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Ch 3: AP US Government and Politics: Federalism in the United States

About This Chapter

View this series of video lessons to learn more about federalism in the U.S., including the origin and development of this style of government, as well as key characteristics. Quizzes follow each lesson so that you can measure your own understanding of the course materials.

AP U.S. Government and Politics: Federalism in the United States - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

The United States is organized according to a distinctive style of federalism that has its roots in the earliest days of American history. Watch the video lessons in this chapter to learn more about how and why federalism was established, and how it has evolved over the years, both in practice and through court rulings. You'll also get an overview of key concepts like fiscal federalism, sovereignty and devolution, which are essential to a full understanding of the relationships between the national government and the states. In these lessons, you'll learn things like:

  • What federalism is and how it is carried out in the U.S.
  • How federalism has changed from 1787 until the present day
  • The role federalism plays in state governments' activities
  • How state and local governments are organized within the federal system

Video Objectives
What is Federalism? - Definition & Factors of U.S. Adoption Define federalism, and discuss some of the reasons why it was first adopted in the U.S.
The Evolution of American Federalism: 1787-1937 Trace federalism from the founding of the U.S. to the Great Depression, citing key events and turning points (such as the Civil War) in the timeline.
The Evolution of American Federalism: 1937-Present Trace federalism from the Great Depression to the present day, citing key events and turning points in the timeline.
Establishing National Supremacy in Federalism Discuss the Constitution's Supremacy Clause and the principle of implied powers set forth in noted Supreme Court cases.
Fiscal Federalism and State Funding Define the concept of fiscal federalism; explain its role in state policies using specific vocabulary, such as grants-in-aid, block grants and mandates.
Sovereignty in the American Political System: Definition & History Define the idea of sovereignty and how it has evolved, including levels of sovereignty, dual sovereignty and nullification.
Division of Powers Between the National Government and the States Discuss the division of power between national and state governments; explain Supreme Court cases that have affected national/state relationships.
Devolution: Definition & Examples Explain the concept of devolution, and give examples of how it works.
Competing Values of Federalism: Equality vs. Participation Discuss equality and participation, and describe how they're at odds in a federal system.
Federal Controls on State Governments: Mandates and Federal Court Rulings Describe how state governments are subject to federal control through conditions on federal aid and federal court rulings.
What is State Government? - Powers, Responsibilities & Challenges Explain how state governments are organized and what their roles are; list typical challenges faced by state governments.
What is Local Government? - Definition, Responsibilities & Challenges Describe the organization of local governments and identify their responsibilities. Examine the challenges that local governments face.

14 Lessons in Chapter 3: AP US Government and Politics: Federalism in the United States
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
What is Federalism? - Definition & Factors of U.S. Adoption

1. What is Federalism? - Definition & Factors of U.S. Adoption

The United States government is based on federalism, with governmental power divided between several entities. This lesson explores federalism and explains the factors that led to its use in the U.S.

The Evolution of American Federalism: 1787-1937

2. The Evolution of American Federalism: 1787-1937

Though federalism is written into the United States Constitution, federalism hasn't always worked the same way. It has evolved over the course of American history. This lesson takes a look at the evolution of federalism through the Great Depression.

The Evolution of American Federalism: 1937-Present

3. The Evolution of American Federalism: 1937-Present

Federalism is written into the United States Constitution, but it hasn't always worked the same way. It has evolved over the course of American history. This lesson takes a look at the evolution of federalism from the Great Depression to today.

The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution

4. The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution

Our United States Constitution is known as the 'Supreme Law of the Land.' The Supremacy Clause tells us that the Constitution trumps all conflicting laws. This lesson explains the Supremacy Clause, as well as federalism and implied powers.

Fiscal Federalism & the Role of Federal Funds in State Policy

5. Fiscal Federalism & the Role of Federal Funds in State Policy

Since the implementation of the New Deal legislation, our federal government has used fiscal federalism. Fiscal federalism includes the use of grants, revenue sharing, and mandates. This lesson explains fiscal federalism.

Sovereignty in the American Political System: Definition & History

6. Sovereignty in the American Political System: Definition & History

The United States is a sovereign nation with two levels of sovereignty. This lesson takes a look at the history of U.S. sovereignty, including the principles of dual sovereignty and nullification.

Division of Powers Between the National Government and the States

7. Division of Powers Between the National Government and the States

The U.S. Constitution uses federalism to divide governmental powers between the federal government and the individual state governments. This lesson explores this division of powers by looking at Supreme Court decisions.

Reserved Powers: Definition & Examples

8. Reserved Powers: Definition & Examples

In a federal system with two levels of government, how do we know who can practice what sort of power? The reserved powers clause of the U.S. Constitution provides a handy mechanism for sorting out who can do what in a republic like America.

Delegated Powers: Definition & Examples

9. Delegated Powers: Definition & Examples

How do we know what the government can - and can't - do? The delegated powers of the federal government are those specifically described and assigned in the U.S. Constitution.

Devolution: Definition & Examples

10. Devolution: Definition & Examples

Devolution is the transfer of certain powers from the federal government to the states. This lesson explains devolution and examines several programs that are a part of the 'devolution revolution.'

Competing Values of Federalism: Equality vs. Participation

11. Competing Values of Federalism: Equality vs. Participation

Federalism is designed to leave governmental power to the people, but there are two competing values of federalism: equality and participation. This lesson takes a closer look at federalism and at how these two ideals often conflict.

Federal Controls on State Governments: Mandates and Federal Court Rulings

12. Federal Controls on State Governments: Mandates and Federal Court Rulings

Though we have federalism, the federal government still controls certain aspects of state government. This lesson takes a look at the ways the federal government controls state government, such as federal court decisions and mandates.

What Is State Government? - Powers, Responsibilities & Challenges

13. What Is State Government? - Powers, Responsibilities & Challenges

The United States has a federal government and each of the 50 states has a state government. This lesson explains the organization of state governments, and explores the powers and responsibilities of state governments.

What Is Local Government? - Definition, Responsibilities & Challenges

14. What Is Local Government? - Definition, Responsibilities & Challenges

Each of the 50 states has a state government. Within those states, each county and municipality also has a government. This lesson explains the organization of local governments and explores the powers and responsibilities of local governments.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
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Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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