SUMMARY:The question of legitimate succession to the Prophet Muhammad has been a central theme of the range of Islamic literary endeavors. From tafsir to hadith, chronicle to literature, usul al-fiqh to polemics and apologetics, the debate over not only the proper identity of the Prophet's successor but also the nature and scope of that office has entered into every such mode of literary output. This panel explores the various ways in which early Muslims advocated for certain forms of governance and electoral choice (either prescriptively or retrospectively) or for the rehabilitation of maligned figures or groups. The first paper, "History as Political Thought: The Saqifa Meeting and the Sunni Theory of the Caliphate" traces reports about the election of the first Sunni Caliph across disciplines, arguing that the event could be reliably deployed by a variety of Sunni thinkers to support radically contrasting visions of the Caliphate. The next paper, "Of Grudges and Caliphs: the Memory of the Elections of Abu Bakr, 'Umar, and 'Uthman," explores the same event, as well as the elections of the next two of the Rashidun, from a mnemohistorical approach. By comparing a variety of accounts of these "accession stories," this paper will demonstrate the important role such episodes play in contextualizing and establishing the author's intended "meaning" for the life of 'Ali--the runner-up in each case. The third paper, "The Rehabilitation of 'Ali in Sunni Islam," considers the methods that Sunni hadith specialists employed to reconcile expectations regarding ‘Ali’s character and image in Sunnism with the vast number of disparate accounts about him.. Finally, "Umayyads' Legitimizing Strategies: From the Bakris to the Zubayrids" analyzes the earliest allusions to Mu'awiya's decision to appoint his son Yazid as his successor, exploring (with emphasis on the role 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi Bakr) the Hijazi opposition to this controversial move. This paper also evaluates the diachronic evolution of his portrayal as an oppositional leader.