The Presidency of George Washington / the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson / the Presidency of James Madison / the Presidency of James Monroe / the Presidencies of William Henry Harrison and John Taylor / and Others

By Tarter, Brent | The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Autumn 1996 | Go to article overview

The Presidency of George Washington / the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson / the Presidency of James Madison / the Presidency of James Monroe / the Presidencies of William Henry Harrison and John Taylor / and Others


Tarter, Brent, The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography


The Presidency of George Washington. By FORREST McDONALD. American Presidency Series. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1974. xi, 210 pp. $25.00 cloth; $9.50 paper.

The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson. By FORREST MCDONALD. American Presidency Series. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1976. xi, 201 pp. $25.00 cloth; $9.95 paper.

The Presidency of James Madison. By ROBERT ALLEN RUTLAND. American Presidency Series. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1990. xiii, 233 pp. $25.00.

The Presidency of James Monroe. By NOBLE E. CUNNINGHAM, JR. American Presidency Series. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996. xvi, 246 pp. $29.95.

The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison & John Tyler. By NORMA Lois PETERSON. American Presidency Series. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1989. xiv, 329 pp. $26.95.

The Presidencies of Zachary Taylor & Millard Fillmore. By ELBERT B. SMITH. American Presidency Series. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1988. xi, 302 pp. $25.00.

The Presidency of Woodrow Wilson. By KENDRICK A. CLEMENTS. American Presidency Series. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1992. xvi, 303 pp. $29.95 cloth, $14.95 paper.

THE occasion for this collective reconsideration is the publication of the last of the volumes in the University Press of Kansas's histories of the presidencies that treats chief executives of the United States who were born in Virginia: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson. The volumes in the series follow a standard format. Each opens with a section on the problems and opportunities facing the nation at the outset of the administration and contains a brief biographical section (two biographical sections in the cases of the books on Harrison and Tyler and on Taylor and Millard Fillmore), and an account of the election that placed the administration in office. Each book is based in large part on the author's knowledge and research in the primary records, but each also takes into account the work and interpretations of other leading students of the period.

George Washington was the first president and in the estimation of many students of the office one of the best; and Forrest McDonald's Presidency of George Washington was the first in the series to be published. McDonald writes very well, sometimes glibly, and he has the ability to make even subjects as complicated and (to most people) abstruse as Alexander Hamilton's financial plans seem clear. McDonald's speculations about motivations are fascinating and sometimes controversial, but his overall judgments, based on exceptionally thorough grounding in the sources, are thoughtful and entitled to respect. In his preface, McDonald asserts with typical boldness, JIT]here is more to the institution of the presidency than what any particular president does: there is a symbolic, ritualistic, almost mystical quality that inheres in the office as well, and it was toward the endowment of the office with that vital if elusive quality that Washington's greatest contribution was directed. ... [I]t is no exaggeration to say that, but for George Washington, the office of president might well not exist" (p. ix).

That may not have been the objective Washington sought, but Washington knew precisely what his public reputation was and how essential he was to the success of the new government. In McDonald's view Washington's presidency was critical for giving the then-new Constitution a chance to work, for enabling Alexander Hamilton to contrive his farsighted fiscal and commercial policies, and for permitting the country to preserve its independence and assert its international rights during the European wars that began as a result of the French Revolution. McDonald concludes, in a judgment with which many people would agree but only in part, that "George Washington was indispensable, but only for what he was, not for what he did" (p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Presidency of George Washington / the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson / the Presidency of James Madison / the Presidency of James Monroe / the Presidencies of William Henry Harrison and John Taylor / and Others
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.