IT was upon Mr. Sherman's motion that the words, "Common Defence and General Welfare," which have played so important a part in the construction of the Constitution, were introduced into that instrument. He proposed to add to the taxing clause the words, "for the payment of said debts and for the defraying of expenses that shall be incurred for the defence and general welfare."
This proposition, according to Mr. Madison, was disagreed to as being unnecessary. It then obtained only the single vote of Connecticut. But three days afterward Mr. Sherman moved and obtained the appointment of a Committee, of which he was a member, to which this and several subjects were committed. That Committee reported the clause in the shape in which it now stands, and it was adopted unanimously.
Its adoption is an instance of Mr. Sherman's great tenacity, and his power to bring the body, of which he was a member, to his own way of thinking in the end, however unwilling in the beginning. This phrase has played not only an important but a decisive part in the great debate between a strict construction of the Constitution and the construction which has prevailed and made it the law of the being of a great National life.
This story is well told in Farrar "Manual of the Constitution," pages 110, 309, 324.