Overtime the Power of the Presidency Has Expanded Because

Overtime the Power of the Presidency Has Expanded Because

Affiliate 12: The Presidency

The Design and Evolution of the Presidency

Learning Objectives

By the stop of this department, you will be able to:

  • Explicate the reason for the design of the executive branch and its plausible alternatives
  • Analyze the way presidents have expanded presidential power and why
  • Place the limitations on a president’s power

Since its invention at the Ramble Convention of 1787, the presidential office has gradually get more than powerful, giving its occupants a far-greater take a chance to exercise leadership at home and abroad. The office of the principal executive has changed over time, as various presidents have confronted challenges in domestic and foreign policy in times of war too as peace, and as the power of the federal government has grown.


Articles of Confederation
made no provision for an executive branch, although they did use the term “president” to designate the presiding officer of the Confederation Congress, who also handled other administrative duties.[i]

The presidency was proposed early on in the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia by Virginia’s Edmund Randolph, as function of James Madison’s proposal for a federal regime, which became known as the
Virginia Plan.
offered a rather sketchy outline of the executive branch, leaving open whether what he termed the “national executive” would be an private or a set of people. He proposed that Congress select the executive, whose powers and authority, and fifty-fifty length of term of service, were left largely undefined. He also proposed a “council of revision” consisting of the national executive and members of the national judiciary, which would review laws passed by the legislature and accept the power of veto.[2]

Early deliberations produced agreement that the executive would be a single person, elected for a single term of seven years by the legislature, empowered to veto legislation, and subject to impeachment and removal by the legislature. New Bailiwick of jersey’s William
offered an alternating model as part of his proposal, typically referred to as the small-state or
New Jersey Plan. This plan called for merely amending the Articles of Confederation to allow for an executive branch made upward of a committee elected past a unicameral Congress for a single term. Nether this proposal, the executive committee would be peculiarly weak considering it could be removed from power at any indicate if a majority of state governors and then desired. Far more extreme was Alexander Hamilton’s suggestion that the executive power exist entrusted to a single individual. This individual would be chosen past electors, would serve for life, and would exercise wide powers, including the ability to veto legislation, the power to negotiate treaties and grant pardons in all cases except treason, and the duty to serve as commander-in-chief of the armed forces ((Figure)).

Effigy 1.
(a), who had served under General George
(b) during the Revolutionary War, argued for a potent executive in Federalist No. 70. Indeed, x other Federalist Papers discuss the role of the presidency.

Debate and discussion continued throughout the summer. Delegates eventually settled upon a single executive, simply they remained at a loss for how to select that person. Pennsylvania’s James Wilson, who had triumphed on the issue of a unmarried executive, at first proposed the straight election of the president. When delegates rejected that idea, he responded with the suggestion that electors, chosen throughout the nation, should select the executive. Over fourth dimension, Wilson’southward idea gained footing with delegates who were uneasy at the thought of an election by the legislature, which presented the opportunity for intrigue and corruption. The idea of a shorter term of service combined with eligibility for reelection also became more bonny to delegates. The framers of the Constitution struggled to find the proper balance betwixt giving the president the ability to perform the job on one manus and opening the mode for a president to corruption power and deed like a monarch on the other.

By early September, the
Electoral College
had emerged every bit the manner to select a president for four years who was eligible for reelection. This process is discussed more than fully in the chapter on elections. Today, the Electoral College consists of a body of 538 people called electors, each representing one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia, who formally cast votes for the ballot of the president and vice president ((Figure)). In forty-8 states and the District of Columbia, the candidate who wins the popular vote in November receives all the country’s electoral votes. In ii states, Nebraska and Maine, the electoral votes are divided: The candidate who wins the popular vote in the state gets two electoral votes, only the winner of each congressional commune also receives an electoral vote.

