National versus State Government
After the American colonies won their independence from England, the thirteen colonies became thirteen states. The new states formed a league so they could work together. Their system of government was described in a document called the Articles of Confederation. In this system, the state governments had most of the power. The national government was very weak. This was very different from the government under the King.
The Founding Fathers saw that this system left the nation too weak. They decided to develop a new system of government. They wrote a new document, the Constitution, to replace the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution made a stronger national government. It divided power between the national government and the state governments. This system is called federalism.
What is Federalism?
Since the signing of the Constitution, the division of power in the United States has been based on sharing power between the national government and individual state governments. This is known as federalism.
Let's take a look at how power is distributed in the United States:
In addition, the national government and state governments share the following powers:
In order to carry out these duties, the national government and individual state goverments are divided into areas. Each area is given a duty to perform.
Reprinted from Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids