Descriptive Essay on Government

Subject: Political
Type: Descriptive Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1385
Topics: Constitution, Federalism, Government, Political Science

In the year 1789, which was thirteen years after declaration of independence, and eight years behind articles of confederation ratification, a league of states sovereignty was established, the nation invalidated the confederation articles and approved a new constitution forming the United States. Since constitution became approved, it formed states union through a national system of governance which became debated over the last 208 years of constitution history and have helped in shaping the national economy, social and political history. Federation according to Dilulio and Wilson is the government system where sovereignty is shared by two or more government levels so that in some issues the national government becomes dominant while on others the provincial, region or state governments becomes dominant. In the give me liberty quote, the constitution is not a means for the government to control the people but rather it’s a mean for the people to control the government (Lane & Rose, 125-135).

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Federal government is characterized by provision of greater than one government levels to act together on the similar territory and similar citizens. The federal system of America is made of the 50 states and the national government where both are acknowledged by the constitution. In addition, every government have its specific sphere of power and authority despite that they may overlap. Federal law is final as highlighted in the constitution if any conflict arise between the federal authority and the state. Moreover, there is no level of government can discard the other.

In the first period 1789 to 1868, there emerged dual federalism whereby the state and national government were identical partners with clear and separate spheres of authority. Although the implied power doctrine as indicated first by Maryland v. McCulloch, the national and federal government had limited powers of authority to that specified in the constitution.  Therefore, there existed minimal collaboration of the state and the national governments and these resulted into periodic tensions over the union’s nature, nullification doctrine and sovereignty of the state. There was debates on whether the rights of the state and unions’ nature created in the constitution was the main reason to civil war. In 1789, the states approved its constitution by validating a meeting which passed the new constitution where 3/4 of the 9 states was required to approve it by voting. In 1789 to 1801, the period referred to as federalist period whereby a powerful central government was believed in. Its leaders were John Adams, Alexander Hamilton and George Washington while the opposition leader Thomas Jefferson argued strongly against the central government and encouraged government that was state centered. In 1790, the responsibility was taken by the federal government for debt war which was seen as a way to aid federal governance.

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In 1791, the ten first amendments of the rights bill were passed by 3/4 of the American states and hence they were added in to the constitution. This amendment safeguarded the states’ rights and stated that the powers that are not given to the national government in the constitution are set aside for the states. This began the protection of the states’ rights, national government limitation and the spheres of authority was made dual between the national and the state government. In the same year, congress formed the United States bank which was accepted by Alexander Hamilton although the idea was opposed by Thomas, the congress gave the bank a charter of 20 years. There was a debate on whether the bank was constitution by anti- and pro-bank faction which resulted to defeat on an attempt to renew the charter of the bank in 1811. Part of the reasons that caused the renewal of the charter to fail was that the bank restricted the private bank in an attempt to control inflation.

The sedition and the Alien acts were passed in 1798 to try and silence the critics of Democratic- Republican of the war undeclared with France. Therefore Democratic- Republican responded by controlled legislature in Virginia and Kentucky which passed an agreement supporting federation that was state- centered thereby dismissing the act and terming it unconstitutional. The nullification doctrine stated that it was unconstitutional for any state to suspend its boundaries operations of whichever federal law. In 1800s, there was debates on internal improvements on the roles played by the national government concerning canals and roads as a way to promote settlement and enhancing commerce. Moreover, there was civil wars in 1860 which addressed the role played by federal government and the unions’ nature. Slavery increased the tension arising from state and nation centered system of federal government. Therefore the role played by the national government became settled after the civil war. This period change the government by streamlining the functions of the government and making sure that it did not negatively restrained its citizens. The states were also given power to make some decisions within their territory. It impact is felt even in today living whereby the amendment made acted as a foundation to today’s rights of citizens and the states.

The second period of contemporary federation that run from 1970 to 1997 was characterized with changing of system in intergovernmental grants, development of mandates in unfunded federal, federal regulations and continued conflict over federal systems’ nature. In 1970s, there was phase I of the new federation where the principal tools of administration were sharing revenue and the federal aid programs were being consolidated into sharing programs of six special revenue. The purpose for this was to change responsibility, authority and funds in local and states government to effectively manage grant in the intergovernmental systems. In 1976, the conflict of the specified power clause in the tenth amendment was addressed which restricted the national government power to only those highlighted by the constitution. The act by the fair labor standards determines the minimum pay and maximum hours for work in both the public and private sectors employees. The phase II of the new federation in 1980s, the administration of Ronald Reagan arouse the debate on the role of local, state and federal government. The president sought to reform the government system rather than an attempt to rationally handle federal aid as Nixon administration used to do it.

In 1985, the Supreme Court reconsidered the issue of sovereignty of local and state government protection that emerged from federal actions imposition. Under Garcia, it was held that the local and the state government are not protected from complying with the act of fair labor standards by the Supreme Court which is contrary to dual federalism. In addition, the court seemed to divert from its jurisdiction as the final interpreter or arbiter of the constitution when there is conflict in political branches in the state and federal government. The phase III of the new federalism was formed in between 1992 and 1995 whereby Bill Clinton attempted to rearrange the relationship of power in federal system. The effort emphasized on giving more authority to lower government levels however the initial effort of reinvention was centered in achieving efficiency of management in federal level.

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In 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court decided on term limit legislation passed by various states as unconstitutional. They argued that, according to article 1,section 4 of the constitution, they have every right to fix place, time and the way elections for representative and senators of the congress is done. The Supreme Court concurred with dual citizenship concept of 1873 that the state cannot increase the qualification of federal office as highlighted by the constitution in article I.

In conclusion, Justice Kennedy agreed with the opinion that term boundary goes against the federalism fundamental principles and argued that there is citizenship federal right, a connection between the national government and the people which should not be interfered with by the states. This periods of time discussed made a great impact in today federal government in United States by laying foundations of law to be applied in the land. Those that had negative impact and were not helpful to the government or its citizens were amended to better serve the interest of the United States (Wolf & Naomi, 312-330).

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Did you like this sample?
  1. Lane, Rose Wilder. Give me liberty. Vol. 2. No. 1. Liberty Library, 2000. 125-135.
  2. Wolf, Naomi. Give me liberty: A handbook for American Revolutionaries. Simon and Schuster, 2008. 312-330.
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