USA Government Handbook

By Danny McKiernan

Welcome to United States!

You are fortunate to live in the United States, where you have the freedom of speech, religion, and many more rights. This guidebook will help you understand federalism and how the government works.

Why does America have individual states?

We have states to enforce the laws the federal government doesn’t enforce. Federalism breaks the government down so that no branch of the federal government has more power. The state governments are left to balance out the federal government to not give it all the control, so that each state can govern itselves. Each government has its own responsibilities, including local governments. Most of what the federal government doesn’t enforce is left to the state and local governments.

What is a constitution?

Constitutions exist in order to prevent a government from becoming too powerful or corrupt. For example, the constitution uses a system of checks and balances to make sure all three branches are equal. The constitution declares rules the government has to follow, making it fair for everyone.

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Constitution Preamble

The US Constitution's preamble states the basic functions of its purpose: to create a better and more reliable country, make the government and judgement fair, make everything peaceful, have a strong military/defense, to promote the general well being of people, and to make sure freedom is secured to ourselves and our descendants.

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, 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."

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Explaining Flowchart Above

The Federal Government is based off checks and balances that allows none of the three branches to become too powerful.

Illinois State Government Flowchart

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Info-Graphic Explanation Above

Federalism is a system of government with shared power. In this case, the United States has a federal government that is above all others. Then the government splits into states to govern and make laws for that state. The rest is left to be governed by local governments. Examples for the federal government include managing and making airplanes safe or enforcing national security.

Possible Problems with Federalism

Federalism is a great system, but an utopia is impossible, so it has its flaws. This was the case in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, nobody knew whose responsibility it was going to be to help, causing miscommunication and poor cooperation.

  1. People have to know how the federal government works

  2. Governments need to be prepared

  3. Need emergency plans

  4. Need to be able to communicate

  5. Need to know how to help

  6. Government needs to be held accountable

Responsibilities and Obligations examples

Obligations (things as a citizen you have to do)

  1. Pay taxes

  2. Jury duty

  3. Selective Service

Responsibilities (things as a citizen you are suggested to do)

  1. Voting

  2. Help government and community

  3. Respect rights of others

Why Would You Contact Senators and House Representatives

For the federal government, to suggest a law or tax complaint. You can do the same with state government, to want to contact about laws. tax complaints, or permits to build and renovate things, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many people are in the House and Senate?

435 Representatives

100 Senators

117 Illinois General Assembly

2. How to apply for citizenship

3. About Federalism and how it started

4. Nationally Observed Holidays in US

5. National Anthem and its history

National Anthems

United States of America: The Star-Spangled Banner by National Anthems


Works Cited

"Apply for Citizenship." USCIS. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.

"District/Official Search." District/Official Search. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.

"Find Your Representative." · N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.

"The Founders and Federalism." Independence Hall Association, n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.

"Illinois General Assembly - House Members." Illinois General Assembly - House Members. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.

N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.

"Preamble (Principles of the Constitution Series)." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.

Sousa, John Philip, and David T. Shaw. The Star Spangled Banner. Columbia, 1916. CD.

"The Story Behind the Star Spangled Banner." Smithsonian. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.

" ." Student Learning Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.

"02.08 Federalism." 02.08 Federalism. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.

"United States of America: The Star-Spangled Banner." SoundCloud. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.

"Virtual Reference Desk." U.S. Senate: How To. . . Contact U.S. Senators. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.

"What Is a Constitution?" YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.

Thank You!