Although the framers gave the president little authority, George Washington knew whatever he did would set precedents for generations of future leaders. To ensure their ability to defend the nation, he simply ignored the Constitution when he thought it necessary.
In a revealing new look at the birth of American government, Mr. President” describes Washington's presidency in a time of continual crisis, as rebellion and attacks by foreign enemies threatened to destroy this new nation. Constantly weighing preservation of the Union against preservation of individual liberties and states' rights, Washington assumed more power with each crisis. In a series of brilliant but unconstitutional maneuvers he forced Congress to cede control of the four pillars of executive power: war, finance, foreign affairs, and law enforcement.
Drawing on rare documents and letters, Unger shows how Washington combined political cunning and sheer genius to seize ever-widening powers, impose law and order while ensuring individual freedom, and shape the office of President of the United States.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations ix
Chapter 1 A Mutiny over Bounties 13
Chapter 2 A Coup d'État in Philadelphia 29
Chapter 3 His Highness, the President 65
Chapter 4 "Do You Advise and Consent?" 83
Chapter 5 The Shell Game 107
Chapter 6 Alive with Wrath 121
Chapter 7 Tar and Taxes 133
Chapter 8 The French Plot 149
Chapter 9 "The President Was Much Inflamed" 171
Chapter 10 "Venomous Reptiles on Our Shores" 183
Chapter 11 The Madman and the Indians 199
Chapter 12 The Final Pillar 209
Chapter 13 Farewell from a Friend 219
Chapter 14 First in the Hearts of His Countrymen 225
Appendix: The Pillars of Presidential Power and President Washington's Precedents 235