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Historian H.W. Brands assesses Obama's first days in office

Posted on February 27, 2009

As Americans watched Barack Obama take the oath of office, political commentators drew comparisons between the new president and some of his most revered predecessors: Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.

President Obama welcomed these comparisons when he followed Lincoln’s path to Washington, D.C., in the days that preceded his inauguration; took the oath of office with his hand on Lincoln’s Bible; and, in his address, compared today’s challenges to those faced by George Washington and the rest of the nation’s founding generation.

Grand Valley State University's Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies and the Ford Foundation, Library & Museum are sponsoring, "Barack Obama in History," presented by award-winning historian and best-selling author H.W. Brands.

Brands considers the campaign, elections, transitions and first months of the Obama administration in the White House in his presentation on Thursday, March 19, at 7 p.m. at the Gerald R. Ford Museum Auditorium, 303 Pearl St. NW, Grand Rapids.

“We are bringing H.W. Brands back to Grand Rapids because he is an exceptional speaker and writer,” said Gleaves Whitney, director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies. “His analysis of President Obama’s first months in office is perceptive and engaging. There is no one better to put the 44th president of the U.S. in historical perspective.”

H.W. Brands if a professor of history at the University of Texas. He is the author of two dozen books, including biographies of Benjamin Franklin (2000), Andrew Jackson (2005), Theodore Roosevelt (2007), Woodrow Wilson (2003) and Franklin Roosevelt (2008).

For more information, contact the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at (616) 331-2770 or visit

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