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2015 Fall Term (1) American Government POL 101 412A[40407] (Hostos Community College)

Short Essay Assignment 2

The Constitution establishes the function, the power and giving people their rights. It also provided that the “executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States,” making the president the head of the Executive Branch of the federal government. But, most over the decades, the presidency powers has changed. That is to say since the ratification of the constitution, the president does not holds all powers as he used to. Now, president have to share powers with all his people including congress and offices. Some presidents had to break the pattern and make decisions. Among these president are Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Abraham Lincoln. As required, I choose Franklin Delano Roosevelt and will give more detail while explaining how the decisions he made affected the power of his presidency.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt or FDR is well known as the 32nd president of USA and the president during worldwide economic depression and for his program “new deal” for relief and recovery after the World War II. He served as president from 1933 to 1945; the longest tenure in America History. He helped Americans regain faith in themselves by telling them that what they have to fear is fear itself. The constitution attributes powers to all president. These powers include running the government, the politic of shared powers, the president and National Security Powers and the Public Presidency. These powers also applied to FDR. During his sovereignty or the depression of 1930, Roosevelt sought tremendous powers. He recommended to congress legislation that would create employment opportunity for those who are looking for job. For him, that will help build the country back on a good shape. He even attempted to change the structure of the Supreme Court by increasing the number of justices. He also worked hard and extended USA influence in the field of international relations. All his efforts to challenge the crisis his faced during his presidency made him a defining figure in American history.

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Americans elected Roosevelt President in 1932 because they believed he could combat the Depression more effectively than his Republican opponent, President Herbert Hoover. Roosevelt promised a “new deal” and he certainly delivered. By implementing a variety of innovative policies, FDR was able to pull the United States away from the brink of economic, social, and perhaps even political, disaster and lay the foundation for future stability and prosperity.

Under FDR, the American federal government assumed new and powerful roles in the nation’s economy, in its corporate life, and in the health, welfare, and well-being of its citizens. The federal government in 1935 guaranteed unions the right to organize and bargain collectively, and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 established a mechanism for putting a floor under wages and a ceiling on hours that continues to this day. It provided, in 1935, financial aid to the aged, infirm, and unemployed when they could no longer provide for themselves. Beginning in 1933, it helped rural and agricultural America with price supports and development programs when these sectors could barely survive. Finally, by embracing an activist fiscal policy after 1937, the government assumed responsibility for smoothing out the rough spots in the American economy.

The New Deal sought to insure that the economic, social, and political benefits of American capitalism were distributed more equally among America’s large and diverse populace. The New Deal did this to a remarkable degree. But FDR’s New Deal failed to cure completely the Depression-induced ills of the American economy. By 1940, the percentage of Americans without jobs remained in double digits and the American people lacked the purchasing power to jump start the economy. Only American entry into World War II ended this torpor.

If capitalism was still sick in 1940, democracy was also suffering from various maladies. African-Americans and women, despite a number of benefits accrued from the New Deal, still received far fewer of those benefits than white males and, partly as a result, remained at the bottom of the American economic ladder. The New Deal, moreover, did nothing to ensure that rights guaranteed to all Americans via the Constitution, such as the right to vote and the right to a fair trial, were guaranteed to blacks.

If FDR was elected in 1932 to fight the Depression, he was largely re-elected in 1940 because Americans believed he could guide the nation through a period of treacherous international relations. FDR correctly understood that Japan and Germany threatened the United States, which in turn endangered the cherished freedoms Americans enjoyed at home. With the onset of war in 1939, FDR ably guided America’s efforts to aid its allies without formally entering into hostilities. When Japan and Germany forced his hand in December 1941, Roosevelt rallied Americans in support of a massive war effort, both at home and abroad.

FDR hoped that the war would produce a more secure and peaceful post-war world, and he became a major proponent of a post-war United Nations, in which the United States would be a leading member. FDR, however, left to his successors the thorny problem of relations with the Soviet Union, which quickly replaced Germany and Japan as America’s chief global adversary. Nonetheless, a sea change had occurred in American foreign relations under FDR. By 1945, the United States had become a global power with global responsibilities and its new leaders both understood this new reality and had the tools at their disposal to shape the world accordingly.

FDR also reshaped the American presidency. Through his “fireside chats,” delivered to an audience via the new technology of radio, FDR built a bond between himself and the public doing much to shape the image of the President as the caretaker of the American people. Under FDR’s leadership, the President’s duties grew to encompass not only those of the chief executive as implementer of policy but also chief legislator as drafter of policy. And in trying to design and craft legislation, FDR required a White House staff and set of advisers unlike any seen previously in Washington. The President now needed a full-time staff devoted to domestic and foreign policies, with expertise in these areas, and a passion for governance. With enactment of the Executive Reorganization bill in 1939, FDR changed the shape of the White House forever. In sum, President Roosevelt greatly increased the responsibilities of his office. Fortunately for his successors, he also enhanced the capacity of the presidency to meet these new responsibilities

The founders’ father believed that in the presidency, they had created an office of prestige but little power. They would be surprised if they knew all the changes that have occurred. The powers of the president have increase enormously. Roosevelt presidency has shown that the president is the leader of his country in fact as well as in name. His words and deeds affected history in USA and throughout the world.


  • James A. Morone- Rogan Kersh “BY THE PEOPLE” Second edition

Debating American Government, Oxford University Press.

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