Orientation and Getting Started
The Creation of the Constitution
The Road to Philadelphia
Slavery and the Constitution
The Presidency
The Federal Judiciary
Some Other Important Details
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The Necessary and Proper Clause

When the “necessary and proper” clause was brought up before the Convention, however, it occasioned very little discussion and not a single objection. This total absence of controversy can only be understood in light of the previous discussions. Until the Committee’s report was read on August 6, the Convention had been operating under a general grant of power with almost no practical restraints on federal power. By comparison, this additional grant of power—to exercise only those powers “necessary and proper” for exercising its enumerated powers—must have seemed to the Framers like a very modest and logical extension. By the end of the Convention, however, the dissenting Framers, at least, began to have misgivings. Edmund Randolph protested against “the indefinite and dangerous power given by the Constitution to Congress.” And Elbridge Gerry claimed that one of his most insuperable objections to the Constitution was “the general power of the legislature to make what laws they may please to call ‘necessary and proper.’” Not everyone at the Convention would have agreed that this clause was meant to be such a broad grant of power, but history has shown that the breadth of this clause would depend very much on how it was interpreted.