Constitution 101: “One Nation Indivisible”
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Constitution 101: “One Nation Indivisible”


A lot of people believe the United States is “one nation indivisible.” But this was not the vision of the founding generation. The people of the several states did not cede their sovereignty and mold together into a unified and singular “nation” when they ratified the Constitution. In fact, one of the biggest fears brought up during the ratification debates was that the federal government would swallow up the states and lead to something they called “consolidation.” The supporters of the Constitution swore up and down that this would never happen. Even Alexander Hamilton, who certainly had nationalist ambitions, insisted that the Constitution would not entirely consolidate the states into “one complete national sovereignty.” In Federalist #32, he wrote that to do so “would imply an entire subordination of the parts; and whatever powers might remain in them, would be altogether dependent on the general will.” He went on to explain this wasn’t the intent and that the Constitution only aimed at “a partial union.” He wrote: “The State governments would clearly retain all rights of sovereignty which they before had, and which were not, by that act, exclusively delegated to the United States.”

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