What is an open educational resource?

Welcome to United States Government. This textbook was written to increase student access to high-quality learning materials, maintaining the highest standards of academic rigor at little to no cost.


About the original source material for the current “United States Government” remixed and adapted version from OpenStax American Government…

OpenStax is a nonprofit based at Rice University. The OpenStax mission is made possible through the generous support of philanthropic foundations. Through these partnerships and with the help of additional low-cost resources from our OpenStax partners, OpenStax is breaking down the most common barriers to learning and empowering students and instructors to succeed.



United States Government is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY) license, which means you can distribute, remix, and build upon the content, as long as you credit OpenStax for the original creation.

Because our books are openly licensed, you are free to use the entire book or pick and choose the sections that are most relevant to the needs of your course. Feel free to remix the content by assigning your students select chapters and sections in your syllabus, in the order that you prefer. You can even provide a direct link in your syllabus to the sections in the web view of your book.

 ABOUT United States Government

United States Government is designed to meet the scope and sequence requirements of the single-semester United States Government course. This title includes innovative features designed to enhance student learning, including Insider Perspective features and a Get Connected module that shows students how they can get engaged in the political process. The book provides an important opportunity for students to learn the core concepts of United States Government and understand how those concepts apply to their lives and the world around them.

Coverage and Scope

Our United States Government textbook adheres to the scope and sequence of introductory American government courses. We have endeavored to make the workings of United States Government interesting and accessible to students while maintaining the conceptual coverage and rigor inherent in the subject at the college level. With this objective in mind, the content of this textbook has been developed and arranged to provide a logical progression from the fundamental principles of institutional design at the founding, thorough coverage of political structures, to avenues of political participation that constitute American government. The book builds upon what students have already learned and emphasizes connections between topics as well as between theory and applications. The goal of each section is to enable students not just to recognize concepts, but to work with them in ways that will be useful in later courses, future careers, and as engaged citizens. The organization and pedagogical features were developed and vetted with feedback from government instructors dedicated to the project.

United States Government: Where do we start?

  • United States Government
    • Why form a government?
    • Who is in control?
    • Civic Engagement in a Representative Republic
  • Constitutions and Contracts
    • Why establish rules for governing?
    • Articles of Confederation
    • Was another new contract really necessary in 1787?
    • Ratification or Approving the Contract
    • Amending or Changing the Contract
  • Federalism
    • Basic Structure of Government
    • How should power be structurally divided?
    • How is revenue shared?
  • Public Opinion, Political Culture, and Political Ideology
    • How is it formed?
    • How is it measured?
    • What is the connection to political institutions?
  • Interest Groups
    • Who or what are they?
    • Pathways to Participation and Influence
    • How are they regulated?
  • Political Parties
    • What are they and how do they function?
    • How are they organized?
    • What is divided government?
  • Political Participation, Elections, and Voting
    • The People Take Action
    • Voter Turnout and Registration
    • How do we choose our representatives through elections and voting?
    • How do we select and elect a president?
    • Fundraising, Campaign Finance, and Elections
    • Direct Action
  • Media
    • What is their function?
    • How has media changed and developed?
    • How are they regulated?
    • What is their impact?
  • Congress
    • Making Laws Under the Contract
    • What does legislative procedure look like?
  • The President
    • Upholding, Implementing, and Enforcing the Law
    • What is the public presidency?
  • The Bureaucracy
    • What are its functions?
    • How is it structured?
    • Who is in control?
  • Domestic Policy
    • Categorizing Public Policy
    • Who are the policymakers?
    • How are budgeting and tax policy implemented?
  • Foreign Policy
    • Basics & International Actors
    • Approaches
  • U.S. Courts
    • How do courts interpret contracts and laws?
    • Structure and Procedure
    • Due Process and Equality Under the Law
  • Civil Liberties
    • What does the contract protect?
    • Securing Basic Freedoms
    • Protecting the Rights of Accused Persons
    • The Bill of Rights and Protecting Privacy of Person and Property
  • Civil Rights
    • How are rights identified?
    • What has occurred in the struggle for equality?
    • How has the fight for women’s rights progressed?
    • Native Americans, Alaskans, and Hawaiians—how has the fight expanded?
    • How is equal protection achieved?
  • Liberty v. Security: Wrapping it Up in Review
    • Liberty v. Security: A Short Review


