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Untrodden GroundHow Presidents Interpret the Constitution$
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Harold H. Bruff

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226211107

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226211244.001.0001

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Summoned by My Country

Summoned by My Country

Washington and Adams

(p.25) Chapter Two Summoned by My Country
Untrodden Ground

Harold H. Bruff

University of Chicago Press

President George Washington established many enduring constitutional precedents as he guided the establishment and early operation of the executive branch. These precedents included a mostly unitary structure of the executive branch. Washington shaped the office of attorney general to provide him sympathetic legal advice. With the Neutrality Proclamation, he asserted control of foreign policy within the limits of existing treaties and statutes. He interpreted treaties, entered executive agreements, and established executive power to recognize foreign nations. He did not use the Senate to advise in advance to treaties, but took its advice for nominations. He began the practice of asserting executive privilege against congressional demands for documents. His establishment of the two-term limit held for many years. President John Adams conducted a limited war with France and sponsored the oppressive Alien and Sedition Acts. He also nominated John Marshall for chief justice, extending his constitutional legacy.

Keywords:   George Washington, John Adams, Neutrality Proclamation, Alien and Sedition Acts, executive privilege, advice and consent, attorney general, foreign policy, two-term limit

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