Today in History: James Madison’s Veto of Infrastructure Spending in the Bonus Bill of 1817

On Mar. 1817, President James Madison vetoed the Bonus Bill of 1817 – a plan that called for the federal construction of various roads, bridges, and canals throughout the country. In a letter to Congress, the president explained his rationale. Out of all historical writings on constitutional interpretation, I believe it stands today as one of the most important.


“But nullification isn’t listed in the Constitution!”

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Every once in awhile, someone tells us, “The Constitution doesn’t say anything about nullification. That means states simply can’t do it.”

But they’ve got things totally backwards.


Four Steps Toward Following Jefferson and Madison Today

From the beginning of our history, there have been many people such as Nathaniel Bacon, Tomas Jefferson, James Madison, President John Tyler, John Calhoun, John Taylor of Caroline and the Richmond junto who have championed the idea of nullification. Today, we look back through time and wonder how we can follow in the footsteps of those people even with this monstrous national government that’s grown exponentially since constitutional debates of 1787.