Quotes on The General Welfare

"The Congress 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;--And

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."

Article I, Section 8
National Archives and Records Administration
September 17, 1787
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"But the idea that Congress can levy taxes at pleasure is false, and the suggestion wholly unsupported. The preamble to the constitution is declaratory of the purposes of our union: and the assumption of any powers not necessary to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, will be unconstitutional, and endanger the existence of Congress. Besides, in the very clause which gives the power of levying duties and taxes, the purposes to which the money shall be appropriated are specified, viz. to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States. For these purposes money must be collected, and the power of collection must be lodged, sooner or later, in a federal head; or the common defence and general welfare must be neglected.

The states in their separate capacity, cannot provide for the common defence; nay in case of a civil war, a state cannot secure its own existence. The only question therefore is, whether it is necessary to unite, and provide for our common defence and general welfare. For this question being once decided in the affirmative, leaves no room to controvert the propriety of constituting a power over the whole United States, adequate to these general purposes."

Noah Webster
The Potowmack Institute
October 10, 1787
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"The objects of the Union among the States, as described in article third, are 'their common defense, security of their liberties, and mutual and general welfare.'

The terms of article eighth are still more identical: 'All charges of war and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the common defense or general welfare, and allowed by the United States in Congress, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury,' etc. A similar language again occurs in article ninth. Construe either of these articles by the rules which would justify the construction put on the new Constitution, and they vest in the existing Congress a power to legislate in all cases whatsoever. But what would have been thought of that assembly, if, attaching themselves to these general expressions, and disregarding the specifications which ascertain and limit their import, they had exercised an unlimited power of providing for the common defense and general welfare? I appeal to the objectors themselves, whether they would in that case have employed the same reasoning in justification of Congress as they now make use of against the convention. How difficult it is for error to escape its own condemnation!"

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"The terms 'general Welfare' were doubtless intended to signify more than was expressed or imported in those which Preceded; otherwise numerous exigencies incident to the affairs of a Nation would have been left without a provision. The phrase is as comprehensive as any that could have been used; because it was not fit that the constitutional authority of the Union, to appropriate its revenues shou'd have been restricted within narrower limits than the 'General Welfare' and because this necessarily embraces a vast variety of particulars, which are susceptible neither of specification nor of definition."

Alexander Hamilton
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"If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their Own hands; they may a point teachers in every state, county, and parish, and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision for the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress; for every object I have mentioned would admit of the application of money, and might be called, if Congress pleased, provisions for the general welfare.
[W]ere the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America."

James Madison
February 7, 1792
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"It has however been often asserted, that the power given to congress to lay taxes is amplified by the words 'to provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States.' This construction is obviously erroneous. These words refer to the destination of the taxes, and are only a reason for the power of taxation. If they convey and power over persons and things, internally or externally, they convey all power over all objects; and under a construction of the latitude contended for the power of taxation, and all the subsequent powers bestowed in the same section, would have been quite superfluous. For, if these words comprise a grant of power to congress, the power is unlimited, and includes both all the specified powers, and also every other power, which in their opinion may be necessary and proper to provide for the common defence and general welfare."

John Taylor
Construction Construed and Constitutions Vindicated
Shepherd and Pollard
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"But, suppose we detach the phrase 'to provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States' from the power of taxation, and consider it as an isolated and distinct grant of power; it will then be necessary to ascertain whose defence and welfare was to be provided for; the defence and welfare of the individuals composing the states, or of the political individuals called states. I think the letter and tenour of the constitution correspond upon this point with perfect perspicuity. 'The United States' are specified as the objects or individuals, whose common defence and general welfare was to be provided for. In the first clause of the constitution the same phrase is used: 'The people of the United States to provide for the common defence and promote the general welfare establish this constitution for the United States of America.' It was not, therefore, a constitution for the government of persons or things generally existing in these United States, but for the government of the states themselves, and in order to promote their common defence and general welfare. The words common and general refer to the objects or political beings, whose defence and welfare was to be provided for, as being in a state of union. And as no state of union or any species of social compact existed among the persons composing the states, inclusively, these words cannot be made to refer to them. They therefore restrain the power of congress to the defence and welfare of the states themselves, instead of enlarging it to include the defence and welfare of private persons."

