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cabinet,

group of advisers to the head of the state who themselves are usually the heads of the administrative government departments. The nature of the cabinet differs widely in various countries. In Great Britain, where the cabinet system originated, it was at first a committee of the privy council and rose to its modern status only after the sovereignty of ParliamentParliament,
legislative assembly of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Over the centuries it has become more than a legislative body; it is the sovereign power of Great Britain, whereas the monarch remains sovereign in name only.
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 had been established by the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the gradual emergence of party government in the 18th cent. The British cabinet is a body of ministers drawn from the party that possesses a majority in the House of Commons; it is responsible to the Commons for the conduct of the administration. The cabinet is chosen by the prime ministerprime minister
or premier,
chief member of the cabinet in a parliamentary system of government. The prime minister is head of the government, in contrast with the head of state, who may be a constitutional monarch, as in Great Britain, or an elected official, as in the
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, who is guided by the necessity of choosing a group that will represent the disparate elements in his party. The defeat in the Commons of an important ministerial measure or a general election adverse to the government results in the fall of the cabinet. In continental European countries, where the two-party system is not the rule, the coalition cabinet is more common. Cabinet members need not be selected from the majority party nor necessarily from the legislature, and they may speak in either house of the legislature.

The U.S. cabinet was not specifically established by the Constitution; it evolved through custom and is now defined by statute law. The members of the cabinet are not members of either house of Congress and are responsible, individually and not as a body, to the president, who appoints them with the approval of the Senate and may remove them at will. The cabinet member may not address Congress but may be called as a witness before congressional committees. As an advisory body, the U.S. cabinet is generally a weak institution and is often overshadowed by a strong president and his staff. The first cabinet appointments (1789) were the secretaries of State, the Treasury, and War. Since then the size and composition of the cabinet has varied considerably. Presently the 15 executive departments whose heads sit in the cabinet are the departments of StateState, United States Department of,
executive department of the federal government responsible, under the President's direction, for the making and execution of American foreign policy.
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; the TreasuryTreasury, United States Department of the,
federal executive department established in 1789. It is charged with advising the president on fiscal policy and acting as fiscal agent for the federal government.
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; DefenseDefense, United States Department of,
executive department of the federal government charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government relating directly to national security and military affairs.
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; JusticeJustice, United States Department of,
federal executive department established in 1870 and charged with providing the means for enforcing federal laws, furnishing legal counsel in federal cases, and construing the laws under which other federal executive departments act.
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; the InteriorInterior, United States Department of the,
federal executive department established in 1849, delegated custodian of U.S. natural resources, and whose head, the Secretary of the Interior, has cabinet rank.
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; AgricultureAgriculture, United States Department of,
federal executive department established in 1862, whose head was made a cabinet member in 1889. The department administers federal programs related to food production and rural life.
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; CommerceCommerce, United States Department of,
federal executive department charged with promoting U.S. economic development and technological advancement. In Feb., 1903, the Congress established a Department of Commerce and Labor empowered to investigate and report upon the operations
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; LaborLabor, United States Department of,
federal executive department established in 1913 and charged with administering and enforcing statutes that promote the welfare of U.S. wage earners, improve their working conditions, and advance their opportunities for profitable employment.
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; Health and Human ServicesHealth and Human Services, United States Department of,
federal executive department charged with administering government health programs. Successor to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, which had been created in 1953, it was redesignated in 1979 with the
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; Housing and Urban DevelopmentHousing and Urban Development, United States Department of
(HUD), established 1965 to coordinate and administer programs that provide assistance for housing and community development.
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; TransportationTransportation, United States Department of,
executive department of the U.S. government, established by the Department of Transportation Act of 1966. Its chief executive officer, the secretary, is a member of the president's cabinet.
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; EnergyEnergy, United States Department of,
executive department of the federal government responsible for coordinating national activities relating to the production, regulation, marketing, and conservation of energy.
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; EducationEducation, United States Department of,
executive department of the federal government responsible for advising on educational plans and policies, providing assistance for education, and carrying out educational research.
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; Veterans AffairsVeterans Affairs, United States Department of,
federal executive department established to operate programs to benefit veterans and their families. The department was established in 1989; its predecessor was an independent agency, the Veterans Administration, which had been
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; and Homeland Security.

Bibliography

See J. E. Cohen, The Politics of the U.S. Cabinet (1988).

Cabinet

A built-in or freestanding piece of furniture fitted with drawers and/or shelves, typically behind one or a pair of doors.
Enlarge picture
Bill Grant, director of the Findhorn Community in 1999. Courtesy Fortean Picture Library.

Cabinet

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The enclosed space in which a Spiritualist medium works is known as the cabinet. This can be anything from a carefully constructed wooden structure (as was used by the Davenport Brothers) to a simple curtained-off corner of a room. Most mediums favor the latter. According to mediums, the cabinet is necessary in order to condense the psychic energy needed for séance room manifestations. Hereward Carrington compared it to a battery cell that could be charged. The medium usually sits outside the cabinet, though some few do sit inside. The curtains may be dark or light in color; it seems to make no difference.

