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John Dickinson

John Dickinson

John Dickinson was a prominent political figure and Founding Father of the United States. He was born in Maryland in 1732 and studied at the College of Philadelphia before embarking on a career in law and politics.

Dickinson was a delegate to both the First and Second Continental Congresses and was a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. However, despite his many contributions to American history, Dickinson is often overlooked when compared to his more famous contemporaries. In this article, we will delve into the life and legacy of John Dickinson.

One of the reasons Dickinson is often overlooked is his political views. While he supported American independence and signed the Declaration of Independence, he was also a conservative politician who strongly opposed violence and believed in a more gradual approach to achieving independence.

In 1765, Dickinson’s opposition to the Stamp Act, which imposed taxes on printed materials in the American colonies, gained him national attention. He wrote a series of essays entitled “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania,” which argued that the taxes imposed by Britain were unconstitutional. These letters helped rally and unite the colonies against the British government.

Despite his opposition to violence as a means of achieving independence, Dickinson was actively involved in the war effort. During the American Revolution, he served in the Continental Army and helped draft several important documents, including the Articles of Confederation. He later served as the President of Delaware and helped draft the 1792 Delaware Constitution.

However, Dickinson’s greatest legacy may be his work on the U.S. Constitution. He played a significant role in the drafting of the Constitution and was one of the principal authors of the Constitution’s preamble. He also authored a series of essays called “The Federalist” in support of the Constitution’s ratification, which are credited with helping to convince many Americans to support the document.

In addition to his political contributions, Dickinson was also a successful lawyer and businessman and was involved in several philanthropic causes throughout his life.

In conclusion, John Dickinson was a Founding Father of the United States who made significant contributions to American history. He was a skilled writer and politician who helped inspire the colonies to unite against British tyranny, served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution, and played an instrumental role in the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. While he is often overlooked in discussions of the Founding Fathers, Dickinson’s legacy is an important part of American history and should not be forgotten.

Founding Father: John Dickinson

John Dickinson was born on November 8, 1732, in Talbot County, Maryland. He lived as a political pamphleteer and a statesman. His well off family owned a lot of land in both Maryland and Delaware. John Dickinson was homeschooled until the age of 18 when he started studying law. When he was 21, John Dickinson traveled to London for four years to conclude his legal training. He then came back to Philadelphia where he opened up a law office that eventually earned a very good reputation.

John Dickinson began his political career in 1759 as a member of the Delaware Assembly and eventually also the speaker. In 1762, John Dickinson won the election to the Pennsylvania Assembly, where his very conservative views clashed with the beliefs of Benjamin Franklin. The two of them engaged in a pamphlet war, which resulted in Benjamin Franklin’s removal from the Assembly while John Dickinson remained. Dickinson continued his public career during the Stamp Act Congress of 1765. Here, Dickinson was given the task of writing the Declaration of Rights and Grievances. He served as a very large player in the American Revolution by encouraging citizens of America to disregard certain laws like the Stamp Act.

In 1765, Dickinson published a pamphlet called The Late Regulations Respecting the British Colonies. Here, John pamphlet, Dickinson argued that Britain and the colonies would be affected greatly by trade regulations and that America’s trade should become independent. Next, he wrote an Address to the Committee of Correspondence in Barbados, accusing them of ignoring basic human rights.

John Dickinson’s most famous work was Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, which was published in the Pennsylvania Chronicle. This work was first printed on December 2, 1767, after Parliament’s threatening acts after the Stamp Act. It received positive feedback and was reprinted in 19 other newspapers throughout the colonies. They were also circulated in London and Paris, bringing American grievances onto the international stage. John Dickinson addressed the Quartering Act of 1765, Restraining Act of 1766, and Townshend Duties of 1767. While the acts were not appealed immediately, the letters still helped to instigate revolt in Americans.

John Dickinson married Mary Norris of Philadelphia in 1770, with whom he had five children with. John Dickinson continued being a member of the Pennsylvania assembly while writing against British taxes. John Dickinson also joined the First Continental Congress in October 1774, where he helped draft the Declaration of Rights and Grievances.

Dickinson was also a part of the Second Continental Congress in May 1775. In June, he prepared the final draft of the “Declaration of the Causes & Necessity of Taking Up Arms.” However, he tried to stay conservative by opposing extreme action by the colonies. Dickinson opposed the Declaration of Independence and in 1776, voted against it in, which hurt his popularity. Soon after, he retired from the Pennsylvania Assembly.

John Dickinson moved with his family to Delaware where he became a Delaware representative for Congress in February 1779. In November 1781, he also became President of Delaware, despite voting against himself for the seat. He resigned in December 1782 from this position upon running for President of Pennsylvania. He received strong opposition with his return to Pennsylvania due to his conservative views. He served as President of Pennsylvania for three years, which were plagued with political disputes and economic issues. In October 1785, Dickinson returned to Wilmington, Delaware with his family.

John Dickinson continued his public career as a representative in 1787 to the Constitutional Convention. He attempted to protect the representation of smaller states while favoring a strong central government. This became his last big event in public office as his health started to fail. John Dickinson died on February 14, 1808, in Wilmington, Delaware, and was buried in the Wilmington Friends Meetinghouse Burial Ground.

Elbridge Gerry

Elbridge Gerry

Elbridge Gerry was a Founding Father of the United States who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution. He was born in 1744 in Marblehead, Massachusetts and had a long and distinguished political career.

Early years and Political Involvement:

Elbridge Gerry began his political career in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1772, where he quickly became known as an advocate for colonial rights and liberties. In 1775, he was appointed to the Provincial Congress, where he played an important role in organizing the state’s military forces.

In 1776, Gerry was elected to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia and was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He continued to serve in Congress until 1780, and was a strong supporter of the Patriot cause.

Constitutional Convention:

In 1787, Gerry was chosen as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. He was initially skeptical of the proposed Constitution, and was concerned that it gave too much power to the central government at the expense of the states.

However, Gerry eventually supported the Constitution, after amendments were added that ensured the protection of individual rights. He was one of only three delegates who refused to sign the final document, however, as he felt that it did not provide enough protection for individual liberties.

Role in Politics:

After the ratification of the Constitution, Gerry served as a member of the House of Representatives from 1789 to 1793. He returned to politics in 1801, when he was appointed Vice President of the United States under President Thomas Jefferson.

Gerry served as Vice President for just over a year before his death in November 1814. In that short time, however, he played an important role in the development of American politics, and was remembered as a brilliant statesman who was deeply committed to the ideals of democracy and political fairness.

His Legacy:

Elbridge Gerry is remembered as one of the most important and influential Founding Fathers of the United States. He played a key role in the development of American political institutions, and was a strong advocate for individual rights and liberties.

Despite his initial skepticism of the Constitution, he ultimately supported its adoption, and played a key role in ensuring that it protected the rights of all citizens. His legacy continues to inspire citizens and leaders around the world, and his contributions continue to shape the United States more than two centuries after his death.

Founding Fathers: Elbridge Gerry

Elbridge Gerry was born in on July 14, 1744, at Marblehead, MA, as the third of twelve children. Elbridge Gerry’s mother was the daughter of a merchant in Boston. His father was a politically active and wealthy merchant-shipper who had previously been a sea captain.

After attending Harvard College at the age of 14 and graduating in 1762, Elbridge Gerry joined his two brothers and father in the family business of exporting dried codfish to Spain and Barbados.

He was elected the colonial legislature, the General Court of Massachusetts from 1772 to 1774, where he came under the Samuel Adam’s influence, and took part in the Massachusetts and Marblehead committees of correspondence. After the British Parliament closed the Boston harbor in June 1774, Marblehead, Massachusetts became an important port of entry for goods that were donated by patriots throughout the other colonies to help support Bostonians. Elbridge Gerry was involved in transporting these supplies.

From 1774 to 1776 Elbridge Gerry attended both the first and second provincial congresses. There, he served with John Hancock and Samuel Adams on the council of safety and, and acted as chairman of the committee of supply where he raised troops and considered military logistics.

On April 18, 1775, Elbridge Gerry attended a meeting at an inn in Menotom, between Cambridge and Lexington, for the council of safety. Here he barely escaped the British troops that were marching on Lexington and Concord.

In 1776, Elbridge Gerry entered the Continental Congress, where his specialties were financial and military matters. Both in Congress and throughout his political career, Elbridge Gerry’s actions often appeared very contradictory. Elbridge Gerry earned the nickname “soldiers’ friend” due to his strong advocacy of better equipment and pay, yet he often hesitated on the issue of soldier pensions. Despite his strong disapproval of standing armies, Elbridge Gerry recommended long-term enlistments.

