The Modern Federalist Papers (2010)

Origional Federalist Papers
Federalist Home   << Previous   Next >>


Original Intent
For the Independent Thinker.
Robert Briscoe

To the People of the Unites States of America:

No principle was emphasized more vigorously during the Constitutional Convention than the necessity of limiting the authority of the federal government. Not only was this to be done by carefully defining the powers delegated to the government, but the Founders were determined to bind down its administrators with the legal chains of the Constitution.

One of the reasons many states would not adopt the origional draft of the Constitution was that they feared the encroachments of the federal government on the right of the states and the people. The first ten amendments were added so there could be no question as to the strict limited authority the people confered on their government. Notice how carefully the Ninth and Tenth Amendments are worded:

The Ninth Amendament

The enumeration in the constitution of certain rights, shall not be construde to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The Tenth Amendament

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, no prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The founders knew that those in power would feel as though they were being restrained from doing their duty. Others knew that the disposition of almost all men, once they perceive that they have a little power, would seek more and exercise dominion over others. The separation of powers between the states and the federal government was designed to reinforce the principle of limited government.

If the federal government becomes dominant, that means the end of local self-government and the security of the individual. The Founders felt that by having a balance between federal and state governments, the people would have recourse to one or to the other in case of usurpation or abuse by either. Hamilton said:

Power being almost always the rival of power, the general government will at all times stand ready to check the usurpations of the state governments, and these will have the same disposition towards the general government. The people, by throwing themselves into either scale, will infallibly make it preponderate. If their rights are invaded by either, they can make use of the other as instruments of redress.

In 1913 the states as sovereign commonwealths lost their representation on the federal level. Their Senators became subject to the same popular pressures during an election as those of the House of Representatives. This was the passage of the 17th Amendment. Our Senators are no longer beholden to the state legislatures for their conduct in Washington. They too often use federal funds appropriated for a state as popular acclaim and hasten to get them approved.

Since that time, there has been no veto power which the states could exercise against Congress where federal statute was deemed in violation of the state's rights to the basic powers reserved to the state.



Federalist Home   << Previous   Next >>