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Constitution of the United States

political, powers, clause and party

CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES, the governing instrument of the United States of America, adopted in 1787, when it took the place of the Articles of Confedera tion. (For details of its adoption see CONSTI TUTION, FRAMING OF THE). Political discussion of the tiind played a much greater part in the compromises of this instrument than its provi sions in turn exerted on political history in the following period, which to a surprising degree may be attached to only two clauses of the instrument and to these two simply because of their vagueness and their mutually contradic tory nature. gection 8 (18) in defining the powers of Congress adds the blanket provision of power, (to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execu tion the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any departtnent or officer thereof? The second historic clause occurs in the Amendments, where Article X reads: ((The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States re spectively, or to the people.3 The former is the famous elastic clause. In this accommoda ing provision interpreted radically, or con servatively, in the light of the Tenth Amend ment all shades of political theory find proof texts for their peculiar doctrines. (So im

mediately upon the formation of the new gov ernment two political parties arose, the Dem , ocratic-Republican party, strict constructionists vorthe elastic clause, who limited the powers of Congress to the minimum and exalted State rights to the maximum, and the Federalist party lin favor of a highly centralized government doing everything possible for and in the States) Around this fundamental difference may be grouped .the great political questions up to and culminating in the Civil War, and to a less degree recent political discussions are based upon the.same variance in interpretation of the Constitution, although neither party now holds to the strict construction theory as it was set forth by the early opponents of the Federalists. This change has been brought about very largely by practical experience of affairs, it being.well known that the foremost strict con structionists who have come to the presidential chair were forced by the exigencies of adminis tration to a broader exposition of the clause. This was notably the case in the administrations of Jefferson and of his immediate lieutenants and successors.

The text of the Constitution follows: