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

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


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.

Similar Books

ISBN 10: 0674970683
ISBN 13: 9780674970687

31 May 2019
Bruce Ackerman

ISBN 10: 0674051211
ISBN 13: 9780674051218

26 Jan 2018
Paul Finkelman

ISBN 10: 0674948416
ISBN 13: 9780674948419

18 May 1993
Bruce A. Ackerman

ISBN 10: 0674983947
ISBN 13: 9780674983946

27 Jul 2018
Bruce Ackerman

ISBN 10: 0674725840
ISBN 13: 9780674725843

03 Sep 2013
Bruce A. Ackerman

ISBN 10: 0300027575
ISBN 13: 9780300027570

10 Sep 1981
Bruce A. Ackerman

ISBN 10: 0700617868
ISBN 13: 9780700617869

10 Mar 2011
Gerard N. Magliocca

ISBN 10: 0674003977
ISBN 13: 9780674003972

15 Sep 2000
Bruce A. Ackerman

ISBN 10: 0226237966
ISBN 13: 9780226237961

01 Oct 2004
Daniel A. Farber

ISBN 10: 0271013176
ISBN 13: 9780271013176

01 Sep 1994
David K. Nichols

ISBN 10: 0674689372
ISBN 13: 9780674689374

11 Jun 1997
Stephen Skowronek

ISBN 10: 0674064364
ISBN 13: 9780674064362

18 Sep 2012
Daniel T. Rodgers