The Phaserl


Constitutional War Powers: A Guard Against Tyranny

by Ben Lewis,

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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1 comment to Constitutional War Powers: A Guard Against Tyranny

  • Glitter 1

    I’m sure that today’s Ivy League Highly Educated Progressive minds will/would dismiss Madison and his contempoaries of being less/inferior educated compared to today’s illuminated.More information/knowledge exists today,perhaps yes.However the defining difference is Wisdom.Knowledge can exist void of wisdom.Wisdom transcends/trumps knowledge.The kind of wisdom that comes from successful experience.The kind of wisdom that is devoid of today’s Government/Leaders.

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