U.S. National Government Ch. 1 Notes


The means by which a society organizes itself and allocates authority in order to accomplish collective goals and provide benefits that the society as a whole needs.


The process of gaining and exercising control within a government for the purpose of setting and achieving particular goals, especially those related to the division of resources within a nation.

John Locke

An English philosopher of the seventeenth century whom believed all people have natural rights to life, liberty, and property.

Adam Smith

A Scottish philosopher, born 19 years after Locke's death, whom believed that all people should be free to acquire property in any way that they wished. Instead of being controlled by government, business, and industry, Smith argued, people should be allowed to operate as they wish and keep the proceeds of their work.


A government in which political power, rests in the hands of the people.


A government in which only certain members of a certain political party or or ruling elite can participate in government.

Private Goods

Goods and services needed by Americans that are sold in ample supply by private businesses that earn a profit in return. (i.e., clothes, food, housing, etc.)

Public Goods

Goods and services provided by the government that are available to all free of charge. (i.e., national security and public education)

Toll Goods

Goods that are available to many, and can be made use of by many, but only if they can pay the price. (i.e., private schooling)

Common Goods

Goods that are available for all to use, free of charge, however, are of limited supply. (i.e., fish in the sea, and drinking water)


Not everyone has access to these goods. Some will be excluded from having them, often because only those who pay for the good or service may use it.


All people have access to these goods. No one may be excluded. Anyone may use the good or service, usually without a charge.


only one person can use the good or service at any given time.


many people can use the same good or service at the same time.

Political Power

Influence of Institutions, leaders, and policies.

Representative Democracy

Citizens do not govern directly. Instead, they elect representatives to make decisions and pass laws on behalf of all the people.

Majority Rule

The opinions of the majority of the people have more influence with government than those of the minority.

Minority Rights

People cannot be deprived of certain rights even if an overwhelming number of people think that they should be.

Direct Democracy

People participate directly in making government decisions.


One ruler, usually a hereditary ruler, holds political power. Although, the power of some monarchs is limited by law, and such kings and queens often rule along with an elected legislature that makes laws for the country.


a form of government where government is all-powerful and citizens have no rights.