Until 1779, Elbridge Gerry sat on and sometimes even presided over the congressional board which regulated the Continental Congress’ finances. After a dispute over the price schedule for suppliers, Elbridge Gerry, who also a supplier, walked right out of Congress. Although he was nominally a member, Elbridge Gerry did not reappear for three years. During the interim, Elbridge Gerry engaged in trade and was a member of the lower house of the Massachusetts legislature.

From 1783 to 1785, Elbridge Gerry was a representative in Congress, where he was one of many who had a gift as a Revolutionary agitator and a wartime leader. However, he could not effectively handle the difficult task of stabilizing the federal government. He was conscientious and experienced but made many enemies due to lack of humor, obsessive fear of military and political tyranny, and suspicion in others. In 1786, a year after Elbridge Gerry left Congress, he retired from business. Elbridge Gerry married Ann Thompson and became a member of the state legislature.

Elbridge Gerry was one of the most vocal delegates during the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Gerry presided as chairman of the committee that made the Great Compromise, even though he personally did not like the compromise itself. Elbridge Gerry antagonized almost everyone by his inconsistency and, according to one colleague, objected to practically everything that he did not propose.

While Elbridge Gerry was first an advocate of a good strong central government, he ultimately refused and rejected to sign the Constitution because it did not include a bill of rights and because he felt it was a threat to republicanism. Elbridge Gerry led the drive against the ratification of the Constitution in Massachusetts and said that the document was full of vices. Among these vices, he pointed out inadequate representation of the people of the state, dangerously unclear legislative powers, the mixing of the legislative and executive branch, and the potentially oppressive judiciary.

Elbridge Gerry did see some potential in the Constitution, and he believed that the flaws could be fixed through amendments. After he declared his intention to support the new Constitution, Elbridge Gerry was elected to the First Congress in 1789 where he championed many Federalist policies.

Elbridge Gerry left Congress for the last very time in 1793 and retired for four years after. During this time, he came to distrust the plans of the Federalists, particularly their attempts to form an alliance with Great Britain. Because of this, he sided with the pro-French Democratic-Republicans. President John Adams appointed him in 1797 as the only non-Federalist of a three-man commission that was charged with negotiating some sort of reconciliation with France, whom the United States was on the brink of war with.

During this affair from 1797 to 1798, Elbridge Gerry hurt his reputation. The French foreign minister, Talleyrand, led Gerry to believe that his presence in France could prevent war, and he stayed in France for a bit more after the departure of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and John Marshall, the other two other members of the commission. Finally, the embarrassed President Adams recalled Gerry, and Gerry received severe censure from the Federalists after his return.

Elbridge Gerry met his defeat in four bids for the Massachusetts governorship due to his aristocratic haughtiness between 1800 to 1803. However, he somehow finally managed to triumph in 1810. Around the end of his two terms, the Democratic-Republicans who were scarred by a partisan controversy passed a redistricting law that ensured their domination in the state senate. In response to this law, the Federalists placed all the ridicule on Gerry and coined the term “gerrymander” as a way to describe one of the restricted areas, which was shaped like a salamander.

Despite his age, frail health, and a threat of poverty due to the neglect of his personal affairs, Elbridge Gerry served as the Vice President in 1813 under President James Madison. On November 23, 1814, Elbridge Gerry collapsed on his way to the Senate and died at the age of 70. His wife, who lived until 1849, was the last widow of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Elbridge Gerry is buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC.

James Wilson

James Wilson

James Wilson: Founding Father and Supreme Court Justice

James Wilson was a founding father of the United States, a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, and one of the original Supreme Court Justices. Wilson played a significant role in the formation of the United States legal system, contributing to the development of both the American legal code and the concept of judicial review.

Early Life and Education

James Wilson was born in Scotland in 1742. He immigrated to the American colonies in 1765 and settled in Philadelphia, where he studied law under John Dickinson. Wilson was admitted to the bar in 1767 and quickly established himself as a prominent lawyer in Philadelphia.

Role in the American Revolution

Wilson was an early supporter of the American Revolution and became involved in the patriot cause in the early 1770s. In 1774, he participated in the First Continental Congress and helped to draft the Continental Association, which called for a boycott of British goods.

Wilson was a signer of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and played a role in drafting the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776. He also served as a colonel in the Continental Army during the revolution.

Contributions to the United States Constitution

After the war, Wilson played a significant role in the development of the United States legal system. He was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and was one of the primary authors of the United States Constitution.

Wilson is credited with developing the concept of popular sovereignty, which holds that the power of government derives from the consent of the governed. He also argued in favor of a strong federal government, proposing the creation of a single executive and a bicameral legislature.

Wilson’s contributions to the Constitution were significant, and his ideas were influential in shaping the document that would serve as the foundation of the United States government.

Role in the Supreme Court

In 1789, President George Washington appointed Wilson to the first United States Supreme Court. Wilson served as a member of the court from 1789 until 1798.

As a Supreme Court Justice, Wilson continued to be an advocate for a strong federal government. He also contributed to the development of the American legal system, writing several important decisions that helped to establish the role of the Supreme Court in interpreting the Constitution.

One of Wilson’s most significant contributions to the legal system was his concept of judicial review. In 1790, he argued that it was the role of the Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of laws passed by Congress. This idea was later embraced by Chief Justice John Marshall and has become a fundamental principle of American constitutional law.


James Wilson’s contributions to the American legal system were significant and far-reaching. His ideas and writings helped to shape the United States Constitution, and his contributions to the development of the Supreme Court continue to influence the American legal system today.

Despite his important contributions to the founding of the United States, Wilson is not as well-known as some of his fellow founding fathers. However, his influence on the American legal system is undeniable, and his legacy continues to be felt in the country’s legal system more than 200 years after his death.


James Wilson was a founding father of the United States, a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, and a Supreme Court Justice. His contributions to the development of the American legal system were significant and far-reaching. Today, Wilson is remembered as one of the architects of the United States legal system, a visionary who helped to shape the country’s laws and institutions during its early years.

James Wilson was born on September 14, 1742, at Carskerdo, Fife, Scotland near St. Andrews, Scotland. Here, he received his education at many different universities including St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Edinburgh without receiving a degree. Instilled with the ideas from the Scottish Enlightenment, James Wilson then moved to America, during the tensions of the Stamp Act in 1765.

Early the next year, James Wilson accepted a position at the College of Philadelphia as a Latin tutor with the help of very valuable letters of introduction. James Wilson petitioned the college to give him a degree, and several months later he was awarded an honorary Master of Arts. Afterward, he left to read the law under John Dickenson. After studying for two years, he was admitted to the Philadelphia bar in 1767. The next year, James Wilson set up his own law practice in Reading, Pennsylvania. This office was very successful and he was able to earn a small fortune. Two years after, James Wilson moved westward to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a Scotch-Irish settlement. Then afterward, he got married to Rachel Bird with whom he had six children.

James Wilson specialized in land law and he was able to build up a broad clientele. He also began to speculate in the land by using borrowed capital. He also started to lecture about English literature at the College of Philadelphia as well.

James Wilson soon became very involved in Revolutionary politics. In 1774, he became the chairman of the Carlisle committee of correspondence, went to the very first provincial assembly, and published the “Considerations on the Nature & Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament”. This writing was heavily circulated in both England and America, establishing James Wilson as a Whig leader in America.

The next year, James Wilson was elected to the provincial assembly as well as the Continental Congress, where he mainly sat on the committee for military and Indian affairs. In 1776, James Wilson joined the moderates in Congress due to the wishes of his constituents and voted for a 3-week delay in looking at Richard Henry Lee’s resolution for independence on June 7. However, on the July 1 and 2 ballots, James Wilson voted in the affirmative for independence and signed the Declaration of Independence on the same day.

James Wilson’s strong opposition to the 1776 Republican Pennsylvania constitution, besides showing a switch to conservative views on his part, resulted in his removal from Congress the next year. In order to avoid the talk among his frontier constituents, James Wilson went to Annapolis for the winter of 1777 and 1778 and then went back to live in Philadelphia.

James Wilson confirmed his new political stance by identifying closely with the conservative and aristocratic republican groups, which multiplied his business interests, and accelerated his land speculation. James Wilson also took a seat as Advocate General for France in America between 1779 and 1783, where he dealt with maritime and commercial matters and defended Loyalists and their sympathizers in legal matters.

