cover of book

America’s Lawyer-Presidents: From Law Office to Oval Office
edited by Norman Gross
foreword by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
Northwestern University Press, 2009
Cloth: 978-0-8101-1218-6 | Paper: 978-0-8101-2618-3
Library of Congress Classification KF353.A46 2004
Dewey Decimal Classification 340.092273


The historic election of Barack Obama was rife with references to Abraham Lincoln, perhaps the greatest lawyer-president, whose legal career spanned 25 years and 5,100 cases. President Obama’s ties to Lincoln are part of a great tradition begun by John Adams, the first lawyer-president, who combined a twenty-year law practice with major contributions to our nation’s founding charters. His son, John Quincy Adams, argued landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases both before and after his presidency, one of eight lawyer-presidents to appear as counsel before the highest court in the land. And Rutherford B. Hayes and Benjamin Harrison were among those lawyer-presidents who handled notable high-profile cases, including sensational murder trials.

These are but a few of the fascinating—yet still largely unknown—stories about America’s lawyer-presidents. Now available in an updated, expanded paperback edition, America’s Lawyer-Presidents sheds light on the legal backgrounds of each of these chief executives and how their experiences as lawyers impacted and shaped their presidencies. Written by historians and presidential scholars and featuring an engaging and image-rich presentation, America’s Lawyer-Presidents provides unique insights into our national leaders and their lives and times, from colonial days to the present.

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