The Federal holiday that comes in mid-February is meaningless to most of us. Except, maybe, for sales advertisements. We know about George and the cherry tree and Abe studying in his humble log cabin. Beyond that mostly useless information, what do you really know about Presidents from past history? Me neither. But that’s where the excellent resources on the Internet can help all of us become more literate concerning the past leaders of our country. No bells and whistles this week—it’s all about reading, learning, or relearning. I apologize to my print column readers–I could not access the Presidental Facts Page, so it is not mentioned here.

American President . This is a great place to start researching our Presidents. The educational website was created by PBS, and its contents are reliable for research. Especially for learning about lesser-talked-about Presidents. Millard Fillmore predated Abe and taught himself to read. He had about 3 years of grammar school and married his mentor/teacher, just two years older than he. Abe was not the only U.S. President with humble beginnings, but then, Fillmore inherited his position when Zachary Taylor died in office. Remember that from history class? Me neither.

Presidents USA . Another good reference website with information similar to the one above. Each name has a separate link, making this website just a wee bit easier to get to the information about a specific President.

History Buff . Of all the websites I reviewed about U.S. Presidents, I found this to be most enlightening in the context of understanding the history of our nation. That is because this site includes the inaugural addresses of all the Presidents who delivered one (or more). And within each inaugural address, a history student can get a capsulized idea of the issues of that time period, as well as our nation’s evolution. Here is a quote from Abe Lincoln’s first inaugural address: “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” That quote was not mentioned in my high school history book. What about yours?

Carl Gehrman’s Presidents Website . Gehrman has taken his college research and put it to use on the Web for the rest of us, with the caveat to check other sources for accuracy. He also invites others to correct any errors they may find. In his own words and attempting to maintain some objectivity, Gehrman summarizes the major social changes, major inventions, and the domestic and foreign policy of each administration. Also, he adds his own subjective analysis of the impact each President had on the nation—up to and including George H.W. Bush. Gerhman’s website is the one—if I were to choose only one to read—to gain a more comprehensive understanding of U.S. history from its beginnings up to the past decade.


~ by IndianaDunesPoet on February 16, 2005.

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