John Taylor
Construction Construed and Constitutions Vindicated
Shepherd and Pollard
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"The national government ought to be supreme within its constitutional limits, for it is entrusted with the paramount interests and general welfare of the whole nation. Our great and effective security consists in the fact, that the constituents of the general and of the state governments are one and the same people; and the powers of the national government must always be exercised with a due regard to the interest and prosperity of every member of the union; for on the occurrence and good will of the parts, the stability of the whole depends."

James Kent
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"With respect to the words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators. If the words obtained so readily a place in the ‘Articles of Confederation,’ and received so little notice in their admission into the present Constitution, and retained for so long a time a silent place in both, the fairest explanation is, that the words, in the alternative of meaning nothing or meaning everything, had the former meaning taken for granted."

James Madison
Letters and Other Writings of James Madison
April 20, 1831
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"When you authorised Congress to borrow money, and to contract debts, for carrying on the late war, you could not intend to abridge them of the means of paying their engagements, made on your account. You may observe that their future power is confined to provide common defence and general welfare of the United States. If they apply money to any other purposes, they exceed their powers. The people of the United States who pay, are to be judges how far their money is properly applied."

David Ramsey
Pamphlets on the Constitution of the United States, published during its Discussion by the People, 1787-1788
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"History affords us many instances of the ruin of states, by the prosecution of measures ill suited to the temper and genius of their people. The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy... These measures never fail to create great and violent jealousies and animosities between the people favored and the people oppressed; whence a total separation of affections, interests, political obligations, and all manner of connections, by which the whole state is weakened, and perhaps ruined forever!"

Benjamin Franklin
T. MacCoun
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"Since the foundation of the Nation sharp differences of opinion have persisted as to the true interpretation of the phrase. Madison asserted it amounted to no more than a reference to the other powers enumerated in the subsequent clauses of the same section; that, as the United States is a government of limited and enumerated powers, the grant of power to tax and spend for the general national welfare must be confined to the enumerated legislative fields committed to the Congress. In this view the phrase is mere tautology, for taxation and appropriation are or may be necessary incidents of the exercise of any of the enumerated legislative powers. Hamilton, on the other hand, maintained the clause confers a power separate and distinct from those later enumerated, is not restricted in meaning by the grant of them, and Congress consequently has a substantive power to tax and to appropriate, limited only by the requirement that it shall be exercised to provide for the general welfare of the United States. Each contention has had the support of those whose views are entitled to weight. This court has noticed the question, but has never found it necessary to decide which is the true construction. Mr. Justice Story, in his Commentaries, espouses the Hamiltonian position we shall not review the writings of public men and commentators or discuss the legislative practice. Study of all these leads us to conclude that the reading advocated by Mr. Justice Story is the correct one."

U.S. Supreme Court
January 6, 1936
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"If the novel view of the General Welfare Clause now advanced in support of the tax were accepted, that clause would not only enable Congress to supplant the States in the regulation of agriculture and of all other industries as well, but would furnish the means whereby all of the other provisions of the Constitution, sedulously framed to define and limit the power of the United States and preserve the powers of the States, could be broken down, the independence of the individual States obliterated, and the United States converted into a central government exercising uncontrolled police power throughout the Union superseding all local control over local concerns."

U.S. Supreme Court
January 6, 1936
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"Congress may spend money in aid of the 'general welfare.' Constitution, Art. I, section 8; United States v. Butler, 297 U.S. 1, 65; Steward Machine Co. v. Davis, supra. There have been great statesmen in our history who have stood for other views. We will not resurrect the contest. It is now settled by decision. United States v. Butler, supra. The conception of the spending power advocated by Hamilton and strongly reinforced by Story has prevailed over that of Madison, which has not been lacking in adherents. Yet difficulties are left when the power is conceded. The line must still be drawn between one welfare and another, between particular and general. Where this shall be placed cannot be known through a formula in advance of the event. There is a middle ground or certainly a penumbra in which discretion is at large. The discretion, however, is not confided to the courts. The discretion belongs to Congress, unless the choice is clearly wrong, a display of arbitrary power, not an exercise of judgment. This is now familiar law."

