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The Men Who Destroyed the Constitution

July 14, 2009
Thomas J. DiLorenzo
7/12/2009

In his 1850 Disquisition on Government, John C. Calhoun argued that a written constitution would never be sufficient to contain the plundering proclivities of a central government. Some mechanisms for assuring consensus among the citizens of the states regarding “federal” laws would be necessary. Consequently, Calhoun proposed giving citizens of the states veto power over federal laws that they believed were unconstitutional (the “concurrent majority”). He also championed the Jeffersonian idea of nullification. To Calhoun (and Jefferson), states’ rights meant that the citizens of the states were sovereign over the central government that they created as their agent, and could only be so if such mechanisms – including the right of secession – existed.

Without these political mechanisms the forces of nationalism, mercantilism, and political plunder would relentlessly reshape the Constitution with their rhetoric, and their efforts would eventually overwhelm the strict constructionists. At that point the Constitution would become a dead letter.

The story continues …..

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