Powers Granted the President Under the Constitution-The Constitution spells out the president's formal powers.-One of the most important powers is that of commander in chief of the armed forces. -The president, a civilian official, maintains control over the military and has ultimate responsibility for military decisions.-The president also has the power to grant reprievesand pardons.- A reprieve is a postponement of punishment, whereas a pardon is a release from punishment. Presidents may also grant amnesty, or a blanket pardon, to people facing prosecution.George Washington (1789-1797): Establishing Precedents-As the nation's first president, Washington knew that his every action would helpshape the office for future generations.-Washington insisted on being addressed simply as “Mr. President,” rather than “Your Highness” or some other majestic title.
-Rather than ruling like an aloof monarch, Washington traveled the country to maintain contact with citizens.-He also declined to seek reelection after serving two terms in office, setting a precedent that would last until 1940.-Washington established the model for how the executive branch should be run.-Perhaps most importantly, Washington made sure that the president would be respected as a figure of authority. -Washington's determination to enforce the law was tested by the Whiskey Rebellion. Andrew Jackson (1829-1837): Champion of “The People”-Like Washington, Andrew Jackson believed in using the powers given to the president to the fullest. - Jackson was elected president at a time when many states had eliminated property requirements for voting. -Once in office, Jackson saw his role as the champion of the common people.-Jackson vetoed legislation simply because he disagreed with it or thought it ran counter to the people's interests.-Critics of Jackson's use of this presidential power dubbed him “King Andrew.” Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865): Savior of the Union-Abraham Lincoln became one of the most powerful presidents in U.S. history, in large part because his election triggered a national crisis.-By the time he took office in 1861, seven southern states had seceded from the United States.-In his inaugural speech, Lincoln argued that no state “can lawfully get out of the Union.” -Lincoln used all of his powers to carry out this duty. -Lincoln's many critics argued that he had far exceeded his constitutional powers.Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909): The Bully Pulpit-The presidents who followed Lincoln acted more as clerks than executive officers.-Roosevelt used the presidency as a platform from which to speak out on important public issues. -Roosevelt believed the president should act as a “steward of the public welfare.”-As the public's steward, Roosevelt created government agencies to ensure saferfood and drugs. He promoted conservation of the nation's resources. He pursued an active foreign policy in the belief that the United States was destined to be a great power.