During the colonial period in America, states were governed by Articles of Confederation which bestowed the powers and authorities to sovereign states. After independence, there emerge the needs to address the loopholes in the Confederation forms to harmonize the governance of the nation. The states organized a Convention that drafted a Constitution which was ratified in 1868. The constitution paved way for the federal and state governance (federalism) (Follesdal 2010). The constitution had a number of clauses that postulated the powers, authorities and boundaries of each government. It established the mandate that could be share by the two governments; those restricted to each, areas of non-governance influence, and delegated laws.
American federalism has undergone several changes or phases. The phases started from the dual federalism (1860- 1901) that was characterized by federal and state government having distinct authorities and field excising power. This phase dissolved as the nation became more industrialized and its’ economic growth accelerated. Consequently, the federal government had to step in and a mass laws of economy and commerce. However, during the period of great depression, government entered into agreement with the state government in effort to restore economic stability. This ushered in the cooperative federalism (1901 to 1960) that was characterized with poor boundaries of the two government capacities. The contemporary federalism cropped in from 1960s. The distinction between it and the others is that the federal government has extremely more power and authority than the state government (Matzke 2009).
Currently the government is targeting on restating some of the responsibilities and powers to the state government Reagan and Nixon supported the poor through grants-in-aids, Clinton proposed devolution form of government while bush and Obama also supported strengthening the state government. The phases were also due to ramification and amendments of Acts in the constitution (CliffsNotes.com. (13 Aug 2012).