The Bill of Rights and Federalism

Explores the powers reserved to the states as provided by the Tenth Amendment. Explains the Founders’ understanding of a federalist system and the expansion and contraction of the federal government’s power.

What is a Federal Republic?

Clock 100 minutes

The delegates to the Constitutional Convention embraced the difficult duty of crafting a government that appropriately distributed the power between the national government and the states. For the Founders, the principle of federalism was a means of protecting liberty by limiting and dividing government power. This lesson explores the principle of federalism, how it is constructed in the Constitution, and  the relationship between national and state powers.

Founding Principles

Federalism image


The people delegate certain powers to the national government, while the states retain other powers; and the people, who authorize the states and national government, retain all freedoms not delegated to the governing bodies.

Inalienable / Natural Rights image

Inalienable / Natural Rights

Freedoms which belong to us by nature and can only be justly taken away through due process.

Limited Government image

Limited Government

Citizens are best able to pursue happiness when government is confined to those powers which protect their life, liberty, and property.

Representative / Republican Government image

Representative / Republican Government

Form of government in which the people are sovereign (the ultimate source of power) and authorize representatives to make and carry out laws.

Separation of Powers image

Separation of Powers

A system of distinct powers built into the Constitution to prevent an accumulation of power in one branch.

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