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The Failure of the Founding Fathers: Jefferson, Marshall, and the Rise of Presidential Democracy

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The ink was barely dry on the Constitution when it was almost destroyed by the rise of political parties in the United States. As Bruce Ackerman shows, the Framers had not anticipated the two-party system, and when Republicans battled Federalists for the presidency in 1800, the rules laid down by the Constitution exacerbated the crisis. With Republican militias preparing to march on Washington, the House of Representatives deadlocked between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Based on seven years of archival research, the book describes previously unknown aspects of the electoral college crisis. Ackerman shows how Thomas Jefferson counted his Federalist rivals out of the House runoff, and how the Federalists threatened to place John Marshall in the presidential chair. Nevertheless, the Constitution managed to survive through acts of statesmanship and luck.

Despite the intentions of the Framers, the presidency had become a plebiscitarian office. Thomas Jefferson gained office as the People's choice and acted vigorously to fulfill his popular mandate. This transformation of the presidency serves as the basis for a new look at Marbury v. Madison, the case that first asserted the Supreme Court's power of judicial review. Ackerman shows that Marbury is best seen in combination with another case, Stuart v. Laird, as part of a retreat by the Court in the face of the plebiscitarian presidency. This "switch in time" proved crucial to the Court's survival, allowing it to integrate Federalist and Republican themes into the living Constitution of the early republic.

Ackerman presents a revised understanding of the early days of two great institutions that continue to have a major impact on American history: the plebiscitarian presidency and a Supreme Court that struggles to put the presidency's claims of a popular mandate into constitutional perspective.

Synopsis:

Based on seven years of archival research, the book describes previously unknown aspects of the electoral college crisis of 1800, presenting a revised understanding of the early days of two great institutions that continue to have a major impact on American history: the plebiscitarian presidency and a Supreme Court that struggles to put the presidency's claims of a popular mandate into constitutional perspective. Through close studies of two Supreme Court cases, Ackerman shows how the court integrated Federalist and Republican themes into the living Constitution of the early republic.

About the Author

Bruce Ackerman is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University.

Table of Contents

Part One: The People's President

Introduction: America on the Brink

1. The Original Misunderstanding

2. John Marshall for President

3. Jefferson Counts Himself In

4. On the Brink

5. What Went Right?

Part Two: The People and the Court

Introduction: Constitutional Brinksmanship

6. Federalist Counterattack

7. Republican Triumph

8. Marbury v. Stuart

9. Presidential Purge

10. Synthesis

11. Reverberations

Documents

Horatius's Presidential Knot

Judge Bassett's Protest

Notes

Acknowledgments

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780674018662
Author:
Ackerman, Bruce A.
Publisher:
Belknap Press
Author:
Ackerman, Bruce
Location:
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Subject:
History
Subject:
Presidents
Subject:
United States - Antebellum Era
Subject:
United States - 19th Century
Subject:
Government - Executive Branch
Subject:
Government - Judicial Branch
Subject:
Constitutional history -- United States.
Subject:
United States History.
Subject:
US History-1800 to Civil War
Subject:
US History-19th Century
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
October 2005
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
4 line illustrations
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.125 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Law » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century
History and Social Science » US History » Revolution and Constitution Era
History and Social Science » World History » General

The Failure of the Founding Fathers: Jefferson, Marshall, and the Rise of Presidential Democracy New Hardcover
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Product details 400 pages Belknap Press - English 9780674018662 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Based on seven years of archival research, the book describes previously unknown aspects of the electoral college crisis of 1800, presenting a revised understanding of the early days of two great institutions that continue to have a major impact on American history: the plebiscitarian presidency and a Supreme Court that struggles to put the presidency's claims of a popular mandate into constitutional perspective. Through close studies of two Supreme Court cases, Ackerman shows how the court integrated Federalist and Republican themes into the living Constitution of the early republic.
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