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American Presidency

Selected and introduced by Jeremy D. Bailey


This collection of documents on the presidency continues the Ashbrook Center’s extended series of document collections covering major periods, themes, and institutions in American history and government. The volume begins with Alexander Hamilton’s commentary on those sections of the Constitution related to the executive branch; it ends with President Barack Obama’s address to the nation defending his interpretation of executive authority under the Constitution to use force against the Syrian regime. It covers not only the role of the executive branch in our constitutional order, but also the specific questions of presidential selection, term limits, and impeachment. Its documents also explore the president’s responsibility to oversee the executive branch (including the removal power, the power to remove executive branch officials from office) and his authority as commander in chief and in regards to foreign policy. This collection and its companion volumes—Congress, The Separation of Powers, The Judicial Branch, Federalism, and Political Parties—will comprise a detailed account of America’s major political ideas and institutions.


Table of Contents

Documents Include:

  • Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist, 1788
  • Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Helvidius–Pacificus Debate on Neutrality Proclamation, 1793
  • Delaware General Assembly, Resolution Rejecting the 12th Amendment, 1804
  • Senator Henry Clay, Speeches on the Removal Power, 1833 and 1834
  • President Abraham Lincoln, Message to Congress in Special Session, 1861
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address, 1933
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fireside Chat on the Reorganization of the Judiciary,  1937
  • Senator John F. Kennedy, “The Presidency in 1960,” 1960
  • United States Congress and President Richard Nixon, War Powers Resolution and Veto, 1973
  • House of Representatives, Articles of Impeachment Against President William Jefferson Clinton, 1998
  • John C. Yoo, On the President’s Constitutional Authority to Conduct Military Operations Against Terrorists, 2001
  • Boumediene v. Bush, 2008
  • President Barack Obama, Special Address to the Nation on Syria,  2013