The Mobility of Presidential Reputation: Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson, and Political Legacy-Building

Presidents Herbert Hoover (Image from Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division) & Lyndon B. Johnson (White House Press Office 1964)

The Mobility of Presidential Reputation: Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson, and Political Legacy-Building

Presidential reputations have gone up or down or remained the same with little predictability or consistency. Dwight Eisenhower's standing with historians has grown, as has Theodore Roosevelt's while the stock of Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson have fallen. Many reputations have remained stationary, with Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Franklin Roosevelt placing first, second, and third in polls of America's greatest presidents. Nevertheless, presidents have striven to sculpt their legacies and boost their standing.

This seminar examines the legacy-building efforts of Herbert Hoover and Lyndon Johnson, a pair of presidents who had to work hard to gain the approval of the public and of posterity for their administrations were marred by political disasters: Hoover's ineffective response to the Great Depression and Johnson's failed war in Vietnam. They thus emphasized other aspects of their careers and presidencies. Hoover stressed his nonpresidential accomplishments as a World War I-era international humanitarian and post-1945 public servant. Johnson focused squarely on his civil rights accomplishments as president, hoping that these would overshadow his policy in Vietnam. There is some evidence that that has taken place. Hoover, in contrast, had less success. At the time of Hoover's death in 1964, Americans mourned Hoover the person more than Hoover the president.


Professor Dean J. Kotlowski is professor of history at Salisbury University and comes to the ANU as Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Professor Kotlowski is a current Visiting Fellow with the HRC

This series is an opportunity for our HRC Visiting Fellows to present and receive feedback on the research they are working on. In 2022 , Visiting Fellows are exploring the theme of Mobilities

Date & time

Tue 30 Aug 2022, 4.30–6pm


RSSS Auditorium, Room 1.28


Professor Dean J. Kotlowski (Salisbury University)


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