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How powerful is a state? How powerful should it be? These questions have been debated since the Revolution. Under the Articles of Confederation, we saw states with significantly higher power than the national government; there was an attempt at more balance in the Constitution. Yet the debate over the power of each level of government continued to be debated, and this debate formed some of the reasoning behind having a Bill of Rights, led to the formation of our two political parties, and formed the basis of many of our conflicts in U.S. history. In the Federalist Era, we saw James Madison and Thomas Jefferson write the “Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions,” in reaction to the Alien and Sedition Acts; their work outlined their beliefs of where national law overreached and states should be able to counter that law. And in the Age of Jackson, we see the issue arise again in relation to the tariffs.
In your essay, you should:
- Write an introduction outlining the basic argument of state powers versus national powers. You may want to turn to the Constitution itself to find material.
- Write a brief summary of why each document was written. What is the historical context of the documents? You will probably want a paragraph for each document.
- Write a paragraph of what the two documents have in common.
- Write a paragraph of what the difference in the two documents is. How does the “South Carolina Exposition and Protest” differ in its argument from the “Kentucky Resolution”?
- Write a conclusion that answers whether or not a state should have the ability to nullify a national law, and if so, under what circumstances? If not, why not? This last paragraph will be your opinion, but remember do not use “I” in any form. State your opinion as if it were fact.
Essays should be typed in 12-point font with a simple, clean font such as Times New Roman or Arial. Use 1″ inch margins on all sides and double-space the text. Your essay should be around 1000 words.
Citations must be formatted according to the MLA guidelines, including both in-text and a final source page.
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