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The confederation congress had limited powers and the

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The Confederation Congress had limited powers, and the rules allowed a few states—in some cases a single state—to block congressional action. It took 9 states (out of 13)to enact any defense or economic policy. The Congress could not tax; it had to requestmoney from the state governments, and it could not compel payment. By 1786 the Con-During the AmericanRevolution, the lack of a strongcentral government made itdifficult for the United Statesto fund a strong military,as exemplified by terribleconditions for the troops atValley Forge.govtex5_ch03_080_113.indd8612/10/208:49 PM
87FEDERALISM IN THE CONSTITUTIONgress was broke because states were not paying their share of expenses for the nationalgovernment. The Confederation also had no executive or court system and could notdefend the nation because it could not pay for an army or a navy. Moreover, the Articlesof Confederation could not easily be amended, because a unanimous vote of the stateswas required for amendment.8By 1786 it was becoming clear that something had to be done to increase the powerof the national government. A meeting was held that year in Annapolis, Maryland, thatcalled for a convention of states to meet in Philadelphia the following year to “render theconstitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union.” Thatcall led to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, where 55 delegates met and designedthe new U.S. Constitution.9The Federal System underthe ConstitutionUnder the U.S. Constitution, a federal system was created in which the national govern-ment wassovereign, deriving its power directly from the American people. One of themost important parts of the Constitution was thesupremacy clausein Article VI. Thatclause provided that the Constitution, federal laws, and treaties were the supreme lawof the land. If state laws or state constitutions were contrary to the Constitution, federallaws, or treaties, the state laws or state constitutional provisions were invalid. Statecourts were required to be bound by the U.S. Constitution and federal laws. The suprem-acy clause prevented states from acting in ways that were inconsistent with the U.S. Con-stitution and national laws, and thus the clause was a unifying national provision thatwas sorely lacking under the Articles of Confederation.The immediate effect of the Constitution was to increase national power and to dele-gate to the national government distinctive powers and responsibilities such as nationaldefense and foreign policy. Individual states were also sovereign, however, deriving theirpower from the people in their state through their state constitutions and having theirown separate powers and responsibilities, such as protecting public safety.

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