The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton

The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton

Language: English

Pages: 904

ISBN: 0195176162

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The American President is an enthralling account of American presidential actions from the assassination of William McKinley in 1901 to Bill Clinton's last night in office in January 2001. William Leuchtenburg, one of the great presidential historians of the century, portrays each of the presidents in a chronicle sparkling with anecdote and wit.

Leuchtenburg offers a nuanced assessment of their conduct in office, preoccupations, and temperament. His book presents countless moments of high drama: FDR hurling defiance at the "economic royalists" who exploited the poor; ratcheting tension for JFK as Soviet vessels approach an American naval blockade; a grievously wounded Reagan joking with nurses while fighting for his life.

This book charts the enormous growth of presidential power from its lowly state in the late nineteenth century to the imperial presidency of the twentieth. That striking change was manifested both at home in periods of progressive reform and abroad, notably in two world wars, Vietnam, and the war on terror.

Leuchtenburg sheds light on presidents battling with contradictory forces. Caught between maintaining their reputation and executing their goals, many practiced deceits that shape their image today. But he also reveals how the country's leaders pulled off magnificent achievements worthy of the nation's pride.

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case in the interest of the people against slavery,” he said, and, during the 1904 campaign, Roosevelt claimed that the Northern Securities prosecution was “one of the great achievements of my administration,” because “through it we emphasized . . . that the most powerful men in the country were held to accountability before the law.” Not since Andrew Jackson had a president brought a gigantic financial agglomeration to heel. “If Roosevelt had never done anything Theodore Roosevelt and

images. Despite his liabilities, Taft won by more than a million votes— an outcome taken to be less a personal triumph than a testament to the 58 | The American President strength of the Republican Party and an affirmation of the performance of Theodore Roosevelt. • No one ever failed to let William Howard Taft know that he could thank Theodore Roosevelt for putting him in the White House. In a worshipful letter, he wrote the former president, who was off hunting big game in Africa: “When

only in retaliation for German provocations but also because he desired a seat at the peace table so that he could shape postwar arrangements. If America remained neutral, the most he could expect, he said, was to “call through a crack in the door.” The time had come, he had stated in his inaugural address two weeks earlier, for America to step onto the world stage. “We are provincials no longer,” he declared. 94 | The American President On the night of April 2, Wilson went before Congress,

with making the United States the quartermaster of the Allies, he insisted on an all-out commitment to mobilizing industry on a scale never before seen and dispatching an American Expeditionary Force of nearly two million men to the battlefields of France. With­ out  seeking congressional approval, Wilson sent thousands more to Vladivostok and Archangel after the October Revolution in Russia. In the nineteen months the war lasted, the Wilson administration spent more than the total sum that had

an institutional sense plummeted to the lowest point of power and prestige in its history.” If Johnson had been ejected, his successor, under the law at that time, would have been the aggressively partisan president pro tempore of the US Senate, Ben Wade. “Had the impeachment succeeded,” the historian Sir Denis Brogan has written, “had Congress tasted blood by putting one of its own . . . into the White House, who can say what would have happened to the presidential office?” Removal of Johnson,

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