Literature for Students: How Federalism Was Created and Its History

In order to better understand the world around us, it’s important to have a strong foundation of knowledge about the concepts and history that brought us to where we are today. This is why the study of history, politics, and philosophy is crucial to understanding how the world works. Many schools focus their efforts on educating students on topics such as federalism to explain the different social and political realities surrounding us.


University courses on history will often ask their students to devote significant attention to the concept of federalism, as it has played such a prominent role in shaping much of our social and political reality. The methods of research into this topic vary from class to class, but students will often be asked to read a book on the matter or write a research essay. Exploring the literature that exists on this topic is an excellent way of beginning to write a research essay.


When unpacking the topic of federalism for a research essay, it can help to consult reputable examples of how the subject should be approached. Online there are plentiful essays examples about federalism that students can use for inspiration in their own essays on federalism. The best essays about federalism are those that are written using deep historical research and writing guidance. Here we’ve put together a brief overview of the history of this system of governance to kickstart your research.


Defining federalism

Federalism as a concept refers to a system of governance comprised of multiple levels. Regional administrative bodies take care of their respective areas, yet all together comprise the parts of a larger, over-arching governing body. The regional administrations all report to the federal that oversees them and agree to certain accords. Under this system of governance, the federal authority implements legislation that all the regional bodies must adhere to. Within the scope of this federal legislation, however, the regional bodies are free to implement their own will. Notable examples of federalist governments on a national level in the present day include the United States of America, India, and Brazil. The European Union is a major example of federalism in practice beyond the state level, as it is comprised of an international set of regional bodies.


Origins of federalism

While there are examples of this system of political organisation dating back to ancient Greece, the modern sense of the term came largely into being during the historical period referred to as the Enlightenment. The Englightenment was a period of thought during the 18th century that saw mainstream thought move towards beliefs based in rationality, democracy, freedom, and science. This era saw the birth of many influential republics, including the United States of America and France.


In the United States in particular, the concept of federalism played an important role in the foundation of the state. Up until the US constitution was written, the land was a loosely connected series of territories. The founding fathers of the USA sought to strengthen their union with a federal constitution. They debated the level of federalism that should define the country, with the pro-federalists arguing for a strong central government, and the anti-federalists preferring a weaker central government.


The system of governance they designed proved to be massively influential when other countries were themselves designing federal constitutions, and today a significant portion of the world’s population lives under this system. Further major examples of countries with federal governments include Mexico, Germany, Russia, Canada, and Australia. This system is often seen in places with large populations or territories, as it makes compartmentalising the needs of different regions a more streamlined process.


Those who support federalism champion its ability to balance regional autonomy and an overseeing authority to maintain checks and balances within society. Having federal oversight allows all the different regions of a state to monitor and maintain one another, and this is thought to have a reinforcing effect on a state’s democracy. A strong central government also allows for the implementation of broad national infrastructure, such as financial systems, healthcare, and standardised education.


Understanding the federalist system, its history, and how it works is an important step in understanding our world’s political and social landscape. There are many books and online resources that offer a valuable lesson on this subject, and this is something that every student should seek to explore.


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