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The exchanges during the ratification campaign reveal the relatively limited reach of the Commerce Clause and of federal power generally. The Founding Fathers confirmed that most areas of life (even many matters that would have substantial effects on commerce) would remain outside the reach of the Federal Government. Such affairs would continue to be under the exclusive control of the States.


Early Americans understood that commerce, manufacturing, and agriculture, while distinct activities, were intimately related and dependent on each other-that each 'substantially affected' the others. After all, items produced by farmers and manufacturers were the primary articles of commerce at the time. If commerce was more robust as a result of federal superintendence, farmers and manufacturers could benefit. Thus, Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut attempted to convince farmers of the benefits of regulating commerce. 'Your property and riches depend on a ready demand and generous price for the produce you can annually spare,' he wrote, and these conditions exist 'where trade flourishes and when the merchant can freely export the produce of the country' to nations that will pay the highest price. A Landholder No.1, Connecticut Courant, Nov. 5, 1787, in 3 Documentary History of the Ratification of the ...

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