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Early Constitutional Controversies

In 1788, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, who had both played active roles at the Constitutional Convention, worked together to write The Federalist Papers, a series of articles originally published in New York newspapers to convince readers to back the ratification of the Constitution. Constitutional scholars often refer to these papers to gain an appreciation of the “original intention” of the Framers, how those men expected the federal government to operate under the Constitution, and the powers they sought to grant or deny the federal government. By the early 1790s, however, Hamilton and Madison had divided over basic constitutional questions such as whether or not the federal government could charter a national bank. The American electorate, which had ratified the Constitution, had split on the issue as well, dividing into rival Federalist and Republican parties.

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For this assignment, explore one significant constitutional controversy, from the first two decades of the United States under the Constitution (1789 to 1821). Topics to consider include:

  1. The incorporation of the Bank of the United States
  2. Debt assumption
  3. The Jay Treaty
  4. The Alien and Sedition Acts
  5. The Election of 1800
  6. John Marshall’s use of judicial review
  7. The Louisiana Purchase
  8. The trial of Aaron Burr
  9. Jefferson’s Embargo
  10. Federalist opposition to the War of 1812
  11. Missouri’s application for statehood

Describe opposing views of the topic under consideration, and explain how each side used the Constitution to support its position. Assess the validity of the two sides according to your own interpretation of the Constitution as well as according to how the Constitution and constitutional principles were understood at the time the controversy occurred.

The paper should draw from at least one primary source and two scholarly, secondary sources for a total of three sources (not including the Constitution itself). For assistance on the use of primary and secondary sources, please see sections 8.1 and 8.2 of the Ashford Writing Center. The secondary sources should be accessed through any of the academic databases available through the Ashford University library.

The paper must be three pages in length and formatted according to APA style. You must use at least three scholarly resources (at least two of which can be found in the Ashford Online Library) other than the textbook to support your claims and subclaims. Cite your resources in text and on the reference page. For information regarding APA samples and tutorials, visit the Ashford Writing Center, within the Learning Resources tab on the left navigation toolbar.

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