Constitution 101: Federal Authority and State Sovereignty


The power of the federal government, centralized government, has become as some founders feared where state governments have lost their sovereignty as individual states that were united as a republic in a coalition for the benefit as one nation for national security, benefits of world trade, and foreign relations.
Independent Gazetteer, Philadelphia, September 26th1787:
When the declaration of independence completed the separation between two countries, new governments were necessarily established. Many circumstances led to the adoption of the republican form … In devising the frames of government it may have been difficult to avoid extremes opposite the vices of that we had just rejected; nevertheless many of the State constitutions, we have chosen, are truly excellent. Our misfortunes have been, that in the first instance we adopted no government at all, but were kept together by common danger only, and that in the confusions of a civil war we framed a Federal Constitution now universally admitted to be inadequate to the preservation of liberty, property, and the union. …the object of our wishes is to amend and supply the evident and allowed errors and defects of the Federal government.

Another error was allowing the manner of choosing senators for the US Congress from state selected to public vote. Senators, as other politicians, spend more time campaign politicking than performing the tasks they were elected to do. The concern over senatorial power was also addressed.

Independent Gazetteer, Philadelphia – September 28th, 1787:
The senate must always receive the exceptions of the president against any of their legislative acts. … They will also feel a considerable check from the constitutional powers of the state legislators, whose rights they will not be disposed to infringe, since they are bodies to which they owe their existence, and are moreover to remain the immediate guardians of the people.
Senators of the Constitutional Convention that established the union of former colonies-to-states, formed into a republic union, were chosen by the state governments to represent their home state during the process of creating and ratifying a Constitution that would become the law of the land.
While the founders of our Constitution wrote what is called the Federalist Papers, like an after-action report; there were several founders who wrote itemized objections that became known as the anti-Federalist Papersthat had objections and concerns about the decisions made by the majority state votes (ratification) to ratify and approve the final draft of the Constitution of the United States and, later, its amendments.
However, as explained in the Pennsylvania Gazetteer, Philadelphia, October 3rd, 1787, the Tories, a descriptive name given to colonists who were reluctant to break ties with Great Britain before and during the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. These Americans were undecided about total separation from England, and in some ways wanted to continue the English laws to be inserted within our constitutional system of government. Some compared those anti-federalist founders to the Tories, in a newspaper article:
1st. The principle Tories were officers of government – so are the anti-federalists: Witness, Messrs, Bryan, J.B. Smith, Nicholson, etc.
2nd. The Tories said, the time for opposing Great Britain was not come – the anti-federalists say, more time for considering the new government is necessary, than is allowed by the resolves of the Assembly.
3d. The Tories said our grievances were all imaginary in the year 1776 – the anti-federalist say the same of the defects of our present government …
4th. The Tories tried to prevent an appeal to the people, by calling a Convention to form a new government in Pennsylvania in the year 1776 – the anti-federalists are trying every art to prevent an appeal to the people, to alter the present Constitution of Pennsylvania, so to make it fit the new federal government.
5th. The Tories despised the proceedings of conventions and town-meetings, and called them nothing but mobs – the anti-federalists despise the Convention of the United States, and call the petitions and resolves of our citizens the acts of mobs and fools.
6th. The Tories thought they alone were inspired with a knowledge of government – the anti-federalists entertain the same exalted opinions of themselves.
7th The Tories were deserted by all their friends who were honest – the anti-federalists, in like manner, have been deserted by the party which they once led, and now stand alone. … It is hoped the anti-federalists will end their career, as some of the tories, whom they resemble in so many particulars …i
One anti-federalist, Samuel Bryan, who published essays under the pen name, Centinel, published a treatise in the Independent Gazetteer, Philadelphia, October 5th, 1787 entitled: AMost Daring Attempt to Establish a Despotic Aristocracy.
It concerned the establishment and the transformation of central power, the federal government, over the rights and liberties of the people and individual state governments. It was not against the Constitution itself, for Mr. Bryan began his treatise by commending the constitution of the commonwealth; but there were concerns that powers would be abused by the federal government, by individuals or special interest groups, that would find loopholes in the checks and balances system established by the authors.
It was understandable that rights and liberties, the retention thereof, was a concern since Americans has just fought a war to protect them and establish a government for the people.
Bryan addresses his presentation to the Freeman of Pennsylvania, but it is a treatise for all Americans and an effort to inform the public of matters concerning the articles of the Constitution, as well as presenting an alternative viewpoint and ideology in what had been written.
Centinel, Samuel Bryan, wrote … ii
