Happy Birthday, Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States of America, was an architect, a philosopher, a Deist and an impeccable prose stylist. His passionate appeal to dissolve ties with England—the Declaration of Independence—led the early colonies to war and ultimately freedom. As president, he earned respect for his sound principles and industrious nature, though his private life has been subjected to intense scrutiny.

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The Liberty Amendment

by Dr. Archie Jones, The American Vision

No fundamental provision of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights is more neglected—or thoroughly violated—today than the Tenth Amendment. It is violated in spirit and in practice. Its violation is advocated implicitly and explicitly: in the teaching of American history and government, in legal theory, in what passes for “Constitutional Law,” and in the functioning of everyday American politics and government.

Our Constitution—as the very words of the Tenth Amendment make clear—was intended to be a delegated powers document. The states which formed and ratified the Constitution were free and independent states—nations—which delegated certain authority and powers to the new central or national government created by the Constitution. They delegated—and manifestly intended to delegate—only those powers stated in the Constitution: and no more. They forbade themselves certain other powers which they also stated in Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution.

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Nullification: The Jeffersonian Brake on Government

by Thomas E. Woods, The Freeman

Thinkers in the classical-liberal tradition, to the extent that they support a coercive state at all, speak routinely of the importance of keeping government strictly limited. To that end, the United States has a written Constitution, which enumerates the relatively brief list of tasks entrusted to the federal government and whose Tenth Amendment makes clear that any power not granted to the federal government resides in the states, the authors of the federal compact.

That is all well and good, but how does a theoretically limited government remain so? Some have argued that it is impossible to restrain a government over time. The framers of the Constitution, for their part, were well aware of the tendency for power to concentrate and expand. Thomas Jefferson spoke of the calamity that would result if all power were vested in the federal government.

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Hypocritically Correct

by Brad Berner

Amendment X  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.

Hypocrisy and politicians! There is nothing new in this love-match made by Cupid’s arrow of self-interest, right? Wrong, in the current flurry of state legislatures passing or considering resolutions asserting state sovereignty, many politicians are doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.

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Rethinking the Constitution, Completely

by David Gordon, Mises.org

[The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution. By Kevin R.C. Gutzman. Regnery Publishing, 2007. Xiii + 258 pgs.]

Kevin Gutzman gives his readers much more than they had a right to expect. The “Politically Incorrect Guide” series in which his book appears aims at a popular audience: its goal is to correct commonly held myths of leftist propaganda.

Gutzman eminently fulfills this goal, but his book cannot be called an elementary work. Quite the contrary, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution is a major contribution to American constitutional history.

Gutzman is a leading authority on the Virginia ratification debates on the Constitution, and he uses his research to great effect. He has been much influenced by the pioneering originalist scholar Raoul Berger, but he strengthens and extends Berger’s views.

The principal thesis of the book is that the Jeffersonian, states’ rights understanding of America’s founding and the Constitution is correct. When the American colonies assembled in the Continental Congress and adopted the Declaration of Independence in 1776, they did not create a new nation, Abraham Lincoln to the contrary notwithstanding.

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