American Federalism

American Federalism

American Federalism. A system in which two levels of government control the same territory is referred to as federalism. The national government deals with the issues that affect the entire country, while the smaller subdivisions deal with the local issues.  The political subdivisions and the national government have the right and authority to make laws and a certain level of autonomy regarding territorial jurisdiction.  The United States Constitution grants the state government the power to deal with domestic issues while the national government governs the issues concerning the nation.

Article 1, section 8 of the United States Constitution grants the US CongresU.S.the power to declare war, punish piracies, and levy taxes. With this basic information on federalism, this essay enumerates how federalism has evolved from its origin to the American political system in place today. Second, factors that have allowed the concept of federalism to shape American political behavior, and lastly, factors that illustrate how the relationship between the states and the U.S federaU.S.overnment influences the creation of American policies.

How federalism has evolved from its origin to the American political system

The American Revolution had a slogan: “A government of laws, not of men” (Gibson, 2004). In the eighteenth century, most of the revolutionists in America believed that those who ran the government should be limited by set down rules and regulations in their exercise of power. They said the government should be governed by law, not by people’s will.   Between 1776 and 1778, several state constitutions were put in place, which foreshadowed the federal form of governance.  From then, several states were put into effect. This enhanced the formation of a federal government.

The constitution’s fourteenth amendment in 1861 – 1868 enhanced the formation of the federal government (Gerston, 2007). Many people in the south felt that the state government had the right to make important decisions concerning the state. The Northerners had a different idea about this. They said that the national government should make all the decisions. The state had rights that were supposed to be followed and observed. The national government was not supposed to control all the activities of the states. After the debate, both southerners and northerners agreed that the state’s rights should be obeyed and respected by all. The central government was not supposed to control the activities of the state.

As a result of industrialization and globalization, the national government assumed a larger role. Because of its extensive trading networks, it emerged as a global economic power. The American government began to trade abroad heavily. As a result of the great depression, most people lost their jobs; thus, poverty levels elevated, and most businesses failed. Franklin Roosevelt devised policies and programs to revive the country’s economy. The program involved the formation of social security plans and works progress administration.  Thus, they had to give the state the power to revive the economy dramatically.

Scholars and political leaders in the 1970s argued that the national government had become too powerful and power should be given to the states. The support of federalism began with Richard Nixon, and since then, presidents in the United States of America still support it. Although some political leaders disagree on the distribution of power to the states, the general principle remains that the state should be given power. That means the national government remains extremely important, but power is distributed to the states.  This enabled the government to manage all the activities effectively.

Factors that have allowed the concept of federalism to shape American political behavior

The main factor that allowed the concept of federalism to shape American politics is industrialization (Loughlin, 2010). This is because many changes were to be made in terms of policy regulations in terms of industrialization. The regulations were on matters of public welfare and commerce. This was required to revive the country’s economic growth because many people lived below the poverty level after the civil war.

After the Civil War, American political leaders changed their ideology, and the government was ruled by law, not the people’s control.  The constitutional amendments shaped American political behavior. Thus, it is evident that the US constitU.S.ion played a role in encouraging federalism in the United States of America.  This is because it stands as the central rule of the law and advocates for a federal system of governance.

Factors that illustrate how the relationship between the states and the U.S. federU.S.overnment influences the creation of American policies overall

During the making of the American policies, sought constitutional amendment mainly through the popular vote of the citizens.  This means all the citizens make the constitutional amendments within the state (Gibson, 2004).  The federalism system is reflected in the national judiciary system. The state laws also enforce rules regarding conformity to federal policies.

The state has stipulated laws, but they have to abide by with United States constitution. The federal state’s power deals with the state national at large and also covers some of the affairs of the state, while the state powers mainly focus on dealing with the matters of the state. However, the state and the federal government have to work hand in hand under the concept of federalism.




Gerston, L. N. (2007). American federalism: A concise introduction. Armonk, N.Y: M.E. N.Y.rpe.

Gibson, E. L. (2004). Federalism and democracy in Latin America. Baltimore [u.a.: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

Loughlin, M. (2010). Foundations of public law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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