D.C. Mondays: Three Points of Democratic Crisis

Newspaper print of skirmish between men in top hats
A. Berghaus and C. Upham, “The attack on the President's life” (detail), Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1881, Library of Congress.


In this virtual talk, Smithsonian curator Jon Grinspan explores moments of crisis in American democracy that have unfolded in the streets, hotels and government buildings of Washington D.C. From the assassination of President Garfield in 1881 to Watergate in 1972 to the recent insurrection at the Capitol, Dr. Grinspan examines the ways that instability, division and violence in American politics manifest themselves physically in the nation’s capital.

This program is presented in conjunction with the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery’s exhibition Echo of Watergate, featuring busts by sculptor Jane Maso.

About Jon Grinspan

Jon Grinspan is a curator in the Division of Political and Military History at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. He received a bachelor’s from Sarah Lawrence College, and a master’s and doctorate from the University of Virginia. Dr. Grinspan studies the deep history of American democracy, especially the wild partisan campaigns of the 1800s. His newest book, The Age of Acrimony: How Americans Fought to Fix Their Democracy, 1865-1915, argues that the democracy we inherited from the 20th century was really an outlier, created to fix our politics the last time they broke.

How to Participate

To participate, register online, and we will email you a link and instructions for joining the program on Zoom. Simply follow that link at the time the event starts (12 p.m. EDT). When you register, you can also request to receive a reminder email one day before the program with the link included.  

About the D.C. Mondays Series

Join local authors, researchers and community members online for lively discussions about Washington, D.C.’s history, politics, culture and more. Browse upcoming programs