Jeffrey E. Cohen presents a detailed, quantitative study of the characteristics of presidential cabinets from the days of George Washington through the first Reagan administration. Dividing U.S. history into five party eras, he examines cabinet members' age, education, region, occupation, recruitment patterns, party affiliations, and relations with other branches and institutions of government. This study also addresses major theoretical issues: the Constitution never provided for a cabinet, although George Washington established it. Questions soon arose as to its functions, relation to Congress, and the rules and precedents guiding its activities. Cohen examines how the cabinet balanced representation and capability, and how, despite a lack of institutional authority, it has managed to survive through every administration.