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The Historical Presidency: Mr Secretary, My Son-in-Law: William G. McAdoo, Woodrow Wilson, and the Presidential Cabinet


  • AUTHOR'S NOTE: I am grateful to Professors George Edwards and Tom Langston for their insightful and detailed comments on the first version of this article. Their responses were invaluable and deeply appreciated.


The presidential cabinet has long been neglected by political scientists and political historians. The former tend to dismiss the cabinet as a noninstitution that has never transcended its lack of constitutional foundation; the latter have generally ignored it. Focusing on the progressive era, and upon one of Woodrow Wilson's most prominent cabinet secretaries, this article argues for a reconsideration of the presidential cabinet and its individual members as important policy and political actors during a time of increasing federal government competency but as yet unformed White House executive agencies and staff.