Portal:Government of the United States

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Obverse of the Great Seal of the United States
United States Congressional Seal
The Seal Of The President Of The United States
Seal of the United States Supreme Court

The federal government of the United States is the central United States governmental body, established by the United States Constitution. The federal government has three branches: the legislative, executive, and judicial. Through a system of separation of powers and the system of "checks and balances," each of these branches has some authority to act on its own, some authority to regulate the other two branches, and has some of its own authority, in turn, regulated by the other branches. The policies of the federal government have a broad impact on both the domestic and foreign affairs of the United States. In addition, the powers of the federal government as a whole are limited by the Constitution, which, per the Tenth Amendment, reserves all power not directed to the National government, to the individual states, respectively, or "to the people". The seat of the federal government is in the federal district of Washington, D.C.

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The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. It is the largest library in the world. The head of the Library is the Librarian of Congress, currently James H. Billington. The Library was established by Congress in 1800, and was housed in the United States Capitol for most of the 19th century. After much of the original collection had been destroyed during the War of 1812, Thomas Jefferson sold 6487 books, his entire personal collection, to the library in 1815. After a period of decline during the mid-19th century the Library of Congress began to grow rapidly in both size and importance after the American Civil War, culminating in the construction of a separate library building and the transference of all copyright deposit holdings to the Library. During the rapid expansion of the 20th century the Library assumed a preeminent public role, becoming a "library of last resort" and expanding its mission for the benefit of scholars and the American people. The Library's primary mission is researching inquiries made by members of Congress through the Congressional Research Service. Although it is open to the public, only Members of Congress, Supreme Court justices and other high-ranking government officials may check out books. As the de facto national library, the Library of Congress promotes literacy and American literature through various projects.

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Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States.
Photo credit: Alexander Gardner

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