Evaluating The Presidency: Thomas Jefferson And Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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In Michael Nelson’s article Evaluating the Presidency, Nelson shares how Americans can be described as emotional presidentialists. He makes an interesting point that the general public’s expectations and evaluations of presidents are contradictory. Americans want someone “gentle but forceful with decision making”, “inspirational but not promising more than they can deliver”, and finally one who is “open and caring but courageous and independent.” (Nelson, 2006, p. 12-13) Scholars on the other hand evaluate presidents with a different formula. If we take Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt for example, we should not be analyzing them by historical reverence, but we should evaluate them based on their contribution to the office. …show more content…
Words were deceiving especially when it comes to Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson is historically recognized as the “first champion of popular rule to occupy the executive office”. Jefferson assured the country that he would restore a general harmony that would move the people towards liberty, order and sacrosanct adherence to the constitution. (Milkis & Nelson, 2012, p. 100). Let us remember that a very important part of Article II is the “vesting” of executive power. Upon Jefferson’s arrival into office his publically noted his beliefs were to constrain the power of the executive and limit the scope of the national governments authority (Milkis & Nelson, 2012, p. 101). This constraining of power however, was contradicted by the 1803 Louisiana Purchase as well as the 1807 Embargo Act. Jefferson attempted to justify the assertions of presidential power by calling them acts of popular will. A populist intervention as he called it. He addressed the contradictory actions of his stated principals with a letter. He wrote “A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest” (Milkis & Nelson, 2012, p. 106). He goes on to write that by if following the law meticulously results in the loss of the law itself, this would defeat the sole purpose of the law. It was clear that …show more content…
Kenneth Walsh sites FDR as the most effective president in dealing with Congress during the first 100 days. Roosevelt was able to push through an instrumental amount of legislation (Walsh, 209). However, one thing that we must be aware of is that Congress was able to force FDR into things that he opposed and he apparently had to make a lot of concession in order to get bills passed. For example, the Washington Post sites “Throughout the New Deal. FDR wanted to go far. But Congress often wanted to go further — occasionally over the president’s objections. To pass his farm bill, Roosevelt had to accept “an amendment authorizing the President to inflate the dollar by coining silver, printing money deliberately devaluing the dollar by reducing its gold content” (Klein, 2011). Jefferson did his best to simplify his relationship with congress. One method he used was by removing the “monocratic” features. Jefferson made a strategic decision to write Congress rather than deal with them in person or via speech. Unlike Roosevelt, Jefferson never tried enhancing his power by bartering patronage or others for legislation in congress (Milkis & Nelson, 2012, p. 109). He was able to push through an abolishment of taxes including internal, whiskey and direct property, as well as implement a revision that of the reduced the military and we

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