The purpose and reasons for governments changed, based on the ever-changing needs of the citizens who benefit from its monopoly on power. Sometimes, these governments shift to become less powerful; under different circumstances, these governments shift to a state of more power.Conditions that determine the direction of a state’s power are subject to a great deal of examination and political interest. One could argue that the United States, like all other countries since the late 18th century, have undergone such a transition. However, the exact direction it has gone since that time is likewise subject to debate. Understandably, a broad transition in the philosophical basis for the United States government has occurred in the past two hundred years, which has shifted the focus of federal institutions away from the protecting of individual rights to the entitlement of liberties and, as a consequence, from a decentralized union of states to a nationalist ideal of federal power. In the years following the ratification of the United States Constitution, the role of the federal government was imagined as limited in scope, in hopes of avoiding dictatorial control. As a result, the emphasis of the government, as directed by the Bill of Rights, was in the protection of individual rights (such as the right to free speech) that do not impose on the rights of other free citizens. These rights, known as negative rights, do not specify what a person can do, but what he cannot do.