Michael Beschloss, who Newsweek has called “the nation’s leading presidential historian,” spoke at Meredith on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2007. The award-winning historian shared stories about presidents including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson.
Much of Beschloss’ lecture featured the acts of courage described in his latest book, “Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789-1989,” which was published in May 2007.
The author defined presidential courage as a decision that required the president to risk his political reputation, popularity or even his life.
“Lincoln paid with his life for his presidential courage” in supporting the Emancipation Proclamation, Beschloss said.
He also offered a description of the importance of viewing a president’s term with a historian’s eye.
“Sometimes presidents are so intensively covered that we forget there’s a difference between studying the president through the lens of current events and through the lens of history,” Beschloss said.
Waiting decades allows historians to “learn things that you can’t see at the time.”
Meredith’s lecture series follows the College’s annual campus theme, which is “Ethical Leadership” for 2007-08.” Beschloss said future presidents can learn lessons of ethical leadership by looking back at the courageous acts of some of their predecessors.
He recommended that future presidents should visit Mount Vernon and remember George Washington’s last moments. Among the first president’s last words were “Don’t be afraid.”
Beschloss sees these words as a message to future presidents and an ethical leadership lesson for everyone.
The lecture was part of the 2007-08 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Presidential Lecture Series. For more information, visit www.meredith.edu/campus-theme. More Details