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The Unitary ExecutivePresidential Power from Washington to Bush$
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Steven G. Calabresi and Christopher S. Yoo

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780300121261

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300121261.001.0001

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William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison

(p.130) 9 William Henry Harrison
The Unitary Executive

Steven G. Calabresi

Christopher S. Yoo

Yale University Press

This chapter describes the similarities between the Jackson administration and the Whig presidency of William Henry Harrison, particularly the same aggressive defense of executive power that is often associated with the Jacksonian Democrats. This was surprising, since the Whig Party's self-proclaimed raison d'etre was belief in a limited and weak executive branch. Many observers had assumed that the election of Harrison would mark a sharp reversal in the president's position with regard to the unitary executive. Surely, given the vehement opposition of the Whigs to presidential removals during the Jackson and Van Buren administrations and Harrison's preelection dedication to strict limitations on presidential power, the Harrison administration would have little choice but to adhere to the limited vision of the executive power it had previously so vigorously espoused. However, despite the best efforts of Whig luminaries Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, Harrison clung steadfastly to a belief in the assertive use of the executive power.

Keywords:   Jackson administration, Whig presidency, William Henry Harrison, aggressive defense, executive power, Jacksonian Democrats, Whig luminaries, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster

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