Inventing the American Presidency

Thomas E. Cronin, ed.

Forrest McDonald has suggested that "but for George Washington, the office of president might well not exist. . . . Americans of the Revolutionary generation, given their fear and distrust of executive authority, would not have been willing to make the presidency part of the Constitution at all had not Washington been available to fill the office." Washington was inaugurated 200 years ago, and the debate concerning executive authority continues to this day.

Inventing the American Presidency—in fourteen essays (half original), supplemented by relevant sections of and Amendments to the Constitution and five Federalist essays by Hamilton—provide the reader with the essential historical and political analyses of who and what shaped the presidency. What was decided in Philadelphia in 1787 and why? Why have a presidency? Who could be elected? How? For how long a tenure? With what responsibilities and powers? What were key debates during the founding period, and what questions have endured? For students of the American presidency, these essays will be must reading.

“An excellent collection of essays on the structure and powers of the presidency and on the contributions to the office of four presidents, Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, and Madison, and of the author of the Federalist essays on the executive (69-73), Alexander Hamilton.

—Perspectives on Politics

“This work is really a handbook on the establishment of the American presidency. Its focus is on the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and the precedents established by the first four presidents. . . . All essays flow from the pens of recognized specialists in their subjects, and all can be read as authoritative.

—Journal of American History
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