Role of Government Charity

  • “I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit.” ~President Grover Cleveland vetoing a bill for charity relief (18 Congressional Record 1875 [1877]
  • “I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for public charity. [To approve the measure] would be contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and subversive to the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded.” ~President Franklin Pierce’s 1854 veto of a measure to help the mentally ill
  • In 1794, when Congress appropriated $15,000 for relief of French refugees who fled from insurrection in San Domingo to Baltimore and Philadelphia, James Madison stood on the floor of the House to object saying, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.” ~James Madison, 4 Annals of congress 179 (1794)
  • “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.” ~Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Albert Gallatin, 1817
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