Booker Washington was branded an accommodationist by many of the people who criticized him.
In revering the Founders, we undervalue ourselves and sabotage our own efforts to make improvements - necessary improvements - in the republican experiment they began.
When you look at the development of the American presidency, you see that the presidents who have had the greatest impact are the ones who fit their times most successfully.
You can always find people, ordinary people, who will support your particular view, so it becomes a politics of personality, especially at the presidential level. People often go for somebody that they like or somebody that they can identify with.
The president was not the most important political player in the 19th century. Besides Jefferson at the beginning, Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln, the center of politics was Congress.
I'm trying to tell the story of the evolution of America. Each biography is a life in time, and I can see there's a particular task for each generation that I write about.
To me, the puzzle of Ronald Reagan is how a comparatively ordinary man, someone with not extraordinary talent, accomplished such extraordinary results. At the age of 50, no one expected that this was going to be the guy who would become, at least in my interpretation, one of the two most important presidents of the 20th century.
In the early 19th to the early 20th century, people had a lot of things wrong with them. Doctors didn't know how to fix them, and so they lived with them.
America can change its presidents, but the world doesn't change.
I'm often asked, 'Why didn't Benjamin Franklin ever become president?' My short, easy answer is: He died.
A president can start a war under relatively specious circumstances, and once American soldiers are under fire, Americans will support the soldiers and support the president.
I've been writing American history for a long time, and I've had a hard time finding strong, interesting female characters. There are women, of course, in American history, but they're hard to write about because they don't leave much of a historical trace, and they're not usually involved in high-profile public events.
There is a certain kind of sobering, civilizing effect that being president imposes on people. There is a certain kind of dignity with which you comport yourself. As an observer of the presidency, I have to wonder if Trump would follow that pattern.
He used humor more effectively than any president since Abraham Lincoln. Reagan was not an especially warm person, but he appeared to be. Many people disliked his policies, but almost no one disliked him.
It wasn't the smiling Trump that people elected. It was the frowning, glowering, angry Donald Trump that people elected.
In the business arena, the standard rules of morality don't apply. What we're really looking for is efficiency. It doesn't do anyone any good to be nice to the weak. In a certain sense, competition is inefficient.
The historic dearth of labor was perhaps the central feature of the American economy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
A lot of people were ambivalent about Vietnam. Lyndon Johnson in 1964 positioned himself as the peace candidate. Once Johnson sent large amounts of troops into battle in 1965, most Americans were behind the war.
For Andrew Jackson, politics was very personal. He hated not just the federal debt. He hated debt at all.
Politics is not something most people have to do every day. Their daily lives are much more influenced by job opportunities, whether the country is in a recession or a boom period. If you really want to understand what drives American history, look at the economic... side.
The Tea Party loves Reagan because he said exactly what they want to hear.