The New International Encyclopædia/President

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

PRESIDENT (OF. president, Fr. président, from Lat. præsidens, president, pres. part. of præsidere, to preside, direct, sit before, from præ, before + sedere, to sit). The chief executive officer of the United States Government, chosen for a term of four years by an electoral college. In case of removal, resignation, death, or inability to discharge the duties imposed by the Constitution and laws he is succeeded by an officer called Vice-President. The electors by whom the President is chosen are appointed in each State in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, each State being entitled to as many electors as it has Senators and Representatives in Congress. At present the practice in every State is to choose the electors by popular vote on a general ticket. This election takes place on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November of the year preceding that of the Presidential election. These electors assemble in their respective State capitals on the second Monday of January following for the purpose of casting their votes, which are in turn transmitted to Congress and officially counted by that body on the second Wednesday of February. In case no candidate receives a majority of the electoral votes the election is taken to the House of Representatives, where the members voting by States choose a President from the three highest candidates on the list. This happened in 1800 and again in 1824. The President is inaugurated on the 4th of March following the election. He is eligible for reëlection without limit as to the number of terms, but the precedent set by Washington of refusing a third term has never been broken. Eight Presidents have, however, served two terms each. The convention which framed the Constitution of the United States was well nigh unanimous in opinion as to what should be the character of the Presidential office, although there were differences of opinion as to what should be the tenure and mode of election. The State Governors and Presidents afforded a tolerably clear model for the creation of the national executive, and it may be said that these were followed rather than the British executive. The qualifications for the Presidency are fixed by the Constitution. They are citizenship acquired by birth in the United States, fourteen years' residence in the United States, and the completion of the thirty-fifth year of age. The President is required before entering upon the discharge of his duties to swear or affirm that he will faithfully execute the duties of the office to which he has been elected and to the best of his ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. On the occasion of the inauguration the President delivers a public address in which he announces his political policy, and annually upon the meeting of Congress he sends a message to that body containing information of the state of the Union and making such recommendations as may seem to him wise and expedient.

The President receives compensation for his services in a salary which is at present fixed by statute at $50,000 per year and which cannot be increased or diminished during the term for which he is chosen. He is also allowed the use of the executive mansion, together with the furniture and effects kept therein. He is prohibited by the Constitution from accepting any other emolument from any one of the Commonwealths or from any foreign Prince, King, or State. He is privileged from the jurisdiction of any court or magistrate, but may be impeached by the House of Representatives for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors, and upon conviction by the Senate must be removed from office. Being then divested of his official character, he is subject to indictment and trial in the regular courts as any other private individual. The privilege of resigning from office is recognized by the Constitution, and the formalities of relinquishment are prescribed by a statute of Congress.

The powers and duties of the President include the management of the foreign relations of the United States; the calling together of Congress in extraordinary session, and the furnishing it with information concerning the Government; the power to veto legislative measures; the command of the army and navy; the granting of reprieves and pardons; the execution of the laws; and the appointment of the officers of the United States. For a more detailed discussion of the duties and powers of the President, see United States, and for the electoral votes cast for the various candidates for the Presidency and the Vice-Presidency, see Electoral Votes. See, also, Electoral College. Consult Stanwood, History of the Presidency (Boston, 1898).