Рефераты. History of democracy of the USA

History of democracy of the USA



Abraham Lincoln, one of the best-loved and most respected of America's

presidents, said that the US had a government “of the people, by the people

and for the people”. He called the United Slates "a nation conceived in

liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

No one has formulated a better way of describing the principles of the

American political system, as Americans understand it. The Constitution,

laws and traditions of the United States give the people the right to

determine who will be the leader of their nation, who will make the laws

and what the laws will be. The people have the power to change the system.

The Constitution guarantees individual freedom to all.


- Democracy as a form of government disappeared from ancient Greece and,

over the centuries, the translation of the principles and ideals of

democracy into practice has been very rare throughout the world. Most

people have been ruled by kings, queens, emperors or small elite groups

and, except for certain members of the nobility, the people have had no

voice in their government. That was the situation in Europe in 1492.

- By the 1700s, England had established 13 colonies in the eastern part of

what is now the United States.

- Some of the early British colonists had come to the New World in hopes of

enriching themselves; others came because. Britain forced them to leave –

they were troublemakers or people who could not pay their debts. Some came

because of the opportunity, which did not exist for them in Europe, to own

land or practice a trade.

- In the course of its long history as a nation, Great Britain had taken

several steps toward democracy. England (including Wales) had a parliament

winch made laws, and most people enjoyed a degree of individual freedom.

- William Penn, a member of the Religious Society of Friends, founded the

colony of Pennsylvania, where he set up laws protecting freedom of religion

and speech. Those laws also enabled the Pennsylvania colonists to have a

voice in their local government.

- Life in the colonies also helped strengthen democratic ideas. They had to

work together to build shelter, provide food, clear the land for farms and

in general to make their new home land livable for them. This need for

cooperation and sharing, combined with a belief in individualism,

strengthened the idea that in the New World people were equal; that no one

should have special rights and privileges.

- Each colony had its own government


- The British government required people to pay taxes, but gave them no

voice in pausing the tax laws. The British motherland determined what the

colonists could produce and with whom they could trade.

- In 1774, a group of leaders from the colonies met and formed the

“Continental Congress”, which informed the king of the colonists’ belief

that, as free Englishmen, they should have a voice in determining laws that

affected them. The king and the conservative government in London paid no

heed to the concerns of the colonists, and many colonists felt that this

was an injustice, which gave them reason to demand independence from

Britain. In 1775, fighting broke out between New England militia and

British soldiers.

- On July 4, 1776, Continental Congress issued a Declaration of

Independence, primarily written by Thomas Jefferson, a farmer and lawyer

from the colony of Virginia. The Declaration described them as "free and

independent slates" and officially named them the United Stales of

America.The document says that all people are created equal, that all have

the right to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

-With help from France, England's old enemy, and from other Europeans, the

American armies, led by George Washington, a surveyor and gentleman farmer

from Virginia, won the War of Independence. The peace treaty signed in





- During the war, the states had agreed to work together by sending

representatives to a national congress patterned after the "Congress of

Delegates" that conducted the war with England. It would raise money to pay

off debts of the war, establish a money system and deal with foreign

nations in making treaties. The agreement that set up this plan of

cooperation was called the Articles of Confederation.

- Many Americans worried about the future. How could they win the respect

of other nations if the states did not pay their depts? How could they

improve .the country by building roads or canals if the stales would not

work together? They believed that the Congress needed more power.

- The plan for the government was written in very simple language in a

document called the Constitution of the United Slates. The Constitution set

up a federal system with a strong central government. A federal system is

one in which power is shared between a central authority and its

constituent parts, with some rights reserved to each. The Constitution also

called for the election of a national leader, or president.

- Two main fears shared by most Americans: one fear was that one person or

group, including the majority, might become too powerful or be able to

seize control of the country and create a tyranny, another fear was that

the new central government might weaken or take away the power of the state

governments to run their own affairs. To deal with this the Constitution

specified exactly what power central government had and which power was

reserved for the states.

