A full understanding of the institution of the American presidency requires us to examine how it developed from the founding to the present. This developmental lens, analyzing how historical turns have shaped the modern institution, allows for a richer, more nuanced understanding. The Development of the American Presidency pays great attention to that historical weight but is organized by the topics and concepts relevant to political science, with the constitutional origins and political development of the presidency its central focus. Through comprehensive and in-depth coverage, Richard J. Ellis looks at how the presidency has evolved in relation to the public, to Congress, to the executive branch, and to the law, showing at every step how different aspects of the presidency have followed distinct trajectories of change. Each chapter promotes active learning, beginning with a narrative account of some illustrative puzzle that brings to life a central concept. A wealth of photos, figures, and tables allow for the visual presentations of concepts.

New to the Fourth Edition

  • Explicit and expanded attention to the role of norms in shaping and constraining presidential power, with special focus on Trump’s norm-breaking and Biden’s efforts to shore up norms;
  • Enhanced focus on the prospects for institutional reform, including in the electoral college, presidential relations with Congress, war powers, and the selection of Supreme Court justices;
  • A full reckoning with the Trump presidency and its significance for the future of American democracy, presidential rhetoric, the unilateral executive, and the administrative state;
  • Coverage of the first year of Biden’s presidency, including presidential rhetoric, relations with Congress and the bureaucracy, use of the war powers, and unilateral directives;
  • Comprehensive updating of debates about the removal power, including the Supreme Court cases of Seila Law v. CFPB and Collins v. Yellen;
  • In-depth exploration of the impact of partisan polarization on the legislative presidency and effective governance;
  • Analysis of the 2020 election and its aftermath;
  • Expanded discussion of impeachment to incorporate Trump’s two impeachments;
  • Examination of presidential emergency powers, with special attention to Trump’s border wall declaration;
  • Review of Biden’s and Trump’s impact on the judiciary;
  • Assessment of Biden’s and Trump’s place in political time.

chapter Chapter 1|27 pages

Envisioning the Presidency

part I|57 pages

The President and the People

chapter Chapter 2|55 pages

Selecting the President

chapter Chapter 3|65 pages

The Public Presidency

part II|185 pages

The President and Congress

chapter Chapter 4|63 pages

The Legislative Presidency

chapter Chapter 5|65 pages

The War-Making Presidency

part III|125 pages

The President and the Executive Branch

chapter Chapter 7|64 pages

Organizing the Presidency

part IV|130 pages

The President and the Law

chapter Chapter 9|63 pages

The President and the Judiciary

chapter Chapter 10|65 pages

Law And Executive Power

part V|42 pages


chapter Chapter 11|40 pages

Evaluating Presidents