Page:Statesman's Year-Book 1899 American Edition.djvu/23

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Constitution and Government

A Congress representing the thirteen original colonies declared their independence of Great Britain July 4, 1776, and thereafter each colony was known as a State. As a result of the war with Great Britain, the latter acknowledged the independence of the United States Nov. 30, 1782, and Sept. 3, 1783, a definitive treaty of peace was concluded at Paris. The government of the United States continued under the Congress provided by the Articles of Confederation until March 4, 1789, when a constitution, which had been adopted by representatives of the different States Sept. 17, 1787, went into effect. March 4, 1789, then, is the date of the inception of the present constitutional government of the American Union.

Ten amendments were added to the original Constitution Dec. 15, 1791; the eleventh amendment, Jan. 8, 1789; the twelfth amendment, Sept. 25, 1804; the thirteenth amendment, Dec. 18, 1865; the fourteenth amendment, July 28, 1868; and the fifteenth amendment, March 30, 1870. Amendments proposed by the Congress must be adopted by three-fourths of the States, acting through their legislatures.

In the table of States hereafter given, the date of the adoption of the original Constitution by each is stated, and also the dates of the admission of States subsequent to that time, there having been thirty-two States admitted since the adoption of the Constitution, the whole number of States now being forty-five.

By the Constitution, the government of the nation is intrusted to three separate departments, the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial. The executive power is vested in a President, who holds his office during the term of four years, and is elected, together with a Vice-President chosen for the