Executive Branch

How many branches of our government are there? There are three. What are they? One branch is Congress, the legislative branch, which is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The second branch is the judiciary or the Supreme Court and other Federal courts. The third branch is the executive branch or the Presidency, usually referred to as the White House.
Article II of the Constitution reads in part as follows: “The executive power shall be vested in a president of the United States of America.” The term of office for a president is four years, according to the Constitution. But since our first President George Washington declined to accept a third term, eight years was traditionally recognized as the usual term of office until Franklin d. Roosevelt broke with tradition ad won third and fourth term elections. Roosevelt died before the end of his fourth term and Congress later sponsored a constitutional amendment to limit all future presidential terms to eight years. This is now a part of our Constitution.
The Constitution originally called for the election of the President and Vice President by electors appointed by the legislatures of the various states. These electors were to meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for two persons. A certificate listing the names of those voted for was to be signed and transmitted to the President of the Senate. In the presence of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the President of the Senate opened all the certificates and the votes were counted. The person having the most votes was elected President and the person with the next highest number of votes became Vice President. With the advent of political parties, the voting for President and Vice President was changed when the political parties began nominating candidates for both offices. In most states, the electors are now elected by the people but they traditionally vote for the Presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in that state.
Are there any limitations on who can serve as President? Yes, there are several. No person except a natural born citizen can be elected to the Presidency. No person who has not attained to the age of 35 years and been a resident for fourteen years within the United States can be elected.
The President is the Commander-in-Chief of all the military services as well as the National Guard when it is called into active military service of the United States. To direct the executive branch, the President has a cabinet of able persons to assist and advise him. General George Washington, during his eight year term as President, had five members in his Cabinet: Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson; Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton; Secretary of War, Henry Knox; Postmaster General, Samuel Osgood; Attorney General, Edmund Randolph.
Today, President Gerald Ford has a cabinet of ten members, only three of which correspond to the original five of President Washington’s Cabinet. They are Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, and the Attorney General. The Secretary of War has been merged into the office of Secretary of Defense and the Post Office is now a Federal corporation run by a Postmaster General, but he is not a member of the Cabinet.
The seven other departments over which a Cabinet member presides are: Defense; Labor; Commerce; Interior; Agriculture; Health, Education and Welfare; and Transportation.
Now I will tell you a few things about the men who have served as our Chief Executives. John Adams was the first President to occupy the White House in Washington.
Thomas Jefferson walked from his boarding house to the Capitol to take the oath of office. The man he defeated, John Adams, had left town early that morning for his home in Massachusetts, unhappy that he was not elected to a second term.
Teddy Roosevelt liked to go hiking along the Potomac River and usually took off his clothes and swam across to what is now known as Roosevelt Island. When a memorial was built to honor him, it was placed on Roosevelt Island and is accessible by car from a bridge that crosses the river over the island.
Calvin Coolidge was the typical New England Yankee—modest, unassuming, quiet, not given to excessive conversation. One time a senator told Coolidge, “I bet I can make you say at least three words.” Coolidge smiled and said, “You lose.”
If you ever visit Washington, be sure to take the White house tour. Anyone who stands in the Blue Room or the Red Room and the various other rooms in this historic house will think of the giant figures of American history who have lived here. It is almost feel like standing on hallowed ground. The White House is a great historical shrine and everyone at sometime in their lives should visit this beautiful home of the Presidents.

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