Primary Source Archives
Gale Primary Sources contains full-text political science journals and other sources that provide researchers with firsthand material, including historical documents, printed works, and news articles.
Explore the politics and government of the United States, which was established after the 13 American colonies declared their independence from Britain in 1776. The United States is a representative democracy, which means that power belongs to the people, who elect representatives to make policy and pass laws. It is a federal system of government, which means that the national government shares responsibilities with state and municipal governments. It’s also a constitutional government in that it operates according to the principles outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
The U.S. Constitution established three branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial. Each branch has specific responsibilities and serves as a check on the power of the other two branches. The legislative branch, known as Congress, is divided into the House of Representatives and the Senate. Each state has two senators, while the number of representatives a state has in the House is determined by the state’s population. Congress is responsible for drafting and passing laws. The president is the leader of the executive branch, which is responsible for executing the laws passed by Congress. The president is also the commander in chief of the military, responsible for the nation’s defense. The judiciary is made up of courts and judges who interpret the laws and ensure they don’t contradict the Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court has the highest authority in the court system.
Since the 19th century, politics in the United States has been dominated by two political parties: the Republican and Democratic parties. Political parties are responsible for choosing candidates to run for office, helping to run and finance their candidates’ campaigns, and outlining a platform of principles and ideas that are generally (though not always) adhered to by their candidates.
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