Changes in the Presidency

While historians have often noted the changes in the power of the presidency, other important aspects of the office have changed as well. These include how the President is selected, when the President takes office, how many terms the President may serve, and how the office of the President is to be filled when vacant.

1796

George Washington does not run for a third term, setting a precedent of a two-term limit for the presidency.

1796

John Adams is elected President. Thomas Jefferson, losing to Adams by three electoral votes, becomes Vice President.

1800

Political parties begin to transform the electoral system by choosing elector candidates. In the 1800 election this evolving system fails. Elector candidate have to cast two different votes for President, but because they are selected by the parties, they also have to vote for their parties' candidates. As a result, the two Democratic-Republican candidates are tied in the election. After 36 ballots, the House of Representatives breaks the tie. Thomas Jefferson becomes President, and Aaron Burr Vice President.

1804

The 12th Amendment, which requires seperate ballots for President and Vice President, is passed to ensure that the election fiasco of 1800 is not repeated.

1831

The Anti-Masonic Party holds the first national convention to nominate a presidential candidate.

1933

The 20th Amendment moves the presidential inauguration from March to January.

1944

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) wins a fourth term. Congress will act in 1947 to limit a president to two terms in office.

1947

Presidential Succession Act defines the officials who would succeed to the presidency after the Vice President.

1947

Congress drafts an amendment to the Constitution which will limit a President to two terms in office. The proposed amendment is sent to the states for approval.

1951

The 22nd Amendment, which limits a President to two terms, is ratified.

1967

The 25th Amendment sets up procedures to follow when a President is disabled or when the vice presidency is vacant.

1973

President Nixon, following the 25th Amendment, nominates Gerald Ford to replace Vice President Agnew, who had resigned.

1974

The 25th Amendment is invoked again as President Ford nominates Nelson Rockefeller as his successor in the vice presidency.

1982

In Nixon v. Fitzgerald the Supreme Court decides that a President or former President has absolute immunity from liability based on his official acts. This immunity extends to all acts within the "outer perimeter" of his duties of office.

1985

The disability provision of the 25th Amendment is first used when Vice President Bush becomes Acting President while President Reagan is in surgery.

2000

The Supreme Court finds the vote recount in Florida unconstitutional in Bush v. Gore, effectively deciding the 2000 presidential election.