網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

party leader and as a distributor of patronage he can often cause Congress to follow the suggestions contained in his messages.

A vacancy in the office of President may occur by the death, impeachment or resignation of the incumbent, or by his inability to discharge the duties of his office. The Constitution provides a Vice-President (88) to succeed in the case of a vacancy. If for any reason neither President nor Vice-President can serve, an officer designated by Congress (89) succeeds to the Presidency. Under the presidential succession act of 1886 it is provided that members of the President's cabinet shall succeed to the Presidency in the following order: (1) The Secretary of State, (2) the Secretary of the Treasury, (3) the Secretary of War, (4) the Attorney-general, (5) the Postmastergeneral, (6) the Secretary of the Navy, (7) the Secretary of the Interior. The one succeeding to the Presidency serves for the remainder of the four years, but any one thus succeeding must have the constitutional qualifications.

Responsibility for the smooth and efficient working of the great federal machine rests wholly on the President, but in the supervision of the executive business there must, of course, be division of labor. To assist him in governing, the President summons to his aid assistants known as secretaries. Washington began his administration with three secretaries, a Secretary of State, a Secretary of the Treasury and a Secretary of War. As the business of government increased the work of the administration was further divided and new secretaries were brought in. The chief assistants of the President now number ten and are as follows:

1. The Secretary of State. 2. The Secretary of the Treasury. 3. The Secretary of War. 4. The Attorney-general. 5. The Postmaster-general. 6. The Secretary of the Navy. 7. The Secretary of the Interior. 8. The Secretary of Agriculture. 9. The Secretary of Commerce. 10. The Secretary of Labor.

Each of these secretaries is appointed by the President and is responsible to him for the management of his own department. At stated times the secretaries meet the President for consultation. This executive council is known as the cabinet. The cabinet as a body has no legal functions and is unknown to the Constitution, although its existence is foreshadowed in the words, “the President may require the opinion in writing of the principal officers in each of the executive departments upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices." (93). Washington, following the letter of the Constitution, sometimes communicated with his secretaries individually and required the opinion of each in writing. On many occasions, however, where important matters of administration were to be settled he called his secretaries together around a council board. It is said of Jefferson: “When a question occurred of sufficient magnitude to require the opinion of all the heads of departments he called them together, had the subject discussed and a vote taken in which he counted himself as but one. From out of these early meetings of the President and his secretaries has grown the cabinet meeting of to-day. The cabinet meets at the White House at the call of the President. Records of its meetings are rarely kept, and the public does not know what takes place at them. The President is not bound to act according to the wishes of the cabinet, nor does he always do so. The function of the cabinet is to discuss and advise; it is for the President to decide and act.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER V

FEDERAL EXECUTIVE WORK

It is chiefly through his cabinet officers as heads of departments that the President governs. These departments are:

I. The Department of State under the management of the Secretary of State attends to foreign affairs. It conducts the negotiations which lead up to the making of treaties, instructs our foreign ministers and consuls in their duties, extends official courtesies to the ministers from other countries, gives passports to those intending to travel abroad, protects American citizens in other lands, and transacts all other business arising between our government and other governments. The Secretary of State is regarded as first in rank among the heads of the departments.

II. The Department of the Treasury under the Secretary of the Treasury manages the financial business of the country. It collects the internal revenue, and the customs duties; it attends to the expenditure of money appropriated by Congress; it manages the public debt; it organizes and inspects national banks; it controls the mints and supervises the making of paper money. In addition to its purely financial duties this department controls the life-saving service maintained for the rescue of persons from shipwreck, supervises the construction of public buildings, and manages the marine hospitals maintained for disabled soldiers.

III. The Department of War under the Secretary of War has charge of the land forces. It purchases supplies for the soldiers, controls the transportation of troops, directs the improvements of rivers and harbors, superintends the signal service and controls the Military Academy at West Point.

IV. The Department of Justice under the Attorney-general is the law department of the national government. When the President or a member of the cabinet desires legal advice it is furnished by this department. When the government of the United States is interested in a case in court, an officer of this department defends or prosecutes the suit. Next in rank to the Attorney-general in the Department of Justice is the Solicitor-general who, under the direction of the Attorney-general, has charge of the business of the government in the Supreme Court of the United States.

V. The Post-office Department under the Postmaster-general, in addition to collecting, carrying and distributing the mail, establishes and discontinues post-offices, provides the public with stamps and postal cards, conducts a money postal-order system by which money may be safely transmitted to all parts of the world, hastens the delivery of mail by means of a special delivery system, sends by "parcels post" packages to all parts of our own country and to about

« 上一頁繼續 »