Imperial Presidency Timeline by Albert Xu


Abraham Lincoln

1861 - 1865

Commander-In-Chief/"War Powers"
Abraham Lincoln seizes extraordinary powers during civil War, suspending habeas corpus and imposing martial law. Lincoln also pushes the 13th (anti-slavery) amendment through Congress.

Managing the Great Depression

1930 - 1940

Ended with World War II, as the government started heavy military spending and enlisted many men.

Bank Holiday


FDR instituted the Emergency Banking Act and shut down all banks and committed the Federal Reserve to have 100% deposit insurance following the onslaught of the stock market crash

Franklin D. Roosevelt

1933 - 1945

Chief Executive, Emergency Powers, Commander-In-Chief
Tries to pack the Supreme court by replacing the oldest justices after the court strieks down New Deal laws on the grounds they delegate too much authority to the executive.

World War II

1939 - 1945

FDR interned Japanese Americans during the war

Executive Order 9066


Authorized Secretary of War and President to declare some areas as military zones; led way to Japanese internment.

Hirabayashi v. U.S.


United States Supreme Court held that the application of curfews against members of a minority group were constitutional when the nation was at war with the country from which that group originated.

Korematsu v. United States


Supreme Court case which agreed with the U.S.'s exclusion order for the internment of Japanese-Americans regardless of citizenship.

Harry S. Truman

1945 - 1953

Chief Diplomat; Commander-In-Chief

Gulf of Tonkin Resolution


Gave LBJ authorization, without formal declaration of war from Congress, to use conventional military force in South Asia

Truman Doctrine


American foreign policy in 1947 of providing aid to Greece and Turkey because of communism. It was the start of the containment policy to stop Soviet expansion & the Cold War.

Statement on Korean War


Truman gave a speech saying we declared war because "the occupation of Formosa by Communist forces would be a direct threat to the security of the Pacific area and to the United States forces."

Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer


Supreme court rebuffs Truman's effort to assume emergency economic powers by trying to nationalize steel mills during the Korean War

John F. Kennedy

1961 - 1963

Commander In Chief: Bay of Pigs invasion, Cuban Missile Crisis, early Vietnam War

Lyndon B. Johnson

1963 - 1969

Commander-In-Chief by way of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

Secret Bombing of Cambodia

1969 - 1970

Operation Menu bombed Vietnam Army and the Vietcong: would show Nixon's tenacity; disable Vietnam's Army and Vietnamization, and would demonstrate the US' determination.
It received criticism for its employment of much deceit, as the military held all of the power and blatantly lied to Congress.

Richard M. Nixon

1969 - 1974

Commander-In-Chief checked by the War Powers Act of 1973


1970 - 1974

Watergate was a break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters which the administration tried to coverup. Nixon faced impeachment and criminal convictions for perjury and misuse of power.

War Powers Resolution


Checked Presidential power by allowing Congress to compel the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from foreign deployment against the president's will.

Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act


Modified role of Congress in Federal budgetary process, after Nixon refused to distribute 12 billion in funds through the power of impoundment.

United States v. Nixon


The Supreme Court does have the final say in interpreting Constitution; the president of the United States is not above the law; the president cannot use executive privilege as an excuse to withhold evidence

Patriot Act


In response to the 9/11 attacks, this act reduced restrictions on law-enforcement agencies, and increased the powers of law enforcement and immigration authorities in prosecuting those suspected of terrorism acts. It strengthened executive branch counter terrorism efforts.

George W. Bush

2001 - 2009

Chief Executive; Commander-in-Chief; Chief Legislator

Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution


Joint resolution passed by Congress and the President to authorize use of military force against Iraq; firmly established President's power as Chief Executive and Commander-In-Chief.

Hamdi V. Rumsfield


Supreme Court reversed a habeas corpus petition which ruled that the U.S. had the power to detain enemy combatants, but those who are U.S. citizens must be allowed to challenge their status.