Podcasts | Constitutionally Speaking

Episode 47: Just How Elastic Is the Elastic Clause?

The Louisiana Purchase (Wikimedia)

Jay and Luke dive headfirst into the Louisiana Purchase to explore the battle over the Elastic Clause.

Jeffersonians opposed several of Hamilton’s policies — from the Bank of the United States to using bounties for industrial protection — on the grounds that they went beyond the enumerated powers of Congress. And they had a point. Many of Hamilton’s measures measures exceeded what the ratifying conventions had had in mind when they approved the Constitution. Yet once the Jeffersonians came into power, they embraced the same Hamiltonian view of the Elastic Clause. They came to accept the Second Bank and deployed tariffs as a form of industrial protection. But the clearest Jeffersonian embrace of a Hamiltonian Elastic Clause was the Louisiana Purchase. Jefferson forthrightly acknowledged he had exceeded his presidential powers in approving the purchase, and rightly sought ex post facto indemnification from Congress. However, that indemnification itself was, in the eyes of many, a violation of the enumerated powers of Congress. Were the Jeffersonians mugged by reality, or turning Federalist tools to their own ends? The guys debate that and more in this week’s episode.

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