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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 Parliament 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 minister, 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 State; the Treasury; Defense; Justice; the Interior; Agriculture; Commerce; Labor; Health and Human Services; Housing and Urban Development; Transportation; Energy; Education; Veterans Affairs; and Homeland Security.
See J. E. Cohen, The Politics of the U.S. Cabinet (1988).
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.
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).