Monday, September 23, 2013

Presidential Executive Orders and Proclamations

The President of the United States issues Executive Orders to instruct the actions of executive agencies or government officials.  Executive Orders also set policies for the executive branch of the United States Government to follow.

Executive Orders have the full force of law; they clarify Congressional or Constitutional laws.  During the Presidency of Harry S. Truman; there was a Supreme Court Case (Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 US 579, 1952).

This case determined that President Truman’s Executive Order was an attempt to make law; rather than clarify a law.  Some Executive Orders have been criticized as having exceeded the authority of the President.

President George Washington, in 1789, issued orders which today we term an executive order.  He issued eight of them.  John Adams, James Madison and James Munroe issued one each.  William Henry Harrison issued none as his presidency lasted 32 days.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued 3,522.  FDR has issued the most!

The American President Project is a fascinating resource for information about our Presidents.  It was started in 1999 at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  Its archives hold over 100,000 documents related to the study of the Presidency.  Included in these documents are:  Executive Orders, Proclamations, Press Conferences, Inaugural Addresses, Veto Messages, Radio & TV Correspondents Dinners, FDR’s Fireside Chats and other varying documents.

Presidential proclamations are either “ceremonial” or “substantive.” Ceremonial proclamations celebrate national holidays and special observances; whereas substantive proclamations often relate to foreign affairs and other executive duties of the President.  Two of the more well known proclamations are:  Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863: and George Washington’s Proclamation of Neutrality in 1793.

We welcome you to the State Library in room 341 of the State House between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm on Mondays through Fridays  to use our public access computers.