The Development of the American Presidency  book cover
4th Edition

The Development of the American Presidency

ISBN 9781032070018
Published May 3, 2022 by Routledge
686 Pages 45 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

A full understanding of the institution of the American presidency requires us to examine how it developed from the founding to the present. This developmental lens, analyzing how historical turns have shaped the modern institution, allows for a richer, more nuanced understanding. The Development of the American Presidency pays great attention to that historical weight but is organized by the topics and concepts relevant to political science, with the constitutional origins and political development of the presidency its central focus. Through comprehensive and in-depth coverage, Richard J. Ellis looks at how the presidency has evolved in relation to the public, to Congress, to the executive branch, and to the law, showing at every step how different aspects of the presidency have followed distinct trajectories of change. Each chapter promotes active learning, beginning with a narrative account of some illustrative puzzle that brings to life a central concept. A wealth of photos, figures, and tables allow for the visual presentations of concepts.

New to the Fourth Edition

  • Explicit and expanded attention to the role of norms in shaping and constraining presidential power, with special focus on Trump’s norm-breaking and Biden’s efforts to shore up norms;
  • Enhanced focus on the prospects for institutional reform, including in the electoral college, presidential relations with Congress, war powers, and the selection of Supreme Court justices;
  • A full reckoning with the Trump presidency and its significance for the future of American democracy, presidential rhetoric, the unilateral executive, and the administrative state;
  • Coverage of the first year of Biden’s presidency, including presidential rhetoric, relations with Congress and the bureaucracy, use of the war powers, and unilateral directives;
  • Comprehensive updating of debates about the removal power, including the Supreme Court cases of Seila Law v. CFPB and Collins v. Yellen;
  • In-depth exploration of the impact of partisan polarization on the legislative presidency and effective governance;
  • Analysis of the 2020 election and its aftermath;
  • Expanded discussion of impeachment to incorporate Trump’s two impeachments;
  • Examination of presidential emergency powers, with special attention to Trump’s border wall declaration;
  • Review of Biden’s and Trump’s impact on the judiciary;
  • Assessment of Biden’s and Trump’s place in political time.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Envisioning the Presidency


Chapter 2: Selecting the President

Chapter 3: The Public Presidency


Chapter 4: The Legislative Presidency

Chapter 5: The War-Making Presidency

Chapter 6: The Unilateral Presidency: Legislating from the Oval Office


Chapter 7: Organizing the Presidency

Chapter 8: The Removal Power, Party Patronage, and the Unitary Executive


Chapter 9: The President and the Judiciary

Chapter 10: Law and Executive Power


Chapter 11: Evaluating Presidents

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Richard J. Ellis is the Mark O. Hatfield Professor of Politics at Willamette University. He has been awarded Oregon Teacher of the Year from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, as well as numerous other awards for both scholarship and teaching. He is the author or editor of many books, including Old Tip vs. The Sly Fox: The 1840 Election and the Making of a Partisan Nation; Presidential Travel: The Journey from George Washington to George W. BushJudging Executive Power: Sixteen Supreme Court Cases That Have Shaped the American Presidency; Debating the Presidency: Conflicting Perspectives on the American Executive; and Historian in Chief: How Presidents Interpret the Past to Shape the Future.


Praise for the Fourth Edition

"A vivid examination of the historical development of the American presidency. This new edition gives students the foundation to answer in detailed and nuanced ways whether former President Trump was the culmination of the modern presidency or a clear break. Highly recommended for college courses on the presidency."

Terri Bimes, University of California, Berkeley

"A sweeping treatment of the American presidency by one of the country’s top presidential scholars. Based on over three decades of research and analysis, it uses descriptions, data, and anecdotes to demystify the American presidents. Ellis explains how the presidency and the executive branch have evolved over time in all aspects of the job: elections, rhetoric, influencing legislation, party relations, war-making, and the wielding of executive power itself. His writing style is not only insightful, but highly entertaining. Excellent for students at all levels, as well as general interest readers."

Mark Zachary Taylor, Georgia Institute of Technology

"The Development of the American Presidency is a terrific text for teaching. The book’s organization, blending historical and thematic approaches, makes for lively, readable chapters. The introductory puzzle with which each chapter begins effectively raises fundamental questions for classroom discussion. And Ellis’ own intellectual curiosity, attention to detail, and appreciation for history, important to every student’s development, come through on every page."

Michael G. Hagen,Temple University