Friday, September 17, 2010

Citizen Link: Founding Fathers on the Constitution of the United States

In all my recent reading on the Constitution, I regularly read commentary on current events relative to Constitutional matters.  CitizenLink has insightful and educational articles addressing certain issues of today.  Be informed! Get involved!  It is your country. It's your Constitution.  This article in particular I found insightful since these were the men who wrote it. Should we not also have the passion to know, understand and defend it?
Friday Five: Founding Fathers on the Constitution of the United States
Posted By Catherine Snow On September 17, 2010 @ 5:04 pm In Friday 5,Top Story | No Comments

Today, Sept. 17, is the 223rd birthday of the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia.
To pay homage to this foundational document, CitizenLink reflects on the words proclaimed by the Founding Fathers –men who pledged not only their fortunes – but their very lives – for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…”
The Constitution is under attack like never before. The liberal, elite establishment positioned throughout various pillars of society –politics, government, media, education and entertainment – want to dismantle this founding document and seem willing to replace it with international laws suite to their goals.
Americans, however, are waking up – as seen by spontaneous growth of the Tea Party movement, the intense thirst in reading about the Founding Fathers and the founding documents. Over three million pocket Constitutions have been handed out by the Heritage Foundation – and that’s just one organization! This explains the results of a new AP poll released today that says that three-fourths of Americans still believe the Constitution is “enduring and not outdated.”
1.    What would the Founding Fathers say today about the Constitution?
George Washington of Virginia and first president of the United States:
“The Constitution is the guide which I will never abandon.”
William Paterson of New Jersey and signer of the Constitution:
“What is a Constitution? It is the form of government, delineated by the mighty hand of the people, in which certain first principles of fundamental law are established. The Constitution is certain and fixed; it contains the permanent will of the people, and is the supreme law of the land; it is paramount to the power of the Legislature, and can be revoked or altered only by the authority that made it.”
Alexander Hamilton of New York and author of the Federalist Papers:
“[T]he Constitution ought to be the standard of construction for the laws, and that wherever there is an evident opposition, the laws ought to give place to the Constitution. But this doctrine is not deducible from any circumstance peculiar to the plan of convention, but from the general theory of a limited Constitution.”
John Jay, president of the Continental Congress, appointed by George Washington as the first Supreme Court Justice and co-author of the Federalist Papers, advised:
“Every member of the State ought diligently to read and to study the constitution of his country. . . . By knowing their rights, they will sooner perceive when they are violated and be the better prepared to defend and assert them.”
George Washington:
“(T)he fundamental principle of our Constitution… enjoins (requires) that the will of the majority shall prevail.”
2.    What did the Founding Fathers try to accomplish in the Constitution?
James Madison, fourth president of the U.S. and “Father of the Constitution,” wrote to Thomas Jefferson, third president and author of the Declaration of Independence, wrote on Oct. 24, 1787:
“The great objects which presented themselves were:
  1. To unite a proper energy in the Executive and a proper stability in the Legislative departments, with the essential characters of Republican Government.
  2. To draw a line of demarcation which would give the general Government every power requisite for general purposes, and leave to the States every power which might e most beneficially administered by them.
  3. To provide for the different interests of different parts of the Union.
  4. To adjust the clashing pretensions of the large and small States. Each of these objects was pregnant with difficulties.
“The whole of them together formed a task more difficult than can be well conceived by those who were not concerned in the execution of it.”
3.    What would the Founding Fathers think about the federal government’s encroachment into rights relegated to the States?
James Madison:
“The people are the only legitimate foundation of power, and it is from that the constitutional character, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived.”
Thomas Jefferson:
“The states can best govern our home concerns, and the (federal) government our foreign ones.”
Joseph Story, author of the comprehensive “Commentaries of the Constitution,”     which is considered one of the cornerstones of American jurisprudence:
“The plain import of the clause is, that congress shall have all the incidental and instrumental powers, necessary and proper to carry into execution all the express powers. It neither enlarges any power specifically granted; nor is it a grant of any new power to congress. But it is merely a declaration for the removal of all uncertainty, that the means of carrying into execution those, otherwise granted, are included in the grant.”
James Madison:
“As the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial departments of the United States are co-ordinate, and each equally bound to support the Constitution, it follows that each must in the exercise of its functions be guided by the text of the Constitution according to its own interpretation of it.”
Thomas Jefferson:
“Our country is too large to have all its affairs directed by a single government. Public servants at such a distance and from under the eye of their constituents . . . will invite the public agents to corruption, plunder, and waste. . . . What an augmentation of the field for jobbing, speculating, plundering, office-building, and office-hunting would be produced by an assumption of all the state powers into the hands of the federal government!”
4.    What would the Founding Fathers think about this Congress’ use of the “General Welfare Clause” in order to justify everything from bailouts to “health care for all”?
James Madison addressed this very issue in 1792, when some congressman attempted to “bailout” the ailing fishing industry.  Madison explained why it was unconstitutional:
“Those who proposed the Constitution knew, and those who ratified the Constitution also knew that this is . . . a limited government tied down to specified powers. . . . It was never supposed or suspected that the old Congress could give away the money of the states to encourage agriculture or for any other purpose they pleased.”
As if a portent to the consequences this country now faces, he warned:
“If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the ‘general welfare,’ and are the sole and supreme judges of the ‘general welfare,’ then they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every state, county, and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the United States; they may assume the provision for the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, everything from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police would be thrown under the power of Congress, for every object I have mentioned would admit of the application of money, and might be called, if Congress pleased, provisions for the ‘general welfare.’”
5.    Why did the Founding Fathers make the judicial branch the weakest branch of government?
Thomas Jefferson:
“Our Constitution. . . . has given – according to this opinion – to one of [the three Branches] alone the right to prescribe rules for the government of the others – and to that one, too, which is unelected by and independent of the nation. . . . The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the Judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”
Thomas Jefferson:
“When the Legislative or Executive functionaries act unconstitutionally, they are responsible to the people in their elective capacity. The exemption of the judges from that is quite dangerous enough. I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them [the people] not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”
Jonathan Mason, law student trained by John Adams and an early member of Congress:
“The independence of the judiciary so much desired will – if tolerated – soon become something like supremacy. They will, indeed, form the main pillar of this goodly fabric; they will soon become the only remaining pillar, and they will presently be so strong as to crush and absorb the others into their solid mass.”
Rufus King of Massachusetts, signer of the Constitution, framer of the Bill of Rights:
“The judges must interpret the laws; they ought not to be legislators.”
Luther Martin, framer of the Constitution and attorney general of Maryland:
“A  knowledge of mankind and of legislative affairs cannot be presumed to belong in a higher degree to the judges than to the Legislature.”
Thomas Jefferson:
“You seem . . . to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions – a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps. . . . (A)nd their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective.”
Watch Heritage Foundation’s, “We the People: Honoring Constitution Day.” [1]

