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A rule of conduct or procedure established by custom, agreement, or authority. The body of rules and principles governing the affairs of a community and enforced by a political authority; a legal system: international law. The condition of social order and justice created by adherence to such a system: a breakdown of law and civilized behavior. A set of rules or principles dealing with a specific area of a legal system: tax law; criminal law. A piece of enacted legislation. What is Law?

President of the United States

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.

As the most powerful person in the United States, a democratic republic and
currently the world's only superpower, the President is sometimes referred
to as "the leader of the free world," though this designation was more
common during the Cold War. In slang, the President of the United States is
sometimes called by the acronym POTUS. The wife of the President is
traditionally referred to as the First Lady.

Presidential powers

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.

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. (See Office of Management and

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.

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

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 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.

The president finds that the machinery of government (the civil service)
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 and
subsequent conviction) of a sitting President:

  1. the Vice President of the United States
  2. the Speaker of the House of Representatives
  3. the President pro tempore of the United States Senate.

This list is only partial. See the entire United States Presidential line of
succession. 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

Former Presidents

After a President leaves office, he continues to be refered to as
"President" for the rest of his life. Former Presidents continue to be
important national figures, and in some cases go on to successful
post-presidential careers. Notable examples have included former President
William Howard Taft's appointment as Chief Justice of the United States and
former President Jimmy Carter's current career as a global human rights

Currently, there are five living former presidents, which is a record
number. They are:

   * Former President Gerald Ford
   * Former President Jimmy Carter
   * Former President Ronald Reagan
   * Former President George H. W. Bush
   * Former President Bill Clinton

Previously, there have been several occasions where there have been four
former presidents simultaneously living.

Presidential salary and perks

The first United States Congress voted to pay     Presidential Pay History
George Washington a salary of $25,000 a year, a
significant sum in 1789. Washington, already a   Date established   Salary
successful man, didn't take the money. Since    September 24, 1789 $ 25,000
2001, the President has earned a salary of
$400,000 a year, modest in comparison to the    March 3, 1873      $ 50,000
multi-million dollar salaries of most           March 4, 1909      $ 75,000
private-sector chief executive officers.
                                                January 19, 1949   $100,000
Traditionally, the President, as the most       January 20, 1969   $200,000
important official in the U.S. government, is
to be the highest paid government employee.     January 20, 2001   $400,000
Consequently, the President's salary serves as a cap of sorts for other
federal officials such as the Chief Justice. 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

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 several
specially-built Boeing 747s, which take the call-sign Air Force One when the
President is aboard. 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.

Until recently, all former Presidents and their family were protected by the
Secret Service until their death. The last President to have Secret Service
protection for life is Bill Clinton. George Walker Bush and all following
Presidents will be protected by the Secret Service for only a certain amount
of years.

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

   * 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
   * John Adams - Peacefield
   * Thomas Jefferson - Monticello
   * James Madison - Montpelier
   * James Monroe - Ash Lawn
   * Andrew Jackson - The Hermitage
   * 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 H. W. Bush - Walker's Point
   * George W. Bush - Prairie Chapel Ranch

Presidents of the Continental Congress

There were six men who served as President 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 U.S. 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").

Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled

There were ten Presidents under the Articles of Confederation. These men
held few powers that are now associated with the U.S. 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.
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