In fall 1779, during a time of food shortages and inflation, a mob of people which included militiamen led by radical constitutionalists, went out to attack the republican leadership. James Wilson was one of the prime targets of this attack. James Wilson as well as around 35 of his colleagues closed themselves in his home at Walnut and Third Streets, known after as “Fort Wilson.” During a short skirmish, many people on both sides were wounded or killed. The shock of the situation cooled sentiments and pardons were given all around, though there were many major political battles regarding the commonwealth constitution yet to come.

In 1781, Congress appointed James Wilson as one of the directors of the newly founded Bank of North America, which was created by the legal client and close associate Robert Morris. In 1782, when the conservatives had regained a little of their political power, James Wilson was re-elected to Congress, where he served between 1785 and 1787.

James Wilson reached the highlight of his career in the 1787 Constitutional Convention, where his influence over the delegates was only second only to that of Madison. James Wilson rarely missed a session and sat on the Committee of Detail and applied his impeccable knowledge of political theory to many convention problems. Gouverneur Morris was the only person at the Constitutional Convention to give more speeches.

That same year James Wilson overcame powerful opposition and led Pennsylvania for ratification, making the state the second one to oppose the Constitution. The new commonwealth constitution, which was drafted in 1789 to 1790 along the lines of the United States Constitution, was mainly Wilson’s work and represented the purpose of his 14-year fight against the 1776 Constitution.

For his services in helping form the federal government, President Washington named James Wilson as an associate justice in 1789, although James Wilson expected to be named Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. That same year, James Wilson was also chosen as the very first law professor at the College of Philadelphia. Two years later, he started an official digest of the Pennsylvania laws, a project Wilson never finished, although he carried on for a short time after his funds ran out.

James Wilson, who only wrote a couple of opinions in the Supreme Court, did not achieve the success in the Court that his abilities and experience promised. During those years, James Wilson found himself being at the center of much criticism and he only barely escaped impeachment form the court. He tried to influence the ratification of law in Pennsylvania that was favorable to land speculators.

From 1792 to 1795 James Wilson also made large, unwise land investments in Pennsylvania and Western New York, along with in Georgia. These mistakes did not deter him from creating a grandiose but ill-fated plan, involving large sums of European capital, of recruiting European colonists and settling them in the West. Meantime, as a widower with six children, James Wilson remarried to Hannah Gray in 1793. They only had one son who died in infancy.

Four years later, James Wilson moved from Philadelphia to Burlington, New Jersey in an attempt to avoid arrest due to his debt. The next year, while on federal circuit court business, James Wilson arrived at Edenton, North Carolina, in a state of acute mental distress and was moved into the home of James Iredell, another associate Supreme Court justice. James Wilson died there within a few months on August 28, 1798, at the age of 55. Although he was first buried near Edenton at the Hayes Plantation, his remains were later moved to the Christ Church in Philadelphia.

John Witherspoon

John Witherspoon

John Witherspoon was a Scottish-American Presbyterian minister, educator, and founding father of the United States. Witherspoon was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and served as the sixth president of the College of New Jersey (now known as Princeton University). In this article, we will explore the life and legacy of John Witherspoon.

Early Life and Education

John Witherspoon was born on February 5, 1723, in East Lothian, Scotland. He was the youngest child of Reverend James Alexander Witherspoon, a minister in the Church of Scotland, and Anne Walker. Witherspoon received his early education in Scotland and attended the University of Edinburgh, where he earned a Master of Arts in 1739 at the age of 16.

Ministry and Education

After completing his education, Witherspoon began his ministry in the Church of Scotland. In 1745, he was appointed minister of the Beith Parish in Ayrshire, Scotland. During his time as a minister, Witherspoon became interested in education and began to focus on improving schools and teaching methods.

In 1768, Witherspoon was offered the position of president of the College of New Jersey, which he accepted. He moved his family to New Jersey and began his tenure as president in August of that year. Witherspoon worked tirelessly to improve the College of New Jersey and expand its curriculum. Under his leadership, the college became one of the most respected institutions of higher learning in the United States.

Political Career and Legacy

Witherspoon was a vocal supporter of American independence and was elected to the Continental Congress in 1776. He served on several committees, including the committee responsible for drafting the Declaration of Independence. Witherspoon was one of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence and was the only clergyman to sign the document.

After serving in Congress, Witherspoon returned to the College of New Jersey. He continued to lead the college for another 15 years, until his death in 1794. Witherspoon’s legacy as a teacher and educator extended far beyond his time at the college. His emphasis on classical education and his commitment to improving teaching methods influenced generations of educators and helped to shape the future of education in the United States.


John Witherspoon was a remarkable individual who made significant contributions to the founding of the United States and to education in America. As a minister, educator, and leader, he set an example of excellence and commitment to public service that remains an inspiration today. Witherspoon’s legacy continues to be felt in the education system and in the ongoing struggle for freedom and democracy.

John Witherspoon was born near Edinburgh, Scotland on February 5, 1723, into a ministerial family. He went to the University of Edinburgh at the age of 13 and got his Master of Arts in 1739 and his degree in divinity 4 years after. John Witherspoon married Elizabeth Montgomery and had ten children with her, but only five of them survived.

President of the College of New Jersey

In 1766, John Witherspoon was offered the job of being President at the College of New Jersey. He and his family moved to America in August 1768. As a college administrator, John Witherspoon was very successful. He helped get more additions to the library but pressuring trustees to buy more while adding the most modern scientific equipment for the school. He also encouraged professors to teach more mathematics and science, and he could also personally teach French to anyone who wanted to learn. As the American colonies got closer and closer to the Revolution, John Witherspoon promoted literary exercise and public speaking on current events to help create civil leaders for the next generation.

Political Activities of John Witherspoon

The American Revolution forced John Witherspoon to put less focus on academics. Students were forced to evacuate and Nassau Hall, one of the building halls, was damaged by colonial and British troops. John Witherspoon was also drafted into many political duties. HE was involved in New Jersey committees of correspondence, and he also signed the Declaration of Independence and served on over a hundred congressional committees. Two important ones included the Committee on Secret Correspondence and the Board of War. Witherspoon took a very active role in the debates regarding the Articles of Confederation. He also helped Set up the executive branch and created instructions for the American peace commissioners.

Although Witherspoon was often away from the college, leaving Samuel Stanhope Smith, his son-in-law, in charge, the institution was never very far from his thoughts. While John Witherspoon was in Congress, he complained about how the value currency was dropping, which was hurting many institutions. He then received a large grant from Congress to help pay for damages to Nassau Hall. He also fought for military deferments for teachers and students, which would allow them to stay in school. When John Witherspoon returned in 1782 to full-time teaching, the college was in much better condition, although it was never fully fixed during Witherspoon’s lifetime.

The rest of Witherspoon’s years were spent helping rebuild the college. Witherspoon lost an eye on a fundraising trip to Great Britain in 1784, and by 1792 he was completely blind. When his wife died, 68-year-old John Witherspoon married a young widow of 24, who he had two daughters. On November 15, 1794, died at his farm near Princeton.

Fun Facts about John Witherspoon

• Benjamin Rush would affection call John Witherspoon “our old Scotch Sachem,”

• John Witherspoon was a former president of the College of New Jersey, which later became Princeton University.

• He was in prison briefly after a battle in Scotland.

• John Witherspoon is an ancestor of the actress Reese Witherspoon.

Right to Privacy

Right to Privacy

The right to privacy is the ability of an individual to keep their personal information and private life out of the public domain. The principle of privacy is essential to human dignity and the protection of our autonomy, dignity, and personal identity. It is a fundamental right that has been recognized by the Constitution of many countries around the world.

The right to privacy is essential for protecting human rights, democracy, and personal freedom. It allows individuals to live their lives without fear of being monitored or surveilled by others. At the same time, it is essential to strike a balance between the right to privacy and the need to protect national security, public safety, and law enforcement.

The concept of privacy has become increasingly complex with the advancement of technology and the rise of the internet. Our personal information is now stored online, and we leave digital footprints of our every move on social media and other online platforms. This has made it more challenging to protect our personal information and ensure that our privacy is respected.

The Right to Privacy and the Law

The right to privacy is a fundamental human right, and it is recognized by international treaties and many countries’ Constitutions. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right to privacy in Article 12, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights further elaborates on the right to privacy in Article 17.

At the same time, different countries have different laws and regulations when it comes to privacy. In the United States, for example, the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. This has been interpreted by the courts to include the right to privacy.

In Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) became enforceable in 2018. The GDPR is a set of regulations that protect EU citizens’ privacy rights and set out rules about how personal data can be collected, processed, and stored. These rules apply to any organization that processes the personal data of EU citizens, regardless of where the organization is located.

In India, the right to privacy was upheld as a fundamental right by the Supreme Court in 2017. This decision was a significant milestone in the country’s history and affirmed citizens’ right to personal autonomy and individual freedom. The right to privacy in India is now protected under Article 21 of the Constitution and is enforced by the courts.

Data Protection and Privacy Regulations

Data protection and privacy regulations are essential for ensuring that individuals’ personal information is protected and that their privacy rights are respected. These regulations set out rules for collecting, using, and storing personal data and are designed to prevent the misuse of personal information.

The GDPR is one of the most comprehensive data protection regulations in the world. It requires organizations to gain consent from individuals before collecting their personal data and gives individuals the right to know what data is being collected, who is collecting it, and how it is being used. They also have the right to request that their data be deleted.

In the United States, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets out regulations for protecting individuals’ healthcare information. The regulations require healthcare providers to obtain written consent before disclosing protected health information and ensure that healthcare information is kept secure.

Privacy concerns have also arisen with the development of new technologies such as facial recognition technology and artificial intelligence. These technologies have the potential to infringe on individuals’ privacy and personal autonomy. Regulations are needed to ensure that these technologies are being used in ethical and responsible ways.

The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age

In recent years, the right to privacy has become increasingly complex with the rise of the internet and new technologies. The digital age has brought many benefits, but it has also made it easier for governments, corporations, and individuals to monitor and surveil people’s online activities.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018 brought the issue of privacy to the forefront of public consciousness. The scandal involved a political consulting firm harvesting data from millions of Facebook profiles without users’ consent. This highlighted the need for greater transparency and accountability when it comes to collecting and using personal data.

The rise of social media has also raised concerns about online privacy. Social media platforms collect a vast amount of personal data, including our likes, dislikes, and our social connections. This data can be used to target advertising and influence our behavior. It is important to ensure that individuals’ privacy rights are respected when it comes to social media platforms.

The Future of Privacy

The right to privacy is essential for protecting human dignity and our autonomy. It is essential to strike a balance between privacy and national security, public safety, and law enforcement. The advancement of technology and the rise of the internet have made it more challenging to protect our personal information and ensure that our privacy is respected.

Privacy regulations, such as the GDPR, are essential for protecting our privacy rights. However, technology is continually changing, and it is essential to ensure that regulations keep up with these changes.

In the future, privacy regulations must balance protecting individuals’ privacy rights with allowing for innovation and economic growth. The rise of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and facial recognition technology will require innovative solutions to ensure that privacy is protected while promoting innovation and growth. 

In conclusion, the right to privacy is a fundamental human right that is essential for protecting our autonomy and personal identity. Privacy regulations such as the GDPR and HIPAA are essential for ensuring that our personal information is protected. The rise of the internet and new technologies has made it more challenging to protect our personal information and ensure that our privacy is respected. It is essential to strike a balance between privacy and national security, public safety, and law enforcement. The future of privacy requires innovative solutions that balance protecting individuals’ privacy rights with allowing for innovation and economic growth.

Right to Privacy in the United States

The United States Constitution does not contain any explicit right to privacy. However, The Bill of Rights expresses the concerns of James Madison along with other framers of the Constitution for protecting certain aspects of privacy.

For example, the first amendment allows the privacy of beliefs, the third amendment protects the privacy of the home against any demands to be used to house soldiers, the fourth amendment protects the privacy of a person and possessions from unreasonable searches, and the 5th Amendment gives the privacy of personal information through preventing self-incrimination.

Furthermore, the 9th Amendment says that the enumeration of certain rights as found in the Bill of Rights cannot deny other rights of the people. While this is a vague statement, court precedent has said that the 9th amendment is a way to justify looking at the Bill of Rights as a way to protect the right to privacy in a specific way not given in the first 8 amendments.

The issue of whether the Constitution actually protects the right to privacy in ways not described in the Bill of Rights is a controversial subject. Originalists often argue that there is no general right to privacy within the constitution. However, as early as 1923 the Supreme Court, recognized through decisions, that the liberty given in the 14th amendment guarantees a relatively broad right of privacy in regards to procreation, child-rearing, marriage, and medical treatment termination.

Two decisions by the Supreme Court during the 1920s solidified this view of the 14th amendment. They found the liberty clause of the 14th amendment to prohibit the states from trying to interfere with the private decisions of parents and educators when shaping the children’s education. During the case Meyer v Nebraska in 1923, the Supreme Court said that a state law that did not allow the teaching of German or other foreign languages to students before the ninth grade was unconstitutional.

The issue of the right to privacy regained momentum in the 1960s during Griswold v Connecticut where the Supreme Court said that the state law prohibiting the sale, distribution, possession, and contraceptives to couples who were married was unconstitutional. There were different reasons for this based on the judge, whether it was the gray area of the law or the zone of privacy created by the Bill of Rights.

In 1969, the court ruled on Stanley v Georgia in a unanimous decision staying that an individual had the right to privacy to have and watch pornography, even if the pornography could potentially be the basis for any prosecution against the distributor or manufacturer. The opinion stated that the State could not tell a person who was in his own home what he movies he could watch or what books he could read.

More recently, the Supreme Court has acknowledged the right to privacy. For example, in the 1990 case Cruzan v Missouri Department of Health, the Court found that individuals had the right to make their own decisions about terminating medical treatments that were life-prolonging. Another case was Lawrence v Texas in 2003 where a sodomy law in Texas that prohibited homosexual sodomy was struck down by the Supreme Court.

An Overview of the 24th Amendment – Simplified & Explained

An Overview of the 24th Amendment

The 24th Amendment: Ensuring Equal Voting Rights for All Americans


The 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution stands as a testament to the nation’s ongoing commitment to expanding and safeguarding the right to vote for all citizens, regardless of their economic status. Enacted on January 23, 1964, the amendment abolished the poll tax, a regressive and discriminatory practice that had long hindered the exercise of voting rights, especially among African Americans in the southern states. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the history, significance, and impact of the 24th Amendment, exploring its roots in the struggle for voting rights and its lasting effects on American democracy.

  1. Historical Context and the Poll Tax
  1. The Legacy of Voting Discrimination

The 24th Amendment was born out of the broader civil rights movement that sought to dismantle institutionalized racial discrimination. African Americans and other minority groups faced systemic barriers to voting, including poll taxes, literacy tests, and other discriminatory practices. These tactics effectively suppressed the political power of minority communities, especially in the southern states.

  1. The Poll Tax as a Tool of Disenfranchisement

Among these discriminatory practices, the poll tax stood as a particularly effective means of disenfranchisement. The poll tax required citizens to pay a fee in order to vote in federal elections. This fee disproportionately affected lower-income individuals and marginalized communities, making it a powerful tool for limiting the political influence of the economically disadvantaged.

  1. Early Efforts to Combat the Poll Tax

Efforts to eliminate the poll tax began long before the 24th Amendment’s passage. Organizations like the NAACP and civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks actively campaigned against this discriminatory practice. Litigation and advocacy were critical in challenging the legality and constitutionality of the poll tax.

  1. The Road to the 24th Amendment
  1. Congressional Action

In the early 1960s, as the civil rights movement gained momentum, the poll tax came under increasing scrutiny. Congress took up the cause, recognizing the need to address this barrier to voting rights. In August 1962, the House of Representatives passed a resolution proposing the 24th Amendment to the states for ratification.

  1. State Ratification Process

The amendment’s journey to becoming law required ratification by three-fourths of the states, as outlined in Article V of the Constitution. This process was not without its challenges, as it involved intense political debates in state legislatures, particularly in the South, where opposition to the amendment was fierce.

  1. Ratification and the Amendment’s Passage

Despite the opposition, the 24th Amendment was ultimately ratified by the required number of states. It officially became part of the Constitution on January 23, 1964. This momentous achievement marked a significant milestone in the ongoing fight for civil rights and equal voting rights for all Americans.

III. The Impact of the 24th Amendment

  1. Immediate Repercussions

The passage of the 24th Amendment had immediate and far-reaching effects. It outlawed the use of the poll tax in federal elections, ensuring that no American citizen would be denied their right to vote based on their economic status. This was a pivotal victory for civil rights activists and a major step towards dismantling voter suppression tactics.

