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When Did It Change?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
After the United States was born the individual states had all of the power rather than the federal government. Somewhere along the line it changed. Now the federal government call all of the shots and dictates to the states. When, roughly, did this occur? Was it before the Civil War? After? Was it after WW1 or WW2?

The reason that I ask this is that there was an interesting debate on local radio a couple of weekends ago about why the American Civil War occurred. Some of the callers said that it was mainly because of slavery while the show host said that it mainly had to do with states' rights but that slavery was also an underlying issue. He also mentioned what I stated above that the states had all of the power then unlike it is now which got me to thinking about it.

post #2 of 5
There has always been a balance of power between the federal government and the states. In my life time, it seems that whatever administration is in power tries to influence that power. For example, the Bush administration mandated the "no child left behind" act on a federal level and mandated that the states implement it. Because there are so many states that don't have the funding for that type of program, many couldn't comply. The feds haven't done anything about it. It just wasn't an important enough issue to them. A similar thing happens with border security. I suspect the same thing is happening with the Katrina victims, who still haven't gotten the help they need.

If I recall my history right, Lincoln abolished slavery at the federal level and not all states wanted to comply. The states started to succeed from the union and the feds decided not to allow it. In this case, it WAS an important enough issue for them to act upon.

So I guess it all comes down to how strongly the current administration feels about the issue. You can always tell the truth behind their policies by the way the go about enforcing it. It's easy to sit in Washington D.C. and mandate things. It's less easy to force the mandate.
post #3 of 5
Well, the civil war was about several things.
the gover was ran more by the northern states cause they had the numbers of people, the south wanted if i remember every 3 slaves = 1 person to increase there numbers.

but the federal goverment kinda took over after the civil war. and the states started loseing there right to do what they wanted. It has gotten worse ever since. Lot of the time now the federal govt will say do it may way or no extra money for you. so of course the states give in right way.

the federal govt was supped to make the money, protect the country, and deal with other countries,. They were not suppoed to run are life like they do now.
post #4 of 5
IMO, the States want Federal money, so in order to get it, they follow Federal guide lines. It is all about money.
post #5 of 5
It fundamentally changed during the Civil War. The civil war was about State power vs. Federal power. The South wanted to retain basic power at State level. The issue of slavery became a part of the war, but didn't start it. The North was growing much faster than the South in terms of population and industrial production, and the South was very concerned about its eroding political power. It was initially primarily about political and economic power, though slavery was certainly part of that equation.

After the war, the 14th amendment to the Constitution was proposed. It was approved by Congress in 1866 - then it went to the states for ratification. It wasn't ratified by the required number of states until 1868. It was theoretically designed to protect the rights of former slaves, and most people think of it as the "due process" amendment - but it was much more than that at the time.

Section 1: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

What the 14th amendment does is drastically limits what states can do to their citizens.

IMO it is one of the more important amendments to the Constitution - it's been used to invalidate discriminatory tax law, protect homeless people, underage laborers - it's the basis for gay rights and for thousands of prisoners' rights cases every year. Without it, states could decide that abortion doctors are capital murderes (a different thread required for that one) - and now, despite the Patriot Act, after September 11, 2001, it is what prevents the states from having the right to indiscriminately round up the muslim population.

At its heart, it is the main weapon for civil rights and civil liberties - but it functions to consolidate those decisions at the Federal level and not the state level.

Of course The Patriot Act eroded many of our rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Personally, I believe that though passed legally, it violates the Constitution.

But it was the Civil War that consolidated power at the Federal level.

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