Cover: The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution, from Harvard University PressCover: The Cabinet in HARDCOVER

The Cabinet

George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution

Add to Cart

Product Details

HARDCOVER

$29.95 • £23.95 • €27.00

ISBN 9780674986480

Publication Date: 04/07/2020

Trade

432 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

11 photos

Belknap Press

World

On Tuesday, October 13, at 6:00 p.m. EDT, watch Lindsay Chervinsky discuss The Cabinet at a live online event hosted by the Athenæum of Philadelphia. Registration is required.

The U.S. Constitution never established a presidential cabinet—the delegates to the Constitutional Convention explicitly rejected the idea. So how did George Washington create one of the most powerful bodies in the federal government?

On November 26, 1791, George Washington convened his department secretaries—Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Knox, and Edmund Randolph—for the first cabinet meeting. Why did he wait two and a half years into his presidency to call his cabinet? Because the U.S. Constitution did not create or provide for such a body. Washington was on his own.

Faced with diplomatic crises, domestic insurrections, and constitutional challenges—and finding congressional help lacking—Washington decided he needed a group of advisors he could turn to. He modeled his new cabinet on the councils of war he had led as commander of the Continental Army. In the early days, the cabinet served at the president’s pleasure. Washington tinkered with its structure throughout his administration, at times calling regular meetings, at other times preferring written advice and individual discussions.

Lindsay M. Chervinsky reveals the far-reaching consequences of Washington’s choice. The tensions in the cabinet between Hamilton and Jefferson heightened partisanship and contributed to the development of the first party system. And as Washington faced an increasingly recalcitrant Congress, he came to treat the cabinet as a private advisory body to summon as needed, greatly expanding the role of the president and the executive branch.

From Our Blog

Jacket: Spacefarers: How Humans Will Settle the Moon, Mars, and Beyond, by Christopher Wanjek, from Harvard University Press

Fall Reading List

Fall is the perfect time to settle in with a good book for our Executive Editor for Science, Janice Audet. Here she suggests some recent and forthcoming books she finds informative and fascinating. The fall season shepherds in the beginning of a new school season, a time to begin or resume routines and learn new things. The fall season can also be a time to take stock