united states civics and government
Your Guide to the American Constitutional - Republic System
Your Guide to the American Constitutional - Republic System
United States Civics & Government
There's much to see here. Take your time, look around the pages & topics.
All content is educational - reliable, unbiased government & academic sources & resources.
The Constitution does not give citizens their rights. They already had their rights before they created the Constitution.
It guarantees to protect them.
(source: U.S. Constitution Sesquicentennial Commission, 1935)
The Constitution defines & limits the powers of the government body.
"While the colonies may have established it, “America” was given a name long before. America is named after Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer who set forth the then revolutionary concept that the lands that Christopher Columbus sailed to in 1492 were part of a separate continent. A map created in 1507 by Martin Waldseemüller [above] was the first to depict this new continent with the name “America,” a Latinized version of “Amerigo.”
(Source: How Did America Get Its Name? | Library of Congress Blog (loc.gov) )
* * *
In 1493, after reports of Columbus’s discoveries had reached them, the Spanish rulers Ferdinand and Isabella enlisted papal support for their claims to the New World in order to inhibit the Portuguese and other possible rival claimants. To accommodate them, the Spanish-born pope Alexander VI issued bulls setting up a line of demarcation from pole to pole 100 leagues (about 320 miles) west of the Cape Verde Islands see Cabo Verde. Spain was given exclusive rights to all newly discovered and undiscovered lands in the region west of the line. Portuguese expeditions were to keep to the east of the line. Neither power was to occupy any territory already in the hands of a Christian ruler.
Source: Treaty of Tordesillas | Summary, Definition, Map, & Facts | Britannica
Over the centuries, rulers of several countries made claim to the lands in the "new" world called America.
Under the strict authority of kings and queens, subjects, (many hoping to gain status & wealth) were used to:
and labor (often forced) over
valuable resources in America for the support and expanded power of royal elites.
Want to learn more about the government systems before and during colonial times?
Click on the link below.
The first time the term “united" States was used was about 175 years after the first colonies were settled [in North America].
Thomas Jefferson referred to the thirteen united States in the Declaration of Independence
[from the king of England's rule].
(source: U.S. Constitution Sesquicentennial Commission, 1935).
"The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them . . ."
- The Declaration of Independence,
July 4, 1776
are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed…”
The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
(Pictured above is original flag with 13 stars representing the 13 colonies)
Today, the 50 white stars on a blue field represent the 50 states.
The colors on the flag represent:
Delicate cluster! flag of teeming life!
Covering all my lands - all my seashores lining!
Flag of death! (how I watch'd you through the smoke of battle pressing! How I heard you flap and rustle, cloth defiant!)
Ah my silvery beauty - ah my wooly white and crimson!
Ah to sing the song of you, my matron mighty!
My sacred one, my mother!
- Walt Whitman, 1871
"I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America,
to the republic
for which it stands,
justice for all."
In Support of Allegiance
to the Republic
U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 4:
The United States
to every State in this Union
a Republican Form of Government,
shall protect each of them
and . . .
against domestic Violence.
Right to Life
Right to Liberty
Right to Pursuit of Happiness
Right to Equality under the law
The people had all their rights and liberties before they made the Constitution.
The Constitution was formed, among other purposes, to make the people's liberties secure - secure not only as against foreign attack but against oppression by their own government.
They set specific limits upon their national government and upon the States, and
reserved to themselves all powers
that they did not grant.
(source: U.S. Constitution Sesquicentennial Commission, established by a
Joint Resolution of the Congress of
the United States,
approved August 23, 1935).
A Citizen's Responsibilities:
Loyalty - to the United States and the words and spirit of the Constitution
Obey - the laws of the United States
Vote – Learn about your representatives and determine who will represent your interests best and the interests of America.
Jury Duty – Participate in the court system as a juror to decide facts in legal cases involving peers in your community.
"WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable* Rights,
that among these are
Life, Liberty, and
the Pursuit of Happiness.
Governments are instituted
just Powers from
the Consent of the Governed,
that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends,
it is the
Right of the People to
alter or to abolish it, and
to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles . . .
We mutually Pledge to each other,
Our Lives, Our Fortunes and
Our Sacred Honor . . ."
July 4, 1776
* Unalienable - Permanent; cannot be removed
We, the people of the United States,
1. In order to form a more perfect union;
2. Establish justice;
3. Insure domestic tranquility;
4. Provide for the common defense;
5. Promote the general welfare; and,
6. Secure the blessing of liberty to
ourselves and our posterity,
do ordain and establish
this Constitution for
the United States of America.
There are two standard terms to describe America's economic system:
Capitalism and Free-Market
This American economic system is
based on the market-system of
supply and demand
of goods and services.
