Presidential Places History & Virtual Tour
WHEN: Beginning late March 2019, probably Sunday afternoons (USA Pacific Time)
WHERE: Online teleconference (Zoom, a free service)
In this interactive class, conducted entirely online, Dr. Sean Munger will take you on a virtual tour (through Google Earth, free software) of sites associated with all 45 United States Presidents, and tell their individual histories—and the history of America—in a unique way.
In eight weekly sessions of two hours each, held online through simple “virtual meeting” tools freely available on the web (Zoom), you and your fellow participants will receive in-depth historical analysis of the major events of American history from the beginning of the republic, while seeing with your own eyes the important sites associated with the U.S. Presidents through your computer screen, both outside and inside. The course is comprehensive in its scope, covering all the Presidents and the many places in America and around the world where they lived, worked, fought, campaigned, and died. You will experience historical detail that you would have to read dozens of books to get.
You cannot get this experience from books or TV documentaries…it’s like having a guided tour with a history professor, except it’s not boring and you don’t have to leave home.
This is not just a series of static video lectures. It’s an interactive class in real time. Discuss with your fellow participants! Ask questions! Follow up! All sources are provided. No “homework!”
Did you know that George Washington was the richest man in America when he was elected President? This was his dining room at Mt. Vernon, which you’ll see in vivid detail.
This is a totally new concept in online teaching, combining history with geography through an online interface. The understanding you will get from this event is simply not available outside of a university (and in most cases not even there). You can’t get it from Ken Burns, PBS or the History Channel. [NOTE: there is no university or other scholastic credit associated with this course.]
Dr. Munger is deeply experienced in the online teaching of history, and making complex historical events understandable, interesting and real to learners of all ages and backgrounds, from middle school to senior citizens.
- Class I, Founders’ Dynasties: Washington through Monroe. From the lush plantations of tidewater Virginia to mansions and row houses of Philadelphia, the way the earliest Presidents lived and worked tells us so much about the nature of power in the Early Republic.
- Class II, Houses Divided: J.Q. Adams through Buchanan. As the new nation struggled with industrialization, westward expansion and slavery, the places of the Presidents starkly reflect a deeply divided country.
- Class III, Heart of a Nation: Lincoln through Hayes. The many sites associated with Abraham Lincoln, from his birthplace to the bedroom where he died, tell the poignant story of the Civil War and the struggle to redefine freedom in America.
- Class IV, The Gilded Age: Garfield through T. Roosevelt. In the aftermath of the Civil War, the houses get grander, the mustaches get bigger and the United States makes its entry onto the world stage.
- Class V, Triumph and Tragedy: Taft through Hoover. In the early decades of the 20th century, Presidential places begin to span the world as grand victories and personal tragedies mark the lives of our chief executives.
- Class VI, The Wide World: F.D. Roosevelt through Nixon. The Presidency becomes truly global as the middle 20th century chiefs face crises from World War II to Vietnam.
- Class VII, The Modern Presidency: Ford through G.H.W. Bush. The sites from Presidencies in the last 40 years will demonstrate how modern Presidents have had to reinvent themselves as business executives, engineers and even entertainers in addition to being politicians and statesmen.
- Class VIII, Land of Confusion: Clinton through Trump. America’s changing roles in the 21st century world are reflected in the most modern Presidential places, both traditional and technological.
The stunning vista of the parlor of Sagamore Hill, Teddy Roosevelt’s estate, reflects not only Roosevelt’s personality, but the increasingly global scope of the U.S. Presidency at the dawn of the 20th century.
Some Locations Featured:
I am still working out the contents of the course, but some of the places we will visit–and which you will hear about and see through your computer–include:
- Mt. Vernon, Washington’s plantation and mansion
- Monticello, the classically-influenced mansion designed by Thomas Jefferson
- Ash-Lawn Highland, the Virginia home of James Monroe
- The Hermitage, where a sick and elderly Andrew Jackson lived out his final years
- Lincoln Home, the Springfield, IL cottage where Lincoln practiced law and eventually won the Presidency
- Petersen House, where Lincoln’s death room has been preserved exactly as it was in 1865
- Sagamore Hill, the lavish home decorated with hunting trophies Theodore Roosevelt claimed on his African safari
- Malacañang Palace, Manila, where Taft served as territorial Governor of the Philippines;
- Cheppy, France, where a young army captain named Harry S. Truman witnessed the horrors of war firsthand;
- Dealey Plaza, the site of John F. Kennedy’s assassination;
- Carter Farm, Plains, Georgia, near the small train depot that was Jimmy Carter’s campaign headquarters;
- Reykjavik Summit House, Iceland, where Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev sought to end the Cold War;
And many, many, many more.
Exact dates and times have not yet been worked out, but the course is likely to meet Sunday afternoons at 3:00-5:00 PM, Pacific time. All meetings are virtual and occur on the web. Meetings are recorded and playback is available for those who miss specific sessions. First meeting will likely be around March 24, 2019.
Barack Obama lived in this walk-up on the east side of Manhattan during and after college in the 1980s. How did his formative years here affect his Presidency, and the course of recent American history? You’ll find out.
I taught a previous course online about the American Revolution. Here are some testimonials from students who took that course:
“As a long-time student of military history in general and the American Revolution in particular, I can say this was the most unique class I have ever taken. Not just because it was an online class, but because of the superb way the class explored the political, economical, and cultural causes of the war…The genius of Dr. Munger in putting this all together into a challenging but thoroughly delightful class gave us a refreshing departure from the mundane lectures of facts and dates usually associated with history courses. I fully enjoyed the class and would recommend anyone interested in history to partake of other course offerings by Dr. Munger.”
“Enjoyed the class very much. Learned things that had never crossed my mind as a discussion point. Definitely will take more classes from Sean, as he is an excellent teacher. Makes things interesting with lots of side notes.”
The cost to participate is $280 ($35 per class), which will get you access to all eight classes (including video recordings). Video access only (not live participation) is available for $200 ($25 per class).
Come explore American history like you’ve never seen it before!