The main idea of the United States Constitution, which was ratified in 1788, was to limit the powers of the...
The main idea of the United States Constitution, which was ratified in 1788, was to limit the powers of the federal government. For the first time in history the powers of a national government were limited to a list of enumerated powers. Article I, section 8 lists these powers, for example, to coin money, to issue patents, to declare war, to support an army and navy.
A Bill of Rights was added at the insistence of those who feared federal power. The Bill of Rights was considered an iron-clad guarantee that the federal government would not expand its powers beyond those listed in article I, section 8. The Tenth Amendment in the Bill of Rights provides that any powers not specifically delegated to the United States are reserved to the states and to the people.
Limiting the powers of the federal government to a list of specific powers is known as the Doctrine of Enumerated Powers. By limiting the powers of the federal and state governments, the founding fathers created the freest and most capitalistic country to ever exist in the world. Many Americans do not realize what a radical idea the Constitution was. For the first time in history a government was established which guaranteed property rights and which limited the powers of the government to specific, enumerated powers.
The economic results of creating the world's freest country would transform the world. Inventions in the fields of agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, communication and medicine would increase the wealth and productivity of the world more than all the inventions in prior history. For 150 years, from 1788 to 1937, the Supreme Court limited the powers of the federal government to those enumerated in the Constitution. The Tenth Amendment was enforced as written and as originally intended, reserving all powers not specifically granted to the federal government to the states and to the people.