The system of federalism was instituted with the writing and authorization of the Constitution in 1787. In dividing power between states and the national government, federalism has undergone challenges to the placement of power. Should power reside primarily in national or in state government? The Civil War was the most dramatic challenge to the placement of power. Southern states argued, under the leadership of John C. Calhoun, that states’ power superseded national power, while northern states, under the leadership of President Abraham Lincoln, stressed the need for union under the leadership and direction of the national government.
In the more than two hundred years since the Constitution’s adoption, there have been many changes to the meaning of federalism, with power shifting between state and national governments. In the twentieth century, the shifts of power became largely associated with the national government’s ability to provide increased funding sources. With more funding available, the national government has expanded its impact on all areas of state governments. This increased power has had many advocates and many detractors, each with strong justifications.
Research federalism using your textbook, the University online library resources, and the Internet. Write a paper on federalism. Structure your paper as follows:
- Define federalism.
- Explain three advantages of federalism.
- Explain three disadvantages of federalism.
- Identify and describe at least two ways in which American federalism has changed since the ratification of the Constitution.
- Discuss one advantage or disadvantage of federalism most relevant to you.
- Describe the relationship between contemporary politics and trends in the size and power of the federal government.