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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;
3 occurrences of jefferson cyclopedia
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4812. LOUISIANA, Constitutional amendments.—[further continued].
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3 occurrences of jefferson cyclopedia
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4812. LOUISIANA, Constitutional amendments.—[further continued].

Whatever Congress shall
think it necessary to do, should be done with
as little debate as possible, and particularly
so far as respects the constitutional difficulty.
I am aware of the force of the observations
you make on the power given by the Constitution
to Congress, to admit new States into
the Union, without restraining the subject to
the territory then constituting the United
States. But when I consider that the limits
of the United States are precisely fixed by
the treaty of 1783, that the Constitution expressly
declares itself to be made for the
United States, I cannot help believing that
the intention was to permit Congress to admit
into the Union new States, which should be
formed out of the territory for which, and
under whose authority alone, they were then
acting. I do not believe it was meant that they
might receive England, Ireland, Holland, &c.,
into it, which would be the case on your construction.
When an instrument admits two
constructions, the one safe, the other dangerous;
the one precise, the other indefinite, I
prefer that which is safe and precise. I had
rather ask an enlargement of power from
the nation, where it is found necessary, than
to assume it by a construction which would
make our powers boundless. Our peculiar
security is in the possession of a written
Constitution. Let us not make it a blank
paper by construction. I say the same as to
the opinion of those who consider the grant
of the treaty making power as boundless. If
it is, then we have no Constitution. If it
has bounds, they can be no others than the
definitions of the powers which that instrument
gives. It specifies and delineates the
operations permitted to the Federal Govern


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ment, and gives all the powers necessary to
carry these into execution. Whatever of
these enumerated objects is proper for a law,
Congress may make the law; whatever is
proper to be executed by way of a treaty, the
President and Senate may enter into the
treaty; whatever is to be done by a judicial
sentence, the judges may pass the sentence.
Nothing is more likely than that their enumeration
of powers is defective. This is the
ordinary case of all human works. Let us go
on, then, perfecting it, by adding, by way of
amendment to the Constitution, those powers
which time and trial show are still wanting.
But it has been taken too much for granted, that
by this rigorous construction the treaty power
would be reduced to nothing. I had occasion
once to examine its effect on the French
treaty, made by the old Congress, and found
that out of thirty odd articles which that contained,
there were one, two or three only
which could not now be stipulated under our
present Constitution. I confess, then, I
thought it important, in the present case, to
set an example against broad construction,
by appealing for new power to the people.
If, however, our friends shall think differently,
certainly I shall acquiesce with satisfaction;
confiding, that the good sense of our
country will correct the evil of construction
whenever it shall produce ill effects.—
To Wilson C. Nicholas. Washington ed. iv, 505. Ford ed., viii, 247.
(M. Sep. 1803)