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James Madison: The Father of the Constitution

James Madison and the Welfare Clause.

James Madison (1751-1836) was the fourth (1809-1817) president of the United States. While only five-feet four-inches in height in life, in United States history he was twenty feet tall. In 1787 James Madison wrote the Constitution of the United States. Let me repeat that again for anyone who was not paying attention – in 1787 James Madison wrote the Constitution of the United States. In 1789 James Madison wrote the Bill of Rights. James Madison was one of the two principal authors of the Federalist Papers (the other being Alexander Hamilton) which explain the U.S. Constitution. James Madison wrote voluminously about the U.S. Constitution his entire life and was the last living signor of the U.S. Constitution, dying in 1836. James Madison is rightly and properly called the Father of the Constitution.

Article I Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution states, “The Congress shall have Power To … provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States;” This is the last bastion of the Socialist (i.e. Democratic) Party when they pass their socialist legislation – we are providing for the general welfare.

James Madison penned the words “general Welfare” and it is instructive to see what he meant by those words and how his meaning has been twisted by the people in power in an attempt to justify their intrusion into the lives of American citizens. I have provided some translations for those who enjoy such things. All the quotations below are by James Madison.

“With respect to the two words “general welfare” I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators. If the words obtained so readily a place in the “Articles of Confederation” and received so little notice in their admission into the present Constitution, and retained for so long a time a silent place in both, the fairest explanation is, that the words, in the alternative of meaning nothing or meaning everything, had the former taken for granted.” (Translation: If you have not been given the power to do something, you cannot use “general welfare” as a justification for doing it. This is not the intention of these words.)

“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.” (Translation: Just because you feel sorry for someone, the federal government has no authority to help him).

“The government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of government.” (Translation: Just because you feel sorry for someone, the federal government has no authority to help him).

“If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one … ” (Translation: Once you start spending money willy-nilly to promote the general welfare you have destroyed the entire concept of limited government.)

“As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights. Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.” (Translation: When the government gets too big you will lose your freedom.)

“There are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” (Translation: Eighty-eight years of gradual socialism is much more dangerous than any sudden usurpation which may be required to address the eighty-eight years of gradual socialism.)

“The powers of the federal government are enumerated; it can only operate in certain cases; it has legislative powers on defined and limited objects, beyond which it cannot extend its jurisdiction.” (Translation: Read Article I Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution <the enumerated powers> and the Tenth Amendment if you haven’t grasped them yet.)

This information on the Welfare Clause has been documented in some previous posts but it is so important it bears repeating.

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