Why did issues in 1790 over the balance of authority between national government and the state occur? Do you think it has been reoccurring since?
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I feel that we are getting ready to see a lot of states challenge the authority of the Federal Government in the near future. As someone else mentioned we are seeing it in Arizona with their immigration issues. Health Care will also be an area where I think some states will challenge the federal government.
The Civil War is a good example of the popular support of states rights vs. federal government authority. Many of the Southern states were opposed to laws forced upon them by the Federal government, spurring the secession of South Carolina and followed by the other soon-to-be Confederate states. These states did not originally intend to be a confederation; they simply wanted to exempt themselves from federal authority.
Certainly state and national conflict is very common if we look at history and also at different contexts. It is interesting (to look at a very different example) that in Britain we are moving now towards "devolution" of power and authority, where the different elements of Great Britain (N. Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England) are being given more power and autonomy in certain areas. For example, Scotland and Wales both have distinct and separate education systems. There is always a difference between regional and national interests, and in Britain at least, attention is drawn to how a ruling elite in Westminster (in London) make laws that apply to areas of the country where they have little knowledge or understanding. Similar in the US?
Differences occurred over this balance during this time because the US was in the process of figuring out how much power each level of government would have. The Revolution had been fought against strong central government and the Jeffersonians still feared that kind of government. At the same time, the Federalists wanted such a government. These confliction desires led to conflict.
State-national conflicts have sort of come and gone. They flared up, for example, during the controversy over the Tariff of Abominations and, of course, over the issue of slavery. They popped up again in the 1950s and '60s over the issue of Civil Rights. Today, you can see them to some extent in the Arizona immigration law and in the attempts by some states to prevent the health care plan from becoming law.
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