The Role of Federal Government Throughout History

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Reaghan A. Bennett
AP US History Mid-Term

Overall, what I learned was that throughout history, whether it is American or history within other countries, the game never changes. We repeat incidents in history and though we might expect the outcome to differ, it rarely does. “The names of the players change but the game does not.” There are trends in history and almost every incident we face can be referred to similar happenings of the past. But the most predominant and reoccurring theme throughout the centuries, and possibly back to the beginning of human civilization and governing, is the role of federal government in the people’s lives. From Ancient Civilization, to Tories versus the Whigs, all the way up to controversy between republicans and democrats the same question has been asked. Do you want a big, intrusive government that decides what is best for you or a smaller government whose primary purpose is to protect you and provide a bit of order and structure so that we are not running about doing anything we please? It is important to recognize this theme. For the role of federal government will always impact our lives directly and decide the amount of freedom allowed to both the people and the government. Whilst reading the material for this semester, I came across the controversial topic of the limit of power to govern the people multiple times. America couldn’t seem to agree on where the line was drawn between the people’s power versus the federal governments. We had great difficulty with it in the 18th century and we still do today. This matter in the present day can be simply put as the political issues between democrats and republicans. Though they are two separate parties one will find that their wants don’t differ as much as one would expect. They want what is best for the country in order to become an even greater, efficient nation. But it’s the size of the government that divides the two. One prefers a government that is not quite significant in the decision making for the country. Republicans demand more power to the individual states. However, democrats believe in a governed lifestyle in which federal government should be given power with minimal limits. The first written constitution of the United States was the Articles of Confederation. This document developed a national government with strictly limited powers. This was in part of people’s fear of being under an imperious central government. The thought of a select group of men that makes decisions that impact millions may seem a little ludicrous to some. Some people do not like to put their life and the power to make crucial decisions in anyone’s hands but their own. But then there are those that may argue that a weak confederation or government can be detrimental to our nation. They simply do not trust the individual man to make wise decisions and so they entrust that power to the government. As in 1776 “the weak Confederation government had a difficult time forging the unity and assembling the resources necessary to fight the war and win peace” (P. 217 Chapter 7.) When conditions are loose and such disallowing restrictions are in place it increases the difficulty of properly running a nation efficiently and creating a union between the states. Here the argument of federal government’s power is at play once more. People value their freedom to choose, but also need a powerful government to effectively achieve their goals. By giving power to the states it lessens the unity of our country and makes it harder to accomplish things. For example, passing a law that applies to all states gets tricky. That law may be completely welcome by one state, while it strictly goes against the laws already in place in several other states. In Chapter 7 of the text titled “The American Revolution”, it states “During the revolutionary era, most Americans identified politically and socially with their local communities rather than with the American nation. People...
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