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Mourning the Presidents: Loss and Legacy in American Culture
May 11 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
The Center for Presidential History presents a discussion the new book “Mourning the Presidents: Loss and Legacy in American Culture” with speakers Lindsay Chervinsky, Camille Davis, Sharron Conrad, and Matthew Costello.
On November 30, 2018, George H. W. Bush died at age ninety-four. Over the next several weeks, the nation participated in collective mourning. Strident political foes came together to celebrate Bush’s lifetime of service, diplomatic expertise, and kindness. Although Bush left office with a low approval rating, his death came at a time when the political atmosphere and tumultuous administration of Donald Trump caused many Americans to recall a time when the president served with decency.
Mourning the Presidents examines the deaths, funerals, mourning rituals, and legacies of twelve presidents, from George Washington to George H. W. Bush. How the nation responds to the death of a president reveals much about the political climate, social values, domestic divisions, and international pressures facing the nation at that moment. By examining how American society mourned twelve presidential deaths, how different communities celebrated or criticized their legacies, and how these trends evolved over time, this volume offers a unique approach to American culture and politics from 1799 to today. This book reveals surprising parallels between different generations of mourners, the role of race and presidential families in shaping legacies, and what presidential deaths reveal about society in the United States at the time of death and today.