Defining the Presidency

Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, by Charles Augustus Goodrich, 1823
Courtesy of Library of Congress
Having rebelled against King George III, the first inclination of Americans was to avoid a centralized authority, and place most of the power in the states. National authority would be limited by establishing a weak central legislature. However, the realities of building a nation that faced internal disputes and international affairs led many to reconsider the role of the national government and the need for strong executive leadership. Out of this debate emerged the American presidency.