President of the United States

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President of the United States of America
Official Portrait of President Joe Biden
Joe Biden
since January 20, 2021
Official seat White House
Term of office 4 years (max. Two choices)
Creation of office March 4, 1789
Last choice 3rd November 2020
Next choice November 5, 2024
salutation The Honorable (formal)
Mr. President (informal)
His Excellency (in diplomatic correspondence)
Deputy US Vice President
Official List of Presidents of the United States

President of the United States of America ( English officially President of the United States of America , acronym POTUS ), President of the United States for short , is an office in the United States of America . The official is head of state , head of government and commander in chief of the armed forces in one person . An electoral term is four years. The current incumbent and 46th president since January 20, 2021 is Joe Biden .

The president is elected indirectly: the citizens elect electors to a college ( Electoral College ). This elects the president. If no candidate receives a majority, the House of Representatives decides , as in the 1800 and 1824 presidential elections .

A vice-president is elected at the same time as the president. According to the constitution, his only task is to chair the Senate. If, however, a president terminates his office prematurely (for example by resigning), then the vice-president becomes the new president for the remainder of the electoral term.

The President appoints ministers ( English secretaries ) who together with him form the government. They require confirmation by the Senate. It is similar with the highest judges: If a judge's position becomes vacant, the incumbent president occupies the office with confirmation by the Senate.

Constitutional position

The position of the President is described in Article II of the Constitution . Regulations on his election and term of office are contained in the 12th , 20th , 22nd , 23rd and 25th amendment to the constitution .

The president is head of state , head of government and commander-in-chief at the same time. He embodies the executive, the executive power of the American federal level. The President is controlled by Congress (legislature, parliament) and the federal courts (judiciary).

In accordance with the idea of ​​the separation of powers , the President may therefore not be a member of Congress or a federal court. However, the areas are not completely separated from each other. For example, the President can temporarily prevent individual Congress resolutions through his veto (see below ) and also appoints all federal judges, even if only with the approval of the Senate. The principle of checks and balances applies, i.e. control and compensation, so that none of the state organs becomes overpowering.

The presidential directives Executive Order and Presidential Proclamation are not included in the American Constitution, but recognized as legal practice .

Head of state

Presidential Seal on Half Dollar Coin

As the head of state of the United States, the president holds the highest office of state . He signs treaties on behalf of the United States that must be ratified by the Senate by a two-thirds majority ; he sends - with the approval of the Senate - diplomats from the United States and officially receives envoys from other states.

He appoints - again with the consent of the Senate - the judges of the federal courts, in particular the judges of the Supreme Court , and all other federal officials. The chief judges are appointed for life.

The power to appoint the other federal officials has been delegated by Congress with the exception of the most important positions. If the Senate is not in session, the President can appoint a person, even if this would require Senate approval ( Recess Appointment ). However, this appointment is only valid until the end of the respective session of the Senate.

The president has the right to pardon at the federal level . He can pardon convicted offenders as well as issue a pardon before a judgment is made. The accused's acceptance of the pardon is considered an admission of guilt.

Most pardons were given by Franklin D. Roosevelt (3687), William Henry Harrison and James A. Garfield did not issue any pardons - the numbers, however, correlate strongly with the fact that Franklin D. Roosevelt was the longest-serving president and William Henry Harrison as well James A. Garfield have the two shortest terms in American history. In relation to the term of office, Herbert Hoover (1385 pardons in one term of office) issued the most pardons, while George Washington in his two terms of office (apart from the two special cases WH Harrison and Garfield mentioned) gave the fewest pardons with 16. In addition, there are amnesties for larger groups of people - in several thousand cases for Confederate officers and public officials by Andrew Johnson and in over 200,000 cases for people who had evaded military service in Vietnam by Jimmy Carter (Proclamation 4483). Joe Biden has not yet issued a pardon as of September 2021.

Some presidents still grant many pardons shortly before the end of their term in office, for example Bill Clinton pardoned more than 100 offenders, including Patty Hearst and his half-brother Roger Clinton , on the last day of his presidency. The United States was one of the first modern democracies to use the term “ president ” (instead of a monarch ) for the head of state. Almost all republican states have since adopted this official title based on the American model.

Head of government

President Harry S. Truman's cabinet in session in August 1945

The President is also the head of government of the United States: he leads the cabinet he has appointed with the approval of the Senate .

At the same time, the President has other important political advisors who do not belong to the Cabinet and who are grouped together in the Executive Office . The president has full policy authority in the cabinet, as he can dismiss a minister ( secretary ) at any time. The President shall from time to time report to Congress on the State of the Union. This usually happens in the annual State of the Union Address .

Commander in chief

The president is the commander in chief of the armed forces and also of the national guard of the federal states , if they are on duty for the federal government. Although the right to declare war according to Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution belongs to the Congress, the President can independently issue almost all orders to the troops, provided that he maintains certain parliamentary control rights and does not formally declare war.

The National Command Authority (NCA), which is formed jointly by the President and the Minister of Defense, decides on the use of nuclear weapons . Both have to vote independently for a mission, so each of the two has a right of veto.

Cooperation with the Congress

President Gerald Ford while signing a law (1976)

The President is not elected by and cannot be dismissed by Congress . Conversely, premature dissolution of one of the two chambers is not provided for in the constitution, so that the president cannot influence its composition.

Often times the president belongs to a different party than the majority of MPs in at least one of the two houses of Congress. In such a case one speaks of a divided government . Since the entire House of Representatives and a third of the Senate are elected every two years, this situation can arise even in the middle of the president's term in office. Without prejudice to a non-partisan consensus in emergency situations, such as For example, after September 11, 2001, despite a divided government under George W. Bush, the probability that both institutions have common interests and pull together is naturally higher if they belong to the same party. A “united government” is by no means uncommon, but it occurs more frequently in some periods than in others. In the first half of the 20th century, unified government was the rule after it was the exception in the second half of the 19th century. Even in the period since the Second World War, it appears to be more of an exception overall, even if the relationship is more balanced: between 1945 and 2021, the president was able to rely on a unified government in a little more than two-fifths of the time . Joe Biden is currently governing within the framework of a unified government .

Although in principle independent from the Congress and equipped with some executive leeway, the President is nevertheless usually keen to support the Congress, as it supports the government as an essential part of the legislative legislative projects of the government and, among other things. must also approve the funds for the federal authorities. Without this support, the president's room for maneuver is severely limited. If there is a lack of funds for the federal authorities, in extreme cases a so-called government shutdown can occur, in which the employees of the federal authorities no longer receive any wages (and then usually stop their work). In practice, almost every president is dependent, at least in part of his term of office, on finding a non-partisan consensus in order to be able to govern.

As the embodiment of the executive branch, the President has no formal possibility of submitting bills to Congress. In practice, therefore, bills sponsored by the President are introduced to the competent chamber by members of parliament who are close to the President. In addition, the president can use informal influence, including his speech on the state of the nation , to try to steer decisions of the Congress in the direction he wishes.

If he does not agree with the line of Congress at all, he can veto a law that Congress can only reject with a two-thirds majority in both chambers. In the case of a veto, the president is limited to accepting or rejecting a law as a whole: a so-called line item veto , which enables individual sections of a law to be rejected, is not provided. An attempt in 1996 to give the president the right to a line item veto by law was declared unconstitutional two years later by the Supreme Court. So a constitutional amendment is needed to make this possible.

Election, transition and introduction to office

The election of the president is relatively complicated. Usually, interested parties introduce themselves to the public one to two years before election day. In the winter of the election year, the so-called primaries, which are organized by the parties ( primaries , there are different formats), begin . The candidates receive electors through their party's primary elections, who then vote at the election party conventions in the summer on who should become the party's presidential candidate. Usually, however, it is clear long before the party congress who will have the greatest number of voters.

On election day in November of the election year, American citizens elect a presidential candidate and, using the same ballot paper, the corresponding candidate for the vice presidency. This determines who has received the most votes in the state in each state. In most states this candidate gets all the electors (electors) of the state concerned. The electoral college then officially appoints the president. This election will later be confirmed in Congress (in both Houses of Parliament).


In order to be eligible for election , a candidate must have the right to stand as a candidate, i.e. he must neither be a prisoner nor have he lost his right to vote through incapacitation , impeachment proceedings or in any other way. The minimum age is 35 and a candidate must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years.

He must either have been a citizen of the USA at the time the constitution was ratified, which was the case for the first nine presidents, or be a natural born citizen of the USA. The latter requirement is not entirely clear, so when John McCain was running, there was a debate as to whether he would comply, as he was born in the Panama Canal Zone , which was then under the control of the US . The prevailing view now is that anyone who has acquired citizenship of the United States by birth is a natural born citizen .

The 14th Amendment , ratified in 1868, excludes former officers, officials or elected officials from public office when they reach a rebellion were involved against the United States or its enemies had supported. Congress has the right to admit such applicants anyway with a two-thirds majority. In 1898, all persons who had previously been affected by the exclusion rule of the 14th additional article were admitted again.

Since 1951, the 22nd Amendment has limited the term of office by stipulating that no one may be elected president more than twice, regardless of whether the terms of office are consecutive or not. A vice-president who advances to this office due to the premature resignation of the president may only stand for election twice if there are no more than two years left of the term of office of the original office-holder. A regularly elected president can hold office for a maximum of eight years, while a vice-president who has not been elected can theoretically remain in office for up to ten years.

The 12th Amendment to the Constitution stipulates that no one may be elected Vice President who does not meet the requirements for being elected President. As a result, a president who has already been elected twice cannot reach the office of president again via the detour as vice-president. The successor to the President of the United States in the current legal regulation also excludes persons who do not meet the requirements to be elected President, so that a move up as Acting President is also excluded.

In particular, the requirement that the president must be a native of the United States is being questioned as immigrants make up a large part of the population. The background to the regulation was originally the desire to keep the colonial British away from the presidency. Born in Austria, Arnold Schwarzenegger , governor of California from 2003 to 2011 , was considered to be one of the best-known candidates in the event of this regulation being repealed, which would, however, require a constitutional amendment.

