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The Forgotten Presidents: Their Untold Constitutional Legacy

ISBN : 9780199967797

Michael J. Gerhardt
336 ページ
162 x 238 mm

In The Constitutional Legacy of Forgotten Presidents, eminent constitutional scholar Michael Gerhardt covers the presidencies of thirteen "forgotten" presidents and shows why their presidencies were far more consequential than most believe. Through engaging chapters on Martin Van Buren, Chester Arthur, William Howard Taft, and Jimmy Carter (among others), Gerhardt explains how forgotten presidencies have ushered in some most important constitutional changes in American history. From the early nineteenth century onward, the lesser presidents played an important role in shaping major developments such as the growth of federal power at the expense of the states and the expansion of executive authority vis-a-vis Congress. Gerhardt claims that the problem with forgotten presidents, such as Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce, was not that they were weak, ineffective, or indecisive but rather that they had remarkably strong constitutional convictions that provoked stronger, often overwhelming political opposition. These presidents are forgotten because they sacrificed their political fortunes for the sake of defending constitutional commitments that often placed them on the losing side of history. By revealing these often-untold presidential legacies, Gerhardt debunks some of the most widely-believed myths about the American presidency. Most importantly, perhaps, is his assertion that Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson, two of the most famous American presidents of the nineteenth century, were not the only strong presidents in their era. Gerhardt's analysis also points to another startling conclusion about the American presidency: that the presidency's gradual pull is institutional and not the product of individual great men's wills. A powerfully insightful study, The Constitutional Legacy of Forgotten Presidents will reshape our understanding of American political and legal history.


Table of Contents
Table of Recurrent Themes
Chapter 1: Martin Van Buren
Chapter 2: William Henry Harrison
Chapter 3: John Tyler
Chapter 4: Zachary Taylor
Chapter 5: Millard Fillmore
Chapter 6: Franklin Pierce
Chapter 7: Chester Arthur
Chapter 8: Grover Cleveland
Chapter 9: Benjamin Harrison
Chapter 10: Grover Cleveland
Chapter 11: William Howard Taft
Chapter 12: Calvin Coolidge
Chapter 13: Jimmy Carter
Bibliographical Essay
End Notes


Michael Gerhardt is Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor in Constitutional Law & Director, Center for Law and Government and author of The Power of Precedent (Oxford University Press, 2008), The Federal Impeachment Process: A Constitutional and Historical Analysis (University of Chicago Press 2000), and The Federal Appointments Process (Duke University Press 2003).