President

The president is a common title for the head of state in most republics. In politics, president is a title given to leaders of republican states.

The functions exercised by a president vary according to the form of government. In parliamentary republics, they are limited to those of the head of state, and are thus largely ceremonial. In presidential and semi-presidential republics, the role of the president is more prominent, encompassing also (in most cases) the functions of the head of government. In authoritarian regimes, a dictator or leader of a one-party state may also be called a president.

Description

The title president is derived from the Latin prae- "before" + sedere "to sit." As such, it originally designated the officer who presides over or "sits before" a gathering and ensures that debate is conducted according to the rules of order (see also chairman and speaker), but today it most commonly refers to an executive official in any social organization. Early examples are from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge (from 1464) and the founding President of the Royal Society William Brouncker in 1660. This usage survives today in the title of such offices as "President of the Board of Trade" and "Lord President of the Council" in the United Kingdom, as well as "President of the Senate" in the United States (one of the roles constitutionally assigned to the vice president). The officiating priest at certain Anglican religious services, too, is sometimes called the "president" in this sense. However, the most common modern usage is as the title of a head of state in a republic.

In pre-revolutionary France, the president of a Parlement evolved into a powerful magistrate, a member of the so-called noblesse de robe ("nobility of the gown"), with considerable judicial as well as administrative authority. The name referred to his primary role of presiding over trials and other hearings. In the 17th and 18th centuries, seats in the Parlements, including presidencies, became effectively hereditary, since the holder of the office could ensure that it would pass to an heir by paying the crown a special tax known as the paulette. The post of "first president" (premier président), however, could only be held by the King's nominees. The Parlements were abolished by the French Revolution. In modern France the chief judge of a court is known as its president (président de la cour).

The first usage of the word president to denote the highest official in a government was during the Commonwealth of England. After the abolition of the monarchy the English Council of State, whose members were elected by the House of Commons, became the executive government of the Commonwealth. The Council of State was the successor of the Privy Council, which had previously been headed by the Lord President; its successor the Council of State was also headed by a Lord President, the first of which was John Bradshaw. However, the Lord President alone was not head of state, because that office was vested in the council as a whole.

The modern usage of the term president to designate a single person who is the head of state of a republic can be traced directly to the United States Constitution of 1787, which created the office of President of the United States. Previous American governments had included "presidents" (such as the president of the Continental Congress or the president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress), but these were presiding officers in the older sense, with no executive authority. It has been suggested that the executive use of the term was borrowed from early American colleges and universities, which were usually headed by a president. British universities were headed by an official called the "Chancellor" (typically a ceremonial position) while the chief administrator held the title of "Vice-Chancellor". But America's first institutions of higher learning (such as Harvard University and Yale University) didn't resemble a full-sized university so much as one of its constituent colleges. A number of colleges at Cambridge University featured an official called the "president". The head, for instance, of Magdalene College, Cambridge was called the master and his second the president. The first president of Harvard, Henry Dunster, had been educated at Magdalene. Some have speculated that he borrowed the term out of a sense of humility, considering himself only a temporary place-holder. The presiding official of Yale College, originally a "rector" (after the usage of continental European universities), became "president" in 1745.

A common style of address for presidents, "Mr/Mrs. President," is borrowed from British Parliamentary tradition, in which the presiding Speaker of the House of Commons is referred to as "Mr/Mrs. Speaker." Coincidentally, this usage resembles the older French custom of referring to the president of a parlement as "Monsieur/Madame le Président", a form of address that in modern France applies to both the President of the Republic and to chief judges. Similarly, the Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada is addressed by francophone parliamentarians as "Monsieur/Madame le/la Président(e)". In Pierre Choderlos de Laclos's novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses of 1782, the character identified as Madame la Présidente de Tourvel ("Madam President of Tourvel") is the wife of a magistrate in a parlement. The fictional name Tourvel refers not to the parlement in which the magistrate sits, but rather, in imitation of an aristocratic title, to his private estate.

Once the United States adopted the title of "president" for its republican head of state, many other nations followed suit. Haiti became the first presidential republic in Latin America when Henri Christophe assumed the title in 1807. Almost all of the American nations that became independent from Spain in the early 1810s and 1820s chose a US-style president as their chief executive. The first European president was the president of the Italian Republic of 1802, a client state of revolutionary France, in the person of Napoleon Bonaparte. The first African president was the President of Liberia (1848), while the first Asian president was the President of the Republic of China (1912).

In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the powers of presidencies have varied from country to country. The spectrum of power has included presidents-for-life and hereditary presidencies to ceremonial heads of state.

Presidents in the countries with a democratic or representative form of government are usually elected for a specified period of time and in some cases may be re-elected by the same process by which they are appointed, i.e. in many nations, periodic popular elections. The powers vested in such presidents vary considerably. Some presidencies, such as that of Ireland, are largely ceremonial, whereas other systems vest the president with substantive powers such as the appointment and dismissal of prime ministers or cabinets, the power to declare war, and powers of veto on legislation. In many nations the president is also the commander-in-chief of the nation's armed forces, though once again this can range from a ceremonial role to one with considerable authority.

Presidential systems

Dilma and Obama 2011
Presidents Obama and Rousseff of the United States and Brazil.

In almost all states with a presidential system of government, the president exercises the functions of head of state and head of government, i.e. the president directs the executive branch of government. When a President not only is head of state, but also head of government, is this, in Europe known to be a President of Counsel from the French Présidente du Conseil, used 1871-1940 and 1944-1958, as the Third and Fourth French Republics. In the United States the President has always been both Head of State and Head of Government and has always had the title of President.

Presidents in this system are either directly elected by popular vote or indirectly elected by an electoral college or some other democratically elected body.

In the United States, the President is indirectly elected by the Electoral College made up of electors chosen by voters in the presidential election. In most states of the United States, each elector is committed to voting for a specified candidate determined by the popular vote in each state, so that the people, in voting for each elector, are in effect voting for the candidate. However, for various reasons the numbers of electors in favour of each candidate are unlikely to be proportional to the popular vote. Thus, in five close United States elections (1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016), the candidate with the most popular votes still lost the election.

President Bush and President Johnson Sirleaf, 2008
Presidents Johnson-Sirleaf and Bush of Liberia and the United States.

In Mexico, the president is directly elected for a six-year term by popular vote. The candidate who wins the most votes is elected president even without an absolute majority. The president may never get another term. The 2006 Mexican elections had a fierce competition, the electoral results showed a minimal difference between the two most voted candidates and such difference was just about the 0.58% of the total vote. The Federal Electoral Tribunal declared an elected president after a controversial post-electoral process.

In Brazil, the president is directly elected for a four-year term by popular vote. A candidate has to have more than 50% of the valid votes. If no candidates achieve a majority of the votes, there is a runoff election between the two candidates with most votes. Again, a candidate needs a majority of the vote to be elected. In Brazil, a president cannot be elected to more than two consecutive terms, but there is no limit on the number of terms a president can serve.

Many South American, Central American, African and some Asian nations follow the presidential model.

Semi-presidential systems

Tsai Ing-wen 20170613
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen.

A second system is the semi-presidential system, also known as the French model. In this system, as in the parliamentary system, there are both a president and a prime minister; but unlike the parliamentary system, the president may have significant day-to-day power. For example, in France, when their party controls the majority of seats in the National Assembly, the president can operate closely with the parliament and prime minister, and work towards a common agenda. When the National Assembly is controlled by their opponents, however, the president can find themselves marginalized with the opposition party prime minister exercising most of the power. Though the prime minister remains an appointee of the president, the president must obey the rules of parliament, and select a leader from the house's majority holding party. Thus, sometimes the president and prime minister can be allies, sometimes rivals; the latter situation is known in France as cohabitation. Variants of the French semi-presidential system, developed at the beginning of the Fifth Republic by Charles de Gaulle, are used in France, Portugal, Romania, Taiwan,[1] Sri Lanka and several post-colonial countries which have emulated the French model. In Finland, although the 2000 constitution moved towards a ceremonial presidency, the system is still formally semi-presidential, with the President of Finland retaining e.g. foreign policy and appointment powers.

