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The Constitution

The Constitution is built on six basic principles. These are deeply ingrained in the mindset and
landscape of US Government.

 Popular Sovereignty - This principle states that the source of governmental power lies
with the people.
 Limited Government - In other words, the US government does not derive its power from
itself. It must follow its own laws and it can only act using powers given to it by the
 Separation of Powers - As stated previously, the US Government is divided into three
branches so that no one branch has all the power. Each branch has its own purpose: to
make the laws, execute the laws, and interpret the laws.
 Checks and Balances - In order to further protect the citizens, the constitution set up a
system of checks and balances. Basically, each branch of government has a certain
number of checks it can use to ensure the other branches do not become too powerful.
 Judicial Review - This is a power that allows the Supreme Court to decide whether acts
and laws are unconstitutional.
 Federalism - This is the idea that the central government does not control all the power in
the nation. States also have powers reserved to them.
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The Executive Branch

The Executive Branch consists of:

 President of the United States

 Vice President of the United States
 The President’s Cabinet

The executive branch of government enforces the laws of the land.


The home of the Executive Branch is the White House.

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US President

PresidentSeal.jpg The Role of the President:

- Carries out and recommends federal laws

- Directs national defense and foreign policy
- Directs government
- Commands the Armed Forces
- Deals with international powers
- Vetoes laws

He serves as the Head of the Executive Branch of Government.

OvalOffice.jpg Requirements for the President

- Must be at least 35 years old

- Natural born U.S. citizen
- Must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years.

The President serves a term of four years.

The most one President can serve is two terms for a total of eight


The current President is Barack Obama

He is the 44th President of the United States

He is also the first black President of the United States

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US Vice President

Vpseal.jpg The Role of the Vice President:

- Helps the President execute the laws of the land

- Serves as the President of the Senate
- Becomes President if the President can no longer do the job

OvalOffice.jpg Requirements for the Vice President

- Must be at least 35 years old

- Natural born U.S. citizen
- Must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years.

The Vice President serves a term of four years.

The Vice President can run for President.


The current Vice President is Joseph Biden

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The Role of the Cabinet:

Meets at least once a week to discuss matters that affect the

United States

To become a secretary of a department:

You must be appointed by the President

Must be confirmed by a majority vote (51 votes) of the Senate

Cannot be a member of Congress or hold any other elected office

Cabinet appointments are for the duration of the administration

They are expected to resign when a new President takes office

The 2009 Cabinet consists of:

Department of State
Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton
Duties - Works with other countries

Department of the Treasury

Secretary Timothy F. Geithner
Duties - Supervises the collection of taxes and the printing of money

Department of Defense
Secretary Robert M. Gates
Duties - Oversees the armed forces

Department of Justice
Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Duties - Enforces the U.S. Government’s laws

Department of the Interior

Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar
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Duties - Protects natural resources and wildlife

Department of Agriculture
Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack
Duties - Ensures a healthy food supply and provides support for farmers

Department of Commerce
Secretary Gary F. Locke
Duties - Promotes business and job opportunities for all Americans, responsible for all
copyrights, patents, and trademarks; and oversees matters related to oceans, weather,
and technology
Department of Labor
Secretary Hilda L. Solis
Duties – Oversees the interests of U.S. workers

Department of Health and Human Services

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
Duties - Looks after people’s health and provides services including conducting medical
research, preventing diseases, assuring the safety of food and drugs; providing financial
assistance for low income families

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Secretary Shaun L.S. Donovan
Duties – Oversees housing needs and focuses on improving and developing communities

Department of Transportation
Secretary Ray LaHood
Duties – Oversees the nation’s transportation system including highways, railroads, ports,
and air travel

Department of Energy
Secretary Steven Chu
Duties – Researches and develops energy systems that are friendly to the environment
but are not too expensive

Department of Education
Secretary Arne Duncan
Duties – Establishes guidelines and provides leadership to address American education. It
helps local communities meet the needs of their students
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Department of Veterans Affairs

Secretary Eric K. Shinseki

Duties – Operates programs for veterans and their families

Department of Homeland Security

Secretary Janet A. Napolitano

Duties – Works to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America's
vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage from potential attacks and natural

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The Legislative Branch

The Legislative Branch consists of:

 Congress
 Government Agencies

Congress has two parts: House of Representatives and


The legislative branch of government makes the laws of the land.


The home of the Legislative Branch is the U.S. Capitol.

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House of Representatives

Houseofrepresentativesseal.jp Specific Role of the House of Representatives:

- Start laws that make people pay taxes.
- Decide if a government official should be put on trial
before the Senate if s/he commits a crime against the

House of Representatives

Representation of the House of Representatives is based on the population in

each state. There are a total of 435 representatives in the House. Each
Houseofrep_1.jpg member represents an area of the state known as a congressional district.
States with larger populations have more representation than states with
smaller populations.

Each representative serves a term of 2 years. When the term is over, people
from that state may choose to elect a new representative or keep the same
one. There is no limit on the number of terms a representative can serve.

