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041 Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government. What is one power of the federal government?

41. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government.
What is one power of the federal government?
• To print money
• To declare war
• To create an army
• To make treaties

When the 13 original states united (or came together) to make a new country, each of the states wanted to keep its powers and independence (or ability to make its own decisions). But the new federal (or national) government would also need some powers or else the states would not be able to work together as a new country. That is why the Constitution (our country’s most important legal document) specifies (or makes clear) certain powers for the federal government and others for the states.

One of the powers of the federal government is to print money or to make the bills (or paper money) and coins (or metal money) that we use to buy and sell things. It makes sense that this is a federal power, because if each state could print its own money, then it would be very difficult to buy and sell things across state borders (or the lines drawn between states on a map, where one state ends and another state begins). When only the federal government can print money, all the states use the same type of currency (or the type of money used in a country).

Another power of the federal government is to declare war (or to say that a war is beginning). Obviously this power should exist only at the national level, because it doesn’t make sense for one or two states to declare war against another country. Wars should happen only between countries.

A third power of the federal government is to create an army (or the large group of people and organizations that fight to protect a country). States can have police that work within the state, but not armies that work internationally or in other countries.

Finally, the federal government can make treaties (or official agreements between countries). For example, the United States is involved in NATO, spelled “N,” “A,” “T,” “O,” which stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations, at the national level. Individual states do not need to participate in NATO because the entire country participates in it at the federal level.


independence – freedom; the ability of a country or area to make its own decisions, especially about its government
* After our country got its independence, it took many years to establish a stable government.

to specify (something) – to make something clear, specific, and detailed
* Could you please specify the reasons why you think this project is a bad idea?

to print money – to make paper money and/or coins for use in a country
* If the government prints too much money, we'll have inflation and prices will go up.

bill – a piece of paper money; money that is printed on paper
* May I take a $20 bill out of your wallet for you?

coin – a piece of money made from metal; a small, round piece of metal that is used as money
* I only have two five-cent coins, but I need a 25-cent coin for the parking meter.

border – a line drawn between two countries, states, counties, or similar areas on a map, where one area ends and another area begins
* What river is on the border between Oregon and Washington?

currency – the type of money used in a country
* Japan's currency is the yen.

to declare war – to officially say that a war is beginning
* How many times did the United States declare war in the 1800s?

army – the people and organizations who fight for a country, usually to protect it, and usually fighting on the ground (not in the air or on the ocean)
* Elliot wants to join the U.S. army so that he can travel to other countries.

treaty – an international agreement; an agreement between different countries
* Poland signed the Treaty of Torun in 1466.