President Lee Myung-bak and Indian President Pratibha Patil in Seoul
Indian President Pratibha Patil and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

Parliamentary systems

The parliamentary republic, is a parliamentary system in which the presidency is largely ceremonial with either de facto or no significant executive authority (such as the President of Austria) or de jure no significant executive power (such as the President of Ireland), and the executive powers rests with the Prime Minister who automatically assumes the post as head of a majority party or coalition, but takes oath of office administered by the president. However, the president is head of the civil service, commander in chief of the armed forces and in some cases can dissolve parliament. Countries using this system include Austria, Armenia, Albania, Bangladesh, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy,[2] Malta, Pakistan, Singapore.

A variation of the parliamentary republic is a system with an executive president in which the president is the head of state and the government but unlike a presidential system, is elected by and accountable to a parliament, and referred to as president. Countries using this system include Botswana, South Africa and Suriname.

Collective presidency

Bundesrat der Schweiz 2015
The seven-member Swiss Federal Council serves as collective head of government and state of Switzerland.

Only a tiny minority of modern republics do not have a single head of state. Some examples of this are:

Dictatorships

In dictatorships, the title of president is frequently taken by self-appointed or military-backed leaders. Such is the case in many states: Idi Amin in Uganda, Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire, Ferdinand Marcos in Philippines and Saddam Hussein in Iraq are some examples. Other presidents in authoritarian states have wielded only symbolic or no power such as Craveiro Lopes in Portugal and Joaquín Balaguer under the "Trujillo Era" of the Dominican Republic.

President for Life is a title assumed by some dictators to try to ensure that their authority or legitimacy is never questioned. Ironically, most leaders who proclaim themselves President for Life do not in fact successfully serve a life term. On the other hand, presidents like Alexandre Pétion, Rafael Carrera, Josip Broz Tito and François Duvalier died in office. Kim Il-sung was named Eternal President of the Republic after his death.

In ancient Rome, Lucius Cornelius Sulla appointed himself in 82 BC to an entirely new office, dictator rei publicae constituendae causa ("dictator for the making of laws and for the settling of the constitution"), which was functionally identical to the dictatorate rei gerundae causa ("for the matter to be done," e.g., a military command against a specific enemy) except that it lacked any set time limit, although Sulla held this office for over two years before he voluntarily abdicated and retired from public life.

The second well-known incident of a leader extending his term indefinitely was Roman dictator Julius Caesar, who made himself "Perpetual Dictator" (commonly mistranslated as 'Dictator-for-life') in 45 BC. His actions would later be mimicked by the French leader Napoleon Bonaparte who was appointed "First Consul for life" in 1802 and five years later, the French senate proclaimed him emperor (a monarchical title).

Several presidents have ruled until their death, but they have not proclaimed themselves as President for Life. For instance, Nicolae Ceauşescu of Romania, who ruled until his execution (see Romanian Revolution).

Presidential symbols

As the country's head of state, in most countries the president is entitled to certain perquisites, and may have a prestigious residence, often a lavish mansion or palace, sometimes more than one (e.g. summer and winter residences, or a country retreat) Customary symbols of office may include an official uniform, decorations, a presidential seal, coat of arms, flag and other visible accessories, as well as military honours such as gun salutes, ruffles and flourishes, and a presidential guard. A common presidential symbol is the presidential sash worn most often by presidents in Latin America and Africa as a symbol of the continuity of the office.[3]

Presidential chronologies

United Nations member countries in columns, other entities at the beginning:

Titles for non-heads of state

As head of government

Some countries with parliamentary systems use a term meaning/translating as "president" (in some languages indistinguishable from chairman) for the head of parliamentary government, often as President of the Government, President of the Council of Ministers or President of the Executive Council.

However, such an official is explicitly not the president of the country. Rather, he/she is called a president in an older sense of the word, to denote the fact that he/she heads the cabinet. A separate head of state generally exists in their country that instead serves as the president or monarch of the country.

Thus, such officials are really premiers, and to avoid confusion are often described simply as 'prime minister' when being mentioned internationally.

There are several examples for this kind of presidency:

Other executive positions

Sub-national

President can also be the title of the chief executive at a lower administrative level, such as the parish presidents of the parishes of the U.S. state of Louisiana, the presiding member of city council for villages in the U.S. state of Illinois, or the municipal presidents of Mexico's municipalities. Perhaps the best known sub-national presidents are the borough presidents of the Five Boroughs of New York City.

In Poland the President of the City (Polish: Prezydent miasta) is the executive authority of the municipality elected in direct elections, the equivalent of the mayor. The Office of the President (Mayor) is also found in Germany and Switzerland.

Governors of ethnic republics in the Russian Federation used to have the title of President, occasionally alongside other, secondary titles such as Chairman of the Government (also used by Prime Minister of Russia). This likely reflects the origin of Russian republics as homelands for various ethnic groups: while all federal subjects of Russia are currently de jure equal, their predecessors, the ASSRs, used to enjoy more privileges than the ordinary krais and oblasts of the RSFSR (such as greater representation in the Soviet of Nationalities). Thus, the ASSRs and their eventual successors would have more in common with nation-states than with ordinary administrative divisions, at least in spirit, and would choose titles accordingly.

Over the course of the 2010s the presidents of Russian republics would progressively change their title to that of Head (Russian: глава), a proposition suggested by the President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov and later made law by the Parliament of Russia and President Dmitriy Medvedev in 2010. Despite this, however, Presidents of Tatarstan would reject this change and, as of 2017, retain their title in defiance of Russian law. The new title did not result in any changes in the powers wielded by the governors.

The Lord President of the Council is one of the Great Officers of State in England who presides over meetings of British Privy Council; the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister is technically a committee of the Council, and all decisions of the Cabinet are formally approved through Orders in Council. Although the Lord President is a member of the Cabinet, the position is largely a ceremonial one and is traditionally given to either the Leader of the House of Commons or the Leader of the House of Lords.

Historically the President of the Board of Trade was a cabinet member.

In Alderney, the elected head of government is called the President of the States of Alderney.

In the Isle of Man, there is a President of Tynwald.

In Spain, the executive leaders of the autonomous communities (regions) are called presidents. In each community, they can be called Presidente de la Comunidad or Presidente del Consejo among others. They are elected by their respective regional assemblies and have similar powers to a state president or governor.

Deputies

Below a president, there can be a number of or "vice presidents" (or occasionally "deputy presidents") and sometimes several "assistant presidents" or "assistant vice presidents", depending on the organisation and its size. These posts do not hold the same power but more of a subordinate position to the president. However, power can be transferred in special circumstances to the deputy or vice president. Normally vice presidents hold some power and special responsibilities below that of the president. The difference between vice/deputy presidents and assistant/associate vice presidents is the former are legally allowed to run an organisation, exercising the same powers (as well as being second in command) whereas the latter are not.

Legislatures

In some countries the speaker of their unicameral legislatures, or of one or both houses of bicameral legislatures, the speakers have the title of president of "the body", as in the case of Spain, where the Speaker of the Congress is the President of the Congress of Deputies and the Speaker of the Senate is the President of the Senate.

Judiciary

France

In French legal terminology, the president of a court consisting of multiple judges is the foremost judge; he chairs the meeting of the court and directs the debates (and this thus addressed as "Mrs President", "Madame la Présidente", Mr President", or Monsieur le Président. In general, a court comprises several chambers, each with its own president; thus the most senior of these is called the "first president" (as in: "the First President of the Court of Cassation is the most senior judge in France"). Similarly in English legal practice the most senior judge in each division uses this title (e.g. President of the Family Division, President of the Court of Appeal).

Spain

In the Spanish Judiciary, the leader of a court of multiples judges is called President of the Court. The same happens with the different bodies of the Spanish judicial system, where we can find a President of the Supreme Court, a President of the National Court and Presidents in the Regional High Courts of Justice and in the Provincial Courts. The body that rules over the Judiciary in Spain is the General Council of the Judiciary, and its president is the President of the Supreme Court, which is normally called President of the Supreme Court and of the GCJ.

The Constitutional Court is not part of the Judiciary, but the leader of it is called President of the Constitutional Court.

United Kingdom

In the recently established Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, the most senior judge is called the President of the Supreme Court. The Lady/Lord President of the Court of Session is head of the judiciary in Scotland, and presiding judge (and Senator) of the College of Justice and Court of Session, as well as being Lady/Lord Justice General of Scotland and head of the High Court of Justiciary, the offices having been combined in 1784.

