Historic Roots of the Executive Branch

views updated

Historic Roots of the Executive Branch

The president is the head of the executive branch of the federal government under the U.S. Constitution. The executive branch is responsible for enforcing America's laws, operating the military, and maintaining relations with foreign nations. Presidents are elected to serve a four-year term, and may not serve more than two terms since adoption of the Twenty-second Amendment in 1951.

According to Mark Roelofs in The Poverty of American Politics, William H. Seward (1801–1872) once said, "We elect a king for four years, and give him absolute power within certain limits, which after all he can interpret for himself." Seward was secretary of state under presidents Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865; served 1861–65) and Andrew Johnson (1808–1875; served 1865–69).

Seward's comparison of the U.S. presidency to a monarchy, a government headed by a king or queen, is interesting. When the Federal Convention met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1787 to write the Constitution, monarchy was the world's primary kind of executive power. According to Michael Nelson in The Evolving Presidency, Virginia delegate James Madison (1751–1836) and most other delegates "feared both executive power and executive weakness, regarding the former as the seed of tyranny [extreme rule by one person] and the latter as the well-spring of anarchy [great chaos]."

In writing the Constitution, the convention delegates strove to create a presidency that would be powerful enough to lead the country but not powerful enough to dominate it. The presidency they developed had roots in the histories of the Roman Republic, the British Empire, and the American colonies and states, in the writings of political philosophers, and in America's experience under the Articles of Confederation.

Roman Republic

The Roman Republic, which was centered around the city of Rome in what is now the country of Italy, lasted from around 509 BCE to 27 BCE. The governments that ruled during this period were republican to some extent. A republican government is one in which power rests with the people, who exercise that power through elected representatives. During the Roman Republic, all free adult men were generally allowed to vote to elect representatives. Women and slaves could not vote, so it was not a true republic.

The Roman Republic government that most influenced the men who wrote the U.S. Constitution was the one that operated until about 200 BCE. It contained two consuls, or diplomats, a Senate, and two assemblies of representatives. The consuls were military generals who served as executive heads of the republic, much like the president of the United States. The consuls were elected by the men who served in one of the two representative assemblies, called the centuriate assembly. The other representative assembly was called the tribal assembly. It made laws with unofficial approval by the Senate.

The Roman consuls had powers similar to their predecessors, the Roman kings, who served prior to 509 BCE. According to Forrest McDonald in The American Presidency, these included the power to assemble and command armies, spend public money on government projects, serve as religious leaders, call the Senate and assemblies into session, preside over the Senate, propose legislation, and judge serious crimes.

The powers of the U.S. presidency under the Constitution resemble the powers of the consuls in many respects. The president is commander in chief of the armed forces. The president has a constitutional duty to recommend legislation to Congress. The vice president, who serves under the president, is president of the Senate, with power to cast the deciding vote when the whole Senate is evenly split.

A consul's relationship with the Roman Senate and assemblies resembled the president's relationship with Congress under the Constitution. The consuls had to get approval from the Senate before going to war. In practice, laws proposed by the consuls had to pass both an assembly and the Senate to become law. The consuls were responsible for administering the Republic's finances.

Similarly under the Constitution, the president is supposed to lead troops into war only after Congress declares war. (In practice, though, most American military action happens without a congressional declaration of war. Presidents often think they have to protect America's interests in other regions of the world without the long, public process of congressional action. In addition, a declaration of war has consequences under international laws that America can avoid by going to war without declaring war.) Bills proposed by the president become law only after they pass both chambers of Congress, namely the Senate and the House of Representatives. Finally, the president administers the nation's finances through the Department of the Treasury.

British Empire

The government of the British Empire was a primary model for the U.S. Constitution. To be sure, America had separated from Great Britain in 1776 to escape the tyranny of King George III (1738–1820; reigned 1760–1820) and the British Parliament, or legislature. Many of the delegates at the Federal Convention, however, considered the eighteenth-century constitutional monarchy of Great Britain to be history's finest example of powerful government upon which to build.

The constitutional monarchy of Great Britain had three main bodies: the monarch, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The monarch, such as a king or queen, was the symbolic head of the empire. He or she had the power to make laws with Parliament, a legislative body composed of the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The monarch also had the power to execute the kingdom's laws.

The House of Lords was the chamber of Parliament that represented the noblemen and wealthy class of Britain. The other chamber, the House of Commons, represented the merchants and working people of Britain, also known as the common people.

