Essay: States' Rights and Other Myths

"It is my intention ...to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted the to Federal Government and those reserved to the states or to the people." —President Ronald Reagan, Inaugural Address

Controversy over the distribution of American political power is older than the nation. The argument broke out as soon as Americans began thinking about uniting their states, and it has not stopped since. The dispute about what power lodged where grew fierce enough in the 19th century to explode into the Civil War, after which the notion of state...

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