See also

Head of state:

Other head of government:

References

  1. ^ Shen, Yu-chung (2017). "Institutional resilience of Taiwan's semi-presidential system: the integration of the president and premier under party politics". Asian Journal of Political Science. 26:1: 53–64. doi:10.1080/02185377.2017.1366347.
  2. ^ But presidential moral suasion is increasingly confirming that the "neutral powers", in this country, often find in the head of state the best defender from executive interference: Buonomo, Giampiero (2014). "Autorità indipendenti e sistema costituzionale". L'ago e il filo.  – via Questia (subscription required)
  3. ^ McCullough, J. J. "Presidential Sashes". Retrieved 19 February 2017.
Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the nation through the Civil War, its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. In doing so, he preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the economy.

Born in Kentucky, Lincoln grew up on the western frontier in a poor family. Self-educated, he became a lawyer in Illinois. As a Whig Party leader, he served eight years in the state legislature and two in Congress, then resumed his law practice. Angered by the success of Democrats in opening the western prairie lands to slavery, he reentered politics in 1854. He was a leader in building in the West the new Republican Party from Whigs and anti-slavery Democrats. He gained national attention in 1858 debating a top national Democratic leader Stephen A. Douglas. Although he lost that race, he became the western candidate for the 1860 presidential nomination as a moderate from a swing state. He swept the North and was elected president in 1860. Southern pro-slavery elements took his win as proof that the North was rejecting the Constitutional rights of Southern states to promote slavery. They began the process of seceding from the union and forming a new country. But nationalism was a powerful force in the North, which refused to tolerate secession. When the new Confederate States of America fired on Fort Sumter, one of the few U.S. forts left in the South, Lincoln called up volunteers and militia to suppress the rebellion and restore the Union. As the leader of the moderate faction of the Republican Party, Lincoln confronted Radical Republicans, who demanded harsher treatment of the South; War Democrats, who rallied a large faction of former opponents into his camp; anti-war Democrats (called Copperheads), who despised him; and irreconcilable secessionists, who plotted his assassination.

Lincoln fought back by pitting his opponents against each other, by carefully distributed political patronage and by appealing to the American people with his powers of oratory. His Gettysburg Address became an iconic endorsement of nationalism, republicanism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy. He suspended habeas corpus, and he averted British intervention by defusing the Trent Affair. Lincoln closely supervised the war effort, especially the selection of generals, including his most successful general, Ulysses S. Grant. He made major decisions on Union war strategy, including a naval blockade that shut down the South's trade. As the war progressed, his complex moves toward ending slavery included the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863; Lincoln used the U.S. Army to protect escaped slaves, encouraged the border states to outlaw slavery, and pushed through Congress the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which permanently outlawed slavery.

An astute politician, knowledgeable concerning factional feuds in each state, Lincoln reached out to the War Democrats and managed his own re-election campaign in the 1864 presidential election. Anticipating the war's conclusion, Lincoln pushed a moderate view of Reconstruction, seeking to reunite the nation speedily through a policy of generous reconciliation in the face of lingering and bitter divisiveness. A few days after victory was complete he was assassinated, and ever since Lincoln has been remembered as the martyr hero of the reunited nation. Lincoln has been consistently ranked both by scholars and the public as among the greatest U.S. presidents.

Barack Obama

Barack Hussein Obama II ( (listen); born August 4, 1961) is an American attorney and politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, he was the first African American to be elected to the presidency. He previously served as a senator from Illinois from 2005 to 2008.

Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, two years after the territory was admitted to the Union as the 50th state. After graduating from Columbia University in 1983, he worked as a community organizer in Chicago. In 1988, he enrolled in Harvard Law School, where he was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. After graduating, he became a civil rights attorney and an academic, teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. He represented the 13th district for three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004, when he ran for the U.S. Senate. He received national attention in 2004 with his March primary win, his well-received July Democratic National Convention keynote address, and his landslide November election to the Senate. In 2008, he was nominated for president a year after his campaign began and after a close primary campaign against Hillary Clinton. He was elected over Republican John McCain and was inaugurated on January 20, 2009. Nine months later, he was named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

During his first two years in office, Obama signed many landmark bills into law. The main reforms were the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (often referred to as "Obamacare", shortened as the "Affordable Care Act"), the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 served as economic stimulus amidst the Great Recession. After a lengthy debate over the national debt limit, he signed the Budget Control and the American Taxpayer Relief Acts. In foreign policy, he increased U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, reduced nuclear weapons with the United States–Russia New START treaty, and ended military involvement in the Iraq War. He ordered military involvement in Libya in opposition to Muammar Gaddafi; Gaddafi was killed by NATO-assisted forces. He also ordered the military operations that resulted in the deaths of Osama bin Laden and suspected Yemeni Al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki.

After winning re-election by defeating Republican opponent Mitt Romney, Obama was sworn in for a second term in 2013. During this term, he promoted inclusiveness for LGBT Americans. His administration filed briefs that urged the Supreme Court to strike down same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional (United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges); same-sex marriage was fully legalized in 2015 after the Court ruled that a same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional in Obergefell. He advocated for gun control in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, indicating support for a ban on assault weapons, and issued wide-ranging executive actions concerning climate change and immigration. In foreign policy, he ordered military intervention in Iraq in response to gains made by ISIL after the 2011 withdrawal from Iraq, continued the process of ending U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan in 2016, promoted discussions that led to the 2015 Paris Agreement on global climate change, initiated sanctions against Russia following the invasion in Ukraine and again after Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, brokered a nuclear deal with Iran, and normalized U.S. relations with Cuba. During his term in office, America's reputation in global polling significantly improved. Evaluations of his presidency among historians and the general public place him among the upper tier of American presidents. Obama left office in January 2017 and currently resides in Washington, D.C. A December 2018 Gallup poll found Obama to be the most admired man in America for an unprecedented 11th consecutive year, although Dwight D. Eisenhower was selected most admired in twelve non-consecutive years.

Bill Clinton

William Jefferson Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III; August 19, 1946) is an American politician who served as the 42nd president of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Prior to the presidency, he was the governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981, and again from 1983 to 1992, and the attorney general of Arkansas from 1977 to 1979. A member of the Democratic Party, Clinton was ideologically a New Democrat and many of his policies reflected a centrist "Third Way" political philosophy.

Clinton was born and raised in Arkansas and attended Georgetown University, University College, Oxford, and Yale Law School. He met Hillary Rodham at Yale and married her in 1975. After graduating, Clinton returned to Arkansas and won election as the Attorney General of Arkansas, serving from 1977 to 1979. As Governor of Arkansas, he overhauled the state's education system and served as chairman of the National Governors Association. Clinton was elected president in 1992, defeating incumbent Republican opponent George H. W. Bush. At age 46, he became the third-youngest president and the first from the Baby Boomer generation.

Clinton presided over the longest period of peacetime economic expansion in American history and signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement, but failed to pass his plan for national health care reform. In the 1994 elections, the Republican Party won unified control of the Congress for the first time in 40 years. In 1996, Clinton became the first Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt to be elected to a second full term. He passed welfare reform and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, as well as financial deregulation measures, including the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. In 1998, Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives for perjury and obstruction of justice following allegations that he committed perjury and obstructed justice to conceal an affair he had with Monica Lewinsky, a 22-year old White House intern. Clinton was acquitted by the Senate in 1999 and completed his term in office. He is only the second U.S. president to ever be impeached, the first being Andrew Johnson. During the last three years of Clinton's presidency, the Congressional Budget Office reported a budget surplus, the first such surplus since 1969. In foreign policy, Clinton ordered U.S. military intervention in the Bosnian and Kosovo wars, signed the Iraq Liberation Act in opposition to Saddam Hussein, participated in the 2000 Camp David Summit to advance the Israeli–Palestinian peace process, and assisted the Northern Ireland peace process.