The Guarantee Clause

Article IV, Section 4, of the Constitution begins, "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." A republican government is one in which power is held by the people, who elect public servants to represent them in the bodies of government.

Just as the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution to prevent monarchy in the federal government, they wrote the Guarantee Clause to prevent monarchies in the state governments. According to the Records of the Federal Convention (as reprinted in The Founders' Constitution), Virginia delegate Edmund Randolph (1753–1813) said at the convention on June 11, 1787, "A republican government must be the basis of our national union; and no state in it ought to have it in their power to change its government to a monarchy."

America's Founding Fathers used Britain's separation of powers as a model for the U.S. Constitution. They strove, however, to make America's legislature, Congress, strong enough to prevent a president from becoming a monarchical tyrant. (A tyrant is a person who rules in an oppressive manner without regard to the people's rights.) In doing so, the Founding Fathers were mindful of Great Britain's history of tyrants, such as King John (1167–1216; reigned 1199–1216) and King James II (1633–1701; reigned 1685–88).

Magna Carta

In 1215, King John of England taxed his subjects and the Church of England heavily to cover the expenses of government. That year, church authorities and the king's barons (part of the English nobility) threatened a civil war if the king did not sign a document to proclaim and protect their freedoms. That document was called the Magna Carta, or Great Charter.

The Magna Carta protected the rights of free men only, and even free men would not truly be able to enforce their rights for many centuries. The principles of the Magna Carta, however, became mythic and influenced the design of the presidency in the U.S. Constitution.

One of the president's chief duties, for instance, is to enforce the nation's laws. The Constitution, as amended by the Bill of Rights in 1791, limits this enforcement power. (The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments, or changes, to the Constitution.) Under the Bill of Rights, the president's enforcement agencies may not arrest a person except in accordance with the law. An accused criminal must be tried by a jury of citizens from the community. Punishment for criminals is not supposed to be cruel or unusual. Finally, the executive branch cannot take away a person's property without giving fair compensation for it. All of these restrictions have roots in the liberties proclaimed by the Magna Carta of 1215.

English Bill of Rights

The Magna Carta did not end tyrannical government in Great Britain. From 1685 to 1688, King James II violated the religious freedoms and other liberties of his people. After James II was deposed, or removed as king, in what became known as the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89, King William III (1650–1702; reigned 1689–1702) and Queen Mary II (1662–1694; reigned 1689–94) shared the throne, but were restricted in their powers by a new English Bill of Rights. Adopted by the British Parliament in 1689, the English Bill of Rights strengthened Parliament's power in the constitutional monarchy.

The Bill of Rights influenced the design of the U.S. presidency mainly in terms of restricting the powers of the presidency. For example, the English Bill of Rights forbade the monarch from independently, without consultation, suspending British laws at his or her pleasure. Similarly, the U.S. Constitution says the president "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

The English Bill of Rights made it illegal for the British monarch to spend money on projects not approved by Parliament. The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to appropriate, or assign, money to government projects.

The English Bill of Rights made it illegal for British monarchs to maintain standing armies during peacetime without Parliament's approval. The Constitution gives Congress the sole power to create and make the rules for the army and navy, leaving to the president the job of commanding the armed forces under Congress's rules.

Monarchical power in the eighteenth century

From 1765 to 1769, an English scholar named Sir William Blackstone (1723–1780) published a four-volume treatise, or essay, called Commentaries on the Laws of England. It contained a thorough description of English law at the time, including the powers of the British monarch. Most of the men who wrote the U.S. Constitution two decades later were familiar with Blackstone's work.

Despite restrictions rooted in the Magna Carta and the English Bill of Rights, British monarchs had great power. This included almost absolute power over foreign relations. British monarchs could send and receive ambassadors, or representatives, to and from foreign nations. They could also negotiate treaties, or formal agreements, with those nations. In addition, monarchs commanded England's military forces. The president of the United States has all these powers, too, except that the Senate must approve treaties by a two-thirds vote.

In domestic affairs, British monarchs had the power to appoint judges to the courts and to enforce the laws made by Parliament. They also could issue pardons. A pardon officially excuses someone from being punished for violating the law. Under the U.S. Constitution, the president has these powers, too, except that the Senate must approve the presidential appointment of judges by a simple majority vote.

