The examples studied exhibit a portion of what Alexander Hamilton meant when he wrote and spoke about “vigorous” government. He did not appeal to a ubiquitous national government with tentacles in all aspects of life that invalidated state sovereignty. Reasonably, he spoke for a national government that compensated for human nature and complimented the states. “Complementarity” also signified a check on state power. The accurate purpose of this “vigorous” national government is to preserve permanency and fortune for the citizenry within all states. It would do so by thwarting conflict and turmoil that is larger than one state. A confederacy, under which the United States found itself prior to the Constitution, precludes a “vigorous” national government and would thus be insufficient to respond to intrastate problems or events.
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The rest of my graduate work can be here.
Max Edling’s wonderful essay “‘A Mongrel Kind of Government’: The U.S. Constitution, the Federal Union, and the Origins of the American State” completely turns on its head the popular perception the Constitution of the United States is a drastic departure from the Articles of Confederation. Perceptively, Edling demonstrates the Constitution is simply the next logical step from the Articles, with only one fundamental difference between the two charter documents. Both the Articles and the Constitution limit the federal government to international and “intraunion” matters while leaving all else to the respective states. As such, the federal government was designed to “complement, not compete with, the states.”1 More pointedly, the Constitution is so similar to the Articles, Edling notes, the document merely allows “the national government to better exercise the powers it already possessed.”2
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