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Presidents of the United States of America

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  • The Presidents - Key Information
    The head of state of the United States is called the President, who also serves the functions of chief executive and commander in chief of the armed forces. By current law, the U.S. president serves a four-year term and may only be re-elected once, as a result of the twenty-second amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

    Presidential Powers 

    George Washington
    George Washington
    1st President
    The office of president of the United States is one of the most powerful offices of its kind in the world. The president, the Constitution says, must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." To carry out this responsibility, the president presides over the executive branch of the federal government a vast organization numbering about 4 million people, including 1 million active-duty military personnel. In addition, the president has important legislative and judicial powers. 

    Presidential Executive Powers 

    Within the executive branch itself, the president has broad powers to manage national affairs and the workings of the federal government. The president can issue rules, regulations, and instructions called executive orders, which have the binding force of law upon federal agencies but do not require congressional approval. As commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the United States, the president may also call into federal service the state units of the National Guard. In times of war or national emergency, the Congress may grant the president even broader powers to manage the national economy and protect the security of the United States.
    Abraham Lincoln
    Abraham Lincoln
    16th President
    The president nominates and the Senate confirms the heads of all executive departments and agencies, together with hundreds of other high-ranking federal officials. (See United States Cabinet, Executive Office of the President.) In 2003, more than 3000 executive agency positions were subject to presidential appointment, with more than 1200 requiring Senate approval. The large majority of federal workers, however, are selected through the Civil Service system, in which appointment and promotion are based on ability and experience. 

    The President is also responsible for preparing the budget of the United States, although the Congress must approve it.

    Presidential Legislative Powers

    Despite the constitutional provision that "all legislative powers" shall be vested in the Congress, the president, as the chief formulator of public policy, has a major legislative role. The president can veto any bill passed by Congress and, unless two-thirds of the members of each house vote to override the veto, the bill does not become law. 

    Theodore Roosevelt
    Theodore Roosevelt
    26th President
    Much of the legislation dealt with by Congress is drafted at the initiative of the executive branch. In annual and special messages to Congress, the president may propose legislation he believes is necessary. If Congress should adjourn without acting on those proposals, the president has the power to call it into special session. But beyond this official role, the president, as head of a political party and as principal executive officer of the U.S. government, is in a position to influence public opinion and thereby to influence the course of legislation in Congress. 
    To improve their working relationships with Congress, presidents in recent years have set up a Congressional Liaison Office in the White House. Presidential aides keep abreast of all important legislative activities and try to persuade senators and representatives of both parties to support administration policies. 

    Presidential Judicial Powers

    Among the president's constitutional powers is that of appointing important public officials. Presidential nomination of federal judges, including members of the Supreme Court, is subject to confirmation by the Senate. Another significant power is that of granting a full or conditional pardon to anyone convicted of breaking a federal law except in a case of impeachment. The pardoning power has come to embrace the power to shorten prison terms and reduce fines. 

    Presidential Powers in Foreign Affairs 

    Franklin D Roosevelt
    Franklin D. Roosevelt
    32nd President
    Under the Constitution, the president is the federal official primarily responsible for the relations of the United States with foreign nations. The president appoints ambassadors, ministers, and consuls subject to confirmation by the Senate and receives foreign ambassadors and other public officials. With the secretary of state, the president manages all official contacts with foreign governments. On occasion, the president may personally participate in summit conferences where chiefs of state meet for direct consultation. Thus, President Woodrow Wilson headed the American delegation to the Paris conference at the end of World War I; President Franklin D. Roosevelt met with Allied leaders during World War II; and every president since then has sat down with world leaders to discuss economic and political issues and to reach bilateral and multilateral agreements.  Through the Department of State, the president is responsible for the protection of Americans abroad and of foreign nationals in the United States. The president decides whether to recognize new nations and new governments, and negotiate treaties with other nations, which become binding on the United States when approved by two-thirds of the Senate. The president may also negotiate "executive agreements" with foreign powers that are not subject to Senate confirmation. 

    Constraints on Presidential Power 

    Because of the vast array of presidential roles and responsibilities, coupled with a conspicuous presence on the national and international scene, political analysts have tended to place great emphasis on the president's powers. Some have even spoken of the "the imperial presidency," referring to the expanded role of the office that Franklin D. Roosevelt maintained during his term. 

    One of the first sobering realities a new president discovers is an inherited bureaucratic structure that can be difficult to manage and slow to change direction. The president's power to appoint extends only to some 3,000 people out of a civilian government work force of about 3 million. 

    John F. Kennedy
    John F. Kennedy
    35th President
    The president finds that the machinery of government often operates independently of presidential interventions, has done so through earlier administrations, and will continue to do so in the future. New presidents are immediately confronted with a backlog of decisions from the outgoing administration. They inherit a budget formulated and enacted into law long before they came to office, as well as major spending programs (such as veterans' benefits, Social Security payments, and Medicare health insurance for the elderly), which are mandated by law. In foreign affairs, presidents must conform with treaties and informal agreements negotiated by their predecessors in office. 

