Lecture series dates
Richard Norton Smith will present the upcoming lecture series at the Dole Institute of Politics arguing for his choices for a 20th-century Mount Rushmore.
3 p.m. today at the Dole Institute.
A public reception for Smith will follow at 4:30 p.m. at the Seymour Gallery at the Lied Center.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
7:30 p.m. Feb. 16 at the Dole Institute.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
7:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Dole Institute.
7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Dole Institute
A former Dole Institute director will return to the institute beginning today to deliver a series of lectures outlining his version of a 20th-century Mount Rushmore.
Richard Norton Smith has chosen four new presidents for inclusion on the mountain: Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Smith, a presidential scholar, left the Dole Institute to serve as president of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. Today, he is a scholar-in-residence at George Mason University.
The series begins with a discussion of Reagan today with Bill Lacy, current Dole Institute director who also worked as a Reagan political director.
Without wanting to give away too much of his planned presentations in a recent interview, Smith talked about his four selections.
“Other people would make their own choices, and that’s part of the appeal to this,” he said, adding that he hoped his presentations would involve lively discussions with audience participation as well.
He qualified his selections by saying that he tried to pick the four presidents of the century with the greatest historical significance.
Eisenhower, for example, in his famous Farewell Address references the burden of the debt that the country was passing on to its children and grandchildren. That’s certainly a relevant topic today, Smith said.
“Probably the most controversial of my choices would be Woodrow Wilson,” he said.
Even so, he said, it’s hard to argue that Wilson — who pushed for international collaboration with his League of Nations idea that ultimately failed — was not one of the most influential presidents of the century. When it comes to foreign relations, most presidents have either adopted a Wilsonian or non-Wilsonian approach.
He called Franklin D. Roosevelt the man who invented the modern presidency.
“You could say that of Teddy Roosevelt, but he’s already on Mount Rushmore,” Smith said.
Both Franklin Roosevelt and Reagan transformed the modern presidency, he said, in addition to their own political parties. They’re both extremely polarizing figures, but yet both enjoyed huge popularity during their terms, he said.
Lacy said he was looking forward to Smith’s presentations, and that he anticipated the program would be well-received.
“I think there is a fascination with our presidents,” Lacy said. “Whether they were successful or flawed, there is a tremendous amount of interest in them.”