THE SWEEPING CLAUSE

“The sweeping clause, [Necessary and Proper] as it is called, is much dreaded. I find that I differ from several gentlemen on this point. This formidable clause does not in the least increase the powers of Congress. It is only inserted for greater cautions and to prevent the possibility of encroaching upon the powers of Congress. No sophistry will be permitted to be used to explain away any of those powers; nor can they possibly assume any other power, but what is contained in the Constitution, without absolute usurpation. Another security is that, if they attempt such a usurpation, the influence of the state governments will nip it in the bud of hope. I know this government will be cautiously watched. The smallest assumption of power will be sounded in alarm to the people, and followed b

y bold and active opposition. I hope that my countrymen will keep guard against every arrogation of power. I shall take notice of what the honorable gentleman said with respect to the power to provide for the general welfare. The meaning of this clause has been perverted, to alarm our apprehensions. The whole clause has not been read together. It enables Congress “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.” The plain and obvious meaning of this is, that no more duties, taxes, imposts, and excises, shall be laid, than are sufficient to pay the debts, and provide for the common defence and general welfare, of the United States.”
~ Gov. Edmond Randolph

Source: Virginia Ratifying Convention – 10 June, 1788
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