The South and the National Government

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Articles

  1. States’ Rights & The Civil War
  2. States' Rights
  3. The meaning of states’ rights
  4. American History
  5. U.S. History and Historical Documents | USAGov

Provincial governments also develop policy on issues where there are regional differences. The local sphere of government is responsible for the delivery of basic services, such as water and sanitation services and electricity. Local governments are also responsible for a variety of municipal functions, some of which are shared with provincial government.

These typically include municipal planning, building regulations, municipal public transport, local tourism, the regulation of harbours and airports, fire-fighting services, amongst others.

States’ Rights & The Civil War

These three spheres are subject to the principles of co-operative government and inter-governmental relations, as set out in the Constitution. Information sourced from: www. For more assistance, contact your site administrator. Government in South Africa. Page Content.

About Durban. City Government. Online Tools. Other states considerably enlarged this list to include freedom of speech, of assemblage, of petition, of bearing arms, the right to a writ of habeas corpus, inviolability of domicile, and equal operation of the laws. In addition, all the state constitutions paid allegiance to the theory of executive, legislative, and judiciary branches, each one to be checked and balanced by the others.

While the thirteen original colonies were being transformed into states and adjusting themselves to the conditions of independence, new commonwealths were developing in the vast expanse of land stretching west from the seaboard settlements. Lured by the finest hunting and the richest land yet found in the country, pioneers poured west of the Appalachian Mountains.


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By , the far-flung outposts scattered along the waterways had tens of thousands of settlers. Separated by mountain ranges and hundreds of miles from the centers of political authority in the east, the inhabitants established their own governments, and the communities throve lustily. Settlers from all the tidewater states pressed through into the fertile river valleys, the hardwood forests, and over the rolling prairies.

By , the population of the trans-Appalachian region numbered well over , With the end of the Revolution, the United States had inherited the old unsolved western question - the problem of "empire" - with its complications of land, fur trade, Indians, settlement, and government of dependencies.

Before the war, several colonies had had extensive and often overlapping claims to land beyond the Appalachians.

States' Rights

The prospect of these states acquiring this rich territorial prize seemed quite unfair to those without claims in the west. Maryland, the spokesman of the latter group, introduced a resolution that the western lands be considered common property to be parceled out by Congress into free and independent governments.

This idea was not received enthusiastically. Nonetheless, in , New York led the way by ceding her claims to the United States. She was soon followed by the other colonies and, by the end of the war, it was apparent that Congress would come into possession of all the lands north of the Ohio River and probably of all west of the Allegheny Mountains. This common possession of millions of acres was the most tangible evidence of nationality and unity that existed during these troubled years and gave a certain substance to the idea of national sovereignty.

Yet it was at the same time a problem which pressed for solution.

This solution was achieved under the Articles of Confederation, a formal agreement which had loosely unified the colonies since Under the Articles, a system of limited self-government was applied to the new western lands and satisfactorily bridged the gap between wilderness and statehood. This system, set forth in the Northwest Ordinance of , has since been applied to all of the continental possessions and most of the insular possessions of the United States.

The Ordinance of provided for the organization of the Northwest Territory initially as a single district, ruled by a governor and judges appointed by Congress. When this territory should contain five thousand male inhabitants of voting age, it was to be entitled to a legislature of two chambers, itself electing the lower house. In addition, it could at that time send a nonvoting delegate to Congress.

No more than five nor less than three states were to be formed out of this territory, and whenever any one of them had sixty thousand free inhabitants, it was to be admitted to the Union "on an equal footing with the original states in all respects. The new policy repudiated the time-honored doctrine that colonies existed for the benefit of the mother country and were politically subordinate and socially inferior.

This concept was replaced by the principle that colonies were but the extension of the nation and were entitled, not as a privilege but as a right, to all the benefits of equality. The enlightened provisions of the Ordinance laid the permanent foundations for the American territorial system and colonial policy, and enabled the United States to expand westward to the Pacific Ocean and to develop from thirteen to forty-eight states, with relatively little difficulty.

Unfortunately, however, in the solution of other problems the Articles of Confederation proved disappointing. Their notable shortcoming was their failure to provide a real national government for the thirteen states which had been tending strongly towards unification since their delegates first met in to protect their liberties against encroaching British power. Pressures arising from the struggle with England had done much to change their attitude of twenty years before when colonial assemblies had rejected the Albany Plan of Union. Then they bad refused to surrender even the smallest part of their autonomy to any other body, even one they themselves had elected.

But, in the course of the Revolution, mutual aid proved efficacious, and the fear of relinquishing individual authority in some spheres had, to a large degree, lessened. The Articles went into effect in Though they constituted an advance over the loose arrangement provided by the Continental Congress system, the governmental framework they established bad many weaknesses. There was quarreling over boundary lines. The courts handed down decisions which conflicted with one another. The legislatures of Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania passed tariff laws which injured their smaller neighbors.

