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A history of the office of the president of the united states

Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary of Education Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Secretary of Transportation Secretary of Veterans Affairs Secretary of Homeland Security The president may also choose other members of government to serve in the cabinet; the vice president, the White House chief of staff, and the director of the Office of Management and Budget may all join the cabinet at the president's discretion.

Presidential Leadership The vast and complicated structure needed to run today's government has brought many changes to the office of the presidency. With each new president, the machinery of government becomes more complex.

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The rise of presidential power did not come about all at once. Nor did the growth of leadership follow a fixed and steady course. Some presidents have strongly exercised the power of leadership. Others have been relatively weak leaders. Since the time of George Washington many presidents have contributed to changing the powers of the office.

People often have different views as to whether a president has acted wisely and exercised his power for the general good of the entire nation. Leadership takes many forms, and all leaders cannot appeal to all people. The leadership qualities of a few presidents, however, will serve to show how some have used the power of their office.

Thomas Jefferson was the nation's third president. Even though he served so early in the history of the office, he understood that in order to gain the results he desired, he would have to exercise a great deal of political power. Jefferson skillfully organized his sympathizers in Congress into a strong political group.

Historical development

These men worked together so well that they often were able to defeat their opponents in many important matters. This plan of Jefferson's was the start of the system of political parties as we know it today. Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States, was another strong leader. Jackson was the first man of the people to be elected to the presidency. Many of the men in the government were not friendly to the new president or to his views.

But Jackson was determined to overcome his opponents. In critical issues he relied on the support of the people and removed cabinet members who disagreed with his policies.

By the skillful use of his leadership qualities, he was able to carry out many of his programs. The strongest desire of President Abraham Lincoln was to preserve the Union. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Lincoln did not have the power to call up troops or to take certain other actions.

But he knew that in order to protect the Union he would have to assume wartime powers. Many people disapproved of his actions. But Lincoln seized the power he felt he must have. By exercising leadership in a time of crisis, he succeeded in preserving the Union.

Woodrow Wilson, during whose term the bitter battles of World War I were fought, had one great dream. The dream was for the creation of a League of Nations that would help to prevent future wars. The League of Nations finally was established at the close of the war.

But in spite of Wilson's strength, his own country refused to join. Wilson died a disappointed man. But under his leadership the office of the presidency outgrew the bounds of the United States and became an office with international responsibilities.

Presidency of the United States

In another period of serious trouble for the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt served as president. During the Depression of the 1930's Roosevelt sought tremendous powers.

He recommended to Congress legislation that would create jobs for those who could find no work, in order to get the country back on its feet.

  • The election was thrown to the House of Representatives, and a constitutional crisis nearly ensued as the House became deadlocked;
  • Indeed, it is safe to assert that had Washington not been available, the office might never have been created.

He even attempted to change the structure of the Supreme Court by increasing the number of justices. Even though the president of the United States is today one of the most important individuals in the world, he is not all-powerful. There is an authority that is higher than that of the president. It is the will of the people of the United States, who have reserved to themselves the final authority that is called sovereignty. The four sections of the article also state how the president shall be elected and paid, and who shall succeed him if he is unable to serve out his term.

This Article, written in a careful and straightforward manner, suggests that the document's framers were on their guard against the possibility of a too ambitious president. It gives little hint, however, that they had any idea of how enormous and important the office of the presidency would one day become. To the average citizen it often seems that the power of the president is unlimited.

But that is far from the truth. What acts is the president permitted to perform without restrictions of any kind? What is he prohibited from doing?

The answers to these questions give some idea of the powers of the president and of the system of checks and balances provided by the Constitution. Article II states that the president shall be commander in chief of the Army and the Navy. He shall have the power to make treaties--provided two-thirds of the Senate agrees.

He shall appoint ambassadors, Supreme Court justices, and other officials--"by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate. Basically, all these provisions of the Constitution are still in force today. Even within the framework of the Constitution the duties and powers of the president have become highly complex. The best way to understand them is to examine the various branches of the government and see how the president functions in each.