Party membership

So far, 19 presidents have belonged to the Republicans, who had been in office for a total of 92 years. There are 15 democrats with 88 years in office (92 years with Biden's not yet completed term). In addition, there were four presidents each from the dominant parties of the early days of the USA, who belonged to the Democratic-Republican Party and the Whigs . The Federalist Party appointed a president (John Adams). Lincoln, who had been elected as a Republican candidate in 1860, ran in 1864 together with Andrew Johnson, who later became president, as a candidate for the National Union Party , a union of Republicans and the "War Democrats" (the party's wing that advocates a continuation of the Civil War of the Democrats). Andrew Johnson rejoined the Democrats towards the end of his presidency. So far, only the first president, George Washington, has been non-party - but John Tyler, who took up the position as Whig, was expelled from his party during his presidency and ended his term of office as a non-party.

In the past, the occupation of the presidency by the various political parties was characterized by several phases of dominance by certain parties. This was most evident when the Democratic Republican Party - a record that has not yet been set - appointed the president for seven consecutive terms from 1801 to 1829. This predominance was so pronounced that the presidential elections of 1812 and 1824 were essentially only fought between candidates from this party, and in the 1820 election there were no serious candidates against the re-election of James Monroe. The Republicans showed a similar dominance in the 44-year period from 1869 to 1913, when they appointed the president for nine out of eleven (regular) terms, interrupted only by the two terms of office of the Democrat Grover Cleveland. Notwithstanding the fact that in the first third of this era Ulysses S. Grant was able to rely on more than eighty percent of the seats in the Senate and around seventy percent of the seats in the House of Representatives, this dominance was particularly pronounced in the last third of this time, when the Republicans McKinley, T. Roosevelt and (in the first half of his term of office) Taft were able to rule continuously (albeit with less comfortable majorities than Grant) within the framework of a unified government for fourteen years .

After the Democratic Party, in a phase of dominance between 1933 and 1953, had also appointed the president for five consecutive (regular) terms of office and also almost continuously within the framework of a unified government with pronounced majorities of at times more than three quarters of the seats in both chambers of the Congress ruled, changes in party membership of the presidents and (at least since 1981) majorities in one or both chambers of Congress have become the rule. Since Dwight's tenure. D. Eisenhowers appointed a party to president for more than two terms in only one case, namely in the three terms from 1980 to 1992, when Republicans Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush succeeded each other.


Big parties

Each presidential candidate from the two major parties, the Democrats and the Republicans , is formally elected at their convention , which is held in the summer before the election. The delegates of a party for this congress are in primary elections ( primaries determined), which are carried out from January to about July of the election year.

While an incumbent and re-emerging president is usually nominated again by his party unchallenged, the selection process in the challenger's party is much more exciting. The delegate mandates are awarded according to the population size in the individual states. As a result, victory in several large states, combined with the fact that the candidate receives all the delegate votes for the state, can already mean the party nomination for a candidate. That is why election campaigns are already being carried out at great expense in these primary elections. Funding is mainly done through donations.

The rules of the primaries are very complex and vary in each state and also between parties. They are also modified with each election.

There are essentially two types of area codes:

  1. Caucus : Some states have a caucus . Local assemblies are held at which advocates for the respective candidates promote them. Then votes are counted, often in several rounds, in each of which the candidate with the weakest vote is eliminated and his supporters can commit to one of the other candidates. The total vote result then results from the votes of these assemblies.
  2. In contrast, with a primary, a prefix is ​​carried out in which registered voters can participate. This format is used in most countries.

Who is allowed to take part in the caucuses or primaries is just as different. Partly, the votes are open to all citizens, partly only to voters who have registered for the respective party. In some states there are mixed forms in which registered voters who have not given a party preference are also allowed to participate.

The allocation of delegates for the Democrats is essentially proportional to the election result. The winner-take-all principle was common among the Republicans until 2012. I. E. here the candidate with the most votes received all the state delegates. In 2016 this was only allowed for the later primaries. However, models are still common in which the candidate with the most votes, e.g. B. in each case receives the majority of the delegates.

The national party lays down inter alia established a framework for the calendar of the primaries, as many states have an interest in setting an election date as early as possible in order to still play a role in the fight for the nomination. Traditionally, the primaries begin with the caucuses in Iowa and the primaries in New Hampshire . In some cases, in which the local branch of the respective party did not adhere to these rules and the area code z. B. terminated too early, this was punished by the national party with the withdrawal of some or all of the delegates at the party congress. Usually around the beginning of March there is a Tuesday known as Super Tuesday , on which the largest number of states hold primaries at the same time and which is therefore often seen as the decisive stage for the nomination.

In practice, never all of the declared candidates take part in the entire pre-election season. It is rather the case that candidates gradually give up who no longer see any chance of success. In the end, only the nominee- designate ( presumptive nominee ) and those candidates who remain in the race despite the hopelessness or who withdrew their candidacy too late to be struck off the ballot papers in the later pre-election states. In rare cases, the fight for nominations lasts long - an example of this is the 2008 primaries, in which Hillary Clinton went head-to-head with Barack Obama and only gave up after all the primaries had been completed.

The delegates appointed in the primary elections are also obliged to vote for the candidate for whom they were elected, at least in the first ballot.

Another special feature of the party congress is that the inhabited outlying areas of the USA can also send some delegates and thus influence the nomination, even if they do not have the right to vote in the November elections. Both parties also have delegates who were not determined by the primaries, but rather have voting rights at the party congress through their position as active politicians. The Democrats speak of so-called super delegates , who currently make up around 15 percent of the delegates. Since their votes could also tip the result of the primaries at previous party congresses, these were and are controversial. Most recently, a reform was passed in 2018, according to which two thirds of the super delegates are bound by the results of their states. In addition, super delegates no longer have the right to vote in the first ballot. The Republicans also have unattached delegates. However, these are significantly less numerous and play a less important role.

After the primaries have been completed, the relevant candidates are formally confirmed at major party conventions ( National Conventions ) of the respective parties. At the same time, the presidential candidate indicates who he is nominating as a candidate for the vice-presidency . This candidate is also usually confirmed by the party congress.

Nomination party conventions have been common since the 1830s. Is no candidate with a majority in the Congress goes, there is a "brokered convention" (dt. Mediated Party ), to be held in several rounds of voting. This was the norm for a long time, especially among the Democrats, who from 1832 to 1936 required a two-thirds majority of delegates for nominations. Since the beginning of the 20th century, various states began to introduce primaries. For a long time, however, these had no binding character. Even after that there were party congresses at which several votes had to be held, most recently in 1948 with the Republicans and 1952 with the Democrats. After the Democratic Party Congress in 1968 was chaotic and led to great disagreement, among other things. because the presidential candidate who was ultimately nominated, Hubert H. Humphrey, had not previously run as a candidate in any of the 13 primary elections, the rules were tightened. As a result, most states saw the easiest way to follow the new rules by running a primary. The Republicans increasingly followed suit. In 1992, the Republicans held primaries in 39 states and the Democrats in 40 states. As a result, contested votes have become rarer, as the winner has already been determined in advance, so that only a few votes go to outsiders. Even in tight races, such as between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008, this can be resolved by breaking off the vote prematurely and, upon request, nominating by acclamation.

Small parties

The larger of the smaller parties like the Libertarian Party or the Green Party also hold primaries to determine party congress delegates, but not in all states.

Also, unlike the large parties, the small parties are not guaranteed to be on the ballot in all states. You have to overcome the respective hurdles to do this in each state. Very few parties succeed in doing this. In many countries there is also the possibility of "write-in", i. H. voters can enter a candidate of their choice in a free field.

In the last presidential election in 2020, only the candidate from the Libertarian Party could be elected without a write-in. The Green Party candidate was eligible for election in so many countries that he could have won even without write-ins. All other candidates would have had to rely on write-in votes to win.

election day

The 44th President Barack Obama on Election Day on November 4, 2008

The election for president always takes place on the first Tuesday after November 1st, i.e. on November 2nd to 8th, in a year that is divisible by four without remainder (1788, 1792, ..., 2016, 2020, 2024, etc. ). This day has the following background: On the one hand, the election should take place after the harvest. On the other hand, the polling stations should be able to be visited without having to go to church on Sundays. Since the polling stations were often far away in the early days of the company, Tuesday seemed a sensible day to be able to reach the restaurants after going to church. Since the successor is regulated in the event of the resignation or death of the incumbent and there is no early election, the elections have always been held in this rotation since the founding of the United States. A date towards the end of the year was chosen from the start. The current regulation has existed since 1845. Before that, the elections did not take place on the same day, but over a longer period from around the end of October to the beginning of December.

As a rule, only the two proposals put forward by the two major parties stand a chance of winning the election. Disregarding the special case of the 1872 election, when Horace Greeley of the Liberal Republican Party (a split of the Republicans) challenged incumbent President Grant, but was supported by the Democrats, was since the establishment of the two-party system consisting of Republicans and Democrats In the 1850s, the only election in which candidates from both parties did not get the most votes ahead of candidates from all other parties, the 1912 election, when Theodore Roosevelt, a candidate for the Progressive Party (a republican breakaway), rejected the Republicans with their candidate William H. Taft in third place. However, independent applicants and third-party candidates could sometimes achieve respectable successes, such as the independent candidate Ross Perot in the 1992 election, who won no electoral vote, but did get 18.9% of the popular vote. This also includes z. B. Robert M. La Follette senior , candidate of the " Progressive Party " (not to be confused with Theodore Roosevelt's electoral platform) in the election of 1924 with 16.6% of the vote and the thirteen electoral votes of the State of Wisconsin, and George Wallace , candidate the American Independent Party , with 13.6% and 46 electoral votes from six southern states in the election of 1968. In the election of 1856, the former President Millard Fillmore with his " Know-Nothing Party " had a share of the vote of 21.5% ( excluding South Carolina, which then determined its electorates through its parliament) and obtained the votes of the eight electorates of Maryland.

