VI.5: The Ninth and Tenth Amendments

The founders presented the U.S. Constitution to the state ratifying conventions in the 1780’s. Many state conventioneers only signed it on the condition that a Bill of Rights would be added. So James Madison added a Bill of Rights. It included the first eight amendments that guarantee specific rights. He also added two general amendments, … Read more

VI.4: The Virginia Resolution

James Madison had more influence than any other person in creating the form of the U.S. Constitution. Madison wrote the Virginia Resolution a decade after the Constitution. But both came from his understanding of tyranny. That is, to prevent it, a government must divide power between separate groups of people. If the nation is to … Read more

VI.3: National versus State Sovereignty

The American Civil War was not just about slavery, though that was the hot-button issue. The bigger issue in that war was national versus state sovereignty or power. That included a state’s right to allow slavery. And while it’s true that most southerners believed slavery was necessary for their economy, many wanted it slowly abolished. … Read more

VI.2: States’ Rights and National Supremacy

The northern and southern states fought the Civil War over states’ rights. States’ rights and national supremacy involve the sovereignty of individual states within their own boundaries. The opposite point of view is that only the national government is truly sovereign, so it can override state decisions. The most volatile issue at the time of … Read more

VI.1: The Fight over the US Constitution

The Articles of Confederation acted as a “federal constitution” for the original thirteen American states, but it had no enforcing power. The story of the fight over the US Constitution begins after the War for Independence. At that time, the state governments ignored the Articles of Confederation. In fact, they refused to cooperate on much … Read more