XVIII. Congressional Authority On Enactment Of Laws

Catechism of the Constitution Book CoverThe Federalist Papers has posted a PDF copy of an Elementary Catechism on the Constitution from 1828 written by Arthur J. Stansbury. I’m publishing it on Mondays in a series of posts. Because the date of publication was 1828, some content has been changed by later Constitutional amendments. There are no sections in the book, so I’m dividing it into any natural breaks of topics and the posts will vary in length. Any emphases within the text are Stansbury’s.

In view of his statements on the “large and general authority” of Congress,” I wanted to reiterate the last two amendments in the Bill of Rights. Here are Amendments IX and X to the Constitution:

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

XVIII. Congressional Authority On Enactment Of Laws

Q. What other power is conferred by the Constitution upon the Congress of the United States?

A. A very large and general authority, ” to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers,” (that is, all the powers of which we have been speaking) ” and all other powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.” Thus, for example, when the Constitution says, that Congress may coin money, that gives Congress power to make all the laws necessary to determine what the coin shall be — how they shall be marked — of what metal they shall be made — what shall be their weight — what shall be their value — where they shall be made — what buildings shall be erected for the purpose — how many persons shall be employed — what their duty shall be — what pay they shall receive — what account they shall keep — what security they shall give, and how they shall be punished if they neglect their duty. It is the same with every other power given by the Constitution; if its execution requires a hundred different laws, Congress may pass them all.

If Mr. Stansbury could see the extent to which Congress has overstepped its constitutional bounds, I can’t help but think he might have moderated his comments and made a few stern warnings about usurpation of power and the decline of liberty.

In the heading under Charters of Freedom, you will find a copy of the Constitution as well as links to other pertinent primary documents and commentary on the Constitution.

Elementary Catechism on the Constitution posts:

Elementary Catechism on the Constitution (Preface)
I. The Necessity of Government and Its Forms
II. The American Revolution
III. The Occasion and Purpose of the Constitution
IV. State and National Laws
V. The House of Representatives
VI. The Senate
VII. Impeachment
VIII. Impeachment of the President & The Rule of Law
IX. Meetings of Congress
X. Members of Congress
XI. The Making of Federal Laws
XII. Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises
XIII. Finance and Commerce
XIV. Courts & International Offences
XV. Declaration of War
XVI. State Militia
XVII. Congressional Governance of Washington, D.C. & Military Facilities
Book image from The Federalist Papers. Other reading formats of the Elementary Catechism on the Constitution can be found here.


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