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allegiance

Loyalty to a nation, organization, or cause

amendment

A change added onto the US Constitution (or other document) that adds new meaning. There are 27 amendments to the US Constitution (as of 2005); the first 10 amendments are called the Bill of Rights

Bill of Rights

The first 10 amendments to the US Constitution are called the Bill of Rights.

bicameral

consisting of two legislative branches, like the US Congress, which consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

branches of government

In the US, there are three branches of government: the legislative, the executive and the judicial

census

an official count of the number of people in a region. The survey is done by a government, usually periodically. The US census has been taken every 10 years since 1790 (in years ending in zero); this as mandated by the US Constitution. The results of the US census are used to determine how many members of the US House of Representatives represent an area, and to allocate federal funding for local programs.

checks and balances

refers to a system in which separate, powerful entities (like the three branches of the US government) check (monitor) the behavior of each other, having the effect of keeping an even balance of power. The phrase "checks and balances" was coined by Charles-Louis Montesquieu (a French political philosopher) in 1748; he also wrote about dividing the power of a government into a Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branch.

citizen

A person who is born in a country or a person who has legally established his or her allegiance to that country.

constitution

A document outlining the basis of the rules of a country or organization.

amend

To make a minor change in

convention

An official meeting

debt

Something that is owed, such as money

election

A process in which political representatives are chosen by ballot

executive branch

The part of the US government that administers the laws and other affairs of the government; it includes the President (also called the Chief Executive), the President's staff, executive agencies (the Office of Management and Budget, the National Security Council, etc.) and Cabinet departments (like the State Department, the Dept. of Defense, the Dept. of Agriculture, etc.

Federal government

Pertaining to the national or central government

Founding Fathers

The men whose actions were responsible for creating the United States of America and the US Constitution

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