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The Constitution
Guide: Federalism

These resources highlight the importance of federalism in the American system of government. Use these resources to help students understand what federalism is and the conflicts that can result between the federal government and the states. Use the Export to My Lists button above to turn this into a research list for your students.

Theme Key Understandings

  • Societies need government to promote harmony, reduce conflict, and increase economic productivity
  • Governments come in many forms, including rule by one, rule by a few, and rule by many
  • Philosophical thought often influences a society's form of government
  • New political systems are shaped by emulating and opposing older systems of government
  • Founding documents are a result of compromise and the direct experiences of those drafting them
  • Democratic governments derive their power from the consent of the governed
  • Protection of individual rights and liberties is central to American democracy
  • Democratic governments strike a balance between majority rule and minority rights

Key Questions

  • Identify two examples of the way the federal and state government work together to solve problems.
  • Describe a situation in which the federal and state governments might be at odds with each other.


  1. Overview: Federalism
  2. Visuals: Federalism (Visual)
  3. Outline: Outline
  4. Transcript: Transcript
  5. Lesson: Introduction
  6. Lesson: 1-Federal vs. State Power
  7. Lesson: 2-Debate over Government Power
  8. Lesson: 3-Federal-State Tension in the U.S.
  9. Lesson: 4-Expansion of Federal Power
  10. Lesson: Closing
  11. Glossary Terms: supremacy clause
  12. Reference Articles: Federalist Party
  13. Reference Articles: Incorporation Doctrine
  14. Reference Articles: Necessary and Proper Clause
  15. Reference Articles: Tenth Amendment
  16. Reference Articles: Nullification Crisis
  17. Political, Government & Court Documents: McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
  18. Political, Government & Court Documents: Montesquieu, Baron de: The Spirit of the Laws (1748)
  19. Political, Government & Court Documents: Bill of Rights (1791)
  20. Political, Government & Court Documents: U.S. Constitution (1787)

MLA Citation

"Federalism." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2020, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/Content/2156122?cid=256. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

Entry ID: 2156122

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