The German-Born Secretary Who Made Abraham Lincoln Great

John George Nicolay Devoted Himself to Burnishing the Memory of the 16th President—and Kept Him From Carrying Papers in His Hat

Less than a month after dark horse candidate Abraham Lincoln won the new Republican Party’s presidential nomination at its convention in Chicago, on May 18, 1860, he made a decision that would impact his campaign, his presidency, and his image for generations to come: He asked a 28-year-old German immigrant named John George Nicolay to be his campaign secretary.

Nicolay, who eventually became Lincoln’s private secretary, may not be well-known today, but he was one of the most significant people working behind the scenes in the Lincoln administration and his efforts …

Why Donald Trump Will Hate the Presidency

The Tycoon in the White House Doesn’t Understand the Difference Between Strength and Power

Donald Trump entered politics as a self-proclaimed “strong leader.” He castigated his supposedly tepid predecessor for lacking necessary strength. Trump, by contrast, would sweep away the establishment and remake America. …

Lady Bird Johnson Wielded Power With a Delicate Touch

LBJ’s First Lady Was a Trailblazer Who Flew Under the Radar

“Somebody else can have Madison Avenue,” Lyndon Johnson once said. “I’ll take Bird”—that is, his wife, Claudia Alta Taylor “Lady Bird” Johnson. (She got her elegant nickname as a toddler, …

From a London Alley to the White House

Louisa Catherine Adams, the Only First Lady Born Outside the U.S., Had to Prove Herself to Her Husband’s Family, Congress—and the Country

It was hard for Louisa Catherine Adams, the only first lady born outside the United States, to say where she came from. She began her life in a narrow alley …