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The US is a constitutional republic and representative democracy. Our Government is regulated by a system of checks and balances defined by the US Constitution, which serves as the countrys supreme legal document. In the US, citizens are usually subject to three levels of government: federal, state, and local. The original text of the Constitution establishes the structure and responsibilities of the federal government and its relationship with the individual states. The Constitution has been amended 27 times, including the first 10 amendments, the Bill of Rights, which forms the central basis of Americans individual rights.
Preface To The Declaration Of Independence
The Declaration of Independence is generally regarded as one of the most famous documents in the history of the world. On June 10, 1776, the Continental Congress appointed a committee, consisting of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston to draft a Declaration of Independence.
Jefferson wrote out a rough draft of the Declaration, which was carefully revised by the committee and presented to Congress for adoption. After some further slight revisions by that body, it was adopted on July 4, 1776, at Philadelphia.
The parchment with the original signatures was deposited with the Department of State when the government was organized in 1789.
The original Declaration of Independence was transferred from the Department of State, by direction of the late President Warren G. Harding, to the Library of Congress. In 1952, at the direction of Congress, it was transferred to the National Archives Building, Washington, D.C., where it rests today.
Three Branches Of Government
Our federal government has three parts. They are the Executive, Legislative and Judicial .
The President of the United States administers the Executive Branch of our government. The President enforces the laws that the Legislative Branch makes. The President is elected by United States citizens, 18 years of age and older, who vote in the presidential elections in their states. These votes are tallied by states and form the Electoral College system. States have the number of electoral votes which equal the number of senators and representatives they have. It is possible to have the most popular votes throughout the nation and NOT win the electoral vote of the Electoral College.
The Legislative part of our government is called Congress. Congress makes our laws. Congress is divided into 2 parts. One part is called the Senate. There are 100 Senators–2 from each of our states. Another part is called the House of Representatives. Representatives meet together to discuss ideas and decide if these ideas should become laws. There are 435 Representatives. The number of representatives each state gets is determined by its population. Some states have just 2 representatives. Others have as many as 40. Both senators and representatives are elected by the eligible voters in their states.
All three parts of our federal government have their main headquarters in the city of Washington D.C.
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Confirmation Process For Judges And Justices
Appointments for Supreme Court Justices and other federal judgeships follow the same basic process:
- The president nominates a person to fill a vacant judgeship.
- The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on the nominee and votes on whether to forward the nomination to the full Senate.
- If the nomination moves forward, the Senate can debate the nomination. Debate must end before the Senate can vote on whether to confirm the nominee. A Senator will request unanimous consent to end the debate, but any Senator can refuse.
- Without unanimous consent, the Senate must pass a cloture motion to end the debate. It takes a simple majority of votes51 if all 100 Senators voteto pass cloture and end debate about a federal judicial nominee.
- Once the debate ends, the Senate votes on confirmation. The nominee for Supreme Court or any other federal judgeship needs a simple majority of votes51 if all 100 Senators voteto be confirmed.
Cabinet Executive Departments And Agencies
The daily enforcement and administration of federal laws is in the hands of the various federal executive departments, created by Congress to deal with specific areas of national and international affairs. The heads of the 15 departments, chosen by the president and approved with the “advice and consent” of the U.S. Senate, form a council of advisers generally known as the president’s “Cabinet”. Once confirmed, these “cabinet officers” serve at the pleasure of the president. In addition to departments, a number of staff organizations are grouped into the Executive Office of the President. These include the White House staff, the National Security Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the Council of Economic Advisers, the Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The employees in these United States government agencies are called federal civil servants.
The Judiciary, under Article III of the Constitution, explains and applies the laws. This branch does this by hearing and eventually making decisions on various legal cases.
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Questions About Government In The United States Answered
The curation of this content is at the discretion of the author, and not necessarily reflective of the views of Encyclopaedia Britannica or its editorial staff. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, consult individual encyclopedia entries about the topics.
The people of the United States live under a variety of governmentsthe federal government, state governments, and local governmentsall with their own powers and responsibilities. This list answers 14 questions about how these governments work.
Earlier versions of these questions and answers first appeared in the second edition of The Handy Answer Book for Kids
What Type Of Government Is The Us Exactly
To be very specific, the United States could be defined as a federal constitutional representative democracy. You might also call it a federal constitutional republic. Lets break those terms down.
