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Washington's Government

Charting the Origins of the Federal Administration
Edited by Max M. Edling and Peter J. Kastor

BUY Cloth · 290 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813946139 · $45.00 · Jul 2021
BUY Ebook · 290 pp. · ISBN 9780813946146 · $45.00 · Jul 2021

Washington’s Government shows how George Washington’s administration—the subject of remarkably little previous study—was both more dynamic and more uncertain than previously thought. Rather than simply following a blueprint laid out by the Constitution, Washington and his advisors constructed over time a series of possible mechanisms for doing the nation’s business. The results were successful in some cases, disastrous in others. Yet at the end of Washington’s second term, there was no denying that the federal government had achieved remarkable results. As Americans debate the nature of good national governance two and a half centuries after the founding, this volume’s insights appear timelier than ever.

ContributorsLindsay M. Chervinsky, Iona College * Gautham Rao, American University * Kate Elizabeth Brown, Huntington University * Stephen J. Rockwell, St. Joseph’s College * Andrew J. B. Fagal, Princeton University, * Daniel Hulsebosch, New York University * Rosemarie Zagarri, George Mason University


George Washington in 1783 saw a nation desperately in need of "a supreme power to regulate and govern the general concerns of the confederated Republic," a need that was met—on paper—with the Constitution of 1787. This important and insightful volume explores how those paper powers came to be transformed into a functioning federal government, one that could take on the many challenges facing the new American nation.

Kevin Butterfield, Washington Library at Mount Vernon · The Making of Tocqueville’s America: Law and Association in the Early United States

Washington’s Government brings together original scholarship on the Washington administration—an important yet oddly neglected topic. The scholarship is fresh and imaginative, and the writing is clear and accessible.

Richard R. John, Columbia University · Network Nation: Inventing American Telecommunications

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