I Can Still Recall My Last Summer: Processing the Turnipseed Papers

Erin Patterson

Erin Patterson spent her internship processing the papers of Tom Turnipseed.

This past summer I had to the pleasure of completing an internship in the South Carolina Political Collections at the University of South Carolina. My project for the summer was processing the Tom Turnipseed papers, and it was a marvelous learning experience.

Before working on this project I had not heard of Tom Turnipseed and his fascinating and remarkable journey from the Old South rooted in racism to being an advocate for social justice. It is such an inspiring story. His papers show his journey from being George Wallace’s 1968 National Campaign Director to one of the loudest voices against injustice in South Carolina.

Turnipseed has been in the public eye since the late 1960s when he was the head of the Independent School Association. From there he went on to be George Wallace’s campaign director in the 1968 Presidential election. After leaving Wallace in 1971 to focus on his law practice in Columbia and his family, he began his own political journey running for office six times in 25 years. Though he was not always successful in winning elections he was able to bring issues to the forefront for public discussion. The amount of effort that Turnipseed has put into causes such as global peace,


seed packets!

homelessness, mental health, racial justice and equality is staggering. He has helped slash utility rates for South Carolinians, prosecuted the Ku Klux Klan, fought for those who do not have a voice and challenged the deep-seated prejudices of others through discussion.

Some of the most interesting items that I found in the collection were the campaign memorabilia from Turnipseed’s various campaigns. There are belt buckles, pins, different slogans and – the most humorous and effective – packets of actual turnip seeds. I just found the campaign seed packets to be so clever.

gubernatorial campaign

gubernatorial campaign literature from 1978

This collection has a significant amount of clippings, much more than I have ever worked with, dating from the late 1960s to the present. Many of those clippings were still a part of an entire newspaper. The most tiresome part of the entire process was searching for relevant articles and cutting them out of newspapers. There are a lot of clippings.

Though this blog post is delayed, my gratitude for this opportunity from the South Carolina Political Collections has not diminished in the slightest. The experience of working through an unprocessed collection on my own was a terrifying prospect at the beginning of the summer. It has been the largest archival project I have been given that much autonomy over to date. I am so thankful for the chance to work with Herb Hartsook and the rest of the South Carolina Political Collection team and for the opportunities that they offer students to work with them. Every day I worked there I learned something new about the archival field. My advice to those who are interested in processing and have not had the practical experience yet would be to ask questions and don’t get bogged down in the small details. These are lessons I know that I will use in my future career in the field.

bumper sticker

Turnipseed campaign bumper sticker

Contributed by Erin Patterson

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Simkins in the Fight for Integration

This blog entry was written by Graduate Assistant Clara Bertagnolli as part of a class project for FILM 710: Media and Archives. Each student was tasked with the job of designing a project using archived media.

Modjeska Simkins is well-known throughout the state of South Carolina as a strong voice in the fight for civil rights. Though nowadays, few have heard of the desegregation of the South Carolina State Hospital, to Simkins it was another one of her many battles for justice.

You may have heard the South Carolina State Hospital referred to as “Bull Street.” This road runs along the front of the former hospital’s property, a mildly famous mental hospital located not too far from downtown Columbia. Though the campus is now under development, in its heyday it was a densely populated mental institution. Some may consider this common knowledge, but what few people know is that from the early twentieth century up until the late 1960s, this was a white-only facility. Even less well-known is the presence of its segregated counterpart, seven miles away on Farrow Road. This facility was known as the Crafts-Farrow Hospital or the Palmetto State Hospital.

The Crafts-Farrow Hospital was constructed in the 1910s for the specific purpose of housing African American patients. Patients had been segregated by race before on the State Hospital campus itself, but overcrowding at the institution led this method to be impractical (perhaps the board of the Department of Mental Health also felt separation by building on the same campus was too integrated). When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 came around, and it was time to desegregate, some groups found that the Department of Mental Health took too long to do this in their Columbia facilities. Among them was Modjeska Simkins.

In December 1964, Simkins and others lodged a complaint against the Department of Mental Health, accusing them of their non-compliance with the Civil Rights Act. In February, WIS-TV captured a tour of the two state hospital campuses that proved them not only to be segregated, but to be unequal as well. Simkins was a member of that tour group, and most likely was not happy at what she saw.simkins at bull street

Modjeska Simkins on the grounds of the State Hospital at Bull Street.





