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026 We elect a President for how many years?

26. We elect a President for how many years?
Four (4)

Many of the people who came to North America and later created the U.S. government had come from countries that had kings. Many of those kings had too
much power and they abused (or used in a bad way) their power, because they knew that they would be king for their entire life. That’s why, when it was time to create the new U.S. government, our Founding Fathers didn’t want to have any more kings, or even a president who acted like a king. They didn’t want anyone to be able to become president for the rest of his or her life, so they made a term of four years, meaning that a U.S. president can be president for four years and then has to be elected again.

But how many times can a president be re-elected? The original (or first and unchanged) Constitution didn’t say. Our first president, George Washington, was
president for two terms, or a total of eight years. Then he decided that he didn’t want to run for office (or try to be elected) again. When he did this, he set a precedent, or a way of doing things that other people followed. For many years, no other president ran for more than two terms. Presidents Ulysses Grant and Theodore Roosevelt tried to run for a third term, but they were unsuccessful. In 1940, however, President Franklin Roosevelt became the first president to be elected for a third term. Actually, he even won a fourth term and could have served for 16 years total, but he died in office early in his fourth term.

After he died, Congress (or the lawmaking part of the U.S. government) decided that it didn’t want anyone to be able to be president for more than two terms because it would give the president too much power. They created what would become the 22nd Constitutional Amendment (or a change or addition to the constitution), which states that no one can be elected to the office (or position) of president more than twice (or two times). The Amendment was created by Congress in 1947, and ratified (or approved) by the states in 1951.


to abuse – to use something in a bad way; to use too much of one's power
* The company's president abuses his position by making people do things that they wouldn't normally want to do.

term – the length of time that a person has a job
* How long is the superintendent's term?

original – first and unchanged; the form in which something was first created
* Is this the original building or was it rebuilt after the fire?

to run for office – to try to be elected to a public position; to try to get a public job through votes
* Would you ever consider running for office in your state?

precedent – something that was done in the past and is used as a reason for doing things the same way later
* I hope Donna doesn’t set a precedent for the rest of us by working late every night without extra pay.

in office – while working in a public position
* What were his most important accomplishments in office?

amendment – a change or addition, especially to the U.S. Constitution
* Our client wanted to add three amendments to the contract before she signed it.

office – a public position; a public job
* Which job is more difficult, being the Secretary of State or the Secretary of the Treasury?