U.S. Supreme Court
May 24, 1937
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"According to Crosskey, Madison was duplicitous: Publicly, Madison proclaimed that the General Welfare Clause is merely a synonym for the enumerated powers considered collectively, not an independent source of power. But privately, Madison believed that the General Welfare Clause delegates to the Congress plenary legislative power; that the enumeration of specific powers served simply to allocate and assign governmental functions, establish certain procedural limitations, and illustrate some of the powers deemed to be necessary and proper. This alleged difference between Madison's public and private persona is at the root of the so-called Madisonian contradiction."

Robert A. Levy
The Cato Journal, Vol. 16, No. 1
Cato Institute
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"Article I, Section 8 lists the few -- and only -- powers belonging to the federal government. They include the power to borrow money, regulate commerce with other nations, establish post offices, raise and regulate military forces -- and little else. In contrast, the list of powers the Constitution does not delegate to the federal government is almost limitless, including powers to fund schools, regulate schools, and even require schools to teach about the Constitution."

Neal McCluskey
The American Spectator
September 23, 2005
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"It makes it clear that Congress can use Taxes for regulatory ends, such as protectionism, and not merely to raise revenue, which resolved a rather significant and thorny 18th century dispute about theories of taxation. But the general welfare language is a tag-along qualification to the taxing power, not a stand-alone grant of spending or regulatory authority."

Gary Lawson
First Principles Series
The Heritage Foundation
January 27, 2009
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"The other General Welfare Clause is in the first of the authorities given to the Congress and it's not a grant, it's a restriction. By which I mean it doesn't say Congress can legislate for the general welfare, it means that everything Congress must do has to enhance the general welfare of the United States of America. It can't grant things to individuals, it can only legislate for the government."

Judge Andrew Napolitano
Campaign for Liberty
October 4, 2009
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"Under the Constitution, Congress can exercise its taxing power to provide for the 'general welfare.' It is for Congress, not courts, to decide which taxes are 'conducive to the general welfare,' the Supreme Court said 73 years ago in upholding the Social Security Act."

Robert Pear
The New York Times
July 16, 2010
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"The general welfare clause, quite simply, confers no power -- it just explains why the specific powers that follow it were given."

Neal McCluskey
Cato Institute
December 8, 2010
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"Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power 'to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.' The problem with the Cornhusker Kickback was that the citizens of 49 states would have had to pay for Nebraska's Medicaid exemption — without getting anything in return. The special exemption exceeded Congress's constitutional authority because it did not serve the 'general welfare' — meaning, the welfare of the people of each and every state."

Randy E. Barnett
David G. Oedel
The Wall Street Journal
December 27, 2010
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"The contemporary view is that Congress's power to provide for the 'general Welfare' is a power to spend for virtually anything that Congress itself views as helpful. To be sure, some of the Founders, most notably Alexander Hamilton, supported an expansive spending power during the Constitutional Convention; but such proposals, including an explicit attempt to authorize spending by the federal government for internal improvements, were rejected by the Convention."

John C. Eastman
Constitution Report, #4
The Heritage Foundation
January 13, 2011
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In this article McCluskey lays out the changes in the interpretation of the General Welfare Clause, as well as what a literal interpretation would look like in the modern era. As he points out:

"Article I, Section 8 lists the few -- and only -- powers belonging to the federal government. They include the power to borrow money,...

"Publicly, Madison proclaimed that the General Welfare Clause is merely a synonym for the enumerated powers considered collectively, not an independent source of power."

One of the most publicized and recent uses of the "general welfare" language has been in the passage of the health care bill. Although initially President Obama had declared that it would not result in any new taxes, he'd been forced to recant that position in order to defend its constitutionality under Article I, Section 8.


"If we're going to save this nation for our children, if we're going to be able to leave them even the possibility of a better life than we've had, we must start now and we must start by returning to the actual meaning of the Constitution as it stands in black letters on parchment as the touchstone for all that government is allowed to do -- and more importantly,...

"House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that the individual health insurance mandates included in every health reform bill, which require Americans to have insurance, were 'like paying taxes.' He added that Congress has 'broad authority' to force Americans to purchase other things as well, so long as it was trying to promote 'the general welfare.'


