The Federal Government is composed of three distinct branches: legislative, executive, and judicial, whose powers are vested by the U.S. Constitution in the Congress, the President, and the Federal courts, respectively.
There are hundreds of Federal agencies and commissions charged with handling such responsibilities as managing America’s space program, protecting its forests, and gathering intelligence. For a full listing of Federal Agencies, Departments, and Commissions, visit USA.gov.
Elections & Voting
Federal elections occur every two years, on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Every member of the House of Representatives and about one-third of the Senate is up for reelection in any given election year. Federal elections are administered by State and local Governments, although the specifics of how elections are conducted differ between the states.
State & Local Government
Under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, all powers not granted to the Federal Government are reserved for the States and the people. All State Governments are modeled after the Federal Government and consist of three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The U.S. Constitution mandates that all states uphold a “republican form” of government, although the three-branch structure is not required.
The White House and its surrounding grounds serve as both the home of the President of the United States and First Family and as a museum of American history. The White House is a place where history continues to unfold.
- Every president since John Adams has occupied the White House, and the history of this building extends far beyond the construction of its walls.
- Located in Catoctin Mountain Park in Frederick County, Maryland, Camp David, known formally as the Naval Support Facility Thurmont, is the President’s country residence.
- Air Force One is used to describe any Air Force aircraft carrying the President. Today, this name refers to one of two highly customized Boeing 747-200B series aircraft.
- The Eisenhower Executive Office Building is located next to the West Wing and houses a majority of offices for White House staff.
- The Vice President’s Residence & Office is located on the grounds of the United States Naval Observatory (USNO)—the white 19th Century house at Number One Observatory Circle.
Which President served as a lieutenant colonel in the Spanish-American war? Who was the first Democrat elected after the Civil War? Who introduced Social Security? If you’re looking to learn more about the past Presidents who have led our country, you’re in the right place. Take a look at our full set of biographies. Then, quiz your friends.
Learn More About Each President
- George Washington
- John Adams
- Thomas Jefferson
- James Madison
- James Monroe
- John Quincy Adams
- Andrew Jackson
- Martin Van Buren
- William Henry Harrison
- John Tyler
- James K. Polk
- Zachary Taylor
- Millard Fillmore
- Franklin Pierce
- James Buchanan
- Abraham Lincoln
- Andrew Johnson
- Ulysses S. Grant
- Rutherford B. Hayes
- James Garfield
- Chester A. Arthur
- Grover Cleveland
- Benjamin Harrison
- Grover Cleveland
- William McKinley
- Theodore Roosevelt
- William Howard Taft
- Woodrow Wilson
- Warren G. Harding
- Calvin Coolidge
- Herbert Hoover
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
- Harry S. Truman
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
- John F. Kennedy
- Lyndon B. Johnson
- Richard M. Nixon
- Gerald R. Ford
- James Carter
- Ronald Reagan
- George H. W. Bush
- William J. Clinton
- George W. Bush
- Barack Obama
- Donald J. Trump
Past First Ladies
Which two first ladies met their husbands through local newspapers? Who was the first First Lady to make regular nationwide radio broadcasts? Which First Lady cared for wounded soldiers in her husband’s command? Who was originally a Broadway actress before becoming the First Lady? If you’re looking to learn more about the past First Ladies who have helped lead our country, you’re in the right place. Take a look at our full set of biographies. Then, quiz your friends.
Learn More About Each First Lady
- Martha Dandridge Custis Washington
- Abigail Smith Adams
- Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson
- Dolley Payne Todd Madison
- Elizabeth Kortright Monroe
- Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams
- Rachel Donelson Jackson
- Hannah Hoes Van Buren
- Anna Tuthill Symmes Harrison
- Letitia Christian Tyler
- Julia Gardiner Tyler
- Sarah Childress Polk
- Margaret Mackall Smith Taylor
- Abigail Powers Fillmore
- Jane Means Appleton Pierce
- Harriet Lane
- Mary Todd Lincoln
- Eliza McCardle Johnson
- Julia Dent Grant
- Lucy Ware Webb Hayes
- Lucretia Rudolph Garfield
- Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur
- Frances Folsom Cleveland
- Caroline Lavinia Scott Harrison
- Frances Folsom Cleveland
- Ida Saxton McKinley
- Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt
- Helen Herron Taft
- Ellen Axson Wilson
- Edith Bolling Galt Wilson
- Florence Kling Harding
- Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge
- Lou Henry Hoover
- Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
- Elizabeth Virginia Wallace Truman
- Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower
- Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy
- Claudia Taylor (Lady Bird) Johnson
- Patricia Ryan Nixon
- Elizabeth Bloomer Ford
- Rosalynn Smith Carter
- Nancy Davis Reagan
- Barbara Pierce Bush
- Hillary Rodham Clinton
- Laura Welch Bush
- Michelle Obama
- Melania Trump
Tours and Events
nyone visiting DC can experience the history and art of the White House in person after submitting a tour request through one’s Member of Congress.
