Constitutional structure of U.S. Government 1789
Distribution of Power
We the People
State Legislatures
Declaration of Independence
Articles of Confederation
1781                           1789
The "Plan" 1787 - Imp. 1789
Principles and Purpose 1776
Electoral College
Executive Branch
Vice President -
President of Senate
Legislative Branch
House of Representatives
* Article I, Section 3 provides for
Senators to be chosen by State
Legislatures.  This was amended
by the Seventeenth Amendment
(1913) to allow for direct election
by voters of each state.
Judicial Branch
Supreme Court
Inferior Courts
The diagram above represents the Constitutional Structure of the U.S. Government when the first Congress met in 1789.  
Only two amendments to this structure have been ratified over the past two centuries. They are the Twelfth Amendment,
changing the method for selecting the President and Vice President and the Seventeenth Amendment changing the method
for appointing Senators. See "
Structure of U.S. Government 2009" for comparison.
Established, Elected or Appointed by
Constitutional lines of authority
Limited Constitutional Authority
Time Line
1775  Revolutionary War begins with the battles of Lexington and Concord April 19, 1775

1781  Articles of Confederation ratified and formed the basis for governance until the first Congress convened under the
new Constitution in 1789.

1783  Treaty of Paris signed officially ending the Revolutionary War.

1787  Constitution Convention met in Philadelphia (May 25 - September 17) and crafted and signed the Constitution.

1788  Constitution ratified by the required number of states.

1789  First Congress convened March 4, 1789 at Federal Hall in New York.

1804  Twelfth Amendment ratified June 15, 1804

1913  Seventeenth Amendment ratified April 8, 1913
Source of Political Power:  In our system of government the supreme power resides in the citizenry acting through their
state legislatures, both subject to the requirements of the Constitution.  For example, the people through their state
legislatures, have the power to amend the Constitution independent of any of the branches of government.  On the other
hand, Congress has only  the power to propose amendments to the states and the people, with no influence over
ratification. The Executive and Judicial Branchs have no authority in the amendment process.
"Structure of U.S. Government 2009"
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