Federalism in the United States | Wikipedia audio article
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Federalism in the United States | Wikipedia audio article


Federalism in the United States is the constitutional
division of power between U.S. state governments and the federal government of the United States. Since the founding of the country, and particularly
with the end of the American Civil War, power shifted away from the states and towards the
national government. The progression of federalism includes dual,
state-centered, and new federalism.==Federalism in the early Republic==
Federalism was a political solution for the problems with the Articles of Confederation
which gave little practical authority to the federal government. For example, the Articles allowed the Continental
Congress the power to sign treaties and declare war, but it could not raise taxes to pay for
an army and all major decisions required a unanimous vote.The movement was greatly strengthened
by the reaction to Shays’ Rebellion of 1786–1787, which was an armed uprising of yeoman farmers
in western Massachusetts. The rebellion was fueled by a poor economy
that was created, in part, by the inability of the federal government to deal effectively
with the debt from the American Revolutionary War. Moreover, the federal government had proven
incapable of raising an army to quell the rebellion, so that Massachusetts had been
forced to raise its own. In 1787, fifty-five delegates met at a Constitutional
convention in Philadelphia and generated ideas of a bicameral legislature (United States
Congress), balanced representation of small and large states (Great Compromise), and checks
and balances. James Madison stated in a long pre-convention
memorandum to delegates that because “one could hardly expect the state legislatures
to take enlightened views on national affairs”, stronger central government was necessary. This convention almost immediately dropped
its original mandate and instead set about constructing a new Constitution of the United
States. Once the convention concluded and released
the Constitution for public consumption, the Federalist movement became focused on getting
the Constitution ratified. The most forceful defense of the new Constitution
was The Federalist Papers, a compilation of 85 anonymous essays published in New York
City to convince the people of the state to vote for ratification. These articles, written by Alexander Hamilton
and James Madison, with some contributed by John Jay, examined the benefits of the new,
proposed Constitution, and analyzed the political theory and function behind the various articles
of the Constitution. The Federalist Papers remain one of the most
important sets of documents in American history and political science.Those opposed to the
new Constitution became known as the Anti-Federalists. They generally were local rather than cosmopolitan
in perspective, oriented to plantations and farms rather than commerce or finance, and
wanted strong state governments and a weak national government. The Anti-Federalist critique soon centered
on the absence of a bill of rights, which Federalists promised to provide. Because George Washington lent his prestige
to the Constitution and because of the ingenuity and organizational skills of its proponents,
the Constitution was ratified by all the states. The outgoing Congress of the Confederation
scheduled elections for the new government, and set March 4, 1789 as the date that the
new government would take power. In 1789, Congress submitted twelve articles
of amendment to the states. Ten of these articles, written by congressional
committees, achieved passage on December 15, 1791 and became the United States Bill of
Rights. The Tenth Amendment set the guidelines for
federalism in the United States.===Federalist Party===As soon as the first Federalist movement dissipated,
a second one sprang up to take its place. This one was based on the policies of Alexander
Hamilton and his allies for a stronger national government, a loose construction of the Constitution,
and a mercantile (rather than agricultural) economy. As time progressed, the factions which adhered
to these policies organized themselves into the nation’s first political party, the Federalist
Party, and the movement’s focus and fortunes began to track those of the party it spawned. While the Federalist movement of the 1780s
and the Federalist Party were distinct entities, they were related in more than just a common
name. The Democratic-Republican Party, the opposition
to the Federalist Party, emphasized the fear that a strong national government was a threat
to the liberties of the people. They stressed that the national debt created
by the new government would bankrupt the country, and that federal bondholders were paid from
taxes paid by honest farmers and workingmen. These themes resonated with the Anti-Federalists,
the opposition to the Federalist movement of the 1780s. As Norman Risjord has documented for Virginia,
of the supporters of the Constitution in 1788, 69% joined the Federalist party, while nearly
