Today federalism is wide spread in Europe (the European Union is an example of a federalist governmental body, a form of federalism) and globally. This was not always the case for it was conceived in the early 17th century by Johannes Althusius (1557-1630) who, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, is regarded as the “father of modern federalist thought”, i.e. federalism. The Politica Methodice Digesta authored by Johannes Athusius in 1603 was the first piece written that had the concept of federalism listed as an alternative to and in rejection of theocracy, a governmental form where a god or church is recognized as the supreme authority even above monarchs and nations who are recognized as followers of the god or church. A good example of a theocracy was Europe during the Middle Ages in which the Roman Catholic Church (Pope and Bishops) was regarded as supreme authority over the kings and European nations. Today, there are still theocracies, primarily in Islamic countries; Iran being one of them as a “theocratic republic”.
What is federalism? According to Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary, federalism is “the distribution of power in an organization (like a government) between a central authority and the constituent units.” The United States of America does have a central authority (the federal government) and “constituent units” known as States. The citizens of the United States of America are also regarded as “constituent units” because they have the ability by vote for representatives of their choice which makes them an integral part of the governmental system, i.e. a constituent. By this definition the United States does have a form of federalism.
In the 1780’s, federalism became a political movement in colonial America. American Federalists supported and first proposed the Articles of Confederation as America’s first constitution. This was later altered and replaced by the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America on June 21, 1788.
Alexander Hamilton a well known American Federalist and Founding Father began one of the first major political parties in the United States known as the Federalist Party (1792 – 1820) . This party was founded in opposition to the Anti-Federalists who were for a small national government without a national debt and had been instrumental with the Bill of Rights being in the United States Constitution for the preservation of each citizen’s inalienable rights and liberty. The Federalist Party platform was in support of a strong national government and very pro business (merchants, craftsmen, traders, manufacturers, and capital-holders). The Federalist Party was in support of the Hamiltonian economic program authored by Alexander Hamilton that included a national treasury (Federal Reserve Bank) and a national debt (by taking over the 13 states debt from the American Revolution) but with the understanding the federal government would pay off the national debt in a certain number of years through the revenue collected in accordance with the United States Constitution (which at this time only had Amendments 1 through 10 so national revenue did not include a national Income Tax). John Adams was the only Federalist President of the United States. Even though George Washington seemed sympathetic to the Federalist cause, he remained an Independent throughout his presidency.
In Canada, federalism is seen as those in opposition to monarchical movements. Quebec’s government is another form of federalism for it is a sovereign nation co-federated with the rest of Canada. Therefore you have a federation of two sovereign (national) entities agreeing to be united together as a larger political body which is another form of federalism.
Even though federalism can be represented in more than one type or way, the most important aspect of federalism is that religion is completely separate; not integral to the federalist model. There is no god or church as a supreme authority in federalism or in a federalist co-federation, nation or state. This is why when federalism was first introduced in the Politica Methodice Digesta by Johannes Athusius from the Netherlands it generated a large popularity in the Netherlands and later, elsewhere including North America. Federalism, the political concept and political movement that promotes co-federation (where one sovereign entity agrees to be united with another in order to create a larger sovereign entity while retaining its sovereignty), through its precipitation has progressed not solely into the United States of America, but in producing the federalism found in a united Canada and the European Union.
Federalism, definition, Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary website: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/federalism
Federalism, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy website: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/federalism/
Federalism, Wikipedia website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federalism
Federalism in the United States, Wikipedia website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federalism_in_the_United_States
Articles of Confederation, Wikipedia website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Articles_of_Confederation
Johannes Althusius, Wikipedia website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Althusius
Hamiltonian economic program, Wikipedia website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamiltonian_economic_program
Federalist Party, Wikipedia website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federalist_Party
Quebec, Wikipedia website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebec
Theocracy, Wikipedia website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theocracy