Voters vote for one of the presidential candidate and vice presidential candidate tickets . When deciding who is elected President (and Vice President), however, it does not count who received the most votes nationwide. Rather, this decision is left to an electoral college, the so-called Electoral College . This consists of 538 people who are elected by the voters in the individual states and in the federal district. This number corresponds to the total number of representatives in the House of Representatives (435) and in the Senate (100) as well as three electors for the administrative district of Washington, DC, which is otherwise unrepresented in Congress , with the exception of the states of Nebraska and Maine , where some of the electors individually by simple majority When electoral districts are elected, all electors from a state will count on the ticket that has received the most votes in that state. This means that a narrow victory in one state is enough to get all the electoral votes for that state.

The obvious winner on election day will be dubbed President-elect (German: "elected President") until he begins his first term of office .

Popular vote

Regardless of the fact that the majority in the electoral college alone is decisive for the election of the president, one speaks of the so-called " popular vote " with regard to the share of votes of the "tickets" at the federal level for results of the presidential election determined by popular elections . Until well into the 19th century, however, the "popular vote" was only of limited use: For a long time, numerous federal states determined their respective electorates by voting in parliament, not by popular vote; at times, the majority of states did not hold popular elections. The direct election of the electorate through referendum took place only slowly. The last two states to determine their electorate through their parliament were Delaware and South Carolina: Delaware determined its electorate from the election of 1832 by direct ballot of the electorate, South Carolina determined its electorate only since the presidential election in 1868 by popular vote.

With this reservation it can be stated that above all the first presidents achieved significant quotas in the "popular vote", for example George Washington in the elections of 1789 and 1792 (100%, since there were no opposing candidates), James Monroe in 1820 (80.61 %), Thomas Jefferson 1804 (72.79%), James Monroe 1816 (68.16%), James Madison 1808 (64.73%) and Thomas Jefferson 1800 (61.43%). More recently, Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 (61.05%), Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936 (60.80%), Richard Nixon in 1972 (60.67%) and Warren G. Harding in 1920 have achieved high ratings in the Popular Vote (60.32%).

To this day, the election result achieved by Thomas Jefferson in the election of 1804 holds the record of the largest vote lead over the result of the candidate of another major party (45.6%: Jefferson received 72.8% of the vote, his challenger Charles C. Pinckney only 27 , 2%) - apart from the special cases of the elections of 1789, 1792 and 1820, for which no or no serious opponent had already run.

In terms of the number of electors, however, small states have a greater relative weight of the votes - for example, the most populous state of California (55 electoral votes) has 66.1 times the population of the poorest state of Wyoming (3 electoral votes) according to the 2010 population census , but only the 18, 3 times the number of electoral votes. It is therefore possible that a candidate at the federal level may receive the largest share of the vote, but still not have the majority of the electorate. In all four cases in which this has happened so far, the candidates who won by electors were Republicans, while only those who won by popular vote were Democrats:

In addition, in the election of 1824, John Quincy Adams received 44,804 fewer votes than Andrew Jackson . However, it is problematic to speak of Adam's defeat after electoral votes. Aside from the fact that no candidate won an absolute majority of the electorate and Adams was elected president by the House of Representatives despite having fewer electorates than Jackson, a quarter of the states (six out of twenty-four) had not held popular elections.

With the exception of George W. Bush, none of the election winners who did not have a majority in the Popular Vote could win re-election. Already in 1824, John Quincy Adams, who even came second in terms of electoral votes, competed in vain against Andrew Jackson in 1832; Hayes announced even before his first election that he would only be available for one term. Harrison faced Cleveland again in 1892, but this time also lost significantly after electors. Bush alone managed to win a majority of the votes in the candidacy for a second term.

In addition, numerous elected presidents only achieved the popular vote with a relative majority. The result was particularly tight in 1880, when James A. Garfield was elected with just under 2,000 votes or less than 0.1% lead, and in 1960 when John F. Kennedy was elected with about 110,000 votes or 0.2% Votes received the relative majority. In addition, the respective election winners did not achieve an absolute majority of all votes in twelve further elections: James Polk in the presidential election in 1844, Zachary Taylor in 1848, James Buchanan in 1856, Abraham Lincoln in 1860, Grover Cleveland in 1884 and 1892, Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and 1916, Harry S. Truman in 1948, Richard Nixon in 1968, and Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. Remarkably, the election of Franklin Pierce in 1852 was the last eighty-year presidential election in which a Democratic candidate won an absolute majority of the votes - that was only achieved again by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932.

In absolute numbers, the 2020 candidates in the popular vote achieved the highest number of votes - both by election winner Joe Biden (81,268,924 votes) and by his opponent Donald Trump (74,216,154 votes), followed by Barack Obama in 2008 (69,498,516 votes) and 2012 (65,915,795 votes). One of the most important factors behind the 2020 record was the voter turnout, which was unusually high by American standards.

Presidency transition

If a new president has been elected, a change of government will be prepared between the election and the inauguration. This became a political process in 1963 with the Presidential Transition Act of 1963 Pub.L. 88-277 introduced by law to ensure good governance upon the transfer of power . Various laws are designed to facilitate the President-elect 's induction into the office, and contain succession rules in the event that he is not elected by the electoral college.

Electoral College

Distribution of electors for the 2012 to 2020 presidential election

Largely unnoticed by the public, the electors of the states in the individual states meet in December after the election to vote: The 538-member electoral college never meets as such. The electors cast their votes for President and Vice-President separately. You are required to give the vote to the candidate on whose account you were elected; however, this is not guaranteed by the secret ballot or by very low penalties for non-compliance. For this reason it regularly happens that individual electors vote against the electoral mandate. However, such a faithless elector has never led to the other candidate being elected.

George Washington received all electoral votes in the first two presidential elections ( 1789 and 1792 ), which no president succeeded in doing, although electoral votes of more than 90% were achieved in eight further elections - including James Monroe in 1820 (231 electoral votes with one vote against, 99.57%), Franklin D. Roosevelt 1936 (523 to 8, 98.49%), Ronald Reagan 1984 (525 to 13, 97.58%) and Richard Nixon 1972 (520 to 17, 96, 65%). At the other end of the scale is the election of 1824 , when none of the candidates won an absolute majority of the electoral vote and the House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams president, who is still the only president to this day without a majority of the electorate got. Rutherford B. Hayes was elected by a single electoral vote with the tightest possible majority (50.14%), which was, however, also due to the special features of the 1876 election, when a conflict arose due to an initially unclear election result and an unclear composition of the electoral college which was ultimately settled through a compromise. In several other elections only narrow majorities of electors were obtained, for example in 2000 , when George W. Bush got 271 to 266 electoral votes (50.47%), and in 1796 , when John Adams got 71 to 68 electoral votes (51.08 %) %) achieved.

In the first four elections (up to and including the 1800 election), the president and vice-president were not elected separately, but the first-placed became president and the second vice-president. After Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr were tied in the 1800 election and a decision (in favor of Jefferson) could only be reached after thirty-six rounds of voting in the House of Representatives, this rule was changed by the 12th Amendment, which came into force in 1804 .

Counting and swearing in

See also: Presidential election in the United States, vote count

Lyndon B. Johnson took the oath on November 22, 1963, two hours after his predecessor, John F. Kennedy , was murdered. To the right of Johnson on board the presidential plane is Kennedy's widow .

At the beginning of January after the election, the votes of the electors in the 51 territorial units are then counted in a rare joint meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives. This task falls to the President of the Senate, i.e. the Vice-President who is still in office. At the end of the count, he will announce who has been elected President and Vice-President. If none of the candidates has an absolute majority of the electoral votes (i.e. 270), the House of Representatives may elect the President and the Senate the Vice-President. A special voting mode applies in the House of Representatives. The representatives of a state have one vote in common, which they must give to one of the three candidates with the most votes in the electoral college. If they cannot come to an agreement, the state will not cast a vote. The candidate who can unite the majority of states (currently 26) is elected president. However, in view of the mostly unambiguous dichotomy of the American party system, such a case has not occurred for around two hundred years. The last President to be elected by the House of Representatives was John Quincy Adams in 1824, after the election at the time failed to produce a clear majority of the electoral vote. Until the 20th amendment was passed , this election took place in the outgoing Congress, since then the newly elected House of Representatives has been responsible. Since the District of Columbia is not a state and has only one non-voting MP in the House of Representatives, he will lose his right to vote again in this electoral process.

On January 20th, following the election, first the Vice President and then the President will be sworn in at exactly 12 noon local time in the federal capital. There are therefore more than two months between the popular election in November and the swearing-in. This has the background that there are still electoral modalities and the elected (president-elect) still has to put together his government team. In earlier times, the sometimes long journeys took much longer than today, which is why up to and including 1933 the swearing-in took place on March 4th. With the 20th amendment to the constitution, the date was then moved to January 20th.

The oath reads in a German translation:

"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."

"I solemnly swear (or: vow) that I will faithfully serve as President of the United States and that I will maintain, protect, and defend the United States Constitution to the best of my ability."

Traditionally, the president called for "I" his name, puts the oath on a Bible and adds the words "so help me God" ( "so help me God" ) added; But this is not part of the constitutionally prescribed oath .

After Richard Nixon's resignation, Vice President Gerald Ford was sworn in very quickly: after the declaration of resignation had been sent to the White House on August 9, 1974 at 11:35 a.m. to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger , Ford was sworn in half an hour later at 12:05 p.m. Even after the president's death, the swearing-in is usually carried out immediately. The swearing-in of the first successive Vice President in American history, John Tyler, took place two days after the death of his predecessor William Henry Harrison and the swearing-in of Millard Fillmore after the death of Zachary Taylor (July 9, 1850) the following day, the swearing-in took place Andrew Johnson's already about three hours after the death of Abraham Lincoln on April 15, 1865. Most of the other swearing-in ceremonies also took place within a few hours of the president's death: Lyndon B. Johnson was killed just over two hours after the assassination attempt on his predecessor John F. Kennedy sworn in aboard Air Force One. Harry S. Truman was sworn in just over three and a half hours after Franklin D. Roosevelt's death, and Chester A. Arthur was sworn in shortly after two o'clock at night in his New York apartment by a judge of the New York Supreme Court , less than four hours after late in the evening of the previous day, his predecessor James A. Garfield died. Only Theodore Roosevelt's swearing-in, which took place a little over twelve hours after the death of William McKinley on September 14, 1901, took a little longer in comparison; Calvin Coolidge, who was on home leave in Vermont at the time of the death of his predecessor Warren G. Harding in the summer of 1923 - unable to be reached by phone - was informed about seven hours after Harding's death by his father, a Justice of the peace and notary, sworn in.

