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  Presidential Proclamations

  Washington - Obama

The Power to Proclaim ... by Brandon Rottinghaus, University of Houston
Brandon RottinghausA presidential proclamation is “an instrument that states a condition, declares a law and requires obedience, recognizes an event or triggers the implementation of a law (by recognizing that the circumstances in law have been realized)” (Cooper 2002, 116). In short, presidents “define” situations or conditions on situations that become legal or economic truth. These orders carry the same force of law as executive orders – the difference between the two is that executive orders are aimed at those inside government while proclamations are aimed at those outside government. The administrative weight of these proclamations is upheld because they are often specifically authorized by congressional statute, making them “delegated unilateral powers.” Presidential proclamations are often dismissed as a practical presidential tool for policy making because of the perception of proclamations as largely ceremonial or symbolic in nature. However, the legal weight of presidential proclamations suggests their importance to presidential governance. - click to continue reading this research note
President Date Title
Abraham Lincoln January 1, 1863 Proclamation 95 - Regarding the Status of Slaves in States Engaged in Rebellion Against the United States [Emancipation Proclamation]
Abraham Lincoln February 28, 1863 Proclamation 96 - Convening the Senate
Abraham Lincoln March 10, 1863 Proclamation - Recalling Soldiers to Their Regiments
Abraham Lincoln March 30, 1863 Proclamation 97 - Appointing a Day of National Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer
Abraham Lincoln April 2, 1863 Proclamation 98 - Suspension of Commercial Trade with Certain States in Rebellion
Abraham Lincoln April 16, 1863 Proclamation 99 - Repudiation of an Agreement with Bernard Kock
Abraham Lincoln April 20, 1863 Proclamation 100 - Admitting West Virginia Into the Union
Abraham Lincoln May 8, 1863 Proclamation 101 - Enrollment of Aliens for Military Duty
Abraham Lincoln June 15, 1863 Proclamation 102 - Call for 100,000 Militia to Serve for Six Months
Abraham Lincoln July 15, 1863 Proclamation 103 - Day of Thanksgiving, Praise, and Prayer, August 6, 1863
Abraham Lincoln September 15, 1863 Proclamation 104 - Suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus Throughout the United States
Abraham Lincoln September 24, 1863 Proclamation 105 - Raising the Blockade of Alexandria, Virginia
Abraham Lincoln October 3, 1863 Proclamation 106 - Thanksgiving Day, 1863
Abraham Lincoln October 17, 1863 Proclamation 107 - Call for 300,000 Volunteers
Abraham Lincoln December 8, 1863 Proclamation 108 - Amnesty and Reconstruction
Abraham Lincoln December 16, 1863 Proclamation 109 - Suspension of Discriminating Duties on Tonnage and Goods Entering the United States on Vessels of Nicaragua

Presidential proclamations do have important political and historical consequences in the development of the United States, including President Washington’s Proclamation of Neutrality in 1793 and President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

Other more recent policy-based proclamations have also made a substantial impact on economic and domestic policy, including President Clinton’s declaration of federal lands for national monuments and President Bush’s declaration of the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina as disaster areas.

Proclamations are also used, often contentiously, to grant presidential pardons, particularly important for President Ford who pardoned President Richard Nixon and President Carter draft evaders in Vietnam..

Although less significant in terms of public policy, proclamations are also used ceremonially by presidents to honor a group or situation or to call attention to certain issues or events. For instance, President George H.W. Bush issued a proclamation to honor veterans of World War II and President Reagan called attention to the health of the nation’s eyes by proclaiming a “Save Your Vision Week”.

Brandon Rottinghaus
University of Houston

Cooper, Phillip J. 2002. By Order of the President: The Use and Abuse of Executive Direct Action. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press.

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