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The American President Season 1 Episodes

Season 1 Episode Guide

Season 1

10 Episodes 2000 - 2000

Episode 1

Family Ties

60 mins

Profiling four men whose family ties helped landed them in the Oval Office: John Quincy Adams, Benjamin Harrison, John F. Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt, who "saw the Presidency as almost family property," says historian Richard Neustadt. Time magazine White House correspondent Hugh Sidey hosts. Voice of Adams: George Will. Voice of Harrison: former Secretary of State Alexander Haig.

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Episode 2

Happenstance

60 mins

Part 2 (of 10) profiles John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester A. Arthur and Harry Truman, all of whom ascended to the Presidency by happenstance (the deaths of their predecessors). Of the five, Truman, the only one to serve a second term, is the best-remembered. "If you get two terms you get a chapter in the history books," says historian Richard E. Neustadt. "If you get one term, you get only a few paragraphs." Voices: Charlie Rose (Tyler); Tim Russert (Fillmore); Don Imus (Johnson); Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (Arthur).

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Episode 3

An Independent Cast of Mind

60 mins

Independence is "essential to my existence," says John Adams, who's profiled in Part 3 (of 10), along with Zachary Taylor, Rutherford B. Hayes and Jimmy Carter, four Presidents who "put the national interest above the concerns of their parties," says host Hugh Sidey. All four suffered as a result, and none served two terms. Sidey interviews Carter. Voices: Morley Safer (Adams); Tom Wicker (Taylor); John Glenn (Hayes).

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Episode 4

The Professional Politician

60 mins

Martin Van Buren, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon B. Johnson, four "Professional Politicians," are profiled in Part 4 (of 10). Van Buren "helped invent party politics," says narrator Hugh Sidey. Lincoln, perhaps the best President, was also a statesman. But, says historian Richard E. Neustadt, "there's no statemanship without politics." As for Buchanan (perhaps the worst), he "mistook politcs for statemanship." And LBJ? "He tried to do too much." Voices: Mario Cuomo (Van Buren); David Gergen (Buchanan); Sen. Paul Simon (Lincoln).

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Episode 5

The American Way

60 mins

Part 5 profiles Thomas Jefferson, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Ronald Reagan, four Presidents whose idea of "the American way" was a "smaller, simpler government," says narrator Hugh Sidey. Voices: former UN ambassador Andrew Young (Jefferson); former Massachusetts governor William Weld (Coolidge); former senator Robert Dole (Hoover).

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Episode 6

The World Stage

60 mins

Part 6 (of 10): Woodrow Wilson, George Bush, "visionary diplomat" James Monroe and reluctant Spanish-American warrior William McKinley are profiled in "World Stage." McKinley, who presided over the beginning of America's imperial expansion, was "America's first modern President," says narrator Hugh Sidey, while Wilson was "the recognized moral leader of the free world" at the end of World War I. Sidey interviews President Bush. Voices: Robert MacNeil (Monroe); former Secretary of State George Shultz (McKinley); former Senate majority leader George Mitchell (Wilson).

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Episode 7

The Heroic Posture

60 mins

Part 7 profiles four military leaders: George Washington, William Henry Harrison, U.S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower. "I walk on untrodden ground," Washington (voice of Walter Cronkite) said on his inauguration. "I tried to create an atmosphere of greater serenity," said Eisenhower, whose Administration was considered successful. And political failure Grant (voice of H. Norman Schwarzkopf)? "War and politics are so different." Voice of Harrison: former senator Lloyd Bentsen.

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Episode 8

Compromise Choices

60 mins

Franklin Pierce, James A. Garfield, Warren G. Harding and Gerald Ford---four "compromise choices"---are profiled in Part 8 (of 10). Of them, Ford was the most successful; Garfield was off to a promising start, but he died after just six months in office (1881). As for Pierce, a pro-Southern Northerner (1853-57), "he just wasn't up to the job," says narrator Hugh Sidey. And Harding (1921-23)? "God help me," he said, "for I need it." Sidey interviews Ford. Voice of Harding: Benjamin Bradlee. Voice of Pierce: Sargent Shriver. Voice of Garfield: Rev. Billy Graham.

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Episode 9

Expanding Power

60 mins

Andrew Jackson, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon are profiled in Part 9. Jackson wielded the veto "like a weapon," says narrator Hugh Sidey. Said Cleveland (voice of former Connecticut governor Lowell Weicker): "The Presidency is the repository of the people's powers." Added the exuberant TR (voice of William F. Buckley Jr.): "I have used every ounce of power there was in the office." But Nixon, during his "Imperial Presidency," tried to use more than that. Voice of Jackson: James Carville.

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Episode 10

The Balance of Power

60 mins

Conclusion. James Madison, James Knox Polk, William Howard Taft and Bill Clinton are profiled in "The Balance of Power," "a balance," says narrator Hugh Sidey, "that has been able to shift with the course of history." Madison, Sidey adds, was "chiefly responsible" for it. And Clinton, who's interviewed by Sidey, says, "the framers were smart. They designed the Constitution to prevent partisan passions from overriding common sense." Voice of Madison: former senator Dale Bumpers.

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