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Ch 3: Federalism in the United States

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Watch online political science video lessons to learn about state sovereignty, the evolution of American federalism, the roles of local government and more. Engaging graphics and animations bring federalism concepts to life.

Federalism in the United States - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

Explore the challenges resulting from a form of democracy in which power is granted to both federal and state governments. Instructors use significant events in U.S. history as well as landmark court cases to illustrate some of the clashes that can occur between national and local interests, and explain what happens when federal courts weigh in on the issue of state sovereignty. By the time you finish this chapter, you should be familiar with the following:

  • Key events in the evolution of American federalism
  • State sovereignty and the division of powers in the U.S.
  • Federalism's competing values of equality and protection
  • Roles and organization of state and local governments

Video Objective
What Is Federalism? - Definition & Factors of U.S. Adoption Explain why federalism was the form of government adopted by the founding fathers. Differentiate this type of government from other forms.
The Evolution of American Federalism: 1787-1937 Study the state of American federalism during the country's founding. Identify key changes taking place during the Civil War and the Great Depression.
The Evolution of American Federalism: 1937-Present Follow the further evolution of American federalism from the period after the Great Depression up to the present day.
Sovereignty in the American Political System: Definition & History Explore how the concepts of dual sovereignty and nullification played into the historical development of states' rights in the U.S.
Division of Powers Between the National Government and the States Explain how Supreme Court decisions and the Constitution have shaped the division of power between state governments and the federal government.
Devolution: Definition & Examples Analyze the implications of returning certain powers once reserved for the federal government to state governments.
Competing Values of Federalism: Equality vs. Participation Assess federalism's competing values of equality and participation.
Federal Controls on State Governments: Mandates and Federal Court Rulings Explain how federal mandates, court decisions and conditions of aid are used to control state governments.
What Is Local Government? - Definition, Responsibilities & Challenges Outline challenges facing local governments. Describe their organization and responsibilities.
What Is State Government? - Powers, Responsibilities & Challenges Examine the organization of state governments. Identify their responsibilities and some of the key challenges they face.

10 Lessons in Chapter 3: Federalism in the United States
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.

Sovereignty in the American Political System: Definition & History

4. 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

5. 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.

Devolution: Definition & Examples

6. 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

7. 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

8. 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 Local Government? - Definition, Responsibilities & Challenges

9. 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.

What Is State Government? - Powers, Responsibilities & Challenges

10. 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.

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