Lawson comments on the growth of power in federal government over time, noting the first encounters with the "general welfare" language post-1788. He namely highlights the Savannah, Georgia fire and Congress' intervention for aid. Since there were no enumerated powers allowing the government to "rebuild a torched city", the legislators had to look through the scope...

"The phrase 'general welfare' appears twice in the Constitution -- first in the preamble (which grants no authority to Congress, but simply states the broad objectives underlying the Constitution), and second in Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 (the "Spending Clause"). Both James Madison and Alexander Hamilton viewed the phrase as a limitation on the spending power, one that was intended to make...

"Like old-growth timber succumbing to a band of lumberjacks, incumbent Democrats in Congress crashed to Earth in record numbers Tuesday night. Where there's been a steady call for politicians to 'do something' about the economy, about jobs, about Wall Street, about the environment, about everything, at least one Congressional district showed that they want '...

"Remember the Cornhusker Kickback? In a frantic effort to move ObamaCare through the Senate last December, the following provision was added to the bill: Nebraska was given a $100 million exemption to cover the costs of the bill's dramatic expansion of Medicaid. The special exemption was ultimately dropped during reconciliation, but not only because of the public...

"Over on the Think Progress blog, Ian Millhiser accuses Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) of never having read the Constitution. His grounds for the accusation? Coburn, citing Jefferson, doesn't think that the Constitution gives the federal government authority to provide such things as Pell Grants and student loans.

This might be a...

In this commentary, Armey argues that the founding fathers envisioned a country with limited government and taxation, submitting that that is not the case today.

"Our Founding Fathers designed a constitutional system based on the rule of law to protect the individual from an overbearing federal government. The government was to...

"We Americans find ourselves faced with the disquieting specter of a five trillion dollar national debt, a sum truly inconceivable. Many economists and politicians tell us this debt portends a disastrous financial collapse in the future and we worry. Once debt free, we are now the largest debtor nation in the world and as we find ourselves on the precipice we are...

"Once President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress have passed a health care reform bill, conservative groups are likely to challenge parts of it as unconstitutional, arguing that it oversteps Congress's powers. A key target will be the individual mandate, which is designed to coax uninsured persons into purchasing insurance.


"Numerous lawmakers embrace a discredited theory of the Constitution that would not only end Medicare outright but also cause countless other cherished programs to be declared unconstitutional. Under this theory, Pell Grants, federal student loans, food stamps, federal disaster relief, Medicaid, income assistance for the poor, and even Social Security must all be eliminated as offensive to the...

"With a reformer's zeal, President Bush is plunging into federally funded faith-based charity. He says it will be less costly and more effective than programs run by government bureaucrats. Probably so. But apart from the dispute over separation of church and state, there's a compelling constitutional case against federal welfare programs, no matter who administers...

"When Members of the 112th Congress took the oath of office just over a month ago, the leaders of the House brought new meaning to their duty to 'support and defend the Constitution.' As promised in their 'Pledge to America,' they passed a rule requiring members to cite the specific constitutional authority in each bill they propose. In passing the Constitutional...

This article addresses state-constitutional challenges to the recently passed healthcare overhaul bill. The piece displays the arguments over whether the mandate is legal under the "general welfare" clause and if the resistance of the states holds legal water.

"Americans are beginning to question the constitutionality of proposed programs such as government run health care. In response to these challenges, a misinterpretation of the 'General Welfare' clause seems to be the common support for such Federal programs. This article examines what the General Welfare clause actually means."

"The commitment to promote the general welfare of all persons, as opposed to protecting the interests of a narrow section or class of the population, encapsulates what is most unique about the United States of America--that it is the only modern nation-state republic founded on this principle."

Chart or Graph

This graph shows that the looser interpretations of "general welfare" has brought about larger government.

Analysis Report White Paper

The only reason that Constitution Day is not greeted with contempt is that most Americans are totally ignorant about the framers' vision in writing our Constitution. Let's examine that vision to see how much faith and allegiance today's Americans give to the U.S. Constitution.

Perhaps no other clause in the Constitution generated as much debate among the Founders as the 'Spending Clause'—the first of the 18 powers granted to Congress under Article I, Section 8.

