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10 of the Most Consequential Executive Orders and Proclamations in Presidential History

Executive orders aren’t mentioned once in the U.S. Constitution, but presidents starting with George Washington have used executive orders and proclamations in order to bypass Congress and quickly exercise the independent power of their office.

Franklin D. Roosevelt is the undisputed king of the executive order, issuing 3,721 of these signed and published directives during his 12 years in office. (Most presidents issued a few hundred or less.) In recent decades, newly inaugurated presidents sign a flurry of executive orders to reverse the policies of their predecessors; but while they have the force of law and must be carried out, few have a lasting impact. Here are at least 10 executive orders that altered the course of history and changed the fabric of American life.

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