Info about your neighbors all over the USA

NEDV Kids USA Info

Our Three Branches of Government

Preamble to the U.S. Constitution

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.

When the Constitution was written in 1787, the people chosen to write it had a very hard job. Like your parents, they knew that this brand new country, like a brand new baby, needed to be protected while it grew up. So, they set about writing the rules that would keep it safe.

One way the writers knew that the new country would feel safe, was for her citizens to be able to depend on their government. The people needed to know what to expect from their government, from the people they elected to run it and from each other. And that's why they wrote down the rules and guidelines in the Constitution and created a way for more laws to be written, if they were needed.

One thing the writers [and the people who fought the Revolution] believed - was that making the country work was a VERY BIG JOB and should be spread out among lots of different people. They searched for a way to make sure lots of people helped and no one person could make all the decision by himself or herself. They believed that having three branches - Executive [The President], Legislative [Senate & House of Representatives], and Judicial [Supreme Court & Judges] would mean that the BIG JOB could be broken into smaller jobs. Each branch is responsible for the job given to it - and it always takes at least 2 branches to make any BIG CHANGES or make any BIG decisions. These 3 branches provide the Balance of Power that helps keep the country and it's citizens safe.

But the writers of the Constitution also knew, that in order to continue to grow over years and years - the "baby" country's citizens would need time to learn how to make their government work well. They would need rules that could not be changed without a lot of serious thought and lots of talking, and most important, not without almost everyone agreeing.

Like you have grown and changed since you were a baby, so did the baby country. In fact, compared to other countries around the world, the United States is still a young country that is still growing and changing. The writers of the Constitution created the guidelines for helping their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren's children change the Constitution. They called these changes Amendments.

To read more about our Constitution, Amendments, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence and our government, follow any of the links on these pages. butterfly ~ JT

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Legislative Branch

U.S. Constitution - Article I: Section 1. All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

U. S. Senate
Senators, Committees, Legislative Activities, Visit the Senate, and Contact Info.

U.S. House of Representatives
107th Congress, 1st Session. House Operations, House Directory, Member Offices, Committee Offices, Leadership Offices, Commissions, and Task Forces

Thomas - Legislative Information on the Internet
Commercial site. Search by your Zip Code to find your U. S. Representative or Senators.

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Judicial Branch

U.S. Constitution - Article III: Section 1. The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour...

Section 2. The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;--to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;--to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;--to controversies to which the United States shall be a party;--to controversies between two or more states;--between a state and citizens of another state;--between citizens of different states;--between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects...

U.S. Supreme Court

Council for Court Excellence
A nonprofit, nonpartisan civic organization. The Council works to improve the administration of justice in the local and federal courts and related agencies.

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Executive Branch

U.S. Constitution - Article II: Section 1. The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected...

The White House for Kids

Office of Government Ethics
Access to materials, laws and regulations on Federal Conflict of Interests Statutes and Standards of Conduct for Executive Branch employees.

The Presidents
A "look at the Presidency in the 20th century and through the office see the drama of contemporary American history - war, economic hardship, women's rights, race relations, our triumphs and our failures--it is all there." Interactive web-site from PBS award-inning series, The American Experience.

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U.S. Government Departments

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Slavery & Freedom

The Underground Railroad

Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman stamp

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Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass
Sojourner Truth
Sojourner Truth stamp

Sojourner Truth dedicated her life to confronting injustice, and actively working for the abolition of slavery and toward equal rights for women. A slave for forty years, Sojourner Truth believed she had a mission and a duty to speak out - to speak what she knew to be true - no matter what. "Lord, I have done my duty, and I have told the whole truth and kept nothing back".

Lucretia Mott
Lucretia Mott

Lucretia Mott was an outspoken leader of the antislavery and women's rights movements in America. Her family were Quakers, and she became a Quaker minister in 1821. Mott was active in the abolitionist movement in the United States before the Civil War. She helped found two anti-slavery groups, and was well known for her eloquent speeches against slavery.