  • Appendix A: Declaration of Independence
  • Appendix B: The Articles of Confederation
  • Appendix C: The Constitution of the United States
  • Appendix D: Federalist Paper No. 10
  • Appendix E: Federalist Paper No. 51
  • Appendix F: Electoral College Votes by State, 2012–2020
  • Appendix G: Selected Supreme Court Cases
  • Appendix H: U. S. Department of Justice Legal Terms Glossary

Engaging Feature Boxes

Throughout United States Government, you will find features that engage students by taking selected topics a step further. Our features include:

  • Get Connected! This feature shows students ways they can become engaged in the U.S. political system. Follow-up may include an activity prompt or a discussion question on how students might address a particular problem.
  • Link to Learning. This feature provides a very brief introduction to a website that is pertinent to students’ exploration of the topic at hand. Included in every module, Link to Learning boxes allow students to easily connect to the most current data of ever-changing content such as poll research, budget statistics, and election coverage.

Effective Art Program

Original charts, tables, and illustrations are included in this new remixed version. The original material of the OpenStax art program is also included and both new and original materials are designed to enhance students’ understanding of concepts through clear and effective statistical graphs, tables, and photographs.

GOVT 2305 Government 3 Structures of Government Chart (1)
A chart on the left shows the widening partisan differences in political values between 1987 and 2012. In the center of the chart is a vertical axis line. On the right side of the line are the years 1987 through 2012 marked with ticks. On the left side of the line are percentages, labeled
A chart titled

GOVT 2305 Government Elements of Shared Political Culture Chart

Module Materials That Reinforce Key Concepts

  • Learning Objectives. Every module begins with a set of clear and concise learning objectives. These objectives are designed to help the instructor decide what content to include or assign, and to guide students with respect to what they can expect to learn. After completing the module and end-of-module exercises, students should be able to demonstrate mastery of the learning objectives.
  • Consider the Original. Excerpts from original documents imbedded within chapters for students to read, including questions to consider in connection to chapter concepts.
  • Terms to Remember. Key terms are bold and are followed by a definition in context. Definitions of key terms are also listed in the Glossary, which appears at the end of the module online and at the end of the chapter in print.
  • Questions to Consider. Review Questions provide opportunities to recall and test the information students learn throughout each module. End-of-chapter Critical Thinking Questions encourage deeper reflection on the chapter concepts and themes.


Student and Instructor Resources

Additional resources are combined for both students and instructors, including Getting Started Guides, PowerPoint slides, and an Instructor Answer Guide. Instructor resources require a verified instructor account.


Remix Authors

Deborah Smith Hoag (Remix Lead), Austin Community College

Professor Hoag received her BGS from West Texas State University, her MA in Political Science from Texas Tech University, and her MA in Social Science from the University of California, Irvine (ABD/focus on oral history and political socialization). She joined Austin Community College’s Government Department in 2011 after many years teaching for Lone Star College System, Katy Independent School District, and Texas Tech University. In California, Prof. Hoag worked with some well-known political scientists and authors of the 20th century, including Dr. David Easton and Dr. Harry Eckstein. She has written several books compiling oral histories of pioneer families in Oklahoma and Texas. She is the course developer for GOVT 2305 United States Government as part of Achieving the Dream Grant to adapt OER textbooks and resources for ACC and other Texas community college districts.

