In 2004, an act of Congress established every September 17 as Constitution Day. This federal law requires that, on that day, all public schools provide a lesson about the history of the American Constitution. One of the most important lessons we can teach our kids is how the Constitution was written to restrict what the federal government is allowed to do.
This question on what powers the federal government would have was a hot topic in 1787-1788. At the time there were cries of protest to reject the proposed Constitution because they were sure the “general welfare” clause would be abused. The general welfare clause (Article I Section 8 clause 1) stated, “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; . . . ” Those opposing the adoption of the Constitution were concerned this would allow the new federal government to give itself unlimited power by claiming anything it wanted was for the so-called general welfare.