The President of the United States under the US Constitution

Under the United States Constitution, the President of the United States is the Head of State and Head of Government of the United States. As chief of the executive branch and face of the Federal Government as a whole, The Presidency is the highest political office in the United States by influence and recognition.

Seal of the President of the United State
Seal of the President of the United State

The President of the United States (POTUS) is the Head of State and Head of Government of the United States of America. The President directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces. Donald J. Trump of New York is the 45th and current President of the United States. He assumed office on January 20, 2017.

In contemporary times, the President is looked upon as one of the world’s most powerful political figures as the leader of the only remaining global superpower. The role includes responsibility for the world’s most expensive military, which has the second largest nuclear arsenal. The President also leads the nation with the largest economy by nominal GDP. The President possesses significant domestic and international hard and soft power.

Article II of the Constitution establishes the executive branch of the federal government. It vests the executive power of the United States in the President. The power includes the execution and enforcement of federal law, alongside the responsibility of appointing federal executive, diplomatic, regulatory and judicial officers, and concluding treaties with foreign powers with the advice and consent of the Senate. The President is further empowered to grant federal pardons and reprieves, and to convene and adjourn either or both houses of Congress under extraordinary circumstances. The President directs the foreign and domestic policies of the United States, and takes an active role in promoting his policy priorities to members of Congress. In addition, as part of the system of checks and balances, Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution gives the President the power to sign or veto federal legislation. The power of the presidency has grown substantially since its formation, as has the power of the federal government as a whole.

The President and Vice President are indirectly elected to a four-year term by registered voters through the Electoral College (or by the House of Representatives, should the Electoral College fail to award an absolute majority of votes to any person). This is the only federal election in the United States which is not decided by popular vote. Nine Vice Presidents became president by virtue of a President’s intra-term death or resignation.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 sets three qualifications for holding the presidency: natural-born U.S. citizenship; at least thirty-five years of age; and residency in the United States for at least fourteen years. Since the ratification of the Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1951, no person who has been elected to two presidential terms may be elected to a third, and no one who has served more than two years of a term to which someone else was elected may be elected more than once. Upon the death, resignation, or removal from office of an incumbent President, the Vice President assumes the office.

In all, 44 individuals have served 45 presidencies spanning 57 full four-year terms. Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms, so he is counted twice, as both the 22nd and 24th president.

Of the individuals elected as president, four died in office of natural causes (William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Warren G. Harding, and Franklin D. Roosevelt), four were assassinated (Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy) and one resigned (Richard Nixon).

George Washington, The First President, was inaugurated in 1789 after a unanimous vote of the Electoral College. William Henry Harrison spent the shortest time in office with 32 days in 1841. Franklin D. Roosevelt spent the longest with over twelve years, but died shortly into his fourth term in 1945; he is the only president to have served more than two terms. A constitutional amendment, affecting presidents after Harry Truman, was passed to limit the number of times an individual can be elected president. Andrew Jackson, the seventh president, was the first to be elected by white men of all classes in 1828 after most laws barring non-land-owners from voting were repealed. Warren Harding was the first elected after women gained voting rights in 1920. Four presidents – John Q. Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison and George W. Bush – lost the popular vote but assumed office; Bush was subsequently re-elected with a popular majority. John F. Kennedy has been the only president of Roman Catholic faith, and President Barack Obama, is the first president of African descent.