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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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John Adams

John Adams

(p.58) 2 John Adams
The Unitary Executive

Steven G. Calabresi

Christopher S. Yoo

Yale University Press

This chapter shows President John Adams as one who was strongly committed to the theory of the unitary executive. In 1776, he warned that “the executive power cannot be well managed” by plural bodies such as legislatures “for want of two essential qualities, secrecy and dispatch.” Adams also supported shifting executive authority from the Continental Congress to departments headed by single executives, which would give the departments “an order, a constancy, and an activity which could never be expected from a committee of congress.” He noted in a letter to Jefferson in the summer of 1789 that he would “have given more power to the President, and less to the senate.”

Keywords:   executive power, President John Adams, plural bodies, legislatures, secrecy, dispatch, single executives, President, senate

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