- from Presidency
Fighting for freedom is one thing, but knowing what to do with freedom is a different matter.
When the British surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781, the 13 North American colonies had effectively won their independence. However, it was not clear what would happen next. Would each of the former colonies be independent? Would they choose to be loosely connected, or would they form a unified country with a strong central government? It took several years for these questions to be answered.
From 1781 to 1787, the 13 states formed a loose association, governed by a document called the Articles of Confederation. Although the individual states held most of the power, Congress passed laws on matters affecting all the states. But this arrangement had its problems. In 1789, a new document, called the Constitution, bound the 13 states into a “more perfect union.”
The Constitution provides for a government of three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The executive branch carries out the laws, the legislative branch (Congress) passes laws, and the judicial branch (the courts) decides if the laws are being carried out fairly. The president is the head of the executive branch, but—as you will discover—the president is much more.