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The Underlying Consequence Of Separation Of Power

2228 words - 9 pages

In Donald Robinson’s, Slavery in the Structure of the American Revolution, he eloquently articulates the original purpose of separation of power in the United States of America: to protect private interests and freedom. Considering that separation of power is viewed as a means to prevent a unitary and centralized government, the issue of slavery influenced the adoption of separation of power. While equality is a quintessential reflection of America, the power of states’ rights prevents states from being consistent with American values. In this paper, I will examine the principle concept of separation of power in the context of ensuring private interests, in particular, the institution of slavery and segregation. I will argue how decentralized political power fundamentally prevents unity within a nation because of its intent to protect the private interests in the United States of America.

The concept and principle of separation of power was effectively used by proponents of slavery due to their claim that slavery was a private issue. Hannah Arendt discussed the issue of private interests where individuals are able to pursue their interests without having to relegate themselves to the Federal government. The embodiment of slavery, while immoral and unethical, was a source of revenue for southern states to supply their economy with free labor. Federalism—defined as a relationship between the federal, state, and local government where the power of the national government was strengthened due to citizens’ discontent of the Articles of Confederation. Combined federalism with the separation of power, it created immense disempowering consequences for African-Americans in their struggle for equality. The intention of the separation of power was to embrace freedom—as Hannah Arendt, On Revolution would say, the right for individuals to pursue their private interests (Arendt, 252). By dichotomizing the public and private domain, it protected the personal interests of individuals to pursue their own happiness in life. By applying the concept of the pursuit of happiness to own slaves and connecting the notion to private interests, the issue of slavery influenced the separation of power in America (Arendt, 135). Because there was a distinction between the public and private realm, the nation did not recognize slavery as a public issue which granted the rights for individuals to handle their slaves according to the hierarchy of master and slaves.

Advocates of separation of power between the federal, state, and local governments argued that dividing powers between entities prevent a central government from having excessive powers. The division of governmental power among the federal, state, and local governments has been an issue of controversial and heated debates since the adoption of the United States Constitution because of America’s history with a powerful government—or in America’s particular case, the authoritative monarch of Britain. The principle...

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