Get back to the basics with Heritage’s comprehensive “First Principle” website. [2]
Read David Barton’s, “Keys to Good Government: According to the Founding Fathers.” [3]
Learn more about historian David Barton and Wallbuilders. [4]
Read former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese’s blog, “Constitution Day and the Perilous Future.”[5]
Read the Alabama Policy Institute’s, “What Will Students Learn on Constitution Day?” [6]

Related posts:
  1. Constitution Headlines Celebration in Northern Virginia [7]
  2. Position Statement on Federal Judicial Appointments [8]
  3. Abortion Law in the United States [9]
  4. Dr. Dobson Helps Larry King Understand ‘Separation of Church and State’ [10]

Article printed from CitizenLink:
URL to article:
URLs in this post:
[1] “We the People: Honoring Constitution Day.”:
[2] Get back to the basics with Heritage’s comprehensive “First Principle” website.:
[3] “Keys to Good Government: According to the Founding Fathers.”:
[4] Learn more about historian David Barton and Wallbuilders.:
[5] “Constitution Day and the Perilous Future.”:
[6] “What Will Students Learn on Constitution Day?”:
[7] Constitution Headlines Celebration in Northern Virginia:
[8] Position Statement on Federal Judicial Appointments:
[9] Abortion Law in the United States:
[10] Dr. Dobson Helps Larry King Understand ‘Separation of Church and State’:
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