The lust for power: Fears of the anti-federalists become reality
Newspapers in New York, Boston, Maryland and other cities and states carried editorials in 1788 expressing deep concern that certain parts of the Constitution would lead to “the consolidation of the States into one national government . . . the states’ sovereignties would be eventually annihilated, though the forms may long remain as expensive and burdensome rememberences of what they were . . .” So stated the Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer, April 22, 1788.
The New York Journal on June 13, 1788 editorialized as follows: “The new constitution will prove finally to dissolve all the power of the several state legislatures, and destroy the rights and liberties of the people.”
The (Boston) Independent Chronicle on Dec. 6, 1787 stated: “Certain characters now on the stage, we have reason to venerate, but though this country is now blessed with a Washington, Franklin, Hancock and Adams, yet posterity may have reason to rue the day when their political welfare depends on the decision of men who may fill the places of these worthies.”
The Maryland Journal also worried that, “Those who tell you that you may safely accept such a constitution and be perfectly at ease and secure that the rulers will always be so good, so wise, and so virtuous — such emanations of the deity — that they will never use their power but for your interest and your happiness, contradict the uniform experience of ages.”
Their concern was based on certain troublesome clauses in the constitution. Most troublesome was the general welfare clause. They feared, and their fears have been confirmed, that future legislators would construe this as an excuse to pass any law at all that they deemed to be in the general welfare. James Madison, who is credited with being the author of the constitution, did not share this concern, believing that everyone would understand that, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercized principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the state.”
(Federalist #45) One can only wish that this statement had been made an actual part of the Constitution.
The New York Daily Patriotic Register expressed its concern as follows, on June 14,1788: “The general government, when completely organized, will . . . (be) arrogating to itself the right of interfering in the most minute objects of internal police, and the most trifling domestic concerns of every state, by possessing a power of passing laws ‘to provide for the general welfare of the United States,’ which may affect life, liberty and property in every modification they may think expedient, unchecked by cautionary reservations.”
Unfortunately the good and trusting James Madison, in putting his faith in the integrity and decency of future legislators, judges and presidents has been provned to be wrong and the anti-Federalists showed amazing abilities to predict future federal government usurpation of power from the states and the people.
The only way that ratification of the Constitution by the required number of states could be obtained was by promising amendments to the Constitution which would clarify the powers of the federal government and those that were reserved to the states and to the people. Consequently a Bill of Rights was adopted which spelled out certain rights to be reserved to the people. The tenth amendment was specific in guaranteeing this and is quoted as follows: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
For the first hundred years or so, presidents, legislators and judges understood the original intent and, for the most part, abided by it, but the fears of the anti-Federalists were shown to be valid concerns. Starting in the early part of the twentieth century with some of the power-hungry, liberal, do-gooder and socialist policies that have been promoted, liberty was being destroyed and that destruction continues, unabated and accelerated, down to the present time.
Sadly, we have come to the point where the Constitution is nothing but a useless scrap of paper and government is being conducted at the whim of those who, in their unbelieveable conceit and arrogance, think they are so supremely intelligent that they can order society in any way they see fit, and while many of us yearn for freedom and liberty, the ideas of the Founders have been so perverted that we no longer have a government of law, but one of autocratic edicts pushed by those who lust for power and believe that they have some kind of divine right to determine, to the smallest detail, how we should all lead our lives. Is this not the essence of slavery and dictatorship?
Sadly, much of the blame must be placed upon the American people, who are so desirous of security and cradle-to-the-grave care that they have not taken the time or exerted the effort to understand the implications of the policies enacted by the do-gooders and social planners for whom they vote. They seem to put more importance on their selfish desires to get something for nothing rather than a desire for liberty and freedom. As Benjamin Franklin stated: “They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety.”