Federal government of the United States

U.S. Federal Government
Great Seal of the United States (obverse).svg
Great Seal of the United States
Quick Facts
GovernsUnited States of America
Executive Branch
Chosen ByU.S. Electoral College
HeadquartersThe White House
Judicial Branch
CourtSupreme Court
LocationWashington, D.C.
Legislative Branch
Meeting PlaceCapitol

The federal government of the United States has three branches of government: the legislature, executive, and judiciary, as established in the United States Constitution.

When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, they wanted to make sure that their new government would not have any of the problems that the colonial British government did.[1] For example, they did not want there to be any person in the government who had complete power and could do whatever he wanted, like a king. They also did not want any part of the government to get so powerful that nobody could control it. Because of this, they split the government's power into three different branches. Each branch has ways of balancing out the power of another branch if it gets too powerful. This is called the system of checks and balances.[1]

Executive branch

The executive branch is the part of the government that enforces the law. Members of the U.S. Electoral College elect a President, who is the leader of the executive branch. The President is also the leader of the Armed Forces.[2]

The north side of the White House, home and work place of the U.S. president

The President cannot make laws. This is a "check" on the President's power, so he cannot make laws to give himself more power. However, when the Legislative branch passes a law, the President can decide whether or not to veto the law. In this way, the President can "check" the power of the Legislature.[1]

The President may also make " executive orders" to make sure that people follow the law.[2] One famous executive order was President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.[3] Another was President Dwight D. Eisenhower's order to send 1,200 soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division to allow the Little Rock Nine into a school that refused to admit African American students.[4]

The President is in charge of many departments that control much of the day-to-day business of government. For example, the Department of Commerce makes rules about trade and business. The President chooses the heads of these departments, and also nominates judges at the federal (nation-wide) level.[2] However, the United States Senate, part of the legislative branch, must agree with all of the people the President chooses. This is another check on the President's power, so he cannot just fill these departments and courts with people that will always agree with him.[1]

The President may serve two 4-year terms, making 8 years in all. The purpose of this rule is to prevent a person from staying President for his whole life, like a king.[2]

Other Languages