What is the difference between a confederation and a unitary government?  

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Confederation and unitary systems of government are on opposite ends of the spectrum of control and unification. The United States is a prime candidate for analyzing these types of government because it exists in the middle ground between confederate and unitary—the federal system.

A confederate government is what the Confederate States of America were attempting to create when they seceded from the Union at the beginning of the Civil War. This type of government goes all in on the states' powers and rights in order to give them the strength to govern as individual organizations. The main body of government, the central federal agency, is much weaker than the individual states and therefore can't overrule them as easily and only exists to settle disputes between the different states or territories.

A unitary government is the opposite, in which the central, federal government, holds absolute power over the individual units. They exact laws and make judgments on the nation as a whole,...

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