Presidential Transfers of Power: From George Washington to Donald Trump

Harold Holzer / Hunter College

The most sacred of all American rituals—and the most crucial test of democracy—may be the passing of the torch from outgoing to incoming presidents—especially in cases when incumbents lose to challengers. Ever since the founding era, these moments have occasionally been fraught, frosty, and occasionally even dangerous. This talk explores the best and worst of transitions—and the kindest and sorest of losers and winners—as it covers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln, Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt, the extraordinary example of Jimmy Carter both arriving and departing, and of course the insurrection two weeks before the departure of Donald Trump.