Small Federal Government
Strong Local And State Governments
The basic idea was to get government as close to the people as possible. The more remote it is from the people, the more dangerous it becomes.
In the words of Thomas Jefferson:
"The true theory of our Constitution is surely the wisest and best .... When all government ... shall be drawn to Washington as the centre of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and wilt become as ... oppressive as the government from which we separated.
"What has destroyed the liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body .... The way to have good and safe government is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many ... It is by dividing and sub-dividing these republics, from the great national one down ... that all will be done for the best."
James Madison stressed the necessity to reserve all possible authority in the states and people saying, "The powers delegated by the ... Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite."