What were key moments in the early 1800s when federal authority clashed with state authority? What trend developed in the resolution of these disputes?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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After the war of 1812, in which British troops successfully burned down both the White House and the capital, the United States developed a sense of nationalism that began being reflected in policies to unite the nation. One example of those policies and procedures concerns building a national transportation system funded by the federal government.

In 1806 Congress proposed and President Thomas Jefferson signed into action a bill permitting $20 million to be spent in developing roads and canals, specifically for building the National Road, a road intended to unite the nation that ran from Cumberland, Maryland, to Vandali, Illinois, in order to connect the two major commercial rivers, the Potomac and the Ohio River. However, politicians like John Randolph of Roanoke disapproved of the federal government actively participating in states' affairs. Regardless, construction began on the National Road in 1811 and was completed in 1824. Also, by 1824 the US Supreme Court ruled in the case Gibbons v. Ogden that Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution allowed for the Federal Government to oversee commerce among the states, which would also grant the federal government power to fund federal roads and canals. Regardless of the Gibbons v. Ogden decision, later, in 1830, when Congress proposed building a commercial road that would link Lexington, Kentucky, to Maysville Kentucky, eventually extending into Ohio and Alabama, President Andrew Jackson vetoed the bill, arguing that only states should fund such projects, not the federal government.

Hence, the growing desire to build interstate commerce is one example of a moment when states clashed with the federal government.

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