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McCulloch v. Maryland and the Necessary and Proper Clause.

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Joanna Rodriguez September 29, 2003 Period 3 McCulloch v. Maryland and the Necessary and Proper Clause The United States was a newly independent country in 1791 still recovering from the effects of the dominion of Great Britain during its years as a colony. The government leaders were still unsure if a strong federal government was the best option for the country. Many of them such as Thomas Jefferson, who the Secretary of State at the time felt that a limited government was the best option because it did not centralize all the powers into the national government. Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton proposed a charter to Congress that would create a national bank. Jefferson with his ideas of a limited government was against this charter because it would give the federal government too much power. He debated Hamilton by saying that no where in the Constitution did it state that the national government had the power to create a national bank and that the government had only the explicit powers the Constitution gave it. ...read more.


In defense of McCulloch his attorney argued that Congress' establishment of a national bank was a "necessary and proper power of Congress". He insisted that the creation of a national bank helped exercise other powers stated in the Constitution and therefore it was an implied power of Congress to create one. McCulloch was convicted of violating Maryland's tax law and in a series of appeals his case reached the Supreme Court where led by Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the states had no right to tax the national banks and that even though creating a national bank was not one of the enumerated powers in the Constitution the government "entrusted with such ample powers . . . must also be entrusted with ample means for their execution". The Framers of the Constitution were thinking of future incidents such as McCulloch v. Maryland when they included the necessary and proper clause in Article one, Section eight of the Constitution. ...read more.


If the ruling had gone in the favor of Maryland, it would have taken away more power from the central government. The ruling could have been a step back for the country bringing it back to the same position it was in when the Articles of Confederation were in effect and there was a weak central government and strong states. One of the purposes of creating a new Constitution was to create a stronger central government because the Framers felt that it was necessary. A ruling for Maryland in this case would have contradicted that purpose. When Chief Justice John Marshall said that government "entrusted with such ample powers . . . must also be entrusted with ample means for their execution" he gave Congress the power to whatever it deems necessary to execute the Constitution. Without this ruling Congress would be limited in power and would have to abide by the laws created in 1788 that could be outdated today. With his ruling Marshall and the Supreme Court established the basis for a strong central government in the United States that is still in effect today. ...read more.

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