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The Idea of Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard to the Common Defense Considered
For the Independent Journal.

Author: Alexander Hamilton

To the People of the State of New York:

IT WAS a thing hardly to be expected that in a popular revolution the minds of men should stop at that happy mean which marks the salutary boundary between POWER and PRIVILEGE, and combines the energy of government with the security of private rights. A failure in this delicate and important point is the great source of the inconveniences we experience, and if we are not cautious to avoid a repetition of the error, in our future attempts to rectify and ameliorate our system, we may travel from one chimerical project to another; we may try change after change; but we shall never be likely to make any material change for the better.

The idea of restraining the legislative authority, in the means of providing for the national defense, is one of those refinements which owe their origin to a zeal for liberty more ardent than enlightened. We have seen, however, that it has not had thus far an extensive prevalency; that even in this country, where it made its first appearance, Pennsylvania and North Carolina are the only two States by which it has been in any degree patronized; and that all the others have refused to give it the least countenance; wisely judging that confidence must be placed somewhere; that the necessity of doing it, is implied in the very act of delegating power; and that it is better to hazard the abuse of that confidence than to embarrass the government and endanger the public safety by impolitic restrictions on the legislative authority. The opponents of the proposed Constitution combat, in this respect, the general decision of America; and instead of being taught by experience the propriety of correcting any extremes into which we may have heretofore run, they appear disposed to conduct us into others still more dangerous, and more extravagant. As if the tone of government had been found too high, or too rigid, the doctrines they teach are calculated to induce us to depress or to relax it, by expedients which, upon other occasions, have been condemned or forborne. It may be affirmed without the imputation of invective, that if the principles they inculcate, on various points, could so far obtain as to become the popular creed, they would utterly unfit the people of this country for any species of government whatever. But a danger of this kind is not to be apprehended. The citizens of America have too much discernment to be argued into anarchy. And I am much mistaken, if experience has not wrought a deep and solemn conviction in the public mind, that greater energy of government is essential to the welfare and prosperity of the community.

It may not be amiss in this place concisely to remark the origin and progress of the idea, which aims at the exclusion of military establishments in time of peace. Though in speculative minds it may arise from a contemplation of the nature and tendency of such institutions, fortified by the events that have happened in other ages and countries, yet as a national sentiment, it must be traced to those habits of thinking which we derive from the nation from whom the inhabitants of these States have in general sprung.

In England, for a long time after the Norman Conquest, the authority of the monarch was almost unlimited. Inroads were gradually made upon the prerogative, in favor of liberty, first by the barons, and afterwards by the people, till the greatest part of its most formidable pretensions became extinct. But it was not till the revolution in 1688, which elevated the Prince of Orange to the throne of Great Britain, that English liberty was completely triumphant. As incident to the undefined power of making war, an acknowledged prerogative of the crown, Charles II. had, by his own authority, kept on foot in time of peace a body of 5,000 regular troops. And this number James II. increased to 30,000; who were paid out of his civil list. At the revolution, to abolish the exercise of so dangerous an authority, it became an article of the Bill of Rights then framed, that “the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, UNLESS WITH THE CONSENT OF PARLIAMENT, was against law.”

In that kingdom, when the pulse of liberty was at its highest pitch, no security against the danger of standing armies was thought requisite, beyond a prohibition of their being raised or kept up by the mere authority of the executive magistrate. The patriots, who effected that memorable revolution, were too temperate, too wellinformed, to think of any restraint on the legislative discretion. They were aware that a certain number of troops for guards and garrisons were indispensable; that no precise bounds could be set to the national exigencies; that a power equal to every possible contingency must exist somewhere in the government: and that when they referred the exercise of that power to the judgment of the legislature, they had arrived at the ultimate point of precaution which was reconcilable with the safety of the community.

From the same source, the people of America may be said to have derived an hereditary impression of danger to liberty, from standing armies in time of peace. The circumstances of a revolution quickened the public sensibility on every point connected with the security of popular rights, and in some instances raise the warmth of our zeal beyond the degree which consisted with the due temperature of the body politic. The attempts of two of the States to restrict the authority of the legislature in the article of military establishments, are of the number of these instances. The principles which had taught us to be jealous of the power of an hereditary monarch were by an injudicious excess extended to the representatives of the people in their popular assemblies. Even in some of the States, where this error was not adopted, we find unnecessary declarations that standing armies ought not to be kept up, in time of peace, WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE LEGISLATURE. I call them unnecessary, because the reason which had introduced a similar provision into the English Bill of Rights is not applicable to any of the State constitutions. The power of raising armies at all, under those constitutions, can by no construction be deemed to reside anywhere else, than in the legislatures themselves; and it was superfluous, if not absurd, to declare that a matter should not be done without the consent of a body, which alone had the power of doing it. Accordingly, in some of these constitutions, and among others, in that of this State of New York, which has been justly celebrated, both in Europe and America, as one of the best of the forms of government established in this country, there is a total silence upon the subject.

It is remarkable, that even in the two States which seem to have meditated an interdiction of military establishments in time of peace, the mode of expression made use of is rather cautionary than prohibitory. It is not said, that standing armies SHALL NOT BE kept up, but that they OUGHT NOT to be kept up, in time of peace. This ambiguity of terms appears to have been the result of a conflict between jealousy and conviction; between the desire of excluding such establishments at all events, and the persuasion that an absolute exclusion would be unwise and unsafe.

Can it be doubted that such a provision, whenever the situation of public affairs was understood to require a departure from it, would be interpreted by the legislature into a mere admonition, and would be made to yield to the necessities or supposed necessities of the State? Let the fact already mentioned, with respect to Pennsylvania, decide. What then (it may be asked) is the use of such a provision, if it cease to operate the moment there is an inclination to disregard it?

Let us examine whether there be any comparison, in point of efficacy, between the provision alluded to and that which is contained in the new Constitution, for restraining the appropriations of money for military purposes to the period of two years. The former, by aiming at too much, is calculated to effect nothing; the latter, by steering clear of an imprudent extreme, and by being perfectly compatible with a proper provision for the exigencies of the nation, will have a salutary and powerful operation.

The legislature of the United States will be OBLIGED, by this provision, once at least in every two years, to deliberate upon the propriety of keeping a military force on foot; to come to a new resolution on the point; and to declare their sense of the matter, by a formal vote in the face of their constituents. They are not AT LIBERTY to vest in the executive department permanent funds for the support of an army, if they were even incautious enough to be willing to repose in it so improper a confidence. As the spirit of party, in different degrees, must be expected to infect all political bodies, there will be, no doubt, persons in the national legislature willing enough to arraign the measures and criminate the views of the majority. The provision for the support of a military force will always be a favorable topic for declamation. As often as the question comes forward, the public attention will be roused and attracted to the subject, by the party in opposition; and if the majority should be really disposed to exceed the proper limits, the community will be warned of the danger, and will have an opportunity of taking measures to guard against it. Independent of parties in the national legislature itself, as often as the period of discussion arrived, the State legislatures, who will always be not only vigilant but suspicious and jealous guardians of the rights of the citizens against encroachments from the federal government, will constantly have their attention awake to the conduct of the national rulers, and will be ready enough, if any thing improper appears, to sound the alarm to the people, and not only to be the VOICE, but, if necessary, the ARM of their discontent.

Schemes to subvert the liberties of a great community REQUIRE TIME to mature them for execution. An army, so large as seriously to menace those liberties, could only be formed by progressive augmentations; which would suppose, not merely a temporary combination between the legislature and executive, but a continued conspiracy for a series of time. Is it probable that such a combination would exist at all? Is it probable that it would be persevered in, and transmitted along through all the successive variations in a representative body, which biennial elections would naturally produce in both houses? Is it presumable, that every man, the instant he took his seat in the national Senate or House of Representatives, would commence a traitor to his constituents and to his country? Can it be supposed that there would not be found one man, discerning enough to detect so atrocious a conspiracy, or bold or honest enough to apprise his constituents of their danger? If such presumptions can fairly be made, there ought at once to be an end of all delegated authority. The people should resolve to recall all the powers they have heretofore parted with out of their own hands, and to divide themselves into as many States as there are counties, in order that they may be able to manage their own concerns in person.

If such suppositions could even be reasonably made, still the concealment of the design, for any duration, would be impracticable. It would be announced, by the very circumstance of augmenting the army to so great an extent in time of profound peace. What colorable reason could be assigned, in a country so situated, for such vast augmentations of the military force? It is impossible that the people could be long deceived; and the destruction of the project, and of the projectors, would quickly follow the discovery.

It has been said that the provision which limits the appropriation of money for the support of an army to the period of two years would be unavailing, because the Executive, when once possessed of a force large enough to awe the people into submission, would find resources in that very force sufficient to enable him to dispense with supplies from the acts of the legislature. But the question again recurs, upon what pretense could he be put in possession of a force of that magnitude in time of peace? If we suppose it to have been created in consequence of some domestic insurrection or foreign war, then it becomes a case not within the principles of the objection; for this is levelled against the power of keeping up troops in time of peace. Few persons will be so visionary as seriously to contend that military forces ought not to be raised to quell a rebellion or resist an invasion; and if the defense of the community under such circumstances should make it necessary to have an army so numerous as to hazard its liberty, this is one of those calamaties for which there is neither preventative nor cure. It cannot be provided against by any possible form of government; it might even result from a simple league offensive and defensive, if it should ever be necessary for the confederates or allies to form an army for common defense.

But it is an evil infinitely less likely to attend us in a united than in a disunited state; nay, it may be safely asserted that it is an evil altogether unlikely to attend us in the latter situation. It is not easy to conceive a possibility that dangers so formidable can assail the whole Union, as to demand a force considerable enough to place our liberties in the least jeopardy, especially if we take into our view the aid to be derived from the militia, which ought always to be counted upon as a valuable and powerful auxiliary. But in a state of disunion (as has been fully shown in another place), the contrary of this supposition would become not only probable, but almost unavoidable.

PUBLIUS.

Guest Essayist: Andrew Dykstal, a Junior at Hillsdale College

Amendment III

“No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”

The Third Amendment seldom enjoys press or study; one high school-level text dismisses it with a single sentence to the effect of “This amendment has been unimportant since its adoption.” Nevertheless, the Third Amendment offers valuable insight into the Constitution’s intended restraints on standing armies and the relationship between civil and military authorities. The Third Amendment directly protects the property and freedom of individual citizens, but it also imposes an additional limit on the power of the executive to maintain military power without the consent of the legislature.

The surface-level meaning of the Third Amendment is quite straightforward: In peacetime, the federal government cannot use any residence to house soldiers without the consent of the owner. Only in wartime–a condition that only Congress can declare–can soldiers be housed in private residences. Even in this case, Congress must provide for this mediation of property rights by an act of law distinct from a declaration of war. In the only significant court case (Engblom v. Carey, 1982) involving the Third Amendment, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that the concept of “soldier” can be broadly construed to include National Guardsmen. More significantly, the court held that “house” includes dwellings not owned by the inhabitant, such as apartments and rented rooms. The Third Amendment therefore constitutes a broad protection of the citizenry against legislative power in peacetime and the executive at any time.

In contemporary times, this protection may seem unnecessary or redundant with, say, the Fourth Amendment. But when the Bill of Rights was drafted, memories of royal abuse were still fresh in American minds, and the question of abusive military was a subject of intense debate between the Federalists–the people who supported the ratification of the Constitution–and the Antifederalists–the people who opposed it. The Third Amendment addresses on of the Antifederalists’ historically-grounded concerns. The Declaration of Independence reads, in part, “He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power….For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us…” This indictment of King George III bridges two separate but equally significant issues. First was the traditional, specific aversion to the quartering of troops in private homes. Parliament passed a series of Quartering Acts beginning in 1765, directly contravening the 1689 English Bill of Rights. These acts called into question the Americans’ rights as Englishmen and subjected them to treatment unconscionable for citizens of the Empire. More pragmatically, the conduct of British troops, stationed far from home in what was often considered a colonial backwater, was often reprehensible, and crimes against colonists increased in frequency and severity as political tension grew. The colonists experienced a direct, vivid reminder of why the quartering of soldiers in homes had been explicitly forbidden under British law for decades.

The second issue at the heart of this indictment of King George III (and at the heart of the Third Amendment) is substantially more interesting from a contemporary perspective. The very existence of a standing army in the colonies was generally taken as offensive, and this sentiment influenced the development of the Constitution. The Third Amendment renders significantly more difficult the maintenance of “in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our Legislatures.” Specifically, the Third Amendment checks executive and military power by increasing the cost of maintaining a standing army. In Federalist 26, Alexander Hamilton describes the way in which regular funding renewal forces the legislature to continuously revisit the question of a standing army. Under Article One, Section 8, the executive is reliant on legislative approval to fund the military, and the Third Amendment helps to prevent an end run around these measures; the federal government must make appropriations via Congress to support the military. The military cannot support itself directly from the people unwilling hospitality. With the memory of the threat a standing army can pose to liberty in mind, the Constitution’s framers put in place both primary and incidental restrictions on the nature of executive and military power.