all (94%) of the opponents joined the Republicans. 71% of Thomas Jefferson’s supporters in Virginia
were former anti-federalists who continued to fear centralized government, while only
29% had been proponents of the Constitution a few years before. In short, nearly all of the opponents of the
Federalist movement became opponents of the Federalist Party. The movement reached its zenith with the election
of John Adams, an overtly Federalist President. However, with the defeat of Adams in the election
of 1800 and the death of Hamilton, the Federalist Party began a long decline from which it never
recovered. What finally finished off the Federalist party
was the Hartford Convention of 1814, in which five New England states gathered to discuss
several constitutional amendments necessary to protect New England’s interests in regard
to the blockade of their ports by the British during the War of 1812. The threat of secession also was proposed
during these secret meetings. Three delegates were sent to Washington, DC
to negotiate New England’s terms only to discover the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, ending
the war with the British. The Federalists were then seen by many as
traitors to the union.==Federalism under the Marshall Court==The United States Supreme Court under Chief
Justice John Marshall played an important role in defining the power of the federal
and state governments during the early 19th century. As the U.S. Constitution does not specifically
define many dividing lines between the layers of government, the Supreme Court settled the
issue in New York. The question was answered particularly in
the cases, McCulloch v. Maryland and Gibbons v. Ogden, which broadly expanded the power
of the national government.==Dual Federalism==Despite Chief Justice Marshall’s strong push
for the federal government, the court of his successor, Roger B. Taney (1835–1864), decided
cases that favored equally strong national and state governments. The basic philosophy during this time was
that the U.S. Government ought to be limited to its enumerated
powers and that all others belonged to the states. Both the sixteenth and the seventeenth amendment
bolstered the power of the national government, and divided state and federal power.==Between Dual Federalism and the New Deal
==Following the Taney court and the rise of
Dual federalism, the division of labor between federal, state, and local governments was
relatively unchanged for over a century. Political scientist Theodore J. Lowi summarized
the system in place during those years in The End of the Republican EraNevertheless,
the modern federal apparatus owes its origins to changes that occurred during the period
between 1861 and 1933. While banks had long been incorporated and
regulated by the states, the National Bank Acts of 1863 and 1864 saw Congress establish
a network of national banks that had their reserve requirements set by officials in Washington. During World War I, a system of federal banks
devoted to aiding farmers was established, and a network of federal banks designed to
promote home ownership came into existence in the last year of Herbert Hoover’s administration. Congress used its power over interstate commerce
to regulate the rates of interstate (and eventually intrastate) railroads and even regulated their
stock issues and labor relations, going so far as to enact a law regulating pay rates
for railroad workers on the eve of World War I. During the 1920s, Congress enacted laws bestowing
collective bargaining rights on employees of interstate railroads and some observers
dared to predict it would eventually bestow collective bargaining rights on persons working
in all industries. Congress also used the commerce power to enact
morals legislation, such as the Mann Act of 1907 barring the transfer of women across
state lines for immoral purposes, even as the commerce power remained limited to interstate
transportation—it did not extend to what were viewed as intrastate activities such
as manufacturing and mining. As early as 1913, there was talk of regulating
stock exchanges, and the Capital Issues Committee formed to control access to credit during
World War I recommended federal regulation of all stock issues and exchanges shortly
before it ceased operating in 1921. With the Morrill Land-Grant Acts Congress
used land sale revenues to make grants to the states for colleges during the Civil War
on the theory that land sale revenues could be devoted to subjects beyond those listed
in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. On several occasions during the 1880s, one
house of Congress or the other passed bills providing land sale revenues to the states
for the purpose of aiding primary schools. During the first years of twentieth century,
the endeavors funded with federal grants multiplied, and Congress began using general revenues
to fund them—thus utilizing the general welfare clause’s broad spending power, even
though it had been discredited for almost a century (Hamilton’s view that a broad spending
power could be derived from the clause had been all but abandoned by 1840). During Herbert Hoover’s administration, grants
