Saturday, October 09, 2004

Teaching about the U.S. Presidency

Teaching about the U.S. Presidency - Provides full-text access to the ERIC Digest of this name which gives advice to teachers about instructing students on the American Presidency.

From the site:

The role of the executive in the United States government has changed as office holders shaped the presidency and interpreted their powers in various ways. All members of the Constitutional Convention considered George Washington to embody the image of the American president. His leadership and commitment to the United States brought legitimacy to the newly formed government. Two of Washington's cabinet members, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, differed in their views of the role of the government, and their clashing political philosophies have characterized leadership styles adopted by subsequent presidents.

Hamilton called for an active government, and strong leadership exhibited by such presidents as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Lyndon Johnson hearkens back to the Hamiltonian view of government. The charismatic personality of Franklin Roosevelt (FDR) undoubtedly enabled him to lead the United States during the Depression and World War II. FDR demonstrated strong leadership by expanding the role of the federal government through the New Deal. FDR's successor, Harry Truman, also exhibited strong leadership. Truman made tough foreign policy decisions that FDR postponed, and policy makers in the Truman administration outlined strategies of containment that defined and shaped the outcomes of the Cold War.

By contrast, the Jeffersonian style of leadership was associated with a less active government. Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan demonstrated Jeffersonian tendencies during their presidencies. Hoover, for example, initially refused to offer federal aid during the Depression because he believed the government should limit its interference in people's lives. Reagan's leadership style has been interpreted as a reaction to an excessively active government, as he sought to curtail federal programs and return power to the states.

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