President as Commander in Chief

In the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the founders decided to move the war-making power from the executive, where it was exercised in Britain, to Congress. Their fear was that a president with war-making powers could become a dictator, like Oliver Cromwell in England. The Constitution therefore divided the powers, making the president the commander in chief of the military forces and giving Congress the power to fund the military and “declare” war. It did not say to “make” war, for that would have hamstrung presidential efforts to repel an invasion before Congress would have a chance to meet. In American history, there have been formal declarations of war only in 1812, 1846, 1898, 1917, and 1941. Since 1964, major military interventions have been explicitly approved ...

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