Matilda Joslyn Gage
Matilda Joslyn Gage

Matilda Joslyn Gage was a leader in the women's rights movement. She was raised in an Abolitionist home that was a station on the underground railroad. After the Civil War, Gage, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton decided to form their own organization with other radical feminists called the National Woman's Suffrage Association (NWSA). The NWSA developed a platform of civil disobedience; women went to vote even thought they were told they could not. Gage tried another tactic, showing that just about any man could vote, including convicted felons, but taxpaying landowners that happened to be women could not vote. Gage wrote her most influential work called Women, Church and State in 1893. For more information about, Matilda Joslyn Gage see the links below:

"There is a Word Sweeter than Mother Home or Heaven. That Word is Liberty.", Matilda Joslyn Gage
Anna Ella Carroll

Anna Ella Carroll (1815-1893) was an intriguing and atypical 19th Century woman who emerged from the male-dominated realm of war, politics, and diplomacy.

Anna Ella Carroll contributed to the Union victory in the Civil War and was a writer of books, pamphlets, and articles on the state of American politics. She was also involved in espionage activities for the Union, which attracted the attention of President Lincoln. He sent her on a mission to the West to investigate and evaluate the Union's war policy. On that trip, she became aware of the inadequacy of the Union's military strategy, which led her to mastermind the Tennessee Plan. It was this plan that finally won the war. However, her achievement went unrecognized as Lincoln and the War Department felt it was necessary to"protect" the public from the knowledge that it was a woman, rather than the army of generals, who had engineered the victory.

Nat Turner
Nat Turner

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Civil War

new gifGettysburg Address: November 19, 1863. ". . . Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure." Read the final draft of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System
National Park Service/CWSSS site contains facts about servicemen who served on both sides. More than 230,000 soldier names from the U.S. Colored Troops.

Civil War Battle Summaries by State
National Park Service site for The American Battlefield Protection Program. The ABPP leads a federal partnership initiative to preserve significant battlefields associated with wars fought on American soil.

Letters Home from a Soldier in the U. S. Civil War
Part of a collection written by Newton Robert Scott, of the 36th Infantry, Iowa Volunteers, over the three year period that he served as Company A's clerk. This web site was developed by Bill Proudfoot and made available by the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Selected Civil War Photographs
Library of Congress collection contains 1,118 photographs, and include scenes of military personnel, preparations for battle, and battle after-effects. The collection also includes portraits of both Confederate and Union officers, and a selection of enlisted men.

"History is not everything, but it is a starting point. History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is a compass they use to find themselves on the map of human geography. It tells them where they are, but more importantly, what they must be."
~ John Henrik Clarke

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Exploring & Settling the West - the Black Experience

Like others, black pioneers longed for homes of their own, peaceful places where they could raise their children and pursue elusive dreams. But African Americans also sought places where a person's worth was judged by his skill, not his skin... Want to Learn More?

George Washington Bush: The Spirit of Westward Expansion
What causes someone to leave a comfortable home and travel into the unknown?
He was born in the late 1700s and was raised and educated by Quakers. George Washington Bush did not at first seem to be an extraordinary person. After leading a group of 32 people safely to the new Oregon Territory, find out what happened when Bush was not allowed to settle there...

The Exodus to Freedom
"When I landed on the soil, I looked on the ground and I says this is free ground. Then I looked on the heavens, and I says them is free and beautiful heavens. Then I looked within my heart, and I says to myself I wonder why I never was free before?"       ~ John Solomon Lewis, on his arrival in Kansas
Learn more about the Exodusters...

New Years, New Lives
"Moses Speese had to wait twenty years for his dream to come true. He took his family from the clutches of post-Civil War peonage in the South to owning their own farm in Nebraska. His hard work and resolution made profound changes in the life of his family; the boys of this illiterate slave were able to attend college and emerge as professional men. Learn how each successive New Years Day brought the Speese family closer to their dreams...

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For More Information

Library Of Congress, Catalog Search

The Smithsonian Institution

United States Postal Service

Protect Your Children's Privacy

The North East Digital Village has made an effort to ensure that the pages linked from this section of our pages are suitable for children, but we cannot be responsible for the content of the pages we link. If you believe that a site linked above is unsuitable, or if you would like to suggest an additional site for inclusion, please send mail to us at

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