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  • A system of government whereby sover eignty is divided among a strong central authority and constituent subunits. Authority is divided between at least two levels, such as national and state governments, whereby each level retains sovereignty over matters in some areas. The authority each maintains is constitutionally authorized.

    Federalism gained momentum in the United States in the past two decades of the 19th century, especially after the Civil War. The earliest Federalists believed that a strong central government would facilitate the economic and political strength needed to maintain indepen dence, especially from England. The Anti-Federalists, however, argued that federalism would replace one tyranny with another. The system that was created was a dual federalism in which both the federal and the state governments were considered coequals. ...

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