View single post by Doc C
 Posted: Wed Nov 28th, 2007 07:01 pm
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Doc C

Joined: Sun Oct 1st, 2006
Location:  Eastern Shore, Maryland USA
Posts: 822

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One of the key questions for the founding fathers was sovereignty - state vs federal. Apparently the vast majority of the population was for state sovereignty because of the fear that the federal govt. was going to be similar in form to the government (king/parliament) which they had fought so long to over throw. Also the states were unwilling to subordinate themselves to a domestic version of Parliament, i.e. federal govt. However, as demonstrated by Ellis, the seeds of a federal government were sewn during the Revolutionary War. Prior to the constitution, the states held the power. One of the nightmares Washington and the fledgling continental army faced was their dependence on the individual states for supplies. Another problem Washington, Alexander Hamilton and John Marshall feared that unless a consolidated nation-state with powers to make domestic and foreign policy for all the states, the new republic would probably dissolve into a collection of state and regional sovereignties.

Madison, initially a strong proponent of federalism, made the statement that throughout history, confederations, i.e. Greek city states, Italian, Dutch, Austrian had eventually dissolved. He worried in 1786 that unless the AOC dropped and a constitution created - anarchy, chaos, widespread violence, possible civil war between and among the states would occur. Even a Boston newspaper at the time foresaw a regional union of New England states with other regional alliances being created. Later Madison had a drastic change of heart, siding and being a leader for the anti-federalist or republican party. Was this change because of his mentor, Jefferson, and/or did he have to choose between the strong federal government and his home state of Virginia and it's citizens, something other Virginians would have to do 70 years later.

I do disagree that comparing states rights in 1787 and 1860 is impossible. The same problems faced in 1787 arose again and again until their final culmination in 1860. Also, one reason that Virginia and possible other larger states took longer with the ratification process was that their population was more diverse, i.e. piedmont, tidewater, etc.

In conclusion, states rights (sovereignty) and slavery are not synonymous. However, I still am of the opinion that the 2 are very much related. Also, the founding fathers were aware of the slavery issue during this period. I would also enjoy seeing posts related to the issue that if slavery did not exist would the civil war have ever occurred or state secession ever been an issue.

Doc C

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