Political philosophers

The men who wrote the Constitution in 1787 had read the works of well-known political philosophers. According to Forrest McDonald in The American Presidency, the Founding Fathers sometimes had little regard for political philosophy, preferring instead to rely on the actual experience of history. There is no doubt, however, that in designing the U.S. presidency, the convention delegates used ideas from political philosophers, including John Locke (1632–1704), Charles Montesquieu (1689–1755), and Jean Louis Delolme (1740–1806).

Locke and the separation of powers

John Locke was an English scientist and philosopher who helped launch the Age of Enlightenment. The Age of Enlightenment was a period in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries during which men used reason to change the study of philosophy and politics.

Locke's most famous political work was Two Treatises of Government, which he wrote from 1679 to 1681. The second treatise, published in 1689 at the height of England's Glorious Revolution, contained his theory of how government should be organized. As reprinted in The Founders' Constitution, Locke argued in the second treatise that the lawmaking branch of government must be separate from the executive branch:

Because it may be too great a temptation to humane frailty apt to grasp at Power, for the same Persons who have the Power of making Laws, to have also in their hands the power to execute them, whereby they may exempt themselves from Obedience to the Laws they make, and suit the Law, both in its making and execution, to their own private advantage, and thereby come to have a distinct interest from the rest of the Community, contrary to the end of Society and Government. . . .

But because the Laws, that are at once, and in a short time made, have a constant and lasting force, and need a perpetual [ongoing] Execution, or an attendance thereunto: Therefore 'tis necessary there should be a Power always in being, which should see to the Execution of the laws that are made, and remain in force. And thus the Legislative and Executive Power come often to be separated. . . .

In all Cases, whilst the Government subsists [exists], the Legislative is the Supream Power. For what can give Laws to another, must needs be superiour to him.

The U.S. Constitution follows this advice by giving Congress the power to make the laws, and the president the power to execute them. Although the president can veto, or reject, laws passed by Congress, Congress can override a veto by a two-thirds vote in both chambers. Hence the president, at least in theory, has less lawmaking power than Congress, making Congress superior to the president in this regard.

Montesquieu and the separation of powers

Charles Montesquieu was a French philosopher. His book The Spirit of Laws, which was published in 1748, influenced the men who wrote the Constitution four decades later. Like Locke, Montesquieu (as reprinted in The Founders' Constitution) wrote of the importance of separating the executive power of government from the legislative and judicial powers:

When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehensions [concerns] may rise, lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner.

Again, there is no liberty, if the judiciary power be not separated from the legislative and executive. Were it joined with the legislative, the life and liberty of the subject would be exposed to arbitrary control; for the judge would then be the legislator. Were it joined to the executive power, the judge might behave with violence and oppression.

There would be an end of everything, were the same man or body, whether of the nobles or of the people, to exercise those three powers, that of enacting laws, that of executing the public resolutions [orders], and of trying the causes [court cases] of individuals.

Montesquieu's formula appears in the Constitution, which gives Congress the power to make the laws, the president the power to enforce the laws, and the Supreme Court the power to hear court cases under the laws.

Delolme and the power of the presidency

Jean Louis Delolme, from the city of Geneva, wrote a book called The Constitution of England; Or, An Account of the English Government. The book was published in many editions during the 1780s, when America adopted the U.S. Constitution. According to McDonald, Delolme was popular with many Americans, including Founding Father Alexander Hamilton (1757–1804), because he was a strong supporter of both republicanism and the constitutional monarchy of Great Britain.

A number of Delolme's political philosophies ended up in the Constitution. Fearing tyranny, many Americans, including some delegates to the Constitution, believed the executive power should be split between two or more people, perhaps serving as a council. Delolme's writings recommended placing the executive power in one person. He felt the members of an executive council would end up in a struggle for supreme power. The delegates settled on placing the executive power in one person, the president of the United States.

Delolme also wrote about the role of the executive branch in crafting legislation. He supported the British system, under which the monarch could recommend legislation to Parliament but could not introduce legislation personally. Under the Constitution, the president has the authority to recommend legislation to Congress, but Congress has the power to write the laws. In practice in both England and America, however, the chief executives have close relationships with many members of the legislative branches, who introduce legislation written by the executives' advisors.

American colonies

When the delegates wrote the Constitution in 1787, they had 150 years of experience under colonial and state governments from which to learn. Generally speaking, when the colonies were part of Great Britain, each had a governor, a council, and an assembly. The governors were appointed by Great Britain and wielded the executive power of government. Governors appointed judges and often acted as a supreme court of appeals in court cases. The same person sometimes served as governor of two colonies.

The councils were legislative bodies that represented the interests of Great Britain. Councils had a role in the executive branch of government and often served as the supreme court of appeals. The assemblies were legislative bodies elected by the free men of the colonies.

A colonial governor had executive powers that resembled the powers of the British monarch. In the area of foreign affairs, he served as commander in chief of the colony's armed forces, often negotiating with or declaring war against Native American tribes. Similarly, the American president is commander in chief of the national armed forces and manages the country's relations with foreign nations. (Congress, however, is supposed to have the sole power to declare war.)

In the realm of domestic affairs, governors exerted legislative power with the ability to veto any law passed by the assembly and council. The assembly and council could not override a veto. According to the Records of the Federal Convention (as reprinted in The Founders' Constitution), delegate Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) described the bribery that often resulted from the executive veto power in the colony of Pennsylvania:

The negative [veto power] of the Governor was constantly made use of to extort [obtain by threat] money. No good law whatever could be passed without a private bargain with him. An increase of his salary, or some donation, was always made a condition; till at last it became regular practice, to have orders in his favor on the Treasury, presented along with the bills to be signed, so that he might actually receive the former before he should sign the latter. When the Indians were scalping the western people, and notice of it arrived, the concurrence [agreement] of the Governor in the means of self-defence could not be got, till it was agreed that his Estate [property] should be exempted [excused] from taxation, so that the people were to fight for the security of his property, whilst he was to bear no share of the [tax] burden.

During the 1700s, power struggles between governors and assemblies intensified in the colonies. By 1748, according to McDonald, assemblies had used their appropriations power (the allocation of money to government programs) to take control of the important administrative departments, including the military. The assemblies even used the appropriations power to restrict the salaries of governors to bend them to their will.

The men who wrote the Constitution sought to avoid these kinds of problems in the U.S. presidency. They gave the president the power to veto laws of Congress, but gave Congress the power to override presidential vetoes by a two-thirds vote in both chambers. They also wrote the Constitution to guarantee every president a salary that Congress could not raise or lower during the president's term in office.

American states

On July 4, 1776, the thirteen American colonies officially separated from Great Britain by signing the American Declaration of Independence (see box). Written primarily by Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), the Declaration contained a list of the colonists' grievances against Great Britain and its monarch, King George III.

According to McDonald, King George III had been popular with the colonists until shortly before the American Revolutionary War (1775–83). Many Americans thought the British Parliament or the King's corrupt ministers were the main source of their problems with the mother country. Monarchical tradition held that the king was an agent of God who could do no wrong, and some people liked to cling to this myth.

By the time of the Declaration of Independence, King George III had sent troops to America to fight the colonists. This destroyed the love many Americans had for their king, and left them feeling betrayed. Viewing the monarch in this light, Americans could see how he was part of a government that was passing unfair laws for America and striking down laws that the colonists had passed for themselves. These were among the grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence.

As newly independent states, the thirteen American colonies had to set up state governments. The antimonarchical spirit that fueled the Revolution affected the process. Ten of the thirteen colonies adopted state constitutions around the time of independence. All ten made the legislature the most powerful branch of the government. South Carolina's constitution gave the chief executive the power to veto laws passed by the legislature, but the legislature took this power away in 1778. Pennsylvania's constitution did not even provide for a chief executive officer. Instead, it gave executive power to a council of twelve elected officials.

The state executive position that most resembled the eventual U.S. presidency was the governor of New York. This person served on a council that could veto laws passed by the legislature. The legislature, however, could override a veto by two-thirds majorities in both chambers. The governor was required to give the legislature reports on the condition of New York and to make recommendations for legislation. The governor could execute the laws, grant pardons and reprieves, conduct relations with other states, and command New York's armed forces. The president of the United States has similar powers under the Constitution of 1787.

Articles of Confederation

Revolutionary figure Thomas Paine (1737–1809) captured the antimonarchical spirit in his pamphlet Common Sense. Published in January 1776, the pamphlet criticized the British system of checks and balances as "farcical," or absurd. Paine said the only reason the House of Commons should need to check the king was if the king could not be trusted. If the king could not be trusted, then it was absurd to give the king power to veto the laws of Parliament.

Paine suggested that the American colonies set up their own constitutional government without a chief executive officer. This is exactly what they did when the Continental Congress wrote the Articles of Confederation in 1777. (The Continental Congress was the first American government, an organization of delegates representing the American colonies and states during most of the Revolutionary War.)