This paper analyzes the history of the "General Welfare" Clause and the power growth in government over time. It highlights key battles, opinions and moments in history with regards to the clause and enumerated powers.

This Article explores the fiduciary law of the founding generation to determine whether it was part of the constitutional design for the Judiciary to review special interest appropriations, and, if so, how the courts might proceed.

Our first presidents approached spending bills very differently. The first question they usually asked was, 'Is this spending constitutional?' Only if the answer was yes would they then ask if it was wise, if it would benefit the nation, or if it would gain votes.

Our modern regulatory and redistributive state--the state the Framers sought explicitly to prohibit--has arisen largely since 1937, and primarily through just two clauses in the Constitution, the commerce clause and the general welfare clause, respectively.

This report analyzes the differences between the two Constitutions of the North and the South, also reporting on the elimination of the "General Welfare" Clause. The Southern drafters thought the general welfare clause was an open door for any type of government intervention.

In sum, then, it is most unlikely that the makers of the Constitution would have chosen the phrase, 'general welfare,' to authorize the federal government to provide what they understood to be poor relief.

Professor Natelson examines the original understanding of the "'General Welfare Clause'—the Constitutional clause generally held to support federal spending programs and their associated requirements.

"Starting in 2014, the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, P.L. 111-148) will require most U.S. residents to purchase health insurance or pay a financial 'penalty' to the government. This provision, popularly called the individual mandate, is the linchpin of some of the PPACA's most significant reforms."

This report highlights the New Deal's primary opponents on the left and their constitutional qualms with the legislation. The analysis provided shows that opposition or support for government expansion for the "general welfare" isn't necessarily partisan.

The growth of government has politicized life and weakened the nation' moral fabric. Government intervention—in the economy, in the community, and in society—has increased the payoff from political action and reduced the scope of private action.

Adams discusses the history of American sentiments towards taxation before and after the signing of the Constitution, also elaborating on the restrictions of the General Welfare clause.

"Even the staunchest free trader might reluctantly concede that the apparatus of protectionism—tariffs, import quotas, and anti-dumping duties—is constitutional because clause 3 of Article I, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution delegates to Congress 'power...to regulate commerce with foreign nations...'"

From the moment you get up in the morning until the close of the day, and from the day you are born until the day you die, the Federal government intrudes upon virtually every aspect of your life. The Founding Fathers had a very different philosophy about the proper role of government.


In this lecture, Woods describes the problems of designing welfare programs without problematic consequences, and the socially detrimental outcomes that many of the Great Society programs have produced.

In this modern era the line between information, art and technology continue to blur. Utilizing the most cutting-edge statistics, Bachman provides a comprehensive budget analysis in poster format.

In Federalist No. 41, Madison addresses both the concerns of explosive military spending and federal spending (under the general...

"There has recently been a resurgence in support of the 10th Amendment by the 'Tenthers' in the recent wave of government expansions, especially with the recent passage of the healthcare overhaul. Roger Pilon gives a brief history of what the Constitution was originally intended to accomplish, and how that paradigm changed in the 1930s. Since the New Deal the...

"Probably the most misunderstood clause in the Constitution is the General Welfare clause. Once again, we use logic to determine the meaning of the clause and how it should be properly applied."

This video is part of a question and answer session with Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, senior judicial analyst for Fox News and host of the television program, Freedom Watch, on the Fox Business Network. 

If you fast-forward to the 1:16 mark in this video, Judge Napolitano provides a very succinct explanation of...

"Down on the boardwalk, we interview a few young Americans to find out what they know about the Constitution of the United States. Can you answer the questions? Does it matter?"

"We ask moms on the street what they know about the Constitution. Can you answer the questions? Does it matter?"

Primary Document

In this treatise on the Constitution, David Ramsey provides his own interpretation of the General Welfare, clashing with the view held by men such as Alexander Hamilton.

"When you authorised Congress to borrow money, and to contract debts, for carrying on the late war, you could not intend to abridge them of the means of paying...

Noah Webster examines the roots of the Federal Constitution. He cites virtue as one of the most important factors.

