James Madison

I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that be not the guide in expounding it, there can be no security for a consistent and stable, more than for a faithful, exercise of its powers.  (letter to Henry Lee, June 25, 1824)

I cannot but highly approve the industry with which you have searched for a key to the sense of the Constitution, where alone the true one can be found: in the proceedings of the Convention, the contemporary expositions, and above all in the ratifying Conventions of the States.  (letter to Andrew Stevenson, March 25, 1826)

A regular mode of making proper alterations has been providently inserted in the Constitution itself. It is anxiously to be wished, therefore, that no innovations may take place in other modes, one of which would be a constructive assumption of powers never meant to be granted. If the powers be deficient, the legitimate source of additional ones is always open, and ought to be resorted to.  (letter to Spencer Roane, Sept. 2, 1819)


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Copyright 2005 by Karl Spence. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10/10/11 20:58:16 -0500.