Blame Jefferson

Gail Chumbley

imagesIn the film A More Perfect Union, James Madison, played by actor Craig Wasson asks Benjamin Franklin, (Fredd Wayne) if the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had good government. Franklin barely takes a breath before replying, “Alas no. It is controlled by one faction or another.” That line–whether authentic or not, seems to resonate in the historic record.

The bloody struggle over slavery, followed later by the violence of the civil rights movement, provides the clearest examples of state governments hiding agendas behind the 10th Amendment, and it’s political progeny–the States’ Rights doctrine.

How did this misunderstanding begin? And why so quickly after the ratification of the tightly-scrutinized Constitution in 1787?  How did controversy emerge almost at once challenging the authority of the Federal Government in relation to the state?

The answer lies in the industrious pen of Virginia Planter, Thomas Jefferson.

Now, whether Mr. Jefferson intended to condemn the nation to…

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