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Author Q&A with @lmchervinsky | THE CABINET Book Tour and $50 Amazon/BN GC #Giveaway | @GoddessFish Promotions Presents #History

Goddess Fish Promotions has organized a Virtual Name Before the Masses Tour for THE CABINET by Lindsay M. Chervinsky. It stops at Reader...

Goddess Fish Promotions has organized a Virtual Name Before the Masses Tour for THE CABINET by Lindsay M. Chervinsky. It stops at Readeropolis with an author interview. The history is available now from Belknap Imprint of Harvard University Press.

Chervinsky will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Be sure to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found by clicking the banner below.

The Cabinet
by Lindsay M. Chervinsky


GENRE:   History



The US Constitution never established a presidential cabinet―the delegates to the Constitutional Convention explicitly rejected the idea. So how did George Washington create one of the most powerful bodies in the federal government?

On November 26, 1791, George Washington convened his department secretaries―Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Knox, and Edmund Randolph―for the first cabinet meeting. Why did he wait two and a half years into his presidency to call his cabinet? Because the US Constitution did not create or provide for such a body. Washington was on his own.

Faced with diplomatic crises, domestic insurrections, and constitutional challenges―and finding congressional help lacking―Washington decided he needed a group of advisors he could turn to. He modeled his new cabinet on the councils of war he had led as commander of the Continental Army. In the early days, the cabinet served at the president’s pleasure. Washington tinkered with its structure throughout his administration, at times calling regular meetings, at other times preferring written advice and individual discussions.

Lindsay M. Chervinsky reveals the far-reaching consequences of Washington’s choice. The tensions in the cabinet between Hamilton and Jefferson heightened partisanship and contributed to the development of the first party system. And as Washington faced an increasingly recalcitrant Congress, he came to treat the cabinet as a private advisory body to summon as needed, greatly expanding the role of the president and the executive branch.



When Washington and Knox arrived at Federal Hall at 11:30 a.m., the doorkeeper announced their arrival. Washington sat at the front of the chamber, and Knox took the chair to his right. Washington handed his remarks to Knox, who in turn handed them to Vice President John Adams. Adams read the statement, but as Senator William Maclay from Pennsylvania recalled, the senators could “not master . . . one Sentence of it.” Adams wasn’t known for his public speaking skills, but the senators’ struggles weren’t entirely his fault. The Senate gathered for their work in the large chambers that occupied the first floor of Federal Hall. Because of the August heat in New York City, the doorkeeper had opened the windows in search of a cooling breeze. But along with fresh air, noise from Wall Street’s pedestrians, carriages, peddlers, and horses flowed into the Senate chambers. The clamor overpowered Adams’s voice, so few senators could make out the words that Washington had carefully crafted. After a few complaints, Adams repeated the speech from the beginning. Washington’s remarks offered a brief synopsis of the current diplomatic state between the United States and the Southern Indians, and posed seven questions for the Senate to answer with an aye or a no.

Adams finished his recitation and sat. The seconds ticked by as the senators remained in awkward silence. A few shuffled papers or cleared their throats. Maclay speculated in his diary that his colleagues were so intimidated by Washington’s presence in the Senate chamber that they cowered in shameful silence. Eager to show that they could be active participants in the creation of foreign policy, Maclay stood up and suggested referring Washington’s seven questions to committee for discussion in detail. Washington lost his temper, stood up, and shouted, “This defeats every purpose of my coming here!” The senators fell into a stunned hush before Washington acquiesced to Maclay’s suggestion and offered to return to the Senate a few days later. Although he did return the following Monday, his first visit to the Senate was an inauspicious start to the executive-legislative relationship. As he returned to his carriage, Washington muttered under his breath that he would never return for advice. He kept his word—August 22, 1789, was the first and last time he visited the Senate to request guidance on foreign affairs. Unfortunately, the diplomatic challenges facing the United States during the Washington presidency were just beginning...