The specific protection afforded by the Third Amendment has not, thankfully, seen as much use as those afforded elsewhere in the Bill of Rights, but the ideas and intent behind this amendment can still educate us about our nation’s history and inform our current policies. The Third Amendment speaks to the grave responsibility in the hands of the legislature as long as the United States maintains a powerful military in war and peacetime alike, and it speaks to the care necessary in the exercise even of necessary power.

March 8, 2012

Essay #14

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

“…the state legislatures, who will always be not only vigilant, but suspicious and jealous guardians of the rights of the citizens, against encroachments from the federal government, will constantly have their attention awake to the conduct of the national rulers, and will be ready enough, if anything improper appears, to sound the alarm to the people, and not only to be the VOICE, but if necessary, the ARM of their discontent.”

When I read these words of Alexander Hamilton, I think to myself, “ WHAT HAPPENED?” This is one of the absolute best paragraphs in the Federalist Papers! When one wants to know what’s the big deal about the Federalist Papers, when someone wants to know why the United States Constitution important, when someone says, “We haven’t strayed that much from the Constitution,” I would direct them to this paragraph in Federalist Paper No. 26.

These are the words that define the vision of our founding fathers, and the structure of the United States Constitution, in regard to restraining the federal government.

“the state legislatures, who will always be not only vigilant, but suspicious and jealous guardians of the rights of the citizens”

“against encroachments from the federal government, will constantly have their attention awake to the conduct of the national rulers”

“and will be ready enough, if anything improper appears, to sound the alarm to the people, and not only to be the VOICE, but if necessary, the ARM of their discontent.”

Have we proceeded too far to save America? Will we ever get back to the true intention of our Constitutional government? Will American’s ever cut the umbilical cord?
Are we to watch our flag burning in the street as citizens insist that the government owes them benefits? Will the age of entitlement ever be replaced by the original age of entrepreneurial vigor? Are we to sink on the same ship as Greece? Our GNP is projected to meet Greece’s GNP by 2020.

How will America survive?

If American’s do not know what they have they will not know when it is slowly being taken away from them.

As Alexander Hamilton states,“Schemes to subvert the liberties of a great community, require time to mature them to execution.”

The time has come and the alarm must sound before it is too late. What are our state legislatures doing? They are not representing us in the U.S. Congress anymore and the federal government has tied their hands.

The tenth amendment needs to be revisited and rekindled.

We must act now before America’s great liberties are swallowed into the great abyss of socialism and democracy fails – but this will happen only if we let it. We must be the VOICE and the ARM of discontent. The best way to do this is by education. We must educate our friends, our family, our neighbors, our CHILDREN about the United States Constitution, the Federalist Papers and our country’s founding principles.
We must be vigilant!

It begins with YOU. Spread the word about our website and “90 in 90,” and our contest for kids!

God bless you!!
God bless America.

Janine Turner

 

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Thanks to everyone who joined our discussion today, and to our Guest Constitutional Scholar Bloggers, Daren Bakst and Troy Kickler!

I asked you all last night to help us recruit kids to enter the We The People 9.17 Contest, Entries due July 4!  Thank you!! We have had several new online signups today at https://constituting.staging.wpengine.com/contestsignup.php Please keep spreading the word!!

Here is one additional request – as you recruit young people to the contest, please ask their parents, and the older kids, to join us on this blog! We learn so much from each other. The more people we have participating, the more we learn!!

Tonight, the first paragraph of Federalist #26 grabbed my attention.  I even printed it off and carried it down the hall to show my husband who was trying to watch TV in peace!  But as he read the sentences below, he agreed – these words ARE relevant today:

IT WAS a thing hardly to be expected that in a popular revolution the minds of men should stop at that happy mean which marks the salutary boundary between POWER and PRIVILEGE, and combines the energy of government with the security of private rights. A failure in this delicate and important point is the great source of the inconveniences we experience, and if we are not cautious to avoid a repetition of the error, in our future attempts to rectify and ameliorate our system, we may travel from one chimerical project to another; we may try change after change; but we shall never be likely to make any material change for the better.

