back at four memorable convention moments from the 20th-century—from the battle of Bull Moose in 1912, to a moment of Hollywood oddity in 2008.
September 08, 2020
Woodrow Wilson and the 1918 Flu Pandemic
These days, all anyone can talk about is coronavirus. Our conversations are consumed with social-distancing, quarantine measures, and questions about testing. Many have drawn similarities between the pandemic of today to the 1918 influenza pandemic. So how did Woodrow Wilson respond to the Spanish flu?
August 25, 2020
August 13, 2020
August 13, 2020
From Villain to Vice President
Joe Biden has officially picked Kamala Harris to be his running mate. This came after some grumbling within Biden's circle that Harris was "too ambitious" and "lacked remorse" for her attacks on Biden during the primaries. So, we looked back at a few other campaign rivals who became running mates. Kamala Harris is in good company—although we hope that she and Biden develop a better working relationship than some of the examples here. 
August 12, 2020
American Military Parades, A History
Today, Donald Trump is throwing a huge military style parade to celebrate the 4th of July in DC. So what have American military parades looked like in the past?
July 04, 2019
Just a Number: Kennedy, Reagan, and the “Age Question” in 2020
The youngest candidate running for president in 2020 is 37. The oldest is 77. So what role has age played in past campaigns?
March 26, 2019
The President and the Radio: FDR’s First Fireside Chat
On this day in 1933 FDR gave the first of his fireside chats. It *completely* transformed how presidents communicate with the country.
March 12, 2019
Pete Buttigieg, Franklin Roosevelt, and Reshaping the Supreme Court
Is changing the size of the Supreme Court a radical idea? The short answer is no. We take a look at the history of the Court’s changing size, and how this may be an issue in 2020.
March 06, 2019
From the Sidelines: The Role of Former Political Stars in New Campaigns
Those who have run for either successfully or not, play a curious role during new campaigns.
March 01, 2019
The Life and Death of John Quincy Adams
This weekend marked the death of John Quincy Adams in 1848. JQA led a dramatic life, closely interwoven with the early years of a young United States.
February 25, 2019
New Kids in Town: Nixon, Kennedy, and the 116th Congress
The 80th Congress saw the start of Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy’s political careers. We take a look at their parallel divergent paths, and wonder about presidential potential in the freshmen of the 116th Congress.
February 21, 2019
George Washington and the Myth of Wooden Teeth
Today we celebrate George Washington’s birthday. Name a fact, any fact about him—first President? Revolutionary War General? Something about a cherry tree? Wooden teeth? Ah—wooden teeth. Today we debunk the popular myth.
February 18, 2019
The 25th Amendment: What Is It and What Does It Do?
It took the United States a long time to formally add an amendment to the Constitution outlining the path of succession. So, what does the 25th amendment do?
February 14, 2019
Bachelors, Boos, and Cory Booker
If elected president, Cory Booker would join the small club of men who held the presidency without a wife.
February 12, 2019
Will, We Hardly Knew Ye: The Legacy of William Henry Harrison
Happy birthday to William Henry Harrison! Yes, his presidency was only a month long. Yet it, and his campaign, were deeply consequential in American political history.
February 09, 2019
Ted Kennedy & “The Question”
“Why do you want to be president?” This question should have an easy answer. Ted Kennedy learned the hard way what happens when you aren’t prepared for it.
February 04, 2019
Origin Stories: Where Do Presidents Come From?
There are a lot of senators running in 2020. But only three sitting senators have ever become president. This got us thinking—where do presidents come from?
February 02, 2019
Predictability of the Unpredictable: Dark Horse Candidates and 2020
American presidential history is filled with twists and turns, and surprise success stories. Today we take a look at a few of the dark horse candidates that changed the game—and what that means for 2020
January 24, 2019
Inauguration! Drama
Inaugurations can be dramatic affairs. Today, we take a look back at the end of Harry Truman's presidency, and his involvement in the inaugurations of his successors. 
January 20, 2019
Trump, Pelosi, and the State of the Union
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has written the president asking him to submit a written State of the Union in lieu of a speech. A written address isn't all that unusual. The tradition of a speech has only been set in the last 100 years:
January 16, 2019
To Biden or not to Biden
January 10, 2019
Polk, Trump, and Politics at the Border
President Trump isn’t the first president to manufacture a crisis at the border as a means to an end. He follows in the footsteps of James K. Polk. For Polk, the war was both a success and a political misfire.
January 08, 2019
Instagram Live & Front Porch Campaigns
Presidential hopefuls are increasingly relying on Instagram to get their message across. Is it so different from the front porch campaigns or yesterday?
January 08, 2019