Because a chief justice is appointed for life, it is the rule that he sworn in several elected or re-elected presidents on a regular basis during his tenure. Most of the oaths of office were taken by Chief Justice John Marshall - eleven times between 1801 (Jefferson's first swearing in) to 1832 (Jackson's second swearing in). Two presidents were sworn in by one of their predecessors: Calvin Coolidge in 1924 (when he was sworn in for the second time) and Herbert Hoover in 1928. They were sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Taft.

Term of office

Presidents group picture dated November 4, 1991:  Gerald FordRichard NixonGeorge Bush Sr.Ronald Reagan  and  Jimmy Carter
President group picture dated January 7, 2009:  George Bush Sr.Barack ObamaGeorge W. BushBill Clinton  and  Jimmy Carter

The president's term of office is four years. It begins on January 20 at 12:00 p.m. and ends at the same time after four years. A president can have a maximum of two terms of office (see below ). The term of office can end prematurely through resignation or death.

Succession in the event of premature termination of office

If the president leaves office prematurely, the vice-president becomes the new president immediately. His term of office ends with the original end of the predecessor's term of office. If the Vice-President leaves office beforehand, the President can, in accordance with the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, appoint a new Vice-President with the approval of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

If there is still no vice president at the time of the presidential vacancy, the Presidential Succession Act stipulates that the speaker of the House of Representatives becomes executive president. If this is also not available, the President pro tempore of the United States Senate and then the cabinet members are next in line.

Possibility of re-election

Before 1951 there were no formal restrictions on re-election. However, the first president, George Washington , had renounced a third term, which was kept as a tradition by almost all of his successors. Only Ulysses S. Grant , who (after he did not run again in 1876) tried for a third term in 1880, but was not put up as a candidate by his party, Theodore Roosevelt , who ran (unsuccessfully) for a third term in 1912 , and Franklin D. Roosevelt did not follow that tradition. The latter successfully ran for a third term in 1940 and a fourth in 1944; he died in office in April 1945. Woodrow Wilson had considered a third term; Also seen from the fact that these considerations were not shared by leading politicians in his party, a stroke in the second half of his second term in office, which severely restricted his administration, made these plans obsolete.

In 1947, the Congress initiated the constitutional amendment, which allows only one re-election. It went into effect as the 22nd amendment in 1951, when three-quarters of the states had given their consent, as required by the constitution. Since then, a president can only be re-elected once. It is irrelevant whether the previous terms of office followed one another or not. However, it is still possible that a person has been President for more than eight years. If the president leaves office prematurely, the vice-president becomes the new president and completes the four-year term of his predecessor. This Vice-President may stand for re-election if he has not held office for more than two of the four years.

A person can therefore be president for a maximum of almost ten years: the almost two years that a vice president has served as a successor, and then two full terms of their own. In the worst case scenario, such a vice president can only be president for a little over six years:

  • For example, President Lyndon B. Johnson could have run again in 1968: after Kennedy's assassination in November 1963, he was promoted to president and initially served the remaining 14 months of that term, after which he was re-elected in 1964 for a further four years. Although he could have run one more time, Johnson announced on March 31, 1968 that he would not be available for re-election in the 1968 election .
  • It was different in the case of Gerald Ford . Under normal circumstances, his predecessor Richard Nixon would have served from 1973 to 1977. In August 1974, however, Nixon resigned and Ford became president. In the remainder of the term of office, he served as President for more than two years. If Ford had won the 1976 election (he lost to Jimmy Carter ), he would not have been able to run again in 1980.

It is controversial whether a person can extend their term of office in other ways. The wording of the constitutional amendment states that a person may not be elected to the office of President more than twice . However, it is possible to get into office in other ways. If a president leaves office prematurely, the vice-president becomes the successor. If this is not possible, the Speaker of the House of Representatives becomes the new President.

However, the 12th Amendment to the Constitution says: A person can only be elected as Vice President if he or she can also be elected to the office of President. It could be logically concluded from this that a former president who is no longer allowed to run for president is also not allowed to be a candidate for the vice-presidency. Such a vice-president could not replace the president if necessary. This interpretation is controversial, however, because one could argue that a vice president is not and does not have to become the president. Since no former president has run for vice-president so far, the question has not yet been reviewed by the highest court.

Hillary Clinton , who ran as the Democratic presidential candidate against Donald Trump in 2016 , said she had initially considered nominating her husband Bill Clinton as Vice President. Bill Clinton served as president from 1993 to 2001. She was advised against the plan because it was unconstitutional.


The Congress may by impeachment relieve the President of his office (impeachment). The constitution cites treason , bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors as possible reasons for such proceedings . The latter term comes from English law and, at the time the Constitution was written, generally included abuse of office and misconduct in public office. If the House of Representatives has passed a resolution on impeachment by a simple majority, the Senate will pass a judgment following a judicial process - the President can be removed from office with a two-thirds majority.

In US history, three impeachment proceedings have been carried out against US presidents, all of which have failed: the proceedings against Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton in 1999 and the impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump in 2020 each ended in an acquittal. A clear majority was achieved at Johnson, but the two-thirds majority was just missed. In the case of Clinton and Trump, no simple majority was achieved in the Senate either. The second impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump began on January 6, 2021 after the violent storming of the Capitol in Washington , i.e. shortly before the regular end of his term of office.

In 1974, President Richard Nixon was under pressure because of the Watergate affair . However, there was no impeachment procedure. At that time, the responsible committee of the House of Representatives was already dealing with the question. There was a majority in favor of indictments. However, Nixon pre-empted a likely conviction by resigning.

Declaration of incapacity

The President can also be declared incapacitated. He can do this himself, after which the vice-president acts on a provisional basis until the president declares himself capable of office again. This has happened several times when the President underwent medical treatment that could potentially lead to temporary incapacity.

The vice-president and a majority in the cabinet can also declare the president incapacitated. You declare this in writing to the speaker of the house and the president pro tempore of the Senate. The President's powers then pass to the Vice-President. The President can then nevertheless declare that he is fit for office and that he can take over his powers again after a waiting period of four days. If the Vice President and the majority of the Cabinet renew their declaration, Congress must decide within 21 days. The declaration of incapacity can then only be upheld by a two-thirds majority in both chambers of the Congress.

The decisive factor for this regulation, which goes back to the 25th Amendment , which was initiated in early 1965 and came into force in 1967 , was the Cold War in general, which could require quick and reliable decisions from the competent authority at any time, and the assassination attempt on John F. Kennedy in particular . The initiators were aware of James A. Garfield's inability to officiate in 1881, which was caused by an attack and which lasted a good two and a half months until his death, and the severe impairment of Woodrow Wilson's official capacity from October 1919 to March 1921 caused by a stroke. In both cases it was shown that the respective vice president refused to take steps to at least take over the representation - not only because of the ambiguity of who was appointed to the management if the president was absent, but also (precisely because of this uncertainty) out of concern to be seen as a " usurper ". Chester A. Arthur, Vice President under James A. Garfield, was urged by members of Congress to take over the management but refused and spent the summer of 1881 in his New York apartment, where he was sworn in after Garfield's death; Thomas R. Marshall , Vice-President under Woodrow Wilson, was not privy to the full truth about the President's condition, but avoided inquiring about it, fearing that he would be accused of "looking after his [ Wilson's " longing for his place ". In the first case the vacuum was practically not filled at all, in the second case in a problematic way - not least because of the work of the First Lady Edith Wilson , who among other things decided which matters were to be submitted to her husband.

The term of office of an executive president (see above) is also limited. The person remains in office until an elected president takes office (at most until the next election). If a managing president is in office due to a temporary incapacity of both the president and the vice-president, the term of office ends automatically as soon as one of the two is again capable of office. The 2-year rule for the vice-president applies accordingly to the executive presidents.

Rewards and privileges

The first president, George Washington, was an annual salary of 25,000 US dollars to which he did not accept as a wealthy man. As of 2001, the president has received an annual salary of $ 400,000. After his election victory in autumn 2016, Donald Trump announced that he would forego a presidential salary after taking office and only symbolically accept one dollar a year, which he did after a great deal of pressure in the media. Before him, Herbert Hoover and John F. Kennedy had already donated their salaries.

Today's Presidents can live and work in the White House , but they will be billed for private use of the kitchen - unless it is an official state banquet. They can do whatever is necessary to carry out their duties aboard Air Force One and other transportation available to the President. The president's country residence in Camp David is also available to the incumbent , to which foreign dignitaries are often invited. The President and his family are protected by the Secret Service at all times .

Traditionally, the salary of the president, the highest official in the United States, has served as the upper limit to the pay of government employees. Therefore, in 2001, as the salaries of senior officials approached that of the president, the president's pay had to be increased in order to continue paying these officials according to this pattern.

Former presidents and their families also receive personal protection until the president's death; from 1997 to 2013 this only applied for a maximum of ten years after leaving office. In addition, there are services such as a free office, a diplomatic passport and budget for office help and assistants. In 2020, the pension was $ 205,700 per year. The Former Presidents Act , passed in 1958, forms the basis for entitlement to the presidency . It was waived when it became known that Harry S. Truman, who was divorced in 1953, received just over $ 100 in pension payments from his time in the armed forces.

Presidents of the United States continue to receive briefings from US intelligence agencies after their term in office .

Official seat

The White House, the official residence of the President
The Oval Office , the President's study. Here during Jimmy Carter's tenure in 1978

The President has his traditional seat in the White House in Washington . The house, with the laying of the foundation stone in 1792, began the urban development of today's American capital, has been available to the American President and his family since 1800. It was destroyed in the British-American War in 1814 and rebuilt in 1819.

The Oval Office in the west wing of the White House, the office of the US President, is protected by extensive security measures. A bunker under the east wing of the White House, the Presidential Emergency Operations Center , protects the President and his staff in emergencies.

Protocol honors

The President of the United States does not have any other titles - the correct protocol salutation is simply The President or Mister President.

