Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Some stories can't just be told. They must be experienced. Main Navigation Teachers
THEMATIC: The Presidents:
The Presidents Explore the lives and careers of all the American Preidents. Select a President...
  
 * expanded content

American Experience has presented television programs about the following American presidents:


Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided

Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided
He was a dirt farmer's son; she was the daughter of wealthy Southern aristocrats. He was the Great Emancipator; she was the daughter of slave-owners. Together they ascended to the pinnacle of power at the most difficult time in the nation's history.
(More about Abraham Lincoln on The Presidents Web site)More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers GuideWatch the Promo

Elected president only to see the nation fracture in two, Lincoln led a confused and frightened people through the most terrible war in their history. At the same time, his own household mirrored the fissures that split the nation: the great emancipator was married to the daughter of a slave owner from Kentucky. Mary Todd Lincoln was an aristocratic southerner who met Lincoln when he was still a backwoods politician lacking in experience and sophistication. Although she remained fiercely loyal to her husband and the Union cause, two of her brothers fought for the South. Their marriage was long and turbulent, and knew many trials, including the loss of two children. This program weaves together the lives of the two Lincolns, drawing us into their long-vanished world.
FDR

FDR
Franklin Delano Roosevelt restored hope to a country that had lost it, led the nation during the greatest war in history and championed the common man.
(Watch the program online on The Presidents Web site.)More InformationLaunch Web SiteTeachers Guide

His radio "Fireside Chats" went into millions of living rooms; his picture hung on the walls of homes and businesses; his wife was the most admired woman in America. Franklin Delano Roosevelt restored hope to a country that had lost it, led the nation during the greatest war in history and championed the common man. Yet there was nothing common about his aristocratic beginnings, and his exuberant personality disguised a painful private world.
George H. W. Bush

George H. W. Bush
A biography of the 41st U.S. president, from his service in World War II to his days in the Oval Office.
(Watch the program online on The Presidents Web site.)More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers GuideWatch the Promo

The latest in American Experience's series of award-winning and critically-acclaimed presidential portraits, this two-part biography examines the life and career of the 41st president, from his service in World War II and his early career in Texas to his days in the Oval Office, first as vice president to Ronald Reagan, then as the leader who presided over the first Gulf War. Drawing upon Bush's personal diaries and interviews with his closest advisors and most prominent critics, the film also explores Bush's role as the patriarch of a political family whose influence is unequaled in modern American life.

Ike (no website available)
A skillful politician, a tough Cold Warrior and one of America's least understood presidents.
(Dwight D. Eisenhower on The Presidents Web site)More InformationTeachers Guide

He went off to war an unknown soldier and returned a beloved hero. Often dismissed as a good-natured bumbler, Dwight D. Eisenhower was actually a skillful politician, a tough Cold Warrior and one of America's least understood presidents. When he left office in 1960, historians ranked Eisenhower in the bottom third of American presidents, below Chester Arthur. By the 1990s, he ranked near the top.
Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter
The story of an ambitious peanut farmer who rose to become America's thirty-ninth president. A failure in his single term in office, Carter turned to humanitarian work as an ex-president.
(Watch the program online on The Presidents Web site.)More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers GuideWatch the Promo

Jimmy Carter traces the ascent of an ambitious country boy from a peanut farm in Plains, Georgia, to the Oval Office; examines the failings of Carter's political leadership in the turbulent 1970s; and explores the role religion played in his career. Carter ran for president as an outsider. He rode into power on the post-Watergate disaffection with Washington politics. But his inexperience resulted in an ineffectual and fractured administration. Inflation, recession, and a humbling hostage crisis blew his presidency dramatically off course. The crowning achievement of his one term in office, the Camp David Accords, which established a framework for peace in the Middle East, was the inspiration for his life after the White House. In the years since, Carter has recast himself as a giant of moral leadership. He has struggled to bring peace to war-torn countries; fought for the eradication of life-threatening diseases; and dedicated himself to housing America's poorest citizens. The film features interviews with many close to the Carter administration, including his wife Rosalynn, son Chip, Press Secretary Jody Powell and Vice President Walter Mondale.
John and Abigail Adams

John and Abigail Adams
This film explores the remarkable characters and tumultuous times of John and Abigail Adams, using excerpts from their many letters to bring their story to life.
(More about John Adams on The Presidents Web site)More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers GuideWatch the Promo

John and Abigail Adams played a critical role in many of the pivotal events of their era: he was a vociferous participant at the Continental Congress; she was an important eyewitness reporter during the Siege of Boston; he was an important wartime emissary to France. In the post-war era, first as vice president, then as president, Adams was caught up in the increasing political divisiveness that characterized the 1790s when rifts in the country almost pulled the fledgling nation apart.Opening a window onto the revolutionary era, John and Abigail's story provides a strikingly intimate look inside a marriage of true companions, for whom life included not just the great events of history, but also laughter, loneliness, affection, and family tragedy.
LBJ

LBJ
One of the most astute, perplexing and larger-than-life figures in modern American history.
(Watch the program online on The Presidents Web site.)More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers Guide

He was one of the most astute, perplexing and larger-than-life figures in modern American history. An accidental president, Lyndon Baines Johnson set out to make his mark by pushing through historic social legislation of a scale that rivaled FDR's New Deal. Bombastic and deeply emotional, Johnson's vision was shattered by the increasing debacle of Vietnam, and his presidency began to unravel.
Nixon

Nixon
One of the most enigmatic modern political figures, Richard Nixon inspired divided passions in America.
(Watch the program online on The Presidents Web site.)More InformationLaunch Web SiteTeachers Guide

