William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal


Paul D. Moreno


This article provides the broad historical context necessary to understand contemporary developments in federalism doctrine. It shows that dual federalism has a long and varied history and that federalism is a content-neutral principle to which both sides in major political contests have appealed. It seeks to show that the predominant perspective on federalism today - that it is an inherently conservative principle - is the result of historical misperception. This article reinterprets the history of American federalism in light of recent historical scholarship concerning various periods: principally the country's founding; slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction; the late nineteenth-century social question; and the Progressive Era.