AUTHOR'S NOTE: I would like to thank Scott Gant, Diane Sommerville, and two anonymous reviewers for providing valuable comments to earlier versions of this piece.
George Washington, Presidential Term Limits, and the Problem of Reluctant Political Leadership
Version of Record online: 21 APR 2004
Presidential Studies Quarterly
Volume 31, Issue 3, pages 439–453, September 2001
How to Cite
PEABODY, B. G. (2001), George Washington, Presidential Term Limits, and the Problem of Reluctant Political Leadership. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 31: 439–453. doi: 10.1111/j.0360-4918.2001.00180.x
- Issue online: 21 APR 2004
- Version of Record online: 21 APR 2004
- Cited By
The widespread view of the relationship between George Washington and the American custom of limited presidential service is misconceived. Conventional popular and scholarly accounts of the “two-term tradition” confuse both Washington's position on presidential term limits and the historical contours of this custom. The American convention limiting the number of terms a president could serve emerged less from Washington's views about political service than from deep-seated anxieties about centralized governing power (and specifically executive power). These concerns, along with an enduring American ambivalence about public service (reflected in Washington's retirement), continue to shape the character of both our political life and public discourse.