I admit I had to look up a few words. I had a vague understanding of their meanings, but reading the definitions added to the richness of Hamilton’s message.

ameliorate – to make or become better, more bearable, or more satisfactory; improve; meliorate.

chimerical – 1 : existing only as the product of unchecked imagination : fantastically visionary or improbable
2 : given to fantastic schemes

Even though Publius uses this first paragraph to make his case for the legislature to have the power to provide for national defense, these words reverberate with meaning, as I think of the numerous ways the balance between “legislative power and liberty” (thank you Mr. Bakst & Kickler for that phrase) has been disrupted.

Our founders created a system of checks and balances, and nothing less than our freedom is dependent upon its equilibrium.   Whether we tip too far towards anarchy, as Hamilton feared if the legislature wasn’t granted the power to provide for the national defense, or too far towards government control in our lives, the result is a deviation from the system of government our founding fathers so carefully designed.  When “We the people” allow the government to get out of balance, we allow our liberty to fade, creating those “inconveniences,” Hamilton references, and we fail to make “any material change for the better.”

Good night and God Bless!

Cathy Gillespie

 

Guest Bloggers: Daren Bakst, J.D., LL.M., Director of Legal and Regulatory Studies at the John Locke Foundation and Troy Kickler, Ph.D., Director of the North Carolina History Project

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

At the start of Federalist No. 26, Alexander Hamilton addresses the challenging balancing act required between legislative power and liberty.  Using this as a jumping off point, he makes the case that the legislature must have the power to provide for the national defense.

While he acknowledges the balancing of interests, he argues that the scales tip toward having strong legislative power when it comes to national defense.  Restraining legislative authority in the area of national defense “is one of those refinements which owe their origin to a zeal for liberty more ardent than enlightened.”

He explains that it would “endanger the public safety” if there were “impolitic restrictions on the legislative authority.”  He goes on to suggest that anarchy would result and the American people would not support such an anarchy.

Hamilton then turns his attention to the question of standing armies during peacetime.  Pointing to England, he explains how it had lived under the rule of monarchs who had almost unlimited power.  After the Revolution of 1688, the monarch’s power to raise armies was drastically reduced.

The only manner in which an army could exist in peacetime was with the consent of the Parliament.  As Hamilton argues, even in England where the desire for liberty during this time was great, the only restraint believed necessary was to prohibit the executive from having sole power to raise armies.

The British revolutionaries who fought for liberty knew that there was a need for troops in peacetime.  There always needed to be troops ready to meet any contingency that faced the nation.  By placing power with the legislature, this was the proper balance between liberty and public safety.

According to Anti-Federalists, in particular Brutus in his “Tenth Letter,” those opposed to standing armies in peacetime were concerned with executives gaining excessive power.  To support this argument, they used Rome and Britain as examples.

In Rome, writes Brutus, Julius Caesar changed “it [Rome] from a free republic…into that of the most absolute despotism.”  In Britain, the armies had been used by Oliver Cromwell to take away the people’s liberty.

Hamilton though counters these concerns by stressing the role of the legislature.  One key protection was the appropriations process.  The legislature must, every two years, vote on whether to allow a military force.  Their constituents could hold them accountable at the ballot box if their actions were inconsistent with their will.

Further, according to Hamilton, state legislatures would protect their citizens.  Hamilton saw a strong federalist system where states fought against the encroachments by the federal government.  States would not simply voice their concerns, but they would be the vehicles by which the citizens would be protected.

Since Hamilton’s time, a key component to the power of state legislatures has been lost. Until 1913, state legislatures had the power to elect Senators.  They were not elected like they are now by a direct vote of the people.  This was a major check that states possessed in preventing excessive national power.

However, under the current system, state governments are mere shadows of what Hamilton envisioned.  This does undercut his argument.  The federal government has become a behemoth with state governments beholden to it due to an over-reliance on federal funds.

Fortunately, the military has never posed a significant threat to domestic tranquility.  This can be attributed to numerous factors, including the legislative check on executive power that Hamilton articulates in Federalist No. 26.  Given our country’s past and current foreign threats, he appears to have been correct in espousing the need for a standing army in peacetime.

