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1.0 Introduction

The basic principles, according to which government is conducted, form the Constitution. The Constitution describes the whole system of government of a country, as well as the collection of rules that establish and regulate the government. The Constitution of America, which is written and rigid, was influenced greatly by the English Magna Carta (1215), the Petition of Rights (1628) and the Bill of Rights (1689).

The Constitution of America is the name given to the brief document that was drafted by a constitutional convention in Philadelphia in 1789. It lays down the pattern of organization of the American Government. It lays down the set of principles guiding the Americans in the exercise of governmental power. It also states the formal restrictions on the government that protect the people against arbitrary governmental activities.

The purpose of the American Government is expressed in the Preamble to the Constitution in the following manner:

"We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Because of the large geographical size and large population, a pure democracy was not feasible in America. Thus the national government is a form of representative democracy, in which the people govern themselves by entrusting the entire administration of the state to their representatives. They choose these representatives by ballot. The government is also a republic because the people elect their chief executive, the President, as well as their legislative representatives. The Constitution contains provisions in separate articles for three great departments of government: legislative, executive and judiciary. The first representative government in America was established at Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. At that time, the governing powers were vested in an elected council of 13 members, led by a president of their own choice.


1.0 - Introduction
1.1 The Continental Congress
1.2 The Articles of Confederation
1.3 The Constitutional Convention
1.4 Key Concepts in the Constitution
1.5 Summary of the Constitution
1.6 The Debate over Ratification
1.7 The Amendment Process
1.8 The Bill of Rights
1.9 Subsequent Amendments (1789-1992)

Chapter 2

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