Pivotal U.S. Elections: American Democracy at Issue

Tuesday, 27 September 2016  registernow_blue_160
4:00-6:00 p.m. • Public Panel Discussion (Reception at 3:30)
Location: Annenberg Presidential Conference Center, Texas A&M University
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The Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research, the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs, and Humanities Texas present a panel discussion about citizenship, democracy, and pivotal presidential elections in American history. Expert faculty will analyze, through an interdisciplinary lens, the political forces, issues, and consequences of the 1896, 1932, 1948, and 1968 elections as well as their parallels to subsequent elections and their relevance today.

Katherine R. Unterman | Assistant Professor of History, Texas A&M University
George C. Edwards III | University Distinguished Professor of Political Science, George and Julia Blucher Jordan Chair in Presidential Studies, Texas A&M University
H. W. Brands | Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History, University of Texas, Austin
Terry Anderson | Professor of History and Cornerstone Faculty Fellow, Texas A&M University

attention_button_32Texas teachers who attend this event will receive CPE credit and may apply for travel stipends (up to $200 each) and substitute reimbursements.

Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research

Humanities Texas
Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs

This program is made possible in part by a Humanities in the Public Square grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence


“1896: A Populist Insurgency in America’s First Gilded Age”
Dr. Katherine R. Unterman | Assistant Professor of History, Texas A&M University
During an age of vast economic inequality, the election of 1896 pitted the haves against the have-nots. The Populists, a grassroots third party, represented angry farmers who felt exploited by Wall Street and Washington. They backed Democrat William Jennings Bryan, who famously condemned the “cross of gold” that oppressed the little man. The Republican victory, however, killed the Populist movement and ushered in a period of new electoral alliances, overseas imperialism, and the modern presidency.

“The Roosevelt Revolution”
Dr. George C. Edwards III | University Distinguished Professor of Political Science, George and Julia Blucher Jordan Chair in Presidential Studies, Texas A&M University
Professor Edwards will discuss the crisis caused by the Great Depression; the extraordinary change in the results of the election compared to the elections of 1920, 1924, and 1928; and the consequences of the election outcome for public policy, both in the 1930s and for the long term.

“How Harry Astonished the World: The 1948 Election”
Dr. H. W. Brands | Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History, University of Texas, Austin
No one expected Harry Truman to win the election of 1948, perhaps not even Truman himself. But Truman acted as though he did, and in one of the great upsets in American history he defeated Thomas Dewey and earned a shot at immortality.

“The ’68 Election and the Demise of ’60s Liberalism”
Dr. Terry Anderson | Professor of History and Cornerstone Faculty Fellow, Texas A&M University
This talk will first discuss the pinnacle of liberalism in the era, 1965, and LBJ’s achievements, and then move on to issues that divided America by 1968—race and war—and then examine the 1968 presidential race. It will conclude with the meaning of Nixon’s victory, the demise of liberalism.


unterman-photoDr. Katherine R. Unterman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Texas A&M University. She received her Ph.D. in History from Yale University in 2011. Professor Unterman also holds a Masters in Legal Studies from Stanford Law School and a B.A. from Harvard University. Dr. Unterman began teaching at Texas A&M University in Fall 2011. She specializes in 19th century U.S. history, American foreign relations, and legal history. Her first book, Uncle Sam’s Policemen: The Pursuit of Fugitives Across Borders, was published by Harvard University Press in 2015.

edwardsDr. George C. Edwards III is University Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Jordan Chair in Presidential Studies at Texas A&M University. He is an Associate Member of Nuffield College and a Distinguished Fellow at the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford.  He was also the founder and director of The Center for Presidential Studies and has served on the Board of Directors of the Roper Center, the Board of Trustees of the Center for the Study of the Presidency, and many editorial boards.

Professor Edwards has authored many articles and book chapters as well as written or edited dozens of books on American politics and public policy making. He is also editor of Presidential Studies Quarterly and general editor of the Oxford Handbook of American Politics series. His recent books are On Deaf Ears: The Limits of the Bully Pulpit; Why the Electoral College Is Bad for AmericaGoverning by Campaigning; The Strategic President; and Overreach. His most recent book, Predicting the Presidency shows how understanding the nature of presidential leadership allows us to predict the legislative success of a president and investigates the president’s leadership of those predisposed to support his initiatives.

He has received the Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service from the U.S. Army and the Pi Sigma Alpha Prize from the Southern Political Science Association. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Phi Beta Kappa and, a Woodrow Wilson Fellow.

Photo by Marsha Miller

Photo by Marsha Miller

Dr. H. W. Brands is the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History at the University of Texas, Austin. For nine years, Professor Brands taught mathematics and history in high school and community college. Meanwhile he resumed his formal education, earning graduate degrees in mathematics and history, concluding with a doctorate in history from the University of Texas at Austin. He worked as an oral historian at the University of Texas Law School for a year, then became a visiting professor of history at Vanderbilt University. In 1987 he joined the history faculty at Texas A&M University, where he taught for seventeen years. In 2005 he returned to the University of Texas, where he holds the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History.

He has written twenty-five books, coauthored or edited five others, and published dozens of articles and scores of reviews. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune, the Boston Globe, the Atlantic Monthly, the Smithsonian, the National Interest, the American Historical Review, the Journal of American History, the Political Science QuarterlyAmerican History, and many other newspapers, magazines and journals. His writings have received critical and popular acclaim. The First American and Traitor to His Class were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Prize. Several of his books have been bestsellers.

Brands is a member of various honorary societies, including the Society of American Historians and the Philosophical Society of Texas. He is a regular guest on national radio and television programs, and is frequently interviewed by the American and foreign press. His writings have been published in several countries and translated into German, French, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

Dr. Terry Anderson is Professor of History and Cornerstone Faculty Fellow at Texas A&M University. Professor Anderson, a Vietnam veteran, has taught in Malaysia and Japan. He has received Fulbright awards to China, Indonesia, and was the Mary Ball Washington Professor of American History at University College, Dublin. He is the author of numerous articles on the 1960s and the Vietnam War, co-author of A Flying Tiger’s Diary, and author of The SixtiesUnited States, Great Britain, and the Cold War, 1944-1947The Movement and the Sixties;  and The Pursuit of Fairness: A History of Affirmative Action.  His latest book is Bush’s Wars (2011).


Free parking is available in front of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.