United States Government and Politics

According to AllCityCodes.com, the United States is a Republican federal state, composed of 50 states with a Republican state form. In addition, the five territories include American Samoa, Guam, Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Federal District of Columbia.

The basis for the United States as a state is the Federal Constitution, or Constitution, from 1787. In 1791, it received ten additional amendments, which together constitute the Bill of Rights. The Constitution was also later amended by a total of 27 additional provisions, the most recent in 1992. Given the age of the Constitution, these are relatively few changes.

The 13th addition of 1865 abolished slavery. Attached to this was a 14 and 15 addition of 1868 and 1870, which in principle established equal rights regardless of skin color. The 17th amendment of 1913 introduced direct elections to the United States senators, and the 19th amendment of 1920 gave women the right to vote. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of US and its meanings of United States.

United States Country Flag

Reference: United States Flag Meaning

Distribution of authority

The relationship between the federal government and the state’s independence is fundamental to the US political system. The duties of the federal power are stated in the Constitution. The 10th constitutional amendment states that all tasks not expressly mentioned are left to the states.

Among the most important areas of the federal power are relations with other states and the defense (ie foreign and security policy), citizenship, customs and postal, monetary, trade between states and the income tax (which can also be exercised by the states). Large parts of the general legislation are thus up to the states.

In the 20th century, the federal power has expanded its field of work in a number of economic and social areas. The enlargements have in particular been justified by wording in the Constitution on the duty to promote “general welfare” and to regulate trade between the states. The interpretation of these formulations has remained contentious and is constantly subject to judicial review.

The division of authority between federal power and states is also influenced by the principles of justice and liberty in the first ten constitutional amendments. The law of the states is limited by the requirement not to violate the rights granted there by the citizens.

The United States Supreme Court decides how the laws should be interpreted and thus where the boundaries of federal state authority should be drawn.

The state constitution is based on and has upheld Montesquieu’s tenet of the principle of power distribution. Thus, in the United States, the parliamentary system that we have in Norway does not exist. The distinction between legislative, executive and judicial power is a living reality.

Congress – Legislature

The federal legislative power is in Congress, which consists of two chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The two together exercise the authority of legislation, taxation and appropriation. Decisions are only valid when both chambers are behind them. In addition, the Senate has the task of approving certain of the president’s appointments and actions.

The president can veto a resolution in Congress, in which case both chambers must repeat their decision by a two-thirds majority in order for the resolution to become valid.

The congress is composed so that the states are recognized equally through equal representation in the Senate (all states have two), while the population and the equal representation of each citizen is preserved as far as possible through the House of Representatives. There, the mandates are distributed according to census every ten years.

Congress can pass amendments to the Constitution by a two-thirds majority in both chambers, but these are only valid if they are then approved by the legislative assembly in three-quarters of the states.

The President – Executive

The executive is with the president, who is also the US head of state. This is elected for four years and can be re-elected once.

The President heads the state administration through the government and is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Ministers are not responsible to Congress (where they are not allowed to attend either). The scheme is thus quite different from that which is common in parliamentary controlled countries.

Judicial system – judicial power

The US judicial system is complicated by the relationship between the states and the federation. Central parts of the justice system fall under the individual states. Thus, there are 50 different legal systems. In addition, federal legislation comes.

According to the Constitution, the federal court’s judicial power is appealed to the United States Supreme Court and the underlying federal courts. Supreme Court has nine judges who sits on the lifetime, of which one is the Chief Justice (Chief Justice). The President appoints the judges with the consent of the Senate.

Under the Supreme Court stands the Courts of Appeals, one in each of the twelve judicial parishes, and then the District Courts (District Courts), one in each of 94 court districts. In addition, there are some special courts, including questions relating to trade, customs and surveillance.

The states have their own legal systems and judicial systems with competence in all areas of law assigned to individual states, both private and criminal law.

The distribution of authority between federal and state courts is determined by the courts themselves in their interpretation of the Constitution. The federal Supreme Court has the final say on this as in any other reading of the Constitution.

The states

Each state has its own constitution or constitution, which is consistently similar to the federal constitution, especially as regards the structure of state powers.

Each state has a governor, a legislative assembly and its own judiciary. Except in Nebraska, all state legislatures are divided into two chambers, a first chamber (Senate) and a second chamber. Nebraska has had a one-chamber system since 1937.

The Senate has fewer members, so each state senator represents more voters. Both chambers are selected by direct selection. In 37 of the states, the state senators are elected for a four-year term, while the state representatives are elected for a shorter term – in 45 of the states for two years.

The legislative assemblies of the individual states have the competence or authority in all fields that have not added to the federal law. Examples are (with few exceptions) the entire criminal justice system, private law, procedural law, business law, transport and trade within the state’s borders, education and some parts of the health and social care system.

The governors

The governors are the governors of the states. They are chosen by direct choice. In 48 of the states, their term of office is four years, compared to two years in Vermont and New Hampshire.

In all states except North Carolina, the governor has the right to veto bills passed by the legislative assembly. This may in turn repeal such a veto. In some states a simple majority is required, while in others, three-fifths or two-thirds majority are required in both chambers.

In 43 of the states, a deputy governor (Lieutenant-Governor) is also elected, who in the event of the governor’s resignation or resignation enters as new governor. In the other states, the head of the state senate or the Secretary of State (Secretary of State) is appointed as the governor’s successor.

For the judicial power of individual states, see the section on the Judiciary.

