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HISTORY OF FEDERALISM

Review of INDEPENDENCE:

SELF INTEREST: IS, The basis of all government.

JOHN CABOT: WAS, the explorer commissioned by King Henry the VII of England that mapped out the route to Newfoundland in 1497.  This excursion ultimately added Britain in her claim to -what is now- our East Coast.      

ENGLAND'S RELATIONSHIP TO THE COLONIES: WAS, that of exploitation through a captive-market.

UNITARY SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: IS, a System where the Central Government makes all the decisions for its citizens - no matter where they reside.

THE STAMP ACT: WAS, a tax imposed by the British Parliament upon the Colonies to assist in paying for the keeping of British Regulars (Troops) in North America - It's where the Colonists vocalize their unhappiness over "Taxation w/o Representation."

THE DECLARATORY ACT: WAS, the "declaration" by the British that the Colonists were subservient to the Crown -that "Power" flows from the Government to the People.

THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE: WAS, the eventual Colonial response to the English notion of "flow of power" -in that it spells out the true relationship between Government and the Citizen. Which is, that "Power" flows from the People to Government, and if Government refuse to acknowledge this fact, then the right of the People to create a new Government may be carried out. (Which it was via "Revolution.")

Section 1/2-

To sum up, we (the Colonists) revolted, fought, and won.  And, with the victory of the Revolution of Colonist's against their King, came the realization that now the "States" would have to fend for them selves.  No more English Government.  No more Unitary System.  No more "Foreign Dictator's" to pick upon.  The question, of course, was "Now what do we do?"  Simple, the exact opposite of what Mother England was doing!

To get an idea for the distain felt by the Colonies of their ex-king (not by everybody but most, as the true vocal Tories [Colonials that remained loyal to England] were literally run out of town) one need only look at our American Nascar races. What?  How does this relate to the Revolution?  Well, have you ever wondered why our NasCAR races follow a route that is counter clockwise a round the "oval."    As it turns out, prior to the events leading up to the insurrection, horse races ( which have a long English tradition) were run - in the Colonies, as well as on the Mainland- the other way - clockwise.  As relations crumbled, horse races in colonial America were changed in protest, to running ( you guessed itcounter-clockwise.  And, since auto races stemmed from the same principles and practices of horse racing. . . 

So, it was settled the "United States" would run things the exact opposite of their "idiot" predecessors.  Which, would be the opposite of a Unitary System government.

If a Unitary System of Government is a System where the Central Government makes all the decisions for its citizens - no matter where they reside, then the new type of Government would make decisions at the "localest" of levels, and the "Central Government" ( Continental Congress) would be, by all accounts, powerless.   These separate regional units of government ( we call them States) would be sovereign and, therefore, the ultimate authority for self determination.  These "states" for all intents and purposes were "little countries" bound together - or united- by a weak, loose, agreement much like the NATO pact of today.  The agreement written was dubbed the Articles of Confederation (1781-89).  This Confederation ( or "Confederal System of Government") was a system of government where regional, sovereign, units ( the States) entered into a loose agreement to "watch each other's back."  And, indeed, this system was the exact opposite of the Unitary System the English followed.  See Below:

Unitary System

Confederal System



But this system proves to be a bit to difficult to manage.  States, acting in the best interest of their citizens ( as we demand of our own country), found it difficult to stay true to the Articles.  And, lacking the teeth to force compliance, the only form of national government, the Continental Congress, could only stand by and watch, powerless.  Thus, a Constitutional Convention was called -" for the purpose of addressing the weaknesses of the Articles," NOT TO CREATE A NEW SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT!  And, certainly not to reduce the imminence of State power. 

One has to remember that the Convention came about to add teeth to the Articles (in other words, to form a "more perfect union"), so States would stay true to the principal of acting together rather in the their own self interest.  Without the teeth, there was unbridled chaos in state to state dealings.  As such, the proposed 'TEETH" would have to be sharp, straight forward, and -above all- strong.  If not, the document would be useless.  To ensure strength, a "Supremacy Clause" was added which enumerated that when a conflict arose between state law and Constitutional law, the Constitutional law had to take precedence.  This clause (which is used to begin to dismantle State power shortly after ratification) caused little concern amongst those who feared a strong central government.  After all, they were drafting the powers of this new government and therefore making all the rules.  

So, the separate states were in control of the agreement they entered into, and it could be said that the States recognized that an agreement of "forced unity" would probably work best in the long run. The benefits, of course, would surely outweigh the costs and if not, then no deal!.  These benefits would include a common system of defense, a common set of weights and measures, a common currency, AND UNITED FOREIGN TRADE.  But, weary of losing any sovereignty beyond that which was generally considered safe for all the states, a "clause" had to be put into the Constitution that it had to be complete ( no fine print - no catch 22's) -and that those things not listed in the document would be for the States to decide ( this later becomes the 10th Amendment to the Constitution).  KNOW THIS: THE MAJORITY OF STATES (AND THEIR CITIZENS) WISHED TO REMAIN SOVEREIGN AND FEARED SLIPPING BACK INTO A UNITARY SYSTEM WHERE DICTATORS RULED FROM A FAR.  

