Federal government

Because of the perceived non-consultation of the federal government, further unrest was sown into the governing bodies of the independent states. Protests begun through the issuance of nullification orders escalated. Where before there was mere talk of secession, now there were actual alliances formed between states desirous of defection from the federal government. The legislative debates were mere manifestations of latent power struggles between separate governing bodies uncertain as to the scope of their control.

The continued legislative debates and conflicts brought about a tipping point finally pushing several states to consider that the only viable option for sovereignty would be defection. This was known as the Civil War. The Civil War was not successful. The power of the rebel states was far out-shadowed by the military strength of the federal government. The resistance was defeated. Once again, the force of the federal government quashed the need for sovereignty by the individual states.

After the civil war the country was left in a recuperating state and there was need for stricter legislative implementations – particularly so for taxation – by the federal government. However, federal sovereignty had dealt its final and lasting blow. No subsequent orders for nullification were made by individual states. This victory of the federal government lay on shaky foundation as the dissatisfaction of the independent states was left unaddressed. Not even the compromise agreement by Senator Clay was sufficient to solidify the state sovereignty stance of the individual states.

The compromise, although providing an acceptable solution to the rebel states, still favored greatly the federal government. Even though no ordinances or resolutions are issued anymore nullifying legislations issued by the federal government, nullification and protest are still being made up to this day. The concept of nullification has transformed to cover a range of different powers or acts held by juries, courts, and other such bodies. The implementation of diametrically different laws in states belonging to one nation are also reflections of the continued unrest felt by the various states.

The Constitution provides that respect should be accorded to each State to govern its people in all matters not covered by the Constitution as falling under the power of the federal government. The vagueness of such a claim leaves much room for discussion and in fact renders it nugatory. What precisely are the powers and responsibilities accorded to the sovereign states? To this day the struggle between state and federal sovereignty is made manifest in the variances in legislations enacted throughout the various states.

The same are statements of individuality, independence, and difference. However, this struggle increasingly becomes reflective of a deeper issue – that of identity. What is the relation of the United States of America? There is a need to clarify the terms by which the states were joined together by virtue of the Constitution. Was such a joining an eradication of prior sovereignty and the forming of a single identity with each state comprising a simple branch of the federal government?

Or was the union a mere agreement between neighboring states ceding particular powers to a federal government ensuring unity and peace with neighbors but not relinquishing full governance of respective boundaries? The answer to such a dilemma would more adequately determine the scope of the powers of each individual state as well as of the federal government. There is thus a need to go back to the roots of the union which the United States of America has taken great pride in. How exactly are the States of America united? There should be no need to await a subsequent rise to arms in order that such a concern be addressed.