  1. Influence on Subsequent Legislation

The 24th Amendment set a powerful precedent for further legislation aimed at protecting voting rights. It laid the groundwork for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which aimed to eliminate other discriminatory practices such as literacy tests and racial gerrymandering. The amendment’s success served as a rallying point for advocates of equal voting rights, inspiring further legal and political action.

  1. Contemporary Relevance
  1. Challenges to Voting Rights

While the 24th Amendment represented a significant victory, challenges to voting rights persist in contemporary America. Efforts to restrict voting access, such as voter ID laws and voter purges, have sparked debates over the extent to which such practices may disenfranchise marginalized communities.

  1. Voting as a Fundamental Right

The 24th Amendment, as well as subsequent voting rights legislation, underscores the idea that voting is a fundamental right of citizenship. It is a cornerstone of democracy, allowing citizens to have a say in their government and the policies that affect their lives. This perspective highlights the enduring importance of protecting and expanding access to the ballot box.

  1. Conclusion

The 24th Amendment’s abolition of the poll tax was a pivotal moment in the ongoing struggle for equal voting rights in the United States. It was a clear statement that the economic status of a citizen should never be a barrier to their participation in the democratic process. While progress has been made, the fight for voting rights continues today. The 24th Amendment serves as a reminder of the power of collective action, advocacy, and the enduring commitment to justice and equality for all Americans. It stands as a testament to the principle that every voice should be heard and every vote should count, ensuring a stronger, more inclusive democracy for generations to come.

24th Amendment Overview

The 24th amendment is one of the most significant amendments in the US Constitution. It was ratified on January 23, 1964, and it prohibits poll taxes in federal elections. This amendment transformed the voting rights of millions of Americans and remains an important part of the ongoing struggle for civil rights in the United States.

Before the 24th amendment, several southern states used poll taxes to disenfranchise African Americans and other minority groups. A poll tax is a tax that must be paid in order to vote, which made it difficult for poor Americans to vote. Poll taxes first became widespread in the late 19th century and were used primarily by southern states to keep African Americans from voting. Many of these states implemented poll taxes as part of the Jim Crow laws that were designed to segregate and discriminate against African Americans.

The idea behind the poll tax was that if someone couldn’t pay the tax, they weren’t entitled to vote. This was an effective way to keep African Americans from voting, as they were often too poor to pay the tax and were therefore effectively shut out of the political process. This system of poll taxes was a powerful way to entrench the power of the white political establishment and keep minority groups from having a say in their own governance.

In 1962, the United States Supreme Court declared poll taxes unconstitutional in state elections in a case called Baker v. Carr. Two years later, the 24th amendment was ratified, which effectively extended the prohibition of poll taxes to federal elections. This meant that no longer could local and state governments use poll taxes to impede certain groups from voting. The 24th amendment was passed with overwhelming support from both Democrats and Republicans, reflecting a growing shift in the country away from discriminatory policies and towards a more equitable and fair democratic process.

The 24th amendment had a significant impact on civil rights in the United States. By removing poll taxes as a barrier to voting, millions of Americans who were previously disenfranchised were now able to participate in the democratic process. African Americans, in particular, were able to gain more political power and influence, which helped to address many of the injustices they experienced as a result of the Jim Crow laws.

The 24th amendment also had implications for the broader civil rights movement. It was part of a larger push towards greater equality and justice for minority groups in the United States. The amendment was one of several important milestones in the fight for civil rights, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which provided further protections against discriminatory voting practices.

Beyond its immediate impact on voting rights, the 24th amendment also had long-term effects on the political landscape of the United States. It helped to open the door for more diverse representation in government and gave marginalized communities a voice in the political process. Over time, this has led to the election of more diverse and representative leaders at the local, state, and federal levels.

However, the legacy of the 24th amendment remains unfinished. While it removed a significant barrier to voting, there are still many challenges facing minority communities in the United States. Voter suppression, gerrymandering, and other tactics are still used to dilute the political power of minority communities and prevent them from having their voices heard. Despite the progress that has been made, there is still a long way to go in the fight for true equality and justice for all Americans.

In conclusion, the 24th amendment is one of the most important amendments in the US Constitution. By prohibiting poll taxes in federal elections, it removed one of the most effective tools of voter disenfranchisement and helped to give minority communities a voice in the democratic process. It was a major milestone in the fight for civil rights and had long-term impacts on the political landscape of the United States. While there is still much work to be done to achieve true equality and justice for all Americans, the 24th amendment remains a powerful symbol of the ongoing struggle for civil rights in the United States.

What is the 24th Amendment?

“Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

The 24th Amendment Defined

Date Proposed

The 24th Amendment was proposed on August 27th, 1962

Date Passed

The 24th Amendment was passed on January 23rd, 1964

President of the United States

Lyndon B. Johnson was the President of the United States during the ratification of the 24th Amendment

Stipulations of the 24th Amendment

The 24th Amendment expresses the inability of a Federal or State government to deny a citizen of the United States the right to vote as a result of failure to satisfy the required payments of a poll tax

The poll tax was a tax that was prevalent within Southern states; as its name suggests, a poll tax was instituted in order to validate an individual’s right to vote subsequent to the payment of the tax; poll taxes were typically instituted with regard to specific races and socioeconomic classes in lieu of institution based on property and possessions

The 24th Amendment eliminated applicable Grandfather Clauses, legal exploitation, and prejudicial examinations with regard to the classification of the individuals required to satisfy a poll tax payment in order to retain the right to vote

24th Amendment Facts

The poll tax was deemed unconstitutional in 1966; the Supreme Court had deemed that it was in direct violation of the protection clause passed in the 14th Amendment

Virginia, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi were the only states to enforce a poll tax at the time of the ratification of the 24th Amendment; many lobbyists suspected the poll tax of further disenfranchising African Americans and prospective Northern sympathizers through the enforcement of contingency-based suffrage

John F. Kennedy had expressed an interest in eliminating the poll tax during his presidency

States Ratifying the 24th Amendment:

1. Alabama

2. Alaska

3. California

4. Colorado

5. Connecticut

6. Delaware

7. Florida

8. Hawaii

9. Idaho

10. Illinois

11. Indiana

12. Iowa

13. Kansas

14. Kentucky

15. Maine

16. Maryland

17. Massachusetts

18. Michigan

19. Minnesota

20. Missouri

21. Montana

22. Nebraska

23. Nevada

24. New Hampshire

25. New Jersey

26. New Mexico

27. New York

28. North Carolina

29. North Dakota

30. Ohio

31. Oregon

32. Pennsylvania

33. Rhode Island

34. South Dakota

35. Tennessee

36. Texas

37. Utah

38. Vermont

39. Virginia

40. Washington

41. West Virginia

42. Wisconsin

States Not Participatory in the Ratification of the 24th Amendment:

1. Arizona

2. Arkansas

3. Georgia

4. Louisiana

5. Mississippi

6. Oklahoma

7. South Carolina

8. Wyoming

Court Cases Associated with the 24th Amendment

Breedlove v. Suttles (1937) – this court case validated the legality of the poll tax, expressing that individual states were permitted to regulate the suffrage policies within their respective jurisdiction

Harper v. Virginia Board of elections (1966) – this court case overturned an individual state’s ability to regulate suffrage policies; as a result of this decision, the poll tax was deemed to be unconstitutional

States Rights

States Rights

States’ Rights in the United States: A Comprehensive History and Analysis

Since the founding of the United States, the issue of states’ rights has been a constant source of debate. At its core, the issue is whether individual states have the right to govern themselves or whether the federal government has the power to override state laws and regulations. This debate has played out in many ways over the years, from the fight over slavery and the Civil War to the current battles over issues like healthcare and immigration.

The concept of states’ rights is closely linked to the idea of federalism, which is the idea that power should be distributed between the federal government and the states. In the United States, this principle is enshrined in the Constitution, which outlines the powers of the federal government and reserves all other powers to the states or the people.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the history of states’ rights in the United States, examining how this issue has impacted the country and the ways in which different political groups have sought to assert their views on the topic.

Origins of the States’ Rights Debate

The debate over states’ rights began before the United States was even formed, as the colonies that would later become the states began to resist British attempts to exert greater control over them. After the American Revolution, this resistance continued as the new United States struggled to find a balance between the power of the federal government and the rights of individual states.

The issue of states’ rights came to a head in the early 19th century when the United States was expanding westward and new states were being admitted to the Union. Many of these new states were dealing with issues related to slavery, and the federal government was struggling to find a way to address this issue without infringing on states’ rights.

The Missouri Compromise of 1820 attempted to resolve this issue by allowing Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state while allowing Maine to enter as a free state, and by drawing a line across the country along which slavery would be allowed in some states but not in others. However, this compromise did not fully resolve the issue of states’ rights, and tensions continued to escalate over the coming decades.

The Civil War and the Issue of States’ Rights

The issue of states’ rights was a major factor in the outbreak of the Civil War, which began in 1861. The Confederate states, which seceded from the Union, cited states’ rights as a major reason for their decision to secede and form their own country.

At the heart of the conflict was the issue of slavery. The southern states believed that they had the right to govern themselves and to decide whether or not to allow slavery within their borders. The federal government, led by President Abraham Lincoln, believed that the Union had the power to override state laws and regulations in order to abolish slavery and preserve the country.

The Civil War was a devastating conflict that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans and left the country deeply divided. In the aftermath of the war, Reconstruction efforts aimed to restore the power of the federal government and to ensure that the rights of African Americans were protected. However, many white southerners continued to resist these efforts, leading to further conflict and tension in the years to come.

States’ Rights in the 20th Century

In the early 20th century, the issue of states’ rights began to take on new dimensions as the country faced a range of new challenges. One of the most significant of these challenges was the Great Depression, which led to widespread economic hardship and raised questions about the role of the federal government in addressing these issues.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented a range of programs and policies aimed at addressing the economic crisis, but many of these efforts were met with resistance from conservative politicians who believed that the federal government was overstepping its bounds and infringing on states’ rights.

In the years that followed, the issue of states’ rights continued to be a source of contention as the country dealt with a range of issues related to civil rights, the environment, and other major policy areas. At times, the federal government was able to assert its authority and implement new policies in these areas, while at other times, states were able to push back and maintain their own laws and regulations.

Recent Developments in States’ Rights

In recent years, the issue of states’ rights has taken on new importance in a number of areas. One of the most significant of these areas is healthcare, where the federal government has sought to implement new regulations and policies aimed at reforming the healthcare system.

Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the federal government sought to implement a range of new regulations and policies aimed at expanding access to healthcare and reducing costs. However, many conservative politicians and states have pushed back against these efforts, arguing that they represent an infringement on states’ rights.

Another major issue related to states’ rights is immigration, where the federal government has sought to implement new policies aimed at controlling the flow of people into the country. However, many states and localities have resisted these efforts, implementing their own policies and regulations aimed at protecting immigrants and ensuring that they are treated fairly.

Other recent developments related to states’ rights include the legalization of marijuana in some states, which has led to conflicts with federal drug laws, and the expansion of voting rights, where some states have implemented new laws and regulations aimed at restricting access to the ballot box.


The issue of states’ rights has been a constant source of debate and conflict in the United States, from the colonial era to the present day. While the country has made significant progress in addressing a range of issues related to civil rights, healthcare, and other major policy areas, the issue of states’ rights remains a contentious and important one.

As the country continues to grapple with new challenges and opportunities, it is likely that the issue of states’ rights will continue to be a source of debate and tension. However, by working together at the federal, state, and local levels, Americans can continue to address these issues and build a stronger, more resilient country for the future.

States’ rights are grounded in the United States Constitution under the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The 10th Amendment states that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The interpretation of the 10th Amendment has been argued over the entire history of the United States. Where some interpret the Constitution to have a strict construction, meaning that the federal government is permitted pass laws in strict compliance within the specific language of the constitution others have interpreted the Constitution to allow the federal government to regulate and make laws that are “necessary and proper” to achieving the goals set forth in the “enumerated powers” of Article 1, section 8 of the United States Constitution.

The enumerated powers are a list of duties that Congress is entrusted with. These consist of 18 clauses outlining the duties of Congress. These include the authority to raise an army, to borrow money, lay taxes, coin money, create a post office, declare war, and create inferior federal courts, among others. Those individuals who stand for strict construction of the constitution believe that the authority given to Congress through these 18 clauses are black and white and that the federal government does not have the authority to expand Congress’s influence. Those who follow the expansionist view specifically focus on clause 18 of section 8 and the “necessary and proper” clause.

The necessary and proper clause, as stated in Article 1, section 8, clause 18 states that “the congress shall have Power – To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

What this means is that the federal government may create laws and regulations that are “necessary and proper” to achieve the goals of the federal government concerning the enumerated powers. A great example of the “necessary and proper” clause at work is by looking at the commerce clause of Article 1, section 8, clause 3 of the United States Constitution.

The commerce clause; under Article 1, section 8, clause 3 states that Congress has the authority “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” A state rights, strict constructionist, the view would look at this as being black and white, having the interpretation follow logically that Congress may regulate interstate travel on and goods that have been put in the stream of commerce. A more expansive viewpoint would be that of the holding of Wickard v. Filburn where the Supreme Court found that the effects of a farmer growing too much wheat on his property, in the aggregate, would affect interstate commerce and, thus, Congress had the right to regulate it.

This argument over the rights designated to Congress through Article 1, section 8 of the United States Constitution, and the 10th Amendment are the main points of argument held by those who follow state rights; and a strict constructionist view, and those who follow an expansionist view of the Constitution.

States Rights in United States History up to the Civil War

The argument of state rights began even before the drafting of the Constitution. Prior to the Constitution, the United States government was bound by the Articles of Confederation. The Articles of Confederation created in its strong respect for states’ rights and left a very weak federal government. Subsequently, during the drafting of the Constitution, one of the aims was to strengthen the federal government. Many proponents felt that states’ rights should be afforded greater weight and in that regard, the 10th Amendment was drafted to appease those individuals concerned with centralized power.

One of the first instances where the idea of state’s rights in the Constitution came to the forefront was during the Washington administration and the dispute over the creation of a national bank. Alexander Hamilton, then the secretary of the treasury, intended to use the enumerated powers, along with the necessary and proper clause, to create a national bank of the United States. Advocates of States rights such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison argued that this was not within the strict construction of the Constitution.

Washington sided with Hamilton and upon the creation of the national bank essentially split the founders into two different sects and, in essence, was a large contributing factor to the creation of the first major parties in American politics; the Federalists, controlled by Washington and Adams, and the Republicans; dominated by Jefferson and Madison. The Federalists would argue on the platform of implied powers whereas the Republicans were advocates for “strict construction” and states’ rights.

The argument over implied powers and states’ rights came to a head once again during the Adams administration when the Federalist controlled Congress adopted the Alien and Sedition laws which prohibited actions, even verbal comments, against the government. The Republicans argued that this was a direct violation of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution and Jefferson and Madison countered the acts by independently drafting the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions which were meant to assert state rights and send a message to the federal government that the States had a right to nullify laws proposed by the federal government to be too far-reaching. Essentially the resolutions claimed that the federal government served at the will of the states and that states’ rights were paramount to those proposed by the federal government.

The issue of States rights versus implied powers was resurrected once more during the Jefferson administration and the Louisiana purchase. Strict constructionists who advocated for states’ rights and the limitations on the powers of the federal government opposed the purchase, stating that it was not within the powers granted to the federal government to expand the nation beyond its current borders. Ironically, these arguments were brought against Jefferson, one of the original proponents for states rights and strict construction.

The implied powers of Congress were once again tested during the nullification acts of 1832. This issue came about due to tariffs that were imposed on goods that were being imported into the United States. In the current economic climate, the southern states relied on goods from Europe and from the northern states in order to meet their economic needs. Because of stiff competition with Europe, Congress, at the behest of the northern states imposed tariffs upon European goods shipped into the country.

The result was that the southern states were either reduced to dealing only with the northern states for necessary goods or paying higher prices for European goods. In response, South Carolina, under the policies of John C. Calhoun, proposed a reformulation of the Virginia & Kentucky Resolutions. The new resolution essentially stated that the people in each state were sovereign and only by their will was there any power given to the state of federal governments. As a result, South Carolina refused to obey the tariff acts of 1828 or 1832 and in response, President Jackson asked Congress for the right to send in the navy and army for enforcement of the law.

The issue involving states’ rights versus implied powers really came to a head in the issue of slavery. Advocates of the implied powers claimed that the issue of slavery was one for the federal government to decide, as was done through the Compromise of 1820 and 1850. Advocates for state rights claimed that it was for each individual state to decide whether it should permit slavery within its borders and argued that the federal government was permitted to adopt rules and regulations but could not designate the policies that affected the states. States rights advocates won a battle on this issue with the holding in the Dredd Scott decision whereby Justice Taney declared that “The Government of the United States had no right to interfere for any other purpose but that of protecting the rights of the slave owner.”

The 14th Amendment

With the end of the civil war came Amendments to the Constitution banning slavery and calling for the equal treatment of African-Americans throughout the United States. In addition, the 14th Amendment attempted to lay to rest any idea of states rights usurping the Constitutional guarantees prescribed by the federal government. In this, the 14th Amendment contains, what is known as, the equal protection clause.

The equal protection clause is stated in section 1 of the Amendment and notes that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. This clause solidified the Constitution, and the Amendments to the Constitution, as being, not only a federal right but subjected the Amendments to the States as well.

States Rights and The Civil Rights Era

Probably the largest issue of states rights post-civil war came about during the civil rights movement. In response to Jim Crow, the federal government began a series of reforms, beginning with the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. The Board of Education, which officially overturned the decision in Plessy v. Ferguson and declared that “separate but equal”, was not constitutional.

In response, many proponents against integration declared that the federal government did not have the authority to require integration by the states as it would be a violation of state rights. States refused to integrate and it was not until a show of force by the federal government that the states began to recede from their previous stance.

States Rights and the Commerce Clause

One of the most contentious issues involving states rights is the issue involving the commerce clause. The federal government has been able to use the commerce clause in a number of situations to expand the authority of the federal government into areas where, without the necessary and proper clause, would be deemed to be an unconstitutional intrusion upon states’ rights. The federal government has been able to use the commerce clause to enter almost any situation where something is put into the stream of commerce. As discussed above, the case of Wickard v. Filburn took this to extreme lengths arguing the “aggregate” view.

Many issues have come to the forefront lately involving the death penalty, assisted suicide, gay marriage, gun rights, and the health care individual mandate.

Currently, the health care individual mandate that is one of the cornerstones of the Obama administration’s health care bill is working its way up to the Supreme Court of the United States. Currently, the appellate courts have been split as to the constitutionality of the issue. States rights advocates for strict construction advocate that the Constitution’s enumerated powers, even with the expansive view of the commerce clause through the “necessary and proper” clause do not afford the federal government to mandate that an individual be required to pay for health care.

In the alternative, those who are against the state’s rights assertions argue that the commerce clause, along with the necessary and proper clause permits the federal government to mandate that each individual in this country pay for their own health care or face a penalty. It is yet to be determined where the high court will rule on this argument but it is a strong possibility that states rights advocates will be disappointed.

An Overview of the Bill of Rights

An Overview of the Bill of Rights

What is the Bill of Rights?

Upon its ratification on September 17th, 1787, the Constitution of the United States was considered to be the primary legislative document expressing the implicit legality and jurisdictional procedure within the United States of America.

The Bill of Rights – proposed in 1789, and subsequently ratified in 1791 – is the classification granted to the first 10 Constitutional Amendments to have been passed; these Amendments were passed in unison.

The History of the Bill of Rights

George Mason and James Madison are the 2 individuals primarily credited with the creation of the Bill of Rights, resulting from a collective concern addressing the lack of a Constitutional Clause providing the document with a procedural system for modifications and adjustments with regard to the original text.

George Mason and James Madison had understood that as the United States underwent progression, innovation, and an invariable paradigm shift, certain legal statues would require modification; in order to retain the innate framework of the Constitution of the United States while allowing for measures of adjustment and modernization, a policy was implemented with regard to the adoption of future – and potential – Constitutional Amendments

The Contents of the Bill of Rights

1st Amendment

Date Proposed: September, 25th 1789

Date Ratified: December 15th, 1791

Contents of the Amendment: This Amendment affords citizens of the United States with the freedom of religion, the freedom of press, the freedom of speech, and the right of assembly

2nd Amendment

Date Proposed: September, 25th 1789

Date Ratified: December 15th, 1791

Contents of the Amendment: The right to bear arms in a lawful manner with regard to self-protection; firearms covered under the 2nd Amendment do not address service within the Militia

3rd Amendment

Date Proposed: September, 25th 1789

Date Ratified: December 15th, 1791

Contents of the Amendment: The 3rd Amendment prohibits unlawful entry with regard to the private resident(s) in possession of citizens of the United States of America; the 3rd Amendment is not typically applicable to times of war

4th Amendment

Date Proposed: September, 25th 1789

Date Ratified: December 15th, 1791

Contents of the Amendment: The 4th Amendment prohibits the unlawful search and seizure of resident belonging to citizens of the United States of America; this amendment also defines the rights of privacy awarded to citizens of the United States

5th Amendment

Date Proposed: September, 25th 1789

Date Ratified: December 15th, 1791

Contents of the Amendment: The 5th Amendment addresses the modern incarnation of the ‘Right to remain silent’; this Amendment also prevents the unlawful and unethical abuse of power undertaken by a governing body

6th Amendment

Date Proposed: September, 25th 1789

Date Ratified: December 15th, 1791

Contents of the Amendment: The 6th Amendment addresses legal procedure undertaken with regard to the prosecution – and investigation – of alleged criminal activity; this Amendment includes the right to a judicially-sound trial

7th Amendment

Date Proposed: September, 25th 1789

Date Ratified: December 15th, 1791

Contents of the Amendment: The 7th Amendment affords individuals undergoing judicial trials with the right to be tried in accordance with the presence of a jury; juries present within judicial trials are indicated to consist of an individual’s ‘peers’

8th Amendment

Date Proposed: September, 25th 1789

Date Ratified: December 15th, 1791

Contents of the Amendment: The 8th Amendment addresses legal criminal procedure; this Amendment prohibits punitive recourse classified as ‘cruel and unusual’ with regard to prosecution, as well as the prohibition of an excessive bail process

9th Amendment

Date Proposed: September, 25th 1789

Date Ratified: December 15th, 1791

Contents of the Amendment: The 9th Amendment serves as legislative protection with regard to corollary Amendments within the Bill of Rights; this Amendment disallows for the violation of civil liberties and unlawful expansion of governmental power

10th Amendment

Date Proposed: September, 25th 1789

Date Ratified: December 15th, 1791

Contents of the Amendment: The 10th Amendment addresses the apportionment process latent within administrative responsibilities; this Amendment expressed that any or all administrative powers that have not been claimed by Federal or State governments become the responsibility of the general populace

A Background to the Constitutional Convention

A Background to the Constitutional Convention

What is the Constitutional Convention?

The Constitutional Convention, which is also known as the Philadelphia Convention, was a conference that took place in Philadelphia in the year 1787 between May 5th and September 17th; the ratification of the Constitution of the United States signaled the end of the Constitutional Convention – this convention was called in order to solidify and finalize a finished Constitution of the United States.

What Spawned the Constitutional Convention?

The Articles of Confederation – the first piece of national legislature adopted by the United States of America subsequent to the end of the Revolutionary – served as the primary piece of administrative legislation after gaining their respective independence from England:

The authors of the Constitution of the United States cited the Articles of Confederation to be reactionary to the unpleasant conditions under which citizens of the United States lived with regard to the totalitarian rule under King George II of England

The authors of the Constitution deemed that the lack of any governmental power established a lack of organization, as well as national unity

The Articles of Confederation limited the jurisdiction of the central government to the military, postal service, regulation of currency, and the authorization of foreign policy

The central government was granted no authority over the 13 states, which were considered to be sovereign bodies

Which Events Preceded the Constitutional Convention?

In 1785, a Convention was held at Mt. Vernon – commonly referred to as the Mount Vernon Convention – in order to discuss potential action with regard to the separation of the Potomac River with regard to the vague precepts conveyed within the Articles of Confederation. Federalists Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, as well as pundits including Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, were in attendance – as a result of this meeting, the replacement of the Articles of Confederation in lieu of an updated legislature was proposed.

Ratification and the Constitutional Convention

Due to a variety of complications within the approval process – stemming from varying degrees of disapproval from the individual State legislature, the Constitution of the United States underwent a vast array of editing and adjustment. The Final Draft of the Constitution of the United States was ratified on September 17th, 1787; 12 of the 13 United States approved of the Constitution – Rhode Island was the only state that refused to ratify the Constitution

States in Attendance at the Constitutional Constitution

Although 9 States initially participated in the Ratification of the Constitution on an individual basis, each of the original 12 States subsequently ratified the Constitution:



New Jersey





South Carolina

New Hampshire

Who Attended the Constitutional Convention?