– Daren Bakst, J.D., LL.M., is Director of Legal and Regulatory Studies at the John Locke Foundation and Troy Kickler, Ph.D., is Director of the North Carolina History Project.

11 Responses to “June 2, 2010Federalist No. 26 – The Idea of Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard to the Common Defense Considered, For the Independent Journal (Hamilton) – Guest Bloggers: Daren Bakst, J.D., LL.M., Director of Legal and Regulatory Studies at the John Locke Foundation and Troy Kickler, Ph.D., Director of the North Carolina History Project”

  1. Jace Broadman says:

    So much of what’s in our Constitution is a result of the experiences that our founders had had before — things that worked and things that didn’t. This practical approach to setting up rules makes a big difference. Something as straightforward as the legislature’s role in defense was improved by the trial and error of the founders. I guess this makes me wonder why so many rules and proposed laws today seem to defy this tradition. Cap and Tax and the health care takeover come to mind. Have these worked anywhere before? Why must we be the experimenters?

  2. Susan Craig says:

    I’ve always felt that reform and power are pendulums which never stops at the bottom of the swing in perfect balance. The first, as an example, unions vs. owners, in the late 19th century owners were developing fiefdoms within their spheres so to empower the labor force unions were developed. In government it is liberty vs. order. What is counter intuitive is that reasonable boundaries are necessary to fulfill the promise of the Declaration of Independence for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Rules like Fences make good neighbors.

  3. Jimmy Green says:

    As with our constitution the legislature does indeed have the power to provide for the national defense in Section 1 article 8 of the constitution. I’m not certain how the Federal Government got around the issue of “no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years.”
    The concern is in today’s world the executive branch is more inclined to initiate war regardless of the congress. I think WWII was the last time the legislature actually declared war as constitutionally required. Today the military is essentially at the Presidents disposal to be sent wherever, whenever. Does this imply the executive branch not the legislative is actually in charge of providing for the common defense? It seems a power vacuum has played out between the two branches and the Congress has surrendered its authorizations for war. This should be troubling to everyone. Besides this issue I do agree that in theory the legislative branch should have what ever power is needed to provide for the common defense. Although I’m not certain how to determine what size of a standing army we truly need.

    As Professor Kickler and Bakst pointed out “The federal government has become a behemoth with state governments beholden to it due to an over-reliance on federal funds”.
    This can be seen quite acutely in what former President Eisenhower termed the military industrial complex.
    Today’s attempts to kill most any major weapons system take a Herculean effort. Not because every weapons system is needed or wanted but simply because the cancellation of said system will involve the loss of thousand of jobs across many states. The congressman of those states will fight tooth and nail to maintain those jobs. And the defense contractors are clever enough to spread the development across as many states as necessary to ensure its survival. Sadly even weapon systems the pentagon does not want are built because the congressman is unwilling to allow the jobs to be lost. This is a detriment to the military and taxpayers.

    The mention of Rome via the Anti Federalist papers is amusing in that it’s hard to see that occurring to our republic currently. However as with Rome the executive power increased until Caesar took control as virtual dictator effectively ending any remnants of a republic. Today as I mentioned a power vacuum has been occurring in which the executive branch is wielding more power simply by taking it from the legislative branch.. This jeopardizes the check and balances needed to maintain a healthy republic especially in times of war. Although I don’t think were close to crossing a Rubicon in America I definitely have my concerns about the average citizens role as seemingly something less then “We the people” .

  4. Jimmy Green says:

    Sorry meant to say Article 1 section 8

  5. Dale Morfey says:

    Congress essentially delegated to the President, via the War Powers Act, the ability to respond to an act of war quickly (which the President already had under the Constitution) and to become involved in military actions that constitute acts of war.

    Congress has tried to delegate away one of their most important functions and We The People have allowed them to do so – to our shame.

    Remember the old saying “An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.”…? There being a time for everything… now is the time for the pound.

