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American Government Principles Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by

Source(s): Prentice Hall Magruder's American Government

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.

Government & Politics

the instit­ution through with a society makes and enforces its public policies
the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among indivi­duals or parties having or hoping to achieve power

Every Government has

Legisl­ative Power
the power to make law and to frame public policy
Executive Power
the power to execute, enforce, and administer law
Judicial Power
the power to interpret laws, determine their meaning, and to settle disputes that arise within the society
a body of people, living in a defined territory, organized politi­cally

The Four Charac­ter­istics of a State

a state must have people, the number of which does not directly relate to its existence
a state must be comprised of land—t­err­itory with known and recognized boundaries
supreme & absolute power within its own territory
politi­cally organized

The Four Origin Theories of a State

Divine right
Social contract

Consti­tut­ional Influences

Two Treatises of Government (Locke)
•Right to overthrow an unjust government
•Religious freedom
•Natural rights
The Leviathan (Hobbes)
•Right to not incrim­inate oneself
•Social contract
•Inalien rights
•Right to have a militia
The Social Contract (Rousseau)
•People are born in their natural state of freedom
•Popular sovereignty
•Agreement between rules & rulers
The Spirit of the Laws (Monte­sqieu)
•Checks and balances
•Constitutional government
•Three branches

Articles of the Consti­tution

0. Preamble
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranqu­ility, provide for the common defence, 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.
1. Legisl­ative Branch
The U.S. Congress makes the laws for the United States. Congress has two parts, called "­Hou­ses­," the House of Repres­ent­atives and the Senate.
2. Executive Branch
The President, Vice-P­res­ident, Cabinet, and Depart­ments under the Cabinet Secret­aries carry out the laws made by Congress.
3. Judicial Branch
The Supreme Court decides court cases according to the US Consti­tution. The couts under the Supreme Court decide criminal and civil court cases according to the correct federal, state, and local laws.
4. States' Power
States have the power to make and carry out their own laws. State laws are related to the people and problems of their area. States respect other states' laws and work together with other states to fix regional problems.
5. Amendments
The Consti­tution can be changed. New amendments can be added to the US Consti­tution with approval by a two-thirds vote in each house of Congress (67, 281) and three-­fourth vote by the states (38).
6. Federal Powers
The Consti­tution and federal laws are higher than state and local laws. All laws must agree with the US Consti­tution.
7. Ratifi­cation
The Consti­tution was presented to George Washington and the men at the Consti­tut­ional Convention on September 17, 1787, Repres­ent­atives from twelve out of the thirteen original states signed the Consti­tution. From September 1787 to July 1788, the states met, talked about, and finally voted to approve the Consti­tution.