Andrew Clem home

The Presidency:
republican
or imperial?

"Energy in the executive is the leading character in the definition of good government."

~ Alexander Hamilton,
The Federalist #70.


White House, north


Powers of the U.S. President


Constitutional



Extraordinary

In addition, presidents since the 1930s have asserted broad new powers beyond those laid out in the Constitution. Franklin Roosevelt decreed a wide variety of New Deal programs, some of which were later ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Harry Truman initiated U.S. involvement in the Korean War without congressional approval, and later ordered a Federal government seizure of U.S. steel mills in order to prevent a labor stoppage. Lyndon Johnson sent U.S. forces into combat in Vietnam, beginning a long, costly war with barely any pretense of congressional approval. Richard Nixon declared a nationwide freeze on wages and prices without any constitutional authority, and ordered illegal wiretaps of political opponents. (Hence Arthur Schlesinger's 1973 book The Imperial Presidency: www.amazon.com) Bill Clinton launched a U.S.-led war against Serbia on behalf of Kosovo, entirely on his own. George W. Bush launched wars against Afghanistan and Iraq without a congressional declaration of war, and Barack Obama sent U.S. military aircraft to help the rebel forces win the 2011 Libyan civil war, ignoring the limits imposed by the War Powers Resolution of 1973. Actions taken by President Trump during his term (2017-2021) challenged traditional norms aimed at separating politics from institutional integrity, raising fears among Democrats and others about the fate of democracy itself. (Indeed, Trump never explicitly conceded defeat in his failed re-election bid.) In sum, public acquiescence in continued growth of presidential power beyond its proper constitutional limits over the past century has raised serious doubt about whether this country is still the republic that it claims to be, or perhaps instead has become an empire.


Did you know?

From 1840 through 1960, every single president who was elected in a year ending in zero (1840 W.H. Harrison; 1860 Lincoln; 1880 Garfield; 1900 McKinley; 1920 Harding; 1940 F. Roosevelt; 1960 Kennedy) died in office. Ronald Reagan broke that seeming curse.