Clinton left office with the highest end-of-office approval rating of any U.S. president since World War II, and has continually scored high in the historical rankings of U.S. presidents, consistently placing in the top third. Since leaving office, he has been involved in public speaking and humanitarian work. He created the William J. Clinton Foundation to address international causes such as the prevention of AIDS and global warming. He has remained active in politics by campaigning for Democratic candidates, including the presidential campaigns of his wife and Barack Obama. In 2004, Clinton published his autobiography, My Life. In 2009, he was named the United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti and after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, he teamed with George W. Bush to form the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. In addition, he secured the release of two American journalists imprisoned by North Korea, visiting the capital Pyongyang and negotiating their release with Kim Jong-il.

Dick Cheney

Richard Bruce Cheney (; born January 30, 1941) is an American politician and businessman who served as the 46th vice president of the United States from 2001 to 2009. He has been cited as the most powerful vice president in American history. At the same time he has been among the least favored politicians in the history of the US: His approval rating when leaving office was only 13%.Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, Cheney was primarily raised in Sumner, Nebraska, and Casper, Wyoming. He attended Yale and then the University of Wyoming, at the latter of which he earned a BA and an MA in Political Science. He began his political career as an intern for Congressman William A. Steiger, eventually working his way into the White House during the Nixon and Ford administrations, where he later served as the White House chief of staff, from 1975 to 1977. In 1978, Cheney was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives representing Wyoming's at-large congressional district from 1979 to 1989; he was reelected five times, briefly serving as House minority whip in 1989. Cheney was selected to be the secretary of defense during the presidency of George H. W. Bush, holding the position for the majority of Bush's term from 1989 to 1993. During his time in the Department of Defense, Cheney oversaw the 1991 Operation Desert Storm, among other actions. Out of office during the Clinton administration, Cheney was the Chairman and CEO of Halliburton Company from 1995 to 2000.

In July 2000, Cheney was chosen by presumptive Republican Presidential nominee George W. Bush as his running mate in the 2000 Presidential election. They defeated their Democratic opponents, incumbent Vice President Al Gore and Senator Joe Lieberman. In 2004, Cheney was reelected to his second term as Vice President, defeating Senator John Kerry's running mate, Senator John Edwards. During Cheney's tenure as Vice President, he played a leading behind-the-scenes role in the George W. Bush administration's response to the September 11 attacks and coordination of the Global War on Terrorism. He was an early proponent of Operation Iraqi Freedom and defender of the Administration's anti-terrorism record. He became at odds with President Bush's position against same-sex marriage in 2004. Cheney was often criticized for the Bush Administration's policies regarding the campaign against terrorism, wiretapping by the National Security Agency (NSA), and so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.In 2011, Cheney published his memoir In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir, written with his daughter Liz Cheney, and in 2015, published another book, Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America, again co-authored with his daughter.

The 2018 biopic Vice starring Christian Bale as Dick Cheney, describes Cheney in his desire to become the most powerful Vice President in America's history.

Donald Trump

Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is the 45th and current president of the United States. Before entering politics, he was a businessman and television personality.

Trump was born and raised in the New York City borough of Queens and received an economics degree from the Wharton School. He was appointed president of his family's real estate business in 1971, renamed it The Trump Organization, and expanded it from Queens and Brooklyn into Manhattan. The company built or renovated skyscrapers, hotels, casinos, and golf courses. Trump later started various side ventures, including licensing his name for real estate and consumer products. He managed the company until his 2017 inauguration. He co-authored several books, including The Art of the Deal. He owned the Miss Universe and Miss USA beauty pageants from 1996 to 2015, and he produced and hosted The Apprentice, a reality television show, from 2003 to 2015. Forbes estimates his net worth to be $3.1 billion.

Trump entered the 2016 presidential race as a Republican and defeated sixteen opponents in the primaries. Commentators described his political positions as populist, protectionist, and nationalist. His campaign received extensive free media coverage; many of his public statements were controversial or false. Trump was elected president in a surprise victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. He became the oldest and wealthiest person ever to assume the presidency, the first without prior military or government service, and the fifth to have won the election while losing the popular vote. His election and policies have sparked numerous protests. Many of his comments and actions have been perceived as racially charged or racist.

During his presidency, Trump ordered a travel ban on citizens from several Muslim-majority countries, citing security concerns; after legal challenges, the Supreme Court upheld the policy's third revision. He enacted a tax cut package for individuals and businesses, which also rescinded the individual health insurance mandate and allowed oil drilling in the Arctic Refuge. He partially repealed the Dodd-Frank Act that had imposed stricter constraints on banks in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. He has pursued his America First agenda in foreign policy, withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the Iran nuclear deal. He recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, imposed import tariffs on various goods, triggering a trade war with China, and negotiated with North Korea seeking denuclearization. He successfully nominated two justices to the Supreme Court: Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

After Trump dismissed FBI Director James Comey, the Justice Department appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel to proceed with investigating links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government regarding its election interference, and any matters arising from the probe. The ongoing investigation has so far led to guilty pleas by several Trump associates to criminal charges including for lying to investigators, campaign finance violations, and tax fraud. Trump has repeatedly denied accusations of collusion and obstruction of justice, calling the investigation a politically motivated "witch hunt".

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (, ; January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was an American statesman and political leader who served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. A Democrat, he won a record four presidential elections and became a central figure in world events during the first half of the 20th century. Roosevelt directed the federal government during most of the Great Depression, implementing his New Deal domestic agenda in response to the worst economic crisis in U.S. history. As a dominant leader of his party, he built the New Deal Coalition, which realigned American politics into the Fifth Party System and defined American liberalism throughout the middle third of the 20th century. His third and fourth terms were dominated by World War II. He is often rated by scholars as one of the three greatest U.S. presidents, along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Roosevelt was born in Hyde Park, New York, to a Dutch American family made well known by Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States and William Henry Aspinwall. FDR attended Groton School, Harvard College, and Columbia Law School, and went on to practice law in New York City. In 1905, he married his fifth cousin once removed, Eleanor Roosevelt. They had six children. He won election to the New York State Senate in 1910, and then served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson during World War I. Roosevelt was James M. Cox's running mate on the Democratic Party's 1920 national ticket, but Cox was defeated by Warren G. Harding. In 1921, Roosevelt contracted a paralytic illness, believed at the time to be polio, and his legs became permanently paralyzed. While attempting to recover from his condition, Roosevelt founded the treatment center in Warm Springs, Georgia, for people with poliomyelitis. In spite of being unable to walk unaided, Roosevelt returned to public office by winning election as Governor of New York in 1928. He was in office from 1929 to 1933 and served as a reform Governor, promoting programs to combat the economic crisis besetting the United States at the time.

In the 1932 presidential election, Roosevelt defeated Republican President Herbert Hoover in a landslide. Roosevelt took office while the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis in the country's history. During the first 100 days of the 73rd United States Congress, Roosevelt spearheaded unprecedented federal legislation and issued a profusion of executive orders that instituted the New Deal—a variety of programs designed to produce relief, recovery, and reform. He created numerous programs to provide relief to the unemployed and farmers while seeking economic recovery with the National Recovery Administration and other programs. He also instituted major regulatory reforms related to finance, communications, and labor, and presided over the end of Prohibition. He harnessed radio to speak directly to the American people, giving 30 "fireside chat" radio addresses during his presidency and becoming the first American president to be televised. The economy having improved rapidly from 1933 to 1936, Roosevelt won a landslide reelection in 1936. However, the economy then relapsed into a deep recession in 1937 and 1938. After the 1936 election, Roosevelt sought passage of the Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937 (the "court packing plan"), which would have expanded the size of the Supreme Court of the United States. The bipartisan Conservative Coalition that formed in 1937 prevented passage of the bill and blocked the implementation of further New Deal programs and reforms. Major surviving programs and legislation implemented under Roosevelt include the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Labor Relations Act, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and Social Security.

Roosevelt ran successfully for reelection in 1940. His victory made him the only U.S. President to serve for more than two terms. With World War II looming after 1938, Roosevelt gave strong diplomatic and financial support to China as well as the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union while the U.S. remained officially neutral. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, an event he famously called "a date which will live in infamy", Roosevelt obtained a declaration of war on Japan the next day, and a few days later, on Germany and Italy. Assisted by his top aide Harry Hopkins and with very strong national support, he worked closely with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in leading the Allies against the Axis Powers. Roosevelt supervised the mobilization of the U.S. economy to support the war effort and implemented a Europe first strategy, making the defeat of Germany a priority over that of Japan. He also initiated the development of the world's first atomic bomb and worked with the other Allied leaders to lay the groundwork for the United Nations and other post-war institutions. Roosevelt won reelection in 1944 but with his physical health declining during the war years, he died in April 1945, just 11 weeks into his fourth term. The Axis Powers surrendered to the Allies in the months following Roosevelt's death, during the presidency of Roosevelt's successor, Harry S. Truman.