…How long those rights will appertain to you, you yourselves are called upon to say, whether your houses shall continue to be your castles; whether your papers, your persons and your property, are to be held sacred, and free from ‘general warrants’, you are now to determine. … The late Convention have submitted to your consideration a plan of a new federal government … it ought to be dispassionately and deliberately examined … If ever free and unbiased discussion was proper or necessary, it is on such an occasion. All the blessings of liberty and the dearest privileges of freemen, are now at stake and dependent on your present conduct. Those who are competent to the task of developing the principles of government, ought to be encouraged to come forward, and thereby the better enable the people to make a proper judgment … and to those whose integrity and patriotism they can confide; not considering the love of domination is generally in proportion to talents, abilities, and superior acquirements; and that men of the greatest purity of intentions may be made instruments of despotism in the hands of the artful and designing. … I am fearful that the principles of government inoculated in Mr. Adam’s treatise, and enforced in the numerous essays and paragraphs in the news-papers, iiihave misled some well designing members of the late Convention. … He asserts that the administrators of every government, will ever be actuated by views of private interest and ambition, to the prejudice of the public good; that themselves the only effectual method to secure the rights of the people and promote welfare, is to create an opposition of interests between the members of two distinct bodies, in the exercise of the powers of government, and balanced by those of a third. … Mr. Adams, although he has traced the Constitution of every form of government that ever existed, as far as history affords material, has not been able to adduce a single instance of such a government … It would not be difficult to prove, that any thing short of despotism, could not bind so great a country under one government. … The senate, the great efficient body in this plan of government, is constituted on the most unequal principles. The smallest state in the union has equal weight with the great states of Virginia, Massachusetts, or Pennsylvania. The Senate, besides its legislative functions, has a very considerable share in the Executive; none of the principal appointments to office can be made without its advice and consent. The term and made of its appointment, will lead to permanency; the members are chosen for six years, the mode us under the control of Congress, and as there is no exclusion by rotation, they may be continued for life, which, from their extensive means of influence, would follow its course. The President, who would be a mere pageant of state, unless he coincides with the views of the Senate, would either become the head of the aristocratic junto in that body, or its minion; besides, their influence being the most predominant, could the best secure his re-election to office. … From this investigation into the organization of this government, it appears that it is devoid of all responsibility or accountability to the great body of the people, and that so far from being a regular balanced government, it would be in practice be a permanent aristocracy.
Therefore, as different orders in government will not produce the good of the whole, we must recur to other principles. … A republican, or free government, can only exist where the body of the people are virtuous, and where the property is pretty equally divided, in such a government the people are the sovereign and their sense or opinion is the criterion of every public measure. … It will not be controverted that the legislature is the highest delegated power in government, and that all others are subordinate to it. …establishes it as a maxim, that legislation necessarily follows the power of taxation. By Sect. 8, of the first article ,,, ‘the Congress are to have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts, and excises, shall be uniform throughout the United States’.
Now what may construe every purpose for which the state legislatures now lay taxes, to be for the ‘general welfare’, and thereby seize upon every object of revenue.
To put the omnipotency of Congress over the state government and judicatories our of all doubt, the 6th article ordained that ‘this constitution and the laws of the United States which shall be made under the authority of the judges in every state shall be bound thereby; any thing in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding. …
In a speech given by James Wilson, a so-called ‘anti-federalist’, in Philadelphia on October 6th, 1787:
It will be proper however, before I enter into the refutation of the charges that are alleged, to mark the leading discrimination between the state constitutions, and the constitution of the United States. When the people established the powers of legislation under their separate governments, they invested their representatives with every right and authority which they did not in explicit terms reserve; and therefore upon every question, respecting the jurisdiction of the house of assembly, if the frame of government is silent, the jurisdiction is efficient and complete. …
This constitution, it has been further urged, is of a pernicious tendency, because it tolerates a standing army in the time of peace. …yet, I do not know a nation in the world, which has not found it necessary and useful to maintain the appearance of strength in a season of the most profound tranquility.
In closing, Mr. Wilson stated:

I am satisfied that any thing nearer to perfection could not have been accomplished. If there are errors, it should be remembered, that the seeds of reformation are sown in the work itself, and the concurrence of two thirds of the Congress may at any time introduce alterations and amendments. Regarding it then, in every point of view, with a candid and disinterested mind, I am bold to assert, that it is the best form of government which has ever been offered to the world.

