As has several times happened in our history, a candidate may be
elected President or Vice President and yet be in a minority of the
INAUGURATION. - On the 4th of March following the election the President
and the Vice President assume the duties of their respective offices
amid imposing ceremonies.
The Vice President is first sworn into office in the presence of the
United States Senate. The following oath of office is then
administered to the President-elect by the Chief Justice of the United
States Supreme Court: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will
faithfully execute the office of President of the United States; and
will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the
Constitution of the United States."
In the presence of a vast concourse of citizens the President delivers
an address, outlining the public policy to be pursued during his term
of office. There is usually a display of civil and military
organizations representing all sections of the country. The political
differences of the people are in great part forgotten in the enthusiasm
attending the inauguration of the President.
OFFICIAL RESIDENCE. - The presidential mansion in the city of Washington
is called the White House. It was erected and is maintained by the
national government at public expense. Here the President resides with
his family, and receives private citizens, members of Congress,
officers of other departments of the government, and foreign ministers
At his public receptions, held at stated times, he may be called upon
by the humblest person in the land. This shows the spirit of equality
which prevails even in the highest station under our system of
government. Our institutions are based upon the principle embodied in
the Declaration of Independence, "That all men are created equal."
DIGNITY AND RESPONSIBILITY. - The office of President of the United
States is the highest in the gift of the people. "He represents the
unity, power, and purpose of the nation." He is the first citizen of
the United States, holding the position of highest dignity, influence,
and responsibility in the whole country. He directs the machinery of
the government, and is therefore held responsible by the people for the
conduct of public affairs, and largely for the condition of the country.
His term of office is called an administration. He and his official
advisers have the appointment of more than one hundred and fifteen
thousand officers of the national government.
MESSAGES. - At the opening of each regular session of Congress the
President sends or delivers to both houses his annual message, in which
he reviews events of the previous year, gives "information of the state
of the Union," and recommends the passage of such laws as he deems
"necessary and expedient." From time to time he gives information upon
special subjects, and recommends the passage of measures of pressing
importance. The heads of departments make yearly reports to the
President, which are printed for the information of Congress.
DUTIES AND POWERS. - The duties of the President are so extensive, the
burdens of his office so heavy, and his power so great, that the people
believe that no man, however wise and eminent, should hold the office
for more than two terms. Washington set the example of voluntary
retirement at the end of the second term, and it seems to be an
unwritten law that no President shall serve more than eight years in
succession. The duties of the office, so various and so burdensome,
are summed up in the provision of the Constitution: "He shall take care
that the laws be faithfully executed."
The President approves or vetoes all bills and joint-resolutions passed
by Congress, except those relating to questions of adjournment. All
measures vetoed must, within ten days after they are received, be
returned to the house in which they originated. The power to veto acts
of Congress is called the legislative power of the President.
He is _commander-in-chief_ of the army and the navy of the United
States, and of the militia of the several States when engaged in the
national service. He does not command in person, but places the forces
under the orders of officers of his choice.
He may require information in writing from the heads of departments
upon subjects relating to their respective offices. As he appoints
these officers, and may remove them at his pleasure, the people hold
him responsible for their official conduct. He is held responsible for
the official actions of all officers of the executive department of the
He may grant _reprieves and pardons_ for offenses against the United
States, except in cases of impeachment. Frequent appeals are made to
his pardoning power.
He may make _treaties_ with foreign countries, but before a treaty can
have any effect it must be submitted by him to the Senate, and must be
ratified by a vote of two thirds of the senators present. With the
consent of the Senate, he appoints ministers to foreign courts, consuls
to foreign countries, judges of the United States Supreme Court, and
other officers, of the national government. He fills vacancies in
office which occur during recesses of the Senate, by granting
commissions which expire at the close of the next session of the Senate.
He may, in cases of extreme necessity, call special session of
Congress, or of either house. If the Senate and the House of
Representatives fail to agree upon a time to which they shall adjourn,
the President may adjourn them to such time as he may think proper.
Such a necessity has never arisen, and therefore this power has never
The President may receive or refuse to receive ministers and other
agents of foreign governments. _To receive_ a minister is to recognize
the nation which he represents. He may also dismiss foreign ministers
who do not prove acceptable to our government.
He commissions all officers of the United States. The power to make
appointments of office is called his _patronage_. A civil service
commission, consisting of three commissioners, has been established by
act of Congress, to secure efficiency in the public service, and to
prevent the appointment of men to office as a reward for party work.
Before applicants for certain offices can be appointed they must pass
an examination prescribed by the civil service commission.
