Federalism: U.S. v. the States (Democracy in America Video Series)

Lesson Duration

From Annenberg Learner

This lesson with one-half hour video provides an overview of the workings of federalism in the United States. In this unit, the complex and changeable relationship between the national and state governments is explored. By focusing on the conflicts between national and state powers, the unit develops a deeper understanding of nature of governmental power in the American system.

Learning Objectives

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • Explain how the Constitution distributes power between the national and state governments.
  • Describe the various types of federalism.
  • Explain the changes that have occurred in the federal system in the past 200 years.
  • Summarize the part played by state governments in the contemporary federal system.
  • Discuss the role of grant-in-aid programs in the American federal system.
  • Describe the advantages and disadvantages of a federal system.



Democracy in America, a video course in civics, covers topics of civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions recommended by The Civics Framework for the National Assessment of Educational Progress developed by the U.S. Department of Education. The 15 half-hour video programs, hosted by national television correspondent Renée Poussaint, and related print and Web site materials provide inservice and preservice teachers with both cognitive and experiential learning in civics education.