Thomas Jefferson Viewed the Constitution as a Contract Between the States

Editor’s Note: Where did D.C. come from? The parties to the contract, known as the Constitution for the United States of America, are the individual states. Neither the federal government, nor the people, as comprising one nation, are a party to the agreement between the several States. Be sure to research how the Federal Corporation is usurping the powers of the people AND the states!

“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.” Patrick Henry

The Price of Liberty In his draft of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, Thomas Jefferson also construed the Constitution as a compact between the several States:

Thomas Jefferson Viewed the Constitution as A Contract Between the States; Neither the Federal Govt. nor the people are a Party to It.

Thomas Jefferson Viewed the Constitution as A Contract Between the States; Neither the Federal Govt. nor the people are a Party to It.

“The several states composing the United States of America are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but…by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes [and] delegated to that government certain definite powers,…and…whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force…To this compact each state acceded as a state, and is an integral party, its co-states forming, as to itself, the other party…”

“The government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself, since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution the measure of its powers…”

Jefferson provided a simple overview of the nature of Constitution and the character of the federal government. As noted by Jefferson, the federal government was created by the States, and as such, is the States’ government.

Jefferson also noted that the federal government and its courts are not the final arbitrator of the Constitution or the extent of the powers delegated to the federal government. Since the Constitution is a compact between the several States, and the federal government is not a party, but the result of that compact, it has no constitutional power to define the extent of the powers delegated to itself. Thus, contrary to popular belief, the federal courts do not have the lawful authority to interpret the Constitution or define the extent of the powers delegated to the federal government. Only the individual States, as the exclusive parties to the compact between themselves, possess that power. Otherwise, the Constitution would be meaningless as a written document, because, as stated by Jefferson, judicial discretion would replace the Constitution as the measure of the federal government’s power.

The Constitution, as stated above, is a compact, or in modern terminology, a contract. Black’s Law Dictionary, the definitive legal dictionary of the twentieth century defines a compact as:

An agreement; a contract. Usually applied to conventions between nations or sovereign states.

The Constitution, as discussed previously, was established by a federal convention of sovereign States. The parties to the contract, known as the Constitution for the United States of America, are the individual States. Neither the federal government, nor the people, as comprising one nation, are a party to the agreement between the several States.

It is a fundamental principle of contract law that a contract cannot be applied or enforced against any entity or individual that is not a party to the contract. Since the American people are not a party to the contract, and have no direct voice in the amendment of that contract, the federal government cannot have any general legislative authority over the people of the several States.

“The Constitution was ordained and established by the people of the United States for themselves, for their own government, and not for the government of the individual States. Each State established a constitution for itself, and in that constitution provided such limitations and restrictions on the powers of its particular government as its judgment dictated. The people of the United States framed such a government for the United States as they supposed best adapted to their situation and best calculated to promote their interests.” [Barron v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore. 32 U.S. 243]

Americans, just like Alice in Wonderland, have gone "Through the Looking Glass!"

Americans, just like Alice in Wonderland, have gone “Through the Looking Glass!”

“But indeed, no person has a right to complain, by suit in Court, on the ground of a breech of the Constitution. The Constitution, it is true, is a compact (contract), but he is not a party to it. The States are a party to it…” (emphasis added). [Padelford, Fay & Co. vs. The Mayor and Alderman of the City of Savannah, 14 Ga. 438 (1854)]

2 thoughts on “Thomas Jefferson Viewed the Constitution as a Contract Between the States

  1. I concur that the UNITED STATES is a compact between the States, which comprise the people as a body politic. I do not however concur on the assertion that people can not be named a party to an action without their consent. I would argue that they can not be named without Notice.

    This is called an “ex parte” action.

    Given notice and time to respond, anyone can be named without their consent. If you do not respond within the time frame outlined by the notice, you acquiesce. At which point, a judgment can be filed against you by default.

    Things have changed a lot since Jefferson’s time.

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