How the American Government Was Different

More of This Feature

The Declaration of Independence: Cry for Freedom
The Revolutionary War: Keeping Independence
The Articles of Confederation
The Making of the Constitution

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Part 3: How It Was Unique

The American government was unique in several ways:

  • Its leaders served for only a few years. Kings and emperors served for life; then, their sons or daughters took over.
  • They had to be elected in the first place, by a majority of the American people who voted. They had to be elected every time in order to stay in office. Monarchs weren't elected; they got to be head of the government because tradition (and usually the army) said they were.
  • The powers of government were divided into Three Branches: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. Other countries had courts and maybe lawmaking bodies (England had Parliament, for instance.), but nothing like what the Founding Fathers came up with.
  • The Constitution could be changed, or amended, if enough lawmakers and people at large agreed on it. In other countries at that time, what the king said (or what Parliament's laws said) was the law.

The American government had more in common with the ancient Greek and Roman governments than it did with the modern European and Asian governments. The Constitution was every bit as much of a revolution as the initial separation from England and, some would argue, even more important and vital to the success of the new nation.

First page > Having Their Say > Page 1, 2, 3   

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