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Article I, Section 8, ConstitutionBold emphasis are the sections added, or changed, after the debates on the original Constitution draft in the 1787 Convention.
The Congress¹ shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
--- end Constitution, as ratified ---
Bold Items from the original draft of the Constitution deleted or significantly changed after debate:
- The Legislature¹ shall...
- To appoint a Treasurer by ballot;
- To subdue a rebellion in any State, on the application of its legislature;
I previously posted/linked the details of the survey of the western lands which ownership by the new federal Union was a major part of the Treaty of Paris which ended the Revolutionary War - the surveys being necessary before the sections of lands could be sold to investors/settlers in order to pay down the debts incurred by the individual States, and by the Continental Congress under the Articles of Federation. The States had taxing authority to redeem their debts but the federal Continental Congress did not!
The enormity of the debts is best seen by converting the value into today's terms:
- $11.7 million owed by congress to foreign bankers, primarily in France and Holland, is $2.4 trillion in today's dollars.
- $25.1 million owed by states to individual citizens and continental bankers would be $5.1 trillion today.
- $42.4 million owed by congress to individual citizens and continental bankers would be $8.7 trillion today.
- $200 million "fiat" Continental Currency issued by congress under the Articles of Federation would be $41 trillion today.
Already there were armed tax "rebellions" bordering on revolution in local areas of some of the states, as they taxed their residents to redeem their war debts (Shay's Rebellion in Massachesetts had erupted before the debates on the proposed new Constitution were begun).
The "worthless as a Continental" currency was rapidly losing value in the marketplaces in the new states (and later in 1790 devaluated by Congress for redemption at 1/40th of face value!); and the state and federal debts were being bought up by speculators for as little as 10¢ on the dollar!
That is the economic situation post-Revolutionary War, and is the underpinnings which explain the various positions of the debates, whose links I've been posting.
That is the economic situation which mandated the constitutional provisions in the new federal government to be involved in every aspect of regulating "the economy"; collecting taxes, duties, imposts, excises to pay the trillions of dollars (today's computation) of debts while providing for the common defence and general Welfare.
And going into debt for the same purposes; common defence with armies and navies, and general welfare.
And regulating commerce domestic and foreign.
And coining and establishing the value of money, and regulating bankrupcies to insure that the value is retained - likewise defending against counterfeiting.
And building roads and promoting science and arts.
Also it is most important to recall that the arguments about suffrage - who will be empowered to vote for whom in state and federal elections - come from the mouths of the elites of that time. Only 4% of the U.S. population of 4,000,000+ ended up voting for/against the ratification of the Constitution once it was finalized and amended during the 1787 debates; and less than 25% of the adult white males in the states voted - the remainder of them excluded because they didn't own property.
The confederation under the Articles was in dire financial straits, and only a strong central federal government's financial policies and actions could solve the problem while simultaneously supporting and stimulating the private sector economies.
Once the Revolution was over the "ad hoc" confederation that fought the Brits and won could easily have reverted to the individual States - some of which had already redeemed their debts, but at the expense of the workers and farmers who didn't have a vote in taxing policy.
The need to solve the economic problems was the greatest pressure to form a Union or United States.