United States Government
United States of America is a constitution-based federal
republic, with a strong democratic tradition.
Founding Fathers, the framers of the Constitution,
wanted to form a government that did not allow one person
to have too much authority or control. While under the rule
of the British king they learned that this could be a bad
system. Yet government under the Articles
of Confederation taught them that there was a need
for a strong centralized government.
this in mind the framers wrote the Constitution to provide
for a separation of powers, or
three separate branches of government. Each has its own responsibilities
and at the same time they work together to make the country
run smoothly and to assure that the rights of citizens are
not ignored or disallowed. This is done through checks and
balances. A branch may use its powers to check the powers of
the other two in order to maintain a balance of power among
the three branches of government.
of Confederation -- The first constitution of the
13 American states, adopted in 1781.
It was later replaced in 1789 by the Constitution of the United States.
and balances -- Limits imposed
on all branches of government by giving each the right
to amend acts of the other branches.
The system of fundamental laws and principles that prescribes
the nature, functions, and limits of a government or another
Constitution - The
document in which such a system is recorded. The fundamental
law of the United States, framed in 1787, ratified in 1789,
and variously amended since then.
Of, characterized by, or advocating democracy: democratic government;
a democratic union.
Government by the people, exercised either directly or through
elected representatives. The common people, considered as the
primary source of political power. Majority rule.The principles
of social equality and respect for the individual within a
Fathers -- The delegates to the Constitutional Convention
in Philadelphia in 1787.
of powers -- The system of dividing the powers and
duties of a government into different branches.
Branches of Federal Government
three Branches of the U.S. Government are the Executive Branch,
the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch.
The executive branch of Government makes
sure that the laws of the United States are obeyed. The President of the United States is the head of the executive
branch of government. This branch is very large, so the President
gets help from the Vice President, department heads (Cabinet
members), and heads of independent agencies.
the Leader of the country and commands the military. He is
both the chief of state and head of government.
President is President of the Senate and becomes
President if the President can no longer do the job.
Members are Department heads who advise the
President on issues and help carry out policies. The Cabinet
Members are appointed by the president with Senate approval.
Agencies help carry out policy or provide special
for president and vice president
The president and vice president are elected on the same ticket by a college
of representatives who are elected directly from each state. The president
and vice president serve four-year terms.
legislative branch of government is made up of the Congress and
government agencies, such as the Government Printing Office and
Library of Congress, that provide assistance to and support services
for the Congress. Article I of the Constitution established this
branch and gave Congress the power to make laws. Congress has
two parts, the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Congress consists of the Senate and
way that states are represented in the House and the
Senate is different. When the Founding Fathers were
drafting the Constitution, there were debates over how states
would be represented. States with larger populations wanted more
representation than states with smaller populations. Meanwhile,
states with smaller populations favored equal representation.
So, a compromise was made -- Representation in the Senate would
be equal, while representation in the House would be based on
Senate has 100 seats, and the House of Representatives has 435
Composed of or based on two legislative chambers or branches:
a bicameral legislature.
meets once every year at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
The session is usually from January 3rd to July 31st, but in
special cases, can last longer. Each Congress lasts for two
years, so every two years new Members of Congress are elected.
duty is to write, debate, and pass bills,
which are then passed on to the President for approval.
Powers of Congress
Makes laws controlling trade between states and
Makes laws controlling trade between the United States and other countries
Makes laws about taxes and borrowing money
Approves the making of money
Can declare war on other countries
The judicial branch of government is made up of the
court system. The Supreme
Court is the highest court in the land. Article
III of the Constitution established this Court, and all other
Federal courts were created by Congress. Courts decide arguments
about the meaning of laws, how they are applied, and whether
the laws break the rules of the Constitution.
Court - 9 justices, appointed for life by the president with
confirmation by the Senate
States Courts of Appeal
States District Courts
and County Courts
United States is comprised of 50 States, Territories, and Possessions