Constitutional: Our system of government is considered constitutional, because the power exercised by the people and their representatives is bound by the constitution and the broader rule of law.
Federal: Our government is also a federal system, since power is shared between a national government, representing the entire populace, and regional and local governments.
These two terms can come in handy when you want to get really exact with your description. Its accurate to call our government a federal constitutional republic or a federal constitutional democracy, but its probably overkill to be that specific. These terms just help us further define our governmental structure, especially when comparing the United States to other countries.
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What Happens When A Person Breaks The Law
Laws are enforced by the courts and the judicial system. If someone breaks a law or a business or organization does something illegal, they go to the judicial branch of government for review of their actions. The judicial branch is made up of different courts. The court leader, or judge, interprets the meaning of laws, how they are applied, and whether they break the rules of the Constitution. If a person or group is found guilty of breaking a law, the judicial system decides how they should be punished.
Benefits Of Capitalism In The United States
Private ownership of businesses is as much important as those run by the government. In capitalism, private corporations play a major role when it comes to generating profits. It creates competition between local industries that enhances the quality of goods and services being provided to the public. When such corporations generate revenues, other players also enter the competition to gain their respective market share. As the competition between companies grows, the prices of goods also drop significantly which expands the consumer base.
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Section 13 The Declaration Of Independence
In 1776 the Declaration of Independence announced the independence of the 13 colonies from Great Britain. This was because, according to the Declaration, humans are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, especially life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and Great Britain was not respecting the rights of the colonists. The Declaration explains that the very purpose of government is to protect these rights. Furthermore, it says that the people have the right to alter or abolish governments to protect these rights, and even to rebel against a government that systematically and consistently violated the peoples rights.Most of the Declaration of Independence is a list of these abuses by the British government and the British refusal to correct them. This sustained refusal is why the colonists concluded that they were justified in turning to rebellion, as a last resort, in order to create new governments that would protect their rights.”
Bpolitical Pluralism And Participation
|Do the people have the right to organize in different political parties or other competitive political groupings of their choice, and is the system free of undue obstacles to the rise and fall of these competing parties or groupings?||4.0044.004|
The intensely competitive US political environment is dominated by two major parties: the Republicans on the right and the left-leaning Democrats. The countrys prevailing first past the post or majoritarian electoral system discourages the emergence of additional parties, as do a number of specific legal and practical hurdles. The two parties primary elections allow for a broad array of views and candidates to enter the political system, although those in many states exclude unaffiliated voters from this important stage of the electoral process. The 2020 primaries and general elections featured participation by ideologically diverse candidates across the country a similar pattern characterized balloting in the set of states and localities that held elections during 2021.
|Is there a realistic opportunity for the opposition to increase its support or gain power through elections?||4.0044.004|
|Are the peoples political choices free from domination by forces that are external to the political sphere, or by political forces that employ extrapolitical means?||2.0024.004|
|Do various segments of the population have full political rights and electoral opportunities?||3.0034.004|
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Not Worth A Continental
During the American Revolution the Continental Congress issued paper currency to finance the Revolutionary War. These notes, called Continentals, had no backing in gold or silver, but were instead backed by the anticipation of tax revenues. Easily counterfeited and without solid backing, the notes quickly lost their value, so that the term not worth a Continental became common slang. After the war Congress and the state governments continued to produce money contributing to what Madison referred to as the mortal diseases of the government under the Articles of Confederation and resulting in calls for a new federal constitution to strengthen the national government.
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United States Continental Congress. Paper currency, 17751777. Printed by Hall and Sellers Rhode Island. Paper Currency, 1786. Printed by Southwick and Barber. Marian Carson Collection, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
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What Type Of Government Does America Have
The government of the United States of America is a constitutional federal republic. It functions as a democracy and a republic because citizens elect individuals to represent them, and a majority vote determines laws.
The U.S. Constitution The foundation of the United States government is the U.S. Constitution. This document was written in 1787, and specifies the powers and limitations of each branch of the government, as well as the rights of citizens. It opens with 10 amendments called The Bill of Rights, designed to protect the freedom of citizens from an overreaching government. Rights granted here include the freedoms of religion, speech, press and assembly, the right to a speedy trial, protection against unreasonable search and seizure and the right to due process in the court system. After the Bill of Rights are additions to the Constitution. These amendments outline the powers of the three branches of government, define citizenship, give women the right to vote and establish term limits for the president. Changing the Constitution requires a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of Congress.
