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Washington limits himself to two terms: George Washington, the only president to win the vote unanimously, was—and still is— “revered as soldier, statesman, and purported founder of a number of venerable traditions,” one of which being the two-term precedent he set for the presidential office. The example he set by limiting himself to two terms was so influential and lasting, that it was upheld until the 1940s despite not actually being legislated in the constitution. The tradition was finally broken by Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he was elected for his third (and eventually fourth) presidential term. Although his decision had huge impact in the world of politics, it is debated if a two-term limit was Washington’s true intention. Washington was a rather reluctant leader as seen in his statement to Henry Knox, “movements to the chair of government will be accompanied with feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution” (Washington qtd. Chernow).
So, to say that maybe he was just tired of leading and wanted to retire to his beloved home at Mount Vernon is not an unreasonable assumption. However, whether intentional or not, his decision did have an impact. To determine whether this impact was positive or negative is tremendously hard due to the extremely limited experience the U.S. has with Presidents who have served more than two terms. I am inclined to believe that legislation on this matter was not necessary, after all, when you looked at how successful Roosevelt was, it is hard to say we should limit a beloved person who is willing lead to a set amount of terms when American citizens are still deciding to vote them into office. I understand Washington’s decision and whole-heartedly respect it but the U.S. is not a monarchy, and unlike one, its citizens have a voice in the political system, and they should be able to express themselves even if the president they are crying out for has been in office for 8 years.
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John Marshall’s ruling and role in the Marbury v. Madison case. John Marshall’s ruling in the case of Marbury v. Madison gave rise to the very important tradition of judicial review. It would go on to prevent unconstitutional laws; another important case in the history of judicial review would be that of Ladue v. Gilleo in 1994, wherein Gilleo sued the city of Ladue, Missouri for a city law that violated her first amendment rights to freedom of speech. The Supreme Court found this law to be unconstitutional and the process of judicial review has allowed courts to better protect citizens from unfair legislation. However, this process might have never come about if it weren’t for John Marshall’s ruling in the Marbury v. Madison case, in which he ruled that the law, giving the Supreme Court jurisdiction over this matter was unconstitutional, meaning Marbury lost due to lack of Marshall’s jurisdiction. Although this decision has been somewhat tainted for me by the whole “eh I don’t want to rule in this case because I know Marbury is right but I don’t want to the court to look weak when Madison defies my writ of mandamus… So, I’ll just declare this law unconstitutional” aspect of it, I still think this decision was extremely important and positively impacted the court system, as seen in the prior example.
Thomas Jefferson supports the Embargo Act of 1807. In 1807 Congress, with the support of Thomas Jefferson, enacted the Embargo Act. The act vastly limited American trade activities in foreign ports. Although the act was intended to punish Britain and France, who were both guilty of the mistreatment of American ships—one wrongfully impressing American sailors and the other seizing their ships – while still maintaining a neutral position. The outcome embargo act was a pretty mixed bag. The act was successful in evading – really just postponing – a war but it also horribly damaged the U.S. economy, “before the embargo, exports to the United States reached $108 million. One year later, they were just over $22 million” (McNamara). Overall, I have to disagree with the Embargo Act of 1807, its cons vastly outweigh its pros. Due to the U.S. going to war just a few years later in the War of 1812, I just can’t stand behind the huge detriment it caused to the economy for such little pay off.
Andrew Jackson allows Georgia to ignore the ruling of Worcester v. Georgia. In the case of Worcester v. Georgia, the Supreme Court ruled that laws pertaining to the Cherokee Nation, invoked by the state of Georgia, were unconstitutional (sounds like Judicial review really caught on fast). This decision came after Worcester and several other missionaries were imprisoned for being on Cherokee land without a state-issued permit, as per Georgia state law. The ruling was made in 1832 with a vote of 5-1 in the Supreme Court; however, despite the almost unanimous vote, then president, Andrew Jackson, refused to enforce it and the state of Georgia did not release the missionaries until 1833.
The blatant disregard the president had shown for the Supreme Court’s authority set a terrible example which led to the passing of more unconstitutional laws concerning Native American rights. Unfortunately, this pattern continued and reached its peak with the Trail of Tears, wherein 15,000+ Cherokee Indians were evicted from their land and forced to make an arduous journey to the Oklahoma territory – many dying in the process. I think that Jackson’s refusal to enforce Supreme Court rulings was a horrendous abuse of his position as president and as a result it led to thousands of people dying. I completely disagree with Jackson’s handling of the ruling on the Worcester v. Georgia case.
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