ALTHOUGH JUDICIAL REVIEW has been America's unique contribution to political science, it may be that our federalism will continue to be of greater influence on other nations. With the growing interest in world organization after World War II, attention again centered on American experience. Unfortunately, for those who look upon federalism as the key to world order under law, our history -- unless one takes the long view-is not very reassuring.
The United States is governed by what is known as a federal government -- that is, a dual system in which governmental powers are distributed between central (national) and local (state) authorities. The reasons for the adoption of such a government are both historical and rational. The Colonies of the revolutionary period regarded themselves as independent sovereignties; even under the Articles of Confederation, little of their power over internal affairs was actually surrendered to the Continental Congress. But local patriotism necessarily yielded before the proved inability of the Confederation to cope with the problems confronting it. When the Constitutional Convention met, compromise between the advocates of a strong central government and supporters of states rights was inevitable. Federalism also fitted into Madison's basic requirement of Republican government. It reflected his purpose, as he stated it in The Federalist, No. 51, to so contrive "the interior structure of the government as that its several constituent parts may, by their mutual relations, be the means of keeping each other in their proper place."
Hamilton, in The Federalist, No. 23, listed four chief purposes to be served by union: common defense, public peace, regulation of commerce, and foreign relations. General agreement that these objectives required unified government drew together representatives of small and large states alike. To Madison and other nationalists, it seemed certain that the people would remain firmly attached to their state governments. As Madison pointed out in The Federalist, No 46, the ability of state governments to resist encroachments by the central government was immeasurably greater than the national government's capacity to withstand adverse state action. Nevertheless, to allay criticism of the new central government's powers, Madison and other supporters of the Constitution agreed to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, as reassurance that all powers not