The Presidency and the American State: Leadership and Decision Making in the Adams, Grant, and Taft Administrations

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University of Virginia Press, Oct 12, 2023 - History - 352 pages

Although many associate Franklin D. Roosevelt with the inauguration of the robust, dominant American presidency, the roots of his executive leadership style go much deeper. Examining the presidencies of John Quincy Adams, Ulysses S. Grant, and William Howard Taft, Stephen Rockwell traces emerging connections between presidential action and a robust state over the course of the nineteenth century and the Progressive Era.

By analyzing these three undervalued presidents’ savvy deployment of state authority and their use of administrative leadership, legislative initiatives, direct executive action, and public communication, Rockwell makes a compelling case that the nineteenth-century presidency was significantly more developed and interventionist than previously thought. As he shows for a significant number of policy arenas, the actions of Adams, Grant, and Taft touched the lives of millions of Americans and laid the foundations of what would become the American century.



Process Principled Innovation
President John Quincy Adams and the American State in the 1820s
President Grant and the American State after the Civil
Grant Reconstruction
President Taft and the 125YearOld American State
Taft the Builder
The NonDevelopment of the American Presidency and the
The American State and the Understudied Presidency

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About the author (2023)

Stephen J. Rockwell is Professor of Political Science at St. Joseph’s University, New York, and the author of Indian Affairs and the Administrative State in the Nineteenth Century.

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