How can Americans develop a coherent overview of the presidency? The Preamble of the Constitution provides a historical foundation to assess the major patterns, events, and policies of seven important presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Harry S. Truman. From the 1790s to the 1950s, presidents have faced challenges to the meaning and existence of the Union, the definition and implementation of justice, the necessity of domestic tranquility, the formulation of defense policy to enhance national security, the advancement of general welfare, and the protection and promotion of liberty within the context of their times. This conceptual framework allows readers to study long-term continuity and change in the presidency and in America.
In an age of specialization, when most historical studies of individual presidents are hundreds, even thousands of pages long, Saunders gives readers a brief, interpretive overview of select presidents. The elegant, flexible, and understandable framework of the Preamble provides the historical foundation for the assessment of the presidency and the individuals occupying this important office. Readers will be able to use this assessable framework to study other presidents, bringing the discussion of the presidency as an evolving institution up to the present day.
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About the Author
ROBERT M. SAUNDERS has a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He has taught at universities in the United States, Singapore, the Czech Republic, and Hong Kong where he is currently a visiting Fulbright Scholar. He has published articles in numerous scholarly journals. A specialist in late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, he has published a book on Woodrow Wilson entitled In Search of Woodrow Wilson (Greenwood, 1998).