George H. W. Bush

George Herbert Walker Bush (June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018) was an American politician who served as the 41st president of the United States from 1989 to 1993. Prior to assuming the presidency, Bush served as the 43rd vice president of the United States from 1981 to 1989. A member of the Republican Party, his earlier posts included those of congressman, ambassador, and CIA director. During his career in public service, he was known simply as George Bush, but after his son George W. Bush became the 43rd president in 2001, he was referred to as "George H. W. Bush", "Bush 41", or "George Bush Sr."

Bush postponed his university studies after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday, and became one of its youngest aviators. He served until September 1945, and then attended Yale University, graduating in 1948. He moved his family to West Texas where he entered the oil business and became a millionaire by the age of 40 in 1964. After founding his own oil company, Bush was defeated in his first run for the United States Senate in 1964, but won election to the House of Representatives from Texas's 7th congressional district in 1966. He was reelected in 1968 but was defeated for election to the Senate in 1970. In 1971, President Richard Nixon appointed Bush as Ambassador to the United Nations, and he became Chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1973. The following year, President Gerald Ford appointed him Chief of the Liaison Office in China and later made him the director of Central Intelligence. Bush ran for president in 1980, was defeated in the Republican primary by Ronald Reagan, then as his running mate became vice-president after the ticket's election. During his eight-year tenure as vice president, Bush headed task forces on deregulation and the war on drugs.

Bush in 1988 defeated Democratic opponent Michael Dukakis, becoming the first incumbent vice president to be elected president in 152 years. Foreign policy drove the Bush presidency; military operations were conducted in Panama and the Persian Gulf, the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and the Soviet Union dissolved two years later. Bush also signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which created a trade bloc consisting of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Domestically, Bush reneged on a 1988 campaign promise and signed a bill to increase taxes. He lost the 1992 presidential election to Democrat Bill Clinton following an economic recession and the decreased importance of foreign policy in a post–Cold War political climate.

After leaving office in 1993, Bush was active in humanitarian activities, often alongside Clinton, his former opponent. With George W. Bush's victory in the 2000 presidential election, Bush and his son became the second father–son pair to serve as President, following John Adams and John Quincy Adams. Bush died on November 30, 2018, aged 94 years, 171 days, making him the longest-lived president in U.S. history.

George W. Bush

George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is an American politician and businessman who served as the 43rd president of the United States from 2001 to 2009. He had previously served as the 46th governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000.

Bush was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and grew up in Texas. After graduating from Yale University in 1968 and Harvard Business School in 1975, he worked in the oil industry. Bush married Laura Welch in 1977 and unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. House of Representatives shortly thereafter. He later co-owned the Texas Rangers baseball team before defeating Ann Richards in the 1994 Texas gubernatorial election. Bush was elected President of the United States in 2000 when he defeated Democratic incumbent Vice President Al Gore after a close and controversial win that involved a stopped recount in Florida. He became the fourth person to be elected president while receiving fewer popular votes than his opponent. Bush is a member of a prominent political family and is the eldest son of Barbara and George H. W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States. He is only the second president to assume the nation's highest office after his father, following the footsteps of John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams. His brother, Jeb Bush, a former Governor of Florida, was a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in the 2016 presidential election. His paternal grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a U.S. Senator from Connecticut.

The September 11 terrorist attacks occurred eight months into Bush's first term. Bush responded with what became known as the Bush Doctrine: launching a "War on Terror", an international military campaign that included the war in Afghanistan in 2001 and the Iraq War in 2003. He signed into law broad tax cuts, the Patriot Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, Medicare prescription drug benefits for seniors, and funding for the AIDS relief program known as PEPFAR. His tenure included national debates on immigration, Social Security, electronic surveillance, and torture. In the 2004 presidential race, Bush defeated Democratic Senator John Kerry in another relatively close election. After his re-election, Bush received increasingly heated criticism from across the political spectrum for his handling of the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, and other challenges. Amid this criticism, the Democratic Party regained control of Congress in the 2006 elections. In December 2007, the United States entered its longest post-World War II recession, often referred to as the "Great Recession", prompting the Bush administration to obtain congressional passage of multiple economic programs intended to preserve the country's financial system.

Nationally, Bush was both one of the most popular and unpopular U.S. presidents in history, having received the highest recorded presidential approval ratings in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, as well as one of the lowest approval ratings during the 2008 financial crisis. Bush finished his term in office in 2009 and returned to Texas, where he had purchased a home in Dallas. In 2010, he published his memoir, Decision Points. His presidential library was opened in 2013. His presidency has been ranked among the worst in historians' polls that were published in the late 2000s and 2010s. However, his favorability ratings with the public have increased since leaving office.

George Washington

George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799) was an American political leader, military general, statesman, and Founding Father who served as the first president of the United States (1789–1797). He commanded Patriot forces in the new nation's vital American Revolutionary War and led them to victory over the British. Washington also presided at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which established the new federal government. For his manifold leadership during the American Revolution, he has been called the "Father of His Country".

Washington succeeded a prosperous family of slaveholding planters in colonial Virginia. He had educational opportunities and launched a favourable career as a land surveyor. He then became a leader of the Virginia militia in the French and Indian War. During the Revolutionary War he was a delegate to the Continental Congress, was unanimously appointed commander-in-chief of the Army, and led an allied campaign to victory at the Siege of Yorktown ending the conflict. Once victory was in hand in 1783, he resigned as commander-in-chief.

Washington was unanimously elected President by the Electoral College in the first two national elections. He promoted and oversaw implementation of a strong, well-financed national government, but remained impartial in the fierce rivalry between subordinates Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. In the French Revolution, Washington proclaimed a policy of neutrality while sanctioning the Jay Treaty. He set enduring precedents for the office of president, including the title "President of the United States". Washington's Farewell Address was widely regarded as one of the most influential statements on republicanism.

Washington customarily owned and traded African slaves, but became troubled with the institution, and freed them in his will. He was a member of the Anglican Church and the Freemasons, and urged tolerance for all religions in his roles as general and President. Upon his death, he was eulogized as "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." Washington has been memorialized by monuments, art, places, stamps, and currency, and he has been ranked by scholars among the four greatest American presidents.

Gerald Ford

Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. (born Leslie Lynch King Jr.; July 14, 1913 – December 26, 2006) was an American politician who served as the 38th president of the United States from August 1974 to January 1977. Before his accession to the presidency, Ford served as the 40th vice president of the United States from December 1973 to August 1974. Ford is the only person to have served as both vice president and president without being elected to either office by the United States Electoral College.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Ford attended the University of Michigan and Yale Law School. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve, serving from 1942 to 1946; he left as a lieutenant commander. Ford began his political career in 1949 as the U.S. representative from Michigan's 5th congressional district. He served in this capacity for 25 years, the final nine of them as the House Minority Leader. Following the resignation of Spiro Agnew, Ford was the first person appointed to the vice presidency under the terms of the 25th Amendment. After the resignation of Richard Nixon, Ford automatically assumed the presidency. His 895 day-long presidency is the shortest in U.S. history for any president who did not die in office.

As president, Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, which marked a move toward détente in the Cold War. With the collapse of South Vietnam nine months into his presidency, U.S. involvement in Vietnam essentially ended. Domestically, Ford presided over the worst economy in the four decades since the Great Depression, with growing inflation and a recession during his tenure. In one of his most controversial acts, he granted a presidential pardon to President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal. During Ford's presidency, foreign policy was characterized in procedural terms by the increased role Congress began to play, and by the corresponding curb on the powers of the President. In the Republican presidential primary campaign of 1976, Ford defeated former California Governor Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination. He narrowly lost the presidential election to the Democratic challenger, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter.

