THE LAW IS THE LAW. RIGHT? WELL, IT CAN BE COMPLICATED.
Mr. Gibson, the U.S. History teacher, explains that America’s 13 original colonies actually existed independently before they joined together to form a new nation, the United States of America. But even as they joined together, the states were determined to protect their own interests. How did the Founding Fathers solve this problem when they drafted the Constitution and the laws that govern our country? The answer is
Federalism is a system of government where the federal government shares the power to make laws with individual state governments. In fact, the U.S. Constitution lists out which laws are made by the federal government and which laws the state government controls. But sharing the power to make laws can be confusing. After all, what if there were rules that the entire school had to follow, except in Mr. Gibson’s class? Whose law would you need to follow?
Mr. Gibson shares an example of the dangers of Federalism with his students. In 1868, the federal government passed the 14th Amendment, which guaranteed “equal protection under the law” for all citizens, regardless of race. However, Southern states responded by passing , designed to maintain racial separation, or segregation. For example, some states passed laws that forbid people from different races from marrying. Other states wrote laws that made it illegal for Black and white people to use the same bathrooms or eat at the same restaurant counter. Eventually, the courts ruled that Jim Crow laws were unconstitutional.
Investigate the primary sources. How did Federalism allow for the disenfranchisement of Black citizens? Make your case.
Have your students take this challenge and make their case! To begin, send your students to this website with this challenge’s code.
Disenfranchisement is the practice of not allowing, or depriving, someone of their rights.
Federalism is the system where the national government in Washington, D.C., and the individual state governments share the power to make laws.
Jim Crow laws were created to keep Black and white people separated in the South.