Transfer of Executive Power

November 23, 1960

Report Outline
Eisenhower-Nixon-Kennedy Cooperation
Major Problems in Transfer of Power
Evolution of New Policies on Transition
The Vice President and the Succession

Never before in an election-to-inauguration period have the outgoing and incoming administrations made so wholehearted an effort to work together for an orderly transfer of the federal executive power. Innovations introduced eight years ago when President-elect Eisenhower made ready to take over the duties of President Truman, appear to be evolving into a tradition of mutual effort above the level of partisan politics, to assure effective continuity of government.

The United States position of leadership in the world has made the two-and-a-half month “interregnum” between election and inauguration of a new Chief Executive a period of some anxiety. Attention at home and abroad inevitably turns toward the new source of American power in the figure of a President-elect who has not yet received the seals of office. The greatest hazard to the nation in this situation is eruption of a crisis somewhere on the globe that may require prompt executive action at a time when the incumbent President's power to take a bold course is diminished by his imminent departure from office. In the present case, however, there is considerably less dilution of the “lame-duck” President's authority than is usual, due to Eisenhower's continuing personal popularity and the almost even division of the popular vote in the Nov. 8 election.

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Eisenhower-Nixon-Kennedy Cooperation

President Eisenhower on the day after the 1960 election promised the full cooperation of himself and his official family to his elected successor in order to facilitate the transfer of authority. In a telegram to President-elect John F. Kennedy, he said: “I stand ready to meet with you at any mutually convenient time to consider problems of continuity of government and orderly transfer of executive responsibility on Jan. 20.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Executive Powers and the Presidency
Feb. 24, 2006  Presidential Power
Nov. 15, 2002  Presidential Power
Feb. 02, 2001  The Bush Presidency
Jun. 20, 1997  Line-Item Veto
Jun. 14, 1996  First Ladies
Oct. 21, 1988  Dangers in Presidential Transitions
Jun. 10, 1988  The Quandary of Being Vice President
Jan. 06, 1984  Presidential Advisory Commissions
Jul. 28, 1978  Presidential Popularity
Feb. 13, 1976  Evaluating Presidential Performance
Dec. 12, 1975  Presidential Protection
Jul. 11, 1973  Presidential Reorganization
Mar. 07, 1973  Presidential Accountability
Sep. 24, 1971  Presidential Diplomacy
Nov. 11, 1970  Vice Presidency
Oct. 02, 1968  Presidential Power
Mar. 14, 1966  War Powers of the President
Nov. 23, 1960  Transfer of Executive Power
Apr. 04, 1956  Vice Presidency
Oct. 15, 1952  Change of Presidents
Jun. 09, 1950  President and Mid-Term Elections
Oct. 20, 1948  Federal Patronage
Mar. 24, 1948  The South and the Presidency
Dec. 05, 1947  Military Leaders and the Presidency
Apr. 16, 1947  Veto Power of the President
Sep. 20, 1945  Succession to the Presidency
Sep. 12, 1940  The War Powers of the President
Feb. 11, 1938  Emergency Powers of the President
Jan. 06, 1938  The Power to Declare War
Dec. 28, 1937  Extension of the Veto Power
Dec. 28, 1936  Limitation of the President's Tenure
Mar. 12, 1935  The President and the Congress
Dec. 16, 1932  The Veto Power of the President
May 28, 1931  Presidential Commissions
Oct. 23, 1928  Presidential Appointments and the Senate
Mar. 21, 1928  Business Conditions in Presidential Years
Jan. 20, 1927  The Monroe Doctrine
Mar. 18, 1925  The President's Power of Appointment
Sep. 10, 1923  The President's Position on Patronage
Powers and History of the Presidency