Over the 18th and 19th century, United States’ presidents were as not influential as they are today. The presidents did not have the role of being the world leader. However, after the United States emerged as the powerful entity in the Spanish American war, things started to change and so did the role of the president. By the time the world was fighting the cold war, the president of the United States had become the Leader of the free world. Compared to the limited roles the president had in the early 19th century, today the president has assumed many roles and at the same time becoming more powerful (Howard, Tom). Many changes have taken place leading to increased power for the president. The paper will highlight some of these significant changes resulting to increased power of the presidency.
Up until the 1930s, the Congress was the branch that dominated among all other national government branches. Although the president had the military power, he was only named the commander in chief as the founders of the country saw the importance of having a strong military for protecting the nation and its citizens. The president was also granted the diplomatic power where he could make treaties with foreign countries as long as the Senate consented. The Senate decided whether the agreement was valid, if they saw otherwise, the president would not sign it. The constitution also dictated the powers of the president as a representative of the country to other nations. Other than this the president had the power to appoint various people to work hand in hand with him in the executive branch. Among those that he could nominate were ambassadors, judges of the supreme court, and other Ministers and Consuls of the government. However, even with this, the Senate had to be consulted where they would vote (Milner, Jonathan).
Finally, the president had been granted the legislative power. All the bills that passed in both houses of Congress had to be submitted to the president for the final approval. The Congress could, however, navigate around this in various ways. The firsts one is that if the president does not sign the bill within ten days, it automatically became law even without the president’s signature. The other way is by Congress vote of two-thirds in each house which automatically overrides the presidential signature (Milner, Jonathan). By considering all this, it is evident that the president’s powers were limited.
Change and increase of power came with new presidents occupying the seat and the most memorable being Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson, and Theodore Roosevelt. The four paved the way for the evolution that came during the tenure of Franklin Roosevelt. President Jackson asserted the national power where he used the veto to nullify the South Carolina federal traffic law. Lincoln ignored the Congress and expanded the size of the army. He also ordered blockades for the southern ports all without the advice or consent of the Congress. Theodore Roosevelt in his tenure expanded the power of the presidency by working closely with the Congress and defining his role as the president to the Congress. Due to the world war I, Wilson got an opportunity to take the lead in the international affairs hence rendering more power to the presidency (ushistory.org). By the time Franklin Roosevelt was getting to power, a lot of changes had started taking place and therefore enabling him to strengthen the power.
Franklin Roosevelt saw the country through the great depression that saw an increase in federal bureaucracy with the president himself being the bureaucrat in chief. It is also at this time that the president gained a lot of power due to his influence in recovering the country from the depression. Franklins New Deal programs and the world war II increased his power as the president and ultimately the presidency (Milner, Jonathan). In can only be concluded that the ability of a president to take the country through a difficult situation and coming out victorious makes the presidency more powerful. Finally, other factors like media coverage, globalization, and technology have seen the modern presidency increase its powers.
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