Hmm, this is basic American history, not imagination. I think you're a teacher, so let me turn the tables on you and give you a test:
1. When the Constitution was written, did the Bill of Rights apply to the states? For example, did the First Amendment prevent states from abridging the freedom of speech, or just the federal government?
2. Under what legal doctrine was the Bill of Rights eventually applied to the states, and upon which Amendment is that doctrine based?
2a. Bonus question! What was the latest of the Bill of Rights to be applied to the states?
3. In what era and under what conditions was that Amendment passed?
Answer 1. It applied only to the states. For example, the First Amendment reads "Congress shall make no law" Therefore, states could make a state religion or abridge the freedom of speech. Only the federal govt was prevented from such actions.
Answer 2. It's called the Doctrine of Incorporation, and it's based on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
Answer 2a. The Second Amendment, just a year ago. Despite years of gun rights people claiming that the Constitution protects their right to bear arms, it was only a year ago that was really true.
Answer 3. The 14th Amendment was one of the Reconstruction Amendments, passed after the Civil War. That was the turning point in the relationship between the states and the federal govt in American history. After so many years of the states refusing to protect people's rights, we gave teeth to the federal govt to enforce people's rights.
Awesome...a test with the answers!
Seriously, I appreciate the in-depth reply. I agree completely with answers 1 and 2. 2a is debatable. I think what you mean to say is the right was only clarified a year ago. The interpretation up until then was that the right clearly applied to individuals. But no need to mince words there.
Answer 3 is another matter. While I agree with your characterization of the federal government having the power to protect rights under the 14th Amendment, I disagree with the extrapolation that this fundamentally changed the nature of limited government itself. If anything, it had the effect of protecting people from overreaching state and local governments. I suppose you could characterize this as the federal government "stronger." But, I wouldn't make that a generalization and try to apply it to the entire notion and role of the federal government itself. In essence, the 14th Amendment merely clarifies that states cannot do that which violates the Bill of Rights just because the verbiage says "Congress" instead of "Congress nor the states."
Your overall conclusion is that we realized we needed a bigger, stronger federal government" and that the country doesn't resemble what the founders intended. That's where we disagree. The entire idea was protect the rights of the people. According to your logic, prior to 1890 a state could violate the 3rd Amendment by allowing troops to reside at your house w/o consent, in time of peace. Correct?