'The Presidency and the American State'

President William Howard Taft, signs New Mexico into statehood at the White House. The signing was witnessed by dignitaries on Jan. 6, 1912.

President William Howard Taft signs New Mexico into statehood at the White House, Jan. 6, 1912

'The Presidency and the American State'

Lindsay M. Chervinsky, Stephen Rockwell, Steven Gillon (moderator)

Friday, December 08, 2023
11:00AM - 12:00PM (EST)
Event Details

Although many associate Franklin D. Roosevelt with the inauguration of the robust, dominant American presidency, the roots of his executive leadership style go back much further, according to Stephen Rockwell’s new book, The Presidency and the American State: Leadership and Decision Making in the Adams, Grant, and Taft Administrations, published by the Miller Center’s Studies on the Presidency series with UVA Press. Rockwell makes a compelling case that the nineteenth-century presidency was significantly more developed and interventionist than previously thought. 

Steven Gillon, nonresident senior fellow at the Miller Center, moderates an expert discussion of these three presidents' savvy deployment of state authority and of administrative leadership, legislative initiatives, direct executive action, and public communication. How did the presidencies of John Quincy Adams, Ulysses S. Grant, and William Howard Taft touch the lives of millions of Americans in the nineteenth century and Progressive era? How did these three undervalued presidents lay the foundations of what would become the American century?

This program is presented in partnership with UVA Press.


Friday, December 08, 2023
11:00AM - 12:00PM (EST)
Lindsay M. Chervinsky headshot

Lindsay M. Chervinsky

Dr. Lindsay M. Chervinsky is a senior fellow at the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. Dr. Chervinsky is the author of the award-winning book, The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution, co-editor of Mourning the Presidents: Loss and Legacy in American Culture, and is working on a forthcoming book on John Adams. She regularly writes for public audiences in the Wall Street Journal, Ms. Magazine, The Daily Beast, The Bulwark, Time Magazine, USA Today, CNN, NBC Think, and the Washington Post.

Stephen J. Rockwell headshot

Stephen Rockwell

Stephen J. Rockwell is a professor of political science at St. Joseph’s University, New York. He earlier worked as a senior research analyst at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and as an assistant professor in the political science and public administration programs at the University of Michigan-Flint. Rockwell is the author of numerous articles and reviews, as well as Indian Affairs and the Administrative State in the Nineteenth Century (2010),  How Big Government Won the West (2013), and The Presidency and the American State (2023). He holds a BA from Fordham University and an MA and PhD from Brandeis University.

Steven Gillon headshot

Steven Gillon (moderator)

Steven Gillon is a nonresident senior fellow at the Miller Center, the scholar-in-residence at the History Channel, and professor of history at the University of Oklahoma. Gillon received his BA in history from Widener University, where he graduated summa cum laude with honors in history. He received the faculty prize for maintaining the highest undergraduate GPA. He went on to earn his MA and PhD in American civilization from Brown University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Then Gillon spent nine years teaching history at Yale University, where he won the prestigious DeVane Medal for outstanding undergraduate teaching.