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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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George Washington

George Washington

(p.39) I George Washington
The Unitary Executive

Steven G. Calabresi

Christopher S. Yoo

Yale University Press

This chapter describes George Washington's strong support for the unitary executive, which sprouted from events that occurred long before he became the first president of the United States. In particular, Washington's views on the subject were greatly shaped by his experiences during the Revolutionary War, when several committees of the Continental Congress served as the army's plural executive head. These ineffective multiple committees led Washington to plead throughout the war for the creation of a single executive structure that would have the power and the duty to “act with dispatch and energy,” and to complain repeatedly about “the inconvenience of depending upon a number of men and different channels” for supplies, and how allowing the executive power to be held “in commission in several hands” led to “Delay,” “Waste,” and “unpunishable Neglect of Duty.”

Keywords:   first president, George Washington, Revolutionary War, Continental Congress, army's plural executive, single executive structure

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