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How Did Executive Overreach Come About? How Was It Excused? Woodrow Wilson’s Role

Discussion in 'Political Debate & Discussion' started by Revmitchell, Apr 24, 2015.

  1. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Feb 18, 2006
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    In late January 1904 the president of Princeton University stepped to the podium of The Outlook Club in Montclair, New Jersey. Today, university presidents get into the news when some scandal erupts, but at the beginning of the last century they often enjoyed the status of what we now call “public intellectuals”—frequently quoted in the newspapers on the issues of the day, looked to for solutions to economic and social problems. Nicholas Murray Butler at Columbia, Charles William Elliot at Harvard, and Arthur Twining Hadley at Yale were well-respected national figures. The Outlook Club was exactly the platform for such a person; possibly named after The Outlook, a prominent magazine featuring literary and political commentary associated with the several “reform” movements of the day, the Club afforded its speakers an audience of university-educated civic leaders who used their influence to promote “good government”—by which they first intended government free of corruption and of the party “bosses” associated with it, but which would soon coalesce into something still more ambitious: Progressivism.

    As readers of Constituting America begin considering the use and abuse of executive power under the sitting president and many of his recent predecessors, it’s not a bad idea to step back for a minute and consider the origins of this startling expansion of executive rule, an expansion not authorized by any fair reading of, say, the United States Constitution, where executive power is enunciated. While it is unquestionably true that American presidents from time to time exceeded their Constitutional authority—Thomas Jefferson admitted as much in making the Louisiana Purchase—such overreaching typically occurred because some national emergency or other extraordinary circumstance had arisen. (Jefferson, citing the importance of New Orleans to the commercial prosperity and military security of the middle of the North American continent, refused to hesitate to make a bargain with the French despot who by then was calling himself Napoleon I, knowing that that tyrant’s vast military ambitions in Europe had opened an opportunity for America on this continent that might never arise again—the possibility of peaceably obtaining possession of a huge parcel of invaluable farmland overlain with a river system that emptied into the Gulf of Mexico. This was a prize that Napoleon himself could not win in Europe at the price of his own Grande Armée, but Jefferson could win it here at the cost of four cents an acre.) But such circumstances were understood to be rare, and in need of public justification.

    What we see now is a much more routine use of executive action that effectually usurps the actions of the legislative branch. How did this come about? How was it excused?

    - See more at: http://www.constitutingamerica.org/...professor-will-morissey/#sthash.r4XVjAw9.dpuf
  2. OldRegular

    OldRegular Well-Known Member

    Nov 21, 2004
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