Requirements for House of Representatives:

Be at least 25 years old Houseofrep_2.jpg

Be a U.S. citizen for the past 7 years

Live in the state they represent

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senateseal.jpg Specific Role of the Senate:

- Say yes or no to any treaties the president makes.

- Say yes or no to any people the president
recommends for jobs, such as cabinet officers, Supreme
Court justices, and ambassadors.
- Can hold a trial for a government official who does
something very wrong


Each of the 50 states sends 2 people to the Senate, so there are a total of
senate_1.jpg 100 senators. This means that each state has equal representation in the
Senate. Each senator serves a term of 6 years. When their 6 year term is
over, the people from that state may choose to elect a new senator or keep
the same one. There is no limit on the number of terms a senator can

Requirements for the Senate:

Be at least 30 years old

Be a U.S. citizen for the past 9 years

Live in the state they represent

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The Judicial Branch

The judicial branch is made of the court system.

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United


The judicial branch of government interprets the laws of the land.


The home of the Judicial Branch is the Supreme Court.

Supreme Supreme
court_2.jpg court_3.jpg

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Supreme Court

The Role of the Courts:

court_4.jpg Decide arguments about the meaning of laws, how they are applied,
and whether they break the rules of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court hears cases that made its way through the court system. Supreme
Only about 80 to 100 cases are actually accepted each year.

Once a decision is made in a case, it can only be changed by another

Supreme Court decision or by amending the Constitution. The Supreme
Court has to decide if cases challenge the Constitution.

The Supreme Court is made of nine Justices. One of them is called the
Chief Justice.

They are appointed by the President and must be approved by the Senate. Supreme
Justices have their jobs for life unless they resign, retire, or are impeached
by the House and convicted by the Senate.

There are no requirements to be appointed as a Justice but all have been

trained in the law.

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Checks and Balances

Checks and Balances of the Legislative Branch

The Legislative Branch is given the powers to make the laws. It has the following checks over
the Executive Branch:

 May override presidential vetoes with a two-thirds vote

 Has the power over the purse strings to actually fund any executive actions
 May remove the president through impeachment
 Senate approves treaties
 Senate approves presidential appointments

The Legislative Branch has the following checks over the Judicial Branch:

 Creates lower courts

 May remove judges through impeachment
 Senate approves appointments of judges

Checks and Balances of the Executive Branch

The Executive Branch is given the power to carry out the laws. It has the following checks over
the Legislative Branch:

 Veto power
 Ability to call special sessions of Congress
 Can recommend legislation
 Can appeal to the people concerning legislation and more

The Executive Branch has the following checks over the Judicial Branch:

 President appoints Supreme Court and other federal judges

Checks and Balances of the Judicial Branch

The Judicial Branch is given the power to interpret the laws. It has the following checks over the
Executive Branch:

 Judges, once appointed for life, are free from controls from the executive branch
 Courts can judge executive actions to be unconstitutional through the power of judicial

The Judicial Branch has the following checks over the Legislative Branch:

 Courts can judge legislative acts to be unconstitutional

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About.Com on American History

Ben's Guide to US Government

White House



Wikimedia Commons


Learning Web Design by Jennifer Niederst Robbins

The Non-Designer's Web Book by Robin Williams and John Tollett

Macon State College Tutorials


Adobe Bridge CS4

Adobe Dreamweaver CS5

Adobe Photoshop CS4

Web Hosting:

Surpass Hosting

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Virtual Tour


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Washington Monument

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The Washington Monument is easy to spot from almost anywhere near the National Mall. At
555 feet, 5 1/8 inches, it towers over everything in the Nation's Capital.

The cornerstone of this monument was laid on July 4, 1848 in a ceremony attended by President
James K. Polk and other important people, including Representatives Abraham Lincoln and
Andrew Johnson.

The money, for building the monument ran out in 1853 when it only stood 152 feet. It stood
unfinished for 25 years until President Ulysses S. Grant approved an act authorizing the Federal
Government to complete the project.

In December 1884, the Washington Monument was completed by placing a 3,300 pound marble
capstone on top of the obelisk.

It was topped with a 9-inch pyramid of cast aluminum.


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White House

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The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United

Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by
Irish-born James Hoban and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in
the Neoclassical style.

It has been the residence of every U.S. President since John Adams.

When Thomas Jefferson moved into the house in 1801, he (with architect Benjamin Henry
Latrobe) expanded the building outward, creating two colonnades that were meant to conceal
stables and storage.

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Vietnam War Memorial

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This black granite wall, which was built in 1982, includes the names of over 58,000 American
soldiers who died or disappeared during the Vietnam War.

The Wall is only several inches tall when it begins and includes a single name of the first soldier
killed in Vietnam in 1959. The Wall, which is 246 feet in length, rises in height to include the
thousands of names of those who died during the Vietnam War in the 1960's and 1970's.

Along the Wall you will see people using a paper and crayon to make a rubbing of a loved one's
name. The beautiful memorial was designed by Maya Ying Lin when she was a 21 year old
college student at Yale University.