The question of what protocol honors and titles should be given to the president was one of the first questions that preoccupied the first congress in the spring and summer of 1789. In particular, Vice President John Adams and the majority of senators were in favor of the introduction of titles. So a Senate committee suggested the salutation "His Highness the President of the United States of America, and Protector of Their Liberties" in front, and a common, but probably untrue, according to legend Washington to even the salutation "His high mightiness" ( "mightiness" , dt. mightiness / mightiness). However, the majority of the House of Representatives refused to introduce any title that was not provided for by the constitution, so that to this day the mere title is the correct form of address.

Hail to the Chief , played by the US Army Ceremonial Band

When the President makes public appearances - as stipulated by the Ministry of Defense in 1952 - the melody, rarely the song " Hail to the Chief " , is heard as a presidential salute after four ruffles and flourishes (drum rolls and fanfares ) . Instead, the national anthem " The Star-Spangled Banner " can also be played.

Travel and Means of Transport

The Air Force One is the primary plane of the President of the United States (in this case above the Mount Rushmore , 2001)

The first President to leave the United States in an official capacity was Theodore Roosevelt, who in 1906 personally saw the progress made in the construction of the Panama Canal , which was then under American sovereignty . His successor William H. Taft visited Mexico ( Ciudad Juárez ) as the first incumbent president in October 1909 , and Warren G. Harding was the first president to visit Canada (in Vancouver ) in 1923 . From December 1918, Woodrow Wilson traveled to Europe for seven months (with a short interruption) as the first incumbent President, in particular to take part in the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 . The last president who did not pay a state visit was Herbert Hoover, who, however, still toured Central and South America as president-elect . The most extensive travel activities so far have been carried out by Bill Clinton with 54 trips to 72 countries and George W. Bush with 48 trips to 73 countries.

In order to be able to carry out official business while absent from the official seat, the President can, among other things, fall back on two specially equipped Boeing VC-25A aircraft. They are popularly known as " Air Force One ". However, this designation is not firmly assigned to these two aircraft. Rather, every aircraft in the American Air Force is given the nickname " Air Force One " as soon as the President is on board. Marine Corps aircraft are given the nickname " Marine One ". This nickname is currently given to the helicopter, which the President mainly uses for transport from the White House to Andrews Air Force Base (home airfield of the government aircraft). The army helicopter previously used for this purpose had the nickname " Army One ". " Navy One " and Coast Guard One are the corresponding nicknames for aircraft in the Navy and the Coast Guard. Navy One was first used when George W. Bush visited the aircraft carrier " USS Abraham Lincoln " in a Navy jet in 2003 . Coast Guard One has not yet been used. Executive One is the nickname for civil aircraft with the President on board.

A 2006 version of the Cadillac DTS , also unofficially known as the “ Cadillac One ”, is available to the President as a company car . Ex-President Obama's Cadillac is also nicknamed "The Beast".



  • Gerald Ford served as President from August 9, 1974 through January 20, 1977, without ever being elected President or Vice President by the American people . President Richard Nixon had nominated Ford for the office of vice president after Spiro Agnew resigned on October 10, 1973 on allegations of corruption . Barely a year later, when Nixon himself resigned due to the Watergate affair , Ford moved up to the presidency. He ran for a second term in 1976 and lost that election to Democrat Jimmy Carter .
  • Only once - under President John Adams (a federalist) - were the president and vice president from different political camps, since Adams' vice president Thomas Jefferson was a Republican Democrat. Abraham Lincoln (a Republican) and Andrew Johnson (a “War Democrat”, a representative of the Democratic wing who advocated the continuation of the Civil War) also belonged to different parties, but had run together on the National Union Party's election platform .
  • Only four presidents have so far been elected without the votes of the states in which they reside: James K. Polk (Tennessee, when he was elected in 1844; he also lost in his native North Carolina), Woodrow Wilson (New Jersey, when he was re-elected in 1916), Richard Nixon (New York, in his first election in 1968) and Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election (New York, also his country of birth, and the home state of his rival candidate Hillary Clinton , who represented the state in the US Senate for eight years).
  • The 2008 election was the first since 1952 in which neither the incumbent president nor the incumbent vice president ran. This was most recently the case in the elections of 2016, before that in the elections of 1928, 1920 and 1908. This was comparatively more common in the 19th century (in the elections of 1816, 1824, 1844, 1848, 1856, 1868, 1876– 1884 and 1896).

Candidacy and candidates

Candidacy for re-election

  • Andrew Jackson and Grover Cleveland were nominated by the Democratic Party in three consecutive elections as presidential candidates (twice successful); in this they were only surpassed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was nominated four times (each time with success) from 1932 to 1944. In addition, there is Martin Van Buren, who also ran in three consecutive elections (once with success), but only twice as a candidate for the Democratic Party. In addition, William Jennings Bryan was nominated three times (not in successive elections), but always unsuccessfully, as the Democratic presidential candidate. Of the Republican candidates, only Richard Nixon was nominated three times (twice successfully), albeit not in three consecutive elections.
    • If one adds the candidacies from the time before the Twelfth Amendment , when the first-place electoral candidate was elected president and the second-placed vice-president, the multiple nominations are more frequent (not all in successive elections): Thomas Jefferson had four nominations (twice successful, once Vice President), John Adams (once successful, once Vice President) and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney , for every three there are Aaron Burr, George Clinton and John Jay (the latter all unsuccessful; however, Burr was appointed Vice President once and Clinton twice).
    • Longer series also reached some independent candidates set up by splinter parties, but they all remained unsuccessful: Norman Thomas ran six times in a row from 1928 to 1948, Eugene V. Debs ran five times between 1900 and 1920 (with the exception of the election of 1916), Ralph Nader four times between 1996 and 2008.
  • Up until the mid-20th century, presidents who stood for re-election might choose another candidate for vice-president. For example, Abraham Lincoln ran for his first election in 1860 with the running mate Hannibal Hamlin and in the 1864 election with Andrew Johnson; Thomas Jefferson and Ulysses S. Grant acted in a similar way. During Franklin D. Roosevelt's four terms, there were three different vice presidents in office ( John Nance Garner in the first two terms, Henry A. Wallace in the third, and Harry S. Truman in the fourth). Since the Second World War, however, it has become uncommon to replace the vice-president in the event of re-election (this was only done by Gerald Ford, who, on his unsuccessful re-election attempt in 1976, stood with Bob Dole instead of his previous vice-president Nelson Rockefeller ). The reverse case of a vice president serving under different presidents has only occurred twice, in the case of George Clinton , who was vice president under both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, and in the case of John C. Calhouns , vice president under the presidents John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson.
  • Several presidents were not re-elected for a presidential election by their respective party, although they made themselves available for further candidacy or showed interest. In 1844, for example, Martin Van Buren was not reinstated as a candidate by the Democrats; Ulysses S. Grant was denied renewed candidacy by the Republicans in 1880 and Herbert Hoover in 1940. Gerald Ford was working towards a nomination for the 1980 presidential election, but was not already in the Republican primary. Chester A. Arthur showed interest in 1884, but pushed his nomination as a Republican candidate for health reasons without emphasis. In some cases, former presidents also ran for a second presidential election as a candidate from a smaller party: When Martin Van Buren, Lewis Cass, was again selected in 1848 , he ran as a candidate for the Free Soil Party . Millard Fillmore stood as a candidate for the Know-Nothing Party in 1856 and Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 as a candidate for the Progressive Party (not to be confused with other parties of the same name that put their own presidential candidates in 1924 and 1948 ). John Tyler was put up as a presidential candidate in the election of the "National Democratic-Republican Party" in 1844, but withdrew his candidacy due to hopelessness.

"Firsts" - from the history of the presidential candidacy

  • Barack Obama is the first African American politician to be nominated by a major party and the only one to be elected president. Before him, Shirley Chisholm sought in the 1972 election and Jesse Jackson in the 1984 and 1988 elections in vain for the nomination of their party. Black presidential candidates had run earlier, the first was George Edwin Taylor , who was nominated as a candidate for the "National Negro Liberty Party" in the 1904 election. Black candidates have run in all presidential elections since 1960 (with the exception of the 1972 election), but were only supported by splinter parties such as the Socialist Workers Party or the New Alliance Party until Barack Obama's candidacy . In the 2016 presidential election, Colin Powell received three electoral votes despite not running.
  • Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for the presidency in 1872 - long before women in the USA had the right to vote at the federal level - but her candidacy was inadmissible because she would not have been 35 years old at the time of inauguration, as required by the constitution. so that the votes allotted to them were not quantified. After that (in the elections of 1884, 1888, 1940 and 1952), women from splinter parties were nominated as candidates in isolated cases and since the election of 1968. After two women each tried in vain to be nominated by one of the major parties in the elections of 1964 and 1972, it was not until 1996 that two women again applied for nomination as Democratic presidential candidate. In 2016, Hillary Clinton became the first woman to be nominated for president by either major party.
  • The first Catholic to be run for president by a major party was Alfred E. Smith in 1928 ; the first Catholic to be elected president was John F. Kennedy in 1960. In 1988, Mike Dukakis was established by the Democrats as the first member of the Greek Orthodox Church . Mitt Romney was the first Mormon to be elected by a major party in the 2012 presidential election .


