Origins of federalism

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    I was told that federalism was taught to European settlers by American Indians. This strikes me as false. So, 1) when is the first use of the word federalism? 2) can someone point to instances of federalism in European history before the discovery of the Americas?

    Jason Jewell

    Hi Phil,

    There are several example of federated structures throughout European history. The Netherlands and Switzerland are just two contemporary examples with which English, French, and German settlers in North America would have been very familiar.

    As for the term “federalism,” pretty much every word ending in “ism” is of French derivation dating from the 18th or 19th centuries. However, “federal” was originally a theological term in use in the early 17th century (before the Pilgrims) in England.

    I hope this helps.

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