Yale University: The Gilded Age and the Presidential Leadership

A Cotton Office in New Orleans, Edgar Degas, 1873

Center for the Study of Representative Institutions: “The President and Economic Leadership: What Can the Gilded Age Tell Us?”


On February 18, 2021, the Center for the Study of Representative Institutions at Yale University, a JMC partner program, will be hosting Mark Zachary Taylor to discuss presidential power, economics, and the Gilded Age:

Do presidents matter for America’s economic performance? This talk looks for answers in a set of least-likely cases: the Gilded Age presidents (1869-1901). The conventional wisdom is that prior to Theodore Roosevelt, presidents mattered little during peacetime. One reason is that the 19th century public expected little of its executives. And even if a president had wanted to affect policy, most observers argue that the Gilded Age presidency was too institutionally weak to do much. We also tend to stereotype Gilded Age presidents as ineffective, irrelevant, and forgettable. However, this talk will show that Gilded Age presidents were often dynamic, influential, and affected the nation’s economy in subtle ways that still apply today. Hence, this investigation is more than just an academic debate over long-dead politicians. While the differences might tempt us to dismiss this time period as irrelevant, the similarities between the Gilded Age and today are even more striking.

Thursday, February 18, 2021 • 4:30 PM EST
A virtual event • Yale University

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Mark Zachary Taylor is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He specializes in political economy, the American presidency, and comparative politics. In his research, he tries to understand the sources of national economic competitiveness. He currently studies the role of the US presidency in short-run economic performance. Professor Taylor’s research has been published in the journals Foreign Affairs, International Organization, and Presidential Studies Quarterly. He holds a PhD in Political Science from MIT, an MA in International Relations from Yale University, earned a BA in Physics from UC Berkeley, and has attended university in Japan.

Learn more about Mark Zachary Taylor >>



The Yale Center for the Study of Representative Institutions (YCRI) at Yale University is an interdisciplinary pilot program, established for the purpose of developing the study of the theory and practice of representative government in the Anglo-American tradition. It is hosted by the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University.

Click here to learn more about the Yale Center for the Study of Representative Institutions >>



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