  6. James Roman says:

    James Madison Federalist papers
    Military: country capable of supporting without breaking the bank.
    Population 300 million

    Army 1/100 population= 3 million
    organized Militia 25 * Army= 75 million

    Militia@Large rest of population capable of bearing arms

  7. Barb Zakszewski says:

    Basically, every “war” since the Korean “War”, that the United States has fought in, has been Unconstitutional, in a strict sense. The President can go before Congress as FDR did in WWII, and ask for a declaration of War. But not even the Gulf wars and the current conflicts in the middle East are constitutionally declared wars, because the President has not done his Constitutional duty properly and Congress certainly has not either. No doubt, Congress has abdicated its role, in favor of politics and winning elections. Several of the wars including Korea and Vietnam have been police actions that the spineless United Nations have gotten us involved in. I would love to have seen GW Bush go before Congress after 9/11 and request a declaration of war, but against whom? The Taliban, Al-queda. Terrorists are much more elusive and undefined than a Nazi Germany or an imperalist Japan. So instead, we fought against and continue to fight these elusive terrorists, without an actual declaration of war. I don’t know what the answer is here, the United States must defend itself, but to grant SOO much power to one individual certainly cannot be what the Founders intended. We must go back to the Constitution and to the arguments made in the Federalist and see what those intentions were and try to find the answers that are already there.

  8. Thanks to everyone who joined our discussion today, and to our Guest Constitutional Scholar Bloggers, Daren Bakst and Troy Kickler!

    I asked you all last night to help us recruit kids to enter the We The People 9.17 Contest, Entries due July 4! Thank you!! We have had several new online signups today at https://constituting.staging.wpengine.com/contestsignup.php Please keep spreading the word!!

    Here is one additional request – as you recruit young people to the contest, please ask their parents, and the older kids, to join us on this blog! We learn so much from each other. The more people we have participating, the more we learn!!

    Tonight, the first paragraph of Federalist #26 grabbed my attention. I even printed it off and carried it down the hall to show my husband who was trying to watch TV in peace! But as he read the sentences below, he agreed – these words ARE relevant today:

    IT WAS a thing hardly to be expected that in a popular revolution the minds of men should stop at that happy mean which marks the salutary boundary between POWER and PRIVILEGE, and combines the energy of government with the security of private rights. A failure in this delicate and important point is the great source of the inconveniences we experience, and if we are not cautious to avoid a repetition of the error, in our future attempts to rectify and ameliorate our system, we may travel from one chimerical project to another; we may try change after change; but we shall never be likely to make any material change for the better.

    I admit I had to look up a few words. I had a vague understanding of their meanings, but reading the definitions added to the richness of Hamilton’s message.

    ameliorate – to make or become better, more bearable, or more satisfactory; improve; meliorate.

    chimerical – 1 : existing only as the product of unchecked imagination : fantastically visionary or improbable
    2 : given to fantastic schemes

    Even though Publius uses this first paragraph to make his case for the legislature to have the power to provide for national defense, these words reverberate with meaning, as I think of the numerous ways the balance between “legislative power and liberty” (thank you Mr. Bakst & Kickler for that phrase) has been disrupted.

    Our founders created a system of checks and balances, and nothing less than our freedom is dependent upon its equilibrium. Whether we tip too far towards anarchy, as Hamilton feared if the legislature wasn’t granted the power to provide for the national defense, or too far towards government control in our lives, the result is a deviation from the system of government our founding fathers so carefully designed. When “We the people” allow the government to get out of balance, we allow our liberty to fade, creating those “inconveniences,” Hamilton references, and we fail to make “any material change for the better.”

    Good night and God Bless!

    Cathy Gillespie

  9. “…the state legislatures, who will always be not only vigilant, but suspicious and jealous guardians of the rights of the citizens, against encroachments from the federal government, will constantly have their attention awake to the conduct of the national rulers, and will be ready enough, if anything improper appears, to sound the alarm to the people, and not only to be the VOICE, but if necessary, the ARM of their discontent.”

    When I read these words of Alexander Hamilton, I think to myself, “ WHAT HAPPENED?” This is one of the absolute best paragraphs in the Federalist Papers! When one wants to know what’s the big deal about the Federalist Papers, when someone wants to know why the United States Constitution important, when someone says, “We haven’t strayed that much from the Constitution,” I would direct them to this paragraph in Federalist Paper No. 26.

    These are the words that define the vision of our founding fathers, and the structure of the United States Constitution, in regard to restraining the federal government.

    “the state legislatures, who will always be not only vigilant, but suspicious and jealous guardians of the rights of the citizens”

    “against encroachments from the federal government, will constantly have their attention awake to the conduct of the national rulers”

    “and will be ready enough, if anything improper appears, to sound the alarm to the people, and not only to be the VOICE, but if necessary, the ARM of their discontent.”

