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14 the Cabinet

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14. THE CABINET. The Cabinet, as the name is used in American affairs, is the Presi dent's council. It is composed of the heads of tfie nine great executive departments. Four of these are older than the government under the Constitution, for the Old Congress had found it necessary to establish a Department of Foreign Affairs, of the Treasury, and of War. The Post Office Department was established by the Continental Congress before the Declaration of Independence. The framers of the Consti tution assumed that such departments would continue to be necessary. They perceived also that the heads of these should be at the service of the chief executive. Hence the provision that he— °the President—may require the opinion in writing of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices' The first Congress under the Constitu tion re-established the executive departments already existing. To the Foreign Office it added certain internal affairs, and changed the name to the Department of State. The office of Attorney-General was also established in 1789, being provided for by the great act that established the Federal courts. In 1870, 22 June, the Attorney-General was made the bead of a Department of Justice. Four additional departments have been created as the expan sion and progress of the country have de manded. The Department of the Navy was established in 1798, 30 April; the Department of the Interior, in 1849, 3 March; the Department of Agriculture, in 1889, 9 February; the De partment of Commerce and Labor, in 1903, 14 February; and the Department of Labor, in 1913, 4 March. Although the Constitution re fers in two places to the heads of departments, it does not imply that they are to form a council to advise the President on questions outside of their respective departments. The distinction between the two functions is illus trated by the following episode. During the in terval, 21 February-28 May 1868, Secretary Stanton was on duty at the War Office, while Lorenzo Thomas, who had failed to get posses of the office, was attending the Cabinet sessions. Left without a council by the Con stitution, Washington sought one for himself. At first he turned to the Senate. He had constitutional authority for advising with this body on the two subjects of appointments and treaties. But his visits to the Senate chamber were coldly received. At the same time he singled out certain men whom he consulted as individuals. On 27 Aug. 1790, he formally re quested written opinions, on a question of gen eral policy, of Hamilton, Jefferson, Knox, Randolph, Jay and Adams. These men were resptively the Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, Attorney G.emal, Chief Justice and Vice-President. On 4 April 1791, the President addressed a let ter to the three secretaries which brought about the first cabinet councils to which there is any reference. The occasion was' his own absence from the seat of government. He herein ex pressed the wish that if any important cases afese during his absence, the secretaries of the Departments of State, Treasury and War may hold consultations thereon to determine whether they are of such a nature as to demand his personal attendance at the seat of government. if -the Vice-President is at the seat of govern ment, the President wishes that he also be cop One or more consultations were held nreeably to this suggestion. Besides the offi cers specified, the Attorney-General was present. touting the year 1792, the three Secretaries and the Attorney-General occasionally met the Presi his house for consultation. But it was in 1793 that frequent consultations gave the touritil a definite place. The circumstance of this was the conduct of Minister Genet. In August of this year, Jefferson referred in his diary the President's council as °our cabi net In the administration of John Adams the word- was quite commonly used. It has never been introduced into the laws; but it can be fotind in the debates of Congress and in the President's messages. The rule that Washing ton followed in the choice of his counsellors was to summon those officers who filled suf ficiently high places in the government, and who held office at his pleasure. Under Jeffer son the whole executive body was for the first time at harmony with itself. The Cabinet now had five members. For a period of seven ad ministrations it maintained the status of an advisory body which expected to be called for consultation on all important questions, and at the same time had no power to enforce its views upon the chief executive. This was interrupted only by the disorders that resulted from weak ness in the War and Navy Departments during the War of 1812. All the Presidents of this

period succeeded to that office after being Sec tetary of State. Moreover, Madison, Monroe and John Quincy Adams retained in their Cabi nets a number of their colleagues of the pre ceding administration. This stability was favor able to the Cabinet prestige. Jackson reduced the. Cabinet to a more humble status. How ever, the popular idea of the "Kitchen Cabinet' is a mistake. During the period 1829-31 strained personal relations growing out of a scandal in the family of the Secretary of War made it almost impossible for the six heads of departments to meet together. The Postmaster _ General was now included with the others. But it does not appear that the President was at this period guided by the counsels of the editors who had helped to elect and had received posi tions under the government. He was on most cordial relations with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of War. After the recon struction of the Cabinet, councils were held regularly or at least frequently. In the matter of the removal of the deposits from the Bank of the United States, he acted contrary to the Cabinet opinion, and found his chief adviser in Amos Kendall, who is the most remarkable figure in the commonly accepted °Kitchen Cabinet.° It might be expected that a great war wouldgive to the Cabinet an increased im portance. This was not the case in the War of 1812 or the Spanish War of 1898. The Cabinets of Madison and McKinley did not meet the extraordinary demand upon them with notable strength. But those of Polk and Lincoln profited by their opportunity. The period from Jackson to Polk was one of Cabinet debase ment. That from Fillmore to Lincoln was one of Cabinet ascendency. The executive council now had seven members. It had also begun to meet at regular times. Pierce has been the only President who made no change among the heads of departments during four years. This has been pointed to by Southern writers as proof of great power to control men. But Pierce was led by his council. The Cabinet as cendency culminated under Buchanan. During the last months of his administration, the Presi dent was under the dictation of Black and Stanton, the Secretaries of State and War. The high position occupied by the Cabinet dur ing the Civil War was not at the expense of the Presidential prerogatives. If Seward and Chase and Stanton were exercising extraor dinary powers, Lincoln was doing the same. Indeed he consulted his advisers in the matter of the Emancipation Proclamation only after the document was already composed. The most momentous episode in Cabinet history is John son's attempt to remove Secretary Stanton from the War Department contrary to the Tenure of Office Act. This led to the impeachment of the President. Congress repealed the act early in the next administration, thereby acknowledging that it was an encroachment upon the Presi dent's rights. Since the reconstruction of the government, the status of the Cabinet has been on the whole as it was before the administra tion of Jackson. In Cleveland's first adminis tration, the eighth member was added; and under Roosevelt, the ninth. The President's council bears the name of the great executive organ of the British government. But its functions are much inferior. The ministers who compose the British Cabinet are members of Parliament. They digest the great bills that are to be introduced, and direct their course in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Their functions thus combine those of the standing committees of Congress with the direction of executive affairs. Under the American system the executive officers are rigorously excluded from the floors of Con gress. The chief avenue through which the heads of departments can influence legislation is the standing committees. The question of admitting Cabinet members to the floors of Congress for the purpose of giving information and of allowing them to participate in the de bate of questions pertaining to their respective departments has been before Congress several times. See CABINET; KITCHEN CABINET; ExEctrrrvE.

Bibliography.— Finley, J. H., and Sander son, J. F., The American Executive and Executive Methods> (Chap. 16, 1908) ; Har rison, B., 'This Country of Ours' (Chaps. 10 11, 1897) ; Hinsdale, M. L., 'History of the President's Cabinet' (1911) ; Learned, H. B., The President's Cabinet> (1911) ; Mosher, R. B., 'Executive Register of the United (1903); Stevens, 'Sources of the Constitution of the United States' (1894) • Journals of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States (35 vols., 1828-1918).