Presidential Documents: Words that Shaped a Nation from Washington to Obama


In this lively, authoritative collection, Thomas J. McInerney presents famous and lesser-known speeches, letters, and other important documents from every U.S. president from George Washington to Barack Obama.

Whether printed in full or excerpted, these history-making documents are an invaluable resource as well as a fascinating browse. Including familiar documents such as the Emancipation Proclamation, to personal correspondence such as a letter from George H.W. Bush to his ...

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In this lively, authoritative collection, Thomas J. McInerney presents famous and lesser-known speeches, letters, and other important documents from every U.S. president from George Washington to Barack Obama.

Whether printed in full or excerpted, these history-making documents are an invaluable resource as well as a fascinating browse. Including familiar documents such as the Emancipation Proclamation, to personal correspondence such as a letter from George H.W. Bush to his children, this collection brings together the famous statements that came to represent each administration with intimate glimpses into the thought processes of various presidential leaders.

Now in its second edition, Presidential Documents has been re-designed to increase its usefulness in the classroom. Part openers introduce each era of the American presidency with a concise political and historical overview, highlighting the challenges each leader faced, and placing the documents in context. Whether used as a complement to an American history survey text or as a collection of primary documents for courses on the American Presidency, Presidential Documents provides an engrossing look at the work of the leaders of the United States, in all their complexity.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415895750
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 9/6/2012
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 424
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas J. McInerney is Professor of History at Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colorado.

Fred L. Israel is Professor Emeritus of American History at the City College of New York. His previous works include the five-volume History of Presidential Elections 1789-1988 (1988), which he co-edited with Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Running for President (1995).

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Table of Contents





CHAPTER 1 George Washington

  1. The First Inaugural Address
  2. The Pillar of Good Government
  3. Proclamation on the Resistance to the Excise Tax Neutrality
  4. Neutrality
  5. Second Proclamation on the Whiskey Rebellion
  6. The Farewell Address
  7. Postscript to the Farewell Address

CHAPTER 2 John Adams

  1. Report to Congress on the XYZ Affair
  2. Establishment of Permanent Capitol in Washington City
  3. Commission of John Marshall as Chief Justice


CHAPTER 3 Thomas Jefferson

  1. First Inaugural Address
  2. Tripoli
  3. Importance of New Orleans
  4. Recommendation to End the African Slave Trade
  5. The Embargo Message
  6. A Note on the Non-intercourse Act

CHAPTER 4 James Madison

  1. Proclamation Resuming Trade with France
  2. War Message to Congress
  3. A National Bank Reconsidered
  4. National Seminary Proposed

CHAPTER 5 James Monroe

  1. Statehood for Illinois
  2. Comments on the Missouri Compromise
  3. Veto of the Cumberland Road Bill
  4. Monroe Doctrine

CHAPTER 6 John Quincy Adams

  1. Plan of Internal Improvements
  2. Fifty Years of Independence


CHAPTER 7 Andrew Jackson

  1. Inaugural Address
  2. Veto of the Bank Bill
  3. Message on the Removal of the Southern Indians
  4. Proclamation to the People of South Carolina
  5. Constitutional Prohibition of Foreign Gifts
  6. Executive Power is Vested in a President
  7. Tribute to a Friend of Liberty and the Rights of Man
  8. Farewell

CHAPTER 8 Martin Van Buren

  1. Independent Treasury Message
  2. Border Insecurity

CHAPTER 9 William Henry Harrison

  1. The Great Dread

CHAPTER 10 John Tyler

  1. A New Test for the Chief Executive
  2. Request for Ratification of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty
  3. Message Urging Annexation of Texas

CHAPTER 11 James K. Polk

  1. Inaugural Address Excerpts
  2. First Annual Message
  3. War Message
  4. The Oregon Question
  5. Discovery of Gold in California


