How The United States Government Works

Last Updated on February 14, 2024.

When the American Revolution was over, the colonies needed to create a new plan for organizing their government.

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This called this plan the “Articles of Confederation,” which allowed the states to act as separate countries, but it wasn’t long before they started to disagree on many things.

1. The legislative branch is headed by the U.S. President

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2. The legislative branch is formed by the U.S. Congress. Congress consists of

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This lesson is provided by Onsego GED Prep.

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This lesson is a part of our GED Social Studies Guide

Video Transcription

Then, in 1787, the state delegates started to work on creating a new form of government. This better and new plan was the “United States Constitution.” This plan was describing a system where the federal government shared power with the states.

The U.S. federal government has the power to come up with decisions that would affect the entire nation. It has the power to print money, make treaties with other nations, control the nation’s military, and tax its citizens.

States have the power to establish state governments as well as local governments, come up with state laws, and elect the state’s officials. States can set up their own courts and raise revenue through taxation of the state’s residents.

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Some states didn’t want to sign this Constitution unless U.S. citizens’ rights would be added. Consequently, the Bill of Rights was born. The Bill of Rights is protecting rights such as the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the freedom of the press.

Sharing Power

The U.S. Constitution is dividing the federal government into 3 (three) branches:

The legislative branch is formed by the U.S. Congress. It is making our nation’s laws.

The executive branch is headed by the U.S. President and carries out the nation’s laws.

The judicial branch is there to settle disagreements about the nation’s laws.

Each of the three branches has the power to check, or hold back, the other two branches’ choices.

This is the system that we call “checks and balances.” It divides the power equally over the three branches.

In Congress, politicians are representing the voters. They are working on getting laws passed that are representing their voters’ ideas.

Congress consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

In all states, the voters elect two (2) senators, and senators serve for six (6) years.

State voters will also elect their representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The state’s number of representatives depends on the population. For example, Florida has 25 representatives, and all representatives will serve for two (2) years.