Presidents, Politics, and History: Upcoming Talks in NYC

By Alison Durkee

Presidents’ Day is coming up—and in addition to the long weekend, it’s also a perfect time to look back and celebrate our nation’s history. Learn more about presidents of the past and get a better perspective on the current state of the presidency and who could be next with these upcoming talks and events.

Spend your Presidents’ Day weekend exploring the presidential connections to the Flatiron district, as the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership hosts a special walking tour February 16 focused on how past presidents influenced the neighborhood’s history. Comedy fans can head over to Caveat on February 17 for a bringing together of “every President ever” with 45 comedians as 45 commanders-in-chief. Before the weekend officially kicks off, learn more about one of the nation’s most recognizable presidential places—Mount Rushmore—as the sculptor’s grandson, Lou Del Bianco, brings his grandfather’s story to life February 13.

Between Presidents Day and his impending birthday on February 22, now’s also the perfect time to delve into the life and legacy of our nation’s first president, George Washington. The first commander-in-chief will be the focus of several upcoming Presidents Day weekend events, from a special open house at the Fraunces Tavern Museum February 16-17 to a walking tour of George Washington’s New York on February 15. On February 16, the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden will host a special birthday ball for Washington, which will celebrate the president in true 19th century fashion. The Fraunces Tavern Museum will also hold its own birthday ball a few days later on February 21. One day earlier on February 20, the museum will turn its attention to Washington’s home and final resting place, Mount Vernon, with a lecture looking at the president’s final resting place and how his legacy has been shaped in popular imagination.

Other events, meanwhile, will examine the country’s post-Washington presidential history. Learn more about third President Thomas Jefferson at an event March 5 focused on a 1793 debacle, in which Jefferson was involved with an expedition to the Pacific that could have rendered Lewis and Clark obsolete—if the man sent on the expedition hadn’t gotten pulled into a covert spy mission instead. The New-York Historical Society will focus February 18 on former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan with an event that looks at the former senator’s career and his work with past presidents, including Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. The museum will then turn its attention February 20 to Geraldine Ferraro, who in 1984 was chosen as Walter Mondale’s running mate during his presidential run, becoming the first woman nominated for national office by a major party.

Of course, there’s also plenty to wrap your head around when it comes to the presidency today—and where it could be heading, as the presidential primary gets fully underway. Get a better perspective on the primary election at a February 14 panel discussion examining Iowa, New Hampshire, and what’s coming next, or learn more about how to expand the vote and ensure the 2020 election is a fair one at a February 21 conversation. As the Democratic candidates take the debate stage once again on February 19, join the podcast Pod Damn America as it roasts the debate in real time at a special watch party. Over at the 92nd Street Y, Pod Save America host Dan Pfeiffer will discuss his plan for Democrats to defeat Trumpism at a February 19 event, while a February 26 conversation will bring together New York Times columnist David Brooks and PBS NewsHour commentator Mark Shields for a discussion about the hyper-partisan political landscape and who can win over the centrists. Look into widening inequality in the United States, and which policy proposals advanced by the 2020 Democratic candidates best address it, as Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz visits the Brooklyn Central Library on February 25.

On February 27, mark the 160th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s historic “Right Makes Might” speech in Cooper Union’s Great Hall with a gathering in that space of leading conservative voices who banded together to form the Lincoln Project, putting “Country Over Party.”

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