In a reply to Mr. Wilson’s speech, the Pennsylvania Herald, Philadelphia published on October 17th, 1787, which includes mention of insertion of the Bill of Rights:
Mr. Wilson pretends to point out a leading discrimination between the State Constitutions and the Constitution of the United States. … And this may furnish an answer, he adds, to those who object, that a bill of rights has not been introduced in the proposed Federal Constitution. If this doctrine is true, and since it is only security that we are to have for our natural rights, it ought to at least to have been clearly expressed in the plan of government.
The article continues about ‘freedom of the press’ – combined with freedom of speech of individual citizens, a liberty so important it became the first amendment. In addition, the article maintained that citizens should have the right to trial by jury and other circumstances pertaining to the judiciary system, which was also included in the first ten amendments written and ratified that is the Bill of Rights.
The article also points to Mr. Wilson’s remarks about a standing army
…he has told us that a standing army, that great support of tyrants, not only was not dangerous, but that it was ‘absolutely necessary’. …after the experience of past ages, …have taught us to dread a standing army above all earthly evils … Had we a standing army, when the British invaded our peaceful shores? … Is not a well regulated militia sufficient for every purpose of internal defence? And which of you, my fellow citizens, is afraid of any invasion from foreign powers, that our brave militia would not be able to immediately repel? …
I need only adduce the example of Switzerland, which, like us, is a republic, whose thirteen cantons, like our Thirteen States, are under a federal government, and which besides is surrounded by the most powerful nations in Europe, all jealous of its liberty and prosperity … Why should we not follow so glorious an example …? iv
…it is an established principle of America, which pervades every one of our State Constitutions, that the legislative and executive powers ought to be kept forever separate and distinct from each other, and yet in this new constitution we find there are TWO EXECUTIVE BRANCHES, each of which has more or less control over the proceedings of the legislative.
Many of these issues that were presented, discussed, and argued over in 1787 are part of arguments that continue today, and recently it has not just become a concern, but an important issue concerning the abuse of power of the federal government and not limiting itself according to the Constitution of the United States.
One candidate running in the primary election, 2012, has insisted upon constitutional law and that it be reestablished to operate a constitutional republic. His name is Ron Paul, a medical doctor who is a Representative in the House. Yet, the media and political opponents depict Dr. Paul as either a radical or a fool. It is the media that is part of today’s problem with federal government where they no longer pride themselves on reporting objective and truthful, non-bias information that the people depend upon. This misinformation and blatant political propaganda has worked its way into our educational system and within the textbooks of government public schools, that the federal government has power over instead of the individual state governments.
The arguments presented here that took place in 1787 while finalizing the Constitution of the United States are not much different than today – and the concerns of We the People just as important.
Our government has been undermined by “artful” and “designing” individuals and organizations long enough to begin the total transition of our government from a constitutional republic to a democratic-socialist republic or welfare state.
The study of those discussions in 1787 are not just ‘old history’ – but it is in every way applicable to what is occurring today; and the warnings of founders are coming into play as reality.
But reformation cannot occur within our federal government without self reformation by the People; for a people that has lost its virtues and standards of excellence, is a people that will succumb to tyranny and despotism – the progressive liberal socialists of America.
If we continue to elect those types of individuals that want to continue the status quo in Washington, DC; whose ideology is why our nation has become repressed – than we deserve whatever government those who abuse power provide for us.
Unfortunately, those who are enlightened and see the real dangers, are going to suffer along with them; as well as the innocent new generations that follow – our children and grandchildren.
What a legacy we leave for them.
In summary:
The framers who wrote the Constitution provided the central, federal, government enough power to defend the nation as a whole – the United States; while the states were assigned (delegated) the task of defending the lives, liberty, and property of the people.
Benjamin Franklin warned in 1787:
The man that gives up a portion of his liberty to achieve security, receives neither liberty or security.
And that is why today it is difficult to get the people to advocate and insist that our government reform – because 40% of the population pay little or no income tax and out of that percentage there are others who have come to accept that they would rather collect benefits, dole from the government paid for by all taxpayers, rather than retain their rights and liberties. Those people don’t realize that the goose that lays golden eggs will eventually stop producing. Our government is heading towards national bankruptcy.
Frederic Bastiat stated that a government has the authority to charge a person for services rendered but does not have a right to take property from one individual and give it to another. He called this legal plunder
As an added side note: If Mitt Romney is looking for a VP running mate, he should choose Rep. Allen West of Florida, if Mr. West accepts. 
ENDNOTES:
i Debate on the Constitution, Volume One, pp. 50-51.
ii Debate on the Constitution, Volume One, pp. 52-62.
iii What is known as the “Federalist Papers”
iv Debate on the Constitution, Volume One, p. 75.
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