A map of the United States showing the number of Electoral College votes granted to each state. In alphabetical order, Alabama has 9, Alaska has 3, Arizona has 11, Arkansas has 6, California has 55, Colorado has 9, Connecticut has 7, Delaware has 3, Washington DC has 3, Florida has 29, Georgia has 16, Hawaii has 4, Idaho has 4, Illinois has 20, Indiana has 11, Iowa has 6, Kansas has 6, Kentucky has 8, Louisiana has 8, Maine has 4, Maryland has 10, Massachusetts has 11, Michigan has 16, Minnesota has 10, Mississippi has 6, Missouri has 10, Montana has 3, Nebraska has 5, Nevada has 6, New Hampshire has 4, New Jersey has 14, New Mexico has 5, New York has 29, North Carolina has 15, North Dakota has 3, Ohio has 18, Oklahoma has 7, Oregon has 7, Pennsylvania has 20, Rhode Island has 4, South Carolina has 9, South Dakota has 3, Tennessee has 11, Texas has 38, Utah has 6, Vermont has 3, Virginia has 13, Washington has 12, West Virginia has 5, Wisconsin has 10, and Wyoming has 3.

Figure ii.
This map shows the distribution by land of delegate votes available in the 2016 national election. The number of Electoral College votes granted to each land equals the total number of representatives and senators that state has in the U.S. Congress or, in the case of Washington, DC, equally many electors as it would take if it were a land. The number of representatives may fluctuate based on state population, which is determined every ten years past the U.S. Demography.

In the original blueprint implemented for the get-go four presidential elections (1788–89, 1792, 1796, and 1800), the electors cast two ballots (but simply one could go to a candidate from the elector’south country), and the person who received a majority won the election. The second-identify finisher became vice president. Should no candidate receive a majority of the votes cast, the Business firm of Representatives would select the president, with each state casting a unmarried vote, while the Senate chose the vice president.

While George Washington was elected president twice with this arroyo, the design resulted in controversy in both the 1796 and 1800 elections. In 1796, John Adams won the presidency, while his opponent and political rival Thomas Jefferson was elected vice president. In 1800, Thomas Jefferson and his running mate Aaron Burr finished tied in the Electoral Higher. Jefferson was elected president in the House of Representatives on the thirty-sixth ballot. These controversies led to the proposal and ratification of the
Twelfth Amendment, which couples a item presidential candidate with that candidate’south running mate in a unified ticket.[3]

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For the terminal two centuries or and then, the Twelfth Subpoena has worked fairly well. Only this doesn’t mean the arrangement is foolproof. For case, the amendment created a separate ballot for the vice president merely left the rules for electors largely intact. One of those rules states that the 2 votes the electors cast cannot both be for “an inhabitant of the same land with themselves.”[4]

This rule means that an elector from, say, Louisiana, could not cast votes for a presidential candidate and a vice presidential candidate who were both from Louisiana; that elector could vote for only one of these people. The intent of the rule was to encourage electors from powerful states to await for a more diverse pool of candidates. Merely what would happen in a close election where the members of the winning ticket were both from the same state?

The nation almost found out in 2000. In the presidential election of that year, the Republican ticket won the election by a very narrow electoral margin. To win the presidency or vice presidency, a candidate must get 270 balloter votes (a majority). George W.
and Dick Cheney won by the peel of their teeth with just 271. Both, however, were living in Texas. This should have meant that Texas’s 32 electoral votes could take gone to only one or the other. Cheney anticipated this problem and had before registered to vote in Wyoming, where he was originally from and where he had served equally a representative years earlier.[5]

Information technology’s hard to imagine that the 2000 presidential election could have been fifty-fifty more complicated than it was, but thanks to that seemingly innocuous rule in
Article II of the Constitution,
that was a real possibility.

Despite provisions for the election of a vice president (to serve in case of the president’south decease, resignation, or removal through the impeachment process), and autonomously from the suggestion that the vice president should be responsible for presiding over the Senate, the framers left the vice president’s role undeveloped. As a result, the influence of the vice presidency has varied dramatically, depending on how much of a function the vice president is given by the president. Some vice presidents, such as Dan Quayle under President George H. W. Bush, serve a more often than not ceremonial function, while others, similar Dick Cheney under President George W. Bush, become a partner in governance and rival the White Firm master of staff in terms of influence.

While Article II as well states that the term of office is four years and does non expressly limit the number of times a person might be elected president, subsequently Franklin D.
was elected four times (from 1932 to 1944), the Twenty-Second Amendment was proposed and ratified, limiting the presidency to two iv-twelvemonth terms.

An of import means of ensuring that no president could become tyrannical was to build into the Constitution a articulate process for removing the chief executive—impeachment. Impeachment is the act of charging a government official with serious wrongdoing; the Constitution calls this wrongdoing loftier crimes and misdemeanors. The method the framers designed required two steps and both chambers of the Congress. First, the House of Representatives could impeach the president by a simple majority vote. In the 2nd step, the Senate could remove him or her from office by a two-thirds bulk, with the master justice of the Supreme Court presiding over the trial. Upon confidence and removal of the president, if that occurred, the vice president would become president.

Iii presidents have faced impeachment proceedings in the Firm; none has been both impeached past the House and removed by the Senate. In the wake of the Civil War, President Andrew
faced congressional contempt for decisions made during Reconstruction. President Richard
faced an overwhelming likelihood of impeachment in the House for his cover-up of central information relating to the 1972 burglary at the Democratic Party’due south campaign headquarters at the Watergate hotel and apartment complex. Nixon likely would take also been removed past the Senate, since there was potent bipartisan consensus for his impeachment and removal. Instead, he resigned before the Firm and Senate could exercise their constitutional prerogatives.

The most contempo impeachment was of President Bill
Clinton, brought on past his lying about an extramarital affair with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. House Republicans felt the affair and Clinton’due south initial public denial of information technology rose to a level of wrongdoing worthy of impeachment. Firm Democrats believed it vicious short of an impeachable offense and that a simply censure made meliorate sense. Clinton’s trial in the Senate went nowhere because also few Senators wanted to move frontward with removing the president.

Thus, impeachment remains a rare event indeed and removal has never occurred. Nevertheless, the fact that a president could be impeached and removed is an of import reminder of the function of the executive in the broader system of shared powers. The aforementioned outcome occurred in the case of Andrew Johnson in the nineteenth century though he came closer to the threshold of votes needed for removal than did Clinton.

The Constitution that emerged from the deliberations in Philadelphia treated the powers of the presidency in concise manner. The president was to exist commander-in-master of the armed forces of the United States, negotiate treaties with the communication and consent of the Senate, and receive representatives of foreign nations ((Figure)). Charged to “take care that the laws exist faithfully executed,” the president was given wide power to pardon those bedevilled of federal offenses, except for officials removed through the impeachment procedure.[7]

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The chief executive would present to Congress data about the state of the union; call Congress into session when needed; veto legislation if necessary, although a two-thirds supermajority in both houses of Congress could override that veto; and make recommendations for legislation and policy as well as phone call on the heads of various departments to make reports and offering opinions.

A photo of Barack Obama speaking outside the White House. Standing next to him is Angela Merkel.

Figure 3.
During visits from foreign heads of country, the president of the Usa is oft surrounded by representatives of the armed forces, a symbol of the president’s dual role as head of state and commander-in-chief. Here, President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a welcoming ceremony for Angela Merkel, chancellor of the Federal republic of germany. (credit: Stephen Hassay)

Finally, the president’due south job included nominating federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, likewise as other federal officials, and making appointments to make full military and diplomatic posts. The number of judicial appointments and nominations of other federal officials is groovy. In recent decades, two-term presidents take nominated well over three hundred federal judges while in part.[8]

Moreover, new presidents nominate close to five hundred meridian officials to their Executive Function of the President, fundamental agencies (such every bit the Department of Justice), and regulatory commissions (such equally the Federal Reserve Board), whose appointments require Senate majority approval.[9]


No sooner had the presidency been established than the occupants of the office, starting with George
Washington, began acting in ways that expanded both its formal and informal powers. For example, Washington established a chiffonier or group of advisors to help him administer his duties, consisting of the most senior appointed officers of the executive co-operative. Today, the heads of the xv executive departments serve as the president’s directorate.[10]

And, in 1793, when it became important for the United states of america to take a stand in the evolving European conflicts between France and other European powers, especially United kingdom of great britain and northern ireland, Washington issued a neutrality proclamation that extended his rights as diplomat-in-principal far more broadly than had at first been conceived.

