Col. George Mason knew the federal government might one day become drunk with power. As Bob Menges (our SC State Director) explains, George Mason’s wisdom and foresight during the 1787 Constitutional Convention gave the states the ultimate tool to halt federal abuses:
“On September 15, 1787, George Mason of Virginia (referred to in Madison’s notes as Col Mason), was alarmed that in the text of Article V (the provision for making Amendments to the Constitution) Congress would have sole power to propose amendments; Mason insisted, as he did earlier in June, that the states have authority to call for conventions. Mason explained that an oppressive Congress would never agree to propose amendments necessary to restrain a rogue, tyrannical legislature.”
“By the time the convention reached its final days in mid-September, the Amendment provision had been added as Article V, and the provision had two methods; the national legislature (Congress) could propose Amendments and Congress could call for a Convention of States for the purpose of proposing amendments. However, both methods were left in the hands (power) of the national legislature. Mason had objected to this back in June and now as the convention drew to a close, he rose to his feet to forcefully object with his reasons stated above (“It would be improper to require the consent of the Natl. Legislature, because they may abuse their power, and refuse their consent on that very account”). Madison’s notes of 15 Sept. tell us that Mason’s motion was accepted and the language was changed in order to require [mandate] Congress to call a convention upon application of 2/3 of the states.”
“We owe George Mason and the other framers a huge debt for this. They had the foresight to understand first of all, that we needed an orderly process in which to amend our Constitution (“regular and Constitutional way than to trust to chance and violence” – Mason 11 June). Secondly, we owe them a huge debt for recognizing and understanding the depravity of man and the extremely intoxicating effects of years of power in the hands of the same people (hence a need for term limits), and that these power intoxicated occupants of the United States Congress would “abuse their power, and refuse their consent” (Mason 11 June) toany amendments that would “injure” themselves.”
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