  • Sometimes so-called "dark horses" make the race in the American primary elections - as is also the case in other democratically constituted states - (the term can be paraphrased in German as "outsider"). These are candidates who have so far not had a name in politics, but who nonetheless point out other rivals, often much more renowned in the political field, in the primaries. Often they are local politicians or politicians from the second row, but they can also be lateral entrants who are known from other than political contexts (such as the military or show business). The first dark horse to win the presidential elections is James K. Polk, who was largely unknown until his candidacy; Presidents such as Abraham Lincoln, Warren C. Harding or Jimmy Carter can also be assigned to the dark horse type for various reasons . There can be many reasons for naming a dark horse as a candidate:
    • Dark horses are often nominated as a compromise or as a transition candidate because several wings of a party block each other with their respective candidates in such a way that none of them get a chance. This was done in the run-up to the election of 1880 in the case of Ulysses S. Grant, who was unable to prevail against James G. Blaine even after numerous voting rounds, until Blaine's delegate, together with the delegates of other candidates, the dark horse James A. Garfield as the candidate of the Republicans vote.
    • An opportunity for dark horses can also arise if one side primarily aims to “prevent” a certain candidate from the other side - as in the case of Rutherford B. Hayes, who was nominated as a candidate in the run-up to the 1876 election because the opponents of the supposedly certain winner James G. Blaine used an adjournment of the meeting to agree on Hayes.
    • Another possible reason is dissatisfaction with the better-known candidates available for selection or because a “new” candidate is perceived as particularly attractive or charismatic or seems to express an ideal in a special way. Recent examples include “surprise candidates ” such as Barack Obama, who stood up to the much better-known, big favorite Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primaries , and Donald Trump, who won the 2016 primaries despite the fact that he politically a completely blank slate, prevailed against all other Republican candidates.
  • So far, the fact that a candidate from a party with realistic prospects of an election victory died during his candidacy only happened once - in the election of 1872 . The Democrat-backed Liberal Republican Party candidate Horace Greeley , who ran against Ulysses S. Grant, died after the election, but before the electoral college met. Of the 66 electors he had won in the course of the election, 63 then voted for several other presidential and vice-presidential candidates; the three votes cast for Greeley were invalid. This did not affect the outcome of the election: Grant had won 81.25% of the electoral votes anyway.


Longest Term President: Franklin D. Roosevelt  (1933–1945)
Shortest Term President: William Henry Harrison  (March 4 – April 4, 1841)
Grover Cleveland was the only president to serve two consecutive terms (1885-1889 and 1893-1897)
  • 13 presidents won two consecutive elections, Franklin D. Roosevelt was the only one to win four (consecutive) elections (1932, 1936, 1940 and 1944). Grover Cleveland was the only president in US history to win two non-consecutive elections: he was president from 1885 to 1889 and again from 1893 to 1897 and is therefore counted twice, namely as 22nd and 24th president.
  • Donald Trump succeeded three presidents, each serving two full terms as president. The same last happened in 1825 with the election of John Quincy Adams , whose predecessors Thomas Jefferson , James Madison and James Monroe also served two full terms each.
  • For the seventy-six years from Andrew Jackson's tenure to Woodrow Wilson's tenure, Ulysses S. Grant was the only president (from 1869 to 1877) to serve two full, consecutive terms. In contrast, in the equally long period since Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency ended in 1945, there have been many more, namely five presidents with two consecutive full terms: Eisenhower, Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama. In the first 76 years since George Washington took office, just as many presidents succeeded: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and Jackson.
  • With one month , the shortest term of office had 1,841 who died in the Official William Henry Harrison , followed by James A. Garfield, who until his death in 1881 only good was half a year in office - which he as a result of crimes committed on him assassination, at the Consequences he died about two and a half months later, only barely four months was actually able to serve. At 12 years and 39 days the longest in office in 1933–1945 was the late Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was the only one elected four times (re-elected three times) (1932, 1936, 1940 and 1944).
  • “Short-term presidencies” or “presidents for a day” do not and never have existed. David Rice Atchison is said to have served as Vice President of the Senate for a day because there was a day between the end of James K. Polk's tenure and Zachary Taylor's swearing- in (March 4 to 5, 1849) and the same Terms of office of the vice-presidents had ended or had not started (the constitution as it was then set the date for the swearing-in on March 4th; however, March 4th, 1849 was a Sunday and Taylor declined, a Sunday to be sworn in). But this is a legend, if only because Atchison's own position as President pro tempore of the Senate ended at the same time as Polk's term in office. Even the 25th amendment to the Constitution of 1967 - despite rumors to the contrary - does not permit such a thing. This amendment stipulates that the President can declare himself temporarily incapable of office and delegate his powers to the Vice-President, which has happened four times so far - in 1985, 2002, 2007 and 2021 (in all cases due to a colonoscopy). However, this only means that his “ powers and duties are exercised by the Vice President as incumbent President ”, but not that - as it is literally determined in the event of the President's death - “ the Vice President [becomes] President ”. So there was no short-term President George HW Bush , Dick Cheney or Kamala Harris .
  • The fact that the Vice President is himself the President after the President's death, not just the Executive President, can be traced back to John Tyler , who was the first Vice President to succeed him. After the death of William Henry Harrison, Tyler insisted that he himself be President - an interpretation which he promoted decisively and which was most recently expressly recognized by the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.
  • When Joe Biden underwent a colonoscopy under anesthesia on November 19, 2021, Vice President Kamala Harris was the first - for 85 minutes - to officially delegate the powers and duties of the President to a woman. Already Edith Wilson , second wife of Woodrow Wilson, was sometimes referred to as (unofficial) "First Lady President" or "First Female President". This designation, however, refers to the fact that during the widespread incapacity of her husband (kept secret even from the Vice-President and Congress) she performed numerous presidential duties, including deciding what matters should be brought to the knowledge of her bedridden husband should.


Birth and death

  • While there were few presidents who traced their ancestry back to a single ethnic group (Van Buren had Dutch, Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce and Taft English, Kennedy Irish, Buchanan's ancestors were Ulster Scots), but seven had all American presidents English ancestors (in addition to Van Buren, Buchanan and Kennedy, Polk, Wilson, Eisenhower and Trump are exceptions). Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Nixon, the two Bush, Obama and Trump had German ancestors; Hoover, Eisenhower and Obama also had Swiss ancestors. The only president with non-European ancestry (from the Kenyan ethnic group of the Luo ) was Barack Obama , who, apart from his German and Swiss ancestors, also has English, French, Scottish, Welsh and Ulster-Scottish ancestors.
  • An extraordinary number of presidents were born in either Virginia (eight) or Ohio (seven). The first president to be born in the United States rather than the British colonies was Martin Van Buren; the first president born outside the area of ​​the original thirteen states was Kentucky- born Abraham Lincoln. Barack Obama was the first president to outside the US was born the mainland, namely Hawaii .
  • Of the first five Presidents who belong to the generation of the Founding Fathers, three died on July 4th, American Independence Day : John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe - the first two even on the same day, July 4th 1826, the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Of all previous US presidents, three were born in 1946 (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump).
  • Eight presidents have died in office. Half of them (Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Kennedy) died from murder with a gun; William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Warren G. Harding and Franklin D. Roosevelt died from other (natural) causes. Donald Trump was the tenth consecutive President who did not die in office since Lyndon B. Johnson succeeded incumbent Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963. In doing so, he continued the longest series of presidents who had not died in office to date. The longest series to date had included the first eight presidents, from George Washington to Martin Van Buren, and was demolished in 1841 with the death of William Henry Harrison.
  • All seven U.S. Presidents elected in a year ending with 0 between 1840 and 1960 (William Henry Harrison, Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy) , died in office or were murdered. This coincidence is known as " Tecumseh's Curse" because William Henry Harrison, who was elected in 1840, defeated the Tecumseh-led Indians. Ronald Reagan, elected in 1980, was the first US president since James Monroe, elected in 1820, to survive this "curse". Zachary Taylor was the only deceased president in 1850 who was not elected in a year ending with zero, namely 1848.
  • Apart from the four murders of incumbent presidents, numerous presidents have been the subject of assassination attempts . The President was injured with firearms in two cases: Theodore Roosevelt on October 14, 1912 and Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981 .
  • Only one president was buried in Washington DC - Woodrow Wilson. Seven presidents - four of the first five (with the exception of John Adams') plus Tyler, Taft and Kennedy - are buried in various locations in Virginia, six in New York (Van Buren, Fillmore, Grant, Arthur and the two Roosevelts), five in Ohio (William Harrison, Hayes, Garfield, McKinley, Harding). Three were buried in Tennessee (Jackson, Polk and Andrew Johnson), two each in Massachusetts (the two Adams), California (Nixon and Reagan) and Texas (Lyndon B. Johnson and George HW Bush), one each in Illinois (Lincoln) , Indiana (Benjamin Harrison), Iowa (Hoover), Kansas (Eisenhower), Kentucky (Taylor), Michigan (Ford), Missouri (Truman), New Hampshire (Pierce), New Jersey (Cleveland), Pennsylvania (Buchanan) and Vermont (Coolidge).

Terms of office and age

  • Joe Biden , who took office at the age of 78, is the oldest president to date, both when he took office and in office at all: when he took office he was older than the previous record holder Ronald Reagan when he left (at 77) Government office. The youngest president was Theodore Roosevelt, who was sworn in at the age of 42. With Roosevelt running as vice president without election, John F. Kennedy was the youngest directly elected president at 43.
  • Jimmy Carter, who left office in 1981, now holds the record for the longest life span since the presidency at 40 years and 342 days. Before that, Herbert Hoover , who left office in 1933, was the record holder: He died 11,554 days, over 31 years, later in 1964. Six other presidents were or are still alive over twenty years after the end of their presidency: Gerald Ford, George HW Bush, John Adams, Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore, and Bill Clinton. In contrast, James K. Polk died just 103 days (just under three and a half months) after the end of his term of office, followed by Chester A. Arthur, who survived the end of his term of office by only 624 days (about one year and eight and a half months).
  • Carter is the old-age ex-president - currently 97 years and 88 days, followed by George HW Bush, who died at the age of 94 years and 171 days (the age record set up in 1826 by John Adams, the second president, who was 90 Years and 247 days was not discontinued until about 175 years later - in October 2001 - by Ronald Reagan). The youngest presidents to die were John F. Kennedy (46 years old) and James A Garfield (49 years old), both of whom were murdered; the youngest president to die from natural causes was James K. Polk, aged 53.
  • On average, three or four ex-presidents are still alive when a new president takes office. The highest number reached so far when a president took office was five living ex-presidents - that was the case with
    • Abraham Lincoln ( Martin Van Buren , John Tyler , Millard Fillmore , Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan ),
    • Bill Clinton (Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush),
    • George W. Bush (Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, his own father George Bush and Bill Clinton),
    • Donald Trump (Jimmy Carter, George HW Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama) and
    • Joe Biden (Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump).
  • The fact that no ex-president was alive happened several times, but only for short periods - most recently after the death of Lyndon B. Johnson in 1973 during Richard Nixon's presidency until his resignation in 1974. Before that, it happened between 1799 and 1801 during the presidency of John Adams (after the death of George Washington), between 1875 and 1877 during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant (after the death of Andrew Johnson), in 1908 and 1909 during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt (after the death of Grover Cleveland ) and during Herbert Hoover's presidency (between the death of Calvin Coolidge on January 5, 1933 and Franklin D. Roosevelt's inauguration on March 4, 1933, after which Herbert Hoover was the only living ex-president for twenty years, from 1933 to 1953 stayed). However, never before has a term of office without a living ex-president started - which would theoretically be possible if the incumbent was re-elected if the last remaining ex-president died during the incumbent's first term of office. That was not the case in 1973 either: Nixon, re-elected in 1972, was sworn in for his second term on January 20, 1973, Johnson died two days later on January 22, 1973.