The President's cabinet is a council of ten official advisers,
appointed by him and confirmed by the Senate. They are often called
heads of departments. The members of the cabinet are the secretary of
state, secretary of the treasury, secretary of war, secretary of the
navy, postmaster-general, secretary of the interior, attorney-general,
secretary of agriculture, secretary of commerce, and secretary of labor.
They may be removed by the President at pleasure, and are directly
responsible to him for the conduct of their respective departments.
The President holds frequent meetings of the cabinet for the purpose of
conferring upon official business; but he may, if he choose, disregard
their advice and act upon his own judgment.
In case of the death, resignation, removal, or disability of both
President and Vice President, the presidential office would be filled
by a member of the cabinet, in this order: The secretary of state, the
secretary of the treasury, the secretary of war, the attorney-general,
the postmaster-general, the secretary of the navy, the secretary of the
Each of the cabinet officers receives a salary of twelve thousand
dollars per year.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE. - The secretary of state is the head of the
department of state, formerly called the department of foreign affairs.
His office is the highest rank in the cabinet, and is next in
importance to that of the President. He preserves the original
draughts of all treaties, laws, public documents, and correspondence
with foreign countries. He keeps the great seal of the United States,
and fixes it to all commissions signed by the President. He furnishes
copies of records and papers kept in his office, impressed with the
seal of his department, and authenticates all proclamations and
messages of the President.
He has charge of the negotiation of treaties and other foreign affairs,
conducts correspondence with foreign ministers, issues instructions for
the guidance of our ministers and other agents to foreign countries,
and from time to time reports to Congress the relations of the United
States with other governments. He is the organ of communication
between the President and the governors of the States.
He issues traveling papers, called _passports_, to citizens wishing to
travel in foreign countries. When foreign criminals take refuge in
this country, he issues warrants for their delivery according to the
terms of existing treaties. He presents to the President all foreign
ministers, and is the only officer authorized to represent him in
correspondence with foreign governments.
The secretary of state has three assistants, called respectively, first
assistant secretary of state, second assistant secretary of state, and
third assistant secretary of state.
The department of state conducts the foreign affairs of the government
chiefly through the diplomatic service and the consular service.
THE DIPLOMATIC SERVICE. - The officers of the diplomatic service are
called _ministers_, and represent the United States in a political
capacity. They negotiate treaties under the direction of the secretary
of state, and maintain friendly relations between the United States and
the countries to which they are accredited. They are forbidden to
engage in any commercial transaction, or to exercise any control over
the commercial interests of the United States.
By the laws of nations, foreign ministers in all countries enjoy many
rights and privileges not accorded to other foreign persons. They are
assisted by interpreters, who explain speeches made in foreign tongues;
and by secretaries of legation, who keep the records, and attend to the
minor duties of the ministers.
The diplomatic service consists of ambassadors extraordinary and
plenipotentiary, of envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary,
and of ministers resident. These officials rank in the order named,
but the duties are the same; the chief difference being in the rank and
influence of the countries to which they are accredited.
The ambassadors and ministers of the higher rank receive salaries
ranging from seven thousand five hundred dollars to seventeen thousand
five hundred dollars each, the latter sum being paid to the ambassadors
to such important countries as Great Britain, Germany, France, Russia,
Mexico, Japan, etc.
There are very few ministers resident. They generally serve also as
consuls general, and receive from four thousand dollars to seven
thousand dollars each. Ministers sent to foreign countries upon
special service, such as the negotiation of special treaties, are
sometimes called _commissioners_.
CONSULAR SERVICE. - The consular service includes about sixty consuls
general, some of whom are inspectors of consulates, about two hundred
and fifty consuls, and many deputies and other assistants.
The chief duties of consuls are to enforce the commercial laws, and to
protect the rights of American citizens. Consuls reside at the
principal cities of the consular districts to which they are
accredited. The interests of American shipping and American seamen are
specially intrusted to their care. They keep the papers of American
vessels while in port; they record the tonnage, the kind and value of
the cargo, and the number and condition of the sailors. They hear the
complaints of seamen, cause the arrest of mutinous sailors, send them
home for trial, and care for mariners in destitute condition. They
take possession of the property of American citizens dying abroad, and
forward the proceeds to the lawful heirs.
They collect valuable information relating to the commerce and
manufactures of foreign countries, which is distributed among our
people by the department of commerce.
In Turkey and China, American citizens who are charged with crime are
tried by the American consul. Consuls and consuls general receive
salaries ranging from two thousand dollars to twelve thousand dollars
each, according to the importance of the cities where they are located.
TREASURY DEPARTMENT. - The secretary of the treasury is the head of the
treasury department. He manages the entire financial system of the
national government. He suggests to Congress plans for raising revenue
and maintaining the credit of the United States, and makes detailed
reports on all the operations of his department.
