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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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James K. Polk

James K. Polk

(p.139) 11 James K. Polk
The Unitary Executive

Steven G. Calabresi

Christopher S. Yoo

Yale University Press

This chapter focuses on James K. Polk, a Jacksonian Democrat from Tennessee who was often called “Young Hickory.” His assertive philosophy of presidential power mirrored that of his colloquial namesake Andrew Jackson. Polk articulated a Jacksonian notion that had infused the unitary executive arguments of Jackson's protest message vis-a-vis the Bank of the United States. This was the argument that the president was the only true representative of the whole people of the United States, because he alone had been elected by the whole people. Clearly, Polk was committed to the Jacksonian notion that the president was uniquely a spokesman of the whole people of the United States. As one historian has noted, he “undertook to make reality of the principle sought to be established by Washington, that the executive branch of the government was one whole to be managed by the President alone.”

Keywords:   true representative, James K. Polk, Jacksonian Democrat, Young Hickory, Andrew Jackson, Jacksonian notion, Jackson's protest message

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