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Infographic of the Day: The Entire History of the American Presidency

There are infographics–and there are infographics. Count this in the latter category. A Visual History of the American Presidency isn’t meant to convey a single message–but rather, it’s filled with entire book’s worth of information, in 18 different graphs. What’s more, it’s for sale as a high-quality print, starting at $30.

Infographic of the Day: The Entire History of the American Presidency

There are infographics–and there are infographics. Count this in the latter category. A Visual History of the American Presidency isn’t meant to convey a single message–but rather, it’s filled with entire book’s worth of information, in 18 different graphs.

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What’s more, it’s for sale as a high-quality print, starting at $30.

Presidents of US infographic

Designed by Nathaniel Pearlman–one of the founders of Time Plots, which creates infographic posters, and also a former student of Edward Tufte–the Visual History provides historical data on population, presidential elections, Congress, the Supreme Court, the Cabinet, the U.S. economy, and the federal budget and debt. And that, “…places each president in historical context, visualizing a remarkable range of political, social, and economic measures to succinctly tell the story of the presidency.”

Let’s break down some of the details.

Here, the length of the president’s term is represented by the height of his name; their VP is listed to the right, and to the right of that, you get to see the all-important breakdown of how many Democrats and Republicans there were in the Senate and House. More than anything else, that tells you exactly how much political muscle the president actually had when in office:

US Presidents infographic

There is, of course, a more detailed look at the politics of how each man came to power:

US Presidents infographic

Here’s an absolutely brilliant chart: To the left, you see a single line that summarizes all the major economic indicators for each time period. The dark green is change in GDP, the light green is inflation, and the olive drab is unemployment.

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Meanwhile, the chart on the right shows government spending in light brown, and government revenues in dark brown. The jagged line shows the size of the public debt as a percentage of GDP:

US Presidents infographic

Another brilliant one. The bubble chart below manages to summarize each president’s biography. To the left, you see a list of the various types of professional experience. And to the right, the bubbles show how many years of experience the president had in each area:

US Presidents infographic

Other graphs chart the president’s approval ratings, his influential on the Supreme Court, and the wars he fought. Brilliant, brilliant stuff.

You can buy the poster here, and also view a zoomable, interactive version.

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About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

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