(Backgrounds by Craig & Karl for The Washington Post; Photo by Amy King/The Washington Post)

The presidency itself was not always at the core of American politics. For much of the country's beginning, the U.S. Congress—and even party bosses—were considered the leaders of our political system. Then along came Theodore Roosevelt at the dawn of the 20th century.

Roosevelt ushered in a new era of the presidency, imbuing the office with power, prestige and relentless press coverage. And he didn't just build up the role of commander-in-chief symbolically—he also initiated construction of the West Wing and the White House's first press room.

In the newest episode of the Presidential podcast, biographer David McCullough and Library of Congress historian Michelle Krowl take us inside the wild, unstoppable dynamism of Roosevelt, whose energy and activism redefined the way we conceive of presidential leadership today.

Listen to the episode here or on iTunes:

In previous episodes of the Presidential podcast, we've explored topics like Abraham Lincoln's language and the violent life of Andrew Jackson. The podcast is hosted by Lillian Cunningham, editor of The Washington Post's On Leadership section.

As listeners tune in each week, the podcast reveals the ways in which our collective sense of what’s ’presidential’ has evolved over the years and how each president—esteemed, loathed or nearly forgotten—has something to tell us about what it takes to hold the nation’s highest office.

A new episode comes out every Sunday. Here's how to follow along:

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