What are the names of the American parliament and its two chambers?
Do you happen to remember who was the first US president?
Do you think Washington, DC, has always been the capital of the United States (the seat of the US government)?
A Federal System of Government
The Constitution gave the United States a federal system of government. A federal system is one in which the power to rule is shared between the federal government and the state governments. The new Constitution allowed the states to run their internal affairs as they wished, provided that they kept to the rules of the Constitution. But it made the federal government much stronger than before. It gave it the power to collect taxes, to organize armed forces, to make treaties with foreign countries and to control trade of all kinds.
The Structure of the Federal Government
The Constitution defined and limited the powers of the Federal Government and divided them among the Government’s three main branches – Legislative, Executive and Judicial.
The Constitution made arrangements for the election of a national leader called the president. He heads the executive branch of the nation’s government. It is his job to run the country’s everyday affairs and to see that people obey the laws.
The law-making, or legislative powers of the federal government were given to the Congress. It is made up of representatives elected by the people. Congress consists of two parts (houses): the Senate and the House of Representatives. In the Senate each state is equally represented, with two senators, whatever the size of its population. The number of representatives a state has in the House depends upon its population.
Finally, the Constitution set up the Supreme Court, the Judicial branch of the nation’s government. Its job is to make decisions in any disagreements about the meaning of the laws and the Constitution. They can only be interpreted by the Supreme Court.
The First President
In 1788 George Washington, the hero of the Revolutionary War and the Father of the Nation, was unanimously elected the first President of the United States. New York was then the country’s capital. On April 30, 1789, Washington stood on a balcony there and swore a solemn oath ‘to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States’. When the ceremony came to an end he officially took control of the nation’s government.
Slowly, feeling his way, Washington was defining the style of the first president of a country in the history of the world. The people, too, were adjusting to a government without a king. Even the question of how to address a president had to be discussed. It was decided that in a republic the simple salutation Mr. President would do.
In 1792 Washington was re-elected for a second term of office. Earnestly desiring leisure, feeling a decline of his physical powers, he refused to yield to the general pressure for a third term. Many steps taken by President Washington during his tenure in office were followed by his successors and became American traditions.
A New Capital
In 1790 Congress decided that the new country needed a new city for its capital. President Washington himself helped choose the place – on the banks of the Potomac River. In 1800 the Federal Government moved to the new capital named after the first president (who died in 1799). During the (Anglo-American) War of 1812 the president’s house was one of the government buildings burned by the British troops who captured Washington in 1814. After the war it was painted white to cover up the marks, which gave the White House its name.
1. The first US Presidents
Washington, George (1732–99), hero of American Independence, president of the Philadelphia constitutional convention 1787, first president of the United States 1789–97. Джордж Вашингтон.
Adams, John (1735–1826), 2nd US president (1797–1801), vice-president 1789–97, diplomat, one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence. Джон Адамс.
Jefferson, Thomas (1743–1826), 3rd president (1801–09), vice-president 1797–1801, first secretary of state 1789–94, author of the Declaration of Independence. Томас Джефферсон.
Madison, James (1751–1836), 4th president 1809–17, secretary of state 1801–09, one of the authors of the American Constitution.Джеймс Мэдисон.
2. US Capitals
New York, a city in the state of New York, the country’s main port. Founded by the Dutch in 1626 as New Amsterdam, captured by the British in 1664 and renamed New York. In 1785–90, capital of the USA. Нью-Йорк.
Philadelphia, a city and port in the state of Pennsylvania, founded in 1682, the capital of the USA in 1790–1800. Филадельфия.
Washington, DC, the capital of the USA since 1800, sharing the same borders with the District of Columbia. Established in 1790 on land ceded to Congress by Maryland and Virginia. Вашингтон (округ Колумбия).
A reading passage Presidents and Parliaments
A presidential system is distinct from a parliamentary system in these ways:
1. In a presidential system, the executive and legislature are separate. No one can hold office in both branches. This is known as separation of powers. Each branch serves as a check on the actions of the other.
In a parliamentary system, the executive (Prime Minister and ministers) is made up of members of the legislature and is normally formed from the majority party in the legislature.
2. In a presidential system, the general public elect the executive in the form of a President.
In a parliamentary system, the main party or parties in the legislature elect the leader of the executive.
A country with a President does not necessarily have a presidential system. In some parliamentary systems a President is elected as well as a Prime Minister, but has only ceremonial duties similar to that of a monarch.
