James Madison: Veto Message on the Internal Improvements Bill

March 3, 1817: As his last official act as President, Madison vetoes a bill that would provide federal funding for building roads and canals throughout the United States. The President finds no expressed congressional power to fund roads and canals in the Constitution, and he believes that the federal government should not encroach upon matters delegated to state governments.

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Reserved to the states respectively, or to the people

EDITOR’S NOTE: St. George Tucker was one of the most influential legal scholars of the early American republic. His View of the Constitution of the United States was the first extended, systematic commentary on the Constitution after it had been ratified by the people of the several states and amended by the Bill of Rights. And his Blackstone’s Commentaries, from which the following excerpt originates, was the major treatise on American law in the early 19th century. Lawyers arguing before the Supreme Court of the United States would frequently cite to Tucker’s Blackstone - more often than any other commentator until 1827.

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