Another GREAT article!
The Constitution enumerates the power of the federal government—but are there authoritative lists of those powers reserved to the states with which the federal government may not interfere?
During the period 1787-1790, while the public was debating whether to adopt the Constitution, the document’s opponents (“Anti-Federalists”) argued that the Constitution would grant the federal government powers so broad that there would be little left for the states.
Supporters of the Constitution responded that, actually, the powers granted the federal government were “few and defined” (Madison), but the states would retain exclusively all other prerogatives of government. Some added that the states’ sphere was so vast, that enumeration of all exclusive state powers was impossible.
Nevertheless, Anti-Federalists continued to insist on knowing the sorts of things that federal officials would not be able to touch. In response, leading spokesmen for the Constitution began to list such items.
Although some of those spokesmen simply provided a few examples, others offered considerable lists. The lists complemented rather than contradicted each other. Some of the longest lists came from the pen of Tench Coxe, a Philadelphia businessman who had served in the Confederation Congress and, in subsequent years, was to become the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury.
Coxe is little-known today, but his essays were among the most influential with the general public, if not the most influential, of all the pro-Constitution writers. His writings were not as extensive as, say, Hamilton, Madison & Jay’s Federalist, but they were much easier to read and may have been more widely distributed. His representations, and similar ones from other pro-Constitution writers, were central to the entire constitutional bargain. [..]
The Snooper Report
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