Welcome to the e-course, American Institutions III: The Presidency and the Constitution produced by the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier. To get started you can click on the links, below, or use the navigation menu to the left to explore the resources that the course has to offer.

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The enduring debate on the nature and scope of presidential authority, dramatized by the renowned 18th-century exchange between James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, and spiked in our time by sweeping assertions of unilateral executive power in warmaking and foreign affairs, and by claims of privilege, secrecy and immunity in domestic matters, has long held center stage in our nation’s politics. In our inquiries, we will embrace Aristotle’s admonition: If you would understand anything, examine its origins and development. The aim of this course is to enable each of you to better understand the nature of the debates that have swirled around the assertions and exercise of presidential power for more than two centuries.

Course Content

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Getting Started
History and Constitutional Background
Selection of the President and Term Limits
Presidential Succession
Head of State
Presidential Appointments
Presidential Responsibilities
Interaction with the Legislative Branch
Interaction with the Judicial Branch