“Hangin’s coming, Satan’s coming,” a lone voice sings over the strum of a guitar. That’s the fate of the nation, according to a campaign video, if the incumbent president loses to his opponent. The year is 1828, and President John Quincy Adams is facing a rematch against Andrew Jackson, the runner-up four years before.
The pro-Adams video, along with one attacking Adams’ leadership, is the latest in a series of “campaign ads” created by students in history and leadership studies professor Patrick Spero’s “Politics of the Presidency” class. In assembling the videos, students are spending at least as much time as they would producing a paper, Spero says. As an added challenge, the elements of each video—music, images, documents and quotes—must come from the era of that particular election.
Students are using tablet readers on loan from the Office of Information Technology to access rich archives and databases of material as they conduct their research and gather visual and audio content. By the end of the semester, they’ll have created videos for the major elections from Washington through Lincoln.
Many of the videos, with detailed information on their contents and the thinking that went into producing them, are available at RealClearHistory.com.