Military career


So far the only president who moved directly from the House of Representatives to the White House: James A. Garfield

Before taking office

  • 16 presidents were previously vice-presidents. Eight (Tyler, Fillmore, A. Johnson, Arthur, T. Roosevelt, Coolidge, Truman, L. Johnson) took office after the president's death, one (Ford) because the president stepped down while in office. Four incumbent vice-presidents (J. Adams, Jefferson, Van Buren, G. H. W. Bush) were directly elected president in a regular election; for a President (Biden) there were four years between the end of the term of office as Vice President and the beginning of the presidency, for Nixon it was eight years. Four of the nine vice-presidents raised because of the death or resignation of the president - Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry S. Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson - subsequently won the next election.
  • Many presidents also belonged to Congress , which is composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives , at an earlier point in their careers . Still, incumbent Congressmen are rarely elected president. Acting senators only moved to the office of President three times - as happened in the case of Warren G. Harding (1920), John F. Kennedy (1960) and Barack Obama (2008). In addition, three vice presidents who later rose to become president moved directly from the Senate to the office of vice president (John Tyler, Harry S. Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson; Richard Nixon and Joe Biden also moved from the Senate to the office of vice president, but were only later elected president). Members of the House of Representatives are even more rarely directly elected President: so far only James A. Garfield (1880) has succeeded. Gerald Ford moved from the House of Representatives directly to the office of Vice President, from where he later rose to become President.
  • It is more common for incumbent governors to be directly elected to the presidency - this has been the case for seven presidents so far: Rutherford B. Hayes (Ohio), Grover Cleveland when he was first elected in 1884 (New York), William McKinley (Ohio), Woodrow Wilson (New Jersey ), Franklin D. Roosevelt (New York), Bill Clinton (Arkansas), George W. Bush (Texas). In addition, there are two vice-presidents who moved directly from the office of governor to the office of vice-president and later rose to become president: Theodore Roosevelt (New York), Calvin Coolidge (Massachusetts). Andrew Johnson was the Military Governor of Tennessee when he was elected Vice President . Martin Van Buren (New York), John Tyler (Virginia), James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson (both Tennessee), Jimmy Carter (Georgia) and Ronald served as governor, but not immediately before their election as President or Vice President Reagan, California. William Harrison was governor of Indiana Territory prior to its entry into the United States as a state.
  • Five presidents moved from the cabinet of their respective predecessor to the chair of the president. Herbert Hoover was Secretary of Commerce in the Coolidge Cabinet at the time of his candidacy, and Taft was Secretary of War in the Theodore Roosevelt Cabinet. With Madison, Monroe and John Quincy Adams, three presidents moved in succession from the post of Secretary of State in the cabinet of their respective predecessor to the presidency.
  • Two presidents held other public office when they ran: Buchanan was ambassador to Great Britain until shortly before he took office, William Harrison was court clerk in Hamilton County , Ohio.
  • Three presidents - Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower - moved from the military to the office of president without ever having held a (high) public office.
  • Twelve Presidents (George Washington, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, Franklin Pierce, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland in his second election in 1892, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden) held office at their time Election no public office (for at least one year, in particular not only as a result of being exempted as a candidate for the presidential election). With the exception of Trump, they had all held various public offices on previous occasions - Trump was the first president to never hold a political or high military position.
  • George HW Bush was the first president since James Buchanan to serve as ambassador in his career (under Nixon as Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations and under Ford as Ambassador to China). He was also the only former Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) to ever become president.

After the end of office

Few presidents held significant public offices after their term in office:

Family relationships

  • There have been two times in US history where the son of a president became president himself. This is the case with John Adams , the second President, and John Quincy Adams, the sixth, as well as George HW Bush , the 41st President, and George W. Bush , the 43rd President. In addition, William Henry Harrison , the ninth US President, was the grandfather of Benjamin Harrison , the 23rd President. James Madison was a second cousin of Zachary Taylor. There is no known association between Andrew Johnson and Lyndon B. Johnson.
  • Presidents Theodore Roosevelt (26th) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (32nd) were fifth cousins ​​who belonged to two different branches of the family - Theodore the so-called Oyster Bay Roosevelts, Franklin the Hyde Park Roosevelts (the names refer to the residences of the respective presidents). Their common ancestor was Nicholas Roosevelt (1658-1742), councilor ( alderman ) in what was then Nieuw Amsterdam , now New York City . Both lines met again in the descendants of Franklin D. Roosevelt: his wife Eleanor Roosevelt , a niece of Theodore, belonged to the Oyster Bay line, so that Theodore was also Franklin's uncle-in-law. Franklin D. Roosevelt was also closely related to five other presidents and related by marriage to five, namely George Washington, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, James Madison , Martin Van Buren , William Henry Harrison, Ulysses S. Grant , Benjamin Harrison, and William Howard Taffeta .
  • In the 2016 presidential election , Bill Clinton's wife, Hillary Clinton , ran as the Democratic nominee .


  • 88 percent of US presidents were taller than average. The two tallest incumbents were Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon B. Johnson, who were 193 cm tall. The smallest President, James Madison , was only 163 cm tall. Joe Biden, the 46th President, is 182 cm tall.
  • Several presidents were already widowed when they took office: Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, and Chester Arthur. The wives of John Tyler, Benjamin Harrison, and Woodrow Wilson died during the presidency. James Buchanan remained unmarried throughout his life, Grover Cleveland only married during his first term (his daughter Esther was born in the White House as the only presidential child to date), and Wilson remarried during his presidency. For widowed or unmarried presidents, women within the immediate circle of the president - sisters, daughters-in-law, daughters, nieces - performed the duties of a first lady. Since Warren C. Harding's presidency - that is, for a full century in which not a single president was widowed or single - the duties of the first lady have been carried out without exception by the wives of the respective presidents. From 1834 to 1836, during Andrew Jackson's tenure, two women shared the duties of the First Lady - uniquely in the history of the White House -: Jackson's niece Emily Donelson and his daughter-in-law Sarah Yorke Jackson . Sarah Yorke Jackson is also noteworthy in that she survived the end of her "office" as First Lady for more than fifty years - only barely (by about two months) surpassed by Grover Cleveland's wife Frances Cleveland .
Roosevelt coat of arms
  • The President himself does not have a personal coat of arms; the seal of the President of the United States is tied to the office. Nevertheless, some presidents carried a coat of arms, often together with a motto. One reason could be, for example, belonging to a family that had a coat of arms - the more widely related Presidents Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt had the same talking coat of arms (the name Roosevelt is an Anglicised version of the original family name “van Rosenvelt”, in German “von Rosenfeld "). William and Benjamin Harrison also had the same family crest. John Quincy Adams had the coat of arms of his father John Adams in a field of his coat of arms. Another possible reason is the award of a foreign order, such as in the case of Eisenhower, who was to be awarded the Danish elephant order , which is why he acquired a coat of arms in order to meet the requirements for the award of this order (also in his case a talking coat of arms which, referring to the original spelling of his family name - "Eisenhauer" - shows an anvil).
  • Two presidents were Roman Catholic : John F. Kennedy and Joe Biden. Four were Unitarians (the two Adams, Fillmore and Taft), Andrew Johnson described himself as a Christian without belonging to a particular denomination, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln did not belong to any particular religion (Jefferson was in later years Deist , in Lincoln's case the religious creed is unclear). All other presidents were Protestant . Three of them - Hayes, Trump and Obama - described themselves as Protestants without assigning themselves to a particular denomination, the rest belonged to different denominations: Episcopalian Anglicans (Washington, Madison, Monroe, William Harrison, Tyler, Taylor, Pierce, Arthur, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ford, George HW Bush), Baptists (Harding, Truman, Carter and Clinton), Methodists (Polk, Grant, McKinley and George W. Bush), Quakers (Hoover and Nixon), Reformed (Jackson, Van Buren, Buchanan , Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson, Eisenhower and Reagan) and restorationists (Garfield. Lyndon B. Johnson).
  • In 2008, two left-handers, Barack Obama and John McCain, fought for the presidency. In this context, media attention has often turned to the fact that five of the seven presidents since 1974 (Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton and Barack Obama) have been left-handed, and that since 1977 no left-handed Lost presidency to a right-handed man.
  • During their tenure in the White House, American Presidents kept baby bears (Thomas Jefferson) and baby tigers (Martin Van Buren), alligators (John Quincy Adams, Herbert Hoover), possums (Benjamin Harrison), a badger and hyenas (Theodore Roosevelt), among many other animals . . Only James Polk, Andrew Johnson and Donald Trump kept no animals.
  • Martin Van Buren was the first and so far only President whose mother tongue was not English. Dutch was spoken in his parents' house.
  • John Quincy Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin D. Roosevelt were fluent in German.
  • Twelve of the first eighteen presidents (from George Washington to Ulysses S. Grant) kept slaves . The exceptions were the two Adams, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan and Lincoln. Martin Van Buren and William Harrison were no longer slaves at the time of their office (the term of office of Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant fell after the abolition of slavery). The number of slaves held ranges from more than six hundred (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson) to one (1) slave (Martin Van Buren, Ulysses S. Grant). In his will, George Washington released his slaves for the time of the death of his widow Martha Washington , who, however, gave freedom to the slaves inherited from her husband before her own death; Polk's will provided for a similar clause, but before the death of his widow Sarah Polk (in 1891), slavery was abolished.
  • Fourteen presidents (Washington, Monroe, Jackson, Polk, Buchanan, A. Johnson, Garfield, McKinley, the two Roosevelt, Taft, Harding, Truman, and Ford) were Freemasons . LB Johnson and Clinton are said to have each joined a lodge in their youth without ever becoming a full member, Ronald Reagan was awarded an honorary membership. Whether Jefferson was also a Freemason is controversial.