Subsequent to the conference in Mt. Vernon, a draft of the Constitution of the United States was completed as a result of the Constitutional Convention; 39 individuals signed the Constitution of the United States – the following influential figures were in attendance at the Constitutional Convention:

Alexander Hamilton, both a state representative from New York, as well a member of the Federalist Party, has been credited with the initial ideology expressed in the Constitution

James Madison is renowned for his contribution to the authorship of the Federalist Papers, as well as the recognition with regard to the facilitation of the Bill of Rights

George Washington was appointed as the head of the Constitutional Convention by the attendees

Edmund Randolph

Edmund Randolph

Edmund Randolph: A Founding Father’s Journey

Edmund Jennings Randolph (1753-1813) was a prominent American attorney, politician, and statesman. He is best known for his pivotal role in shaping the early history of the United States as a Founding Father. He served as the first Attorney General of the United States and the seventh Governor of Virginia. Edmund Randolph was a gifted legal mind and a skillful politician. This article examines his life, his career, and his contribution to American history.

Early Life and Career

Edmund Randolph was born on August 10, 1753, in Williamsburg, Virginia, to a prominent family with a long tradition of public service. His father, John Randolph, was a wealthy planter, lawyer, and Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses. His mother was Susanna Beverley Randolph.

After receiving his early education from tutors, Edmund Randolph attended the College of William and Mary, where he studied law and graduated in 1775. He quickly established himself as one of the most capable and prominent attorneys in Virginia, and was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1779.

He served as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1782, where he helped negotiate the Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolutionary War. His talents as a diplomat and his reputation as a skilled negotiator quickly brought him to the attention of the Founding Fathers, and he was called upon to serve in various high-level positions in both Virginia and the federal government.

Political Career

Randolph’s political career began in 1779 when he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. He served as the Attorney General of Virginia from 1786 until 1788 when he was selected by his home state to represent it at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

At the Convention, Randolph played a significant role in the drafting of the United States Constitution. He authored the Virginia Plan, which served as the basis for much of the Constitution and laid the groundwork for the creation of a strong national government. Randolph’s proposals emphasized both a strong central government and the protection of individual rights.

In 1789, George Washington appointed Randolph as the first Attorney General of the United States. In that role, Randolph worked closely with Congress and the President on key issues such as the establishment of the federal judicial system and the ratification of the Bill of Rights. Randolph resigned his position as Attorney General in 1794 and returned to Virginia to resume his law practice.

In 1799, Randolph was elected the Governor of Virginia, succeeding James Wood. As Governor, he was instrumental in the establishment of the University of Virginia, which was to become one of the most prestigious universities in the nation.


Edmund Randolph is widely recognized as one of the most influential Founding Fathers of the United States. His vision of a strong central government and the protection of individual rights played a significant role in shaping the United States Constitution, which is still the foundation of American democracy today.

Randolph’s life and career spanned a critical period in American history, from the Revolution to the early days of the American republic. He was not only one of the most important figures of his time but also helped shape the future of the United States, as his contributions laid the groundwork for the nation’s political and legal system.


Edmund Randolph was a visionary leader, a gifted attorney, and a skilled politician who played a pivotal role in shaping American history. Perhaps his greatest legacy is his contribution to the drafting of the United States Constitution. His ideas and proposals helped create a strong central government that was still flexible enough to protect the individual liberties of the American people.

As a Founding Father, Randolph was a critical voice in the establishment of the young nation, and his work has been remembered and celebrated for over two centuries. His legacy has influenced countless leaders who have followed in his footsteps, and his vision and ideas continue to guide the United States towards a brighter future.

Founding Fathers: Edmund Randolph

Randolph was born into a well-established Virginia family on August 10, 1753, in Williamsburg, Virginia. Edmund Randolph was tutored and later attended the College of William and Mary. After graduating, Edmund Randolph studied law under his father John Randolph, and his Uncle Peyton. He then passed the Virginia bar and started practicing law in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Once the American Revolution broke out, John Randolph kept his position as a Loyalist and returned to England with the royal governor, Lord Dunmore in 1775. Edmund Randolph stayed in America where he lived with his uncle Peyton Randolph, who was a prominent member of Virginia politics. During the Revolutionary War, Edmund Randolph showed his support by acting as an aide-de-camp to General George Washington.

After returning to Virginia after hearing about the death of his uncle, Edmund Randolph was elected to the Virginia Convention of 1776. This was the convention that established the Commonwealth of Virginia’s first constitution. During this time, Edmund Randolph was only 23 years old, making him the youngest member at the convention. Randolph married Elizabeth Nicholas in 1776.

Edmund Randolph was also elected as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s first Attorney General as well as the Mayor of the city of Williamsburg in 1776. Afterward, Edmund Randolph was elected to be a delegate for Virginia for the Continental Congress both in 1779 and 1881. During this time, he maintained his law practice, handling many issues for important politicians including George Washington. In 1786, Edmund Randolph was elected Governor of Virginia.

Constitutional Convention

he following year, Edmund Randolph was a delegate from Virginia for the Constitutional Convention. Here, he introduced the Virginia Plan as a foundation for a new government for the country. Edmund Randolph argued against the importation of slaves and was in favor of the new government having a strong central government. He also supported a plan that had three chief executives from different areas of the country.

The Virginia Plan also suggested two houses, wherein both of these houses delegates were picked based on the state population. Edmund Randolph additionally suggested and was supported with unanimous approval by the Constitutional Convention’s delegates, that having a national judiciary branch should be necessary. Article III of the United States Constitution created the federal court system, which did not exist under the Articles of Confederation.

Edmund Randolph was also a part of the Committee of Detail. This committee had the responsibility of converting the 15 resolutions of the Virginia Plan into the very first draft of the federal Constitution. While Edmund Randolph supported independence, he refused to sign the final version of the Constitution, because he felt that it did not have enough checks and balances placed.

He published an account of his objections to the Constitution in October 1787. Despite this stance, he nevertheless changed his position in 1788 at the Virginia Ratifying Convention and voted for ratification of the Constitution since eight other states already ratified the Constitution, and he did not want Virginia to be left out of the new government.

President Washington’s Cabinet

Edmund Randolph became the first United States Attorney General in September 1789 under President Washington, where he maintained a sense of neutrality between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. When Thomas Jefferson resigned as Secretary of State in 1793, Edmund Randolph succeeded him.

The major diplomatic action of this term was in 1794 during the Jay Treaty with Britain, but it was actually Alexander Hamilton who created the plan and drafted the instructions, leaving Edmund Randolph the formal role of signing the papers. Edmund Randolph was hostile to the resulting treaty. At the end of his term as the Secretary of State, negotiations for the treaty were finalized.

As Secretary of State, Edmund Randolph faced many of the challenges that his predecessor, Thomas Jefferson, had tried to address during his term. Edmund Randolph managed the Citizen Genêt Affair’s settlement. Edmund Randolph also prompted the resumption of talks with Spain and also helped in the negotiations of the Treaty of San Lorenzo of 1795, which resulted in the opening of the Mississippi River to the United States navigation and also adjusted the boundaries between the United States and Spanish possessions.

Resignation from the Cabinet

A scandal that involved an intercepted French message resulted in Edmund Randolph’s resignation in August 1795. A correspondence was intercepted by the British Navy from the French minister, Joseph Fauchet, to the United States which was turned over to President Washington. Washington was disappointed that the letters showed contempt for the United States and that Edmund Randolph was mainly responsible for it.

The letters suggested that Randolph had revealed the inner arguments in the cabinet to the French government and suggested that the United States Administration was hostile to France. President Washington immediately overruled Edmund Randolph’s negative advice about the Jay Treaty. A few days later President Washington, in the presence of the full cabinet, handed the minister’s letter to Edmund Randolph and demanded that he explain it.

Randolph was absolutely speechless and resigned immediately. It was concluded that Edmund Randolph was not bribed by the French but rather, he was rather a pitiable figure who sometimes lacked good sense. However, Edmund Randolph’s own published Vindication showed his concerns regarding both private and public perceptions of his character, which were concerns that had great value during the 18th century. After leaving the President’s cabinet, Edmund Randolph returned to Virginia to continue his practice. During this time, his most famous case was one where he defended Aaron Burr for treason in 1807.

During his retirement from politics, Edmund Randolph wrote a history of Virginia. On September 12, 1813, Randolph passed away at the age of 60. He was buried in a graveyard at a nearby chapel.

Fun Facts about Edmund Randolph

• Edmund Randolph practiced the law until his death.

• The only proof of any tension between him and his father about the Revolution was in one letter where he was worried about his father’s actions would affect his reputation.

• Because of the generosity of his relatives, he avoided poverty in his old age.