    As the happy euphoria of the post-election "honeymoon" dissipates, the new president discovers that Congress has become less cooperative and the media more critical. The president is forced to build at least temporary alliances among diverse, often antagonistic interests economic, geographic, ethnic, and ideological. Compromises with Congress must be struck if any legislation is to be adopted. "It is very easy to defeat a bill in Congress," lamented President John F. Kennedy. "It is much more difficult to pass one." 

    Despite these constraints, every president achieves at least some of his legislative goals and prevents by veto the enactment of other laws he believes not to be in the nation's best interests. The president's authority in the conduct of war and peace, including the negotiation of treaties, is substantial. Moreover, the president can use his unique position to articulate ideas and advocate policies, which then have a better chance of entering the public consciousness than those held by his political rivals. President Theodore Roosevelt called this aspect of the presidency "the bully pulpit," for when a president raises an issue, it inevitably becomes subject to public debate. A president's power and influence may be limited, but they are also greater than those of any other American, in or out of office. 

    Though constrained by various other laws passed by Congress, the President's executive branch conducts most foreign policy, and his power to order and direct troops as commander-in-chief is quite significant. (The exact limits of what a President can do with the military without Congressional authorization are open to debate.)


    Requirements to Hold Office

    Article 2, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution sets the requirements one must meet in order to become President: 
    1. A natural-born citizen of the United States
    2. Thirty-five years of age
    3. Resident of the United States for 14 years.


    There is a well-defined sequence of who should fill the Presidential office, upon the death, resignation, or removal from office (by impeachment) of a current President: This is a partial list:
    1. the Vice President of the United States of America
    2. the Speaker of the House of Representatives
    3. the President pro tempore of the United States Senate.
    The Twenty-fifth Amendment was ratified to define how the President is deemed incapable of discharging his powers and duties and when the Vice President becomes Acting President. 

    Presidents of the United States 

    1. George Washington (1789-1797) (no political party)
    2. John Adams (1797-1801) Federalist
    3. Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) Democratic-Republican
    4. James Madison (1809-1817) Democratic-Republican
    5. James Monroe (1817-1825) Democratic-Republican
    6. John Quincy Adams (1825-1829) Democratic-Republican
    7. Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) Democrat
    8. Martin Van Buren (1837-1841) Democrat
    9. William Henry Harrison (1841) Whig
    10. John Tyler (1841-1845) Whig (Democrat on Whig ticket)
    11. James Knox Polk (1845-1849) Democrat
    12. Zachary Taylor (1849-1850) Whig
    13. Millard Fillmore (1850-1853) Whig
    14. Franklin Pierce (1853-1857) Democrat
    15. James Buchanan (1857-1861) Democrat
    16. Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) Republican
    17. Andrew Johnson (1865-1869) Republican (Democrat on Republican ticket)
    18. Ulysses Simpson Grant (1869-1877) Republican
    19. Rutherford Birchard Hayes (1877-1881) Republican
    20. James Abram Garfield (1881) Republican
    21. Chester Alan Arthur (1881-1885) Republican
    22. (Stephen) Grover Cleveland (1885-1889) Democrat
    23. Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893) Republican
    24. (Stephen) Grover Cleveland (1893-1897) Democrat (same as #22)
    25. William McKinley (1897-1901) Republican
    26. Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) Republican
    27. William Howard Taft (1909-1913) Republican
    28. (Thomas) Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) Democrat
    29. Warren Gamaliel Harding (1921-1923) Republican
    30. (John) Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929) Republican
    31. Herbert Clark Hoover (1929-1933) Republican
    32. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945) Democrat
    33. Harry S Truman (1945-1953) Democrat
    34. Dwight David Eisenhower (1953-1961) Republican
    35. John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1961-1963) Democrat
    36. Lyndon Baines Johnson (1963-1969) Democrat
    37. Richard Milhous Nixon (1969-1974) Republican
    38. Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. (1974-1977) Republican
    39. James Earl 'Jimmy' Carter, Jr. (1977-1981) Democrat
    40. Ronald Wilson Reagan (1981-1989) Republican
    41. George Herbert Walker Bush (1989-1993) Republican
    42. William Jefferson Clinton (1993-2001) Democrat
    43. George Walker Bush (2001-present) Republican

    Presidential salary and perks 

    Presidential Pay History
    Date established Salary
    September 24, 1789 $ 25,000
    March 3, 1873 $ 50,000
    March 4, 1909 $ 75,000
    January 19, 1949 $100,000
    January 20, 1969 $200,000
    January 20, 2001 $400,000

    The first United States Congress voted to pay George Washington a salary of $25,000 a year, a significant sum in 1789. Washington, already a successful man, didn't take the money. Since 2001, the President has earned a salary of $400,000 a year, modest in comparison to the multi-million dollar salaries of most private-sector chief executive officers. 