Following his years as president, Ford remained active in the Republican Party. His moderate views on various social issues increasingly put him at odds with conservative members of the party in the 1990s and early 2000s. After experiencing a series of health problems, he died at home on December 26, 2006. At the time of his death, he was the longest-lived president in American history, a record he held until George H. W. Bush surpassed him on November 25, 2017.

Jimmy Carter

James Earl Carter Jr. (born October 1, 1924) is an American politician and philanthropist who served as the 39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. A Democrat, he previously served as a Georgia State senator from 1963 to 1967 and as the 76th governor of Georgia from 1971 to 1975. Carter has remained active in public life during his post-presidency, and in 2002 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in co-founding the Carter Center.

Raised in a wealthy family of peanut farmers in the southern town of Plains in Georgia, Carter graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1946 with a Bachelor of Science degree and joined the United States Navy, where he served on submarines. After the death of his father in 1953, Carter left his naval career and returned home to Georgia to take up the reins of his family's peanut-growing business. Despite his father's wealth, Carter inherited comparatively little due to his father's forgiveness of debts and the division of the estate among the children. Nevertheless, his ambition to expand and grow the Carters' peanut business was fulfilled. During this period, Carter was motivated to oppose the political climate of racial segregation and support the growing civil rights movement. He became an activist within the Democratic Party. From 1963 to 1967, Carter served in the Georgia State Senate, and in 1970, he was elected as Governor of Georgia, defeating former Governor Carl Sanders in the Democratic primary on an anti-segregation platform advocating affirmative action for ethnic minorities. Carter remained as governor until 1975. Despite being a dark horse candidate little-known outside of Georgia at the start of the campaign, Carter won the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination. In the general election, Carter ran as an outsider and narrowly defeated incumbent Republican President Gerald Ford.

On his second day in office, Carter pardoned all the Vietnam War draft evaders. During Carter's term as president, two new cabinet-level departments, the Department of Energy and the Department of Education, were established. He established a national energy policy that included conservation, price control, and new technology. In foreign affairs, Carter pursued the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaties, the second round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II), and the return of the Panama Canal Zone to Panama. On the economic front he confronted persistent stagflation, a combination of high inflation, high unemployment and slow growth. The end of his presidential tenure was marked by the 1979–1981 Iran hostage crisis, the 1979 energy crisis, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In response to the invasion, Carter escalated the Cold War by ending détente, imposing a grain embargo against the Soviets, enunciating the Carter doctrine, and leading an international boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. In 1980, Carter faced a primary challenge from Senator Ted Kennedy, but he won re-nomination at the 1980 Democratic National Convention. Carter lost the general election in an electoral landslide to Republican nominee Ronald Reagan. Polls of historians and political scientists usually rank Carter as an average president, often receiving more positive evaluations for his post-presidential work.

In 2012, Carter surpassed Herbert Hoover as the longest-retired president in U.S. history, and in 2017 became the first president to mark the 40th anniversary of his inauguration. He is currently the oldest and earliest serving of all living U.S. presidents. In 1982, he established the Carter Center to promote and expand human rights. He has traveled extensively to conduct peace negotiations, monitor elections, and advance disease prevention and eradication in developing nations. Carter is considered a key figure in the Habitat for Humanity charity. He has written over 30 books ranging from memoirs and politics to poetry and inspiration. He also has criticized some of Israel's actions and policies in regards to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and has advocated for a two-state solution.

John F. Kennedy

John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), commonly referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. He served at the height of the Cold War, and the majority of his presidency dealt with managing relations with the Soviet Union. A member of the Democratic Party, Kennedy represented Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate prior to becoming president.

Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, the second child of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and Rose Kennedy. He graduated from Harvard University in 1940 and joined the U.S. Naval Reserve the following year. During World War II, he commanded a series of PT boats in the Pacific theater and earned the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his service. After the war, Kennedy represented the 11th congressional district of Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1947 to 1953. He was subsequently elected to the U.S. Senate and served as the junior Senator from Massachusetts from 1953 to 1960. While in the Senate, he published his book entitled Profiles in Courage, which won a Pulitzer Prize for Biography. In the 1960 presidential election, Kennedy narrowly defeated Republican opponent Richard Nixon, who was the incumbent vice president. At age 43, he became the second-youngest man to serve as president (after Theodore Roosevelt), the youngest man to be elected as U.S. president, as well as the only Roman Catholic to occupy that office.

Kennedy's time in office was marked by high tensions with communist states in the Cold War. He increased the number of American military advisers in South Vietnam by a factor of 18 over President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In April 1961, he authorized a failed joint-CIA attempt to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro in the Bay of Pigs Invasion. He subsequently rejected Operation Northwoods plans by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to orchestrate false flag attacks on American soil in order to gain public approval for a war against Cuba. In October 1962, U.S. spy planes discovered that Soviet missile bases had been deployed in Cuba; the resulting period of tensions, termed the Cuban Missile Crisis, nearly resulted in the breakout of a global thermonuclear conflict. Domestically, Kennedy presided over the establishment of the Peace Corps and supported the civil rights movement, but was only somewhat successful in passing his New Frontier domestic policies.

On November 22, 1963, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Pursuant to the Presidential Succession Act, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president later that day. Marxist Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the state crime, but he was never prosecuted due to his killing by Jack Ruby two days later; Ruby was sentenced to death and died while the sentence was on appeal in 1967. Both the FBI and the Warren Commission officially concluded that Oswald had acted alone in the assassination, but various groups challenged the findings of the Warren Report and believed that Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy. After Kennedy's death, Congress enacted many of his proposals, including the Civil Rights and the Revenue Acts of 1964. Kennedy continues to rank highly in historians' polls of U.S. presidents and with the general public. His average approval rating of 70% is the highest of any president in Gallup's history of systematically measuring job approval.

List of Presidents of the United States

The President of the United States is the head of state and head of government of the United States, indirectly elected to a four-year term by the people through the Electoral College. The officeholder leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

Since the office was established in 1789, 44 men have served as president. The first, George Washington, won a unanimous vote of the Electoral College. Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms in office and is therefore counted as the 22nd and 24th President of the United States; the 45th and current president is Donald Trump (since January 20, 2017). There are currently four living former presidents. The most recent former president to die was George H. W. Bush on November 30, 2018.

The presidency of William Henry Harrison, who died 31 days after taking office in 1841, was the shortest in American history. Franklin D. Roosevelt served the longest, over twelve years, before dying early in his fourth term in 1945. He is the only U.S. president to have served more than two terms. Since the ratification of the Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1951, no person may be elected president more than twice and no one who has served more than two years of a term to which someone else was elected may be elected more than once.Of those who have served as the nation's president, four died in office of natural causes (William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Warren G. Harding, and Franklin D. Roosevelt), four were assassinated (Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy), and one resigned (Richard Nixon facing impeachment). John Tyler was the first vice president to assume the presidency during a presidential term, and set the precedent that a vice president who does so becomes the fully functioning president with his own presidency, as opposed to a caretaker president. The Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution put Tyler's precedent into law in 1967. It also established a mechanism by which an intra-term vacancy in the vice presidency could be filled. Richard Nixon was the first president to fill a vacancy under this provision when he selected Gerald Ford for the office following Spiro Agnew's resignation in 1973. The following year, Ford became the second to do so when he chose Nelson Rockefeller to succeed him after he acceded to the presidency. As no mechanism existed for filling an intra-term vacancy in the vice presidency prior to 1967, the office was left vacant until filled through the next ensuing presidential election.

Throughout most of its history, American politics has been dominated by political parties. The Constitution is silent on the issue of political parties, and at the time it came into force in 1789, there were no parties. Soon after the 1st Congress convened, factions began rallying around dominant Washington Administration officials, such as Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. Greatly concerned about the capacity of political parties to destroy the fragile unity holding the nation together, Washington remained unaffiliated with any political faction or party throughout his eight-year presidency. He was, and remains, the only U.S. president never affiliated with a political party. Since Washington, every president has been affiliated with a political party at the time they assumed office.

