Chapter 9 The Executive Branch What's Ahead in Chapter 9

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Sharing the Power The stories you have just read show that the President does not govern alone. Instead, power is shared among the three branches of government the "three-horse team" as President Franklin D. Roosevelt described them. The system of checks and balances helps to make sure that the government acts in the best interests of the people. In this way the "three-horse team" works together for the good of the nation.

Reading Check Of the three examples given, which is an example of an opportunity and which is an example of a crisis?

Section 3 Assessment

Key Terms

Use each of the key terms in a sentence that explains its meaning: treaties, executive privilege

Target Reading Skill

1. Reread Reread the passage on page 244 entitled "Chief Diplomat." What information provided later in the chapter helps you understand this passage better?

Comprehension and Critical Thinking


a. Recall How are executive agreements an example of presidential freedom of action?

b. Contrast How do executive agreements and executive privilege contrast with the system of checks and balances?


a. Describe What problem led President Truman to take control of the steel mills? b. Demonstrate Reasoned Judgment Was Truman's action a threat to the Constitution?


a. Explain What is the "three-horse team" that Roosevelt described?

b. Evaluate Information Did the Framers of the Constitution do a good job in designing the federal government? Explain.

Writing Activity

Write a newspaper editorial in which you describe the problems Jefferson faced in completing the Louisiana Purchase. Conclude by explaining whether or not you think Jefferson made the correct decision.


• Organize your essay into two parts: a presentation of the facts and then an evaluation of Jefferson's action.

• Make an outline of Jefferson's options and the consequences of each choice.


Skills for Life

Drawing Inferences

Writers will sometimes imply meanings rather than stating them directly. When this happens, you need to infer the writer's meaning by using what you already know to interpret the writer's meaning.

Read this passage about President John F. Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis. Then, answer the questions that follow.

On October 14, 1962, the Pentagon provided the White House with photographs proving that the Soviets were building nuclear military installations in Cuba. Because a previous attack on Cuba had been an embarrassing failure for the United States, President Kennedy took his time deciding on his response to this threat. After discussion with his Cabinet, the President ordered a naval blockade of the Gulf of Mexico.

On October 26, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev offered to withdraw all the missiles from Cuba in exchange for an American pledge not to invade the island nation. The President and his Cabinet agreed to respond positively to this offer. On the following day, however, they were halted by a second letter from Moscow, which now asked for the removal of American missile bases in Turkey.

Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the President's brother and his most trusted adviser, suggested that the United States respond as planned to the first letter and ignore the existence of the second. Khrushchev accepted the United States pledge not to invade Cuba, and by November the missiles had been sent back to the Soviet Union and the naval blockade lifted.

Learn the Skill

Follow these steps to draw inferences:

1. Identify main ideas. What is the main idea of the passage?

2. Look for facts and opinions. What information is directly stated by the author?

3. Identify unstated ideas. What ideas or information are implied but not directly stated in the passage?

4. Identify the point of view. Based on the inferences you made, how do you think the writer feels about the topic?

Practice the Skill

Read the passage above, and answer the following questions:

1. What is the main idea of this passage about the Cuban missile crisis?

2. (a) Find two stated facts. (b) Find two stated opinions.

3. What are some advantages and disadvantages of each solution?

4. What is the best solution? Why?

Apply the Skill

Read a magazine article about a recent action taken by the President of the United States. What does the writer of the article imply about the President's action?



Review and Assessment

Chapter Summary

Section 1

The Roles of the President

(pages 240-247)

• The President heads the executive branch of the government.

• The Constitution spells out requirements, responsibilities, and powers of the presidency.

• The President serves as chief executive, commander in chief, chief diplomat, and legislative leader. The President also appoints judges and other officials, leads a political party, and serves as chief of state.

• As part of foreign policy, the President negotiates treaties, appoints ambassadors, and makes executive agreements.

• As legislative leader, the President sets domestic policy.

Section 2

The Organization of the Executive Branch

(pages 249-254)

• The executive branch is a bureaucracy of government departments and agencies.

• The President's administration heads an executive branch made up of three parts: the Executive Office of the President, which advises the President, and the executive departments and the independent agencies, which enforce laws and provide services.

• The President appoints the heads of the executive departments. With other executive officials, they make up the Cabinet.

