The story of the U.S. Constitution
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The story of the U.S. Constitution. Liberty Tree. Continental Congress. Articles of Confederation. Town Hall Meetings. House of Burgesses. Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. Mayflower Compact. English Bill of Rights. Magna Carta. Liberty Tree. U.S. Constitution. Structure and Function.

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Continental Congress

Articles of Confederation

Town Hall Meetings

House of Burgesses

Fundamental Orders of Connecticut

Mayflower Compact

English Bill of Rights

Magna Carta

Liberty Tree

U.S. Constitution

Structure and Function

At the Constitutional Convention, the delegates created a new plan for the U.S. government that focused on two things.

Structureis the framework of our government.


What do you notice about the structure of a tree?





tree bark

root system




The government structure has three branches.


Legislative Branch:



  • Senate

    • 2 per state

    • 6-year terms

  • House of Representatives

    • based on population

    • 2-year terms

  • Bicameral = made of two houses

    Elected by the people

    Executive Branch:Structure


    • President (4-year term)

    • Vice-President

    • Cabinet Members

    • Appointees

    Executive Branch:Structure



    Secretary of State


    Joe Biden

    Barak Obama

    Hillary Clinton

    Judicial Branch:



    • U. S. Supreme Court (life-terms)

    • District Courts (appointed)

    • County and Local Courts (elected)

    What is the function of a tree?


    home for some animals



    The preamble to the Constitution tells the function or WHAT the government does for the people.

    • ensure domestic tranquility

    • provide for the common defense

    • promote the general welfare

    • establish justice

    • secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves, and our posterity

    Legislative Branch:


    • Makes laws

    Idea may become a bill (proposed law) in House of Representatives or Senate

    People discuss ideas and tell representatives in Congress

    Bill becomes a law if approved by both houses and signed by the President

    U.S. Congress

    • Electedbythepeople

    • Elected by the people and electoral college system

    Executive Branch:Function

    The White House

    Judicial Branch:


    • Interpretsthe laws (decides if laws are fair)

    • Tries civil and criminal cases in lower courts

    • Nine justices on U.S. Supreme Court

    • AppointedbyPresidentandapprovedbyCongress

    Supreme Court

    Supreme Court



    Each branch checks and balances the other branches.



    Checks and Balances

    Judicial branch can declare a law unconstitutional

    Legislative branch can override presidential veto with a 2/3 vote

    Legislative branch makes laws

    Legislative branch can remove judges from office

    Executive branch can veto law

    Executive branch appoints Supreme Court justices

    Legislativebranch hastoapprovetheappointmentofthejustices

    Legislative branch can remove president from office

    House of Representatives brings charges against the President (impeach)

    Senate holds a trial and 2/3 vote needed to remove President from office

    The U.S. Constitution has sevenarticles that explain the structure and function of the government.

    Article 1: Legislative Branch

    Article 2: Executive Branch

    Article 3: Judicial Branch

    Article 4: Relations Among States

    Article 5: Amending the Constitution

    Article 6: National Supremacy

    Article 7: Ratification

    The structure and function of our government are based on five basic principles.


    Checks and balances

    Popular sovereignty

    Separation of powers

    Limited government

    Indivivual Rights

    Five Basic Principles of the Constitution


    “Popular” means people..

    “Sovereignty”comes from “sovereign” which means ruler.

    Popular sovereignty =people choose



    Separation of powersdivides the operation of government into three equal branches.

    Each branch of the government checks and balances, or monitors, the power of the other two branches.

    Since King George III had unlimited power, the writers of the U.S. Constitution wanted “we the people” to put limits on the government.

    The Constitution outlined exactly what the government could do.

    Federalism is the division and sharing of powers between the state and national government.

    • State Powers

    • maintain schools

    • conduct elections

    • provide public safety

    • regulate trade in state

    • National Powers

    • maintain armed forces

    • coin money

    • declare war

    • make foreign policy


    • A nation where the people elect representatives to make laws for them.

    Individual rights
    Individual Rights

    • Personal freedoms protected from the government. Example: Bill of Rights – Freedom of Religion, Right to Bear Arms, etc.

    Rooted in these five principles, the U.S. Constitution has endured since 1787.

    This living document protects the rights of the individuals by limiting the power of the government.

    Visual Metaphor: endured since 1787.

    How is the U.S. government like a tricycle?

    Handle bars =Constitution

    Platform =Separation of powers

    Label the parts of the tricycle with these other words. endured since 1787.

    The People

    Executive Branch

    Legislative Branch

    Judicial Branch



    Supreme Court

    Checks and Balances

    The Tree endured since 1787.

    of Liberty

    The foundation of our government and the supreme law of the land