Like any legal document, the words of the Constitution mean the same thing today as they were understood to mean the moment it was ratified and given legal force.

For some of the text, definitions have changed significantly over time, and using a dictionary from that era is essential.

A commenter on our Facebook page is taking things in the right direction by suggesting this:

However, Bouvier’s wasn’t printed until 1839, much too late to be considered a resource for the framing of the Constitution decades earlier. But the Founders were all quite familiar with Giles Jacob’s law dictionary, which can be found here:

Michael Boldin

The 10th Amendment

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”



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The 10th Amendment

History, meaning, and purpose - the "Foundation of the Constitution."

10th Amendment



Get an overview of the principles, background, and application in history - and today.