Related Links in the Library:
Source: An essay from George W. Carey, In Defense of
the Constitution, revised
and expanded edition, (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1995).
James Madison and the Principle of Federalism
Any penetrating treatment of state-national relations must, soon or late, deal with the teaching of James Madison because, far more than any other individual, he is responsible for our modern conception of federalism. From soon after the new government commenced operations under the Constitution until his death in 1836 he was the foremost spokesman for the proposition that our system occupied a “middle ground” between a consolidated or unitary form—one in which the general government possessed complete control over the component units—and the confederal form, wherein the constituent units retained their sovereignty. This middle-ground conception of our union is what American government textbooks commonly use in defining federalism when setting forth the fundamental principles upon which our system rests.