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Publisher's Summary

On November 26, 1791, George Washington convened his department secretaries - Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Knox, and Edmund Randolph - for the first cabinet meeting. Why did he wait two and a half years into his presidency to call his cabinet? Because the US Constitution did not create or provide for such a body. Washington was on his own. 

Faced with diplomatic crises, domestic insurrections, and constitutional challenges - and finding congressional help lacking - Washington decided he needed a group of advisors he could turn to. He modeled his new cabinet on the councils of war he had led as commander of the Continental Army. In the early days, the cabinet served at the president's pleasure. Washington tinkered with its structure throughout his administration, at times calling regular meetings, at other times preferring written advice and individual discussions.

Lindsay M. Chervinsky reveals the far-reaching consequences of Washington's choice. The tensions in the cabinet between Hamilton and Jefferson heightened partisanship and contributed to the development of the first party system. And as Washington faced an increasingly recalcitrant Congress, he came to treat the cabinet as a private advisory body to summon as needed, greatly expanding the role of the president and the executive branch.

©2020 The President and Fellows of Harvard College (P)2020 Tantor

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Evan's Review

Very good book. One of the things that most Americans dont understand is that the President's cabinet wasnt apart of the Constitution so President Washington had to develop a plan of close advisor. Another thing that isnt really written much written in history is Washington didnt always complete support with his cabinet with conflict between Jefferson and Hamilton but also other members of the cabinet during the 8 years. One of the I didnt like was she had compare the other Presidents with President Trump cabinet members. We know Trump is a completely differen Presiden in the way he conducts business.

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Remarkable History Lesson

I had no idea what this was going to be like other then I truly had no idea of how the presidents cabinet came to be. This book was so detailed and yet so engrossing I could not put the book down and when I did I had to get this audio book. Truly a great read and a wonderful listen. Hope to see many more works by Dr. Chervinsky in the feature. Highly recommend this if you love history or just wonder how the Presidents Cabinet came to be. A fantastic Job by the Story teller Janet Metzger Thank you to all.

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Unnecessary and biased.

Author in well structured sequence tells the not overly detailed history of the cabinet during Washington’s presidency. She takes ad hominem pot shots and Washington all the way through, uses “culture” in the “Woke” sense regarding ho or at the time providing little to no context. Epilogue is the book - Orange Man bad. Do t waste your time on this left leaning post-modern history

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sadly it ended with an inaccurate anti trump rant

it was a great book until the end when the crazy author went into a anti trump rant. I would have never bought the book had I known the crazy author would end a great in such a crazy eay

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An outstanding read

This is an outstanding history & political science book, it should be satisfying to the American history scholar, dabbler and even to the general reader. Chervinsky does a great job showing how the cabinet system was formed by reference the British models (pro & con), the operation of both states in the early Republic & the Confederation Congress, how Washington put his stamp on creating the cabinet system, and 'operated" it through the crises of the 8 years of his Administration. The book is revealing on how unstable and contentious Washington's cabinet turned out to be, with particular focus on Jefferson vs Hamilton, Jefferson's growing disloyalty, and such challenges as the Whiskey Rebellion, the Jay Treaty, the resignation of Edmund Randolph & relations with the unstable French government (and its ambassadors). The book is well-written - clear, short sentences, well organized sections & paragraphs, not afflicted with the terrific density of multi-syllabic words, and it is light on theory/philosophy. The narration by Janet Metzger is excellent.