The Presidency and the Politics of Racial Inequality: Nation-Keeping from 1831 to 1965

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Overview

From the abolition of slavery to the civil rights movement one hundred years later, one of the primary characteristics of America's development as a nation has been the steady struggle for and expansion of the horizons of citizenship. Pivotal in any equal rights movement is the response of the White House: how the president addresses any such movement profoundly affects its chances for success. Russell L. Riley examines the logic of presidential behavior with regard to equality movements. Focusing on the most explosive and enduring of such movements--the struggle for social and economic parity by African Americans--Riley argues that the president's unwritten mandate as the designated protector of domestic social order is to suppress or moderate major social change.Consequently, only in extreme circumstances have presidents become advocates of serious reform. The Presidency and the Politics of Racial Inequality goes beyond the triad of Lincoln, Kennedy, and Johnson with discussions of F.D.R., Truman, and Eisenhower to see how these presidents dealt with situations that forced them into the fray. Riley questions the positive role played by some presidents--and contends that their failure to suppress racial unrest has not been adequately discussed.As Riley convincingly demonstrates, American political culture made it unlikely that any president would invest executive power in a deeply controversial enterprise. His study goes far toward explaining why significant change has been slow to take hold, even in one of the most open democratic systems in the world.
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Editorial Reviews

Richard E. Neustadt
Vividly illuminates profound inhibitions on the American Presidency as an instrument of social change. . . . Riley´s interpretations help us grasp some critical current dilemmas.
Booknews
Taking the presidency as a lens for the political climate of the ages between the rise of the abolition movement and the rise of the civil rights movement, looks at how the US as a society has dealt with challenges to its prevailing membership configuration<-->the question of who is or can be American and who is not and cannot be<-->focusing especially on how race fits into the picture. The study seems to have begun as a Ph.D. dissertation for the University of Virginia. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Russell L. Riley holds a Ph.D. in American government from the University of Virginia, and has taught on the faculties of Georgetown University and the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently program director for the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies, Salzburg, Austria.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
Pt. I Abolition 23
1 The Origins and Politics of Abolition 25
2 A Thirty Years "War": The Presidency and the Abolitionists 43
3 The Making of a Great Emancipator 93
Pt. II Civil Rights 119
4 From Reconstruction to the Great Depression: Latency Years 121
5 The Rise of Black Political Power: Roosevelt and Truman 137
6 Race Returns to Center Stage: The Eisenhower Years 175
7 Emancipation, Act II: Pressures and Conversion, 1961-1965 201
8 The Presidency, Leadership, and the Struggle for Racial Equality 235
Notes 275
Index 359
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