He superintends the collection of revenue; the coinage of money; the
operation of national banks; the conduct of custom-houses, where taxes
on imported foreign goods are collected. The schedule or table showing
the duties levied on foreign goods is called the _tariff_; this is
fixed by act of Congress. The management of the public health service,
and the operation of the coast guard, maintained along the seacoast for
the rescue of persons from drowning and for the enforcement of
navigation laws, are also under the charge of the secretary of the
treasury. His greatest responsibility is the management of the
national debt, which still amounts to many hundred millions of dollars.
BUREAUS. - The secretary of the treasury is assisted by three assistant
secretaries of the treasury, a comptroller, six auditors, a treasurer,
a register of the treasury, and numerous other responsible officers in
charge of the bank currency, internal revenue, the mint, the erection
of public buildings, and other important bureaus and divisions of the
The _comptroller_ directs the work of the six auditors, and
superintends the recovery of debts due the United States.
The _auditor for the treasury department_ settles - that is, examines
and passes on - all accounts in the collection of customs duties and
internal revenue, the national debt, and other accounts immediately
connected with the operations of the treasury department.
The _auditor for the war department_ settles the army accounts.
The _auditor for the interior department_ settles pension accounts,
accounts with the Indians, and all other accounts arising in the
department of the interior.
The _auditor for the navy department_ settles the accounts of the navy.
The _auditor for the state and other departments_ has charge of the
accounts of the secretary of state, the attorney-general, the secretary
of agriculture, the secretary of commerce, and the secretary of labor,
and of all the officials under their direction; the accounts of the
United States courts; and those of various institutions which are not
under the control of any department.
The _auditor for the post-office department_ examines and passes on the
accounts of the postal service.
The _treasurer_ is custodian of the funds of the United States. All
funds and securities are kept in vaults made for the purpose, or
deposited in reliable banks for safe keeping.
The _register of the treasury_ has charge of the account-books of
United States bonds and paper money. They show the exact financial
condition of the United States at all times. The register's name is
upon all bonds and notes issued by the government.
The _comptroller of the currency_ supervises the national banks. A
_bank_ is a place for the safe keeping and lending of money. A bank
holding its charter - that is, its power to do business - from a State
government is called a State bank. Two kinds of banks are chartered by
the national government: the _national banks_ and the _federal reserve
By the laws of the United States, any five or more persons with
sufficient capital may organize a national bank. A national bank may
issue its notes - that is, its promises to pay - as currency, to an
amount not exceeding the amount of United States bonds deposited by the
bank with the national government. Each federal reserve bank is a
large central bank organized by the banks of a certain district. It
issues notes as currency, secured by commercial notes, drafts, etc.
The _commissioner of internal revenue_ supervises the collection of
income taxes and of taxes laid upon tobacco; liquors, etc.,
manufactured in this country.
The _director of the mint_ has charge of the coinage of money, and
reports to Congress upon the yield of precious metals. There are mints
at Philadelphia, Carson, San Francisco, Denver, and New Orleans, and
assay offices also at other places.
The Constitution vests the power to coin money in the national
The _director of the bureau of engraving and printing_ supervises the
execution of designs and the engraving and printing of revenue and
postage stamps, national bank notes, and the notes, bonds, and other
financial paper of the United States.
The _supervising architect_ selects plans for the erection of
custom-houses, court-houses, post-offices, mints, and other public
buildings of the United States.
The _surgeon-general of the public health service_ has charge of the
marine hospitals, and helps to enforce the laws which aim to prevent
the introduction of contagious diseases into the country. He calls
conferences of state health boards.
The _solicitor of the treasury_ is the chief lawyer for the department.
He has charge of prosecutions for violations of the customs laws, and
other crimes against the financial interests of the United States.
Like similar lawyers for other departments, he is included in the
department of justice, under the attorney-general.
WAR DEPARTMENT. - The secretary of war is the head of the war
department. He has charge of the land forces, under the direction of
the President. He supervises the expenditure of money voted by
Congress for the improvement of rivers and harbors, and for the United
States Military Academy at West Point, as well as for the support and
operations of the army. In the management of his department he is
aided by an assistant secretary of war.
BUREAUS. - The war department has numerous offices and bureaus, each in
the charge of a responsible officer, and all under the supervision of
the Chief of Staff, who is the military adviser of the secretary of war.
