Chapter 4: The Federal System
Students have studied the division of powers between the state
and national governments, the evolution of American federalism,
and how federalism impacts politics. In this lesson they will
take a closer look at the formation of the United States system
of government and how it has been able to adapt to the changing
needs of society.
Students will visit the Limits and Liberty Web site hosted
by PBS to explore ideas related to the rise and evolution
of federalism in the United States. They will then answer
four questions pertaining to the material they have read and
write a biographical sketch.
- Students will be able to summarize the primary goals of
the Framers of the Constitution.
- Students will be able to recognize how government has
been able to adapt to the changing needs of the country.
Student Web Activity Answers
Go to Student Web Activity
- Madison said that the great difficulty was that "you must
first enable the government to control the governed; and
in the next place, oblige it to control itself."
- To satisfy the need of having a government that could
control the governed, the Framers granted the government
far more extensive powers than it had enjoyed under the
Articles of Confederation. To ensure that the government
controlled itself, the Framers divided the national government
into three branches. This separation of powers and system
of checks and balances kept the power of each branch under
- The Framers would be surprised by the broad scope of the
government's activities, its role in social policies, and
its many regulatory policies.
- Wars, economic upheavals, technological change, and various
social issues are some of the factors that have contributed
to the expanded role of the federal government.
- Students' sketches will vary.