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Overview & List of Documents

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.

  • Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist, 1788
  • Cato No. 4, January 3, 1788
  • Representative James Madison, Remarks on the Removal Power: Speech in Congress, June 16, 1789 and Letter to Edmund Pendleton, June 21, 1789
  • Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Helvidius–Pacificus Debate on Neutrality Proclamation, June–August 1793
  • President George Washington, Proclamation on the Whiskey Rebellion, August 7, 1794
  • President Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801
  • President Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Elias Shipman and Others, July 12, 1801
  • Delaware General Assembly, Resolution Rejecting the 12th Amendment, 1804
  • President Thomas Jefferson, Letter to the New Jersey Legislature, December 10, 1807
  • Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John B. Colvin, September 20, 1810
  • President Andrew Jackson, First Annual Message, December 8, 1829
  • Senator Henry Clay, Speeches on the Removal Power, December 26, 1833 and March 7, 1834
  • President Andrew Jackson, Message to the Senate Protesting the Censure Resolution, April 15, 1834
  • President John Tyler, Speech on Assuming Office of the President, April 9, 1841
  • President Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861
  • President Abraham Lincoln, Message to Congress in Special Session, July 4, 1861
  • President Abrahama Lincoln, Letter to Albert G. Hodges, April 4, 1864
  • Associate Justice David Davis, Ex Parte Milligan, December 1866
  • President Andrew Johnson, Third Annual Message, December 3, 1867
  • House of Representatives, Articles of Impeachment of Andrew Johnson, 1868
  • Woodrow Wilson, Constitutional Government in the United States, 1908
  • Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, On the Source of Executive Power, 1913 and 1916
  • Chief Justice William Howard Taft (majority) and Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (dissenting), Myers v. US, 1926
  • Associate Justice George Sutherland, Humphrey’s Executor v. United States, 1935
  • Associate Justice George Sutherland, United States v. Curtiss- Wright Export Co., 1936
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933
  • The President’s Committee on Administrative Management, “The Brownlow Committee Report,” 1937
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fireside Chat on the Reorganization of the Judiciary, March 9, 1937
  • Representative John McCormack and Representative Chauncey Reed, House Debate on the 22nd Amendment, 1947
  • President Harry Truman, Special Message to Congress Reporting on the Situation in Korea, July 19, 1950
  • Associate Justice Robert Jackson (concurring opinion), Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 1952
  • Senator John F. Kennedy, “The Presidency in 1960,” January 14, 1960
  • McGovern–Fraser Commission Report, 1971
  • United States Congress and President Richard Nixon, War Powers Resolution and Veto, 1973
  • Richard Nixon, Interview on the Huston Plan, 1977
  • 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
  • Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy (majority) and Associate Justice Antonin Scalia (minority), Boumediene v. Bush, 2008
  • President Barack Obama, Special Address to the Nation on Syria, September 10, 2013