The _adjutant-general_ issues the military orders of his superiors,
conducts the army correspondence, issues commissions, and keeps the
The _quartermaster-general_ provides quarters, food, clothing, and
transportation for the army, and has charge of barracks and national
cemeteries. He also supervises the payment of the army and the
The _surgeon-general_ superintends the army hospitals, and the
distribution of medical stores for the army.
The _inspector-general_ attends to inspection of the arms and
equipments of the soldiers.
The _chief of engineers_ supervises the construction of forts, the
improvement of rivers and harbors, and the surveys relating to them.
The _chief of ordnance_ furnishes guns and ammunition to the army and
to forts, and has charge of armories and arsenals.
The _judge-advocate-general_, who is chief of the bureau of military
justice, prosecutes crimes committed in the army, and reviews all
sentences passed by military courts and military commissions.
MILITARY ACADEMY. - The military academy at West Point is maintained for
the education of officers for the army. Each member of Congress
appoints two cadets to the academy, and the President appoints four
from the District of Columbia and eighty from the United States at
large. There are also appointed two from each territory, two from
Porto Rico, and a certain number of enlisted men from the army. The
academy is under the charge of an army officer, appointed by the
secretary of war. Each cadet receives from the government an allowance
sufficient to pay all necessary expenses.
NAVY DEPARTMENT. - The secretary of the navy presides over the navy
department. He has control of all affairs relating to vessels of war,
the naval forces, and naval operations. He has charge of the Naval
Observatory at Washington, and of the United States Naval Academy at
Annapolis. There is an assistant secretary of the navy.
The naval department issues sailing charts, sailing directions, and
other publications for the use of seamen. Among these is the nautical
almanac used in navigating ships.
BUREAUS. - The naval department has a number of bureaus, which are in
charge of competent officers detailed from the naval service.
The _bureau of navigation_ gives out and enforces the secretary's
orders to the officers of the navy, enlists sailors, keeps the records
of the service, and has charge of the naval academy. It has charge of
the training and education of line officers and enlisted men of the
The _bureau of yards and docks_ attends to the navy yards, docks,
wharves, their buildings and machinery.
The _bureau of ordnance_ superintends the forging and testing of
cannon, guns, and other military equipments, and the construction of
The _bureau of medicine and surgery_ has charge of the naval
laboratory, the eight naval hospitals, and the purchase and
distribution of surgical instruments and medical stores for the naval
The _bureau of supplies and accounts_ purchases and distributes
provisions and clothing for the navy.
The _bureau of steam engineering_ superintends the construction and
repair of engines and machinery for the vessels of war.
The _bureau of construction and repair_ has charge of all matters
relating to the construction and repair of all vessels and boats used
in the naval service.
NAVAL ACADEMY. - The naval academy at Annapolis is maintained by the
national government for the purpose of educating and training officers
for the navy. It bears the same relation to the navy that the military
academy bears to the army. At the academy there are three midshipmen
for each member of Congress; the President appoints two from the
District of Columbia and ten a year from the United States at large;
and fifteen enlisted men of the navy are appointed each year on
competitive examination. The academy is under the charge of a
superintendent, appointed by the secretary of the navy. Each
midshipman receives from the government an annual sum of money
sufficient to pay all necessary expenses incurred at the academy.
POST-OFFICE DEPARTMENT. - The postmaster-general presides over the
post-office department. He has control of all questions relating to
the management of post-offices and the carrying of the mails, and
appoints all postmasters whose annual salaries are less than a thousand
dollars each. Postmasters whose salaries exceed this sum are appointed
by the President of the United States.
BUREAUS. - The postmaster-general has four assistants, who, under him,
are in charge of the various details of the vast establishment devoted
to the postal service.
The _first assistant postmaster-general_ has general charge of
post-offices and postmasters, and makes preparations for the
appointment of all postmasters. He also controls the free delivery of
mail matter in cities, and the dead letter office.
The _second assistant postmaster-general_ attends to the letting of
contracts for carrying the mails, decides upon the mode of conveyance,
and fixes the time for the arrival and departure of mails at each
post-office. He also has charge of the foreign mail service. The
United States has postal treaties with all the other civilized
countries in the world, by which regular mail lines are maintained.
The _third assistant postmaster-general_ has charge of financial
matters. He provides stamps, stamped envelopes, and postal cards for
post-offices, and receives the reports and settlements of postmasters.
He also superintends the registered mail service, the postal savings
system, and the post-office money-order business. By means of money
orders people may deposit money in the post-office at which they mail
their letters, and have it paid at the office to which their letters
The _fourth assistant postmaster-general_ has charge of the rural free
delivery system, - a very important service. He also furnishes blanks
and stationery to post-offices throughout the United States, and
supervises the making of the various post-route maps, such as those
used for rural delivery and for the parcel post.