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Madison’s Warnings

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Caution of faction and its remedies were not the sum of Madison’s concerns regarding the new republic.  Like most of the Founders, Madison sought a general (federal) government only able to exercise authority granted it by the states and the people respectively.  The ability to determine and re-determine the definition of “the general welfare” by Congress brought the specter of federal interference in the affairs and the individual rights of the citizens.

Unfortunately, we have not heeded Madison’s warning that the federal government could easily regulate our lives and remove our rights simply by altering the definition of “the general welfare,” and funding its meaning on the federal level.  Madison made his concerns known in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on February 7, 1792.

If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their Own hands; they may a point 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 Union; they may assume the provision for the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress

Has the specter of federal interference been realize? Leave your comments below. You can read more of this in my book The Imprisonment of Self and be sure to follow me on any of my social media accounts Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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