Madison’s ‘child’ was nearly stillborn

James Madison, often referred to as the “father of the constitution”, nearly killed that child in birthing it. His insistence on three key components of the “Virginia plan” (1) brought the convention to the brink of dissolution. Only Roger Sherman’s alternate suggestion (2) ‘saved the day’.

The information in the footnotes below reveal elements of the deep and divisive discord so often ignored these days in discussions of the constitution. Compare the Madison plan to the Sherman plan in the context of contemporary discussion, and it becomes painfully evident that the “Federalists” won the battle for the meaning of the constitution.

Our constitution today is treated as a guideline for governing — not, as was originally intended, as a document grudgingly creating a federal authority and serving as a document to strictly limit said authority to a ‘minarchial’ role, the bulk of authority resting with the sovereign states whose autonomy predated even the Declaration of Independence.

The rot is so deep and engrained (having spread relentlessly and insidiously for more than 200 years, only recently accelerating its pace) that only the several states can restrain it by exercising their originally intended sovereignty. No branch of the federal government has the ability to do so, nor the willingness, if truth be told. It remains to be seen if the states have the will, demanded by the people and exercised by their governments.

If we, the people, wish to restore the Founders’ vision of liberty, it is up to us to do so at the local, county, and state levels, independent and sovereign from Washington City’s fever swamp on the Potomac.

I doubt that Mr Madison would be comfortable with the monstrosity his federal government has become; I am sure that I am not.


(1) membership in both federal legislative houses determined by population; national legislature having veto power on any state legislation; and — least popular of all — national legislature empowered to legislate whenever it deemed a state incompetent or its legislation “disharmonious”

(2) objects of union strictly limited to only: defense against foreign danger; control of internal disputes and disorders; treaties; foreign commerce and its derived revenue

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