How has American federalism changed over the years?

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dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Constitutional principle of federalism is the division of government power between national, state, and local levels in the United States. However, as early as the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion the federal government has been strengthening its power at the expense of state power. This shift in government power has changed the relationship between the federal and state governments throughout the history of the United States. I have included several examples below.

1. 1803 Supreme Court case Marbury v. Madison. The decision of this case gave the court the power to interpret the meaning of the Constitution.

2. The issue of slavery and the balance of power in Congress. The Civil War defined the sovereignty of the nation.

3. 1819 Supreme Court case McCulloch v. Marland upheld the Constitutionality of a national banking system.

4. The 14th Amendment federalized the Bill of Rights to apply to all states

5. Regulatory legislation such as the Pure Food and Drug Act and Meat Inspection Act 1906

6. Amendment XXIV the abolition of poll taxes (a charge for voting)

7. The Voting Rights Act 1965

Each of these actions (as well as many others) strengthened the federal government and in doing so redefined American Federalism.