WIS-TV didn’t capture her working on this desegregation again until five months later, but by then it was clear she was displeased with the situation. In a brief interview, she explains that the Department of Mental Health had been cut off from federal funds, and they deserved this for not yet taking action. That same day, William Hall, Superintendent of the State Hospital and State Commissioner of Mental Health, released a statement on the same station, explaining that the Department has begun the process of desegregation, but expects that it will take two to five years. Unfortunately, the WIS-TV collection doesn’t include a response from Simkins, but no doubt, she would not have found that good enough. Simkins was never one to settle in the fight for justice.

Simkins being interviewed about desegregation by WIS-TVsimkins on wis

For more films on Simkins, browse the Moving Image Research Collections reference catalog, or view her film on Victory Savings Bank on their Digital Video Repository.

–by Clara Bertagnolli

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Illuminating the Season: A “History” of Christmas on the Potomac


JFK Xmas

One of the presidential cards from the Dorn collection: the young Kennedy family

Last week Herb told you about this year’s Christmas on the Potomac exhibit, which has added a festive touch at the front of Thomas Cooper Library. Long-time friends of South Carolina Political Collections may be aware that we do a holiday card exhibit every year, and each one is titled Christmas on the Potomac – our “brand” if you will.

Prior to moving into the beautiful Hollings Library building in 2010, SCPC was housed in a warehouse in the hinterlands near the Colonial Life Arena. Granted, with all the recent and somewhat hectic University development in the Vista, that area doesn’t seem so far removed as it used to be. But at the time the holiday season gave us a golden opportunity to remind campus of our departmental presence by installing a display of cards in a prominent location at the main library – the heart of campus.



These exhibits started out fairly small; the first, I believe, focused solely on presidential cards received by one of our foundational donors, Congressman Bryan Dorn. Over the years, however, we have expanded our coverage to three cases, highlighting not only presidential cards (still a favorite) but also greetings from other political figures, foreign ambassadors and consulates, schools, civic and charitable entities, and corporations such as Coca-Cola and Michelin. We actively solicit holiday cards from our collection donors in anticipation of our annual display.

Salvation Army

Salvation Army

We began to incorporate additional Christmassy decorations in the displays to improve the presentation of the cards and generally add extra cheer. Ornaments, bows, mini pine cones, mini “wrapped gifts,” and ribbons festooned the cases. There was even a year or two in which we attempted the use of tinsel – a sparkling component that proved to be more trouble than it was worth when the time came to remove it from the velvet surface of the cases!


Part of this year’s exhibit

Speaking of ornaments, Herb has a personal collection of the official – and usually quite beautiful – ornaments produced annually by both the White House and Capitol historical offices. We include selections of these each year along with the cards, and they add a marvelous dimension to the display.

Kate with some of the ornaments

Kate with some of the ornaments

Every year, SCPC staffers look forward to this season when we can peruse the new cards, decide which will be included, and unleash our creative Christmas arranging and decorating instincts. We hope those who come by and see the exhibit find joy in it, too.

By Kate Moore


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Christmas on the Potomac: 2015


A portion of the presidential card case in the exhibit – the book is Season’s Greetings from the White House

The holiday season is a spiritual time during which we reconnect with family and friends, but it is also a campaign season enjoyed by political junkies like me. South Carolina Political Collections’ 2015 holiday exhibit consists of three segments featuring cards from U.S. presidents; cards of prominent Democrats and Republicans in South Carolina and across the United States; and a sampling of cards received in 2014 by the Libraries’ newest donor – Congressman Jim Clyburn.

Our display almost always includes presidential cards. Our earliest presidential card was sent from President Eisenhower to Bryan Dorn in 1956. We recently acquired five cards new to our collection, received by donor and former congresswoman Liz Patterson. These welcome additions were sent by President and Mrs. George H.W. Bush and President and Mrs. Bill Clinton. All five appear in this year’s exhibit.

1992 card

The 1992 card created for George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara

This 1992 card from the Bushes is particularly colorful.

I was also taken by their 1989 card showing the South Portico and the Bushes’ private entrance into the mansion during a snowstorm. (see below) The image was created by the mansion’s Director of Graphics William Gemmell at the request of Barbara Bush, who felt it “would be fun to have someone who had worked so long in the White House and who loved it so much to paint our card.” [from Season’s Greetings from the White House: The Collection of Presidential Christmas Cards, Messages, and Gifts, by Mary Evans Seeley, p. 177]

1989 card

The Bushes’ 1989 card, created by William Gemmell

Democratic and Republican greetings include cards from Joe Biden, Governor and Mr. Haley, Secretary of State John Kerry, S.C. Republican Party Chair Matt Moore, presidential contender Martin O’Malley, Congressman Tom Rice, California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (whose cards are always wildly popular), donors John Courson, Jim Edwards (who we lost earlier this year), Lindsey Graham, Tim Scott, Inez Tenenbaum, David Wilkins, and Joe Wilson.

Mr. Clyburn’s cards include greetings from BMW, Claflin University, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, the Japanese Consulate, and the president of Korea.

We hope you will enjoy our exhibit, and all of us at USC libraries wish you a very happy holiday season!                                                                                           ~ Herb Hartsook

The Christmas on the Potomac: 2015 display is located in three exhibit cases at the front of Thomas Cooper Library.

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Establishment of the Center for Civil Rights History and Research at U of SC

Jim Clyburn

Congressman Jim Clyburn addresses the audience at the announcement event for the new Civil Rights Center.

Monday was a momentous day at the Hollings Library as the University announced the creation of the Center for Civil Rights History and Research. Here are some excerpts from the news release:

University President Harris Pastides announced the creation of the center Monday (Nov. 23). It will be the first single entity dedicated to telling South Carolina’s civil rights story. Also Monday, Rep. James Clyburn, the state’s first African-American member of Congress since Reconstruction and the assistant House Democratic leader, said he would donate his Congressional papers to the new center. “I am honored to add my Congressional papers to the University of South Carolina’s significant civil rights collection. The establishment of the Center for Civil Rights History and Research allows for my Congressional papers to be a part of a larger effort to give vibrancy to South Carolina’s history and credence to its civil rights activities. . . .

Tom McNally

Library Dean Tom McNally speaks as President Pastides, Congressman Clyburn, and History Professor Bobby Donaldson look on.

University Libraries Dean Thomas McNally. . . said he envisions a center where visitors can learn through exhibits and programs and where students and scholars can conduct research using original documents. “Many young people today don’t know this state’s civil rights story or comprehend the sacrifice and courage of those involved in the movement,” he said. “Our collections contain personal accounts that tell South Carolina’s story in a way that will bring to life this transformational time in our history.” McNally said the center will start small, initially being housed in the Hollings Library. He hopes that eventually there will be a facility for the center, similar to those in other states around the country.

Moores with Perry

Bob Moore and his wife Meribeth with Judge Matthew Perry several years ago. Moore has donated his papers and interview tapes to SCPC.

A terrific audience was assembled and was given the opportunity to view exhibits that included material on Congressman Clyburn, the papers of Luther Battiste, Bob Moore, I. DeQuincey Newman, and Modjeska Simkins, and our oral histories with former governors Fritz Hollings and Donald Russell in which they discussed the integration of Clemson University and USC by Harvey Gantt and Henrie Monteith Treadwell.

Politics is all about relationships and this was evident Monday. In his remarks, Clyburn mentioned that his mentor and SCPC donor John West had encouraged Clyburn to place his papers at USC. And the Center should, in time, become a destination for the public and scholars interested in learning about the struggle for equality in South Carolina.

USC desegregation

Robert Anderson, Henrie Monteith, and James Solomon, Jr, leave the USC Administration building, 1963.

Clyburn’s desire to use his papers as a base from which to create something broader recalls Sen. Hollings’ purpose in donating his own papers to USC in 1991. He, too, hoped that USC would use the momentum from his gift to develop Political Collections into a major center for the study of South Carolina government, politics and society. And he worked to help achieve that goal. Among the collections he helped us solicit are those of his good friends Jim Edwards and John West.

Also present on Monday was SCPC donor Robin Tallon. Tallon was Clyburn’s predecessor in Congress, serving five terms representing the 6th District. When that district was reconfigured as a black majority district, Tallon retired from the House rather than wage a campaign which pundits thought he would win, but in doing so, could tear the district apart. Clyburn and Tallon have been friends ever since.

This is an exciting time for the University and I look forward to my service on the Implementation Committee working toward our shared vision for the new Center.

Herb Hartsook

See a video of the event and remarks by Pastides, McNally, History Professor Bobby Donaldson and Clyburn.

(For more information on the desegregation of the University of South Carolina, see the “5oth Anniversary of Desegregation” web page.)


Herb Hartsook (center) listens to the speakers at the announcement event.

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Governor Robert E. McNair


Bob McNair in 1966

In 1979, I came to South Carolina to work for the state Department of Archives and History.  At that time, the Archives was engaged in a major oral history project documenting the gubernatorial term (1965-1971) of Robert McNair (1923-2007).  In 1979, he headed the state’s most prestigious law firm, one with a regional presence and international clientele.  And I was told that Bob McNair was the most influential person in South Carolina.

news clip

…[W]e have run the legal course…

The oral history consisted of an extensive interview with the Governor and more focused interviews with over twenty other McNair associates.  This major undertaking was designed to cultivate the relationship between the Archives and McNair, in hopes that McNair would give them his official gubernatorial papers.  McNair was the last governor to control his official papers.  These were stored at the Archives but remained his personal property.  The official papers of subsequent governors became, by law, the property of the state.


Ribbon-cutting for Transit Homes Savings Bank, Greenville, 1967

Eventually, Gov. McNair donated his papers to USC’s Southern Studies department.  He eventually approved them coming to SCPC, where they were processed and opened for study.  In addition to the personal papers of eleven of our recent governors, we also hold official gubernatorial papers of Fritz Hollings, who served from 1959 to 1963.  McNair’s collection documents his service in the South Carolina House of Representatives (Allendale County), 1951-1962; as Lt. Governor, 1963-1965; and as Governor.

McNally desk

Dean McNally at the McNair desk

The progressive McNair worked to develop and broaden the state’s economy and improve education throughout the state.  At a time of great turmoil, he was a constant advocate for the peaceful and orderly desegregation of the state’s public accommodations and public schools.  He also initiated major innovations in economic development, created the state’s first state-supported kindergartens, and appointed the first African-Americans to state boards and commissions and to a professional position on his executive staff.  He created the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism and is credited with improving the overall financial management and operation of state government.  His service was marred by the incident at South Carolina State University in which three students were killed.  For more about McNair, we highly recommend the Phil Grose biography, South Carolina at the Brink.


Identifying plaque on the desk

I came to like and admire him greatly.  He helped SCPC in many ways and even gave us a desk that, for years, served as the focal point of our reading room.  He used the desk when he was chair of the House Judiciary Committee and later in his law office.  This fall, the office of Dean of Libraries Tom McNally was remodeled, and the McNair desk now serves as his desk.  It is appropriate as McNally, like McNair, is devoted to this University and to the public that uses our rich Library resources.

By Herb Hartsook

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iPRES 2015

I recently attended the 12th International Conference on Digital Preservation, also known as iPRES 2015. Over 300 people from around the world gathered on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to discuss a variety of issues related to digital preservation.

Since starting as SCPC’s Digital Initiatives Archivist in April, I’ve spent a lot of time working on getting the basics of our digital preservation program in place. This has included drafting accessioning procedures, researching and requesting hardware, ingesting born-digital materials, and preparing information to share with our donors about managing and (eventually) transferring their born-digital records to us.

Refer to caption.

SCPC’s electronic records workstation and USB write blocker.

Attending iPRES gave me an opportunity to think more about our long-term goals and learn how to work towards them more efficiently and effectively. Particularly thought-provoking were a full-day tutorial on ways to make progress towards becoming a Trustworthy Digital Repository and a “Policy and Practice Documentation Clinic” session. Santi Thompson, a University of South Carolina alumnus and former SCPC Graduate Assistant, presented a paper titled “Preserving the Fruit of Our Labor:  Establishing Digital Preservation Policies and Strategies and the University of Houston Libraries” that I also found particularly relevant. There were many interesting and inspiring paper and poster presentations, demos, and other sessions in addition to the standouts mentioned above. The official conference proceedings will be posted on the International Conference on Digital Preservation’s website.

The information and ideas that I’ve brought back from the conference will help me improve SCPC’s digital preservation program, and will hopefully also ultimately benefit broader digital preservation efforts within the University Libraries.

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Congressman Tom Rice Visits SCPC

Tom Rice

SCPC Director Herb Hartsook welcomes Congressman Rice to our facility.

Tom Rice was on campus last week for Homecoming and took time from his hectic schedule to tour SCPC and learn more about our program. Rice earned both his master’s and law degrees from USC, and on that Homecoming Friday afternoon the congressman addressed a crowd of Gamecock fans gathered in front of the Russell House, encouraging the fans to root for Carolina over Vanderbilt on Saturday. As Rice predicted, the Gamecocks earned their first SEC victory the next day. He seemed to enjoy his visit to SCPC. He was accompanied by his wife, Wrenzie, and DC office scheduler Terra Davis. Terra took the photos that illustrate this post.

Rice and Hartsook

Herb explains our archival procedures and services as the repository of a congressman’s papers.

Congressman Rice represents South Carolina’s newest congressional district. The 7th District encompasses parts of eight northeastern counties including Georgetown and Horry. The district was created as a result of the great population growth experienced in South Carolina as determined by the 2010 census.

In the first race to represent the 7th district, in 2012, the Republican primary attracted a large field: nine candidates, headlined by former Lt. Governor Andre Bauer. Rice forced Bauer into a runoff and then won the election, receiving 56% of the vote. Rice serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure, Small Business and Budget committees, where his expertise developed as a CPA and tax attorney stands him in good stead. One of his key interests are South Carolina’s ports and particularly that in Georgetown.

Rice and Davis

Congressman and Wrenzie Rice tour our exhibits.

Rice, like most current members of Congress, makes efficient use of technology. He has his own YouTube channel, a Facebook account followed by over eight thousand friends, and a Twitter account which often features messages for his constituents. After South Carolina experienced torrential flooding, he tweeted, My district offices will serve as bottled water donation locations for South Carolinians in need.

We are hopeful that Mr. Rice may soon join the ranks of SCPC donors and entrust his papers to our care. If he does, it will be quite different from the collections of earlier congressmen like Bryan Dorn and Floyd Spence. They dealt with thousands of letters from constituents and voluminous files of paperwork relating to issues before Congress. Current members see little actual paper, instead their offices chiefly work with electronic records. That is the great challenge presented to congressional archivists and one which we hope our new Digital Initiatives Archivist Laura Litwer will help us solve.

Rice and Wilson

Rice’s associate Joe Wilson has donated some of SCPC’s most interesting ephemera, including this life-size cardboard stand-up (which Rice seemed to want for himself) and a voting machine. Both of these items are prominently displayed in our processing area.

Rice and Wilson


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In Memoriam: Martha Edens

Martha Edens

Martha Edens in 1982

Martha Edens was laid to rest yesterday. Among her many achievements, she played an important role in the rise of South Carolina’s Republican Party. Ms. Edens took an interest in South Carolina Political Collections soon after we were created in 1991, and was a source of support and counsel.

Perhaps the single most important political development in South Carolina of the 20th century was the rise of the Republican Party, and Martha Edens was an important activist in Republican Party affairs at the local, state and national levels beginning in the late 1950s. Her distinguished Party service included two terms as National Committeewoman. Her brother, J. Drake Edens, Jr., is considered by some to have been the father of the Republican Party in South Carolina for his organizational efforts and service as Party Chairman in the early 1960s.


Ms. Edens (in blue) on a bus with Governor Carroll Campbell and State Representative (later U.S. Ambassador to Canada) David Wilkins

In a memorable oral history interview we conducted, Ms. Edens noted, “the Republican Party looks for people with ability and the gender doesn’t bother them at all. I was never denied the opportunity to do anything I wanted to do in the Republican Party because I was a woman. We (she and her brother) never wanted to run for political office. All we wanted to do was create a situation where other people that were qualified could offer for elective office. We preferred to help candidates organize campaigns and raise money. I am grateful that I had an opportunity to be a part of something that began with such a small number of dedicated people that has grown to its present day position of prominence. Our party has made an impact on our State as well as our Nation. I have loved every minute of my involvement, the good and the bad.”

Ms. Edens was generous with her time and always seemed happy to hear from me, even though I most often called on her for advice on how best to approach a prospective donor. As one of South Carolina’s Republican elders, her early support helped raise our visibility and demonstrated SCPC’s acceptance as a non-partisan repository.

Edens and Spence

Ms. Edens with her good friend Floyd Spence

Politics was just one of Ms. Edens’ interests and she helped with innumerable charitable endeavors benefiting organizations like Richland Memorial Hospital and the United Way. I noted many young women at her memorial service and assume these were just some of the ladies Ms. Edens influenced through her leadership in her sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, which she served as Province President, Vice President, National President for three terms, and Extension Director.

edens children

Drake and Martha Edens

When I think of Martha Edens, I always think of two things. First was her gentle and kind reaction to a student assistant who accompanied me for our oral history. As we were packing our equipment at the conclusion of the interview, the student, who had been enchanted by the many miniature elephants in Ms. Edens’ home, naively asked, “What led to your interest in elephants?” Of course, the elephant is the symbol of the Republican Party. The only collection I have seen that rivaled hers was that of her good friend Floyd Spence. Second, was her drive and work ethic. After we both attended a planning meeting for a Republican history group, Ms. Edens shared with me her frustration that the meeting had produced nothing tangible. She felt that each attendee should have left the meeting with a clear task. She truly wanted to do something, not talk about doing things.

At the service yesterday, her minister noted how much she did throughout her life to help people, often making her gifts anonymously. To me, that is the hallmark of her inspirational life – the drive to make a difference, without the need for acclaim and recognition.

By Herb Hartsook

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Top Ten Books on Government and Politics: Recommendations by Historian Jack Roper

booksThe other day, SCPC friend and historian Jack Roper and I began to discuss “must reads,” and I challenged Jack to list his ten “must reads” on government and politics. He graciously suggested the following titles, and provided a brief comment on each. We hope that this will be the first of a number of these lists suggested by other friends. I may even venture a list at some point.

Enjoy!                                     Herb Hartsook


Dr. Jack Roper

Dr. Roper writes:

I got hung up between classics that affect how I think and do research, and works that really affect my specific understanding of process. So I mixed the two kinds of things up. Omissions that are important for you to know: I initially listed Vann Woodward, Reunion and Reaction; Tindall, Disruption of the Solid South; and Blum, The Republican Roosevelt, but reluctantly left them as nos. 11, 12, and 13.

There is one dog that doesn’t bark: As great as Merrill Peterson and other authorities are, no one has written a book that captures Jefferson’s genius in building the Democratic Republican party, the way he found regional and subregional leaders in Virginia and New York, but also the backcountry. We need such a book.

Here is a list, in cardinal order:

1. Aristotle, Ars Politica, trans. Jowett. There is wisdom in Aristotle about all things, and especially the political. I review what he sees as principles and watch for them in actors.

2. Machiavelli, The Prince, trans. and ed. Constantine. Machiavelli is denser and more complicated than many think; I especially like the way he understands that there are serious limits to what anyone can do as leader no matter the system. I find many of his examples of how people will react to actions to be especially good. I remember that the Founding Fathers and Lincoln all regarded Machiavelli as extremely important.

3. John Caldwell Calhoun, Collected Works, ed. Wilson (primarily on concurrent majorities). He is certainly wrong on slavery and race, but his description of concurrent majorities is a wonderful way to understand how power blocs work in our federalist system.

4. James Madison with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, The Federalist Papers. Ed. Bosch and Smith (University of Wisconsin) I think it is useful to see what Madison in particular thought the republic would be all about. Obviously I read this in dialogue and dialectic with Calhoun.

5. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan. Hobbes has ripe observations about motivation and insights into how people act, with or without power. Like Machiavelli, he understands the limits of power even and especially for the Leviathan. The way our Commander in Chief Leviathans are often hamstrung is already forecast there in Hobbes’s work.

6. Theodore Sorensen, Kennedy. Although there is some cheer-leading, Sorensen really details Kennedy’s actions while Senator and President and accurately reveals a Liberal’s thinking in another era. In particular, he reminds us how limited was Kennedy’s vision on civil rights despite the soaring rhetoric.

7. James McGregor Burns, Roosevelt, 2 volumes (especially The Lion and the Fox). I think Burns, using Machiavelli’s template on the lion and the fox, does a great job showing how our most successful president got things done, whether admirable or not.

8. Gordon S. Wood, Creation of the American Republic. Such a careful and close reading of the thinking of the Founding Fathers, with a deft transition from the fervor of radical revolution to the checks and balances and judicious governance of the Constitution.

9. William W. Freehling, Prelude to Civil War. South Carolina starts the War, and the start of the start is the crisis with Nullification. An excellent study of the men and the forces who could not be reasoned with—and a reminder of how badly Calhoun wanted to prevent disunion.

10. Robert Caro, Lyndon Johnson, 3 volumes. Caro does not understand Texas and does not try very hard to understand it, but he surely follows LBJ as he makes his remarkable climb to power. It’s a corking narrative and with a clear moral vision concerning a great man with a tragic flaw.

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