- restore the chains of the Constitution.
In his draft of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, Thomas
Jefferson declared, "Free government is founded in
jealousy, and not in confidence; it is jealousy, and not
confidence which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind down
those whom we are obliged
to trust with power." After further noting that the
Constitution had "fixed the limits" of political
power, he concluded, "In questions of power, then, let no
more be heard of confidence in man, but bind
him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
As I have argued in my study of Jefferson's constitutional
thought, this statement nicely sums up the essence of
Jefferson's theory. As a radical Whig who considered government an
inherent threat to liberty, Jefferson respected the
safeguards provided by written constitutions to help keep
government limited to its
proper bounds--and "to bind down from mischief"
the officers of government, especially the president of the
David N. Mayer, "By
the Chains of the Constitution: Separation of Powers Theory and
Jefferson's Conception of the Presidency," Perspectives
on Political Science, Vol. 26, 1997. David N. Mayer
is a professor of law and history at Capital University,
Why Americans should
not trust the government, according to America's Founders.
- Jefferson was wrong.
Why we are not "obliged
to trust" anyone "with
- Government is "an
inherent threat to liberty."
It has no "proper
Samuel Adams said,
"Government is an ordinance of heaven, designed by the
all benevolent Creator."
Become a Christian Anarchist
next: Campaign Finance, Corruption and
the Oath of Office