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This week, we will focus on federalism, the constitution, and the United States of America (of course).
During the battle for Ratification of the Constitution, there were two main sides. The Anti-Federalists and the Federalists were battling it out. The Anti-Federalists battled against the ratification and the Federalists for it. The Anti-Federalists believed that the system granted too much power to the Federal Government and that it would become too centralized. The Federalists believed that it was just the right amount of power and as long as it was not breached, it would hold all the branches of government in check. Many of these issues tie into the Conservative and Liberal sides we have previously discussed. Let’s see what issues both sides have to address–and what is at stake.
“The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed… It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question,
whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.” (Federalist Papers No.1, Alexander Hamilton)
The first issue was how to balance power better than the somewhat rushed Articles of Confederation. In 1784, Charles Pinckney was elected by the General Assembly South Carolina in order to represent their state under the Articles of Confederation. During this time, he quickly realized that the Federal Government could not do its job. For example, Congress could not tax money but could only ask the states for funding. It could print money, but the printing would result in inflation. Some states also had their own currency!
The Articles of Confederation described the bond between the states as “a firm league of friendship,” and, “for their common defence, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare.” It was almost as if the new states were each their own country under the allegiance of something barely stronger than the EU or the UN of modern times. The State Governments were able to easily run circles around the Federal Government and the Federal Government was unable to do many the jobs tasked to it through the delegation of powers in the Articles of Confederation.
The Articles granted Congress the ability to raise an army and a navy, but they were unable to do so to great effect without any money. The lack of great military force rendered Americans unable to force the British out of the areas of the North West Territories, where were American lands under the Treaty of Paris signed in conclusion to the Revolution.
These issues can all be summed up as the Federal Government was incompatible with the State Governments and was unable to complete the tasks delegated to it. This sentiment spread throughout the nation as issues such as a British Naval Blockade in the east built up and a Spanish hold on the Mississippi River blocked merchants in another direction. In 1781 and 1786, two major efforts were made to give Congress the power of taxation under the Articles. After this failure, what we now know as the Constitutional Convention convened in 1787 to discuss the issues at hand.
Author(s): Mainly James Kurlich, partially Joe Schmid
Questions? Ask away at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Hamilton, Alexander, Federalist No.1, in The Federalist. Congress.Gov Resources. Apr. 13, 2016
n.a., Charles Pinckney and the U.S. Constitution, Charleston County Public Library. Apr. 13, 2016
n.a., Eric Fonder and John A. Garraty Editors. Articles of Confederation. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 1991. Apr. 13, 2016
Hillsdale College is offering a free Constitution 101 course online. There are ten videos that
are highly enlightening and were extremely important in gathering my interest upon the topics I write about. For those interested in this free course, I highly recommend looking at https://online.hillsdale.edu/course/con101/schedule.
Another essential source that focused my interest was the book, A Citizen’s Introduction to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The author is Matthew Spalding and I highly recommend his book for all of those who wish to learn more about our history and our Constitution.
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