Franklin D. Roosevelt statue in London
  • Four presidents were honored with the Nobel Peace Prize: Theodore Roosevelt (1906 as the first American and the first non-European ever), Woodrow Wilson (1919), Jimmy Carter (2002) and Barack Obama (2009). Roosevelt, Wilson and Obama received the award during their respective tenures (Obama even received their first year in office), Carter more than 20 years later.


  • For many presidents, nicknames were coined before, during or after their term of office , which were used in the press and in common parlance. For example, simple abbreviations such as FDR for Franklin D. Roosevelt, JFK for John F. Kennedy or LBJ for Lyndon B. Johnson were used, as well as designations such as Ike ( Dwight D. Eisenhower ), Tricky Dick (y) ( Richard Nixon ), Dubya (George W. Bush, after his middle initial) as well as Abe or Honest Abe for Abraham Lincoln . The short form teddy is still used today for Theodore Roosevelt, after whom the popular soft toy, the teddy bear , was named. Former presidents often wore nicknames that referred to their military virtues or achievements, such as Old Hickory for Andrew Jackson (alluding to the hard hickory wood ), Old Tippecanoe for William Harrison and Old Rough and Ready (something like: "Old Rough Leg") for Zachary Taylor.
  • Since Franklin Roosevelt (term of office: 1933–1945), some presidents have signed important laws with multiple fountain pens and then passed them on as thanks and reminder to key supporters in the making of the law. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed with 75 pens. Others, like George W. Bush, signed with just one fountain pen and handed over unused fountain pens as souvenirs. Often a lettering is engraved in the relevant fountain pens. Some fountain pens are used by the recipient for signatures that are important to them, or later displayed in museums.
  • Since Herbert Hoover's presidency (1929–1933), former presidents have regularly built up their own presidential library, which primarily serves to preserve and research the legacy of the respective presidents.
  • The life paths of later US presidents or their relatives sometimes crossed in many ways even before the presidency. In 1812, during the British-American War, the future President Zachary Taylor defended the besieged Fort Harrison under the command of William Harrison, another future President. Similarly, William McKinley temporarily served in the Civil War under the command of Rutherford B. Hayes. John Tyler's father, John Tyler, Sr. , was Thomas Jefferson's roommate while studying law in Williamsburg.
  • In the 1944 election , President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his challenger Thomas Dewey were from the same county ( Dutchess County in New York); the 2008 election was decided between the first two candidates ever born outside the contiguous United States (i.e. the contiguous area of ​​48 states): the Hawaiian- born Barack Obama and the one in the (American-controlled at the time of his birth) Panama Canal Zone born John McCain .

Acronyms and metonyms

There are several acronyms (word made up of abbreviations or initials) as well as metonyms (meaningful, often often used paraphrases instead of the correct official title) for the President of the United States .


  • For representative event rehearsals, the acronym POTUS ( President of the United States ) is used for the position of President . The abbreviation FLOTUS ( First Lady of the United States ) is used for the “First Lady” .


  • Leader of the free world (German: "Leader of the free world"), due to the power with which this office is endowed
  • Commander-in-Chief (German: "Oberkommandender"), as the President is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces
  • Chief Executive (German: "[sole] holder of executive power "), due to the position of the office within the government apparatus ; the cabinet has no decision-making power
  • Eagle (German: "Adler"), after the heraldic animal

See also


  • Presidential Studies Quarterly. Wiley-Blackwell, Washington, DC / Oxford, 1977 to present (quarterly journal; English), ISSN  0360-4918 .
  • Stephen Skowronek, John A. Dearborn, Desmond King: Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic: The Deep State and The Unitary Executive. Oxford University Press, New York 2021, ISBN 978-0-19-754308-5 .
  • Jolyon P. Girard (Ed.): Presidents and Presidencies in American History: A Social, Political, and Cultural Encyclopedia and Document Collection. ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara 2019, ISBN 978-1-4408-6590-9 .
  • Lori Cox Han, Diane J Heith: Presidents and the American Presidency. 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press, New York 2017, ISBN 978-0-19-061146-0 .
  • Daniel E. Ponder: Presidential Leverage: Presidents, Approval, and the American State. Stanford University Press, Stanford 2017, ISBN 978-1-5036-0407-0 .
  • Ken Gormley: The Presidents and the Constitution: A Living History. New York University Press, New York 2016, ISBN 978-1-4798-3990-2 .
  • Melvin I. Urofsky: The American Presidents: Critical Essays. Routledge, London 2015, ISBN 978-0-415-76378-3 .
  • Jürgen Heideking : Introduction: Origin and history of the American presidency. In: Christof Mauch (Ed.): The American Presidents: 44 historical portraits from George Washington to Barack Obama. 6th, continued and updated edition. Beck, Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-406-58742-9 , pp. 13-48.
  • Joseph Nye : Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era. Princeton University Press , Princeton 2013, ISBN 978-0-691-15836-5 .
  • Kurt L. Shell, Chapter B1: Congress and President. In: Peter Lösche (Ed.): Country Report USA. History, politics, economy, society, culture. 5th, revised edition. Federal Agency for Civic Education , Bonn 2008, ISBN 978-3-89331-851-3 , pp. 94–141.
  • Leroy G. Dorsey (Ed.): The Presidency and Rhetorical Leadership. Texas A&M University Press, College Station 2008, ISBN 978-1-60344-056-1 .
  • Christine Weiss: The US President as a staging: marriage, family and private matters in political communication . Nomos, 2008, ISBN 978-3-8329-3872-7 .
  • Marc Landy, Sidney M. Milkis: Presidential Greatness. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence 2000, ISBN 978-0-7006-1149-2 .
  • Robert Dallek : Hail to the Chief: The Making and Unmaking of American Presidents. Oxford University Press, New York 1999, ISBN 978-0-19-514582-3 .
  • Leonard W. Lewy, Louis Fischer (Eds.): Encyclopedia of the American Presidency . 4 volumes. New York 1994 (English).

Web links

Commons : President of the United States  - collection of pictures, videos, and audio files
Wiktionary: US President  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Jump up ↑ Clinton Prominent Offenders Pardoned , Der Spiegel, January 20, 2001, accessed December 3, 2020
  2. ^ CNN: Clinton Disappointed By Line-Item Ruling; Welcomes McDougal's release (English).
  3. Washington Post on McCain's status as a natural born citizen , accessed July 2, 2012.
  4. on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, accessed on July 2, 2012.
  5. 2016 National Popular Vote Tracker , Cook Political Report, accessed January 2, 2017.
  6. The Library of Congress maintains a list of the Bibles on which various presidents have taken their oaths.
  7. The Twice and Future President: Constitutional Interstices and the Twenty-Second Amendment ( January 15, 2013 memento on the Internet Archive ), Bruce G. Peabody & Scott E. Gant in Minnesota Law Review , February 1999, accessed June 27, 2018 (engl.)
  8. The 22nd Amendment doesn't say what you think it says , Joel A. Ready, Cornerstone Law Firm , accessed June 27, 2018.
  9. Snopes: Could Barack Obama Serve as Vice President ?, April 9, 2020, last viewed April 19, 2020.
  10. Hillary Clinton: Bill as VP has 'crossed her mind' , Tom LoBianco, CNN , September 15, 2015, accessed June 27, 2018.
  11. Impeachment proceedings end with Trump's acquittal. February 6, 2020, accessed February 6, 2020.
  12. Thomas R. Marshall, 28th Vice President (1913–1921)
  13. Donald Trump doesn't want a presidential salary . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. November 14, 2016.
  14. ^ Former Presidents Act (FPA). (PDF; 73 kB) US Senate, 1958, accessed January 5, 2007 .
  15. Personal protection and pensions: Trump is now entitled to that. Retrieved January 22, 2020 .
  16. No more briefings: President Biden wants to cut Trump off from CIA information. In: DER SPIEGEL. Retrieved February 6, 2021 .
  17. (English).
  18. State limousine of the US President: Cadillac Number One. Retrieved October 15, 2014 .
  19. "A Forgotten Presidential Candidate From 1904"
  21. -usa-ld.1656263
  22. -usa-ld.1656263
  23. Edith Wilson: The First Lady Who Became an Acting President - Without Being Elected
  24. ^ Edith Bolling Galt Wilson
  25. ^ For Herbert Hoover it is often stated that he also had German ancestors; this is probably based on the fact that Gregor Jonas Huber, father of Andreas Huber, who emigrated to America in 1738, moved from Switzerland to Ellerstadt in the Palatinate at the end of the 17th century , where Andreas (no information is given about his mother) was born there may have come, see Winkler, Albert, “Herbert Hoover and Belgian Relief” (2013). Faculty Publications. 1603
  26. ^ Five families with more than one president
  27. ^ Waldo W. Braden: Abraham Lincoln. LSU Press, 1993, ISBN 0-8071-1852-4 (English).
  28. ^ Robert Dallek: Lyndon B. Johnson: Portrait of a President. Oxford University Press, p. 11.
  29. ^ Louis Phillips: Ask Me Anything About the Presidents. , HarperCollins, 1992, ISBN 0-380-76426-1 (English).
  30. "Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th president of the United States"
  31. Page on the website of
  36. Claire Suddath: Why Did Obama Use So Many Pens to Sign the Health Care Bill?, March 23, 2010.
  37. See Wolfgang Jäger, Christoph M. Haas, Wolfgang Welz: Government system of the USA. Instructional and manual. 3rd Edition. Oldenbourg, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-486-58438-7 , p. 249; Ulrike Röttger, Sarah Zielmann (ed.): PR advice in politics. Roles and interaction structures from the perspective of consultants and clients. VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2012, ISBN 978-3-531-17723-6 , p. 23.