The Presidents and the People: Five Leaders Who Threatened Democracy and the Citizens Who Fought to Defend It

Corey Brettschneider

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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Geschichte


American presidents have often pushed the boundaries established for them by the Constitution; this is the inspirational history of the people who pushed back.

Imagine an American president who imprisoned critics, spread a culture of white supremacy, and tried to upend the law so that he could commit crimes with impunity. Constitutional law and political science professor Corey Brettschneider provides a thoroughly researched account of assaults on democracy by not one such president but by five—John Adams, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Woodrow Wilson, and Richard Nixon. These presidents illuminated the trip wires that can erode or even destroy our democracy. But Brettschneider shows that these presidents didn’t have the last word; citizen movements brought the United States back from the precipice by appealing to a democratic understanding of the Constitution and pressuring subsequent reform-minded presidents to realize the promise of “we the people.” This is a book about citizens—Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, Daniel Ellsberg, and more—who fought back against presidential abuse of power. Their examples give us hope about the possibilities of restoring a fragile democracy.

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legal history, us, frederick douglass, james buchanan, constitutional law, john adams, richard nixon, political science, united states, oath, woodrow wilson, andrew johnson, potus, presidency, constitution, founding fathers