Preamble of the constitution of the United States of American!
We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility,provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”
THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER Francis Scott Key
Oh say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming, whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight, o‘er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming, and the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave O‘er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL
O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties, above the fruited plain!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea!O beautiful for patriot dream, That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam, Undimmed by human tears!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
Words by Katharine Lee Bates, 1859-1929
The year 1993 marked the 100th anniversary of the writing of this poem.
United States of America Government
Through the years, the men and women who have come to America have added their lives and cultures to enrich the country. They have helped to build America into the great country it has become.— “A government of the people, by the people and for the people” — a republican or representative government.
The Constitution provides for three branches in the National Government and tells in detail the powers of each branch.
- The Legislative Branch– This is the part of the government which makes the laws. It is called Congress and is made up of two houses or parts – the Senate and the House of Representatives, which meets in the United States Capitol, Washington, D.C.
- The Executive Branch– This branch of government is made up of the President and his Cabinet and other assistants. It is the responsibility of the President to see that the laws passed by Congress are executed or carried out. Because he is the head of our Nation and the chief of the executive branch of the government, he is called the Chief Executive.
- The Judicial Branch– This branch of government consists of the Supreme Court and a number of lower courts. The work of these courts is to interpret or explain the Constitution and the Federal laws. The Supreme Court also studies laws passed by Congress to see that they agree with the principles in the Constitution. People who do not obey the laws passed by Congress may be tried by the Federal Courts. If they are found guilty they are subject to penalty as set forth by law, such as fine or imprisonment, or both.
- These three branches of government act as checks and balances on each other so that not any one branch shall have too much power. They work together closely and smoothly to manage the National Government.
- The Constitution provides that the Legislative Branch, Congress, shall have two parts, a Senate and a House of Representatives. The Senate shall have two Senators from each State. Today there are 100 Senators. Each Senator is elected for six years. He must be at least 30 years old, a citizen of the United States for at least nine years and must live in the State that elects him.
- The number of Representatives of each State in Congress is determined by the population of the State, except that each State is entitled to one Representative regardless of population. A Representative is elected for two years. He must be 25 or more years old and must have been a citizen for at least seven years. He must live in the State that elects him.
- The Constitution provides that the President shall be elected for four years. No President shall be elected to office more than twice. He takes office January 20th of the year after the election. He must be a citizen of the United States by birth, at least 35 years old and have lived in the United States for 14 years. The President in not voted for by the people directly. Instead, the people in each State vote for Electors at the regular elections. These Electors, called the Electoral College, meet in their respective States and vote by ballot for a President and a Vice President. These ballots are sent to the United States Senate where they are counted. The President’s duties include those of Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the United States. Under the Constitution and by legislation, he negotiates treaties with other nations and appoints people to office. The Senate must approve all treaties and all appointments made by the President. When Congress passes a law, the President may veto it. That is, he says that he does not approve the law. If the Congress wishes, it may vote again on the law. If two-thirds of the members vote for it the second time, it becomes a law over the President’s veto.
- The Vice President must have the same qualifications as the President. If the President dies or is removed from office, the Vice President takes his place. If both the President and Vice President die or are removed from office, the Speaker of the House becomes President. The duty of the Vice President is to preside over the Senate.
- The President has a group of fourteen advisors called his Cabinet. They are appointed by the President but the appointments must be approved by the Senate.The Cabinet members are:
- Secretary of State
Secretary of the Treasury
Secretary of Defense
4. The Attorney General
5. Secretary of the Interior
6. Secretary of Agriculture
7. Secretary of Commerce
8. Secretary of Labor
9. Secretary of Health and Human Services
10. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
11. Secretary of Transportation
12. Secretary of Energy
13. Secretary of Education
14. Secretary of Veterans Affairs
- The Postal Service was created as an independent establishment of the executive branch by the Postal Reorganization Act approved August 12, 1970. The United States Postal Service commenced operations on July 1, 1971.
- The chief executive officer of the Postal Service, the Postmaster General, is appointed by the nine Governors of the Postal Service, who are appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, for overlapping nine-year terms. The nine Governors and the Postmaster General appoint the Deputy Postmaster General and these eleven people constitute the Board of Governors.
- The Constitution provides for one United States Supreme Court. This, the highest tribunal in the land, is composed of the Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices. The members of the Supreme Court are appointed for life by the President, and must be approved by the Senate. The decisions of the Supreme Court, which are by majority vote, cannot be appealed to any other court. They meet in Washington, D.C.
- The Constitution may be amended, or changed, by amendments. The Constitution itself tells how to do this: Either the Congress, whenever necessary, shall propose amendments, or, on the application of legislatures of the several States, shall call a convention for proposing amendments. In either case, such amendments, when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the States, become part of the Constitution.
- The Constitution now has 27 amendments.
- When the thirteen colonies declared their independence from Great Britain in 1776, they became independent States. For a time some of them continued their governments under their English charters. Others formed new governments under constitutions adopted by the people. New States have been admitted to the Union from time to time, each with its own constitution adopted by the people. The powers of State governments are also divided into legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
- The State Legislatures make the State laws. Each Legislature has two houses1which are usually named the Senate and the Assembly. The members of these Legislatures are elected by the people. Their terms of office vary in different States.
- The executive branch of State Government provides that the laws passed by the Legislature are enforced. The chief executive officer, the Governor, is elected by the people. His term varies from two to four years in different States.
- The judicial branch is composed of the State Courts. These Courts apply the laws to the cases which come before them. These Courts differ as to their names and the classes of cases which they consider. There are Courts in all the States which deal with crimes. Other Courts take care of only civil cases. There are higher Courts to which the people may carry cases on appeal.
- Each State has as much authority as every other State in the Union. It may be a new State, the population may be very small, but the State is as free to use its authority as the oldest or largest State. We live in a Union of States of equal rights. The States cannot destroy the Union and the National Government has no authority to destroy the States.
- LOCAL GOVERNMENT
- Self-government is one of the principles of American democracy. In order that the people may take active part in the government of their own community, each State is divided into counties. There are over 3,000 counties in the United States.
- Each county has its own government system which provides laws, courts of justice, and administration for local affairs, among which are police and fire protection, education, health, welfare and other programs of local service.
- Towns and cities are other forms of local government which function in much the same manner and for the same purposes as county governments. Towns and cities are formed where many people live in a particular area and demand more services than those provided in less populated sections. Towns, cities and counties form election districts in which the people elect local citizens to represent their communities in the State Assembly.
Every man and woman should be proud to know that he or she has a share in the government of his community. Each one should try to prepare himself to take an honest, active part in the management of his town or city or county.1 One exception, Nebraska, is unicameral.