2. seat of the government
3. system of government
4. share the power to rule
делить, распределять власть
правительство штата (штатное)
решать внутренние вопросы, заниматься внутренними делами
7. provided that
syn. on condition that
при условии, если; если только
8. keep to the rules
соблюдать правила, требования
9. give the power to collect
дать право собирать налоги
oпределять, давать определение
11. division / separation of
12. branches of government
legislative power (branch)
executive power (branch)
judicial power (branch)
законодательная власть (ветвь)
исполнительная власть (ветвь)
судебная власть (ветвь)
13. make arrangements for
14. obey the laws
15. (the) Congress
the Senate [′senət]
House of Representatives
2. (R.) член палаты представителей
16. be represented equally
иметь равное представительство
17. whatever the size of the
независимо от численности населения
18. the Supreme Court
19. disagreements about sth
разногласия по поводу чего-л.
20. interpret the laws
толковать, трактовать законы
21. administer the country
syn. run the country’s everyday affairs
22. electoral voters
23. electoral college
the Secretary of State
25. with the advice and consent
по рекомендациям и с согласия
27. swear (swore, sworn)
swear a solemn oath
давать торжественную клятву
28. take control of the
29. term of office
30. the Potomac
31. paint white
окрасить в белый цвет
32.cover the marks (of the fire)
скрыть следы (пожара)
1. Read the text. Look up new words in the Vocabulary.
2. Read these phrases aloud. Find the sentences with these phrases in the text. Translate them into Russian.
a) A federal system of government; to share the power; to keep to the rules of the Constitution; the power to collect taxes; to organize armed forces; to make treaties with foreign countries; to control trade of all kinds.
b) To define and limit the powers; the three branches of the government; the executive branch; the legislative branch; the judicial branch; the two parts (chambers) of the Congress; representatives elected be people; each state is equally represented; the number of representatives in the House; disagreements about the meaning of the laws; to interpret the Constitution.
c) The hero of the Revolutionary War; to elect unanimously; to swear a solemn oath; ‘to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution’; to take control of the nation’s government; re-elected for a second term.
d) A new capital city for the new country; on the banks of the Potomac river; to move to the new capital; to burn the government buildings; to paint the house white. 3. Comprehension check: Answer these questions. Check your answers with the text.
a) 1. What does a federal system of government mean?
2. Did the states retain any powers they had enjoyed before?
3. Did the new federal government become any stronger?
b) 1. What does ‘separation of power’ mean?
2. What are the names of the three branches of the government in the USA?
3. What powers were given to each of the branches: Congress, the Administration and the Supreme Court?
4. Examine the figure (on page 65) carefully and answer these questions:
– What does Congress do?
– Which parts does it consist of?
– What do the President and his Administration do?
– Is the President elected by Congress?
– Is the Vice-President appointed by the President?
– What does the Supreme Court do?
– Are its members (Justices) elected?
– What are the names of the three branches of power in Russia?
c) 1. Who was the first US president?
2. When did he take control of the government?
3. How many terms did he serve?
d) 1. What cities have been the capital of the USA?
2. When and where was the new capital founded?
3. What names were given to the new federal capital and the federal district?
4. Why is the president’s residence called the ‘White House’? Why do you think many Russian journalists and officials call the Government Building in Moscow БелыйДом? 4. Put a preposition into each gap. Underline the prepositions in your notebooks.
a) ___ a federal system the power is shared ______ the federal government and the state governments. Both ___ them must keep ___ the rules ___ the Constitution. The central government became much stronger _____ before. ____ example, it got the power to control trade ___ all kinds.
b) The powers ___ the Federal Government were divided _____ its three branches. The executive branch is headed ___ the President elected ___ the people. The legislative powers were given ___ the Congress made up ___ representatives elected _____ the people. It consists ___ two chambers (houses). The laws and the Constitution are interpreted ___ the Supreme Court. It makes decisions ___ any disagreements _____ their meaning.
c) ____1788 G. Washington was elected the first President ____ the United States. ____ April 30, 1789, when the inauguration ceremony came ___ an end, he officially took control ___ the nation’s government. ___ 1792 he was re-elected _____ a second term ____ office.
d) The new country needed a new city ____ its capital. The place ____ it was chosen ___ the banks ___ the Potomac River. ____ 1800 the main government buildings had been completed and the Government moved _____ Philadelphia ___ the new capital named _____ the first president. 5. Put the verb in brackets in the correct tense and voice. Underline the verb forms in your notebooks.
a) The Constitution (to introduce) a federal system of government which (to mean) that it (to divide) the power between the central government and the states governments. It said that the states (to allow) to run their affairs as they (to wish). But the federal government (to become) much stronger because the Constitution (to give) it more powers.
b) Under the Constitution the power further (to divide) among the three branches of the national government which (to be) independent of each other.