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What Is A Town Meeting
The town meeting is one aspect of local government that still exists today, after having been created in the early years of the United States. At least once a year the registered voters of the town meet in open session to elect officers, debate local issues, and pass laws for operating a government. As a group, or body, they decide on road construction and repair, construction of public buildings and facilities , tax rates, and the town budget. Having existed for more than two centuries, the town meeting is often called the purest form of direct democracy because governmental power is not delegated but instead exercised directly by the people. However, town meetings cannot be found in every area of the United States. They are mostly conducted in the small towns of New England, where the first colonies were established.
Congress Adopts The Northwest Ordinance
The Northwest Ordinance, adopted by the Confederation Congress on July 13, 1787, established a precedent for the organization of territories outside of the nationâs original thirteen states. A minimum of five territories or states were to be created. Each was to have a republican government with an executive, legislative council , assembly, and judiciary. Not only was the territory north and west of the Ohio River to be settled by Americans and admitted into full statehood in the union, but the Ordinance stipulated that those territories would be free from slavery or involuntary servitude and have a bill of rights.
United States Continental Congress. Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the U.S. Northwest of the Ohio. New York, 1787. Broadside. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress
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Executive Office Of The President
Every day, the President of the United States is faced with scores of decisions, each with important consequences for Americas future. To provide the President with the support that he or she needs to govern effectively, the Executive Office of the President was created in 1939 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The EOP has responsibility for tasks ranging from communicating the Presidents message to the American people to promoting our trade interests abroad.
The EOP, overseen by the White House Chief of Staff, has traditionally been home to many of the Presidents closest advisers. While Senate confirmation is required for some advisers, such as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, most are appointed with full Presidential discretion. The individual offices that these advisors oversee have grown in size and number since the EOP was created. Some were formed by Congress, others as the President has needed them they are constantly shifting as each President identifies his or her needs and priorities. Perhaps the most visible parts of the EOP are the White House Communications Office and Press Secretarys Office. The Press Secretary provides daily briefings for the media on the Presidents activities and agenda. Less visible to most Americans is the National Security Council, which advises the President on foreign policy, intelligence, and national security.
Articles Of Confederation 17771781
The Articles of Confederation served as the written document that established the functions of the national government of the United States after it declared independence from Great Britain. It established a weak central government that mostly, but not entirely, prevented the individual states from conducting their own foreign diplomacy.
The Albany Plan an earlier, pre-independence attempt at joining the colonies into a larger union, had failed in part because the individual colonies were concerned about losing power to another central insitution. As the American Revolution gained momentum, however, many political leaders saw the advantages of a centralized government that could coordinate the Revolutionary War. In June of 1775, the New York provincial Congress sent a plan of union to the Continental Congress, which, like the Albany Plan, continued to recognize the authority of the British Crown.
Some Continental Congress delegates had also informally discussed plans for a more permanent union than the Continental Congress, whose status was temporary. Benjamin Franklin had drawn up a plan for Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. While some delegates, such as Thomas Jefferson, supported Franklins proposal, many others were strongly opposed. Franklin introduced his plan before Congress on July 21, but stated that it should be viewed as a draft for when Congress was interested in reaching a more formal proposal. Congress tabled the plan.
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National Crises Contribute To Shifting Views
Even more important, in my view, was the succession of national emergencies that struck the country between 1914 and 1945, and to a lesser degree during the postwar era as well. Clearly the world wars and the Great Depression had the greatest impact, although the period from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s also witnessed many significant events. How did these crises contribute to shifting American views about the proper role of government in economic life?
In brief, the process worked as follows. First, each crisis gave rise to public clamor that the government do something. In the post-Progressive era, no government wished, nor could rulers expect to prosper politically if they chose, to keep their hands off the economy when a problem of overriding public concern had arisen. So, whether to prosecute a war or to alleviate a depression or to suppress a great labor upheaval, the government adopted interventionist policies to deal with the crisis.
Any government policy entails costs. The greater the costs, the less willing the public is to support the policy. Hence governments face a hard choice: on the one hand they cannot just stand by, because the public demands that they act on the other hand, any policy they adopt is subject to the law of demand, which means that, in the extreme, the public will reject a government that imposes unbearably large sacrifices on the citizenry. How can the government get off the horns of this dilemma?