Regents Prep: U.S. History: Presidential Decisions:
Chief Executive
As Chief Executive the president is technically the head of all Federal agencies, departments and bureaucracy within the executive branch. Examples of these would include the Department of Justice and the agencies of the FBI and the ATF under that department's control, the Internal Revenue Service and hundreds of other government offices. The president issues executive orders to these agencies and directs the enforcement of the laws as passed by Congress and interpreted by the Supreme Court. The president also appoints and removes the government officials responsible for heading these various and diverse government offices.

NOTE: The examples listed below are selected for their value in study for the Regent's Examination,
and represent a small fraction of the possible examples

FDR declares a "bank holiday":
In 1933 incoming president Franklin D. Roosevelt saw the severe problems of the depression as requiring immediate and direct relief. The most immediate need lay in the on-going banking crisis. As people panicked and withdrew all their money from the nation's banks, many banks began to fail and were forced to close their doors.

In an effort to stop these runs on the banks, FDR declared a bank holiday which temporarily closed all US banks while the government addressed the problems. Congress passed FDR's Emergency Banking Relief Bill and stable banks were allowed to reopen. Unstable banks were either given government assistance to insure their stability or were closed down and absorbed by larger banks.

Although drastic, the bank holiday did address the issues surrounding the bank failures and restored America's confidence in its financial institutions. Along with FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.) which insures depositors money in banks, the actions taken in FDR's New Deal helped assure the long-term stability of the banking system.


Bank Failures


1932 2500+
  1933* 3000+
1934 500+
1937 150+
* Includes 15% of banks not allowed to reopen after the bank holiday

FDR orders relocation of Japanese-Americans during WWII:
Following the December 7th, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor the United States declared war upon the Empire of Japan and plunged into World War II. On the west coast of the US, an anti-Japanese atmosphere of fear, distrust and racism began to spread. Many irrationally feared a Japanese invasion from abroad, as well as sabotage and intrigue at home.

These fears manifested themselves in the policy of relocation of Japanese-Americans (also referred to as the Nisei) from the major populations centers of the west coast (California, Washington, Oregon and Arizona). The relocation was ordered by FDR in 1942 by executive order 9066.

A total of 120,000+ Japanese-Americans, many of them US citizens who's families had been in the United States for generations, were relocated to internment camps. The camps were located inland, in the Arizona desert, Arkansas swamps and Oklahoma prairie.

The relocation order was challenged in the Supreme Court in the case Korematsu v. United States in 1944. The court upheld the relocation order as Constitutional, given the security needs associated with a wartime environment, despite the fact that not one Japanese-American had been convicted of sabotage, spying or treason. In 1988 the US Congress issued a formal apology to the surviving internees and awarded each survivor a $20,000 restitution to make up for property and income lost during the internment.

Truman orders a loyalty review board:
Following the end of World War II, the former wartime ally of the Soviet Union became the new enemy in the developing Cold War. This new era was typified by a fear of Communism and gave rise to a red scare during which the hunt for American communists destroyed the lives and reputations of many innocent people.

Feeding into the atmosphere of distrust that was created by the red scare, was the executive order issued by Truman creating a Loyalty Review Board. The Loyalty Review Board investigated over 3 million employees of the Federal Government, delving into their past and present affiliations and actions in order to weed out those suspected of being communists or communist sympathizers. Over 200 were fired and thousands of others resigned, many in protest over the investigation and the secrecy surrounding the evidence being collected about them.

While many of those accused were innocent of any crime or communist affiliation, highly publicized cases like those of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and Alger Hiss as well as the ongoing investigations by HUAC (house committee on un-American activities) and Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy kept the fires of the red scare burning into the early 1950's.

Richard Nixon creates several new federal agencies:
Richard M. Nixon became president in 1969 and immediately began to reorganize the executive branch. A Republican, Nixon also sought to reorganize much of the way the federal government gives monies to the states for the social programs (such as welfare and Medicaid) created during the Great Society programs of Lyndon Johnson's presidency.

Amid growing concerns about the environment (fueled in part by books such as Rachael Carson's 1962 Silent Spring and the Earth-conscious Hippie movement) Nixon ordered the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to oversee the nation's environment and regulate pollution. Nixon also reacted to the growing problem of illegal drug use in America by ordering the creation of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which also focused on targeting the overseas production of illegal drugs and the illegal trafficking of drugs into the United States.

Nixon also instituted the policy of New Federalism under which the funding the individual states received from the federal government for social welfare programs was reorganized. Instead of the federal government administering the money directly, states are allowed to spend the grant money on their own social welfare programs, as they see fit.


George W. Bush creates the Office of Homeland Security:
As a result of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the President Bush responded to calls for increased security by issuing an executive order creating the Office of Homeland Security. The Office of Homeland security (headed by former Penn. Governor Tom Ridge) is targeted at coordinating national strategy to strengthen protections against terrorist threats or attacks in the United States. The most visible extension of this is the Homeland Security Advisory System to help notify the American people of possible threats.

Homeland Security Advisory System


Created by Joshua DeLorenzo
Copyright 1999-2003 Oswego City School District Regents Exam Prep Center
RegentsPrep and StudyZone are FREE educational resources.