    What are our state legislatures doing? They are not representing us in the U.S. Congress anymore and the federal government has tied their hands.
    The tenth amendment needs to be revisited and rekindled.

    Have we proceeded too far to save America? Will we ever get back to the true intention of our Constitutional government? Will American’s ever cut the umbilical cord?
    Are we to watch our flag burning in the street as citizens insist that the government owes them benefits? Will the age of entitlement ever be replaced by the original age of entrepreneurial vigor? Are we to sink on the same ship as Greece? Our GNP is projected to meet Greece’s GNP by 2020.

    How will America survive?

    If American’s do not know what they have they will not know when it is slowly being taken away from them.

    As Alexander Hamilton states,“Schemes to subvert the liberties of a great community, require time to mature them to execution.”

    The time has come and the alarm must sound before it is too late. What are our state legislatures doing? They are not representing us in the U.S. Congress anymore and the federal government has tied their hands.

    The tenth amendment needs to be revisited and rekindled.

    We must act now before America’s great liberties are swallowed into the great abyss of socialism and democracy fails – but this will happen only if we let it. We must be the VOICE and the ARM of discontent. The best way to do this is by education. We must educate our friends, our family, our neighbors, our CHILDREN about the United States Constitution, the Federalist Papers and our country’s founding principles.
    We must be vigilant!

    It begins with YOU. Spread the word about our website and “90 in 90,” and our contest for kids!

    God bless you!!
    God bless America.

    Janine Turner
    June 2, 2010

  10. “…the state legislatures, who will always be not only vigilant, but suspicious and jealous guardians of the rights of the citizens, against encroachments from the federal government, will constantly have their attention awake to the conduct of the national rulers, and will be ready enough, if anything improper appears, to sound the alarm to the people, and not only to be the VOICE, but if necessary, the ARM of their discontent.”

    When I read these words of Alexander Hamilton, I think to myself, “ WHAT HAPPENED?” This is one of the absolute best paragraphs in the Federalist Papers! When one wants to know what’s the big deal about the Federalist Papers, when someone wants to know why the United States Constitution important, when someone says, “We haven’t strayed that much from the Constitution,” I would direct them to this paragraph in Federalist Paper No. 26.

    These are the words that define the vision of our founding fathers, and the structure of the United States Constitution, in regard to restraining the federal government.

    “the state legislatures, who will always be not only vigilant, but suspicious and jealous guardians of the rights of the citizens”

    “against encroachments from the federal government, will constantly have their attention awake to the conduct of the national rulers”

    “and will be ready enough, if anything improper appears, to sound the alarm to the people, and not only to be the VOICE, but if necessary, the ARM of their discontent.”

    Have we proceeded too far to save America? Will we ever get back to the true intention of our Constitutional government? Will American’s ever cut the umbilical cord?
    Are we to watch our flag burning in the street as citizens insist that the government owes them benefits? Will the age of entitlement ever be replaced by the original age of entrepreneurial vigor? Are we to sink on the same ship as Greece? Our GNP is projected to meet Greece’s GNP by 2020.

    How will America survive?

    If American’s do not know what they have they will not know when it is slowly being taken away from them.

    As Alexander Hamilton states,“Schemes to subvert the liberties of a great community, require time to mature them to execution.”

    The time has come and the alarm must sound before it is too late. What are our state legislatures doing? They are not representing us in the U.S. Congress anymore and the federal government has tied their hands.

    The tenth amendment needs to be revisited and rekindled.

    We must act now before America’s great liberties are swallowed into the great abyss of socialism and democracy fails – but this will happen only if we let it. We must be the VOICE and the ARM of discontent. The best way to do this is by education. We must educate our friends, our family, our neighbors, our CHILDREN about the United States Constitution, the Federalist Papers and our country’s founding principles.
    We must be vigilant!

    It begins with YOU. Spread the word about our website and “90 in 90,” and our contest for kids!

    God bless you!!
    God bless America.

    Janine Turner
    June 2, 2010

  11. Neil Simpson says:

    It helps me a great deal when I see the explanation. It seems unusual that there was such a controversy over the control of the military. But that does seem to show that our founders had a lot of foresight in that they anticipated problems and then resolved them. I guess what I don’t understand is how we’ve gotten so far away from that ability. Are modern Americans less bright or is the divine no longer influencing our nation’s path?