Thursday, January 22, 2009

James Madson on Public Works

If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress.... Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America.

-- James Madison
(1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President
Source: referring to a bill to subsidize cod fisherman introduced in the first year of the new Congress

(HT Liberty Quotes)


LB said...

Great quote.

Do you know how the cod subsidy bill fared with the first congress?

Beth said...

No I don't. Sorry.

LB said...

Hi Beth,
I was able to find the vote on the Fisheries Bill of 1792 (2nd Congress, 1st session, my mistake). It did pass, but Madison’s complete argument can be found on pages 385-389 in the Annals of Congress and is definitely worth a read. The provisions of the bill he was arguing against can be found earlier, and the final vote on later pages. Caution: reading it can become addictive.

Beth said...

Wow. Thanks for the fast research!! Another great example of the benefits of the division of labor.