Lesson Objectives:- McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
- Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
- States' rights and the Civil War
- The Jacksonian Era
- The results of the Civil War
- The Civil War Amendments
When Congress chartered the First and Second Banks of the United States, one branch was in Baltimore, Maryland. In order to run it out business, Maryland imposed taxes on it.
When the bank refused to pay the tax, Maryland took them to court and won. So, the national government took the case to the Supreme Court.
John Marshall was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who favored a strong national government. His interpretation of the Necessary and Proper Clause was that the national government could charter a bank if it was necessary to carry out its designated powers.
It then followed that Maryland could not tax the national bank because that goes against establishing the Constitution and the Federal government as the Supreme Law of the land.
Another challenge for the Supreme Court arose five years later in 1824. It all began when Robert Fulton and Robert Livingston thought they had a monopoly in New York waters handed to them by the state of New York. They gave Aaron Ogden the license to operate his steam-powered ferryboats from New York to New Jersey.
But, another businessman, Thomas Gibbons, had a license granted by the U.S. Government and competed directly against Aaron Ogden until he was sued. New York ruled in favor of Ogden, but Gibbons took it to the Supreme Court.
That is when the Commerce Clause came into question, which is the section of the Constitution in which Congress has the power to regulate trade among the states and with foreign countries.
Chief Justice Marshall now had a new set of issues to face.
The first issue was that he had to define the term commerce.
Then, he had to determine the national government's reach in regulating interstate commerce.
Finally, he had to decide if the power to regulate interstate commerce was a concurrent power or a power of the national government alone.
As expected, Chief Justice Marshall stuck to his Federalist stance.
He ruled that commerce meant all commercial interactions -- not just the interchange of commodities, but also services such as the transport of people.
The national government could exercise its power to regulate interstate commerce in state jurisdictions.
Therefore, the power to regulate interstate commerce was a national government power. Gibbons could not be prohibited from operating in New York waters.
The issue of slavery began before the Constitution was ratified. There was opposition to the slave trade, but the Southern states were determined not to give it up.
Even though the slave trade was the controversy that led to the Civil War, the dispute became more about whether or not the national government had supremacy over the states.
Under the presidency of Andrew Jackson from 1829 to 1837, known as the Jacksonian era, the states started to question the supremacy of the national government. One issue in particular came up when Congress passed a protective tariff that the South referred to as the "Tariff of Abominations."
South Carolina took the stance that the states had ultimate authority in conflicts between them and the national government. This and other conflicts eventually led to South Carolina taking back its ratification of the Constitution. It withdrew from the Union on December 20th, 1860.
Six southern states formed the Confederate States of America on February 4th, 1861. The Civil War broke out in April of that year.
It was over in 1865 and the South found out that they did NOT have the ultimate authority over the national government, nor did they have the right to withdraw from the Union. In their attempt to increase State power, they actually made the national government more powerful.
The power of the national government over the states was made very clear in the Civil War Amendments also known as the Reconstruction Amendments.
The 13th Amendment established that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude... shall exist within the United States.
The 14th Amendment stated that all persons born or naturalized in the United States...are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.
The 15th Amendment established that the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied...on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.