The origins of the United States government date back to 1781 when the Articles of Confederation went into effect. This agreement created a Congress with elected state delegates representing the interests of the people. In 1788, the United States Constitution was ratified by a majority of states in the union.
The Articles of Confederation was the first document to express the ideas of a free and independent sovereign government. However, Congress had no authority to tax or regulate business. Leaders, state representatives and the populace desired a stronger constitution that resolved issues not addressed in the Articles of Confederation. Thus, in 1787, a committee of delegates including James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, convened in Philadelphia to draw up an official constitution. This meeting is known as the Constitutional Convention, and the country's founders deliberated over the language to be included in the Constitution. The ideas of James Madison are heavily represented in the final version of the Constitution, which was signed by 39 delegates.
A majority of states ratified the Constitution, making it the official law of the United States. Some states agreed to ratification after members agreed to the creation of a Bill of Rights. In 1789, 12 constitutional amendments were presented to Congress, and 10 passed, forming an official Bill of Rights.Learn More
A commonwealth and a state are exactly the same thing; the term "commonwealth" was originally used to indicate that a particular region was not governed by a monarch but by the people. There are four states that call themselves commonwealths: Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Virginia.Full Answer >
The U. S. House of Representatives is made up of 435 members. Congress passed a law raising the number of representatives from 391 to 435 on April 8, 1911. The Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929 sealed the number there despite any population growth.Full Answer >
The government shut down for 16 days in October 2013 because the House and Senate couldn't agree on legislation to fund the government, and time ran out. At the start of the fiscal year, on Oct. 1, 2013, neither an appropriations bill, nor a continuing resolution had passed in Congress.Full Answer >
A conference committee has the task of creating compromises in legislation, according to the U.S. Senate. This committee consists of members of both chambers of the legislature who convene to agree upon language or other important elements in a bill.Full Answer >