- Representatives of various states noted that the Constitution did not

have any words guaranteeing the freedoms or the basic rights and privileges

of citizens. Though the Convention delegates did not think it necessary to

include such explicit guarantees, many people felt that they needed further

written protection against tyranny. So, a "Bill of Rights" was added to the



- can make federal laws, levy federal taxes, declare war or put foreign

treaties into effect.

• The House of Representatives: two-year terms, each member represents a

district in his state according to the population of it, 435

representatives in the United States House of Representatives.

• The Senate: six-year terms each state has two senators, only one-third of

the Senate is elected every two years, experienced senators in Congress

after each election.

- A bill is read, studied in committees, commented on and amended in the

Senate or House chamber in which it was introduced. It is then voted upon.

If it passes, it is sent to the other house where a similar procedure

occurs. Members of both houses work together in "conference committees" if

the chambers have passed different versions of the same bill. Groups who

try to persuade Congressmen to vote for or against a bill are known as

"lobbies". When both houses of Congress pass a bill on which they agree, it

is sent to the president for his signature. Only after it is signed does

the bill become a law.


- The chief executive is the president, who is elected to a two-year term.

- The president, as the chief formulator of public policy, can veto

(forbid) any bill passed by Congress. The veto can be overridden by a two-

thirds vote in both the Senate and House of Representatives. As head of his

political party, with ready access to the news media, the president can

easily influence public opinion regarding issues and legislation that he

deems vital.

- The president is commander in chief of the armed forces.

- The major departments of the government are headed by appointed

secretaries who collectively make up the president's cabinet. Each

appointment must be confirmed by a vote of the Senate. Today these 13

departments are: State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, Interior, Agriculture,

Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development,

Transportation, Energy and Education.

- The president is primarily responsible for foreign relations with other

nations. The president often represents the United States abroad in

consultations with other heads of state, and, through his officials, he

negotiates treaties with over countries. Such treaties must be approved by

a two-thirds vote of the Senate. Presidents also negotiate with other

nations less formal "executive agreements" that are not subject to Senate



- The judicial branch is headed by the Supreme Court, which is the only

court specifically created by the Constitution. In addition, the Congress

has established 11 federal courts of appeal and, below them, 91 federal

district courts. Federal judges are appointed for life or voluntary

retirement, and can only be removed from office through the process of

impeachment and trial in the Congress.

- Federal courts have jurisdiction over cases arising out of the

Constitution: laws and treaties of the United States: maritime cases;

issues involving foreign citizens or governments; and cases in which the

federal government itself is a party.

- The Supreme Court today consists of a chief justice and eight associate

justices. The Court's most important function consists of determining

whether congressional legislation or executive action violates the

Constitution. This power of judicial review is not specifically provided

for by the Constitution.


• If Congress proposes a law that the president thinks is unwise, the

president can veto it. That means the proposal does not become law.

Congress can enact the law despite the president's views only if two-thirds

of the members of both houses vote in favor of it.

• If Congress passes a law which is then challenged in the courts as

unconstitutional. the Supreme Court has the power to declare the law

unconstitutional and therefore no longer in effect.

• The president has the power to make treaties with other nations and to

make all appointments to federal positions, including the position of

Supreme Court justice. The Senate, however, must approve all treaties and

confirm all appointments before they become official. In this way the

Congress can prevent the president from making unwise appointments.


- To all Americans, another basic foundation of their representative

democracy is the Bill of Rights, adopted in 1791. This consists of 10 very

short paragraphs, which guarantee freedom and individual rights and forbid

interference with the lives of individuals by the government. Each

paragraph is an Amendment to the original Constitution.

- Bill of Rights guaranteed freedom of religion, of speech and of the

press. Americans have the right to assemble in public places, to protest

government actions and to demand change. They have the right to own weapons

if they wish. Because of the Bill of Rights, neither police nor soldiers

can slop and search a person without good reason. They also cannot search a

person's home without legal permission from a court to do so.

- Bill of Rights guarantees Americans the right to a speedy trial if

accused of a crime. Cruel and unusual punishment is forbidden.

- 16 amendments to the Constitution as of 1991: guarantee citizenship and

full rights of citizenship to all people regardless of race, gives women

the right to vote and another lowered the national voting age to 18 years.

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