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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
Grover Cleveland February 8, 1895 Proclamation 371 - Prohibiting the Hunting of Fur-Bearing Animals in the Alaska Territory
Grover Cleveland February 25, 1895 Proclamation 372 - Postponing Enforcement of the "Act to Adopt Regulations for Presenting Collisions at Sea"
Grover Cleveland May 16, 1895 Proclamation 373 - Opening to Settlement the Lands Acquired from the Yankton Tribe of Sioux or Dacota Indians
Grover Cleveland May 16, 1895 Proclamation 374 - Opening to Settlement the Lands of the Alsea and Other Indians Within the Silerz Reservation
Grover Cleveland May 18, 1895 Proclamation 375 - Opening to Settlement Certain Lands Within the Kickapoo Reservation, Oklahoma Territory
Grover Cleveland May 28, 1895 Proclamation 376 - Announcing the Death of Secretary of State Walter Q. Gresham
Grover Cleveland June 12, 1895 Proclamation 377 - Neutrality of Citizens of the United States in the Civil Disturbances in Cuba
Grover Cleveland July 10, 1895 Proclamation 378 - Copyright: Spain
Grover Cleveland November 4, 1895 Proclamation 379 - Thanksgiving Day, 1895
Grover Cleveland November 8, 1895 Proclamation 380 - Suspension of Meat Cattle Import Prohibition
Grover Cleveland November 8, 1895 Proclamation 381 - Opening of Nez Perce Indian Lands to Settlement, Idaho

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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