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  • The Oval Office,

  • Inauguration Day,

  • Rose Garden signings,

  • and secret service agents

  • with dark sunglasses and cool wrist radios.

  • For a moment, forget all of it.

  • Toss out everything you know about the President.

  • Now, start over.

  • What would you do if you had to invent the President?

  • That was the question facing the 55 men

  • who got together in secret

  • to draw up the plans for a new American government

  • in the summer of 1787 in Philadelphia,

  • in the same place where the Declaration of Independence

  • had been written eleven years earlier.

  • Declaring independence had been risky business,

  • demanding ferocious courage

  • that put lives and fortunes in jeopardy.

  • But, inventing a new government was no field day either,

  • especially when it's summer

  • and you're in scratchy suits,

  • and the windows are closed

  • because you don't want anybody

  • to hear what you are saying,

  • and the air conditioning doesn't work

  • because it won't be invented for nearly 200 years.

  • And, when you don't agree on things,

  • it gets even hotter.

  • For the framers, the question they argued over most

  • while writing the Constitution

  • and creating three branches of government

  • had to do with the executive department.

  • One man or three to do the job?

  • How long should he serve?

  • What would he really do?

  • Who would pick him?

  • How to get rid of him

  • if he's doing a bad job or he's a crook?

  • And, of course, they all meant him,

  • and he would be a white man.

  • The idea of a woman

  • or an African American, for instance,

  • holding this high office

  • was not a glimmer in their eyes.

  • But the framers knew they needed

  • someone who could take charge,

  • especially in a crisis, like an invasion or a rebellion,

  • or negotiating treaties.

  • Congress was not very good

  • at making such important decisions

  • without debates and delays.

  • But the framers thought America needed a man

  • who was decisive and could act quickly.

  • They called it energy and dispatch.

  • One thing they were dead-set against:

  • there would be no king.

  • They had fought a war against a country with a monarch

  • and were afraid that one man

  • with unchecked powers, in charge of an army,

  • could take over the country.

  • Instead, they settled on a president

  • and laid out his powers in Article 2 of the Constitution.

  • But who would choose him?

  • Not the people, they were too liable to be misled

  • as one framer worried.

  • Not the legislature, that would lead to cabal and factions.

  • Got it: electors, wise, informed men

  • who have time to make a good decision.

  • And if they didn't produce a winner,

  • then the decision would go to one

  • of the other branches of government, the Congress.

  • The House of Representatives would step in

  • and make the choice,

  • which they did in 1801 and 1825.

  • In the long, hot summer of 1787,

  • compromises were made to invent the presidency,

  • like counting slaves as 3/5 of a person,

  • giving the President command of the army

  • but Congress the power to declare war,

  • and unlimited four-year terms.

  • Since then, some of those compromises have been amended

  • and the men in office have sometimes been too strong or too weak.

  • But, if you could start from scratch,

  • how would you redesign the Oval Office?

The Oval Office,

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【TED-Ed】Inventing the American presidency - Kenneth C. Davis

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    lsy   に公開 2013 年 10 月 27 日
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