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The Making of America: From Washington to Lincoln (Boca Raton)

April 02, 2017 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM


10:00 AM - 12:30 PM
From Washington to Lincoln: The Presidency Emerges

Louis Masur / Rutgers University

After the Revolution, Americans mistrusted executive power. They had rejected monarchical authority and had no intention of replacing it; the Articles of Confederation made no provision for an executive branch. When George Washington became president, politicians debated what to call him. Thomas Jefferson best expressed the anxiety over a centralized executive when he declared, "that government is best which governs least."
But over time, the Presidency became more powerful, so much so that Abraham Lincoln employed executive authority in unprecedented ways to help win the Civil War. In this presentation, we will trace the transformation of the Presidency from Washington to Lincoln and discuss how certain modern features of the office first emerged.

Louis Masur / Rutgers University
Louis Masur is a Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University. He received outstanding teaching awards from Rutgers, Trinity College, and the City College of New York, and won the Clive Prize for Excellence in Teaching from Harvard University. He is the author of many books including "Lincoln's Last Speech," which was inspired by a talk he presented at One Day University. His essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, and Chicago Tribune. He is an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society and serves on the Historians' Council of the Gettysburg Foundation.


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