Thomas Jefferson on the Military Draft: “The last of all oppressions”

Sometimes it comes down to the question of what is more important, the rights of individuals or the existence of the nation state? In this case, in the face of serious difficulties faced by the colonists in their war against the British Empire, Jefferson came down on the side of individual liberty.

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Matthew Lyon: The Sedition Act’s First Victim

The freedom of speech is one of the most fundamental rights we possess.  This basic natural right is not contingent upon laws or social traditions.  Essentially, it is nothing short of inalienable and universal between all peoples at all times.  However, in practice, it seldom observed as such.  From the early Tolerance Act of 1689 to current “Free Speech Zones” across American universities, men have tried to quell this freedom.

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George Washington on Political vs Commercial Relations with Foreign Nations

As the military leader of the American Revolution and the country’s first president, Washington is a highly revered figure. His Farewell Address from the office of the President is a timely reminder of a tradition of a non-interventionist American foreign policy which was potent in the early years of the new Republic. This passage comes…

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James Monroe writes to Thomas Jefferson on State vs Federal Governments

Written May 4, 1801 The Writings of James Monroe. Edited by Stanislaus Murray Hamilton. 7 vols. New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1898–1903. There is a subject to which I wish to engage yr. particular attention. Before I came into this office I was of opinion that the correspondence between the Executive of…

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Lessons from the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions

America has had a long tradition of political discourse.  Enough so, that a whole governmental system was developed with strong recognition of our disagreements. Throughout American history, men of great courage stood up for what they thought was right, even when others scorned them. Most notably were the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798 and 1799, respectively.

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Convention of 1787 Debates Scope of Presidential Veto Power

On August 15, 2014, Texas Governor Rick Perry was indicted by a Travis County grand jury for allegedly misusing the veto power granted to him by the state constitution. And on August 15, 1787, it was that very power — the power of the executive to negate acts of the legislature — that occupied the delegates’ time at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

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James Madison: Constitution’s Original Meaning Comes From the People

NOTE: In this letter to Thomas Ritchie on September 15, 1821, James Madison explains how to find the original meaning of the words in the Constitution. That is, through the understanding of those who gave it legal force in their respective state conventions. As a guide in expounding and applying the provisions of the Constitution,…

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Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on the Constitutionality of the Bill for Establishing a National Bank

Hamilton justified the bank by broadly construing the constitutional powers of Congress. Jefferson, however, rejected Hamilton’s argument by claiming that the ratified Constitution created a federal government that was strictly limited in its political and financial power.

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Notes on the Commerce Clause: Madison at the 1787 Convention

CONVENTION OF 1787. Farrand, Max, ed. The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787.

The want of authy. in Congs. to regulate Commerce had produced in Foreign nations particularly G. B. a monopolizing policy injurious to the trade of the U. S. and destructive to their navigation; the imbecility and anticipated dissolution of the Confederacy extinguishg. all apprehensions of a Countervailing policy on the part of the U. States.

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