Some mediums, such as William Stainton Moses, and Daniel Dunglas Home, never used a cabinet. Eusapia Paladino was typical of those who, although they had a cabinet, sat outside it; about twelve inches away from the material of the cabinet. Materializations—such as a hand—emerged from the cabinet behind her. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle described the medium Eva C. using a cabinet that was “a small space shut in by curtains at the back and sides and top, but open in front.”

When Harry Houdini was investigating the medium Mina Crandon, he designed a special cabinet in which she could sit with only her head and hands visible. The second time this cabinet was used, Mina Crandon’s spirit guide, Walter, accused Houdini of placing incriminating evidence inside the cabinet, to be discovered after the séance. This was found to be a folding ruler. Houdini denied the charge and in turn accused Mina of planning to use the ruler to manipulate a small box. After Houdini’s death in 1926, an assistant of his confessed that he had placed the ruler there, on Houdini’s instructions.

The Davenport Brothers had a special cabinet made with three doors at the front and a bench inside, running the full length of the cabinet. The center door had a small diamond-shaped opening covered by a curtain, through which various phenomena could manifest. The Davenport Brothers performed at theaters and would allow audience members to examine the cabinet before the start of their performance. They would then sit astride the bench, facing one another, where they were securely tied so that they could not move. Within seconds of the doors being closed, rappings, musical sounds, and a wide variety of phenomena occurred. At the end of the show they were discovered still tightly bound.

Sources:

Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The History of Spiritualism. New York: Doran, 1926
Shepard, Leslie A: Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology. New York: Avon Books, 1978
Stemman, Roy: The Supernatural: Spirits and Spirit Worlds. London: Aldus, 1975

Cabinet

 

the official designation for the government in several foreign countries, including Great Britain, India, Zambia, Kenya, the United States, Tanzania, and Japan. It is headed by either a prime minister (Great Britain, India, and Japan) or a head of state, such as a president (USA, Zambia, Kenya, and Tanzania). In some countries, such as Great Britain and India, the cabinet does not include every member of the government; it consists only of the prime minister and the ministers heading the most important governmental offices (for example, the ministers of defense, foreign affairs, finance, and domestic affairs).

cabinet

1.A private room for study or conference.
2. A suite of rooms for exhibiting scientific and artistic curiosities.
3. A case or box-like assembly consisting of shelves, doors, and drawers and primarily used for storage.
4. An enclosure having a front hinged door or doors, for housing of electrical devices or conductor connections.
5. In French Vernacular architecture of Louisiana, one of two areas at the rear corners of a typical house; one was used for sleeping or storage, and the other used to house a stairwell.

cabinet

a. the executive and policy-making body of a country, consisting of all government ministers or just the senior ministers
b. an advisory council to a president, sovereign, governor, etc.
c. (as modifier): a cabinet reshuffle
References in classic literature ?
At last he remembered the conversation of the two Princes about the cabinets of the years, and that if he could manage to reach the oak tree, he would be certain to discover what had become of Rosalie.
But tonight there was a shudder in his blood; the face of Hyde sat heavy on his memory; he felt (what was rare with him) a nausea and distaste of life; and in the gloom of his spirits, he seemed to read a menace in the flickering of the firelight on the polished cabinets and the uneasy starting of the shadow on the roof.
There, on a table, surrounded at some distance by a large and luxurious divan, every species of tobacco known, -- from the yellow tobacco of Petersburg to the black of Sinai, and so on along the scale from Maryland and Porto-Rico, to Latakia, -- was exposed in pots of crackled earthenware of which the Dutch are so fond; beside them, in boxes of fragrant wood, were ranged, according to their size and quality, pueros, regalias, havanas, and manillas; and, in an open cabinet, a collection of German pipes, of chibouques, with their amber mouth-pieces ornamented with coral, and of narghiles, with their long tubes of morocco, awaiting the caprice or the sympathy of the smokers.
They had this melancholy retreat to themselves, and seated on the divan enclosing the central steam-radiator, they were staring silently at the glass cabinets mounted in ebonised wood which contained the recovered fragments of Ilium.
His friend talked for a moment about the superb portrait of Innocent X by Velasquez which hangs in one of the cabinets of the palace, and then said, "And in the same cabinet, by the way, I had the pleasure of contemplating a picture of a different kind-- that pretty American girl whom you pointed out to me last week.
The double doors are in the middle of the back hall; and persons entering find in the corner to their right two tall file cabinets at right angles to one another against the walls.
Standing all around the clearing were a good many cookstoves, ranges and grills, of all sizes and shapes, and besides these there were several kitchen cabinets and cupboards and a few kitchen tables.
Also there were several tables with mirror tops and cabinets filled with rare and curious things.
The house of his rival was quite open to view; a garden exposed to the sun; cabinets with glass walls, shelves, cupboards, boxes, and ticketed pigeon-holes, which could easily be surveyed by the telescope.
A fresh shower of office chairs and filing cabinets descended.
The ample heavy folds of the velvet left just room at the two corners of the wall for two little upright cabinets in buhl, containing rows of drawers, and supporting two fine bronze productions (reduced in size) of the Venus Milo and the Venus Callipyge.
He is fitted to deal with the political filibusters of other cabinets, and it would be a pity therefore to employ him on our internal detective police.