Thanks Risa for passing on this neat resource that features a couple of lines about every American president right up to Obama. It would be a great jumping off point for more detailed research into our presidents.
I also plan to talk to my kids about what a tiny (and sometimes biased) glimpse we can sometimes get through history lessons. For instance, for Jimmy Carter they say he worked tirelessly for human rights. Carter certainly was one of the presidents most concerned about human rights, but someone else could sum him up by talking about the Iran hostage crisis which really seemed to be what people associated with him at the end of his presidency and for a long time to come. I am a big fan of Carter, but I do remember that at the time of his presidency that is not how people judged him.
George W. Bush is summed up by saying he strengthened homeland security and Clinton really wasn’t summed up at all (they just say he was the president of the new millinium). I want to have my kids think about how they’d sum up the presidents they know about and to think about how the power really lies with the people who get to tell the stories in history. That’s another reason it’s so important to get our information from lots of different sources.
Also, my father-in-law was telling me that CNN did a list of the best presidents in history and named the absolute worst too. I think it might have been Buchanan but I can’t remember. I really want to hear that story! What a dubious achievement! If I find the story I’ll pass it on.