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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Commentary on James Madison, and his belief in Limited Government and State's Rights


"Every person seems to acknowledge his greatness. He blends together the profound politician with the scholar." --William Pierce, on James Madison, 1787


By Douglas V. Gibbs

When the Federalists demanded a more centralized government than the one under the Articles of Confederation, James Madison was one to agree. He recognized the need for a federal government to protect, preserve and promote the union. A unified military needed to exist, and the power of taxation must accompany such need in order to pay for the national defense of the new nation. The federal government, beyond its authorities for the union, however, needed to be restrained, and limited, in Madison's view. Born from these ideas, his framework for the Constitution was followed as a road map to the final document. For this, Madison is considered the father of the U.S. Constitution.

When the Constitution had completed its journey toward completion, the anti-federalists, specifically those in the State of New York, feared the new federal government, afraid it might have the potential to be as tyrannical as the British Government the colonists had just fought against for independence. As a result, New York was seen as one of the States that may not ratify the new Constitution. James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay worked passionately to make a case for the Constitution to the New Yorkers, and the other States, that feared ratifying the US Constitution. The Federalist Papers are 85 essays, and are an important source for understanding the U.S. Constitution.

Less known are Madison's notes on the Constitutional Convention. James Madison took meticulous notes, and in his notes on the Constitutional Convention are the arguments that took place that ultimately created the founding document.

James Madison was a constant proponent of limiting the powers of the federal government, as the Constitution was designed to do. He understood that to trample on the State's Rights, and to allow the federal government too many powers, would ultimately stamp out liberty, and allow an expanding federal government to become a tyranny.

In Federalist 10, Madison argued that one of the virtues of the Constitution is that the federal government should be so limited in power, the battles over issues not pertaining to the union (therefore not given to the federal government as an authority) ought to be fought in the States. If people were truly passionate about their particular issue, they could work to affect their State government to that end. If the majority in the State did not see it the same way, the person would then be free to live under that law as it stood in the State (and of course continue to work to change it if they so desire), or vote with his feet by moving to a state that reflected his values. Hence, the way to protect freedom was through the sovereignty of the States.

After all, the Tenth Amendment authored by Madison is clear.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The fear of central authority was paramount, and the need for the Tenth Amendment as an explicit guarantee that the states should retain control over their internal affairs became apparent.

Madison believed that the republic must be governed by the rule of law and limits on the federal government. The law of the land is the U.S. Constitution, and adherence to the text of that document is necessary for individuals to enjoy a high level of freedom on a state and local level. Madison believed this would not only make our nation more prosperous and financially sound, but also would continue throughout the generations to allow the citizens of the United States of America to enjoy the blessings of liberty.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

Madison's Notes on the Constitutional Convention

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