The Founders vs. Libertarians: They aren’t allies.

It is truly a wonder that so many Americans who call themselves libertarians hold the founding fathers and the constitution in such high regard, even sacred reservoirs. A simple review of history demonstrates that the founders who supported the ratification of the constitution were the Federalists like Hamilton, Washington, Adams, Jay, etc. The most significant tenant of their political platform, in fact the reason they existed as a distinguishable party, is because they saw a strong central government as essential for the survival of the nation. The federalists also viewed the constitution as a document that could be interpreted broadly and with “elasticity,” in order that future generations would not be bound by the confines of the laws necessary in their own (the founder’s) era. Remarkably, this view favoring broad interpretation and the principle of elasticity is not similar to the view held by most libertarians and “constitutionalists” today, just the opposite. Most libertarians/constitutionalists support a strict adherence to the constitution as it was written, and have the gull to suggest that anything otherwise is in violation of the founder’s (which ones?)  intentions for the document. That would be true for founder’s like Jefferson, but here it is critical to remember that Jefferson opposed the ratification of the constitution in the first place! It was only afterwards that Jefferson adopted the ideals of “strict construction” in which the constitution must be viewed literally and without room for elasticity. It would be just wonderful, if the folks who claim to stand with our founders would truly do that and support a strong central government and a loose construction view of interpreting the constitution. Those of you who consider yourselves “dedicated constitutionalists” and people who support “liberty over order” should really begin to consider that your view of history may be skewed, your understanding of the founder’s opinions could be tainted, and the alliances you find in history are illegitimate. Do you really stand with the founders that supported the ratification of the constitution? “Constitutions should consist only of general provisions; the reason is that they must necessarily be permanent, and that they cannot calculate for the possible change of things. And furthermore, why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of man will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.”- Alexander Hamilton
*This is merely an introduction to what will become several posts against what the author believes to be the most volatile, destructive, and bewilderingly popular political movement in modern American history.

3 thoughts on “The Founders vs. Libertarians: They aren’t allies.

  1. Could you point me to where Jefferson opposed ratification? I thought he wanted term limits for the president and a Bill of Rights.

    I couldn’t be called a fan of the constitution, but it seems that the best way to have an understanding of what founders were agreeing to would be to read what supporters said during the ratifying debates in the states.

  2. Tom Jeff was a dedicated anti-federalist:
    I hope the link is helpful. If you’re able, purchasing the American Pageant would be terrific–it’s the textbook that most of my knowledge of American history was learned from, well written and scholarly. Term limits for the president was something not even discussed until much later than Jefferson, and he did indeed support a bill of rights. Actually, the bill of rights, also known as the first ten amendments to the constitution, was instituted as a means of appeasing the fears of the anti-federalists that this new governing document (the constitution) was far to empowering to the few over the many.

    1. In a letter to Francis Hopkinson, Jefferson said he was neither a Federalist nor an Anti-Federalist. But he said was “much farther from that of the Antifederalists,” adding that he “disapproved also the perpetual reeligibility of the President.”

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