He possessed a fateful combination of strengths and weaknesses that propelled him to the White House and then brought him down. One of the most enigmatic modern political figures, Richard Nixon inspired divided passions in America. From his days as a young anti-Communist crusader to the president who astounded the nation with his foreign policy initiatives in China and the Soviet Union, and finally, his resignation in the face of impeachment, Nixon was a tragically insecure man with a bold vision. At the center of American politics for more than 25 years, he continues to arouse both anger and admiration.
Oswald's Ghost

Oswald's Ghost
A fresh look at President John F. Kennedys assassination, the publics reaction, and the government investigations that instead of calming fears lead to a widespread loss of trust in government institutions.
More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers GuideWatch the Promo

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963 left a psychic wound on America that is with us still today. Few Americans then or now accept that a lone, inconsequential gunman could bring down a president and alter history. In that breach, a culture of conspiracy has arisen that points to sinister forces at work in the shadows. Drawing upon rarely seen archival footage and interviews with key participants, Oswald's Ghost takes a fresh look at Kennedy's assassination, the public's reaction to the tragedy, and the government investigations that instead of calming fears lead to a widespread loss of trust in the institutions that govern our society.
Reagan

Reagan
The life of the president who saw America as a "shining city on a hill" and himself as its heroic defender.
(Watch the program online on The Presidents Web site.)More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers Guide

When he left the White House in 1988, Ronald Reagan was one of the most popular presidents of the century. A former Hollywood actor and seemingly simple man, Reagan had been consistently underestimated by his opponents. He overcame them all with a combination of charm and unfailing optimism, rising to become a president who always preferred to see America as a "shining city on a hill" and himself as its heroic defender.
The Kennedys

The Kennedys
A saga of ambition, wealth, family loyalty and personal tragedy, the Kennedy story is unlike any other.
(More about John F. Kennedy on The Presidents Web site)More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers GuideWatch the Promo

No family has had such a powerful hold on the American imagination. A saga of ambition, wealth, family loyalty and personal tragedy, the Kennedy story is unlike any other. From Joseph Kennedy's rise on Wall Street and frustrations in politics, through John Kennedy's march to the presidency -- orchestrated by his father -- to Edward Kennedy's withdrawal from the 1980 presidential race following the scandal of Chappaquiddick, the family has left a legacy that continues to influence politics today.
TR, The Story of Theodore Roosevelt

TR, The Story of Theodore Roosevelt
Author, soldier, scientist, outdoorsman and caring father, he was the youngest man to become president.
(More about Theodore Roosevelt on The Presidents Web site)More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers Guide

He was an unpredictable dynamo, a "steamroller in trousers." At the turn of the century, Theodore Roosevelt embodied America. Author, soldier, scientist, outdoorsman and caring father, he was the youngest man to become president. Expanding the power of the Oval Office, Roosevelt helped create the modern presidency and redefined the course of the nation. But behind all the unbridled confidence and achievement was a man haunted by grief.
Truman

Truman
The story of the unlikely rise of a gritty American original.
(More about Harry S. Truman on The Presidents Web site)More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers Guide

He was a farmer, a businessman gone bankrupt, an unknown politician from Missouri who suddenly found himself president. Of all the men who had held the highest office, Harry Truman was the least prepared. But he would prove to be a surprise. Facing some of the biggest crises of the century, Truman would end the war with Germany, use the atomic bomb against Japan, confront an expanding Soviet Union and wage war in Korea -- all while the woman he adored, his wife Bess, refused to stay in the White House and play the role of First Lady. The story of the unlikely rise of a gritty American original.
Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant
The dramatic story of one of America's most paradoxical leaders. The greatest hero of the Civil War, Grant was an ineffective president whose two terms in office were rocked by racial conflict and corruption scandals.
(More about Ulysses S. Grant on The Presidents Web site)More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers Guide

This multi-hour biography of Ulysses S. Grant paints a nuanced portrait of one of America's most paradoxical leaders. The greatest hero of the Civil War, Grant was a brilliant military strategist who rose from obscurity to a rank held previously only by George Washington. However, the strength of the Confederate resistance forced Grant into a hard war that destroyed the South and led to his being labeled "a butcher."Propelled into the White House by his battlefield success, Grant lacked the political skills to deal with the issues of the era: reconstructing the South and managing the nation's rapidly expanding economy. His two terms were rocked by bitter racial conflict and corruption scandals. Seven years after leaving office, Grant was financially ruined by the collapse of an investment house in which he had placed his assets. He spent his final days in a race against time as he battled cancer while finishing his epic war memoirs.
Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson
He was a confident and gifted orator who craved affection and demanded loyalty. An intellectual with unwavering moral principles, he led America at a time of war and chaos. Woodrow Wilson explores the transformation of a history professor into one
(More about Woodrow Wilson on The Presidents Web site)More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers GuideWatch the Promo

He was a gifted orator who was supremely confident before crowds, yet awkward in small groups. An emotionally complex man, he craved affection and demanded unquestioned loyalty. An intellectual with unwavering moral principles, he led America onto the world stage at a time when war and chaos threatened everything he cherished.Woodrow Wilson, a three-hour biography in two parts, explores the transformation of a history professor into one of America's greatest presidents. Wilson's life was shaped by great conflicts: the Civil War which he lived through as a child, and the First World War into which he reluctantly led America as president. The second conflict ultimately claimed him as a victim. While campaigning for his far-sighted League of Nations, he suffered a paralyzing stroke from which he never fully recovered. The only president incapacitated in office, Wilson carried out his duties from bed with the help of his wife who became the de facto chief executive.
THEMATIC: The Presidents:
The Presidents Explore the lives and careers of all the American Preidents. Select a President...
  
 * expanded content
Who We Are Schedule Archives Kids Teachers Contact Us Shop