Chloé O. Hurley

Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities

20082009 Forum on Change

Chloé O. Hurley


Member,UHF Steering Committee

College '09

The Passed and the President: Presidential Obituaries

Although tradition dictates that in eulogizing the dead, we turn ordinary qualities into great virtues and minimize the flawed or banal, the presidential obituary is more complex than it may appear. How the death of a president is presented to the public has a far greater impact on later perceptions of that president than does any coverage during his administration. Using the obituary as an entrance point, this study is an investigation not just into presidential legacies, but into how a president is characterized at the moment of death, and whether that characterization can thereafter be redrawn.