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The Bonus Bill of 1817
was proposed legislation introduced by John C. Calhoun
John Caldwell Calhoun was a leading politician and political theorist from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun eloquently spoke out on every issue of his day, but often changed positions. Calhoun began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent...
to provide a federal highway linking the East and South to the West using the earnings bonus
from the Second Bank of the United States
The Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816, five years after the First Bank of the United States lost its own charter. The Second Bank of the United States was initially headquartered in Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia, the same as the First Bank, and had branches throughout the...
. Opponents feared that providing the means for settlers to travel would drain their population and create competing states in the area obtained in the Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...
. Though he approved of the goals, President James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...
vetoed the bill as unconstitutional under strict constructionist ideals.
Madison's veto message represents an important explication of the Constitution by the "Father of the Constitution."