Lyndon B. Johnson

Lyndon Baines Johnson (; August 27, 1908 – January 22, 1973), often referred to by his initials LBJ, was an American politician who served as the 36th president of the United States from 1963 to 1969. Formerly the 37th vice president of the United States from 1961 to 1963, he assumed the presidency following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A Democrat from Texas, Johnson also served as a United States Representative and as the Majority Leader in the United States Senate. Johnson is one of only four people who have served in all four federal elected positions.Born in a farmhouse in Stonewall, Texas, Johnson was a high school teacher and worked as a congressional aide before winning election to the House of Representatives in 1937. He won election to the Senate in 1948 and was appointed to the position of Senate Majority Whip in 1951. He became the Senate Minority Leader in 1953 and the Senate Majority Leader in 1955. He became known for his domineering personality and the "Johnson treatment", his aggressive coercion of powerful politicians to advance legislation.

Johnson ran for the Democratic nomination in the 1960 presidential election. Although unsuccessful, he accepted the invitation of then-Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts to be his running mate. They went on to win a close election over the Republican ticket of Richard Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. On November 22, 1963, Kennedy was assassinated and Johnson succeeded him as president. The following year, Johnson won a landslide in 1964, defeating Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona. With 61.1 percent of the popular vote, Johnson won the largest share of the popular vote of any candidate since the largely uncontested 1820 election.

In domestic policy, Johnson designed the "Great Society" legislation to expand civil rights, public broadcasting, Medicare, Medicaid, aid to education, the arts, urban and rural development, public services and his "War on Poverty". Assisted in part by a growing economy, the War on Poverty helped millions of Americans rise above the poverty line during his administration. Civil-rights bills that he signed into law banned racial discrimination in public facilities, interstate commerce, the workplace and housing; the Voting Rights Act prohibited certain requirements in southern states used to disenfranchise African Americans. With the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the country's immigration system was reformed, encouraging greater emigration from regions other than Europe. Johnson's presidency marked the peak of modern liberalism after the New Deal era.

In foreign policy, Johnson escalated American involvement in the Vietnam War. In 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted Johnson the power to use military force in Southeast Asia without having to ask for an official declaration of war. The number of American military personnel in Vietnam increased dramatically, from 16,000 advisors in non-combat roles in 1963 to 525,000 in 1967, many in combat roles. American casualties soared and the peace process stagnated. Growing unease with the war stimulated a large, angry anti-war movement based chiefly among draft-age students on university campuses.

Johnson faced further troubles when summer riots began in major cities in 1965 and crime rates soared, as his opponents raised demands for "law and order" policies. While Johnson began his presidency with widespread approval, support for him declined as the public became frustrated with both the war and the growing violence at home. In 1968, the Democratic Party factionalized as anti-war elements denounced Johnson; he ended his bid for renomination after a disappointing finish in the New Hampshire primary. Nixon was elected to succeed him, as the New Deal coalition that had dominated presidential politics for 36 years collapsed. After he left office in January 1969, Johnson returned to his Texas ranch, where he died of a heart attack at age 64, on January 22, 1973.

Johnson is ranked favorably by many historians because of his domestic policies and the passage of many major laws that affected civil rights, gun control, wilderness preservation, and Social Security, although he has also drawn substantial criticism for his escalation of the Vietnam War.

President of the United States

The President of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

In contemporary times, the president is looked upon as one of the world's most powerful political figures and as the leader of the only remaining global superpower. The role includes responsibility for the world's most expensive military, which has the second largest nuclear arsenal. The president also leads the nation with the largest economy by nominal GDP. The president possesses significant domestic and international hard and soft power.

Article II of the Constitution establishes the executive branch of the federal government. It vests the executive power of the United States in the president. The power includes the execution and enforcement of federal law, alongside the responsibility of appointing federal executive, diplomatic, regulatory and judicial officers, and concluding treaties with foreign powers with the advice and consent of the Senate. The president is further empowered to grant federal pardons and reprieves, and to convene and adjourn either or both houses of Congress under extraordinary circumstances. The president directs the foreign and domestic policies of the United States, and takes an active role in promoting his policy priorities to members of Congress. In addition, as part of the system of checks and balances, Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution gives the president the power to sign or veto federal legislation. The power of the presidency has grown substantially since its formation, as has the power of the federal government as a whole.Through the Electoral College, registered voters indirectly elect the president and vice president to a four-year term. This is the only federal election in the United States which is not decided by popular vote. Nine vice presidents became president by virtue of a president's intra-term death or resignation.Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 sets three qualifications for holding the presidency: natural-born U.S. citizenship; at least thirty-five years of age; and residency in the United States for at least fourteen years. The Twenty-second Amendment precludes any person from being elected president to a third term. In all, 44 individuals have served 45 presidencies spanning 57 full four-year terms. Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms, so he is counted twice; as both the 22nd and 24th president.Donald Trump of New York is the 45th and current president. He assumed office on January 20, 2017.

Richard Nixon

Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was the 37th president of the United States from 1969 until 1974 and the only president to resign from the position. He had previously served as the 36th vice president of the United States from 1953 to 1961, and prior to that as both a U.S. representative and senator from California.

Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California. After completing his undergraduate studies at Whittier College, he graduated from Duke University School of Law in 1937 and returned to California to practice law. He and his wife Pat moved to Washington in 1942 to work for the federal government. He subsequently served on active duty in the U.S. Navy Reserve during World War II. Nixon was elected to the House of Representatives in 1946 and to the Senate in 1950. His pursuit of the Hiss Case established his reputation as a leading anti-communist and elevated him to national prominence. He was the running mate of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Republican Party presidential nominee in the 1952 election. Nixon served for eight years as Vice President, becoming the second-youngest vice president in history at age 40. He waged an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1960, narrowly losing to John F. Kennedy, and lost a race for governor of California to Pat Brown in 1962. In 1968, he ran for the presidency again and was elected, defeating incumbent Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

Nixon ended American involvement in the war in Vietnam in 1973 and brought the American POWs home, and ended the military draft. Nixon's visit to China in 1972 eventually led to diplomatic relations between the two nations and he initiated détente and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the Soviet Union the same year. His administration generally transferred power from Washington D.C. to the states. He imposed wage and price controls for ninety days, enforced desegregation of Southern schools, established the Environmental Protection Agency and began the War on Cancer. Nixon also presided over the Apollo 11 moon landing, which signaled the end of the moon race. He was reelected in one of the largest electoral landslides in U.S. history in 1972 when he defeated George McGovern.

In his second term, Nixon ordered an airlift to resupply Israeli losses in the Yom Kippur War, resulting in the restart of the Middle East peace process and an oil crisis at home. The Nixon administration supported a coup in Chile that ousted the government of Salvador Allende and propelled Augusto Pinochet to power. By late 1973, the Watergate scandal escalated, costing Nixon much of his political support. On August 9, 1974, he resigned in the face of almost certain impeachment and removal from office. After his resignation, he was issued a controversial pardon by his successor, Gerald Ford. In 20 years of retirement, Nixon wrote nine books and undertook many foreign trips, helping to rehabilitate his image into that of an elder statesman. He suffered a debilitating stroke on April 18, 1994 and died four days later at the age of 81.

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Wilson Reagan (; February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was an American politician who served as the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Prior to his presidency, he was a Hollywood actor and union leader before serving as the 33rd governor of California from 1967 to 1975.

Reagan was raised in a poor family in small towns of northern Illinois. He graduated from Eureka College in 1932 and worked as a sports announcer on several regional radio stations. After moving to California in 1937, he became an actor and starred in a few major productions. Reagan was twice elected President of the Screen Actors Guild—the labor union for actors—where he worked to root out Communist influence. In the 1950s, he moved into television and was a motivational speaker at General Electric factories. Reagan had been a Democrat until 1962, when he became a conservative and switched to the Republican Party. In 1964, Reagan's speech, "A Time for Choosing", supported Barry Goldwater's foundering presidential campaign and earned him national attention as a new conservative spokesman. Building a network of supporters, he was elected Governor of California in 1966. As governor, Reagan raised taxes, turned a state budget deficit to a surplus, challenged the protesters at the University of California, ordered in National Guard troops during a period of protest movements in 1969, and was re-elected in 1970. He twice ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination, in 1968 and 1976. Four years later in 1980, he won the nomination, and then defeated incumbent president Jimmy Carter. At 69 years, 349 days of age at the time of his inauguration, he became the oldest president-elect to take the oath of office (a distinction now held by Donald Trump, since 2017). Reagan faced former vice president Walter Mondale when he ran for re-election in 1984, and defeated him in a landslide with the largest electoral college victory in American history.