This treatise, originally published anonymously, indirectly expounds on Noah Webster's view of Congressional power in regards to the General Welfare. Webster says,

"Every person, capable of reading, must discover, that the convention have labored to draw the line between the federal and provincial powers—to define the powers of...

This Supreme Court case ruled that election campaign contributions are a protected form of free speech, however, the court also said that spending limits on political campaigns are indeed constitutional.

This case is significant because the Supreme Court summed up the modern understanding of the General Welfare clause in its...

James Kent was an American legal scholar. Widely popular, his Commentaries consist of a series of lectures on the history of law, the American Constitution, federal and municipal law, and laws concerning persons and property.

Thomas Paine shows the common understanding of the term General Welfare. In Paine's list of rights, the phrase, "General Welfare" is paired with the phrase "Public Needs," implying that the two phrases are conceptually linked. During the time period of the writing of the Constitution, it was understood that General Welfare referred solely to the welfare of the...

In this paper, which would later be assembled in The Federalist Papers, Madison explains to the Constitutional Opponents that the "General Welfare Clause" does not provide an unrestrained, vast reservoir of power for Congress. He shows that in that case there would be no need for a commerce clause or interstate...

From the Social Security Administration's "Background to the Case":

"The fact that workers contribute to the Social Security program's funding through a dedicated payroll tax establishes a unique connection between those tax payments and future benefits. More so than general federal income taxes can be said to...

"I herewith return without approval Senate bill No. 139, entitled 'An act to credit and pay to the several States and Territories and the District of Columbia all moneys collected under the direct tax levied by the act of Congress approved August 5, 1861.'"

"Any doubt remaining after Butler as to the scope of the General Welfare Clause was dispelled a year later in Helvering. There the Court defended the constitutionality of the 1935 Social Security Act, requiring only that welfare spending be for the common benefit as distinguished from some mere local purpose. Justice Benjamin Cardozo...

A letter from James Madison which discusses the General Welfare clause of the Constitution.

"In short, sir, without going farther into the subject. Which I should not have here touched at all but for the reasons already mentioned, I venture to declare it as my opinion, that, were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited government established...

In the 12th chapter of the book, Construction Construed and Constitutions Vindicated, John Taylor outlines his opinions and constitutional views regarding the General Welfare and the Congressional power to regulate Commerce.

Hamilton argues that "general Welfare" in the Constitution provides for an expansion beyond the enumerated powers.

"The terms 'general Welfare' were doubtless intended to signify more than was expressed or imported in those which Preceded; otherwise numerous exigencies incident to the affairs of a Nation would have...

This document provides unique insight into American constitutional views in the 19th century, having fully eliminated the "General Welfare" Clause and any language referring to "General Welfare." Many anti-federalists and especially those in the south believed that the "ticking-time-bomb" of the Clause would eventually lead to further infringements by the federal...

"The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution is a five-volume collection compiled by Jonathan Elliot in the mid-nineteenth century. The volumes remain the best source for materials about the national government's transitional period between the closing of the Constitutional Convention in September 1787 and the opening of the First Federal Congress...

"The Federalist Papers were a series of articles written under the pen name of Publius by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. Madison, widely recognized as the Father of the Constitution, would later go on to become President of the United States. Jay would become the first Chief Justice of the US...

"This enumerated power allegedly allows federal regulation of markets because the Preamble to the Constitution reads, in part 'We the people of the United States, in order to ... promote the general welfare ... do ordain and establish this Constitution' and because Article I Section 8 has similar language also in the initial paragraph of that section.


The Constitution of the United States established the federal governmental system currently in place with three branches of government. The premise of executive privilege developed from the separation of powers clause.

"This pamphlet was first published anonymously in London, in the year 1760. At that time the war with France was about coming to a close, and the politicians were fruitful in their speculations on the terms of peace, particularly after Canada had fallen into the hands of the British, by the brilliant victory of Wolfe at Quebec. It was a question much discussed, whether Canada should be...

"In Butler, the Court struck down the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which taxed processors in order to pay farmers to reduce production. Although invalidating the statute, the Court adopted the Hamiltonian view (almost in passing) that the General Welfare Clause is a separate grant of congressional authority, linked to and qualified by the spending power...