United States

United States

Federal republic in North America

American History

The American Civil War divided the United States in two--the Northern States versus the Southern States. The outcome of the four year battle (1861-1865) kept the United States together as one whole nation and ended slavery.

On April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I by declaring war on Germany.

The National Museum of the Marine Corps is located next to the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia, and features exhibits on the actions of Marines during World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

Across the United States, military memorials and monuments commemorate wars, battles, and those who lived and served during those times. Popular points of interest by each major war include:

The African American Civil War Memorial and Museum in Washington, DC, has collections and exhibits to help visitors remember the African Americans who fought in the Civil War.

Civilian Medals and Honors

The Presidential Medal of Freedom - As the highest civilian award in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom is given for an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the U.S., to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. It may also be awarded to members of the military and non-citizens. First awarded in 1963, the medal can be additionally awarded "With Distinction" for especially important service. See a list of recipients from 1993 on. 

The Congressional Gold Medal - The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award given by Congress. It is awarded for achievements that have a major impact on American history or culture.. Awardees can be civilian or military personnel and are not required to be citizens. This medal is also given in silver and bronze. This medal was first awarded to Founding Father George Washington by the Second Continental Congress in 1776. See a list of recipients.

The National Medal of Arts - This is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States government. The National Medal of Arts is awarded to individuals or groups who "are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support, and availability of the arts in the United States." Recipients are selected by the National Endowment for The Arts, and this medal was first awarded in 1984. See a list of recipients.

The Kennedy Center Honors - Awarded by the Kennedy Center's Board of Trustees, which is headed by the First Lady, this award is given by the president to honor outstanding contributions to U.S. art, music, theatre, film, and culture. This award was first given in 1978. See a list of recipients.

The National Medal of Technology and Innovation - This medal is awarded by the president of the United States to American inventors and innovators who have made significant contributions to the development of new and important technology. The award may be granted to a specific person, to a group of people, or to an entire organization or corporation. This medal was first awarded in 1985 as the National Medal of Technology. See a list of recipients.

Branches of the U.S. Government

Executive Branch:

The Executive branch, which is led by the President of the United State (POTUS) is responsible for making sure that laws are followed among other things

Vice president--The vice president supports the president. If the president is unable to serve, the vice president becomes president. The vice president can be elected and serve an unlimited number of four-year terms as vice president, even under a different president. The vice president also serves as the President of the Senate (see below).

Legislative Branch

The Legislative Branch is responsible for making new laws and reforming old ones. At the federal level, the Legislative Branch is Congress, which is composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The Senate

Each state had two Senators, totaling 100 senators in all. The House of Representatives has 435 voting members and 6 non-voting members. The Senate is presided over by the Vice President who acts as the President of the Senate. However, he or she may only cast a vote it there is a tie so that the tie may be broken.

The House of Representatives

The voting members are the Representatives from each sate; the number of representatives from each state corresponds to the number of districts in that state. The non-voting members are the 5 delegates (from The District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) and the resident commissioner from Puerto Rico. The House is lead by the Speaker of the House

Judicial Branch

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the country. The nine justices are nominated by the president and must be approved by the Senate (see above) with at least 51 votes.

The Justices of the Supreme Court, who can overturn unconstitutional laws, are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

Most cases reach the Court on appeal. An appeal is a request for a higher court to reverse the decision of a lower court. Most appeals come from federal courts. They can come from state courts if a case deals with federal law.


July 1, 1776

Declaration of Independence is Signed



Further reading


Documentaries, videos and podcasts





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