Promoting the General "Welfare" . . .What did Madison Say

Much has been said about the federal government usurping its constitutional authority of the legislation it passes and is signed into law. Legal scholars and experts analyze and interpret what they believe the framers of the constitution, mostly James Madison, had in mind when they wrote the constitution.

The preamble serves as a missions statement if you would of the constitution it was never meant to be used to define the intent of the framers - that is what the actual constitution is to be used as. The preamble is not by any means a delegation of powers, enumerated or otherwise, to the federal government. It is simply a stated
purpose – a mission statement - in today’s terminology and the body of the
constitution is America’s
policies and procedures manual. The word
welfare appears only twice in the constitution.
Once in the preamble and once in article 1, section 8:

So what did Madison actually think. Here are some great quotes from some of his writings to shine some light on his thoughts . . .that happened in and around the time of the writing of the constitution:

“If Congress can do whatever
in their discretion can be done by money, and its (sic) will promote the General Welfare,
the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an
indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions." James Madison, Letter to
Edmund Pendleton, January 21, 1792

"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." James Madison, regarding an
appropriations bill for French refugees, 1794

"With respect to the
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." James Madison,
Letter to James Robertson, April 20, 1831

"Congress has not
unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those
specifically enumerated." - Thomas Jefferson

Seems like the writers of the constitution and our founding fathers have a different opinion of promote the general welfare than the current group of legislators attempting to enslave us by their very actions. The framers of the constitution
provide a clear and marked difference with reference to "promoting the general welfare" as applied to
persons and states. In the Constitution the words "promote the general welfare" are used in
the context of states and not persons. The term "promote the general"
is not equivalent with the welfare of individuals, people, or citizens but as the term "general" is used refers to the collective whole. No where in the constitution is congress granted the unchecked power and authority to provide for the general welfare . . .they are to promote it. Welfare as defined by an
1828 version of Webster’s (a definition used when the constitution was written) makes a clear distinction between the word welfare as it
applies to individual persons and then as it applies to states or a collective group. As it apples to states (or the "general) the definition of the
word welfare implies the enjoyment of peace and prosperity, or the ordinary
blessings of society and a civil government.

I do not believe, nor does the constitution grant congress the power to pass a large majority of the legislation it does today. In particular, a reasonable argument and debate cannot even be framed that they intended the term general welfare to be used as it is.

he founding fathers espoused a limited government with most of the powers delegated and handled by the states and it is time we return to that original intent.

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  • DaveR 2010/02/05 11:12:45
    Good post. Keep educating. Lord knows the liberal public schools won't provide this information. Come to think of it, the history in schools is so revised, it's no wonder Maxine Waters thinks we've already put men on Mars.

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  • fatheromalley 2010/03/25 16:24:26
    The founders were for free markets and did not hold ill will toward business or business owners To say otherwise is just more communist brainwashing being repeated. Tell a lie often enough, long enough, it becomes truth. Our Supreme Court should have some limits how these judges can remain there. Some decisions should be disqualifiers if the counter the stated intent of our founders as enumerated in our Constitution and The Federalist Papers..
  • Bill in Niantic 2010/02/05 20:02:59
    Bill in Niantic


    funny super zoom
  • Texas Johnny 2010/02/05 19:53:31
    Texas Johnny
    Promote: To contribute to the growth or prosperity of, To help bring into being.

    Provide: to supply or make available

    I see it as the government will not intervine in a direct manner in the private business affairs of the people but basically create a positive atmosphere so that we can be successful based on our own efforts. That to me means low taxes and less government intrusion into our lives.
  • tea for... Texas J... 2010/02/05 19:57:30
    tea for you
    well you read wrong. they hated the tyranny of industrialist. if they wanted that we'd still be drinking British india tea .
  • Texas J... tea for... 2010/02/05 22:07:43
    Texas Johnny
    Industrialist Tyranny my ass!! They hated the tyranny of the government who interfered consistantly in their efforts to make money. They treated the colonies as their cash cow. The British government put forth laws like the Navigation Acts . The Brits were forcing Americans to sell their goods only to them and so cheaply that many American businesses were losing money BECAUSE THE ENGLISH WERE RESTRICTING TRADE! In part the Navigation Acts stated:

    - No Country could trade with the colonies(that's us) unless the goods were transported on English Ships 1st. (That means added cost to the colonial customer because of higher taxes and fees for English Ships)

    - The Colonies could only export certain products like tobacco, sugar, molasses and rice to England ONLY! (Eventhough they could probably get a better price elsewhere they were forced to sell to England at a deep discount. They were losing money selling to England)

    - Almost everything sent to the colonies from elsewhere had to go through an English port 1st. Which means more taxes that are then passed on to the Colonial consumer and they paid a higher price.

    It strangled any attempt by the colonies to develop their own industry and create a true free enterprise system. It is the tyranny of the government restricting their
    need to find the highest bidder for their goods to make a profit.
  • tea for... Texas J... 2010/02/05 22:50:37
    tea for you
    india tea company other wise known as a corporation was king georges buddies. . , your done bye bye
  • Winnel tea for... 2010/02/06 01:15:51
  • tea for... Winnel 2010/02/06 10:16:43
    tea for you
    who is he
  • Winnel tea for... 2010/02/07 03:48:35
  • Texas J... tea for... 2010/02/07 02:57:19
    Texas Johnny
    You are a fool! OK I wonder how you got your car, light bulb, telephone and other devices? Because the American government had a hands off policy to individuals and companies to create and make a profit from it. Your history is as faulty as your logic!!
  • tea for... Texas J... 2010/02/07 11:33:23
    tea for you
    blah blah . ,dosen't mean that we have to live under coporation rule . are you people that stupid to believe these corporate goons will not manipulate and enslave you. ? than your the fool
  • Texas J... tea for... 2010/02/07 18:47:40
    Texas Johnny
    How do you make a living? Do you work for someone? Do you own a business? If you do , then you are a hypocrite of the worst kind . Better yet I bet you are a: living work business hypocrite bet
  • Winnel Texas J... 2010/02/07 19:15:25
  • Winnel tea for... 2010/02/07 19:14:38
  • Bill in Niantic 2010/02/05 14:55:18
    Bill in Niantic
    Very Good. Now we NEED some Good Constitutional Lawyers, who are NOT in the pocket of the Progressives, to fight the DoucheBaggers in COURT. Let's put the Morons of Congress in place and teach them the meaning of their Oath of Office AND the Constitutional Principles.
  • Winnel Bill in... 2010/02/05 15:23:58
  • Bev 2010/02/05 13:46:25
    When I was at a town hall meeting last summer with yes, Pelosi man, Tom Periello, a man brought a copy of the constitution up to Tom and asked him to show us where in the constitution it says the government has the right to pass a health care blll or a crap and tax bill. Tom's reply was that the constitution is outdated and no longer used in the House. The only people that still beileve and respect the constitution are the voters, not the politicians or the administration. To them it is a book that they ignore to do what they want to do to destroy our America that the American fathers so lovingly wrote.
  • John Deathhammer 2010/02/05 13:04:45
    John Deathhammer
    He said PROMOTE the general welfare, not PROVIDE it. LOL
  • tea for you 2010/02/05 12:29:51
    tea for you
    just like a goofball conservative to take things out of context . twisting and changing the meaning of the constitution . that shows disreguard for the document . . go back to the bunker you crawled out of .
  • Winnel tea for... 2010/02/05 13:40:05

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