The American Presidency: An Intellectual History / Edition 1

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"At last, a grand and sweeping history of the presidency. It has just enough partisan bite to keep from being aloof but is magisterial nevertheless. And it crackles. Will be required reading."—Leonard W. Levy, coeditor of the Encyclopedia of the American Presidency

"A fascinating and erudite examination of the roots of the American presidency. It is of great historical value and contains a variety of thought-provoking insights about the current status and future of that institution."—Fred I. Greenstein, author of The Hidden Hand Presidency: Eisenhower as Leader

"In his customarily trenchant and provocative style, Forrest McDonald provides an illuminating survey of the theoretical background and continuing political exigencies that have shaped the American presidency. Incisive analysis of political ideas, guided by the shrewd sense of political realism of a master narrative historian, distinguishes this important contribution to our constitutional history."—Herman Belz, coeditor of To Form a More Perfect Union: The Critical Ideas of the Constitution

"Should be required reading for anyone who studies or teaches American constitutional or political history. It is not a history of presidents, but of the institution they have shaped and which, as McDonald shows, has often shaped them. One will find oneself arguing with McDonald in many places, to me the surest sign that he has succeeded in his task."—Melvin I. Urofsky, author of A History of the American Constitution

"McDonald's American Presidency is a rich resource for all students, professional and amateur, of that great institution. McDonald carries his story from Bracton and Machiavelli to Bill Clinton, and like a true historian, he improves our present understanding by making it alive to the past."—Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr., author of Taming the Prince: The Ambivalence of Modern Executive Power

Author Bio: Forrest McDonald is Distinguished Research Professor of History at the University of Alabama and the author of fifteen books including States' Rights and the Union: Imperium in Imperio, 1776-1876; Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution; "We the People": Economic Origins of the Constitution; E Pluribus Unum: The Foundation of the American Republic, 1776-1790; The Presidency of George Washington; and The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson. He was named by the National Endowment for the Humanities as the sixteenth Jefferson Lecturer, the nation's highest honor in the humanities.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
Forrest McDonald makes history breathe.
Library Journal
The 55-month commemoration (1987-91) of the U.S. Constitution and a conference on the White House ( The White House, LJ 12/93) have focused academic attention on the chief executive. The attention is justified, for the office is a nearly unique creation. The central issue explored here is whether our system of checks and balances permits strong leaders or reduces them to presidential pygmies. McDonald strains to emphasize that his history concerns evolving perceptions of the presidency rather than an evaluation of those perceptions. Though he concludes that the office ``has been responsible for less harm and more good, in the nation and the world, than perhaps any other secular institution in history,'' his conservative critique sees a decline in its occupants. This very readable is recommended for informed lay readers, historians, and political scientists.-- William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport
McDonald (history, U. of Alabama) explores how and why the presidency has evolved into such a complex and powerful institution, unlike any other in the world. He chronicles the presidency's creation, implementation, and evolution, and explains why it's still working today despite its many perceived afflictions. He also analyzes the gap between what Americans expect of presidents and what they can reasonably hope to accomplish. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700607495
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 10/28/1995
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 516
  • Sales rank: 856,232
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 The Great Legal Commentators 12
3 Political Philosophers 38
4 The Lessons of History 67
5 The Colonial Experience 98
6 The Revolutionary Experience, 1776-1787 125
7 The Convention 160
8 Ratification 182
9 The Washington Administration 209
10 The Jeffersonians 245
11 The President and the Law 280
12 President and Administration 315
13 President and Congress: Legislation 346
14 President and Congress: Foreign Affairs 382
15 Images and Elections, Myths and Symbols 425
16 Afterthoughts 459
Index 483
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