Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/147

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
143
THE CONFLICT OF ADMINISTRATIONS

short of this solution, while the confederation as it stood was fit neither for war nor for peace."

The problem confronting the people of America in 1783 was the conversion of a voluntary league of states into a firm union. They needed to be first awakened to the necessity of organization and the adoption of a national policy; and after this the instrument of agreement must be drafted and the government established. It is not necessary at this time to discuss the detailed story of the constitution's making. From the beginning of its inception, men took opposite views as to the rights of the individual states and the nature of the powers that should be given to the central government. Those who upheld the idea of state's rights feared in their hearts the rule of the people. They argued for state representation in the national congress while maintaining that federal authority should be reduced to a minimum. The federalists, on the other hand, insisted upon a broad interpretation of the powers of the national government, thereby creating a controversy which furnished the basis of modern party relations, until materially modified by the tendency, brought about by the civil war, to discuss the import of questions rather than functions of government. The same motive, however, which caused men to turn to the states in the earlier day now causes them, in a measure, to look to the federal government, since it is believed that, in some degree at least, the rule of the people can be materially modified.

For a period of nearly thirty years after the civil war government in the United States, both federal and commonwealth, was used largely as an agency for the promotion of wealth. Special privileges came to overshadow common rights, and many problems were left untouched because in the opinion of the courts of the day the federal government had no authority over them, and the states by the constitution were not authorized to deal with such problems. But as industry has grown in immensity and spread its organization from commonwealth to commonwealth, producing a series of new problems in the movement of commerce from state to state, there has arisen a friction and questioned authority between the two branches of government in the United States. The constitution of the United States provided that the states should have all the rights of government, with the exception of the right of secession, impliedly determined by the results of the civil war, those powers which the constitution expressly confers on the federal government, and those which the constitution withholds from the states. It did not take many years for shrewd lawyers to discover that there existed in the interpretations of the two court systems a "twilight zone," as it has been picturesquely put by one of America's party leaders.

The specific powers of the federal government were determined narrowly, while the general powers of the state were interpreted specif-