    Traditionally, the President, as the most important official in the U.S. government, is to be the highest paid government employee. Consequently, the President's salary serves as a cap of sorts for other federal officials such as the Chief Justice of the United States. The raise for 2001 was approved by Congress and President Bill Clinton in 1999 because other officials who receive annual cost-of-living increases had salaries approaching the President's. Thus, in order to raise the salaries of other federal employees, the President's salary had to be raised to avoid surpassing the President. 

    Modern Presidents enjoy many non-salary perks such as living and working in the spacious White House mansion in Washington, DC. While travelling, the President is able to conduct all the functions of the office aboard the specially-built Boeing 747, Air Force One. The President travels around Washington in an armored Cadillac limousine, equipped with bullet-proof windows and tires and a self-contained ventilation system in the event of a biological attack. When traveling longer distances around the Washington area, the President travels aboard the Presidential helicopter, Marine One. 

    Additionally, the President has full use of Camp David in Maryland, a sprawling retreat occasionally used as a casual setting for hosting foreign dignitaries. At all times, the President and his family are protected by an extensive Secret Service detail. 

    Presidential facts 

    Four U.S. Presidents have been assassinated: 
    • Abraham Lincoln
    • James Garfield
    • William McKinley
    • John F. Kennedy
    Four others died in office: 
    • William Henry Harrison
    • Zachary Taylor
    • Warren G. Harding
    • Franklin Delano Roosevelt
    One President resigned from office: 
    • Richard Nixon
    Two Presidents have been impeached, though neither was subsequently convicted: 
    • Andrew Johnson
    • Bill Clinton
    Four Presidents have been elected without a plurality of popular votes: 
    • John Quincy Adams - trailed Andrew Jackson by 44,804 votes
    • Rutherford B. Hayes - trailed Samuel J. Tilden by 264,292 votes
    • Benjamin Harrison - trailed Grover Cleveland 95,713 votes
    • George W. Bush - trailed Al Gore by 540,520 votes
    Two Presidents have been elected without a majority of electoral votes, and were chosen by the House of Representatives: 
    • Thomas Jefferson - finished with same number of electoral votes as Aaron Burr
    • John Quincy Adams - trailed Andrew Jackson by 15 electoral votes
    The President's residence is the White House. 

    Presidents of course had homes other than the White House. This is a list of some of those homes: 

    • George Washington - Mount Vernon
    • Thomas Jefferson - Monticello
    • James Madison - Montpelier
    • James Monroe - Ash Lawn
    • W. H. Harrison - Berkeley Plantation
    • John Tyler - Sherwood Forest Plantation
    • Martin Van Buren - Lindenwald
    • James Buchanan - Wheatland
    • Rutherford Hayes - Spiegel Grove
    • Grover Cleveland - Westland Mansion
    • Theodore Roosevelt - Sagamore Hill
    • Woodrow Wilson - Shadow Lawn
    • Calvin Coolidge - The Beeches
    • Franklin Roosevelt - Hyde Park
    • John Kennedy - Hyannisport
    • Richard Nixon - Casa Pacifica
    • Ronald Reagan - Rancho Cielo
    • George Bush - Walker's Point
    • George W. Bush - Prairie Chapel Ranch

    Presidents of the Continental Congress 

    There were seven Presidents of the Continental Congress prior to the ratification of the Articles of Confederation. These men held very few powers that are now associated with the US presidency and cannot be considered to have been heads of state. Their primary duty was to preside over the Congress (hence the original meaning of "president"). 
    • Peyton Randolph (September 5 to October 21, 1774, and again from May 10 to May 23, 1775)
    • Henry Middleton (October 22, 1774 to May 10, 1775)
    • John Hancock (May 24, 1775 to October 30, 1777)
    • Henry Laurens (November 1, 1777 to December 9, 1778)
    • John Jay (December 10, 1778 to September 27, 1779)
    • Samuel Huntington (September 28, 1779 to July 9, 1781)
    • Thomas McKean (July 10, 1781 to November 4, 1782)

    Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled 

    There were eight Presidents under the Articles of Confederation. These men held few powers that are now associated with the US presidency and cannot be considered to have been heads of state or the "Chief Executive". These men were simply heads of government with Congress holding all executive powers. 
    • John Hanson (November 5, 1781 to November 4, 1782)
    • Elias Boudinot (November 4, 1782 to November 3, 1783)
    • Thomas Mifflin (November 3, 1783 to June 3, 1784)
    • Richard Henry Lee (November 30, 1784 to November 23, 1785)
    • John Hancock (November 23, 1785 to June 6, 1786)
    • Nathaniel Gorham (June 1786 to November 13, 1786)
    • Arthur St. Clair (February 2, 1787 to October 29, 1787)
    • Cyrus Griffin (January 22, 1788 to March 4, 1789)

    Miscellaneous Information 

    Also, on a less serious note: 

    Related Articles 

    External Links 


    This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License, which means that you can copy and modify it as long as the entire work (including additions) remains under this license. See for details. It uses material from the Wikipedia article President_of_the_United_States_of_America

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