The American Presidency in Action, 1789: A Study in Constitutional History

The American Presidency in Action, 1789: A Study in Constitutional History

The American Presidency in Action, 1789: A Study in Constitutional History

The American Presidency in Action, 1789: A Study in Constitutional History

Excerpt

As the subtitle of this volume indicates, it is a study in the constitutional history of the American Presidency. The year 1789 was the year of beginnings for the Presidency in action; and the facets of what may be the greatest office in the political history of mankind are many. In the broadest terms the constitutional roles of the President have become three: his ceremonial role as chef d'état; his legal role as the Chief Magistrate of the national government; and his political role as the titular head of his party and potential leader of the nation. In more detail, George Fort Milton has listed "six types of public service" which "Constitution, crisis, and custom, the great architects of our political institutions," have given to the President. He is a modern Pooh-bah, who is at once "Chief of State," "Chief of Foreign Relations," "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States," "Chief of Government," "Chief of Party," and leader of public opinion. It is of no little interest to seek the extent to which these several aspects of the office had emerged by the end of 1789, the first year of operations under the Constitution. While the historical materials used in this study are readily available, and have been exploited for various purposes by many historians, and by such historically minded political scientists as Edward S. Corwin, they do not appear to have previously been made the basis of an examination, in one place and in such detail, of all the constitutional aspects of the Presidency in its first year of activity, as these are viewed by the political scientist as distinguished from the professional historian. It seems appropriate, therefore, to offer this volume as an intensive study of the constitutional beginnings of the Presidency in action. It may be added that, if the book is favorably received, it is the author's intention to employ the same method in further studies in the early constitutional history of the Presidency.

The author desires, finally, to call the attention of his readers to Leonard D. White The Federalists, which at this writing is in process of publication by The Macmillan Company.

J. H.

Charlottesville Christmas, 1947 . . .

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