National versus State Government
After the American colonies won their independence from England, the thirteen colonies became thirteen states. The new states formed a league so they could work together. Their system of government was described in a document called the Articles of Confederation. In this system, the state governments had most of the power. The national government was very weak. This was very different from the government under the King.
The Founding Fathers saw that this system left the nation too weak. They decided to develop a new system of government. They wrote a new document, the Constitution, to replace the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution made a stronger national government. It divided power between the national government and the state governments. This system is called federalism.