Later presidents built on the foundation of these powers. Some waged undeclared wars, every bit John
did confronting the French in the Quasi-War (1798–1800). Others agreed to negotiate for significant territorial gains, equally Thomas
did when he oversaw the purchase of Louisiana from French republic. Concerned that he might be violating the powers of the role, Jefferson rationalized that his non facing impeachment charges constituted Congress’due south tacit approval of his actions. James
used his annual bulletin in 1823 to declare that the United States would consider it an intolerable act of assailment for European powers to intervene in the affairs of the nations of the Western Hemisphere. After dubbed the
Monroe Doctrine, this annunciation of principles laid the foundation for the growth of American power in the twentieth century. Andrew
employed the veto every bit a measure out of policy to cake legislative initiatives with which he did not hold and acted unilaterally when it came to depositing federal funds in several local banks around the country instead of in the Bank of the United states. This move changed the way vetoes would be used in the future. Jackson’s twelve vetoes were more than those of all prior presidents combined, and he issued them due to policy disagreements (their ground today) rather than as a legal tool to protect against encroachments by Congress on the president’due south powers.

Of the many means in which the chief executive’due south power grew over the first several decades, the nigh pregnant was the expansion of presidential war powers. While Washington, Adams, and Jefferson led the way in waging undeclared wars, it was President James One thousand.
who truly gear up the phase for the wide growth of this authorisation. In 1846, as the United States and Mexico were grouse over the messy effect of where Texas’s southern edge lay, Polk purposely raised anxieties and ruffled feathers through his envoy in United mexican states. He then responded to the newly heightened state of affairs by sending U.S. troops to the Rio Grande, the border Texan expansionists claimed for Texas. Mexico sent troops in response, and the
Mexican-American War
began before long later on.[11]

Lincoln, a member of Congress at the time, was critical of Polk’south actions. After, however, every bit president himself, Lincoln used presidential war powers and the concepts of military machine necessity and national security to undermine the Amalgamated endeavor to seek independence for the Southern states. In suspending the privilege of the
writ of habeas corpus, Lincoln blurred the boundaries betwixt acceptable dissent and unacceptable disloyalty. He also famously used a unilateral proclamation to issue the
Emancipation Proclamation, which cited the armed services necessity of declaring millions of slaves in Confederate-controlled territory to be gratis. His successor, Andrew
Johnson, became so embroiled with Radical Republicans virtually ways to implement Reconstruction policies and programs after the Civil War that the House of Representatives impeached him, although the legislators in the Senate were unable to successfully remove him from part.[12]

Over the class of the twentieth century, presidents expanded and elaborated upon these powers. The rather vague wording in
Article 2, which says that the “executive power shall be vested” in the president, has been subject to wide and sweeping estimation in order to justify deportment across those specifically enumerated in the document.[13]

Equally the federal hierarchy expanded, so too did the president’s power to grow agencies like the Underground Service and the Federal Agency of Investigation. Presidents likewise farther developed the concept of executive privilege, the right to withhold information from Congress, the judiciary, or the public. This right, non enumerated in the Constitution, was first asserted by George Washington to curtail inquiry into the actions of the executive branch.[14]

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The more than general defense of its use past White House officials and attorneys ensures that the president can secure aboveboard advice from his or her advisors and staff members.

Increasingly over fourth dimension, presidents have made more utilise of their unilateral powers, including executive social clubs, rules that bypass Congress merely still accept the force of law if the courts do non overturn them. More recently, presidents have offered their ain interpretation of legislation every bit they sign it via signing statements (discussed subsequently in this chapter) directed to the bureaucratic entity charged with implementation. In the realm of foreign policy, Congress permitted the widespread use of executive understandings
to formalize international relations, so long as important matters even so came through the Senate in the grade of treaties.[xv]

Contempo presidents have continued to rely upon an ever more than expansive definition of war powers to human activity unilaterally at domicile and abroad. Finally, presidents, often with Congress’s approving through the formal delegation of authorization, have taken the lead in framing budgets, negotiating budget compromises, and at times impounding funds in an effort to prevail in matters of policy.

