Control over language is power.

As Samuel Adams put it in a 1776 letter to John Pitts, “How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words!”

We’ve seen the “tools” of the monster state do this over and over again to the Constitution. They redefine words in order to expand the power of the federal government.

For instance, they changed “necessary and proper” to merely “convenient.” Thomas Jefferson warned what would happen if this was allowed.

“If such a latitude of construction be allowed to this phrase as to give any non-enumerated power, it will go to everyone, for there is not one which ingenuity may not torture into a convenience in some instance or other, to some one of so long a list of enumerated powers. It would swallow up all the delegated powers, and reduce the whole to one power, as before observed. Therefore it was that the Constitution restrained them to the necessary means, that is to say, to those means without which the grant of power would be nugatory.”

They’ve also redefined “commerce.” In the founding era, commerce was associated almost exclusively with the sort of activities engaged in by merchants. As Rob Natelson noted in his paper “The legal meaning of Commerce in the Commerce Clause,” this included “buying and selling products made by others (and sometimes land), associated finance and financial instruments, navigation and other carriage, and intercourse across jurisdictional lines.” Today, commerce is generally understood as any economic activity at all.

Of course, these more expansive terms lead to more expansive government power.

James Madison said that when it comes to the Constitution, we should resort to the sense in which it was accepted and ratified by the nation. “In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution.”

He went on to warn that if we let government define the meaning of the Constitution based on “the changeable meaning of the words composing it” the “shape and attributes of the Government” will change along with the meaning of those words.

“What a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in its modern sense!”

And that’s exactly how we ended up with the biggest government in history.

Mike Maharrey

The 10th Amendment

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