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The Presidency
Do You Know That … A President may serve no more than ten years?
The President is the only public official elected by all of the citizens in the US?

The President is the only person in the US who can order the use of nuclear weapons?

Thirteen Vice-Presidents have become President?
The Presidency has great prestige. In the years to come, millions of persons will hear the President on national television. At a parade or other public event, the President will attract thousands of spectators. From around the world, leaders of other nations will come to the White House to seek the President’s advice or assistance. In times of crisis, people look to the President for guidance and direction. The person who holds the Presidency is one of the most powerful individuals in the entire world.
Qualifications and Removal
The President is the only public official elected by all of the citizens of the United States. Other public officials are elected by citizens of the community or state in which they live. There have been 43 persons chosen to be President of the United States. Not everyone is eligible for this office, however. Who is?
Who Can Be President? Popular opinion has it that any citizen can be President. The Constitution says only that a President must be:

  • 35 years of age

  • a natural born citizen

  • a resident of the United States for 14 years.

The phrase natural-born citizen means born in the United States. You are considered a natural-born citizen of the United States even if you are born in another country, as long as one or both of your parents are United States citizens.

Informal Requirements. There are informal requirements for becoming President that are not stated in the Constitution. These informal requirements have developed as customs or traditions over time. All recent Presidents, for example, have either been a member of the Republican or Democratic Party. Members or other political parties have found it very difficult to attract voters. From a practical standpoint, we have a two-party system in the United States.

Presidents usually have a great deal of political experience and have held high political office. Many were Representatives, US Senators, or Governors of their states before becoming President.

The 22nd Amendment. The President of the United States serves a four year term of office. No President, except Franklin D. Roosevelt, has been elected more than twice. The 22nd Amendment limits the office of President to two terms. If a person becomes President and serves less than two years of an elected President’s term, that person could be elected twice and serve as President ten years. However, if the person serves more than two years of an elected President’s term, that person may be only elected once. Vice Present Gerald Ford became President in 1974 when President Richard Nixon resigned. President Ford served two years and five months of an elected President’s term; therefore, Ford may be only elected once to the Presidency.
The 25th Amendment. The Presidency is a dangerous job. There have been attacks on the lives if many of our Presidents, as well as some Presidential Candidates. Ten Presidents have been shot at with guns. Four, including John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln, have been assassinated.

As a result of such attacks, many people have worried about who would take over if the President should be killed, resign, or for some reason be unable to perform the duties of the Presidency. The 25th Amendment to the Constitution tells us what to do if this should happen. If the President should die in office or resign, the Vice-President becomes President. He or she then appoints a Vice-President. The appointment must be approved by a majority of both houses of Congress. If both the President and Vice-President die or resign, the Speaker of the House becomes President. The person next in line is the president protempore of the Senate. After that person, the members of the President’s Cabinet will take over in the order that their departments were created.

What if the President becomes so ill that he or she cannot perform the duties of office? The President must, in writing, inform both the Speaker of the House and the President Protempore of the Senate of the illness. The Vice-President then becomes acting President. The acting President performs the duties of the President until the President says in writing that he or she is able to return to work.

What if the President becomes ill, but does not want to stop working? The Vice-President may then declare the President unable to work, and then take over as President. He or she must get a majority of the Cabinet to agree, however, if the President still refuses to step aside, the Congress, by a 2/3 majority vote, can approve the Vice-President’s action.

Removal by Impeachment. A President can also be removed from office by impeachment. To impeach means to bring charges against someone. A President can be impeached only for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Treason (disloyalty to one’s country) would be an example of such a “high crime.”

The Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives decides whether a President should be impeached. If the committee brings charges against the President, the full house must then decide whether to accept these charges. If the House accepts the charges, they are presented to the Senate. A 2/3 vote of the Senate is required for the President to be convicted. Only three Presidents in our history have ever been in danger of being impeached and convicted. They were Andrew Johnson in 1866, Richard Nixon in 1974 and Bill Clinton in 1998. None of them were found guilty. The attempt to find Johnson guilty failed only by one vote. Nixon resigned before charges could be brought against him in the House of Representatives.

Special Powers of the President. The President is given many special powers by the Constitution. The first power that the President has is to appoint ambassadors, federal court judges, and Supreme Court Justices. However, all of the President’s appointments need to be confirmed by the US Senate.

Perhaps the most important appointments the President makes with the consent of the Senate is his or her Cabinet. The President’s Cabinet is a group of advisors that help the President do his or her job. These people have the title of “Secretary” and they head the major departments of the federal government. Some Cabinet positions include the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and Attorney General.

Another power that the President has is the power to convene Congress. This means the president can call to Congress together if he or she needs to address them personally about a certain issue. The best example of this is called the State of the Union Address. Each year the president addresses the Congress on the condition of the United States.

A third power that the President has is to make treaties with foreign countries. The President can make treaties (agreements) with other countries only with the consent of the US Senate.

Other powers that the President has are the power to veto a bill passed by Congress. However, this veto can be overridden by Congress if they obtain a 2/3 majority vote. The President also has the power to pardon or erase crimes of those who have been convicted of crimes.
Name: ________________________________ Date:___________________

Social Studies 7 The Presidency

Directions: After reading “The Presidency,” answer the following questions and fill-in the chart on the back of this sheet.
1. What are three (3) requirements for the Presidency?

2. What are some informal requirements to become the President?

3. What does the 22nd Amendment deal with?

4. Why do you think the 22nd Amendment was passed?

5. What does the 25th Amendment deal with?

6. Who becomes President upon the President’s death? Who becomes Vice-President?

7. Who impeaches the President of the United States? What role does the Senate have?

8. What does impeach mean?

9. List the 5 special powers of the President

A. _______________________________ D. ___________________________

B. _______________________________ E. ___________________________
C. _______________________________

10. What is role of the President’s Cabinet? List three positions in the Cabinet.

The Executive Branch (The Presidency)

Main officers (who helps the President?)

Length of term of the President

Maximum number of terms

(22nd Amendment)

Qualifications of the President:





Order of Succession

to Presidency

(25th Amendment)

Special Powers of the President

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