Thoughts on the Constitutional Limitations of Government

“That no free government, or the blessing of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.”
— George Mason, the Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776

 

“Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.”
–Thomas Jefferson

“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”
— James Madison, Federal No. 45, January 26, 1788

 

“Whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.”

— Thomas Jefferson, Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, (Memorial Edition) Lipscomb and Bergh, editors, ME 17:380

 

In 1794, when Congress appropriated $15,000 for relief of French refugees who fled from insurrection in San Domingo to Baltimore and Philadelphia, James Madison stood on the floor of the House to object saying, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”
— James Madison, 4 Annals of congress 179 (1794)

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