Richard Fonte (Remix Associate), Austin Community College
Dr. Fonte is currently with Austin Community College. He received his Phd. from the University of Michigan in Higher Education and M.A. from Indiana University in Government with the focus: American Democratic Theory. Dr. Fonte was Director for National Endowment for the Humanities’ We the People, a program designed to encourage and enhance the teaching, study, and understanding of American history, culture, and democratic principles. He has also served as President of Austin Community College and as Consultant to Texas Higher Education Board for development of college readiness curriculum materials in the areas of history and government.
OpenStax Authors
Glen Krutz (Content Lead), University of Oklahoma

Dr. Glen Krutz received his BA and MPA from the University of Nevada–Reno, and his PhD from Texas A&M University. He joined the University of Oklahoma’s Department of Political Science in 2002 and serves as Professor of Political Science, teaching the American Government course to hundreds of students each semester. Prior to his academic career, Dr. Krutz worked in politics and policy, as a campaign assistant and then Capitol Hill aide to a U.S. Senator and as a research analyst for what would become the Nevada System of Higher Education. He has authored and co-authored several books, and his work has appeared in numerous leading journals. Dr. Krutz’s current research probes questions of public policy agenda-setting in democratic political institutions, especially Congress.

Sylvie Waskiewicz (Lead Editor), PhD

Dr. Waskiewicz received her BSBA from Georgetown University and her MA and PhD from the Institute of French Studies at New York University. With a specialization in Franco-American relations and over ten years of teaching experience at the university level, Sylvie left academia to join the ranks of higher education publishing. She has spent the last nine years editing college textbooks and academic journals in the humanities, social sciences, and world languages.

Contributing Authors

Johanna Arendt, Community Liaison, Travis County Transportation and Natural Resources

Cathy Andrews, Austin Community College

Prosper Bernard, Jr., City University of New York

Rachel Brooks, Austin Community College

Jennifer Danley-Scott, Texas Woman’s University

Ann Kordas, Johnson & Wales University

Christopher Lawrence, Middle Georgia State College

Lynn Lehle, Austin Community College

Tonya Neaves, George Mason University

Adam Newmark, Appalachian State University

Brooks D. Simpson, Arizona State University

Malcolm Warbrick, Austin Community College

Joel Webb, Tulane University

Shawn Williams, Campbellsville University

Rhonda Wrzenski, Indiana University Southeast

Marilyn Yale, Austin Community College


Brad Allard, Hill College

Milan Andrejevich, Ivy Tech Community College

Thomas Arndt, Rowan University

Sue Atkinson, University of Maryland–University College

Edward Bond, Alabama A&M University

Joseph Campbell, Rose State College

James Davenport, Rose State College

Sharon Deubreau, Rhodes State College

Henry Esparza, University of Texas–San Antonio

Terri Fine, University of Central Florida

Mark Francisco, Volunteer State Community College

Ben Fraser, San Jacinto College–Pasadena & Houston, Texas

Sarah Gershon, Georgia State University

Rick Gianni, Indiana University Northwest

Travis Grasser, Commerce High School

Eric Herzik, University of Nevada–Reno

Matthew Hipps, Dalton State College

Alexander Hogan, Lone Star College–CyFair

Cynthia Hunter-Summerlin, Tarrant County College

Tseggai Isaac, University of Missouri-Rolla

Walter Jatkowski, III, Northwest College

Kevin Jeffries, Alvin Community College

J. Aaron Knight, Houston Community College

Robert Lancaster, Kentucky State University

John Lund, Keene State College

Shari MacLachlan, Palm Beach State College

Carol Marmaduke-Sands, North Central Texas College

James McCormick, Iowa State University

Eric Miller, Blinn College

Sara Moats, Florida International University

Marie Natoli, Emmanuel College

Caryn Neumann, Miami University of Ohio

James Newman, Southeast Missouri State University

Cynthia Newton, Wesley College

Hyung Lae Park, El Paso Community College

Jeffrey S. Peake, Clemson University

G. David Price, Santa Fe College

James Ronan, Rowan University

David Smith, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Leniece Smith, Jackson State University

Kai Sorensen, Central Michigan University

James Starkey, Pasadena City College

Karen Stewart, Collin College

Abram Trosky, United States Coast Guard Academy

Adam Warber, Clemson University

Alexander Wathen, University of Houston–Downtown

Reed Welch, West Texas A&M University

Yvonne Wollenberg, Rutgers University

John Wood, University of Central Oklahoma

Laura Wood, Tarrant County College

Michael Zarkin, Westminster College

Student Reviewers, Austin Community College