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 HistorySee all reviews...
“A remarkably useful and enlightening collection, in which the many disagreements among the authors serve to enhance the reader’s understanding of the issues in dispute among the framers of the presidency.”
“A most readable and interesting work.”
—Journal of the Early Republic
“Edited by an influential presidential scholar, this collection marks the bicentennial of the office of the presidency. It brings together a wealth of information and insights on the construction of the nation’s highest office.”
—Jeffrey K. Tulis, author of The Rhetorical Presidency and coeditor of The Presidency in the Constitutional Order.
“This book ought to be on the shelf of any serious student of the presidency. It sets forth with unusual clarity how the office originally got planned, built, and used. The authors press their interest beyond antiquity to the relevance of what we inherit today from those ancient inventors, and they candidly spell out the Founders’ mistakes as well as their successes. This is a solid historical source for understanding the controversies that gave birth to the reality of the Presidency of the United States.”
—James David Barber, author of The Pulse of Politics: The Rhythm of Presidential Elections in the Twentieth Century
“An illuminating guide to the events, personalities, and considerations that shaped the American presidency.”
—Fred Greenstein, author of The Hidden Hand Presidency: Eisenhower as Leader and Evolution of the Modern Presidency
“This book fills an important need through representative essays by able scholars and observers on neglected aspects of the presidency. While its authors voice similar differences to those debated in 1787, its editor brings unity to the volume through emphasis on historical experience, political consensus, and common themes.”
—Kenneth Thompson, Director of the Miller Center for Public Affairs, University of VirginiaSee fewer reviews...