University of Virginia Library

3394. GENERAL WELFARE CLAUSE, Manufactures.—

I told the President [Washington] that they [the Hamilton party in Congress] had now brought forward a proposition,
far beyond every one ever yet advanced,
and to which the eyes of many were
turned as the decision which was to let us
know, whether we live under a limited or
an unlimited government, * * * [to wit] that in the Report on Manufactures which,
under color of giving bounties for the encouragement
of particular manufactures,
meant to establish the doctrine, that the
power given by the Constitution to collect
taxes to provide for the general welfare of
the United States, permitted Congress to
take everything under their management
which they should deem for the public welfare,
and which is susceptible of the application
of money; consequently, that the subsequent
enumeration of their powers was not
the description to which resort must be had,
and did not at all constitute the limits of
their authority; that this was a very different
question from that of the Bank [of the United


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States], which was thought an incident to an
enumerated power; that, therefore, this decision
was expected with great anxiety; that,
indeed, I hoped the proposition would be rejected,
believing there was a majority in both
Houses against it, and that if it should be,
it would be considered as a proof that things
were returning into their true channel.—
The Anas. Washington ed. ix, 104. Ford ed., i, 177.
(Feb. 1792)