Every president has had some experience as a parent. Of the 43 men who have served in the nation's highest office, 38 have fathered biological children, and the other five adopted children. Each president's parenting style reveals much about his beliefs as well as his psychological makeup. James Garfield enjoyed jumping on the bed with his kids. FDR's children, on the other hand, had to make appointments to talk to him.
Noah Webster's name is now synonymous with the dictionary he created, but his story is not nearly so ubiquitous. Webster hobnobbed with various Founding Fathers and was a young confidant of George Washington and Ben Franklin. But perhaps most important, Webster was an ardent supporter of a unified, definitively American culture, distinct from the British, at a time when the United States of America were anything but unified - and his dictionary of American English is a testament to that.
"A bit of a slog"
Peter Mark Roget - polymath, eccentric, and synonym aficionado - was a complicated man. He was an eminent scholar who absorbed himself in his work, yet he also possessed an allure that endeared him to his mentors and colleagues - not to mention a host of female admirers. But, most notably, Roget made lists.
Charles Lindbergh is just one of several American icons whom Joshua Kendall puts on the psychologist's couch in America's Obsessives. In this fascinating look at the arc of American history through the lens of compulsive behavior, he shows how some of our nation's greatest achievements - from the Declaration of Independence to the invention of the iPhone - have roots in the disappointments and frustrations of early childhood.
"Obama's Most Unusual Legacy? Being a Good Dad" is from the June 19, 2016 Lifestyle section of The Washington Post. It was written by Joshua Kendall and narrated by Sam Scholl.