After the American Revolution was won and the Treaty of Paris formally recognized the United States of America as a country, there was still much to do . Major parts of the country were in shambles, and there was a strong need for a central government. At the time, many states drafted their own state governments, but soon realized that a national government was needed, so delegates went to the Second Continental Congress to draft the Articles of Confederation. Though it provided a legislative branch of government with one house that had the power to declare war, had the power to make treaties, and could also borrow money to pay debts, it was nothing more than a declaration of friendship between the colonies . The weaknesses of the Articles were apparent after the government showed helplessness after Shays Rebellion. The governor of Massachusetts asked Congress to send troops, but they didnt have the money or the men to send aid . It also exposed the fact that the Articles of Confederation also failed to see that the states would adequately protect the rights and liberties of all their citizens .
In the process of writing the Articles of Confederation so that it would not resemble a parliamentary government like Great Britains, the authors unintentionally created many problems pertaining to centralized power. The states kept their sovereignty which made it seem like there were thirteen separate countries rather than thirteen states unified together to create a country. There was no executive branch which translated into no follow through on decisions and there was a lack of leadership of the armed forces. No standing army meant that there was constant internal strife and state conflict, as well as making the threat of external invasion very real. There was also no trade regulation, which resulted in numerous trade disputes and also resulted in states taxing one another.
... federal government also had the power to borrow money and admit new states into the Union. Under the Articles of Confederation, the federal government could not ... was time to build up trade and trust with other countries. Eventually, their financial plans fell through, so France and the ...
state conflict was not only limited to trade disputes; laws in one state werent always recognized in others. Bigger states often bullied smaller states because of their smaller population size. And there was not a judicial system to help states settle disputes so states sometimes would even war against each other . Since it was evident that these problems were hindering the growth of the country, a meeting was called to fix and strengthen the existing form of government, the meeting was later known as the Constitutional Convention .
At the Constitutional Convention, their main goal was to create a strong central government that had power that would exceed the states, but not so much power that it would resemble a parliamentary government . James Madison, the leader in the convention, also wanted to put a series of checks and balances into effect so that the three branches of government could all control each other and at the same time also govern themselves . After compromising between the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan, which both dealt with state representation, they created the Senate, which had two representatives per state regardless of population size, and the House of Representatives which had representation based on population size.
This greatly decreased the amount of state conflict since both the small and large states had equal representation in the Senate (which was beneficial to the small states), but larger states would have a greater sense of power because of their larger population size . Congress was given the power to regulate trade and the power to tax which further reduced state conflicts. Taxing allowed for a more effective government and also strengthened the executive branch because it provided the funds for follow through on decisions. With the Constitution, the national government held more power than those of the state governments. But most importantly, the Constitution protected the natural rights that the colonists thought the king and Parliament had infringed; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness .
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Although the Constitution accomplished many things such as alleviating state conflicts and reducing internal strife, one of the less desired outcomes was being less democratic than the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution gave more power to the central government, but in the process of doing so, it took away some power from the states and the citizens . This established federal supremacy over many areas of the state governments. However, in exchange, the country got stability, and the chaos was brought down to a much more manageable level. This shows that the framers were successful in their attempts to create a functional republic.
The setup of the new system of government allowed the House of Representatives to be elected directly by the people. State legislators were given the authority to choose senators and electors chose the president. The citizens were also happy because they were being represented and though states had less power than before, they were unified under a single system of government. The new Constitution provided solutions to problems that were prevalent under the old Articles of Confederation and citizens of states also had adequate protection of their rights and liberties regardless of what state they were from.
Though the Constitution provides a better system of government than the Articles of Confederation did, there are still clashes between decentralized and centralized power. One of the issues that there have been disagreements in is gun control. Under the second Amendment, people have the right to bear arms so theoretically, the government has no right to interfere. On the other hand, in the 1886 case of Presser v. Illinois, the verdict was that the second amendment related only to the federal government but did not forbid state governments from regulating someones possession or use of guns.
However, in the 1939 verdict in U.S. v. Miller, the ruling was that the Second Amendment applied only to rights having some reasonable relationship to the preservation of efficiency of a well regulated militia. / Despite of all this, legalities dealing with gun control have been generally been in the hands of state legislatures and state courts. However, the laws pertaining to gun control still differ from state to state. For example: in Arizona, there is no child access law, but in Texas there is. Arizona has a juvenile possession law but Texas doesnt. Some states such as Arizona dont require permits to purchase firearms, but other states do. Laws about carrying concealed weapons also differ from state to state; some require a permit but others dont have any laws about it.
... protect themselves against tyranny in government." He definitely realized, as did the other writers of the constitution, the importance of letting ... to be ineffective. The places in the United States where gun control laws are toughest tend to be the places where the ... out government restrictions than it is virtually impossible for dictators like himself to get into power. Hitler also said, "This ...
In conclusion, though some argue that the federal government has too much or too little power, the centralization of power is far better placed than it was prior to the ratification of the Constitution in 1781. There was a time when the weaknesses of the American government caused so many problems that the thirteen states acted more like thirteen small countries rather than as a whole nation. So regarding the issue of the placement of centralized and decentralized power today, though it may be less than ideal, it is far better than it was in 1781.
Dornbush, Krista. AP U. S. History. Grand Rapids: Kaplan, 2008.
“The Constitution.” Course Notes. 7 Sept. 2005. 20 Aug. 2008 .
“About.com: US Government Info.” Gun Control and Second Amendment. May 2005. About.com. 21 Aug. 2008 .
“A State by state look at Gun Laws in the US.” CNN. Dec. 1999. 23 Aug. 2008 .
“US Government Guide: Gun Control and Right to Bear Arms.” About.com. 23 Aug. 2008 .