At any rate, once drafted, the Constitution had to be ratified.  Not every state (Rhode Island, for example) was quick to embrace the idea of giving up power that had just recently been vehemently fought for.  And, as often happens when two competing ideas of the role and/or structure of government arise, factions develop.   In this case, we get the first two American parties: Those for the Constitution and a "Federal System" of government, aptly called the "Federalists." And, those against the radical change to system of government that had been put in place following the Revolution ( the Articles), aptly known as the Anti-Federalists (later becoming the 2nd party, "The Democratic-Republicans").

Chief among the Federalists were Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and James Madison ( who, oddly enough, becomes a champion of the Anti-Federalist cause within the decade following the ratification).  Chief among the Anti-Federalists was Thomas Jefferson.  The Federalists predicated their argument on the idea that the best way to protect the freedoms of the people was to become a Super Power! To join the resources of the South with the manufacturing of the North and master the intricacies of the Industrial Revolution (which was in full swing) and the global market system (which was still emerging).   Yes, become a Super Power, and every citizen of every state benefits.  Jefferson and the Anti-Federalists saw it different.  Their philosophy was something like this, "Get wrapped up in foreign markets, and (to protect the interests of the country) eventually you'll get wrapped up in foreign wars." The better way to serve the citizens was the "K.I.S.S." ( Keep It Simple Stupid) method.  The proposed "Federal System" of government was a complex hybrid that had the potential to cause confusion and competition amongst the varying levels of government.  No, keep government local, keep it limited, and above all else keep it simple.

Both sides had sound arguments ( and both arguments have -from time to time- been proven correct. . . erroneous), and, as you know, eventually the Federalists proved victorious.  Once the ratification was complete, our country entered into yet it's third system of government -that of a Federal System ( a system where powers are shared between a central governing force and regional units).   See Below:

 

FEDERAL SYSTEM (Constitutional Proposal)

[Take a look at the text for examples of shared powers, state powers, and federal powers] 

You may be laughing to your self as you know ratio of power between the Federal Government to State Government has totally been reversed.  Trust me that's the original idea of Federalism being depicted. So, what happened? Well, a few things, but in my opinion the critical event that ultimately cost the states their ability to decide for themselves issues such as "abortion rights," "gun rights," and even "legalizing Marijuana" was the historical appointment of the Federalist, John Marshall,  as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  

Following the presidency of John Adams, the Federalist movement had all but lost its zeal.  But, where as the Chief Executive and all the Legislators are elected - Federal Justices are appointed. . . FOR LIFE.  Marshall ( Adams' Sec't of State) was a final appointment of Adams before the incoming Jefferson ( Yes, the original Anti-Federalist, himself), would take the reigns of the Federal Government and begin his push to "simplify."  Right away, Marshall found himself in conflict with the new administration over some unfulfilled appointments promised by the outgoing Adams entourage.  The dispute, better known as " Marbury v. Madison (1803)," is the beginning of end of state sovereignty.  Ultimately, the ruling made by Marshall in Marbury solidified the Supreme Court's role as "interpreter of the Constitution." Which is very  important, because it was at this point that Marshall ( the Federalist, utilizing the assumed power of Judicial Review) would be interpreting the power of the Federal Government ( of which he was apart).  

State's rights advocates, however, were not too awfully alarmed as they believed that any "Powers" that were going to be questioned had to be enumerated ( written within the Constitution), and that the 10th Amendment would ensure no fast one could be pulled over on the states as a whole.  SUCKERS!  Enter the case " McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)," and the principle of " Implied Powers."  [ As discussed by the text on page 51]  AT THIS POINT, all the work by the States, all the compromises, all the laborious - point-by-point- negotiations of what powers rest where, became moot.   The powers of the Central Government were now limitless, left to the interpretation of Federal judges, and, because of the Supremacy Clause, those decisions would be absolute!

We know what the eventual result of this flip-flop of where power resided, its our American Civil War.  Slavery was a mere ingredient in the war between the Union States and Confederate States ( note the titles!)  The Southern States felt that they were being duped by the North and that the Constitution was being used as a tool to do so.  Without a long history lesson, we know the Confederate South declared the Constitution VOID, and we know the Union North won.

But even after the Civil War there was still an attempt by various Administrations and Congresses to maintain a clear division between State and Federal powers.  This period of Federalism ( Which started when the Constitution was ratified and really lasted -though challenged- through to the Great Depression) is known as the period of Dual Federalism.

The text does not really take you through the of Federalism, so I will: Dual, Cooperative and New ( Don't get caught up on Creative and/or Regulatory, because there is no real distinction there).  In remembering the difference of the three, note that Dual Federalism would look like a " layered cake," Cooperative Federalism would look like a " marbled cake," and New Federalism would look like a hybrid between the two and represent a changing back from Cooperative to Dual Federalism ( Called Devolution, or de-evolving).  See Below

 

Lastly, ( And, again, remember not all the Lecture Notes will be as large) MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE VARYING TYPES OF " GRANTS."  Categorical = Micro-managing via monies for very specific programs ( i.e.. Food Stamps, Medicaid, monies for an adult reading program).  Block = More freedom on behalf of the State but are monies still earmarked for a division of government ( i.e.. Education, Social Services, Transportation).  By the by, A General Grant or General Revenue Sharing = Monies to be used at the discretion of the State.

That's it. . . whew! '

 


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Last modified date: 09/18/15 
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