How Did George Washington Influence The Government

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Throughout American history, there have been numerous shifts and changes in politics and in the government. From the time George Washington was sworn into office in 1789 to Andrew Johnson’s assumption of presidency in 1808, one of the most prominent changes is the transformation of the presidential power and interpretation of the Constitution. As time goes on, the influence of the president gradually expands and evolves from a tightly constrained role into a significantly powerful position. The authority of the president grows along with the expansion of the nation's prosperity and prestige in the world. During the Revolutionary War in the late 18th century, the Founding Fathers created America and established a new system of governing. …show more content…

Convinced that extensive authority of the president led to tyranny and oppression, they set unequivocal constitutional restrictions on the executive. Among them, “Jefferson laid the institutional foundation for a limited government” (Appleby 47). Jefferson and the former presidents advocated limited powers for the federal government and set the precedent of a weak and limited role for future presidents. As the nation developed, the barriers led to tensions between Congress, Supreme Court, and the president. Power struggle began in John Adam’s presidency. As the hero and god-like figure of the nation, George Washington’s fame and reputation made his words law among fellow contemporaries. Adams did not have the advantageous status his predecessor had and would be the first president to experience the effectiveness of executive influence on a constitutional basis. Adams faced numerous frustrations and losses during his term, but succeeded in initiating bold foreign policies, such as the XYZ affair with France in 1798, on his executive power alone, therefore strengthening the presidential office. Presidential power remained weak up into the mid-19th century. A prime example of an inadequate presidency is James Buchanan, “a lame duck, [who] had little personal prestige or political power” (Gienapp 170). In times of crisis, Buchanan did not utilize power and refused to take a firm stand on the pressing issue of slavery and secession; he believed that …show more content…

Jackson’s belief that he was the “defender of the common man” led him to assume that he had supreme authority over the government, and as a result, ignored the Indian Removal Act of 1830 put in place by Congress and forced the Indian tribes to move west on the Trail of Tears. Jackson’s bold actions led to a great increase of power in the executive office. Resembling that of Jackson, Abraham Lincoln’s presidency also fortified executive power. During the Civil War, Lincoln’s “presidency shattered all precedents [and the]…. actions taken by the president were by no means understood to be powers of the executive” (Baker 176-177). Lincoln’s decision of declaring war on the Confederacy and suspending habeas corpus violated the Constitution, which stated that only Congress could declare war. Throughout Lincoln’s presidency, Lincoln sought legitimacy for his actions and broad interpretation of presidential war power through his belief that it was to “preserve the Union” and prevent the loss of national integrity. Presidential authority was expanded vastly and increased its influence in

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