The Ambivalence of Americans Towards Their National Government

1. Introduction:

Today, the United States of America is known as one of the most powerful nations in the world. It has a strong economy, a stable political system, and a military that is second to none. But it was not always this way. In fact, there was a time when the very existence of the United States was in doubt. This was during the late 18th century and early 19th century, when the young nation was beset by internal divisions and external threats. It was during this time that many Americans began to develop a ambivalence towards their national government.

The roots of this ambivalence can be traced back to the American Revolution. Prior to the Revolution, the American colonies were ruled by the British Empire. The colonists had no say in how they were governed and were subject to taxes and laws that they did not agree with. As tensions between the colonists and the British government began to grow, some Americans began to call for independence from Britain.

The Revolutionary War broke out in 1775 and lasted for eight years. The colonies eventually won their independence, but the war left the young nation in a state of disarray. The Articles of Confederation, which served as the first constitution of the United States, proved to be too weak to effectively govern the nation. This led to a period of political turmoil known as the Critical Period.

During the Critical Period, there was a lot of public anger and violence directed at state governments. This culminated in Shay’s Rebellion, an uprising by Massachusetts farmers that was quelled by the national government under George Washington. In response to this unrest, delegates from all over the country met in Philadelphia in 1787 to drafting a new constitution.

The Constitution that they came up with created a stronger national government than had existed under the Articles of Confederation. It gave Congress more power to tax and regulate commerce, and it created a national bank. These powers were seen as necessary by some Americans, but they were also seen as dangerous by others who feared that the national government would become too powerful.

This debate over the role of government came to a head in 1791, when Alexander Hamilton proposed creating a National Debt in order to finance his plans for economic development. This plan was opposed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who feared that it would lead to excessive taxation and an expansion of federal power. The disagreement between Hamilton and Jefferson led to the formation of America’s first political parties: The Federalists and The Antifederalists.

The Federalists favored a strong national government while The Antifederalists wanted more power to be vested in state governments. This division among Americans continued throughout the early years of the Republic. It came to a head again in 1828, when Andrew Jackson was elected president on a platform of giving more power to average citizens and lessening the role of government.

Jackson’s election marked a shift in American politics that would last for decades. From that point on, many Americans began to see their national government as an unnecessary burden and began to call for its reduction in size and scope. This sentiment reached its height during the Civil War, when southern states attempted to secede from the Union over disagreements about slavery and states’ rights.

In conclusion, ambivalence towards national government has been a common feature of American politics since the nation’s founding. This ambivalence is rooted in the nation’s history, and it has been exacerbated by periods of political turmoil and economic hardship. Today, there are still many Americans who see their government as being too big and too powerful. But there are also those who believe that the national government is necessary in order to protect the rights of its citizens and to ensure the stability of the country.


The American people have had a long history of ambivalence towards their national government. This has manifested itself in different ways at different times, but there are some common factors that have contributed to this overall attitude.

One of the most notable manifestations of this ambivalence is the rise of populism throughout American history. Populist movements have often been critical of government policies and institutions, and have sought to rally ordinary citizens against what they see as a corrupt and/or incompetent elite.

Another factor that has contributed to American ambivalence towards government is the country's large size and diverse population. With such a large and varied populace, it can be difficult for the government to truly represent all Americans equally. This can lead to frustration and resentment among those who feel like they are not being heard or represented by their government.

The American government has responded to this ambivalence in various ways over time. Sometimes it has attempted to address the concerns of those who are critical of its policies and actions, while other times it has simply ignored or dismissed them outright.

The impact of this ambivalent attitude towards government on American society and politics has been both positive and negative. On the one hand, it has helped keep the government accountable by forcing it to listen to its critics and make changes when necessary. On the other hand, it has also led to periods of great political turmoil and division within the country.

There are both benefits and drawbacks to America's ambivalent attitude towards its government. On the plus side, this skepticism can help keep politicians honest and prevent them from abusing their power . However, on the downside ,this mistrust can also make it harder for the government to get things done , since many people are hesitant to support any given policy or initiative .

It is difficult to say definitively whether America'sambivalence towards itsgovernment reflects a fundamental mistrustof govern ment or ifit is simplya productof historical circumstances . However , giventhe factthatthisattitudehas persistedfor centuries ,it seemslikelythat thereis at leastsome degreeof truthto both explanations .