James David Barber
|James David Barber|
July 31, 1930|
Charleston, West Virginia
|Died||September 12, 2004
Durham, North Carolina
Cause of death
|Primary progressive aphasia|
|Occupation||Author, professor of political science|
|Spouse(s)||Ann Sale Barber (?–?)
Amanda Mackay Smith (1972–2004)
James David Barber (July 31, 1930 – September 12, 2004) was a political scientist whose book The Presidential Character made him famous for his classification of presidents through their worldviews. From 1977 to 1995 he was a professor of political science at Duke University.
Barber was born on July 31, 1930, in Charleston, West Virginia, to a physician and nurse. In the 1950s he served in the United States Army as a counter-intelligence agent before attending the University of Chicago. He earned a master's degree in political science while he was there, and he moved on to receive a PhD in the same field at Yale University.
He is credited in the field of political science for being the first to examine presidents beyond case studies. He devised a system of organizing a president's character into either active-positive, passive-positive, active-negative, or passive-negative.
- Traits of an active-positive president include a readiness to act, high optimism, and an overall fondness of the presidency. Some examples of presidents Barber cites as active-positive include Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and Gerald Ford.
- Traits of a passive-positive president include a low self-esteem compensated by an ingratiating personality, superficially optimistic, and a desire to please. Examples of passive-positive presidents include William Howard Taft, Ronald Reagan, and Warren G. Harding.
- Traits of an active-negative president include lack of joy after deriving much effort on tasks, aggressive, highly rigid, and having a general view of power as a means to self-realization. Examples of active-negative presidents include Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, and Richard Nixon.
- Traits of a passive-negative president include a strong sense of duty, desire to avoid power, low self-esteem compensated by service towards others, and an overall aversion to intense political negotiation. Presidential examples include Calvin Coolidge and Dwight D. Eisenhower.