Alexis and Elliott are going on vacation and will be back with a brand new episode on September 5. In the meantime, here's a clip of retired Secret Service Agent Clint Hill reflecting on President Eisenhower's preferred vacation spot, the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.
Alexis and Elliott get to know the man behind America’s most famous pair of mutton chops: president number eight, Martin Van Buren. Nicknamed "Old Kinderhook," after his hometown in upstate New York, Van Buren was born to humble tavern-keeper parents and grew up speaking Dutch. Alexis speaks to Dr. Patricia West at the Van Buren Historical Site about the poor little Dutch boy's meteoric rise to president of the United States.
Alexis and Elliott begin the series with the largely overlooked 11th president, James K. Polk, and are joined by America's favorite satirist, Jon Stewart, writer and comedian John Hodgman, author Regina Mason, and Barney's Creative Ambassador-at-Large Simon Doonan.
Alexis and Elliott get to know our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt. They speak to biographer H.W. Brands about a peculiar presidential pet peeve, Elliott visits a taxidermist in Queens to learn more about Teddy's appreciation for mounted game, and Thomas Whittington gives voice to our most macho of presidents.
Alexis and Elliott examine the pre-presidential life of our most dazzling president, number 35, John F. Kennedy. They're taken on a tour of "Young Jack’s" less-than-stellar high school days and his heroic acts during WWII by Stacey Bredhoff, curator at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. And retired Secret Service agent Clint Hill shares anecdotes from his days protecting the man he describes as "electrifying.”
In this episode, Alexis and Elliott explore the life of president number 19, Rutherford B. Hayes, and investigate how a seemingly decent man turned into possibly the worst president ever. Alexis and Elliott speak to author and historian Roy Morris Jr. about the stolen election of 1876, and to David O. Stowell about Hayes’ involvement in the Great Railway Strike of 1877. They also enlist the help of comedian Kristen Schaal, in an attempt to find an entertaining way to talk about the silver coinage debate.
Alexis and Elliott peek at the man behind the scary Richard Nixon Halloween mask: Richard Nixon. Alexis takes a trip to southern California to visit young Dick’s alma mater, and the hotel where he and Pat Nixon were married. We get a refresher on the Watergate scandal from Quinn and Dev, hosts of the Reductress podcast “Mouth Time.” Elliott and Alexis examine Nixon’s environmental policies, and Cecil Baldwin, narrator of “Welcome to Night Vale."
Alexis and Elliott take a fresh look at one of our most studied and well-documented presidents, number three, Thomas Jefferson. They explore everything from his obsession with finding the elusive woolly mammoth, to his love of music, to the troubling side of his legacy: his long-time secret relationship with his slave Sally Hemings. Novelist Stephen O’Connor discusses his new novel Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings.
Alexis and Elliott visit Hyde Park, N.Y., home of #32, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. While there, they chat with National Park Ranger Francesca Urbin about FDR's bartending skills and examine Eleanor's contentious relationship with her mother-in-law. And Grammy Award-winning violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman, who survived polio as a child, helps shed light on the challenges of being a public figure with a disability.
Alexis and Elliott learn more about our most fleeting president, number nine, William Henry Harrison, who died after only a month in office. They speak to New York Times columnist Gail Collins about her personal connection to Harrison and examine Harrison the military man with the help of Major Rory McGovern of West Point Academy.
Alexis and Elliott explore the life of our second President, John Adams. Alexis travels to Massachusetts, home of the Adams family, to visit their farm in Quincy. In Boston, Alexis reads through original diaries and letters with historians Sara Georgini and John Overholt. Meanwhile, Elliott interviews his college friend Natalie MacMillan about her lifelong crush on Adams, and has a eureka moment about our second president.
This week, Alexis and Elliott get to know the sensitive soul behind our portly 27th president, William Howard Taft. They talk to historian H.W. Brands about Taft’s public break from his mentor, Theodore Roosevelt, and journalist Alexandra Robbins takes us back to Taft’s days as a member of Skull and Bones, Yale’s oldest secret society. Elsewhere, Alexis clears up some misinformation, and drops a bombshell on Chicago second grader Isaac Margolis.
Alexis and Elliott explore the life of president number six, John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, and member of the first American political dynasty. They follow Quincy’s journey from child diplomat, emerging from under the shadow of his overbearing parents, to the halls of Congress where he spent his last years advocating for causes ahead of his time. But first, Mayor Tom Koch of Quincy, Massachusetts, teaches Alexis and Elliott an important lesson.
Alexis and Elliott visit The United States Military Academy at West Point to find out more about a mischievous young cadet named Dwight D. Eisenhower, future 34th president. Alexis talks to historian Kevin Kruse about Ike’s religious revival and Susan Eisenhower reveals a lighter side of the man she called “Granddad.”
Alexis and Elliott take a closer look at the man many consider to be one of the country's worst presidents, #29 — Warren G. Harding. They talk with The New Yorker writer Jane Mayer, former Nixon counsel John Dean, and enlist the help of comedian Paula Poundstone, Radiolab's Robert Krulwich, and others, to bring Harding's raunchiest scandal to life.
Alexis and Elliott explore the life of our oft-forgotten 21st president, Chester Alan Arthur. Author Esther Crain explains why Arthur was the quintessential Gilded Age New Yorker, Elliott digs into a complicated relationship with NY senator Roscoe Conkling, and Alexis investigates his involvement in a significant civil rights case.
Alexis and Elliott get to know the all-American football star who stepped into office after Nixon’s resignation and served less than a full term, president #38 Gerald Ford. They examine his childhood, imagine his life as a pro-football player, explore his controversial decision to pardon Nixon a month after he left office in disgrace, and peek inside the East Wing with Betty Ford’s White House press secretary.
Alexis and Elliott re-examine the legacy of our country’s most famous peanut farmer-turned president, number 39, Jimmy Carter. Carter may have served for only one lackluster term in the Oval Office, but he’s had the longest post-presidential career of any former POTUS. Our hosts take a closer look at Carter's humanitarian work with the Carter Center, and Alexis visits his hometown of Plains, Georgia where she attends a Sunday school class taught by Carter himself.
Alexis and Elliott get to know the Vermonter with a maligned legacy, number 30, Calvin Coolidge. Coolidge’s hands-off style of governing has been blamed for paving the way to the devastation of the Great Depression, but personal tragedy may be as much to blame as his fiscal conservatism. Alexis speaks to political scientist Robert E. Gilbert about Coolidge’s long-time struggle with depression.
Alexis and Elliott delve into the life of a handsome yet disappointing president, number 14, Franklin Pierce. They speak to a presidential grief specialist about how Pierce dealt with a tragic death two months before his inauguration, examine how the Kansas-Nebraska Act—an act that was meant to defuse tension over slavery—ended up blowing up the country, and explore Pierce’s lifelong friendship with the acclaimed novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne.