Vice Presidents

Abraham Lincoln (left) claimed first place, while William Henry Harrison (right) came in 40th.

History of Now

Who Were the Best and Worst Presidents Ever—and How Do Historians Decide?

C-SPAN's 2021 ranking places Trump near the bottom of the list. Obama, Grant rises higher, while Lincoln holds steady in first

Visitors explore during a sneak preview of the newly renovated Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum and Museum in Independence, Missouri. The $29 million expansion took 2 years to complete.

At the Harry Truman Library and Museum, Visitors Get to Ask Themselves Where the Buck Stops

Interactive exhibitions pose questions about the decision to drop the nuclear bomb, the Red Scare, Truman's foreign policy and more

Geraldine Ferraro and Walter Mondale by Diane Walker, 1984

Walter Mondale Never Won the Presidency, but He Changed American Politics Forever

A trove of Smithsonian artifacts document the man who was first to put a woman on the presidential ticket and reshaped the vice presidency

Rioters enter the U.S. Capitol's rotunda as chemical irritants fill the corridor on January 6, 2021.

History of Now

Curators Seek $25,000 to Repair Artworks Damaged in U.S. Capitol Attack

Rioters vandalized six sculptures and two paintings, in addition to smashing windows, breaking furniture and spraying graffiti

Artist Simon Berger created the portrait by strategically hammering cracks into a pane of glass.

Kamala Harris Portrait Draws Inspiration From the Glass Ceiling She Shattered

Artist Simon Berger created the unconventional likeness of the vice president in just one day

Robert S. Duncanson's Landscape With Rainbow (1859) “carries with it an unmistakable ray of hope,” per the Los Angeles Times. “Rainbows typically appear after a storm has passed, not before.”

Inauguration History

Smithsonian Curator Reflects on Joe Biden's 'Poignant' Inaugural Painting

Eleanor Harvey posits that the 1859 landscape's message of hope resonated with First Lady Jill Biden, who helped select the artwork

Gorman's inaugural poem contains lines stating “But while democracy can be periodically delayed / It can never be permanently defeated.”

Inauguration History

Meet Amanda Gorman, the U.S.' Youngest Inaugural Poet

The 22-year-old revised her original composition, "The Hill We Climb," in the aftermath of the January 6 storming of the Capitol

Artist María Magdalena Campos-Pons spearheaded the creation of When We Gather, a three-minute short film marking Harris' inauguration.

How Seven Women Artists Are Celebrating Kamala Harris' Historic Inauguration

The group's upcoming short film, titled "When We Gather," honors the achievements of women who preceded the vice president

Kamala Harris wears her signature pearls as she accepts the vice-presidential nomination at the August 2020 virtual Democratic National Convention broadcast from Wilmington, Deleware.

Why Kamala Harris' Pearls Have a Special Significance

The vice president-elect's ties to her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, run deep, and her jewelry lets that shine

Portrait of Charles Curtis

Who Was Charles Curtis, the First Vice President of Color?

A member of the Kaw Nation, Curtis served under Herbert Hoover, but he left a troubling legacy on Native American issues

The Library of Congress recently completed a major digitization effort, making collections of 23 U.S. presidents' papers available online for study. From left: Calvin Coolidge, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Benjamin Harrison and Thomas Jefferson; behind: Jefferson's June 1776 draft of the Declaration of Independence

Library of Congress' Presidential Papers, From Washington's Geometry Notes to Wilson's Love Letters, Are Now Online

Four newly added collections mark the conclusion of a two-decade digitization project

The election of 1800 didn't invent the idea of a peaceful transition of power from one set of ideals to another, but it did engrave the United States into history as a democracy.

Inauguration History

How John Adams Managed a Peaceful Transition of Presidential Power

In the election of 1800, for the first time in U.S. history, one party turned the executive office to another

Former presidents have penned memoirs of varying focus and quality.

A Brief History of Presidential Memoirs

Barack Obama's new autobiography joins a long—but sometimes dull—tradition

“We have submitted the issue to the American people and their will is law,” wrote Democrat William Jennings Bryan (pictured here on the campaign trail) in an 1896 telegram to Republican William McKinley.

History of Now

Why Defeated Presidential Candidates Deliver Concession Speeches

The tradition dates back to 1896, when William Jennings Bryan conceded the election to William McKinley via telegram

Maine and Nebraska allocate two electoral votes to the statewide winner but allow each congressional district to award one electoral vote to the popular vote winner in their specific locality.

History of Now

Why Do Maine and Nebraska Split Their Electoral Votes?

Instead of a winner-take-all system, the states use the "congressional district method"

Senator John F. Kennedy speaks to supporters at Chicago Stadium four days before the 1960 election.

Four Times the Results of a Presidential Election Were Contested

"Rigged" may not be the way to describe them, but there were definitely some shenanigans happening

President John Tyler was born in 1790 and died in 1862.

Grandson of President John Tyler, Who Left Office in 1845, Dies at Age 95

Born 14 years after the nation's founding, the tenth commander-in-chief still has one living grandson

Woodrow Wilson, seen here at the start of the Paris Peace Conference in January 1919, never publicly acknowledged the pandemic's toll on his country.

Trending Today

What Happened When Woodrow Wilson Came Down With the 1918 Flu?

The president contracted influenza while attending peace talks in Paris, but the nation was never told the full, true story

John F. Kennedy addresses the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles after being nominated for President.

The Top 10 Political Conventions That Mattered the Most

As the two parties shift their conventions to be mostly virtual, we look at those conventions that made a difference in the country’s political history

George H.W. Bush (1924-2018). Photograph by William Coupon.

Looking Back at George H.W. Bush’s Lifelong Career of Public Service

The former President, dead at 94 years old, was noteworthy for his “humanity and decency,” says a Smithsonian historian