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Humanities Libertexts

2: The Constitution and the Structure of Government Power

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    • 2.1: The First American Political System
      We can understand what the Constitution was designed to accomplish by looking at the political system it replaced: the Articles of Confederation, the United States’ first written constitution, which embodied political ideals expressed by the Declaration of Independence.
    • 2.2: Creating and Ratifying the Constitution
      The Constitution was a reaction against the limitations of the Articles of Confederation and the democratic experiments begun by the Revolution and the Declaration of Independence.
    • 2.3: Constitutional Principles and Provisions
      While the Constitution established a national government that did not rely on the support of the states, it limited the federal government’s powers by listing (“enumerating”) them. This practice of federalism means that some policy areas are exclusive to the federal government, some are exclusive to the states, and others are shared between the two levels. Federalism aside, three key principles are the crux of the Constitution: separation of powers, checks and balances, and bicameralism.
    • 2.4: The Constitution in the Information Age
    • 2.5: Recommended Reading
    • 2.6: Recommended Viewing

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