went to the states for the purpose of funding poor relief. The Supreme Court began applying the Bill
of Rights to the states during the 1920s even though the Fourteenth Amendment had not been
represented as subjecting the states to its provisions during the debates that preceded
ratification of it. The 1920s also saw Washington expand its role
in domestic law enforcement. Disaster relief for areas affected by floods
or crop failures dated from 1874, and these appropriations began to multiply during the
administration of Woodrow Wilson (1913–21). By 1933, the precedents necessary for the
federal government to exercise broad regulatory power over all economic activity and spend
for any purpose it saw fit were almost all in place. Virtually all that remained was for the will
to be mustered in Congress and for the Supreme Court to acquiesce.==Cooperative Federalism==Although Cooperative Federalism has roots
in the civil war, the Great Depression marked an abrupt end to Dual Federalism and a dramatic
shift to a strong national government. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal
policies reached into the lives of U.S. citizens like no other federal measure had. As the Supreme Court had rejected nearly all
of Roosevelt’s economic proposals, the president proposed the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill
of 1937 to add more members. The expansion of the Court along with a Democrat-controlled
Congress would tilt Court rulings in favor of Roosevelt’s policies. Lowi notes three Supreme Court cases that
validated the shift in power: National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin
Steel Corporation, Helvering v. Davis, and
Steward Machine Company v. Davis.The national government was forced to cooperate with all
levels of government to implement the New Deal policies; local government earned an
equal standing with the other layers, as the federal government relied on political machines
at a city level to bypass state legislatures. The formerly distinct division of responsibilities
between state and national government had been described as a “layer cake,” but, with
the lines of duty blurred, cooperative federalism was likened to a “marble cake” or a “picket
fence.” In cooperative federalism, federal funds are
distributed through grants in aid or categorical grants which gave the federal government more
control over the use of the money.==New Federalism==Another movement calling itself “New Federalism”
appeared in the late 20th century and early 21st century. New Federalism, which is characterized by
a gradual return of power to the states, was initiated by President Ronald Reagan (1981–89)
with his “devolution revolution” in the early 1980s and lasted until 2001. Previously, the federal government had granted
money to the states categorically, limiting the states to use this funding for specific
programs. Reagan’s administration, however, introduced
a practice of giving block grants, freeing state governments to spend the money at their
own discretion. New Federalism is sometimes called “states’
rights”, although its proponents usually eschew the latter term because of its associations
with Jim Crow and segregation. Unlike the states’ rights movement of the
mid-20th century which centered on the civil rights movement, the modern federalist movement
is concerned far more with expansive interpretations of the Commerce Clause, as in the areas of
medical marijuana (Gonzales v. Raich), partial-birth abortion (Gonzales v. Carhart), gun possession
(United States v. Lopez), federal police powers (United States v. Morrison, which struck down
portions of the Violence Against Women Act), or agriculture (Wickard v. Filburn).==See also==
Anti-Federalists Federalism
Great Law of Peace: Influence on the United States Constitution
Laboratories of democracy Seventeenth Amendment to the United States
Constitution Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution==Notes====Further reading and references==
Gerston, Larry N. (2007), American Federalism: A Concise Introduction, Armonk, New York,
United States: M.E. Sharp, ISBN 0-7656-1671-8 Hafer, Catherine; Landa, Dimitri (August 2007). “Public goods in Federal systems”. Quarterly Journal of Political Science. Now Publishing Inc. 2 (3): 253–275. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.485.7813. doi:10.1561/100.00006001. Pdf. LaCroix, Alison L. (2010), The Ideological
Origins of American Federalism, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States: Harvard University
Press, ISBN 0-674-04886-5 Lowi, Theodore (1995), The End of the Republican
Era, Norman, Oklahoma, United States: University of Oklahoma, ISBN 0-8061-2887-9
Taylor, Jeff (2013), Politics on a Human Scale: The American Tradition of Decentralism, Lanham,
Maryland, United States: Lexington Books, ISBN 978-0-7391-8674-9
U.S. Constitution Zavodnyik, Peter (2011), The Rise of the Federal
Colossus: The Growth of Federal Power from Lincoln to F.D.R., Santa Barbara, California,
United States: ABC-CLIO

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