Maryland was 13th and final state to ratify the Articles of Confederation on January 30, 1781.  This was after Virginia relinquished its claims on the land north of the Ohio River to Congress. On April 28, 1788, in its Convention of the Delegates of the People of the State of Maryland and by a 63 to 11 vote, Maryland became the seventh state to ratify the United States Constitution, joining the United States of America

Our federal government, the government of the United States of America, was adopted in 1789; it is composed of three separate branches with distinct functions and based on the principle of federalism, in which power is shared between the federal government and state governments.  The powers of our federal government, and those three branches, are described within the U.S. Constitution.  Those branches are the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The U.S. Constitution explicitly grants each branch certain powers which are held by the President, the Congress, and the federal courts, respectively.

Executive Branch

The executive branch of the Federal Government include the President, Vice President and U.S. Departments and Agencies.

Resources for more information about the Executive branch include:

Information about the President

Information about the Vice President

Information about U.S. Departments and Agencies


Through legislative debate and compromise, the U.S. Congress makes laws that influence our daily lives. It holds hearings to inform the legislative process, conducts investigations to oversee the executive branch, and serves as the voice of the people and the states in the federal government.

Learn more about Congress

Supreme Court of the United States

The Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice of the United States and such number of Associate Justices as may be fixed by Congress. The number of Associate Justices is currently fixed at eight (28 U.S.C. §1). Power to nominate the Justices is vested in the President of the United States and appointments are made with the advice and consent of the Senate. Article III, §1, of the Constitution further provides that "[t]he Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office." 

Resources and more information:

Supreme Court of the United States

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

United States District Court of Maryland