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James Madison And Thomas
Jefferson On States Rights


James Madison spoke for the Founders when he said, "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects as war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberty and prosperity of the state."

The Founders wanted it understood that people, not government, are the source of all such power. As Thomas Jefferson noted: "The way to have good and safe government is not to trust it all to one, but divide it among the many, distributing to everyone exactly the function he is competent to. Let the national government be entrusted with the defense of the nation and its foreign and federal relations; the state governments with the civil rights, laws, police and administration of what concerns the state generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties; and each ward direct the interests within itself.

It is by dividing and subdividing these republics from the great national one down through all its subordinations until it ends in the administration of every man's farm by himself, by placing under everyone what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best."

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