Rather than the government controlling what to produce and who to produce it,
private citizens, as entrepreneurs* own businesses (as a method of financial support and creating wealth). Entrepreneurs use
the "free" market system to try & determine which products & services people want and need. Entrepreneurs try to meet the supply of those needs & wants and consumers are free to choose what to purchase (demand).
* An Entrepreneur is one who
& other risks
to undertake a private
Attorney Francis Scott Key witnessed the twenty-five hour bombardment of Fort McHenry from a British troopship anchored some four miles away. He was aboard the ship to negotiate the release of an American civilian imprisoned by the British.
On September 14, 1814, while aboard the British ship during the bombardment of Ft. McHenry, Francis Scott Key witnessed at dawn the failure of the British attempt to take Baltimore.
Based on this experience, he wrote a poem that poses the question,
"Oh, say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave?"
Almost immediately Key's poem was published and wedded to the tune of the "Anacreontic Song."
Long before the Civil War "The Star Spangled Banner" became the musical and lyrical embodiment of the American flag. . .
On July 26, 1889, the Secretary of the Navy designated "The Star Spangled Banner" as the official tune to be played at the raising of the flag.
During Woodrow Wilson's presidency, it was chosen by the White House to be played wherever a national anthem
Still the song was variously criticized as too violent in tone, too difficult to sing,
and, by prohibitionists,
as basically a drinking song.
But on its side
"The Star Spangled Banner" had a strong supporter in
John Philip Sousa who, in 1931,
opined that besides Key's
"soul-stirring" words, "it is the spirit of the music that inspires."
That same year,
on March 3, President Herbert C. Hoover signed the Act establishing Key's poem and Smith's music as the official anthem of the United States. (source: Library of Congress.gov)
The Star Spangled Banner
O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d 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,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free
and the home of the brave?
The term “Social Contract” was used by many great philosophers who added to the debate about the best and most natural form of union in a society between man, his fellow man, and the government body.
In the fourth century B.C. great philosopher Plato put forth several central doctrines having to do with human values and human virtues, and Aristotle questioned the political status quo of oppressive government structures.
Over the centuries, many great philosophers like Thomas Hobbes, Bernard Mandeville, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote their arguments on the Social Contract - a moral and political theory.
Philosopher John Locke, wrote his
Social Contract theories, and
based the principles
of their new country on
Locke's theories of
such as, the
freedom & liberty
each individual as a birthright
by the Creator of all;
and government restraint.
A starting point for human association as described in John Locke’s Social Contract theory is referenced in The Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration of Independence was the first announcement of the reasons for separation from the British Crown - and it expressed the spirit of the new association of the People.
The thirteen united States declared their desire to break their political bands with England and,
“. . . assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them . . .
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;
that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness . . ."
John Locke and the United States of America believe in a Creator (God) as the beginning source of human life.
It is this Creator (not a religion) that has bestowed on each individual as a birthright liberties and obligations.
According to Locke, a person who is born into this world is considered to be born into a
State of Nature.
Locke defines State of Nature as, “Men living together according to reason without a common superior on earth, with authority to judge between them, are properly in the state of nature.”
Locke’s Laws of Nature, “…teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions: for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent… For the law of nature would, as all other laws that concern men in this world, be in vain, if there were nobody that in the state of nature had a power to execute that law, and thereby preserve the innocent and restrain offenders.”
It is these words and spirit of the great philosopher John Locke’s An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government that embrace what became America’s ideals and principles for individual freedom and government restraint.
Map of U.S. 1750
Benjamin Franklin wrote an article in the Pennsylvania Gazette promoting the Albany Plan - A union of the Colonies. This cartoon (left) was published with his article. The snake cut into parts represents the separate colonies. Franklin's point was the colonies would not survive external threats if they did not join together.
Journal of the South Carolina Provincial Congress, 9 February 1776: "Col. Gadsden presented to the Congress an elegant standard, such as is to be used by the commander in chief of the American navy; being a yellow field, with a lively representation of a rattle-snake in the middle, in the attitude of going to strike, and these words underneath,
"DON'T TREAD ON ME!"
By the time of the War of Independence, the rattlesnake, frequently used in conjunction with the motto "Don't Tread on Me," was a common symbol for the United States, its independent spirit, and its resistance to tyranny.
The President, Vice President & Cabinet
Duties & History United States Civics and Government
The House of Representatives
Duties & History united states civics and government
The Supreme Court
Duties and History
King George's Government System
The Continental Congress &
Articles of Confederation
Learn facts, history and read the text
The Declaration of Independence from English rule under King George III was made at a time when individual freedom and liberty was only imagined.