Jeffersons election in 1800 and the ascendency of his

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Jefferson’s election in 1800 and the ascendency of his Republican party is significant because it demonstrated how a political party can serve as a bridge or connection between the legislative and executive branches with the president understandably serving as the acknowledged leader of the party. Indeed, as subsequent history shows, the interests of political parties more frequently than not outweigh or trump those institutional interests upon which the Founders relied for preserving the division of powers. The second development involved a significant change in the mode of nominating candidates for the presidency and the manner of their election. On this score, Jackson’s election to the presidency in 1828 is an acknowledged turning point: His nomination was secured through appeals to the people rather than through a congressional party caucus, the nominating process up to 1824, and his election rested largely on the popular vote since most of the states by this time allowed the people to vote for electors pledged to the candidates of their choice. This meant, as Jackson was to maintain in various contexts, that the presidency possessed as firm a popular foundation as Congress. Put in other terms, the Founders believed, consistent with the historical circumstances which gave rise to the separation doctrine, that the will of the people was most authentically expressed by Congress and, in particular, the House of Representatives, but given the development of popularly based parties and mode 32. U.S. Const. amend XIV, sec. 5. 33. U.S. Const. amend XVI. 273
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of election, the president could now claim to speak for the people just as authoritatively, if not more so, than Congress. The roots of the modern presidency are to be found in Jackson’s claims concerning the representative character of the presidency. His contentions can also be looked upon as initiating the continuing and complex controversies over which branch, the executive or legislative, is the more democratic or most faithfully embodies the values, aspirations, needs, and will of the people. 34 Woodrow Wilson’s intellectual odyssey on these and related issues perhaps best illustrates the dimensions of the controversy and the problems that arise from it. His analysis and observations still serve as a foundation for those seeking to “reform” the American system by drastically altering or even eliminating the constitutional separation of powers. 35 Wilson’s Congressional Government , published in 1885, ranks among the first and most trenchant critiques of the Framers’ handiwork. Many students regard the date of its publication important because Wilson was writing in the post-Civil War period of congressional dominance. In any event, in this work he operated from the premise that, given the character of the Constitution, Congress would inevitably reign supreme. “Our Constitution,” he wrote, “like every other constitution which puts the authority to make laws and the duty of controlling the
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