The Presidential Cabinet has, it would seem, been a reality of the American republic since soon after its foundation. Yet while executive departments are mentioned in the Constitution, the Cabinet is not. And while the heads of departments were present—or soon to arrive—in New York City when Washington took the first inaugural oath, they did not function as an institution until later
With me today to discuss George Washington’s cabinet, its personalities and personality, its history, and its legacy, is Lindsay M. Chervinksy. Listeners to the podcast will remember that in Episode 118 she and I talked about this book and the research she had done for it, while carefully avoiding as best as we could actually discussing the material of the book. Now the book is done and published: it’s called, surprisingly enough, The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution, published this week by Harvard University Press.
Apologies, by the way, for the artwork. It’s precisely the same artwork used for Episode 118. Curiously enough, it’s also the artwork used on the cover Lindsay’s book. That’s because it’s seemingly the only depiction of Washington’s cabinet. And it happens to be the cover of a cigar box whose manufacturer was in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which is why Henry Knox is named “Hendrick”. A Dutch Calvinist cigar box cover depicting George Washington’s cabinet; it’s a strange and wonderful country.