The Kitchen Cabinet was an informal group of unofficial advisers that U.S. Presiden Andrew Jackson consulted along with his official Cabinet . After most of Jackson’s cabinet resigned in the wake of the Eaton Affair the role of the Kitchen Cabinet was much diminished.
A kitchen cabinent is distiguished from an official cabinet, which dates back to the beginnings of the United States presidency and has its roots in Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution . In the United States the official cabinent is made up of various deparment heads (e.g., the Secretary of Labor, the head of the Labor Department) who advise the president regarding matters relating to the jurisdiction of their respective departments. These are official positions and their advice is usually a matter of public record.
From this use of the term “cabinet” the colloquial phrase “kitchen cabinet” emerged to refer to a similar advisory role of trusted friends and associates. In America informal gatherings tend to be around the kitchen table, thus we have the image of the President retreating to the kitchen with his trusted friends to freely discuss matters of national interest confident that the dialogue was off the record. This serves an important role in the Presidency as the office tends to isolate the man, and the kitchen cabinet is one of the few places where he can gain perspective among people who knew him before he became the head of state.
The phrase is used informally in modern times in reference to a President’s or presidential candidate’s closest unofficial advisers, who would often share drinks while discussing business.
The term has been adopted in recent years by those in British politics as a term of abuse for the way in which British Prime Ministers (especially Tony Blair ) have sidelined the traditional democratic cabinet structures to rely far more on a close group of non-elected advisors and allies. Traditionally, the role of creation of education policy would have rested on the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when formulating policy.
The Black Cabinet was first known as the Office of Negro Affairs , an informal group of African American public policy advisors to United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt . By mid-1935 there were 45 African Americans working in federal executive departments and New Deal agencies.