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Creating George Washington's Cabinet with Lindsay Chervinsky

There are many things that we take for granted in the modern United States. The president’s cabinet is one of them.

Although the cabinet is a prominent fixture of the federal government, and a powerful and essential one at that, it has no foundation in the Constitution. The Framer’s discussed the idea of a cabinet at the Constitutional Convention, but they ultimately rejected it and left it on the cutting room floor.

Yet, despite the fact that the cabinet has no Constitutional origin, it does have a historical one.

On today’s episode, Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky joins Jim Ambuske to explore the cabinet’s emergence during George Washington’s presidency. She also answers listener questions about this formative moment in American history.

Chervinsky is a historian at the White House Historical Association and the author of the new book, The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution.

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About Our Guest:

Lindsay M. Chervinksy joined the Association in February 2019 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. She received her B.A. in history and political science at the George Washington University and her Ph.D. and Masters in Early American history from the University of California, Davis. She has received fellowships from the International Center for Jefferson Studies, the Society of Cincinnati, the Organization of American Historians, and the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington. She has published articles in the Law and History Review, the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, Presidential Studies Quarterly, and several edited volumes on the presidency and Early America. Her book, The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution will be published by Harvard University Press in Spring 2020. Lindsay has also shared her work with the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, the Society for Military History, the American Historical Association, the Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture, and more.

About Our Host:

Jim Ambuske leads the Center for Digital History at the Washington Library. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia in 2016 with a focus on Scotland and America in an Age of War and Revolution. He is a former Farmer Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Virginia Law Library. At UVA, Ambuske co-directed the 1828 Catalogue Project and the Scottish Court of Session Project.  He is the co-author with Randall Flaherty of "Reading Law in the Early Republic: Legal Education in the Age of Jefferson," in The Founding of Thomas Jefferson's University ed. by John A. Rogasta, Peter S. Onuf, and Andrew O'Shaughnessy (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019). Ambuske is currently at work on a book entitled Emigration and Empire: America and Scotland in the Revolutionary Era, as well as a chapter on Scottish loyalism during the American Revolution for a volume to be published by the University of Edinburgh Press.