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The relationship between the federal government and the state governments in the United States of America is clearly stipulated in the constitution. The founding fathers of the federation wanted to create a system that was different from the United Kingdom where the government is centralized, and it is a sole unitary unit. It may not be easy to explain how the federal or state governments have gained powers over the years. The federal government deals with issues of national importance and those that can be regarded as universal in all states. Functions of the federal government include; provision of education, security, declaration of war and regulation of the currency. On the other hand, state governments deal with functions that are unique to their states (USHistory.org. n.d., P.234). Such functions may include; disaster management, taxation, and registration of corporations or companies, borrowing of money among others.

Federal and state government share power as prescribed by the constitution. It is not about competition, but it is more of compromised governance (Engdahl & David 1974, P.21). America is the eldest and the largest federation that has ever existed in the world. Over the years, it can be argued that states have attained more experience in matters of governance. For example the state New Orleans experienced the hurricane disaster recently, unlike many years ago when the state governments could not amass resources to deal with such a big disaster New Orleans managed it effectively.  It is not about who is gaining power over who, but it’s simply a matter of coexistence. The federal government through the Supreme Court administers lawsuits that cannot be arbitrated in the states. State governments respond to the needs of its citizens as opposed to what happens in centralized governments like the Britain (Engdahl & David 1974, P.68). It is good to conclude the relationship between federal and state government is well nurtured, and it has grown over time.


Engdahl, David E. 1974. Constitutional power: Federal and State in a nutshell. St. Paul:

West Pub. Co.

USHistory.org. n.d. http://www.ushistory.org/.

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