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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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Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce

(p.152) 14 Franklin Pierce
The Unitary Executive

Steven G. Calabresi

Christopher S. Yoo

Yale University Press

This chapter focuses on Franklin Pierce, one of the worst presidents in American history. Pierce was totally dominated by his Southern cabinet members, resulting in a “government by cabinet.” Notwithstanding his weaknesses both as a man and as president, he was a committed Jacksonian who, as a matter of political philosophy, subscribed to the broad views of executive power espoused by the Democratic Party for the previous twenty years. Pierce believed in the presidential removal power, opposed a national bank and internal improvements, and maintained all the other elements of the Jacksonian creed with great fervor. The Democrats, for their part, began trying to associate him with Andrew Jackson as early as the election campaign of 1852, a period of adulation that was short lived. Though his supporters labeled him “Young Hickory of the Granite Hills,” after the election no one ever compared Pierce to Andrew Jackson again.

Keywords:   worst presidents, Franklin Pierce, Southern cabinet members, government by cabinet, Jacksonian, Democratic Party, Andrew Jackson

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