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Introduction Delegates to the Constitutional Convention The Work Begins Writing the Constitution The Great Compromise Signing the Constitution Ratifying the Constitution Bill of Rights Powers of the Federal Government The Three Branches of Government Checks and Balances Amendments Women - The Right to Vote

 


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Ratifying the Constitution Signing the Constitution Delegates to the Constitutional Convention The Work Begins Writing the Constitution The Great Compromise Bill of Rights Powers of the Federal Government The Three Branches of Government Checks and Balances Amendments Women - The Right to Vote

The Three Branches of Government

Delegates at the Constitutional Convention also wanted to divide power within the federal government. They did not want these powers to be controlled by just one man or one group. The delegates were afraid that if a small group received too much power, the United States would wind up under the rule of another dictator or tyrant.

To avoid the risk of dictatorship or tyranny, the group divided the new government into three parts, or branches: the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch.

Executive Branch: Headed by the president. The president carries out federal laws and recommends new ones, directs national defense and foreign policy, and performs ceremonial duties. Powers include directing government, commanding the Armed Forces, dealing with international powers, acting as chief law enforcement officer, and vetoing laws.
   
Legislative Branch: Headed by Congress, which includes the House of Representatives and the Senate. The main task of these two bodies is to make the laws. Its powers include passing laws, originating spending bills (House), impeaching officials (Senate), and approving treaties (Senate).
   
Judicial Branch: Headed by the Supreme Court. Its powers include interpreting the Constitution, reviewing laws, and deciding cases involving states' rights.

Show What You Know


Most of the time the House and the Senate each meet in their own chamber in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. However, every once in a while, they must meet together (joint session). For example, a joint session is needed to count the electoral votes in presidential elections. Joint sessions are held in the House chamber.

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