by Ben Lewis, TenthAmendmentCenter.com:
In 1787, amidst a sweltering Philadelphia summer and equally heated debates over the proposed constitution, James Madison warned his fellow delegates of the danger that giving the president the power to declare war would pose to liberty. On June 29th of that year Madison took the floor and said, “Constant apprehension of war, has the…tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.”
With these words Madison stated what the founding generation knew: that military might is more often used for the aggrandizement of power of the few than the protection of liberties of the many. For this reason the writers of the Constitution placed the ability to declare war, in Madison’s words, “fully and exclusively…in the legislature.”
This was a departure from the British system in which, as Alexander Hamilton noted, the king had the authority of “the declaring of war and the raising and the regulating of fleets and armies.”
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