Construction Construed, and Constitutions Vindicated

The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd.
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Taylor, John. Construction Construed and Constitutions Vindicated. Richmond: printed by Shepherd & Pollard, 1820. iv, 344pp. Reprinted 1998 by The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. LCCN 97-49411. ISBN 1-886363-43-9. Cloth. $65. * One of the major works of the Virginian John Taylor of Caroline [1753-1824]. Little-known today, Taylor's work is of great significance in the political and intellectual history of the South and is essential for understanding the constitutional theories that Southerners asserted to justify secession in 1861. Taylor fought in the Continental army during the American Revolution and served briefly in the Virginia House of Delegates and as a U.S. Senator. It was as a writer on constitutional, political, and agricultural questions, however, that Taylor gained prominence. He joined with Thomas Jefferson and other agrarian advocates of states' rights and a strict construction of the Constitution in the political battles of the 1790s. His first published writings argued against Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton's financial program. Construction Construed and Constitutions Vindicated was Taylor's response to a series of post-War of 1812 developments including John Marshall's Supreme Court decision in McCulloch v. Maryland, the widespread issuance of paper money by banks, proposals for a protective tariff, and the attempt to bar slavery from Missouri. Along with many other Southerners, Taylor feared that these and other measures following in the train of Hamilton's financial system, were undermining the foundations of American republicanism. He saw them as the attempt of an "artificial capitalist sect" to corrupt the virtue of the American people and upset the proper constitutional balance between state and federal authority in favor of a centralized national government. Taylor wrote, "If the means to which the government of the union may resort for executing the power confided to it, are unlimited, it may easily select such as will impair or destroy the powers confided to the state governments." Jefferson, who noted that "Col. Taylor and myself have rarely, if ever, differed in any political principle of importance," considered Construction Construed and Constitutions Vindicated "the most logical retraction of our governments to the original and true principles of the Constitutio
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About the author

John Taylor, a journalist for more than two decades, has been a contributing editor at New York magazine and a senior writer for Esquire. He lives in East Moriches, New York.

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Additional Information

Publisher
The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd.
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Published on
Dec 31, 1998
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Pages
344
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ISBN
9781886363434
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Language
English
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Genres
Law / General
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This content is DRM protected.
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Taylor, John. An Inquiry into the Principles and Policy of the Government of the United States. Fredericksburg: Green and Cady, 1814. With an introduction by Roy Franklin Nichols, Yale University Press, 1950. 562 pp. Reprinted 1998 by The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. LCCN 98-11147. ISBN 1-886363-46-3. Cloth. $80. * Considered a political writing that "deserves to rank among the two or three really historic contributions to political science which have been produced in the United States" (Beard, Economic Origins of Jeffersonian Democracy), this work was originally conceived in 1794 as a response to John Adams' A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America and first published in 1814. He rejects the concept of "a natural aristocracy" of "paper and patronage" and a federal government based on a system of debt and taxes. Opposed to the extent of power awarded to the executive office, he calls for a shortening of the terms of the president and all elected officers. He considers the American government to be one of divided powers rather than classes, and its agents responsible to sovereign people alone. Taylor [1753-1824] was known as "John Taylor of Caroline County, Virginia" and served in the Continental Army and later in the Virginia House of Delegates, then served three separate terms as member of the United States Senate. He is considered to be one of the nation's greatest philosophers of agrarian liberalism, and wrote extensively on this topic as well as on political matters. One of the nation's first proponents of states rights, in 1798 he introduced into the Virginia legislature resolutions in support of the doctrine of delegated powers and the right of states to respond to confrontations by other powers. Dictionary of American Biography IX:331. Sabin, A Dictionary of Books Relating to America 94491. Cohen, Bibliography of Early American Law 5823.
Enormous political power invariably accumulates enormous wealth, and enormous wealth invariably accumulates enormous political power. Either constitutes a tyranny, because the acquisitions of both are losses of liberty and property to nations. -John Taylor, in "A General Discussion of Tyranny and the Choice Americans Face" A staunch defender of the rights of individuals and a stout watchdog against rising federal power during the early decades of nationhood of the United States, John Taylor explains, in plain but passionate language, the dangers of the governmental interference in the free exercise of commerce. Though written as a vehement response to a particular event-the proposal of a tariff to help expand industry-1821's Tyranny Unmasked remains a cogent argument today, in an era of powerful special interests lobbying for, and often receiving, preferential treatment from the U.S. federal government. Powerfully relevant, it is essential reading for anyone interested in the economic and cultural health of the nation. The scion of one of colonial Virginia's most respected families, JOHN TAYLOR (1753-1824) served as an officer in the Continental army and the Virginia militia during the American Revolution. A successful lawyer and gentleman farmer, he was an advocate of scientific farming, and was the first president of the Virginia Agricultural Society. He served in the Virginia state legislature in the 1780s and 1790s and as U.S. Senator for the state through much of the early 19th century.
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