Nearby are several dramatic statues of US soldiers and the US women who served in Vietnam as
medical personnel.

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Lincoln Memorial

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The Lincoln Memorial was built to resemble a Greek temple.

It has 36 columns, one for each state at the time of Lincoln's death. The names of the 48 states in
the Union (when the memorial was completed in 1922) are carved on the walls, above the
columns, along the outside of the memorial. A plaque honoring Alaska and Hawaii is just outside
the building.

Inside the memorial there is a huge statue of Lincoln sitting in a chair. The statue is 19 feet high
and it weighs 175 tons!

Inscribed on the south wall of the monument is the Gettysburg Address. Above it is a mural of an
angel freeing a slave.

Etched into the north wall is Lincoln's Second Inaugural speech. Above this is a mural
representing the unity of the North and the South.

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Korean War Memorial

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The Korean War Veterans Memorial was authorized by the U.S. Congress on October 28, 1986,
with design and construction managed by the Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Board
and the American Battle Monuments Commission.

The memorial is in the form of a triangle intersecting a circle. Walls: 164 feet long, 8 inches
thick; more than 100 tons of highly polished "Academy Black" granite from California: . Within
the walled triangle are 19 stainless steel statues designed by Frank Gaylord, each larger than life-
size, between 7 feet 3 inches and 7 feet 6 inches tall; each weighs nearly 1,000 pounds.

The figures represent a squad on patrol, drawn from each branch of the armed forces; fourteen of
the figures are from the U.S. Army, three are from the Marine Corps, one is a Navy Corpsman,
and one is an Air Force Forward Air Observer. They are dressed in full combat gear, dispersed
among strips of granite and juniper bushes which represent the rugged terrain of Korea.

When reflected on the wall, there appears to be 38 soldiers, representing the 38th parallel.

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Roosevelt Memorial

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Designers decided against plans to have FDR shown in a wheelchair. Instead, the statue depicts
the president in a chair with a cloak obscuring the chair, showing him as he appeared to the
public during his life.

There is a bronze statue of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt standing before the United Nations
emblem. It is the only presidential memorial to depict a First Lady.

Running water is an important physical and metaphoric component of the memorial.

The five main water areas represents:

 A single large drop - The crash of the economy that led to the Great Depression
 Multiple stairstep drops - The Tennessee Valley Authority dam-building project
 Chaotic falls at varying angles - World War II
 A still pool - Roosevelt's death
 A wide array combining the earlier waterfalls - A retrospective of Roosevelt's presidency

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Jefferson Memorial

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The neoclassical building was designed by John Russell Pope. It was built by Philadelphia
contractor Tyler Nichols.

Construction began in 1939, the building was completed in 1943, and the bronze statue of
Jefferson was added in 1947. When completed, the memorial occupied one of the last significant
sites left in the city.

The interior walls are engraved with passages from Jefferson's writings. Most prominent are the
words which are inscribed in a frieze below the dome: "I have sworn upon the altar of God
eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

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Holocaust Museum

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It is dedicated to helping leaders and citizens of the world confront hatred, prevent genocide,
promote human dignity, and strengthen democracy.

The museum contain more than 12,750 artifacts, 49 million pages of archival documents, 80,000
historical photographs, 200,000 registered survivors, 1,000 hours of archival footage, 84,000
library items, and 9,000 oral history testimonies.

The Hall of Remembrance is the museum's official memorial to the six million victims and
survivors of the Holocaust. Visitors can memorialize the event by lighting candles, visiting an
eternal flame, and reflecting in silence in the octagonal hall.

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Smithsonian Museum

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The Smithsonian is a museum and research complex, comprised of 19 museums and galleries
and the National Zoological Park.

The Smithsonian Museums in Washington, DC are world class museums with a variety of
exhibits ranging from insects and meteorites to locomotives and spacecraft.

Admission to all of the Smithsonian museums is free.

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US Capitol

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The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress.

The Capitol is the origin by which the quadrants of the District are divided.

The Capitol was partially burned by the British on August 24, 1814, during the War of 1812.

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Supreme Court Building

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The Supreme Court Building is the seat of the Supreme Court of the United States.

On May 4, 1987, the Supreme Court Building was designated a National Historic Landmark.

The west façade of the building (essentially, the "front" of the court, being the side which faces
the Capitol) bears the motto "Equal Justice Under Law," while the east facade bears the motto
"Justice, the Guardian of Liberty."

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Library of Congress

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The Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution, and it serves as the
research arm of Congress.

The Library of Congress was established by Congress in 1800, and was housed in the United
States Capitol for most of the 19th century.

After much of the original collection had been destroyed during the War of 1812, Thomas
Jefferson sold 6487 books, his entire personal collection, to the library in 1815.

The collections of the Library of Congress include more than 32 million cataloged books and
other print materials in 470 languages; more than 61 million manuscripts including the rough
draft of the Declaration of Independence.

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