Former U.S. Presidents: brief chronology

Year
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Year
2
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4
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5
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6
Year
7
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8
Year
9
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President Party Relig. Major events
1789 1790 1791 1792 1793 1794 1795 1796   George Washington Fed Epis Bill of Rights, Whiskey Rebellion, Jay Treaty
1797 1798 1799 1800*   John Adams Fed Unit Alien & Sedition Acts, raids by French ships
1801 1802 1803 1804 1805 1806 1807 1808   Thomas Jefferson # D-R None Louisiana Purchase, Barbary War, Embargo Acts
1809 1810 1811 1812 1813 1814 1815 1816   James Madison D-R Epis War of 1812
1817 1818 1819 1820 1821 1822 1823 1824   James Monroe D-R Epis Monroe Doctrine, purchase of Florida
1825 1826 1827 1828*   John Quincy Adams # D-R Unit Erie Canal opens, "Tariff of Abominations," railroads
1829 1830 1831 1832 1833 1834 1835 1836   Andrew Jackson Dem Presb Pet banks, spoils system, tariffs
1837 1838 1839 1840*   Martin Van Buren Dem D Ref 1837 financial panic, Cherokee "Trail of Tears"
1841 d. Apr. 4 William H. Harrison Whig Epis (Died after one month.)
1841 1842 1843 1844   John Tyler Whig Epis Preemption Act of 1841, annexation of Texas
1845 1846 1847 1848   James Polk Dem Presb Mexican War, Oregon compromise
1849 1850 d. July 9 Zachary Taylor Whig Epis California gold rush
1850 1851 1852   Millard Fillmore Whig Unit Compromise of 1850: California statehood
1853 1854 1855 1856   Franklin Pierce Dem Epis Treaty with Japan, Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854
1857 1858 1859 1860   James Buchanan Dem Presb Abolitionists at Harper's Ferry
1861 1862 1863 1864 1865 d. Apr. 15 @ Abraham Lincoln Rep None Civil War, Emancipation Proclamation
1865 1866 1867 1868   Andrew Johnson N.U. None Reconstruction, 13th & 14th amendments
1869 1870 1871 1872 1873 1874 1875 1876   Ulysses S. Grant Rep Meth Transcontinental railroad, Indian wars
1877 1878 1879 1880   Rutherford B. Hayes # Rep Meth Railroad strike, Edison Electric, Bell Telephone
1881 d. Sept. 19 @ James Garfield Rep Dis Chr OK Corral shootout, American Red Cross
1881 1882 1883 1884   Chester Arthur Rep Epis Chinese Exclusion Act, Civil service reform
1885 1886 1887 1888*   Grover Cleveland Dem Presb Labor strife: AFL founded, anarchists riot
1889 1890 1891 1892*   Benjamin Harrison Rep Presb Indian wars end; Sherman Antitrust Act
1893 1894 1895 1896   Grover Cleveland Dem Presb Financial panic of 1893, jobless march on Washington
1897 1898 1899 1900 1901 d. Sept. 14 @ William McKinley Rep Meth Spanish-American War, Alaska gold rush
1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908   Theodore Roosevelt Rep D Ref Panama indep., first airplane, Panic of 1907
1909 1910 1911 1912*   William Taft Rep Unit Marines occupied Nicaragua; (silent) movies
1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919 1920   Woodrow Wilson Dem Presb World War I, Panama Canal, Mexican revol., Prohibition
1921 1922 1923 d. Aug. 2 Warren Harding Rep Bapt Teapot Dome scandal, radio broadcasting
1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928   Calvin Coolidge Rep Cong Economic boom, intervention in Carbibbean, bootleggers
1929 1930 1931 1932*   Herbert Hoover Rep Quak Wall Street crash, Depression, talking movies, gangs
1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt Dem Epis Depression, gang wars, New Deal, World War II
1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 May 8, 1884 - Dec. 26, 1972 Harry S Truman Dem Bapt A-bomb, Israel, Cold War, China, Korea, TV broadcasting
1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 Oct. 14, 1890 - Mar. 28, 1969 Dwight Eisenhower Rep Presb Nuclear arms, Berlin, Cuba, school integration
1961 1962 1963 d: Nov. 22 @ May 29, 1917 - Nov. 22, 1963 John F. Kennedy Dem Cath Cuba, Laos, civil rights protests, first men in space
1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 Aug. 27, 1908 - Jan. 22, 1973 Lyndon Johnson Dem Dis Chr Vietnam, Mideast wars, race riots, space race
1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 r: Aug. 9 Jan. 9, 1913 - Apr. 22, 1994 Richard Nixon Rep Quak Vietnam, Mideast, lunar landing, oil shock, Watergate
1974 1975 1976 July 14, 1913 - Dec. 26, 2006 Gerald Ford Rep Epis Vietnam, inflation, recession
1977 1978 1979 1980* Oct. 1, 1924 - Jimmy Carter Dem Bapt Iran revolution, oil shock, inflation
1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 Feb. 6, 1911 - June 5, 2004 Ronald Reagan Rep Presb Cold War resumes in Cent. Amer. & Europe, econ. boom
1989 1990 1991 1992* June 12, 1924 - Nov. 30, 2018 George H. W. Bush Rep Epis Berlin Wall falls, Panama, Savings & Loan crisis, Iraq
1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 Aug. 19, 1946 - Bill Clinton Dem Bapt Bosnia, AIDS, economic boom, Internet
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 July 6, 1946 - George W. Bush # Rep Meth 9/11, Afghan & Iraq wars, mortgage crisis
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Aug. 4, 1961 - Barack H. Obama Dem UCC Econ. stimulus, bailouts, health care reform, ISIS
2017 2018 2019 2020* June 14, 1946 - Donald Trump # Rep Presb Immigration, trade policy, foreign policy, covid-19 pandemic
2021 2022 2023 2024 Nov. 20, 1942 - Joe Biden # Dem Cath covid-19 pandemic

* : Incumbent lost re-election bid.

Did you know?

In the 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush received 2,912,790 votes in Florida, while Al Gore received 2,912,253 -- a margin of only 537 votes! Believe it or not!

In general, years are shown on the same line as the president who served for the greater part of that year, except for a few special cases indicated by a period (e.g., 1865), in which case the same year is listed for two successive presidents.
Year boxes with red numbers and red borders denote presidents who died while in office; blue number and border denotes resignation.
# = disputed election.         @ = assassinated.
The names of presidents of special historical significance are indicated by bold face.



