University of Virginia Library

3397. GENERAL WELFARE CLAUSE, Universal power.—[continued].

I hope our courts will
never countenance the sweeping pretensions
which have been set up under the words
“general defence and public welfare”. These
words only express the motives which induced
the Convention to give to the ordinary
legislature certain specified powers which
they enumerate, and which they thought
might be trusted to the ordinary legislature,
and not to give them the unspecified also;
or why any specification? They could not be
so awkward in language as to mean, as we
say, “all and some”. And should this construction
prevail, all limits to the Federal
Government are done away. This opinion,
formed on the first rise of the question, I
have never seen reason to change, whether in
or out of power; but, on the contrary, find it
strengthened and confirmed by five and twenty
years of additional reflection and experience:
and any countenance given to it by any regular
organ of the government, I should consider
more ominous than anything which has yet
To Spencer Roane. Washington ed. vi, 494. Ford ed., ix, 531.
(M. 1815)