Last Updated 16 Apr 2020

Imperial Presidency

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Richard Nixon’s presidency is labeled as ‘imperial presidency’[1] due to its hunt for and utilization of regal authority and supremacy. Certain other presidents in American history like Andrew Jackson and Theodore Roosevelt sought kingly control but that expansion in the executive power manifested the merits of that extension. During his presidency, Nixon and his administration put forward legislations to get the maximum control over such areas that remained exclusive domains of Congress like the power to declare war, the power of the purse, and the power of immunity from legislative oversight.

This style of administration, absolute authority and legal privileges capacitated Nixon to involve Watergate scandal. Immunity from legislative oversight helped him to cover up his involvement in this scandal. His craving for a absolute authority and measures taken in this regard is best described by his attorney general, Elliott Richardson. He said that "a government of laws was on the verge of becoming a government of one man." Despite these absolute powers, his government miserably failed in the domestic arena as he was unable to address the issues facing the American people.

Notwithstanding his failure in the domestic affairs, Nixon attained extraordinary progress in the international affairs and explored new horizons for American foreign policy. He established reciprocal and positive relationships with china and was first American president to visit communist China. It goes to the credit of Nixon that he not only developed commercial relations with Russia but also succeeded in signing the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty. This marked the beginning of steadier and constructive relations between the two super powers.

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[1] This term was first used by Arthur M. Schlesinger in his book ‘The Imperial Presidency’ in 1973.


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Imperial Presidency. (2017, May 19). Retrieved from

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