The Trials and Tribulations of Creating a Government

In class today, we were talking about why the Americans created such a weak federal government that was later refined to be stronger. I just though it was interesting how the Americans took the British government and formed a government opposite to that of the British based on their experiences and grievances. The people were afraid of tyranny and too much power in the central government, so they made a weak federal government with stronger state governments under the Articles of Confederation. Upon seeing the lack of success in the Articles of Confederation, people decided to give the federal government more power under the Constitution. I think that it is very natural for people who were unhappy under any given government to shift to the opposite type of government. If people are unhappy under any given government, I think it is very natural for them to desire a government that is antithesis of the original government. In general, people want to move away from the ideas that are harmful or upsetting to them, which is also true why applied to government. The Americans did exactly this when creating the Articles of the Confederation. Even if the people change the government to an opposite extreme that doesn’t allow the government to function, it can then be adjusted. For example, under the Articles of Confederation, the federal government did not have enough power, so it had to be changed. Government is a very delicate thing and finding the right government that satisfies the needs of a country is very difficult. I think that in many cases, forming a new government or editing the old one is a process that consists of much trial and error. I will be very interested to see how other governments are created in other time periods and under different circumstances throughout history.

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3 Responses to The Trials and Tribulations of Creating a Government

  1. Josh says:

    I also find it interesting how the Americans did everything in their power to not rule in any shape or form of the British government. Yet, they realized that having a weak government is not a blueprint for success in the future, but Americans still hesitated with the idea of having a central government with power. With that came the Federalists and the Republicans. The Federalists wanting the more powerful central government and the Republicans wanting the opposite. Fast forwarding about two and a half centuries later, the more modern day version of the Federalists versus the Republicans is now Democrat versus Republican.

  2. Megan says:

    Heather, I think you bring up some great points. I agree that the Americans created the Articles of Confederation in response to their opposition to the British system. I also think that they hoped the completion of the Articles would be the end of creating a new form of government: it seems as though they thought it would last for a long time. Nevertheless, your post also reminds me of a discussion that my class had about whether the setup that Articles of Confederation laid out was a failure or a success. I think that although it ultimately failed as a government system (not giving enough power to the executive branch, poor tax system) it was a success because it accumulated the ideals that the Americans envisioned when they rebelled from the British. Even though the reality of their ideals ended up changing later on, I still think that the notion of banding together to create a better system is monumental.

  3. Sarah W says:

    Heather, I definitely agree with your idea that the colonist’s fear of British governing manifested itself in the creation of the Articles of Confederation. The lack of power that this government had leads me to the question, how much power should the government have? This question, in my opinion, is the backbone behind issues both historical and current. In my opinion, I feel as though it is clear throughout history that civilizations go from one extreme to the next. For instance, after the colonists realized the weakness of the Articles of Confederation, the government had more power. While this increase in power was necessary to successfully govern the colonies and pay off debt, two political parties (or factions as George Washington would have called them) formed, disagreeing on the powers and rights of the government. This debate lives on today; the modern political parties (Democrats and Republicans) today debate the degree to which government should be involved in social issues (abortion, gay rights), personal finances (Health Care), and even in countries around the world. I think its interesting to consider the idea these modern debates could have been birthed from the colonist’s uncertainty as to how much power the government should hold.

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