The US Constitution 6 Guiding principles

Introduction to the Constitution

The Constitution was written way back in 1787 during the Philadelphia Convention, the same place the Declaration of Independence was written. It was written by James Madison. The US Constitution was based off of six principles, these were; Popular Sovereignty, Limited Government, Separation of Power, Federalism, Checks and Balances, and Representative Government.

Popular Sovereignty

The first guiding principle of the US Constitution is Popular Sovereignty. This is the idea that the governments main source of power is the people. This was stated in the Preamble, which said, "We the people..." This main point in the Constitution shows that the government gained their power from the people who contributed, and this point helped write out the constitution.

Limited Government

Limited Government is that idea that the government only has the power that the constitution grants it, or stated it has. This usually refers to the principle known as the rule of law. this infers that the government leaders aren't supposed to be above law, instead, below it. This is mainly explained in Article 1, Section 8. This is also stated in Article 1, Section 9.

Separation of Power

Another guiding principle is the idea of Separation of Power. This is a concept that states that the government's power is split between 3 different branches of the government. These branches are the Legislative, Judicial, and Executive branches. this concept was used to prevent powers being abused in different ways, and was included in the constitution for this very reason. The Executive branch is the branch of the government that is headed by the President. The president and the executive branch's job is to carry out laws, command the army, and negotiate treaties. The legislative branch is in charge of enabling laws. Lastly, the Judicial branch is the branch that enforces the law and makes sure that they are constitutional. They are also in charge of explaining the laws of the country under the constitution. The "Supreme Court" was made and the constitution made it so that Congress could establish other courts as well. These are all explained in Article 2, Section 2, Clause 1, and Article 2, Section 3.


Federalism is the next guiding principle in the Constitution. This is the idea that the federal government and the state governments share their power with one another. The dividing of the power is known as federalism, and it is written within the constitution in Article 6, declaring the constitution and any laws passed under it, form something known as the "Supreme Law of the Land." This meant that the states couldn't issue their own paper.

Checks and Balances

The next idea is known as Checks and Balances, which states that the branches of government are able to limit the actions of each other. This is to prevent a power struggle and see that one powerful branch takes over with all the power. This can be found in Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5, and Article 2, Section 2, Clause 2.

Representative Government

The last guiding principle is called Representative Government. This states that citizens elect the representatives from their state into the government to make laws. Citizens would directly elect representatives to the House of Representatives. Which is an example of how the Constitution was made. There is more information in the constitution about Representative Government in Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3.

Quick Quiz

1. In which article could you find information about Checks and Balances?

2. Explain why it would be best to have the powers separated and shared among the 3 branches, rather than some having more power than others.

3. Predict what might happen, according to your thoughts, if in Federalism one government had more power than the other, such as a Federal Government having more power than the State Government.

4. How is Separation of Power similar to Federalism?

5. Do you think Popular Sovereignty is a good or a bad thing?

6. Could you design a new and remastered version of Federalism or Separation of Powers? What would you change?


Created with images by jp26jp - "flag usa patriot" • mandalariangirl - "The Constitution of the United States" • DonnaW - "the white house landmark united states" • jp26jp - "flag usa patriot" • igb - "Government building." • Phil Roeder - "United States Capitol"

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