The Nation Takes Shape Essay Research Paper

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The Nation Takes Shape Essay, Research Paper Critical Book Review III: The Nation Takes Shape In his book, The Nation Takes Shape, Marcus Cunliffe outlines what he calls a half a century of immense progress. He focuses in on the period of time from after the Constitution is drafted to the end of Andrew Jackson s presidency. (1789-1837). In his book he outlines the major events pertaining to the evolution of our newly independent country. He illustrates the steps that the nation took in becoming America and establishing themselves as a free country where democracy reigns. Throughout this book Cunliffe breaks down the emergence of America into six distinct evolutionary processes: The national government, our foreign relations, the expansion of the west, the growth of the

economy, the expanding sectional rifts which formed the basis for the civil war, and finally the growth of a more equal democracy. Cunliffe illustrates these points as the way, The Nation Takes Shape. Cunliff first talks about the origin and growth of partisan politics. In doing so, he outlines the process by which the constitution was to be interpreted by the American people. The vagueness of the document led to disputes between various factions of people who interpreted it in different ways. The initial split happened around 1790 when the first bank of the United States was given a twenty-two year charter. This struggle was caused by Thomas Jefferson (a democratic-republican), who believed in strict constructionism, and Alexander, Hamilton (a Federalist) who believed in loose

constructionism. Jefferson said that the constitution did not give any provision for the US to have a bank because it was not spelled out in the constitution. But Hamilton using the premise of implied powers said it did because it gave them the power to lay and collect taxes, borrow money, and regulate commerce. By 1793 many of the voting population in the country started to adopt one of the two beliefs. This split was accentuated in the election of 1796 where John Adams (a Federalist) was elected president, and Thomas Jefferson (a Democratic -Republican in 1819) was elected vice. Since the Supreme Court was the place where a final decision as to the constitutionality of a bill or action was made, they were the determining factors for the implied powers of the constitution. In

1819 Supreme Court Chief Justice Marshall, in the case McCulloch v. Maryland, decided that, indeed the constitution did give the government “implied power”. In this case the Supreme Court decided that the implied power of the constitution did give people the right to seek out an end, not expressed in the constitution but consistent with its ideals, in where the means are constitutional. This in effect was the beginning of the party splits in the American government. The second evolutionary process that Cunliffe mentions is the view of America among the world from both our s and the European prospective. While America was drafting its constitution, so much was going on in Europe that America was of little interest to them. In a time when all of Europe was shaken by the French

Revolution and the assignation of Napoleon Bonaparte to power in France, America was nothing more than a minor distraction to most European countries. Since the United States had a small military, it did not want to be involved in the French-British conflict of the time. America tried to stay neutral while trading with Europe, but France and Great Britain kept on violating their neutrality rights. The United States kept on trying to trade, but both sides put blockades on each other s ports. This meant that the other countries took their ships. The British, however, not only took their ships, but they also impressed American sailors. During all of this mayhem President Madison came to power. Because of Britain’s violations of America’s sailors, he asked congress to declare war