The Founding Fathers’ Guide to the Constitution
by Clyde Wilson
The federal constitution ratified by the people of the States provided for a limited government to handle specified joint affairs of the States. The document describes itself not as “the U.S. Constitution” or the “Constitution of the United States,” but as a “Constitution FOR the United States of America.” With this in mind, read what follows in the preamble as the purposes of this instrument: “forming a more perfect Union,” “common defense,” and “general welfare.” Throughout the document “United States” is a plural (the States United) and treason against the United States consists of levying war against THEM.
As clear and simple as these facts are and have always been, grasping them seems to be beyond the abilities of presidents, congresspersons, supreme court justices, and professors of “Constitutional Law” at the most prestigious institutions.
In recent times the abuses of these people (what the Founders would have described as “usurpations” justifying rebellion) have run amuck, distorting an already wounded constitution beyond recognition. Ambition, rent-seeking, willful historical ignorance, deceit, ideology, and the lust for power (which the Founders hoped to guard against) have rendered the real constitution of our forefathers virtually null and void. This has prompted serious citizens to re-expound what the Constitution for the United States is supposed to be. There have been good books in this vein by Professors Thomas Woods, Walter K. Wood, and Kevin Gutzman, and by William J. Watkins and Judge Andrew Napolitano.
The latest contribution to this field is The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution by Professor Brion McClanahan, just published by Regnery History. McClanahan’s treatment of the subject is in many ways the best, a concise, hard hitting constitutional handbook that goes right to the true source of understanding without being diverted by later commentaries and judicial opinions. What the drafters of the Constitution meant is revealed in the first place but not exclusively or even primarily by their discussions and votes, including the ideas that were voted down. (Many of those reappeared later touted as legitimate federal powers.)