AUTHOR Interview:

Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

I wrote this book for anyone who wanted to know more about American history, the origins of the federal government, and what that tells us about our current moment. I wanted historians to learn something new, but I also wanted the book to be accessible to anyone who is interested in the subject. I didn’t think that readers should need a Ph.D. to be able to read The Cabinet.

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image?

Harvard designed the cover! The image actually came from a nineteenth-century cigar box. Unsurprisingly, there are no images of the cabinet, but there are also relatively few paintings or drawings of all five men. This image was one of the only ones available. I absolutely love how it turned out, the green is so striking and unusual; very few books have a green background. 

What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?

Many readers of The Cabinet have also read Hamilton and Washington by Ron Chernow, Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Affairs of Honor by Joanne Freeman. All of which are amazing books and I’m thrilled my work is in their company. The Cabinet is a little different because it doesn’t look at one individual’s life, like the Chernow biographies, but instead answers the question, “where did the cabinet come from?” Like Team of Rivals, it tells a story about political intrigue and presidential leadership, so you could say it’s about the first team of rivals!

What's the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your book?

When I was trying to figure out what cabinet meetings would have looked like and felt like, I spent a lot of time researching how eighteenth-century gentlemen would have stood—how did they place their feet, where did they place their hands, what was their posture like? I wanted to know how much space they took up and how cramped the room would have been. But trying to figure that out is tricky because no one really writes or talks about that. Even today, we rarely describe those details in our emails or texts. So l looked at portraits, read behavior manuals, and articles about masculinity and dress.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

That’s so kind of you to ask! Word of mouth is still the best way to promote books, so if readers enjoy The Cabinet, I’d be so appreciative if they told their friends and families, or shared it on social media. Unsurprisingly, reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are super helpful as well. Finally, if readers participate in book clubs or groups, I’d love if they selected The Cabinet for a session and I’d be delighted to Zoom into the meeting!


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Lindsay M. Chervinsky, Ph.D. a historian of Early America, the presidency, and the government – especially the president’s cabinet. She shares her research by writing everything from op-eds to books, speaking on podcasts and other media, and teaching every kind of audience. She is Scholar-in-Residence at the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies and Senior Fellow at the International Center for Jefferson Studies. Previously, she worked as a historian at the White House Historical Association. She received her B.A. in history and political science from the George Washington University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis. She has been featured in the Law and History Review, the Journal of the Early Republic, TIME, and the Washington Post. Her new book, The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution, was published by the Belknap Imprint of Harvard University Press on April 7, 2020.

The New Criterion recently said of her book, “Fantastic…Unlike many works of popular history, The Cabinet never feels like hagiography. It lacks the reverence of works like Joseph J. Ellis’ Founder Brothers or the revisionist obsequiousness that now greets Alexander Hamilton’s name on stage…Chervinsky exemplifies the public-history ethos in her new book. The writing is clear and concise…She takes what could have been a dry institutional and political history of the Early Republic and transforms it into a compelling story of people and places.”

When she isn’t writing, researching, or talking about history, she can be found hiking with her husband and American Foxhound, John Quincy Dog Adams (Quincy for short).

Readers can request a personalized book plate here:

Amazon link:

Harvard link:




Lindsay M. Chervinsky will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Best of luck with the book and book tour! I included the tour in the Monday, Aug. 24, 2020 edition of The BookTube Your Shelf Daily Reader:

  2. Great cover! I love history! Thank you for sharing! Aug. 24, 2020

  3. Thanks so much for both the book description and giveaway as well. I enjoy hearing about another good book.

  4. Wow--accolades from Jon Meacham! That is impressive. I have added your book to my Wish List. Also, you gave me something to think about when you talked about how we don't spell out what is normal "personal space" or posturing. I try to take photographs that show people in "typical" moments and unguarded settings for that very reason: this is real, this is how we lived, and gathered, and clustered. This is how sisters lounged together, versus this is how church people group at parties. I think we take that in visually, but don't talk about it, and when we tell stories we rarely mention it.


Get carried away with love!