The Origins and Growth of Power Since the Birth of the American Constitution

Topics: United States, United States Constitution, Federalism Pages: 5 (1824 words) Published: March 4, 2013
The endless pursuit of power by individuals is an unavoidable characteristic of the human existence. This trait is unavoidable because it is instilled within us through our biological makeup as well as through societal conditioning. It is a common theme among living systems to amass energy, resources, influence, productivity, efficiency – Power. This concept is the driving force behind the theory of evolution that life has progressed and will continue to progress unless acted upon by an outside force (extinction, depletion of resources, alien invasion etc.). Humans have taken this idea of evolutionary progression and created a microcosmic, parallel concept called human advancement or humanism. Thus, it is only natural that humans have evolved the pursuit of power from a solely biological (nature) ordeal into a conscious, societally-based (nurture) mission to achieve power. The non-biological urges to achieve power are societally-based because the definition of power or status is dependent upon various social factors including: geography, social values, accepted norms, age, gender, etc. Like resources, power is scarce, therefore, competition among humans for power is to be expected and those in the seat of power will do everything in their power to widen the gap between the powerless and the powerful; power is the prize in the competition of life and everyone wants to be the winner.

The dynamics of a power struggle (competition for power) can be clearly outlined in the States’ rights vs. Federal rights debate that preceded the ratification of the United States’ Constitution; however, before one can dissect a power struggle, it is necessary to analyze the context of said struggle, in this case, the events leading up to the 1789 Constitutional Convention. The birth of the conflict of States’ rights vs. Federal rights can be delineated as the period between May of 1776 – September of 1787; for our purposes this period of time will be analogous with the pregnancy of a human. This time period is bordered on the left by the preliminary stages of drafting and conceiving State constitutions by the original thirteen colonies, and bordered on the right by the date of ratification (not to be confused with date of effect) of the Federal Constitution. This period is extremely important because it marks a change of perception of power by the most powerful men in their respective states. In the first trimester, when the states were just beginning to outline the extent of their power, there was no upper boundary to limit the reaches of each state’s power. Naturally, each state assumed far too much power, to the point where conflict among the states started to break out. Pennsylvania went to war with Virginia over unsettled claims to western lands and “Vermont threatened to become part of Canada” [1]. The United States was a zoo without internal boundaries and all of the top dogs of their respective cages (states) were sparring over jurisdiction. These conflicts among the states highlighted one key weakness of the Articles of Confederation, who mediates state vs. state issues and on what basis do they have the authority to do so? The purpose of the Articles of Confederation was to keep a loose bond between the States while maintaining a very limited central government; therefore, a weakness is any instance where the central government lacks the power to preserve the confederation of the states as a result of vagueness or neutering by the Articles of Confederation. Under the Articles of Confederation, the Federal Government lacked the authority to regulate interstate commerce or levy taxes. The Federal Government could raise an army, but it was entirely dependent upon State militias to supply troops. Furthermore, the federal army was only to be put into action if an international conflict were to arise. In essence the Articles of Confederation erected a “league of friendship” among the states; however, the desire for power is a much...
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