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Portal:Government of the United States

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Introduction

Great Seal of the United States (obverse).svg

The Federal Government of the United States (U.S. Federal Government) is the national government of the United States, a federal republic in North America, composed of 50 states, one district—Washington, D.C., and several territories. The federal government is composed of three distinct branches: legislative, executive, and judicial, whose powers are vested by the U.S. Constitution in the Congress, the president, and the federal courts, respectively. The powers and duties of these branches are further defined by acts of Congress, including the creation of executive departments and courts inferior to the Supreme Court.

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The cover of a book containing the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions along with the Report of 1800 and other supporting documents. This edition was produced by editor Jonathan Elliot in 1832 at the height of the nullification crisis. These documents formed the philosophical foundation for the nullification movement.
The Report of 1800 was a resolution drafted by James Madison arguing for the sovereignty of the individual states under the United States Constitution and against the Alien and Sedition Acts. Adopted by the Virginia General Assembly in January 1800, the Report amends arguments from the 1798 Virginia Resolutions and attempts to resolve contemporary criticisms against the Resolutions. The Report was the last important explication of the Constitution produced before the 1817 Bonus Bill Veto Message by Madison, whose later repositioning as an extreme nationalist won him nationalist praise (despite his substantial defeat in the Philadelphia Convention of 1787) as the "Father of the Constitution." The arguments made in the Resolutions and the Report were later used frequently during the nullification crisis of 1832, when South Carolina declared federal tariffs to be unconstitutional and void within the state. Madison rejected the concept of nullification and the notion that his arguments supported such a practice. Whether Madison's theory of Republicanism really supported the nullification movement, and more broadly whether the ideas he expressed between 1798 and 1800 are consistent with his work before and after this period, are the main questions surrounding the Report in the modern literature.

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LOC Main Reading Room Highsmith.jpg
The reading room of the Library of Congress
Photo credit: Carol M. Highsmith

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