The debate over states’ rights versus federalism in America is one that has raged since our country’s founding. Arguments over the interpretation of the Constitution and the meaning of power and its distribution among the states’ governments echoes in governmental chambers even today. Students can trace the history and development of issues surrounding this debate, as well as the reactions to them, through this unique and comprehensive collection of over 65 primary documents. Court cases, opinion pieces, speeches and many other documents bring to life the controversies surrounding the debate. Explanatory introductions to documents aid users in understanding the various arguments put forth in deliberations over different governmental matters, while illuminating the significance of each document.
Drake and Nelson trace the origins and changes in the nature of states’ rights and American federalism using carefully chosen documents to reflect the fact that the tension and interaction between the states’ governments and the national government define the ideals and provide the means for realistic achievement of these ideals. Documents can be easily accessed through five different sections, each section exploring a specific period in history and contributing to the understanding of the debate. The introductory and explanatory text help readers understand the nature of the conflicts, the issues being contested, the social and cultural pressures that shaped each debate, and the manner in which the passions of individual government officials, justices, and our presidents affected the development of policies concerning states’ rights and federalism.