The U.S. Constitution 6 Guiding Principles


The U.S Constitution is a written document set up by the government. It was written to set up laws to control the United States. The Constitution was written on September 17, 1787. There are various principles and articles. To explain what the principles are in the constitution, there are articles to refer to. These Principles are popular sovereignty, limited government, separation of powers, federalism, checks and balances, and representative government.

Popular Sovereignty

Popular Sovereignty is when all of the government power comes from the people. The government derives its political authority from the people. In the Preamble of the Constitution it states "We The People" meaning that people have their say in what happens and from what the government decides to do.

Limited Government

Limited government gives the people the right to be in charge of the government so the government power is limited. In article one, section eight, clause one of the constitution it says that the government can collect taxes to pay the debts of the United States and not to freely spend the money on just anything. Another example from the constitution is in article one, section eight, clause two says that the power of congress can borrow money on the credit of the United States but have to pay it back as soon as possible.

Separation of Powers

Separation of powers is power divided into three government branches. The Federal government did this to prevent the misuse of power. In the constitution article one, section three, clause two states that each of the branches have their own powers. Another example from the constitution is in article two, section one, clause six where it states that the powers of the President pass on to the Vice President if the President leaves office.


Federalism divides power between the states and the federal government. Federalism maintains the balance of powers. In article one, section ten, clause one it says that power can be denied to the states. For example, none of the fifty states can print their own money. In addition, the constitution also says in article one, section nine, clause five that power can also be denied to congress. This means that the federal government can not create separate state taxes.

Checks and Balances

Checks and Balances allows each branch of government to have the power to limit the actions of the other two. They were designed to prevent a single center of power but the two-thirds rule allows the President to overrule these powers to enact the laws. In the Constitution in article one, section two, clause five it describes that The House of Representatives elects a speaker but only the house has the power to impeach the speaker. Another example in article two, section two, clause two where it says that the president has the power to make treaties with other nations but it needs to be approved by the two-thirds of the Senate.

Representative Government

Representative government allows the citizens to elect representatives to make the laws. The Electoral College independently elects the President but the state Legislature would determine whether to choose those electors or for the people to elect them. In article two, section one, clause two the electoral college was made up to official vote for president over the popular vote of the citizen. Also in article two, section one, clause three, if no candidate won a majority to the presidential vote, the House of Representatives would choose the President.

Quiz Questions:

1. How did the government prevent the misuse of power?

2. What is the purpose of electoral college?

3. If no candidate won a majority to the presidential vote, who would elect the president?

4. How does the government maintain the balance of powers?

5. What is the purpose of the Two-Thirds rule?

6. Why can't the federal government create separate taxes?


Created with images by DonkeyHotey - "U.S. Constitution - Illustration" • cliff1066™ - "Signing of the Treaty of Versailles, 1919" • cmfg804 - "elections corrupt politicians" • mrgarethm - "Capitol Building" • PeterW1950 - "öbb sign old railway" • Moyan_Brenn - "Money" • Cali4beach - "Voting"

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