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Federalism is a principle of organization of a political system. It refers to the distribution of power across different levels of government.
In the United States, federalism refers to the division of governmental powers between the national and state governments. The founding fathers of the Constitution instituted a federal system to persuade the independent states to join the Union and acquiesce in the creation of a powerful central government. Up to that point, a federally organized country had been perceived as a club of member states. Under the U.S. Constitution, each citizen belongs to two governments, national and state.
Under federalism, both the central government and the state governments have direct control over their own separate areas of jurisdiction. These independent powers are sanctioned by the Constitution.