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Our Ladder of Laws The Constitution of the United States is the Supreme Law of the Land

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tee? Can you give an example in which one person has all the authority ?

Is there opportunity for authority in every group to which you belong? Are you a leader in any one of these groups? Why do we need many good leaders in a democratic country?

3. Why should every good citizen in this country know something about government groups? Try to make a list of the reasons why you should study national, State, and local political groups.

4. Locate your State on the outline map in Figure 2. What reasons can you give for wanting your State to have a government of its own? Some more words which the student should understand:

ambassadorsthe highest-ranking persons sent by one nation to

represent it officially in dealing with other nations. argued-gave reasons in favor of or against. arguments—reasons in favor of or against. articlea particular part of a writing consisting of two or more

parts. articleswritten or printed statements of facts or reasons. assenting-agreeing, or voting "yes.” Bill of Rights-an official statement of basic rights belonging

to the people of a nation. capitalplace for the headquarters of the Government. checks and balances—ways in which each principal branch of the

National Government can prevent one of the other two branches from acting too fast or becoming too powerful (fully explained

in a later chapter). circulated—passed around to people. common defense acts for protecting all the people of a country. compact-an official agreement. complicatedwith several parts so woven together as to be hard

to understand. concurrent powers-powers which the Nation and any State may

use at the same time.
consuls-officers who represent a nation in business matters in a

foreign city.
contest—struggle.
convinced-satisfied by argument.
deliberately-acting only after careful thought.
dissenting-voting "No."

domestic tranquillity-peace at home or in the community. electors—persons chosen by the voters to meet and select a Presi

dent and a Vice President for the United States. establishment—setting up, putting into effect. explicit-explained very clearly. favorablefor instead of against. Federal-based on an agreement between equal States. Federal System—the central government working in agreement

with State governments. fraudtrickery. guaranteed—made safe or certain. justice-absolute fairness. legalin agreement with law, or connected with law. liberty of conscience-freedom to think what you believe is right. monument—something large and fine, built or kept up to remind

us of some person or past event. oppression—cruel use of authority or power. population-people living in some particular place or area. posterity-our children and their children, and so on; our de

svendants. Preamble-an opening statement. press, the manything printed and offered to the public, such as

newspapers, magazines, or books. prohibitedforbidden, not allowed. promote-bring or force forward. public ministers—high officials sent by one nation to represent

it in dealing with another nation; lower in rank than am

bassadors. published-printed and offered to the public. ratifiedaccepted and made official. recognize-accept with approval. republican form of government-a government by leaders who

get their authority straight from the people. reserves-saves especially for a purpose. resolution statement of an official group adopted by vote. sentence-several words used together which express a complete

thought. submitted-passed on to someone else for action or assent. sufficient-enough. temporary-lasting only a short time.

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CHAPTER 9

How Our Constitution Has Grown

“The greatness of the Constitution lies partly in its method of development, by formal and informal means, according to the needs of the people.”

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In our last chapter we learned how the 13 States ratified the Constitution and accepted the new National Government. But no form of government is likely to remain unchanged for 150 years. Times change, and the people and their needs change. The Fathers of the Constitution provided for the development of our Constitution so it could serve these changing needs. By “development” we mean an advance to meet new needs. Let us consider how our Constitution develops.

* HOW CAN FORMAL CHANGES (AMENDMENTS) BE MADE IN THE

CONSTITUTION? The Fifth Article of the Constitution provides two different ways in which changes can be proposed to the States and two different ways in which States can approve such changes and make them a part of the Constitution. These four ways (which are the rules by which such formal changes can be made) are shown in Figure 18. In the first place, (1) the United States Senate and House of Representatives may each decide, by a favorable vote of twothirds of those present, that a proposed amendment shall be approved and sent to the States for adoption. (2) If, on the other hand, the legislatures of two-thirds of the States apply to the Congress for an amendment, the Congress must call together a national convention to discuss and prepare such an amendment. In case either step (1) or (2) is taken, the consent of three-fourths of all the States must be gotten before the proposed change actually becomes

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Special State conven

tions in three-fourths
of all the States.

Figure 18
Four Ways of Amending Our National Constitution

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