Education Standards

Creation of a Federal System: Course Map & Recommended Resources


Creation of a Federal System

The resources included here are intended to map to the following learning objectives for an American Government Course:

  1. Describe key features of a federalist system, both in general and within the United States constitution.    
  2. Identify the ways in which federal funds influence and support state and local governments
  3. Identify key moments in U.S. history where the Supreme Court has impacted federalism
  4. Analyze how grants and unfunded mandates shape the balance power between state and federal governments.
  5. Identify the benefits and problems a federal system creates.
  6. Analyze contemporary issues where there are disagreements over which level of government should control specific policies.

Discussion Questions and Key Concepts

Discussion Questions

  1. What is meant by a “federal system?”
  2. Distinguish federalism, unitary system, and a confederacy. Provide an example of each.
  3. Examine the evolution of federalism. Explain the different eras and provide particular examples of what federalism looked like during those time periods. 
  4. How does John C. Calhoun’s “doctrine of nullification” connect with state’s rights? Is the concept of “states’ rights” relevant today? Why or why not?

Key terms or concepts (define):

  1. Block grants
  2. Categorical Grants
  3. Concurrent Powers
  4. Confederacy
  5. Contemporary Federalism
  6. Cooperative Federalism
  7. Dual Federalism
  8. Enumerated Powers
  9. Federalism
  10. Implied Powers
  11. Reserved Powers
  12. Revenue Sharing
  13. Supremacy Clause
  14. Unitary system

Supreme Court Cases

  1. Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857)
  2. Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
  3. Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918)
  4. Lochner v. New York (1905)
  5. McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
  6. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States (1935)