Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Joseph Ellis, the Founders, and the Presidency

Joseph Ellis, a Pulitzer Prize winning author and scholar on the founding era, says that the Founding Fathers would likely see the increased power of the presidency since 1945 as being a "perversion" of what they intended.

What do you think?


Corazon said...

I think Ellis brings up a very valid point. Most of the Founding Fathers would be shocked to see how much power the Executive has in this country (not to mention how massive the federal government has become overall). I will say, however, that not ALL the Founding Fathers would be upset about the immense powers of the Executive branch in our modern era. I think Alexander Hamilton would be delighted to see the massive bureaucracy of the federal government that exists in America today. Remember, he wanted the presidency to be a life-long position, in which the Executive branch was celebrated almost as an American monarchy. Hamilton also wanted to do away with the states, giving the federal government (and in his mind the executive branch) much more power. With the exception of Hamilton (and maybe a couple other smaller figures), Ellis is absolutely right. One only needs to look at the writings of Jefferson, Washington, Madison, etc to confirm what Ellis has said. A great book that discusses a lot of this is Gordon Wood’s “Revolutionary Characters.”

Lindsey Shuman said...

I second Corazon's comments.

Lindsey Shuman said...

Here is an interesting question for you all: If the Founding Fathers were against big executive power-and there is no doubt that most of them were-then how did Jefferson justify the Louisianna Purchase? I doubt anyone is against it now, but back then it caused quite a stir, and Jefferson had to jump over some major hoops. A lot op people thought it was illegal.