The Articles of Confederation gave all the powers of the federal government to Congress, a representative body of delegates from the thirteen states. The powers Congress received included some that the president would get under the Constitution of 1787. Congress, for example, could appoint ambassadors to, and make treaties with, foreign nations. Congress also had the power to direct the operations of America's military and naval forces.

The United States officially began to operate under the Articles of Confederation in 1781. Congress created four departments to oversee certain aspects of the government: foreign affairs, finance, war, and marine. Congress appointed men to be the heads, or secretaries, of each department. The departments were forerunners of the Departments of State, Treasury, and War that would operate under President George Washington (1732–1799; served 1789–1797) beginning in 1789. (The Department of the Navy was not set up until 1798.)

Congress had many problems during the 1780s. It lacked power to raise taxes, relying instead on borrowed money and taxes voluntarily raised by the states. This left the government always short of money. In June 1783, a group of four hundred to five hundred American soldiers surrounded Congress in Philadelphia, demanding pay for their service in the Revolutionary War. The delegates lacked a ready army to command for their defense, and eventually left Philadelphia unharmed but shaken.

The Declaration of Independence

On July 4, 1776, delegates from the thirteen British colonies in America signed the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson, thirty-three years old at the time, wrote the document to explain to the world why the colonies were taking this step. Most of the Declaration contains a list of grievances against the British monarch, King George III, and against his ministers and Parliament, the British legislature.

The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations [illegal actions], all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.

He has refused his Assent [approval] to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish [give up] the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable [priceless] to them, and formidable [threatening] to Tyrants only.

He has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository [place] of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing [tiring] them into Compliance with his Measures.

He has dissolved [broken up] Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.

He has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation [destruction], have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining for the mean time exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions [disturbances] within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migration hither [here], and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations [grants] of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure [holding] of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.

He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others [Parliament] to subject us to a Jurisdiction [governmental power] foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters [for colonial government], abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated [eliminated] Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.

He is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries [hired soldiers] to compleat the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy [treachery], scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic Insurrections [rebellions] against us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress [relief] in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

During the winter of 1786–87, a revolt against the state government in Massachusetts, called Shays's Rebellion, fueled Congress's fear even more. The rebellion was a protest named for a farmer and local officeholder named Daniel Shays (c. 1747–1825). A U.S. soldier in the American Revolutionary War (1775–83), he led one of the regiments in Shays's Rebellion. The rebels, about two or three thousand in number, were protesting the government's treatment of debtors, people who owed other people money. Many of these debtors were farmers like Shays. Secretary of War Henry Knox (1750–1806), however, created a different story. According to McDonald, Knox told George Washington that the rebels were twelve thousand to fifteen thousand trained, armed "Robin Hoods" who planned to rob the Bank of Massachusetts and march southward, taking property from the rich and giving it to the poor.

Events such as these planted the seeds of desire for a stronger executive branch. In February 1787, with many states wishing to revise the Articles of Confederation, Congress passed a resolution for a federal convention to be held in Philadelphia in May. Delegates to the convention were supposed to revise the Articles of Confederation to make the federal government stronger. By September, the delegates had scrapped the Articles entirely, drafting a whole new Constitution for the United States of America. Article II of the Constitution created the U.S. presidency.

For More Information


Beard, Charles A. American Government and Politics. 10th ed. New York: Macmillan Co., 1949.

Kelly, Alfred H., and Winfred A. Harbison. The American Constitution: Its Origins and Development. 5th ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1976.

Kurland, Philip B., and Ralph Lerner. The Founders' Constitution. 5 vols. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1987.

Lintcott, Andrew. The Constitution of the Roman Republic. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999.

McClenaghan, William A. Magruder's American Government 2003. Needham, MA: Prentice Hall School Group, 2002.

McDonald, Forrest. The American Presidency. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1994.

Milkis, Sidney M., and Michael Nelson. The American Presidency: Origins & Development. 3rd ed. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1999.

Millar, Fergus. The Roman Republic in Political Thought. Hanover and London: Brandeis University Press and Historical Society of Israel, 2002.

Nelson, Michael, ed. The Evolving Presidency. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1999.

Roelofs, H. Mark. The Poverty of American Politics. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998.

Volkomer, Walter E. American Government. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1998.

Zinn, Howard. A People's History of the United States. New York: HarperCollins, 2003.

About this article

Historic Roots of the Executive Branch

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article


Historic Roots of the Executive Branch