Pres Election

NOTE: The "50%" level indicated on the map pertains only to the top two candidates, excluding minor party candidates.

1860 1896 1932 1956 1964 1980 2004 2008 2012 2016 2020

Presidential elections since World War II

Year Democrats Republicans
Convention location Presidential Nominee Vice Pres. Nominee Popular vote % Electoral votes Convention location Presidential Nominee Vice Pres. Nominee Popular vote % Electoral votes
1948 Philadelphia Harry Truman Alben Barkley 49.5% 303 Philadelphia Thomas Dewey Earl Warren 45.1% 189
1952 Chicago Adlai Stevenson John Sparkman 44.4% 89 Chicago Dwight Eisenhower Richard Nixon 55.1% 442
1956 Chicago Adlai Stevenson Estes Kefauver 42.0% 73 San Francisco Dwight Eisenhower Richard Nixon 57.4% 457
1960 Los Angeles John Kennedy Lyndon Johnson 49.7% 303 # Chicago Richard Nixon Henry C. Lodge 49.6% 219
1964 Atlantic City Lyndon Johnson Hubert Humphrey 61.0% 486 San Francisco Barry Goldwater William Miller 38.4% 52
1968 Chicago Hubert Humphrey Edmund S. Muskie 42.7% 191 Miami Beach Richard Nixon Spiro Agnew 43.4% 301
1972 Miami Beach George McGovern Thomas Eagleton * 37.5% 17 Miami Beach Richard Nixon Spiro Agnew 60.7% 520
1976 New York Jimmy Carter Walter Mondale 50.0% 297 Kansas City Gerald Ford Robert Dole 48.0% 240
1980 New York Jimmy Carter Walter Mondale 41.0% 49 Detroit Ronald Reagan George H. W. Bush 50.7% 489
1984 San Francisco Walter Mondale Geraldine Ferraro 41.0% 13 Dallas Ronald Reagan George H. W. Bush 58.8% 525
1988 Atlanta Michael Dukakis Lloyd Bentsen 45.7% 111 New Orleans George H. W. Bush Dan Quayle 53.4% 426
1992 New York Bill Clinton Al Gore 42.3% 370 Houston George H. W. Bush Dan Quayle 37.4% 168
1996 Chicago Bill Clinton Al Gore 49.2% 379 San Diego Robert Dole Jack Kemp 40.7% 159
2000 Los Angeles Al Gore Joe Lieberman 48.4% 266 Philadelphia George W. Bush Richard Cheney 47.8% 271
2004 Boston John Kerry John Edwards 48% 252 New York George W. Bush Richard Cheney 51.0% 286
2008 Denver Barack Obama Joe Biden 52.9% 364 St. Paul John McCain Sarah Palin 46% 174
2012 Charlotte Barack Obama Joe Biden 51% 332 Tampa Mitt Romney Paul Ryan 47% 206
2016 Philadelphia Hillary Clinton Tim Kaine 48.6% 227 ## Cleveland Donald Trump Mike Pence 46.5% 304 ##
2020 Milwaukee Wilmington Joe Biden Kamala Harris 51.4% 306 Charlotte Jacksonville Donald Trump Mike Pence 46.9% 232

NOTES: * Early in the 1972 campaign, Thomas Eagleton was replaced as Democratic vice presidential candidate by Sargent Shriver. (Winners' names in bold face.)
# In 1960, 14 electors who were pledged to Kennedy and one pledged to Nixon "defected," casting their 15 votes for Harry F. Byrd.
## In 2016, 2 electors who were pledged to Trump and 5 electors who were pledged to Clinton "defected," casting their votes for others. Otherwise, Trump would have won 306 electoral votes and Clinton would have won 232 electoral votes.
In 2020, the party conventions were mostly online due to the covid-19 pandemic. Efforts by the Trump campaign to overturn the results when the electoral votes were cast on Dec. 12 and when they were counted by Congress on Jan. 6 (challenging the vote totals in Pennsylvania and Arizona) did not succeed.

SOURCES: Routledge Historical Atlas of Presidential Elections, World Almanac and Book of Facts: (2012 and 2017), wikipedia.org


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