c) In 1788 the people unanimously (to elect) G. Washington the first President of the US. He (to remain) in office for 8 years as he (to re-elect) for a second term. The first inauguration ceremony (to be) much simpler and less expensive than it (to be) now. Washington (to refuse) to seek a third term.
d) It (to decide) that the country (to need) a new capital. The place (to choose) on the banks of the Potomac river. The two neighbouring states, Maryland and Virginia, ceded the land to Congress. They (to found) the city in 1790 and the government (to move) to the new capital ten years later, when the main government buildings (to complete). They (to name) the capital in honour of the first president who (to die) the year before. 6. Change the following sentences to passive. Underline the verb forms in your notebooks.
a) The Constitution gave the United States a federal system of government. The states retained many of their rights. The Constitution made the federal government much stronger. It gave it new important powers.
b) It divided the government’s power among the three branches. The President heads the executive branch. The people elect the President and the members of the Congress. The President appoints the secretaries (the heads of departments). Congress makes laws. The Supreme Court explains and interprets the laws and the Constitution.
c) Every four years, in fact every leap year, Americans elect a president and a vice-president for a four-year term. They elected Washington president in 1788 and re-elected him four years later.
d) They chose a place for a new capital on the Potomac. They founded the city in 1790. They named it after G. Washington. A French engineer L’Enfant planned the city. In 1814, during the last Anglo-American War, the British captured the new capital and burned it. When the war was over the Americans painted the president’s house white. They have called it the White House since then. 7. Write questions to these answers.
a) 1. A federal system. 2. Yes, the right to run their internal affairs as they wished. 3. Yes, because it was given more powers. 4. The power to collect taxes and to control trade of all kinds.
b) 1. The President does. 2. They were given to the Congress. 3. The Senate and the House of Representatives. 4. Only the Supreme Court can do it.
c) 1. In 1989. 2. For eight years. 3. Twice.
d) 1. In 1790. 2. On the Potomac River. 3. In 1800. 4. After the nation’s first president. 5. Because it was painted white after the fire. 8. Give the English equivalents to these phrases.
a) Делить власть; делить полномочия между тремя ветвями правительства; сильное центральное правительство; соблюдать конституцию; право собирать налоги и контролировать торговлю.
b) Законодательная, исполнительная и судебная ветви власти; возглавлять исполнительную власть; управлять страной; соблюдать законы; состоять из двух палат; представители, избираемые народом; представленные поровну; зависеть от численности населения; объяснять и толковать законы и конституцию.
c) Избирать единодушно; переизбирать на второй срок; принимать торжественную клятву; возглавлять правительство страны.
d) Основать новую столицу; выбрать место на берегах Потомака; переехать в новую столицу; назвать ее именем первого президента. 9. True or false? Give an adequate response to each statement. Do not content yourselves with saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.
1. A federal system of government divides the power among the various departments (ministries).
2. The Constitution gave the states certain rights.
3. It made the federal government much stronger than before.
4. The president’s job is to supervise the work of all the branches of the government.
5. The US Congress consists of two parts, the House of Commons and the Council of the Federation.
6. The members of Congress are elected by the people.
7. The members of the Supreme Court are appointed by the Senate.
8. George Washington was unanimously elected the first president.
9. Washington built a new capital and named it after himself.
10. The president’s house was built of white stone and came to be called the White House. 10. Points for discussion. (Summarize the text according to the following suggestions).
1. The adoption of the Constitution.
2. A federal system of government.
3. Separation of powers. The three branches of the federal government and their powers.
4. The first president elected under the US Constitution.
5. The new capital of the new nation.
6. The various fathers in US history. 11. TranslateintoEnglish.
В 1776 г. Декларация независимости, принятая Континентальным Конгрессом, заявила о рождении новой страны – Соединенных Штатов Америки, состоящих из 13 независимых государств (штатов). Функцию временного правительства стал выполнять Континентальный Конгресс. Он также подготовил Устав конфедерации, который, после его одобрения всеми штатами, стал первой конституцией США в 1781. Но после войны Устав работал плохо, и страна столкнулась с массой проблем.
Новая Конституция, разработанная Конституционным Конвентом в 1787 г., была совершенно иным документом. Она установила четко сформулированные положения о разделении полномочий на разных уровнях. Однако в ней не говорилось, как будет работать новая структура правительства. Поэтому каждое действие или решение первого Президента создавало прецедент (set a precedent). Вашингтон это понимал. Например, когда кончился его второй срок, он отказался добиваться третьего срока. Его примеру следовали другие президенты вплоть до 1940 г. (когда Ф.Д. Рузвельт избирался на третий, а в 1944 г. – и на четвертый срок).
Двадцать вторая поправка к Конституции США, принятая Конгрессом в 1951 г., ограничивает пребывание президента у власти двумя сроками.