Welcome to Week 3 of civics class!
I hope you've enjoyed my first two posts in this series on the civics portion of the US citizenship test. I first discussed voting, and last week I discussed some questions related to early American history.
This week's theme is US Presidents. The President of the United States (POTUS) is considered the most powerful person in the world, partly because he is the Commander-in-Chief of the military, and has control over our weapons, including nuclear weapons. His power was established in Article II of the Constitution. The president is the leader of the Executive Branch, which has expanded over the years to include numerous executive agencies, such as the Department of the Treasury (which includes the US Mint and the IRS), the Department of Education, and the Department of Homeland Security (which includes USCIS).
There are several potential questions on the citizenship test about the specific powers of the president. Today, I'm just going to focus on some questions about the men who have held this office.
Question 11: What is the name of the President of the United States now?
Answer: Barack Obama
Keep in mind this answer will change in January, after the new president is inaugurated.
President Obama has been in office since January 20, 2009. He has served two terms as president, and will be replaced by the winner of this year's presidential election.
President Obama made history as the first African-American to serve as President of the United States. His notable accomplishments in office include passage of the Affordable Care Act (nicknamed "Obamacare") in 2010, which allowed millions of Americans to obtain health insurance. To find out if you qualify, go to healthcare.gov. In 2009, he passed an economic stimulus which helped the unemployment rate and boosted the economy. He led the "bail-out" of the US auto industry in 2009 and reformed Wall Street in 2010.
In terms of foreign policy, President Obama ended the war in Iraq, with the last troops leaving the country in December 2011. He also eliminated Osama bin Laden in 2011. Recently, he reopened the US Embassy in Cuba, which began the process of normalizing diplomatic relations between our two countries.
Question 12: Who was the first President?
Answer: George Washington
As I discussed last week, George Washington is considered the "father of our nation" because he was so instrumental in the founding of our country. A military general during the Revolutionary War, George Washington was elected president by a unanimous vote of the electoral college in 1789. He was reelected in 1792, and remains the only president in US history to receive all of the votes of the electoral college.
Question 13: Who was President during World War I?
Answer: Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson was president of the United States from 1913 to 1921. He first tried to keep the United States neutral during the war, which began in Europe in 1914. However, after Germany began using submarines to sink US ships in the Atlantic Ocean, and offered Mexico help in regaining territory that had become part of the United States in the famous Zimmermann Telegram, the United States entered World War I in April 1917.
After the end of the war, President Wilson made a famous speech called the "Fourteen Points", which laid out his vision of a peaceful world. He advocated for freedom of the seas, free trade, and the establishment of a "League of Nations". Although the United States never joined the League of Nations, this organization served as the inspiration for the United Nations, which was established in 1945 after World War II.
Question 14: Who was President during the Great Depression and World War II?
Answer: Franklin Roosevelt
The Great Depression began with the stock market crash of 1929 and threw the world into an economic decline that lasted for a full decade. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt ("FDR") came into office in 1933, he promised a "New Deal" to help get the country back on its feet. This New Deal included a number of government programs designed to provide jobs and boost the economy. The federal government hired many unemployed people to build bridges, dams, and roads. FDR also worked with farmers to raise the price of crops and adjust the amount of food produced. These programs greatly expanded the power of the executive branch, and many of FDR's policies had a lasting impact on the presidency that can still be seen today.
The United States attempted to remain neutral in World War II, which began in Europe in 1939. However, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan on December 7, 1941 ("a date which will live in infamy", according to President Roosevelt), the United States entered the war. President Roosevelt is the only president in US history to serve more than two terms; he was elected to a record fourth term in 1944. He saw the United States through almost all of World War II, which ended in Europe less than a month after his death in 1945.
Question 15: Before he was President, Eisenhower was a general. What war was he in?
Answer: World War II
President Eisenhower was in charge of the European forces during World War II. He was one of the world military leaders who orchestrated the Invasion of Normandy (beginning with the D-Day landings in June 1944) which eventually led to the Allied victory.
After the war ended, then General Eisenhower ultimately retired from the military and decided to run for president. He served from 1953 to 1961.