Administrative division

Local self-government is well established in the United States. The differences between the 50 states are large in this field compared to the significant similarity between the way they are centrally arranged.

The main unit is the county, and there are about 3,000 of them in the United States. Within each county are smaller units, such as municipalities and municipalities, each with its own administration. There are also special municipalities, such as school districts.

Each state itself forms the content of local self-government. The county level often has the authority to write police regulations, to law enforcement, building and maintaining minor roads, granting and taxing authorities, administering certain forms of social assistance, and in some states, especially in the south, running schools.

Presidents of the United States

The president is the head of state in the United States. The president is elected in his own presidential election, which is held every four years. The president can only be re-elected once, and can therefore sit for a maximum of eight years.

Donald Trump is President of the United States today. He is in his first term and is the nation’s 45th president.


Period President Vice President
1789-1793 George Washington (independent) John Adams
1793-1797 George Washington John Adams
1797-1801 John Adams (F) Thomas Jefferson (DR)
1801-1805 Thomas Jefferson (DR) Aaron Burr
1805-1809 Thomas Jefferson (DR) George Clinton (Independent Republican)
1809-1813 James Madison (DR) George Clinton (1809-1812)
1813-1817 James Madison DR) Elbridge Gerry (1813–1814)
1817-1821 James Monroe (DR) Daniel D. Tompkins
1821-1825 James Monroe DR) Daniel D. Tompkins
1825-1829 John Quincy Adams (independent) John Caldwell Calhoun
1829-1833 Andrew Jackson (D) John Caldwell Calhoun (1829–1832)
1833-1837 Andrew Jackson (D) Martin Van Buren
1837-1841 Martin Van Buren (D) Richard Mentor Johnson
1841 William Henry Harrison (W) John Tyler
1841-1845 John Tyler (W, independent from September 1841)
1845-1849 James Knox Polk (D) George Mifflin Dallas
1849-1850 Zachary Taylor (W) Millard Fillmore
1850-1853 Millard Fillmore (W)
1853-1857 Franklin Pierce (D) William R. King (1853)
1857-1861 James Buchanan (D) John Cabell Breckinridge
1861-1865 Abraham Lincoln (R) Hannibal Hamlin
1865 Abraham Lincoln (R) Andrew Johnson
1865-1869 Andrew Johnson (R)
1869-1873 Ulysses Simpson Grant (R) Schuyler Colfax
1873-1877 Ulysses Simpson Grant Henry Wilson (1873–1875)
1877-1881 Rutherford B. Hayes (R) William Almon Wheeler
1881 James A. Garfield (R) Chester Alan Arthur
1881-1885 Chester Alan Arthur (R)
1885-1889 Grover Cleveland (D) Thomas A. Hendricks (1885)
1889-1893 Benjamin Harrison (R) Levi Parsons Morton
1893-1897 Grover Cleveland (D) Adlai Ewing Stevenson
1897-1901 William McKinley (R) Garret A. Hobart (1897–1899)
1901 William McKinley (R) Theodore Roosevelt
1901-1905 Theodore Roosevelt (R)
1905-1909 Theodore Roosevelt (R) Charles Warren Fairbanks
1909-1913 William H. Taft (R) James S. Sherman (1909–1912)
1913-1917 Woodrow Wilson (D) Thomas Riley Marshall
1917-1921 Woodrow Wilson (D) Thomas Riley Marshall
1921-1923 Warren G. Harding (R) Calvin Coolidge
1923-1925 Calvin Coolidge (R)
1925-1929 Calvin Coolidge (R) Charles Dawes
1929-1933 Herbert C. Hoover (R) Charles Curtis
1933-1937 Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) John Nance Garner
1937-1941 Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) John Nance Garner
1941-1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) Henry A. Wallace
1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) Harry S. Truman
1945-1949 Harry S. Truman (D)
1949-1953 Harry S. Truman (D) Alben W. Barkley
1953-1957 Dwight D. Eisenhower (R) Richard M. Nixon
1957-1961 Dwight D. Eisenhower (R) Richard M. Nixon
1961-1963 John F. Kennedy (D) Lyndon B. Johnson
1963-1965 Lyndon B. Johnson (D)
1965-1969 Lyndon B. Johnson (D) Hubert H. Humphrey
1969-1973 Richard M. Nixon (R) Spiro T. Agnew
1973-1974 Richard M. Nixon (R) Spiro T. Agnew (1973), Gerald R. Ford (1973–1974)
1974-1977 Gerald R. Ford (R) Nelson Rockefeller
1977-1981 Jimmy Carter (D) Walter F. Mondale
1981-1985 Ronald Reagan (R) George HW Bush
1985-1989 Ronald Reagan (R) George HW Bush
1989-1993 George HW Bush (R) Dan Quayle
1993-1997 Bill Clinton (D) Al Gore
1997-2001 Bill Clinton (D) Al Gore
2001-2005 George W. Bush (R) Richard B. Cheney
2005-2009 George W. Bush (R) Richard B. Cheney
2009-2013 Barack Obama (D) Joe Biden
2013-2017 Barack Obama (D) Joe Biden
2017- Donald Trump (R) Mike Pence

The abbreviation after the name indicates the president’s party affiliation. F = federalists. DR = Democratic Republicans or Anti-Federalists. W = whiggene. D = the democrats. R = Republicans.

Unless otherwise indicated, the Vice President has belonged to the same party as the President. The Vice Presidential position has been vacant for several periods.

United States Head of Government

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