Explain one factor that led to the national government having significantly more power than the states.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The primary factor that led to the Federal Government having more power than the states was the failure of the Articles of Confederation Government. After the Declaration and during the Revolutionary War, the States were jealous of their own sovereignty, and did not wish to be subjected to another strong government as they had been under the British. For that reason, the Articles specifically stated that each state would be sovereign. It proved unworkable, however. The Confederation Government had no way to enforce its policies, had no taxing authority, and were difficult to administer. States printed their own money, taxed goods produced in other states, and created general havoc. It is no coincidence that the preamble to the Constitution notes the need to form a "more perfect" Union.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One factor that has led to the national government having significantly more power than the state governments has been the increasing complexity and interconnection of the American economy.

The Constitution gave Congress the exclusive right to regulate interstate commerce.  Over time, this right has given the federal government more and more power over the states.  When the Constitution was written, most economic activity took place within states and so the federal government had very little regulating to do.  Nowadays, though, almost all economic activity involves interstate commerce.  A hamburger that you buy at McDonald's for example, will have beef from one state, tomatoes from another, a bun made from wheat from yet another state.  All of that has been transported across state lines.  This means that it is all regulated by the federal government.

As the American economy has grown bigger and more interconnected, the federal government's right to regulate interstate commerce has greatly increased its power relative to that of the states.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial