Who’s in Charge?

ryanGovernment(ML), Mini Lessons

Read from Common Sense Government eBook: The Presidency

… Abraham Lincoln represents the high water mark of the presidency in the 19th century. Although there is much debate surrounding Abraham Lincoln and his wartime actions, Lincoln nonetheless understood the institutional design of the Framers. He embodied the “energetic executive” discussed by Publius in Federalist 70 and was concerned chiefly with maintaining the constitutional order …

… Aside from Lincoln’s actions during the Civil War, few presidents took any liberties with the constitutional design of the office or the tripartite system in general. They were solely and chiefly institutionalists who acted more often than not at the behest of Congress. Under Article Two, the President is entrusted with faithful execution of the laws. This is how many, if not all, Presidents prior to the 20th century understand their role. … This approach would soon become passé in the American regime. Watch the SNL skit below on executive orders and how presidential power has grown into a constitutional grey area after Lincoln.

  1. What kinds of emergencies justify the president “taking matters into his own hands?”
  2. What are the dangers to the American system of a president doing so? Does it matter which party holds the presidency?

This reading is an excerpt from Certell’s Common Sense Government eBook.  Certell offers curriculum materials and eBooks free of charge for use by students and teachers.  Click Here to download the Common Sense Government materials.

Image Citation:

Kennerly, David Hume.  Taking Command. The World According to Haig.  Digital Image.  Time.  March 16, 1981.  http://content.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19810316,00.html