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- Community Civics and Rural Life - 80/88 -

the several states."

Most of the work that the national government has done for the promotion of the public health, such as the passage and enforcement of the "pure food and drugs act," the inspection of livestock and of slaughterhouses, and the attempt to regulate child labor, has been done under the authority of the clause giving Congress power to regulate interstate commerce.


It has been the duty of the Supreme Court of the United States to decide finally whether much of the new service undertaken by the national government is in accordance with the Constitution or not, and this court has been responsible for most of the expansion of the service rendered, because of its liberal interpretation of the Constitution.

Why should the power to regulate interstate commerce also give Congress the power to require the inspection of cattle in your neighborhood? or to forbid the use of harmful substances in patent medicines? or to forbid the employment in factories of children?

Find out what you can about the influence of John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, in extending the powers of the national government.


The Constitution vests the executive power in the President of the United States (Art. II, sec. I), and he alone is responsible to the people for the execution of the laws. The people are protected against abuse of this power in the hands of one man by various constitutional provisions. The President's term of office is limited to four years, though he may be reelected. In case of improper conduct in office, he may be removed by IMPEACHMENT. The impeachment charges must be brought against him by the House of Representatives, and the Senate, presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, must act as a court to try the case. Moreover, even the President must act according to law, and in so far as his duties are not prescribed by the Constitution they are prescribed by Congress. Congress must also create the machinery by which the President executes the laws, and it must appropriate the necessary money. The Senate exercises a further control over the President in that it must approve all appointments and all treaties made by him.


The method of electing the President provided in the Constitution was intended to insure a wise choice, and also shows a lack of complete confidence in the people on the part of the framers of the Constitution. He was to be elected by a body of ELECTORS, chosen by the several states "in such manner as the legislatures thereof may direct," the number of electors from each state to equal the whole number of senators and representatives from that state (Art. II, sec. 2). These electors were originally chosen by the legislatures of the states, but are now elected by the people. When voters "vote for the President" every four years, they in reality only vote for these electors who, in turn, cast their votes for the President.


In the method of electing the President we find one of the points where the intention of the framers of the Constitution has clearly been thwarted. It was obviously the intention that the electors chosen by the states should use their own discretion in the choice of the President. But in practice to-day, the entire body of electors from each state always represents the victorious political party, and casts its vote invariably for the presidential candidate already nominated by the party machinery. We still elect the electors, and the electors go through the form of electing the President; but their part in the procedure is now entirely useless.


The Vice-President of the United States is elected at the same time and by the same method as the President. But he has no executive duties whatever so long as the President is capable of performing his duties. In order that he might have something to do, he was made presiding officer of the Senate, but even there he has no vote.

Investigate and report:

The qualifications necessary to hold the office of President (Const., Art. II, sec. I, cl. 5).

How the electors elect the President (Const., Amend. XII).

Who would become President if both the President and the Vice- President should die.

The salary of the President.

The oath taken by the President on assuming office. The difference between an oath and an affirmation (Art. II, sec. i, cl. 8).

The powers of the President (Art. II, sec. 2).

A President who was impeached.

Why no President has been elected for a third term.

Advantages and disadvantages of a longer term for the President.


The President is at the head of a stupendous service organization which was not ready-made by the Constitution, but which has been gradually created by acts of Congress under its express and implied powers. The Constitution did not even create the great administrative departments through which the President works, although it implied that such departments should be created: "The President ... may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices" (Art. II, sec. 2, cl. i). The heads of these departments are appointed by the President, are responsible to him, and may be removed by him. Together they constitute the President's CABINET, meeting with him frequently to discuss the affairs of their departments and matters of public policy.


Five of these administrative departments were created during Washington's administration. These five have grown to cover a multitude of activities that were not at first contemplated, and five other great departments have since been created.

The DEPARTMENT OF STATE maintains relations between the United States and foreign powers. The Secretary of State, acting for the President, negotiates treaties with foreign governments, and is in constant communication with the ambassadors, ministers, consuls, and other representatives of our government in foreign countries, and with similar representatives of foreign governments in this country. This department is the medium of communication between the President and the governors of the several states. The Secretary of State has in his keeping the treaties and laws of the United States, and also the Great Seal of the United States, which he affixes to proclamations, commissions, and other official papers. Through him the rights of American citizens in foreign countries are looked after. He is first in rank among the members of the cabinet, and by law would succeed to the Presidency in case of the death or disability of both the President and the Vice- President.

The DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY has at its head the Secretary of the Treasury, who is the financial manager of the national government. He prepares plans for, and superintends the collection of, the public revenues; determines the manner of keeping the public accounts; directs the coinage and printing of money. He also controls the construction and maintenance of public buildings, and administers the public health service and the life- saving service.

The DEPARTMENT OF WAR is directed by the Secretary of War, who, under the President, controls the military establishment and superintends the national defense. He also administers river and harbor improvements, the prevention of obstruction to navigation, and the building of bridges over navigable rivers when authorized by Congress. He also has direction of the Bureau of Insular Affairs, which supervises the government of Porto Rico and the Philippines.

The DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE has at its head the Attorney General, who is the chief law officer of the government, and represents it in all matters of a legal nature. He is the legal adviser of the President and of the several executive departments, and supervises all United States attorneys and marshals in the judicial districts into which the country is divided.

The POST-OFFICE DEPARTMENT is administered by the Postmaster General.

The DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY, under the Secretary of the Navy, has charge of the "construction, manning, equipment, and employment of vessels of war."

The DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR was created to relieve the Department of State of work relating to internal affairs, and now embraces a wide variety of duties. At its head is the Secretary of the Interior. Through many bureaus and divisions it administers the public lands, the national parks, the giving of patents for inventions, the pensioning of soldiers, Indian affairs, education, the reclamation service, the geological survey, the improvement of mining methods for the safety of miners, certain matters pertaining to the territories of the United States, and certain institutions in the District of Columbia.

The DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE is directed by the Secretary of Agriculture. Its work is described in Chapter XII.

The DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, under the Secretary of Commerce, promotes the commercial interests of the country in many ways. It includes in its organization the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, the Bureau of Corporations, the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Lighthouses, the Bureau of Navigation, the Bureau of

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