Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION 2.: CONSTRUCTION. - Construction Construed and Constitutions Vindicated
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SECTION 2.: CONSTRUCTION. - John Taylor, Construction Construed and Constitutions Vindicated 
Construction Construed and Constitutions Vindicated (Richmond: Shepherd and Pollard, 1820).
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It is necessary, before I proceed, to appropriate a short section to this art or artifice. There are two kinds of construction; one calculated to maintain, the other to corrupt or destroy the principles upon which governments are established; one visible to common sense, the other consisting of filaments so slender, as not to be seen except through some magnifying glass; one which addresses the understanding, the other which addresses prejudice or self-interest. When a man splits his mind, and glues one half to certain principles, and the other to a mode of construction, by which the same principles are subverted, it is no easy matter to find arguments which will please both halves. There was in old times a God, said by his worshippers to be blind and lame and foolish, but who seems to me to be more quick-sighted, active and acute in the arts of construction than Minerva herself. But his inspirations are unhappily partial; for, if this deity would but open the eyes of every one to his own interest, the mode of construction most conducive to the general interest would be elected by a republican majority.
Next to this influence over construction, is that of governments. In all, except our own, the people have nothing to do with it; but ours is modelled with an intention that they should have much to do with it; and what is better for current use, that the members of the government themselves shall be strongly induced, individually, to give it fair play. But as the pride of power, the temptations of self-interest, and even the consciousness of good intentions, might crook or sharpen this terrible weapon, those invested with most power, hold their offices for short periods; and are exposed to frequent returns to private life; that the people might straighten or blunt its edge occasionally. This dependance, and our affection for children and relations, whose fate we are dealing out, unite to chasten and restrain the unlimited power of construction; and though the solicitations of pride, vanity, or avarice, may in a few cases prevail, yet, under our form of government, a great majority of legislative bodies must feel an honest loyalty to correctness.
All other governments, as expositors of power, are influenced by motives exactly the reverse of these. With them, construction is not a science to preserve the rights of mankind, but an art for extending their own power. Its business is to forge wealth for individuals or combinations, and chains for majorities: To make payment for usurpations, in fulsome flatteries, and insidious projects: To substitute successive, vacillating, eccentrick meteors, for steady planets of fixed orbits: To promise future blessings for present innovations, with the prophetical truth of those prospective chronologists, who have so often foretold the arrival of the millenium: And to furnish parties, factions, combinations and individuals, with concealed dirks to stab liberty.
The framers of our constitutions exerted all their faculties, to exclude from our policy this pernicious species of construction, by specifications and restrictions. Its wonderful acuteness in misinterpretation, was understood, and sedulously guarded against. It had often perverted the Scripture, and converted patriotism into treason. Russel and Sidney fell under the edge of constructive treason. The day on which the former was beheaded, the wise and learned university of Oxford, convinced by its doctors in the art of construction, declared every principle by which a free constitution can be maintained, to be “impious and heretical,” especially the doctrine, that “all civil authority is derived from the people.” Sidney had maintained it. Thence it was inferred, that he meant to excite the people to enforce it; that this would cause insurrection; that insurrection was treason; and that Sydney was therefore guilty of treason. He had also asserted, that tyrants ought to be deposed and punished, as in the cases of Nero and Caligula. Thence it was inferred, that he was a traitor in imagining, that the king of England, if a tyrant, might be justly deposed and punished. Which can do most harm to mankind, constructive treasons or constructive powers? The first takes away the life of an individual, the second destroys the liberty of a nation. The machine called inference can act as extensively in one case as in the other. A government, by an unlimited power of construction, may stretch constitutions as Jeffries did laws, or interpret them as synods do scripture, according to the temporal interest of the predominant sect. Yet it often happens, that whilst our hearts glow on recollecting the political and religious martyrs, who have fallen by the edge of this destructive weapon; our heads freeze when it is applied to our constitutions, by forgetting its ability to destroy the political as well as the natural body.
The Stuart family, in three successive reigns, pertinaciously adhered to the ingenuity of conceding principles, and then construing them away. Thus they craftily endeavoured to extend their powers; and two of them paid the forfeits of the experiment. An admission of a line of separation between the powers of the state and federal governments, followed with its obliteration with the sponge of inference, would bear a close resemblance to many of the stratagems practised by this construing family.