Federalism, and Confederalism

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Confederalism and Federalism, do these terms sound like nonsense to you? Well they did me also. Upon further research into our nation’s governmental origins, however I found these two words that sound like nonsense to actually be some of the most important for our countries foundation. In 1776, the American colonies of Great Brittan declared independence from their mother country, in order to form a new country, of their own creation. This new country became the United States of America. Simply writing out and signing the Declaration of Independence was not enough to free the American colonies from their ruler, and thus the Revolutionary war took place. Even before the war was officially declared, our founding fathers realized that the colonies would need a government set into place to hold the states together against the British forces. In those times there were three basic types of government to choose from, confederalism, unitarian, and federal. (Politics and Government in Michigan) The term confederalism comes from the root word confederation, which is a form of government where there are many independent governments, each with authority over a state or territory and a central government that has authority over the whole. The central government is not very powerful, and holds only those powers which all of the states governments agree to give it, but in turn offers a loose association between the states. The central government often lacks authority to enforce its rules, within the states, unless the state agrees. This makes the central government weak compared to the separate states governments. One example of confederalism is if four people all were partial owners of a business, and each had an equal say in how the business was to be run because each had put equal funds, and time into the business. The business would still however be under the authority of the laws governing the town where the business was located, thus separate governments under one central government with little actual control. (Politics and Government in Michigan) (The Struggle for Democracy) A second type of government that was around near the time of our countries foundation was a unitary government. An example of a unitary government from that time period was Great Britain. Unitary governments, unlike confederal governments, have a large central government, which holds all authority over citizens within the nation no matter their state, territory, or affiliation. (Politics and Government in Michigan)

The most complex form of government of the three types is a federal system. In a federal system, there are two levels of government that are independent of one another. Neither is created from the other, thus insuring their separation from one another. Separate authority is given to both states and the federal government, with no necessary conflict between the two. (Politics and Government in Michigan) (Constitution Center) The colonists had a deep fear of an overly powerful central government, because of all of the hardships that they previously had to endure under a unitarian lead government. The colonists all lived in separate states, and because of the strength of the states, they decided to create a confederalist form of government. Thus on November 15, 1777 the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union were signed into power as the United States of America’s first constitution. “The Articles of Confederation created in law what had already existed in practice from the time of the Declaration of Independence....” (Struggle for Democracy, pg 29) Still documentation of the Articles of Confederation was hugely important to our newly developing country. (Politics and Government in Michigan) There were many problems with our new growing confederalism. The central government under the Articles of Confederation had little power. It could wage war or peace, but it could not levy taxes to in order to create funds to pay for...
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