American Visa Bureau   »   Information on America   »  Government

American Government

The foundation of the American Government and its purpose, form and structure are outlined in the American Constitution. The Constitution, written in 1787, established a federal system of government whose purpose is to establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence and promote the general welfare of all American citizens.

The Constitution:

Governmental power and functions in America are split into 3 branches of government: the executive, judicial and legislative. Each branch operates independently of the others in a "separation of powers", as defined in the Constitution.

American Government

Branch Function
Executive Branch

The executive branch of the Government is responsible for enforcing the laws of the land.

This branch is composed of:

  • The President who is the leader of the country and Commander in Chief of the military;
  • The Vice President who is President of the Senate and becomes President if the President is unable to serve;
  • Departments advising the President on policy issues and help execute those policies; and
  • Independent Agencies which help execute policy or provide special services.
Legislative Branch The Constitution established the legislative or law making branch of government with the formation of a bicameral Congress, or the House of Representatives and the Senate. This system provides checks and balances within the legislative branch.
Judicial Branch The Constitution established the judicial branch of government with the creation of the Supreme Court. This court is the highest court in the country and vested with the judicial powers of the government. Courts decide arguments about the meaning of laws, how they are applied, and whether they violate the Constitution.

The federal system of government in America also means power is shared between the national and state (local) governments. The state governments have their own constitutions, although the laws made in individual states cannot conflict with the national Constitution.