Public tour requests must be submitted through one’s Member of Congress. These self-guided tours are available from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (excluding federal holidays or unless otherwise noted). Tour hours will be extended when possible based on the official White House schedule. Tours are scheduled on a first come, first served basis. Requests can be submitted up to three months in advance and no less than 21 days in advance. You are encouraged to submit your request as early as possible as a limited number of spaces are available. All White House tours are free of charge. (Please note that White House tours may be subject to last minute cancellation.)
If you wish to visit the White House and are a citizen of a foreign country, please contact your embassy in Washington, DC for assistance in submitting a tour request.
Forms of Identification
All guests 18 years of age or older will be required to present a valid, government-issued photo identification (detailed below). All foreign nationals must present their passport. All other forms of foreign identification will not be accepted.
All information submitted (e.g. name, date of birth, city, etc.) must exactly match the government-issued photo ID you will present when arriving at the White House.
The following forms of photo ID are acceptable for presentation to USSS upon entry to the White House complex:
- Valid government-issued United States identification card (e.g. drivers license, military ID, etc.)
- Valid United States or other official government-issued passports
No other forms of identification will be accepted; photocopies, expired IDs, or other transmissions of these documents are NOT valid.
Prohibited items include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Video Recorders
- Handbags, book bags, backpacks or purses
- Food or beverages, tobacco products, personal grooming items (i.e. makeup, lotion, etc.)
- Any pointed objects
- Aerosol containers
- Guns, ammunition, fireworks, electric stun guns, mace, martial arts weapons/devices, or knives of any size
As of July 1, 2015, Smartphones and compact cameras with a lens no longer than 3 inches (stills only) are permitted on the public tour route as long as their use does not interfere with other guests’ enjoyment of the tour.
Video cameras including any action camcorders, cameras with detachable lenses, tablets, tripods, monopods and camera sticks are not permitted.
Flash photography or live stream as well as talking or texting on cellular phones is not permitted while on the tour.
The U.S. Secret Service reserves the right to prohibit any other personal items. Umbrellas, wallets, car keys, and cell phones (including those with cameras) are permitted. However, guests will not be allowed to use cell phones inside the White House. Phones used inside the White House may be confiscated by US Secret Service.
Please note that no storage facilities are available on or around the complex. Individuals who arrive with prohibited items will not be permitted to enter the White House.
The closest Metrorail stations to the White House are Federal Triangle (blue and orange lines), Metro Center (blue, orange, and red lines) and McPherson Square (blue and orange lines). On-street parking is not available near the White House, and use of public transportation is strongly encouraged.
The nearest restrooms to the White House are in the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion (the park area south of the White House). Restrooms or public telephones are not available at the White House.
Mobility-Impaired / Wheelchairs
Visitors scheduled for tours who require the loan of a wheelchair should notify the officer at the Visitors Entrance upon arrival. Unfortunately, reservations are not possible. Visitors in wheelchairs, or with other mobility disabilities, use the same Visitors Entrance and are escorted by ramp from the entrance level to the Ground floor, and by elevator from the Ground floor to the State floor.
Hearing-Impaired & Visually-Impaired
Please contact your Member of Congress if you have a hearing or visual impairment and require assistance during your White House tour. Guide animals are permitted in the White House.
All visitors should call the 24-hour Visitors Office information line at 202-456-7041 to determine if any last minute changes have been made in the tour schedule.