A Glorious Burden - Profile of Presidency Museum Exhibit Essay

Submitted By danielkrhines
Words: 1004
Pages: 5

A Glorious Burden The American Presidency exhibit in the National Museum of American history highlights the actions taken by all 43 past and present United States Presidents. The exhibit examines the importance and prestige of the most sought-after position in the world. The exhibit also shows footage of important events, such as assassinations, and even has displays discussing the limits to the president’s powers. Even pieces from previous First Ladies and presidential children are on display. Having never been to the National Museum of American History, not to mention the American Presidency exhibit, I was very eager to see what awaited me. What types of things would be on display? What is considered important enough to be a part of the exhibit? As I entered the exhibit, a board had written on it a quote by Lyndon B. Johnson where he famously states that the position of president is “a glorious burden”. He goes on to state that no matter what man has entered the presidency, the presidency has proved to make each man bigger, but yet proved too be too big for all of them. Right behind the board is a display that contains the wagon bought and used by famous Civil War general Ulysses S. Grant during his second term as president. On the right are a set of displays that outlines how the position of president was established. After writing the Declaration of Independence, the leaders of the newfound nation had to develop a government in which the national (federal) aspect was limited in power so as not to be like the oppression they had just escaped. The results was the weak Articles of Confederation, which led to even more problems as the US officials realized that the federal government needed more power. This is how the United States presidency was born. The display contains memorabilia of George Washington’s time as a war general, and an authentic painting done of him in fine detail over 200 years ago. The last part of the display dedicated to the origin of the presidency and George Washington contains a very important quote from the first president himself. When talking about the relationship of freedom and the government, he said “If you love one, you will preserve the other.” Next to this is a wall containing a timeline of all of the presidents in chronological order, from George Washington all the way to Barack Obama. The timeline includes key dates and facts over the course of our government’s 200-plus year history. Adjacent to the timeline is a display discussing the Inaugural Ball. Presidents can host balls that are by invitation only, or that charge a flat fee for attendance. These events are often used as fundraisers where tickets are sold to the highest bidder. In 2005, President George Bush hosted a record ten Inaugural Balls. In the next room, there are multiple displays of the different roles that the president assumes. The first display explains the president’s role as the chief executive. He is the government’s chief administrator and must see that laws are executed properly. He also has the ability to appoint various officials such as Supreme Court justices. Another important role the president plays is the Commander in Chief. There are two displays for this exceptionally important position. The displays contain memorabilia of the most prestigious generals to serve in the US Military, including George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant. The Commander-in-Chief has the power to approve of military tactics, control of the economy, and authority to limit civil rights at home. The last of the most important jobs of the president – and maybe the most difficult – is to manage the economy. Although his power in this particular sense is very limited, the president’s decisions have a major impact on the economy