Soon after taking office, Reagan began implementing sweeping new political and economic initiatives. His supply-side economic policies, dubbed "Reaganomics", advocated tax rate reduction to spur economic growth, economic deregulation, and reduction in government spending. In his first term he survived an assassination attempt, spurred the War on Drugs, and fought public sector labor. Over his two terms, the economy saw a reduction of inflation from 12.5% to 4.4%, and an average annual growth of real GDP of 3.4%. Reagan enacted cuts in domestic discretionary spending, cut taxes, and increased military spending which contributed to increased federal outlays overall, even after adjustment for inflation. Foreign affairs dominated his second term, including ending the Cold War, the bombing of Libya, the Iran–Iraq War, and the Iran–Contra affair. In June 1987, four years after he publicly described the Soviet Union as an "evil empire", Reagan challenged Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!", during a speech at the Brandenburg Gate. He transitioned Cold War policy from détente to rollback by escalating an arms race with the USSR while engaging in talks with Gorbachev. The talks culminated in the INF Treaty, which shrank both countries' nuclear arsenals. Reagan began his presidency during the decline of the Soviet Union, and the Berlin Wall fell just ten months after the end of his term. Germany reunified the following year, and on December 26, 1991 (nearly three years after he left office), the Soviet Union collapsed.

When Reagan left office in 1989, he held an approval rating of 68 percent, matching those of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and later Bill Clinton, as the highest ratings for departing presidents in the modern era. He was the first president since Dwight D. Eisenhower to serve two full terms, after a succession of five prior presidents did not. Although he had planned an active post-presidency, Reagan disclosed in November 1994 that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease earlier that year. Afterward, his informal public appearances became more infrequent as the disease progressed. He died at home on June 5, 2004. He is viewed favorably in historical rankings of U.S. presidents, and his tenure constituted a realignment toward conservative policies in the United States.

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. ( ROH-zə-velt; October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919) was an American statesman and writer who served as the 26th president of the United States from 1901 to 1909. He also served as the 25th vice president of the United States from March to September 1901 and as the 33rd governor of New York from 1899 to 1900. As a leader of the Republican Party during this time, he became a driving force for the Progressive Era in the United States in the early 20th century. His face is depicted on Mount Rushmore, alongside those of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. In polls of historians and political scientists, Roosevelt is generally ranked as one of the five best presidents.Roosevelt was born a sickly child with debilitating asthma, but he overcame his physical health problems by embracing a strenuous lifestyle. He integrated his exuberant personality, vast range of interests, and world-famous achievements into a "cowboy" persona defined by robust masculinity. Home-schooled, he began a lifelong naturalist avocation before attending Harvard College. His book, The Naval War of 1812 (1882), established his reputation as both a learned historian and as a popular writer. Upon entering politics, he became the leader of the reform faction of Republicans in New York's state legislature. Following the near-simultaneous deaths of his wife and mother, he escaped to a cattle ranch in the Dakotas. Roosevelt served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President William McKinley, but resigned from that post to lead the Rough Riders during the Spanish–American War. Returning a war hero, he was elected Governor of New York in 1898. After the death of Vice President Garret Hobart, the New York state party leadership convinced McKinley to accept Roosevelt as his running mate in the 1900 election. Roosevelt campaigned vigorously, and the McKinley-Roosevelt ticket won a landslide victory based on a platform of peace, prosperity, and conservation.

After taking office as Vice President in March 1901, he became President at age 42 following McKinley's assassination that September, and remains the youngest person to become President of the United States. As a leader of the Progressive movement, he championed his "Square Deal" domestic policies, promising the average citizen fairness, breaking of trusts, regulation of railroads, and pure food and drugs. Making conservation a top priority, he established many new national parks, forests, and monuments intended to preserve the nation's natural resources. In foreign policy, he focused on Central America, where he began construction of the Panama Canal. He expanded the Navy and sent the Great White Fleet on a world tour to project the United States' naval power around the globe. His successful efforts to broker the end of the Russo-Japanese War won him the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize. He avoided controversial tariff and money issues. Elected in 1904 to a full term, Roosevelt continued to promote progressive policies, many of which were passed in Congress. Roosevelt successfully groomed his close friend, William Howard Taft, and Taft won the 1908 presidential election to succeed him.

Frustrated with Taft's conservatism, Roosevelt belatedly tried to win the 1912 Republican nomination. He failed, walked out and founded a third party, the Progressive, so-called "Bull Moose" Party, which called for wide-ranging progressive reforms. He ran in the 1912 election and the split allowed the Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson to win the election. Following his defeat, Roosevelt led a two-year expedition to the Amazon basin, where he nearly died of tropical disease. During World War I, he criticized President Wilson for keeping the country out of the war with Germany, and his offer to lead volunteers to France was rejected. Though he had considered running for president again in 1920, Roosevelt's health continued to deteriorate, and he died in 1919.

United States Senate

The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress, which along with the United States House of Representatives — the lower chamber — comprises the legislature of the United States.

The composition and powers of the Senate are established by Article One of the United States Constitution. The Senate is composed of senators, each of whom represents a single state in its entirety, with each state being equally represented by two senators, regardless of its population, serving staggered terms of six years; with 50 states currently in the Union, there are 100 U.S. Senators. From 1789 until 1913, Senators were appointed by legislatures of the states they represented; following the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913, they are now popularly elected. The Senate chamber is located in the north wing of the Capitol, in Washington, D.C.

As the upper house, the Senate has several powers of advice and consent which are unique to it; these include the approval of treaties and the confirmation of Cabinet secretaries, Supreme Court justices, federal judges, other federal executive officials, flag officers, regulatory officials, ambassadors, and other federal uniformed officers. In addition to these, in cases wherein no candidate receives a majority of electors for Vice President, the duty falls to the Senate to elect one of the top two recipients of electors for that office. It further has the responsibility of conducting trials of those impeached by the House. The Senate is widely considered both a more deliberative and more prestigious body than the House of Representatives due to its longer terms, smaller size, and statewide constituencies, which historically led to a more collegial and less partisan atmosphere.The presiding officer of the Senate is the Vice President of the United States, who is President of the Senate. In the Vice President's absence, the President Pro Tempore, who is customarily the senior member of the party holding a majority of seats, presides over the Senate. In the early 20th century, the practice of majority and minority parties electing their floor leaders began, although they are not constitutional officers.

Vice President of the United States

The Vice President of the United States (informally referred to as VPOTUS, VP, or Veep) is the second-highest officer in the executive branch of the U.S. federal government, after the President of the United States, and ranks first in the presidential line of succession. The vice president is also an officer in the legislative branch, as President of the Senate. In this capacity, the vice president presides over Senate deliberations (or delegates this task to a member of the Senate), but may only vote to break a tie. The vice president also presides over joint sessions of Congress.The vice president is indirectly elected together with the president to a four-year term of office by the people of the United States through the Electoral College. Section 2 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment, ratified in 1967, created a mechanism for intra-term vice presidential succession, establishing that vice presidential vacancies will be filled by the president and confirmed by both houses of Congress. Previously, whenever a vice president had succeeded to the presidency or had died or resigned from office, the vice presidency remained vacant until the next presidential and vice presidential terms began.The vice president is also a statutory member of the National Security Council, and the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution. The Office of the Vice President assists and organizes the vice president's official functions. The role of the vice presidency has changed dramatically since the office was created during the 1787 constitutional Convention. Especially over the past 100 years, the vice presidency has evolved into a position of domestic and foreign policy political power, and is now widely seen as an integral part of a president's administration. As the vice president's role within the executive branch has expanded, his role within the legislative branch has contracted; for example, he presides over the Senate only infrequently.The Constitution does not expressly assign the vice presidency to any one branch, causing a dispute among scholars about which branch of government the office belongs to: 1) the executive branch; 2) the legislative branch; 3) both; or 4) neither. The modern view of the vice president as an officer of the executive branch (isolated almost totally from the legislative branch) is due in large part to the assignment of executive authority to the vice president by either the president or Congress.Mike Pence of Indiana is the 48th and current vice president. He assumed office on January 20, 2017.

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