The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921

Developing a upkeep in the nineteenth century was a chaotic mess. Unlike the example today, in which the budgeting process is centrally controlled, Congresses in the nineteenth century developed a upkeep in a piecemeal process. Federal agencies independently submitted budget requests to Congress, and these requests were then considered through the congressional commission process. Because the regime was relatively small in the get-go few decades of the republic, this approach was sufficient. Even so, every bit the size and complexity of the U.S. economy grew over the course of the nineteenth century, the traditional congressional budgeting process was unable to continue up.[sixteen]

Things finally came to a caput post-obit Globe War I, when federal spending and debt skyrocketed. Reformers proposed the solution of putting the executive branch in accuse of developing a budget that could be scrutinized, amended, and approved by Congress. Withal, President Woodrow
Wilson, owing to a provision tacked onto the beak regarding presidential appointments, vetoed the legislation that would have transformed the budgeting process in this way. His successor, Warren
Harding, felt differently and signed the
Budget and Accounting Act
of 1921. The act gave the president first-mover advantage in the budget process via the first “executive upkeep.” It also created the first-ever budget staff at the disposal of a president, at the fourth dimension called the Bureau of the Budget only decades after renamed the Office of Management and Budget ((Figure)). With this act, Congress willingly delegated significant authority to the executive and made the president the chief budget calendar setter.

A photo of Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Daniel Bell, and three members of the House Appropriations Committee.

Figure 4.
In December 1936, the House Appropriations Commission hears Secretary of Treasury Henry
Morgenthau, Jr. (bottom, left) and Acting Director of the Upkeep Daniel
(peak, correct) on the federal finances. (credit: modification of piece of work by the Library of Congress)

The Budget Human action of 1921 finer shifted some congressional powers to the president. Why might Congress have felt it important to centralize the budgeting process in the executive branch? What advantages could the executive branch have over the legislative branch in this regard?

The growth of presidential ability is as well attributable to the growth of the United states and the power of the national government. As the nation has grown and adult, then has the office. Whereas near important decisions were once made at the country and local levels, the increasing complication and size of the domestic economy take led people in the Us to look to the federal government more often for solutions. At the aforementioned time, the rising profile of the Us on the international stage has meant that the president is a far more important effigy equally leader of the nation, equally diplomat-in-principal, and equally commander-in-main. Finally, with the rise of electronic mass media, a president who once depended on newspapers and official documents to distribute information beyond an immediate audience can now bring that message direct to the people via radio, idiot box, and social media. Major events and crises, such equally the Great Depression, two world wars, the Cold State of war, and the war on terrorism, accept farther contributed to presidential stature.


The delegates at the Constitutional Convention proposed creating the part of the president and debated many forms the role might have. The president is elected for a maximum of ii four-year terms and can exist impeached by Congress for wrongdoing and removed from part. The presidency and presidential power, specially state of war powers, have expanded greatly over the last 2 centuries, often with the willing assistance of the legislative branch. Executive privilege and executive orders are two of the presidency’s powerful tools. During the concluding several decades, historical events and new technologies such as radio, television, and the Internet have farther enhanced the stature of the presidency.

NOTE: The activities beneath volition not exist counted towards your concluding grade for this grade. They are strictly here to assist yous check your knowledge in grooming for class assignments and futurity dialogue. All-time of luck!


a grouping of advisors to the president, consisting of the near senior appointed officers of the executive branch who head the fifteen executive departments
executive agreement
an international understanding between the president and another country fabricated past the executive branch and without formal consent by the Senate
executive order
a rule or social club issued by the president without the cooperation of Congress and having the force of law
executive privilege
the president’s right to withhold information from Congress, the judiciary, or the public
the act of charging a government official with serious wrongdoing, which in some cases may lead to the removal of that official from office

Overtime the Power of the Presidency Has Expanded Because

Source: https://pressbooks.online.ucf.edu/amnatgov/chapter/the-design-and-evolution-of-the-presidency/