CHAPTER 12 Zachary Taylor

  1. Statehood for California
  2. Clayton-Bulwar Treaty
  3. Proclamation of Peace

CHAPTER 13 Millard Fillmore

  1. Compromise of 1850
  2. Death of Daniel Webster

CHAPTER 14 Franklin Pierce

  1. Gadsden Purchase

CHAPTER 15 James Buchanan

  1. Inaugural Address
  2. Disunion Averted
  3. Intemperate Interference
  4. State of the Union is Beyond Executive Control


CHAPTER 16 Abraham Lincoln

  1. First Inaugural Address
  2. The War Message
  3. Emancipation Proclamation
  4. Gettysburg Address
  5. Plan for Reconstruction
  6. Suppression of African Slave Trade
  7. Second Inaugural Address

CHAPTER 17 Andrew Johnson

  1. Amnesty and Pardon
  2. The Union Restored
  3. Views on Reconstruction
  4. Answer to Impeachment Article I
  5. Acquisition of Alaska and Virgin Islands
  6. Final Universal Pardon

CHAPTER 18 Ulysses S. Grant

  1. First Inaugural on Suffrage
  2. Restoration of Union to Peaceful and Proper Relations
  3. Eight Hour Day for Government Workers
  4. Last Message to Congress

CHAPTER 19 Rutherford B. Hayes

  1. Reflections on the Great Railroad Strikes
  2. The Subject of Supreme Importance
  3. Harmonize Race Relations
  4. Beyond the Bayonet
  5. Pacification and Unification Program


CHAPTER 20 James A. Garfield

  1. A Hundred Years of National Life

  1. The Torrent of Patronage Seekers

CHAPTER 21 Chester A. Arthur

  1. Principles and Rules of Public Service

  1. Message on Arizona Crisis
  2. Call for a Pan American Conference
  3. Chinese Exclusion Act Clarification Requested
  4. The Temper of the American People and Elections

CHAPTER 22 Grover Cleveland

  1. Vetoes Disaster Relief
  2. Liberty Enlightening the World

CHAPTER 23 Benjamin Harrison

  1. The Presidential Oath is a Covenant with the People
  2. Call for a Reduction of Government Revenues and Expenditures
  3. The Burden of Presidential Appointments
  4. On Naturalization

CHAPTER 24 Grover Cleveland

  1. Decision to Send Troops to Quash the Pullman Strike in Chicago
  2. Defends the Gold Standard
  3. American Economy and the Currency
  4. Government and the Individual
  5. Government Extravagance is a Crime against the Citizen

CHAPTER 25 William McKinley

  1. War with the Spanish Empire

  1. America Looks Outward and Embraces the Philippine Islands
  2. Antietam Commemoration: End of the Bloody Shirt
  3. Last Words to the People



CHAPTER 26 Theodore Roosevelt

  1. The Greatness of McKinley
  2. Acquisition of Panama Canal Zone
  3. "Roosevelt Corollary" to the Monroe Doctrine
  4. Conservation of America
  5. Taft is Fit to be President

CHAPTER 27 William Howard Taft

  1. Dollar Diplomacy Espoused
  2. The Chief Magistrate and the National Pastime
  3. The Chief Diplomat Modernizes the Apparatus
  4. The President’s Analysis of the 1912 Election Results
  5. Our Capitol City: The City of Washington and District of Columbia

CHAPTER 28 Woodrow Wilson

  1. Establishment of the Federal Reserve System
  2. Federal Segregation Policy and the Chief Executive
  3. Order to Invade Mexico
  4. America Enters the Great War
  5. Decoration Day 1918
  6. A New World Order

CHAPTER 29 Warren G. Harding

  1. On Race
  2. Our Oneness as Americans
  3. Our National Good Fortune
  4. Debs Receives Christmas Pardon

CHAPTER 30 Calvin Coolidge

  1. The "Secret" Presidential Press Conference
  2. Calvin Coolidge Honors Aviator Charles Lindbergh
  3. Coolidge Farewell at George Washington University


CHAPTER 31 Herbert Hoover

  1. Vision of Prosperity
  2. Chief Comments on the Crash
  3. Hoover Defends Political Principles
  4. Renunciation of War
  5. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Conference
  6. Dedication of the Empire State Building
  7. Cornerstone Ceremony: Justice Department
  8. Attempt on Life of President-
  9. National Archives Cornerstone Ceremony
  10. Stages of Depression