Restrictions upon commerce between states created bitter feeling. New Jersey men, for example, could not cross the Hudson River to sell vegetables in New York markets without paying heavy entrance and clearance fees. The national government should have bad the power to lay whatever tariffs were necessary and to regulate commerce -but it did not.

It should have bad the authority to levy taxes for national purposes-but again it did not. It should have had sole control of international relations, but a number of states had begun their own negotiations with foreign nations.

The meaning of states’ rights

Nine states had organized their own armies, and several had little navies of their own. There was a curious hodepodge of coins minted by a dozen foreign nations and a bewildering variety of state and national paper bills, all fast depreciating in value. Economic difficulties subsequent to the war also caused discontent, especially among the farmers.

Farm produce tended to be a glut on the market, and general unrest centered chiefly among farmerdebtors who wanted strong remedies to insure against the foreclosure of mortgages on their property and to avoid imprisonment for debt. Courts were clogged with suits for debt. All through the summer of , popular conventions and informal gatherings in several states demanded reform in the state administrations.

Many yeomen, facing debtor's prison and loss of ancestral farms, resorted to violence. In one state - Massachusetts - mobs of farmers, under the leadership of a former army captain, Daniel Shays, in the autumn of , began forcibly to prevent the county courts from sitting and to prevent further judgments for debt, pending the next state election. They met with stout resistance from the state government, and for a few days there was danger that the state house in Boston would be besieged by an infuriated yeomanry.

But the rebels, armed chiefly with staves and pitchforks, were repulsed by the militia and scattered into the hills. Only after the uprising was crushed did the legislature consider the justice of the grievances which had caused it and take steps to remedy them. At this time, Washington wrote that the states were united only by a "rope of sand," and the prestige of the Congress had fallen to a low point.

Disputes between Maryland and Virginia over navigation in the Potomac River led to a conference of representatives of five states at Annapolis in One of these delegates, Alexander Hamilton, convinced his colleagues that commerce was too much bound up with other questions and that the situation was too serious to be dealt with by so unrepresentative a body as themselves. He induced the gathering to call upon all the states to appoint representatives of the United States and to "devise such further provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the Constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union.

The state legislatures sent leaders with experience in colonial and state governments, in Congress, on the bench, and in the field. George Washington, regarded as the outstanding citizen in the entire country because of his military leadership during the Revolution and because of his integrity and reputation, was chosen as presiding officer. The sage Benjamin Franklin, now eighty-one and mellow with years, let the younger men do most of the talking, but his kindly humor and wide experience in diplomacy helped ease some of the difficulties among the other delegates. Prominent among the more active members were Gouverneur Morris, able and daring, who clearly saw the need for national government, and James Wilson, also of Pennsylvania, who labored indefatigably for the national idea.

From Virginia came James Madison, a practical young statesman, a thorough student of politics and history and,. Roger Sherman, shoemaker turned judge, Was one of the representatives from Connecticut. From New York came Alexander Hamilton, just turned thirty and already famous. One of the few great men of colonial America absent was Thomas Jefferson who was in France on a mission of state. Among the fifty-five delegates, youth predominated, for the average age was forty-two.

The Convention had been authorized merely to draft amendments to the Articles of Confederation but, as Madison later wrote, the delegates "with a manly confidence in their country" simply threw the Articles aside and went ahead with the consideration of a wholly new form of government. In their work, the delegates recognized that the predominant need was to reconcile two different powers -the power of local control which was already being exercised by the thirteen semiindependent states and the power of a central government.

They adopted the principle that the functions and powers of the national government, being new, general, and inclusive, had to be carefully defined and stated, while all other functions and powers were to be understood as belonging to the states. They recognized, however, the necessity of giving the national government real power and thus generally accepted the fact that the national government be empowered - among other things -to coin money, to regulate commerce, to declare war, and make peace.

These functions, of necessity, called for the machinery of a national government. The eighteenth-century statesmen who met in Philadelphia were adherents of Montesquieu's concept of the balance of power in politics.

American History

This principle was naturally supported by colonial experience and strengthened by the writings of Locke with which most of the delegates were familiar. These influences led to the understanding that three distinct branches of government be established, each equal and coordinate with the others.

The legislative, executive, and judicial powers were to be so adjusted and interlocked as to permit harmonious operation. At the same time they were to be so well balanced that no one interest could ever gain control. It was natural also for the delegates to assume that the legislative branch, like the colonial legislatures and the British Parliament, should consist of two houses.

U.S. History and Historical Documents | USAGov

On these broad, general views there was homogeneity. But sharp differences arose within the assemblage as to the method of achieving the desired ends. Representatives of the small states, New Jersey, for instance, objected to changes that would reduce their influence in the federal government by basing representation upon population instead of upon statehood, as under the Articles of Confederation.