American Presidents: Life Portraits

American Presidents: Life Portraits
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons One
No. of episodes 41
Original channel C-SPAN
Original airing March 15, 1999 - Dec. 20, 1999
Related shows American Writers: A Journey Through History
External links

American Presidents: Life Portraits is a 41-episode, Peabody Award-winning series produced by C-SPAN in 1999. Each episode was aired live, and was a two- to three-hour look at the life and times of one particular President of the United States. Episodes were broadcast from locations of importance to the profiled president, featured interviews with historians and other experts, and incorporated calls from viewers. The series served as a commemoration of C-SPAN's 20th anniversary.

The first program aired on March 15, 1999, and profiled George Washington. Subsequent programs featured each president in succession, concluding with Bill Clinton on December 20, 1999. (Despite serving two non-consecutive terms, Grover Cleveland was only profiled on one program.)[1]

Presidential portraits

Artist Chas Fagan was commissioned by C-SPAN to paint portraits of each of the 41 men who had held the office of U.S. President through 1999. He was given a 90-day window from the time he agreed to the assignment until the time that the project needed to be complete. In September, 1999, Union Station in Washington, D.C., hosted a display of Fagan's presidential portraits.[2] Since then, Fagan has also painted portraits of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and toured with exhibits of those portraits.

Peabody Award

American Presidents was awarded a George Foster Peabody Award in 1999.[3] Excerpts of the official rationale for that award appear below:

...From the sites, noted biographers, presidential scholars, descendents and other guests presented revealing information and assessments of the life, times and legacies of the presidents. The tone set by chairman and CEO (and reluctant air personality) Brian P. Lamb remains on point: good television often takes time, requires few special effects and demands (and rewards) good listening...
...For creating a series that perfectly embodies the essence of public service in electronic communications, a Peabody Award is presented to C-SPAN for "American Presidents: Life Portraits."


Note: In addition to the interviewees listed, each program featured a variety of other experts, many of whom were employed by or volunteered for the historical sites from which the programs were being broadcast.

Program # Original air date
with link to video
President Location Featured interviewees
1 March 15, 1999 George Washington Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens,
Alexandria, Virginia
Richard Norton Smith
2 March 22, 1999 John Adams Adams National Historic Site,
Quincy, Massachusetts
David McCullough
3 April 2, 1999 Thomas Jefferson Monticello,
Charlottesville, Virginia
Andrew Burstein, Annette Gordon-Reed
4 April 9, 1999 James Madison Montpelier,
Montpelier Station, Virginia
Jack Rakove, Holly Shulman
5 April 12, 1999 James Monroe James Monroe Museum,
Fredericksburg, Virginia
6 April 18, 1999 John Quincy Adams Massachusetts Historical Society,
Boston, Massachusetts
Lynn Hudson Parsons
7 April 26, 1999 Andrew Jackson The Hermitage,
Hermitage, Tennessee
Robert Remini
8 May 3, 1999 Martin Van Buren Martin Van Buren National Historic Site,
Kinderhook, New York
9 May 10, 1999 William Henry Harrison Tippecanoe Battlefield,
Battle Ground, Indiana
10 May 17, 1999 John Tyler Sherwood Forest Plantation,
Charles City, Virginia
Edward Crapol, Harrison Ruffin Tyler
11 May 28, 1999 James K. Polk James K. Polk Ancestral Home,
Columbia, Tennessee
12 May 31, 1999 Zachary Taylor Zachary Taylor National Cemetery,
Louisville, Kentucky
13 June 11, 1999 Millard Fillmore Fillmore House Museum,
East Aurora, New York
14 June 14, 1999 Franklin Pierce The Pierce Manse,
Concord, New Hampshire
Barry Paris
15 June 21, 1999 James Buchanan Wheatland,
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
16 June 28, 1999 Abraham Lincoln Lincoln Home National Historic Site,
Springfield, Illinois
17 July 9, 1999 Andrew Johnson Andrew Johnson National Historic Site,
Greeneville, Tennessee
18 July 12, 1999 Ulysses S. Grant General Grant National Memorial,
New York City, New York
John Y. Simon, Allan Ballard, Ulysses Grant Dietz
19 July 19, 1999 Rutherford B. Hayes Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center,
Spiegel Grove, Fremont, Ohio
Ari Hoogenboom
20 July 26, 1999 James A. Garfield James A. Garfield National Historic Site,
Mentor, Ohio
21 August 6, 1999 Chester A. Arthur Union College,
Schenectady, New York
Thomas C. Reeves
22 August 13, 1999 Grover Cleveland Grover Cleveland Birthplace,
Caldwell, New Jersey
23 August 20, 1999 Benjamin Harrison President Benjamin Harrison Home,
Indianapolis, Indiana
24 August 23, 1999 William McKinley McKinley National Memorial and Museum,
Canton, Ohio
25 September 3, 1999 Theodore Roosevelt Sagamore Hill National Historic Site,
Oyster Bay, New York
Edmund Morris, Sylvia Jukes Morris
26 September 6, 1999 William Howard Taft William Howard Taft National Historic Site,
Cincinnati, Ohio
27 September 13, 1999 Woodrow Wilson Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Museum,
Staunton, Virginia
John Milton Cooper, Jr., Nell Irvin Painter
28 September 20, 1999 Warren G. Harding President Harding's Home,
Marion, Ohio
Robert Ferrell, Eugene Trani
29 September 27, 1999 Calvin Coolidge President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site,
Plymouth, Vermont
30 October 4, 1999 Herbert Hoover Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum and
Herbert Hoover National Historic Site,
West Branch, Iowa
Richard Norton Smith
31 October 11, 1999 Franklin D. Roosevelt Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site and
Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum,
Hyde Park, New York
David Kennedy, Hugh Gregory Gallagher, Allida Black
32 October 18, 1999 Harry S. Truman Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum,
Independence, Missouri
Alonzo Hamby, Margaret Truman Daniel
33 October 25, 1999 Dwight D. Eisenhower Dwight D. Eisenhower Center,
Abilene, Kansas
Geoffrey Perret
34 November 5, 1999 John F. Kennedy John F. Kennedy National Historic Site,
Brookline, Massachusetts
Robert Dallek, Thomas C. Reeves
35 November 12, 1999 Lyndon B. Johnson LBJ Ranch,
Stonewall, Texas
Joseph Califano, Robert Caro
36 November 19, 1999 Richard Nixon Richard M. Nixon Library and birthplace,
Yorba Linda, California
Melvin Small, Joan Hoff
37 November 22, 1999 Gerald Ford Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum,
Grand Rapids, Michigan
James M. Cannon, Richard Norton Smith
38 December 3, 1999 Jimmy Carter Jimmy Carter National Historic Site,
Plains, Georgia
Douglas Brinkley, Leo Ribuffo
39 December 6, 1999 Ronald Reagan Ronald Reagan ranch,
Santa Barbara, California
Lou Cannon
40 December 13, 1999 George H. W. Bush George Bush Presidential Library,
College Station, Texas
John Robert Greene
41 December 20, 1999 Bill Clinton Clinton Center and Birthplace,
Hope, Arkansas
David Maraniss


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ 59th Annual Peabody Awards, May 2000.

External links

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