The Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation (also known as the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union) was the first constitutional document of the United States, adopted in 1777. However, all thirteen states ratified those Articles only in 1781. According to the Articles of Confederation, each state had the right to retain its freedom and independence. One representative from each state was chosen to create a committee, the Congress that would be responsible for army, navy, foreign relations, and declarations of war/peace. However, the Congress had no right to gather taxes and control the commerce between the states. Also, the Congress could not adopt laws. Such shortcomings were one of the first reasons for discontents between the members of the Congress. In spite of the fact that the Articles of Confederations defined the Congress as a national legislature, the states governments had more power.
There was a burning need for the government that would be stronger. The weakness of the republic government and its limited powers led to one more Constitutional Convention that took place in 1787, The Congress suggested revising the Articles of Confederation. First, it was suggested to make several amendments to improve the Articles of Confederation. However, the delegates realized that it would not be enough, and they started to create a new constitutional document. Today, it is known as the Constitution of the United States of America. It was signed by 39 representatives (42 were present) on September 17, 1787. On May 29, 1790, the last delegate, Rhode Island, ratified the Constitution. This document strengthened the government by providing a new system, the major purpose of which was to find a kind of balance between the federal government, each state, and people.
The Theories of Nullification and Secession
The theory of nullification is a legal theory according to which any U. S. State has the right to invalidate any federal law. This theory allows the U. S. State, as a sovereign Union, to nullify any law, if the state finds some law unconstitutional. According to this theory, States are the last and the most important branch that may interpret the actions of the government. Another theory that underlines the sovereignty of each U. S. State is the theory of secession.
According to this very theory, the state has the right to terminate its membership within the Union. In 1799, the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions asserted the correctness of the nullification theory according to the Constitution of the United States of America. The actions of john C. Calhoun reinforced the ideas of these two theories. However, not every political figure was for the theories of nullification and secession. For example, President Jackson argued against the right of nullification and secession and asked the U. S. Senate to provide him with the right to use arm forces in order to execute federal laws. It was the period when a force bill was introduced.
However, that step caused numerous misunderstandings from several states. The election of Abraham Lincoln played a very important role for the development of the theory of nullification and the theory of secession. During Lincoln’s first inaugural, he proclaimed against the right of nullification and referred to Jackson’s Proclamation Regarding Nullification. In 1861, the attempt to achieve the secession by means of force of arms was failed. The consequence of that attempt is also known as the American Civil War. In 2008, one American politician, John Zogby, was not afraid to mention that more than 70% of Americans knew that even if each U. S. State had the right to nullify federal laws, it was not able to become an independent state and go against the Congress.