Powers vested in the Federal Government

Powers vested in the Federal Government

The American Revolution left the United States in a chaotic state owing to the nature of administration among the different states. Indeed, the thirteen states in the country had a very loose connection with each of the states acting in its own unique way. The states were similar to independent countries and were only connected with each other by virtue of being neighbors. Surprisingly, these states rarely took any orders from the central government thus resulting into a form of conflict. For instance, they had their own unique constitutions and legal systems and also made their own tax, monetary and economic policies. The problem with such a setting was the fact that it hindered economic development of the country since each of the states set trade barriers with the other states. In addition, the central government had minimal powers to control the states thus undermining the stability and safety of the young country. As a result of these developments, the country embarked on a search for a new constitution that harmonized interactions of the different states. Eventually, the country established a federal style of governance with a hierarchical structure for the state and central governments (Ginsberg et al, 2014: 21).

The formation of a new structure of governance was based on the weaknesses arising from the past administrations. In the new system, the central government was made stronger through the bestowment of more powers to check the different states. The benefit of having such a system is that it can check the sovereignty of the states while protecting the interest of the people. The federal system thus granted certain important powers to the central government and limited the powers of the states. In ensuring the security and well being of the overall country, some powers were reserved for the central government. Some of these powers have to don with the security organs of the country and the economic administration of the country. That notwithstanding, there are some powers that are shared between the two levels of government.

The powers of the central government are exercised through the government’s legislature, executive and judiciary. Each of these organs of government has a responsibility of safeguarding the wellbeing of the people. In addition, each of these branches has measures through which it protects itself from encroachment by the other two branches. The US Constitution bestows the central government with power over issues relating to national concerns (United States, 2012). In contrast, the state governments have powers that affect the domestic issues within their jurisdictions. The powers of the federal government are however enumerated and limited to those provided for in the constitution. The legislature has power to make policies relating to taxes, levy, and declaration of war and punishment of piracies at sea. These powers are specific to the federal government and cannot be exercised by the state governments (Ginsberg et al, 2014: 41). In addition, the federal government can only take action that falls within one of the powers enumerated in the constitution. While the federal government can regulate commerce and economic activities between the different states, it has no power to interfere with the economic trade occurring within a single state.

The Constitution, through Article I asserts that the federal government has powers to define and collect taxes, pay its debts, impose duties while still providing a common defense of the country. In addition, the federal government can borrow funds under the name of the United States and provide regulation for trade between the different states and countries. Section 8 of the same article in the constitution grants the central government with the most important economic power. Indeed, the power to collect tax and duties directly is a blessing since the government can then avail funds for the country’s common defense while ensuring the country’s general welfare. Before the new constitution, the powers to collect taxes were bestowed upon the different states thus depriving the national government of the necessary funds to sustain economic growth. The end result was a chaotic country in which economic development was not harmonized thus hurting the individual citizens.

The Congress comprising of both the Senate and the House Assembly of the United States has unique powers through which it governs the country. By enumerating these powers with the Congress, the country can be guaranteed of a smooth legislature where laws are applied equally regardless of the state. The power vested in the central government to issue a uniform currency and still determine the value of foreign countries is an important aspect in the restrain of inflation and the control of the money supply in the country (Ginsberg et al, 2014: 37). The regulation of the interaction with other countries is not just limited to the control of money supply and the restrain of inflation. Rather, the federal government has powers to regulate the country’s trade with other countries and also among the different states. This provision is particularly helpful in enhancing the ability of the government to control the economy of the country as a whole. As a result of the expression of these powers, the country is now much more united with a steady economic development pattern.

In addition to economic powers, the constitution of the US grants special military powers to the federal government in a bid to ensure the security of the country. Some of these powers include the power to declare war and the support of the different branches of the military. In fact, the Constitution prohibits states from forming independent military units thus ensuring the security of the country as a whole. The consolidation of these roles of security is further helpful because it limits the levels of conflicts among the different states in the country. With the ascertained powers, the federal government can effectively protect the country and guarantee its development. In addition, the central government can determine conditions through which it can invade other hostile countries that threaten the national security of the United States. The granting of the military powers to the federal government was based on the need to protect the domestic interest of the US from foreign invasions.

The basis for consolidating the military powers in the central government was cited as the need for security from both homegrown and foreign forces that threatened the country’s security. During the time of the constitution formulation, the US was threatened by foreign countries including the Great Britain, Spain and France. At one time, the Great Britain had refused to secede from the country and maintained its forces in the country. In similar fashion, France and Spain had blockaded important locations of major rivers thus undermining the country’s development and security. Essentially, a strong and centralized military was the best bet for the country to safeguard itself against European interests. These powers have proved effective than they were when they were under the care of state governments because of the power of pooling resources together. By granting the federal government with the power to make rules regarding captures on both land and water, the Constitution helps the country in the administration of justice. In addition, the federal government has powers to call on the military to suppress invasions both within and outside the country.

Although the US Constitution grants several specific powers to the central government, it also restricts the execution of powers by the national government. The contributors of the constitution were evidently aware of the dangers of having a very strong central government. In this regard, the Constitution is very clear on the powers that are restricted to the state governments. For instance, powers that are not conferred upon the federal government can only be exercised by the state governments. In addition, the Constitution also limits the powers of the states to ensure that no powers compromise the welfare of the country as a whole. For instance, the constitution prohibits states from entering into treaties, confederations or alliances with foreign countries. The execution of these powers is only allowed at the central government level thus ensuring uniformity and unity of the country as a whole. The granting of these powers to the national government is well choreographed to touch on issues that affect the stability of the country. In so doing, the constitution effectively provides a mechanism for refraining conflict between the different states and with the central government.



Ginsberg, B. (2013). We the people: An introduction to American politics. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

United States. (2012). The Constitution of the United States of America and selected writings of the founding fathers.

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