• The civil service system fills the positions not appointed directly by the President. These executive department employees are hired on the basis of merit.

Section 3

Presidents and Power

(pages 255-259)

• The President can use executive agreements and executive privilege to act without consulting with other branches of the government. Some executive agreements lead to treaties that need approval by the Senate.

• The President must seek a balance between the need for immediate action and the constitutional need to consult with Congress.

• Presidents may, rightly or wrongly, try to use executive powers during times of great opportunity or crisis. Presidents Jefferson, Truman, and Nixon are examples of Presidents who tried to use their powers, rightly or wrongly, during great opportunities or crises.

• Government works best when power is shared among the three branches of government.

Copy the chart below, and use it to help you summarize the chapter.


Reviewing Key Terms

Fill in each blank with one of the key terms from the list below.


domestic policy

executive branch



executive agreements


foreign policy

1. Agreements with other countries that do not need Senate approval are called _____.

2. The branch of government charged with executing the laws is the _____.

3. The official representatives of foreign governments are called _____.

4. An organization of government departments, agencies, and offices is called a _____.

5. The heads of the executive departments are members of the President's _____.

6. The set of plans that guides our nation's relationships with other countries is called _____.

7. Formal agreements with other countries are called _____.

8. The President's plan for dealing with such national issues as health care and taxes is called _____.

Comprehension and Critical Thinking


a. Describe What three roles does the President have in the government?

b. Make Generalizations How is the President's power limited by the other branches of government?

c. Draw Inferences Besides the veto, how can the President influence Congress?


a. Recall What are the duties of the Department of State?

b. Contrast How do the duties of the Department of Defense differ from those of the Department of State?

c. Predict How might the interests of the Department of State and the Department of Defense conflict?


a. Recall What countries and leaders were involved in the Louisiana Purchase?

b. Analyze Information What constitutional issues were involved in the Louisiana Purchase?

c. Synthesize Information How was the outcome of the Louisiana Purchase an example of the expanding power of the President?


12. Skills Read the text to the right. a. Why did Richardson and his deputy resign? b. Why did Bork fire Cox?

13. Writing Choose an issue facing the country right now. Write a short essay that explains the President's powers to deal with the issue, the forces of the executive branch that would deal with the issue, and the limits on presidential power that are in place.

A significant point of the Watergate crisis was an event the press called the "Saturday Night Massacre." The Department of Justice had appointed a special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, to investigate the case. Cox asked the White House to turn over tapes made by the President. Nixon refused and ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Cox. Richardson instead resigned, as did his deputy. The third most important official left at the Justice Department, Solicitor General Robert Bork, then fired Cox.


14. Active Citizen How could you let the President know your opinion on an issue of national importance?

15. Math Practice The United States paid France $15 million for the Louisiana Purchase, an area of 828,000 square miles. Which of the following is closest to the price of the Louisiana Purchase per square mile?

a. $12 b. $18 c. $24

16. Civics and Economics If the President decided to increase funding for the teaching of math in the schools, which departments and branches of government would be involved in carrying out this decision?

17. Analyzing Visuals The map shows the area of the Louisiana Purchase. Identify all present-day states that made up the Louisiana Purchase.

Standardized Test Prep

Test-Taking Tips

Most Presidents have retired from public life when they have left the presidency. There have been a few notable exceptions to this rule. President John Quincy Adams, who served from 1825 to 1829, was elected to Congress after leaving the White House. He served for many years as an early opponent of slavery. President William Howard Taft, who served from 1909 to 1913, was later appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) has been active in international affairs as head of the Carter Center. In addition to their public service, all three former Presidents have some thing else in common. All were defeated in their quest for a second term of office.

TIP Sometimes the main idea is inferred rather than stated. Remember also that important details can be at the end of the paragraph.

Choose the letter that best answers the question.

1. What shared fact makes the three Presidents unusual?

A They all served in Congress after leaving the presidency.

B They all served on the Supreme Court.

C They have had careers in public life after serving single terms in office.

D They all served two terms as President.

The correct answer is C. Note the main idea is inferred rather than directly stated.
2. Which statement below do you think is a correct assessment of all three Presidents?

A They needed to continue working

because they needed the money.

B Having served two terms as President, they still had a desire to serve.

C Having been defeated for reelection, they still had a desire to serve.

D They were not qualified for any other line of work.


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