See the BackStory Guys’ Live: Looking Back on Inaugurations!


historyTVWhich fiercely contested nineteenth-century presidential election nearly resulted in two rival inaugurations? Which president has been invoked by all subsequent presidents—even Confederate president Jefferson Davis—in inauguration ceremonies?

Peter Onuf, Ed Ayers, and Brian Balogh, hosts of BackStory with the American History Guys, will tackle these and other questions in a special live Inauguration Weekend program in the Flag Hall of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 19.

The presentation is free and open to the public with limited seating available. Audience members are encouraged to pose questions during the program. For those unable to attend in person, this special one-hour event will be streamed live by C-SPAN3, American History TV, which will simultaneously webcast the show. Audio of the program will later be available as a podcast from BackStory.

The American History Guys will link present and past in their characteristically irreverent style, exploring what presidential inaugurations reveal about the social and political forces at work around them, beginning with America’s first inauguration. The Guys will also reflect on the ways twentieth-century media technologies have shaped inaugurations and explore the transitional rituals that take place behind the scenes—in the ballrooms and cubicles of the capital city. Through it all, the question of the hour will be why—and for whom—do inaugurations really matter, anyway?

The show will also feature an interview with Harry R. Rubenstein, Chair of the Division of Political History at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, who will focus on the museum’s presidential history collection and display rarely seen inaugural artifacts.

If your plans don’t allow for a quick trip to Washington for Inauguration Weekend, tune in to C-SPAN or the live webcast Saturday, January 19, at 11 a.m. to enjoy the show!

You can also catch BackStory‘s hosts, Peter Onuf, Ed Ayers, and Brian Balogh on CNN. Three live, nationally broadcast interviews have been scheduled on CNN over Inauguration weekend.

  • All three Guys will be interviewed on presidential history and inaugurations by CNN’s Kate Bolduan and John Berman between 4:00 and 5:00 PM on Saturday the 19th.
  • Bolduan and Berman will also interview Ed Ayers on the symbolism and use of the Bible during presidential inaugurations, during the 5 o’clock hour on Sunday the 20th.
  • And between 7:00 and 8:00 PM that same evening, the Guys will pick up on the history of presidencies and inaugurations during another live broadcast from the National Mall with CNN hosts John King and Erin Burnett.

Tune in and enjoy these unique opportunities to see the BackStory Guys in freewheeling conversations with CNN’s hosts.

This event is made possible in part by funding from The History Channel. Major production support for BackStory is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the University of Virginia, the Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, and an anonymous donor.

BackStory, With the American History Guys is a Virginia Foundation for the Humanities weekly radio show featuring historians who explore contemporary topics through three centuries of American history.

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