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The Constitution: The Foundation of a Nation

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Before there was the United States, colonists from other countries lived in America but were still ruled by their home countries. After a while, the people of the colonies of England felt the king was treating them badly, so they decided to stop following the English government and start their own.

They wrote a set of laws that created the United States government. They worried that the new government might end up just as bad as the old one, so they limited its power to protect the rights of the people. They did this in the Constitution. We call the men who created it the Framers.

Creating the Government

The Framers wanted to make sure the new government would not take too much the power. So, they created a three-branch government. Each branch has its own powers.

The Legislative Branch is Congress. This is where laws begin. The members of Congress write bills, which they hope will become laws. Then they vote on whether the bills should be passed into law. Congress is split into two parts: The House of Representatives and the Senate.

The Executive Branch has the president and vice president. Once Congress passes a bill, the president must sign it before it becomes law.

The Judiciary Branch is the courts. When someone thinks a law goes against the Constitution, this branch studies the law decides whether it is in line with the Constitution.

The Rights of the People

The colonists who fought to be free from the king’s control believed that each person had certain rights, and that no government should be able to interfere with those rights – at least not without a very good reason.

They were so worried that the government might find a way to get around the Constitution that some of them wanted more rights  protected. They created the Bill of Rights, which was later added to the Constitution. Most of the amendments (changes) to the Constitution are meant to expand freedom and protect rights – and that’s what the Framers hoped for all those years ago.

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