CHAPTER 32 Franklin D. Roosevelt

  1. First Inaugural Address
  2. FDR’s First "Fireside Chat"
  3. Social Security for America
  4. Reorganization of the Judiciary and Court Packing Plan
  5. "Lend-Lease" Plan
  6. War Against Japan
  7. Order of Japanese Internment


CHAPTER 33 Harry S. Truman

  1. Atomic Bomb Dropped on Hiroshima
  2. Employment Act of 1946
  3. Truman Doctrine
  4. Recognition of the State of Israel
  5. Integrating the Armed Forces
  6. President Fires General Douglas MacArthur

CHAPTER 34 Dwight D. Eisenhower

  1. Interstate Highway System
  2. "Open Skies" Proposal
  3. Little Rock High School Integrates Statehood for Hawaii
  4. Statehood for Hawaii
  5. The Chief Executive Orders a New Flag
  6. The Military Industrial Complex

CHAPTER 35 John F. Kennedy

  1. Inaugural Address
  2. Birth of the Peace Corps
  3. Cuban Missile Crisis
  4. Civil Rights
  5. Berlin Wall Speech
  6. Hats Off to Aerospace
  7. New Frontiers of Peace and Abundance: Undelivered


CHAPTER 36 Lyndon B. Johnson

  1. The Great Society
  2. Civil Rights Bill of 1964
  3. War in Vietnam
  4. Opening of the New York World’s Fair
  5. A Promise to Continue on the Path of JFK
  6. Vietnam and the Presidency

CHAPTER 37 Richard M. Nixon

  1. An Interplanetary Conversation
  2. Marooned on the Moon
  3. Select Dicta-belt Tapes
  4. Desegregation
  5. "Opening" of China
  6. The Resignation

CHAPTER 38 Gerald R. Ford

  1. Ford Pardons Nixon
  2. White House Conversation on the World

CHAPTER 39 James E. Carter

  1. Jimmy Gives the Canal to Panama
  2. Iranian Hostage Rescue Mission Fails
  3. Camp David Accords
  4. "Malaise Speech"


CHAPTER 40 Ronald Reagan

  1. Chief Diplomat Denounces the "Evil Empire"
  2. "Star Wars" Missile Defense Concept
  3. The Challenger Tragedy
  4. Arms Control Agreement with USSR
  5. History and the American Heritage
  6. Economic Recovery Program
  7. A Reply to Sammy on South Africa
  8. Tear Down This Wall
  9. Americans: Keepers of Miracles

CHAPTER 41 George H. W. Bush

  1. War in the Persian Gulf
  2. Bicentennial Ceremony of George Washington’s Inauguration
  3. Leader of the Free World Speaks at Karl Marx University
  4. Batten Down the Hatches: An Historic New Year’s Note

CHAPTER 42 William Jefferson Clinton

  1. North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement
  2. White House Affair Denial
  3. Post Impeachment Presidential Comments on Acquittal
  4. Suspending Restrictions on U. S. Relations with the PLO
  5. The Era of Big Government is Over



CHAPTER 43 George W. Bush

  1. Tax Relief Plan Announced
  2. The Whole World Hears You
  3. War on Terror
  4. America Strikes Back
  5. Homeland Security Act
  6. Millennium Challenge Initiative
  7. On Iraq
  8. Medicare Prescription Drug Act
  9. Energy Strategy for 21st Century
  10. Hurricane Katrina
  11. The Patriot Act
  12. The Global War on Terror

CHAPTER 44 Barack H. Obama

  1. Guantanamo
  2. Stimulus
  3. Health Care
  4. Solyndra, Inc.
  5. BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Disaster
  6. Mid-Term Referendum
  7. Killing Osama Bin Laden
  8. Arab Spring and the Middle East
  9. American Jobs Act
  10. Libya: Shadow of Tyranny Lifted
  11. Iraq War Ends
  12. Keystone XL Pipeline
  13. A Blueprint for the Future
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