Did James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution and primary author of the Bill of Rights, consider it constitutional for the federal government to operate social programs like Food Stamps, Medicaid, and Social Security?
In the Federalist Papers, a series of essays to convince the states to ratify the U.S. Constitution, James Madison wrote that the "general Welfare" clause of the Constitution applied only to the specific powers listed in it, such as coining money, raising armies, and enacting immigration laws. He also wrote that it would be "an absurdity" to interpret the Constitution in a way that would allow the federal government to create social programs. Likewise, Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers that the Constitution gave the federal government "certain specified powers," not "sweeping" ones beyond those listed in the Constitution. However, less than a year after the last of the states ratified the Constitution, Hamilton began arguing that the "general Welfare" clause gave the federal government wide-ranging powers to create programs other than those listed in the Constitution.
DocumentationConstitutionality of Social Programs