Tag Archives: executive order

True/False: The Last Time A President Signed Executive Orders Less Often Than Obama Was in the 1800s

In recent months, right-wing media outlets have been pushing the narrative of Obama as a dictator who simply signs an executive order whenever he can’t get Congress to do what he wants.

I disagree with plenty of Obama’s politics, but I decided to look into the numbers for myself. Here’s what I found, courtesy of The American Presidency Project at the University of California- Santa Barbara:

executive orders

The first column of numbers shows total executive orders. As of now, Obama is at 182. Since 1900, only two presidents, Gerald Ford (169) and George Bush senior (166) have signed less total executive orders. However, both of them only served one term.

The second column of numbers shows average executive orders signed per year. Obama is currently at 33.58 orders per year.

That’s lower than both Bush Sr. (31.5) and Gerald Ford (68.92). Both were conservatives who advocated small-government.

In fact, it’s lower than any president since Grover Cleveland was in the White House from 1885-1889. He averaged 28.25 executive orders per year during that time (he averaged 35 during his second term from 1893-1897).

If you want to attack Obama’s executive orders, attack their content, not their numbers. You can check them out on whitehouse.gov here.

NOTE: A number of websites seeking to take advantage of the executive order myth (like Western Journalism and Four Winds 10) have posted lists of Obama’s worst executive orders.

The problem is, the orders they list are from 10990-11921. That means they were signed by John F. Kennedy during the Cold War.

Obama’s first order was #13489. While some people claimed this order was essentially a sealing of his records (so nobody could check his birth certificate), it was pretty much the opposite.

It rescinded executive order 13233 (signed by George W. Bush) which let former presidents and even their family members declare “executive privilege” to block public access to White House records for pretty much any reason.

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On this Day in History: 1863- Lincoln Signs Emancipation Proclamation

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln put his signature on the Emancipation Proclamation. Many people believe that the Proclamation was a law abolishing slavery, but in fact it was not.

The Proclamation was actually just an executive order that proclaimed the freedom of the slaves in the remaining 10 Confederate states. It did not outlaw slavery or make the freed slaves citizens, although it did allow them to join the Union Army.

It is estimated that only 20,000 to 50,000 slaves (those in areas where the rebellion had already been subdued) were freed immediately, as the Proclamation was unenforceable in the remaining Confederate states. It took a number of years before the last of the estimated 4 million slaves were freed.

Click on the image of the full Proclamation below to view the full size version.