Presidency of the United States of America

Executive and Administrative Powers The president stands at the head of the executive branch of the government. He is elected by the entire nation and is responsible for carrying out and administering the laws approved by the legislative branch--Congress.

The Constitution outlined these powers only in the most general terms. Most presidential authority, therefore, has been granted by acts of Congress. Power of Appointment and Removal The president has the power to appoint important officials. The list of these officials includes ambassadors, members of the cabinet and their assistants, federal judges, military and naval officers, heads of agencies, and United States attorneys and marshals.

In almost all cases Senate approval is assured. The president does, therefore, exercise a great deal of power in the choice of the people named for key government posts. In 1926 the Supreme Court ruled that since the president has the power to appoint officers, the president also should have the power to remove them. Executive Ordinances Administration of policies outlined by Congress usually is left to the executive branch.

The president or subordinates acting for him spells out the details in the form of executive orders that have the force of law.

7a. The Evolution of the Presidency

Legislative Powers The president is given certain legislative powers that make it possible for him to exert considerable influence over Congress. Power to Recommend Legislation. At the beginning of each session of Congress the president delivers his "State of the Union" message. In his address he recommends a legislative program. This is followed by a proposed budget and economic report.

The president also may submit special messages from time to time on particular subjects. In this way he makes known to Congress the laws he considers necessary. Veto Power Every bill or joint resolution passed by Congress must be sent to the president for action.

If he signs it, it becomes law.

  • Controlling the PresidentSee what Hubert Humphrey has to say about how Congress, the Judiciary, and even public opinion can limit the way the president uses his power;
  • That division of sentiment was exacerbated by events during the administration of George W;
  • The emergence of the party system also created unanticipated problems with the method for electing the president;
  • Pardoning Power The president has the power to pardon a citizen of an offense;
  • In 1800, to forestall the possibility of yet another divided executive, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans, the two leading parties of the early republic, each nominated presidential and vice presidential candidates.

If he vetoes it, he must send it back with the reasons for his veto. The veto power enables the president to act as a check on Congress. Judicial Powers The chief executive can exercise judicial power in several ways.

He recommends to the Senate his choices for attorney general to head the Department of Justice and Supreme Court justices. In every district of the country he appoints federal court judges and the U. Pardoning Power The president has the power to pardon a citizen of an offense. He may also grant a reprieve, or postponement of punishment. He cannot exercise this power in impeachment cases, where a pardon can never be granted. Powers in Foreign Affairs The president has enormous powers in the field of foreign affairs.

  • Most presidential authority, therefore, has been granted by acts of Congress;
  • Roosevelt completed the transformation of the presidency;
  • People often have different views as to whether a president has acted wisely and exercised his power for the general good of the entire nation;
  • The president has the power to make treaties with foreign governments, though the Senate must approve such treaties by a two-thirds majority;
  • Americans were bitterly divided over the wars, some favouring Britain and its allies and others France;
  • It is conceivable, however, that this trend was welcomed by the public.

He is the nation's chief diplomat. He receives diplomatic representatives, ambassadors, and ministers from foreign countries, and sometimes attends special international conferences. Power of Recognition The president has the power of recognition--the formal approval of the government of a foreign country. Without recognition, normal trade and diplomatic relations cannot exist between two countries.

The president shares this power with the Senate. Two-thirds of that body must ratify, or approve, a treaty before it goes into effect. Executive Agreements Agreements between the president and the chief executive rather than the official government of a foreign country are not subject to Senate approval.

Military Powers As stated in the Constitution, the president is commander in chief of the armed forces. This position guarantees that the people always shall control the Army through their elected civilian leaders.

Here, too, the president's powers are shared with Congress. Congress makes rules for the armed forces, sets apart funds for defense, and has the power to declare war. Appointments or commissions of military officers must be confirmed by the Senate.

But in many national emergencies, the president can act without the consent of either house of Congress. He may use armed forces in combat abroad without a formal declaration of war.