Not only did they believe that the powers of the Federal Government were "few and defined," and that the powers of the States were "many and undefined," they also believed that the States- being closer to and run by the People directly would serve as a brake on the Federal Government. They believed that the Federal Government would be rebuked should it overstep its bounds.
A few things changed that: among them the Marbury v Madison ruling in which the Supreme Court decided that largely unaccountable, unelected Judges- whose very authority was granted by the Constitution- should be the sole arbiters of what the Constitution means. Also President Lincoln's decision that States could not secede from the Union (whatever you think about the Civil war, this was a radical departure from what had been understood up to that point).
Whatever the intentions of those decisions, we are now faced with:
- A Congress which regularly over-reaches its granted authority by passing laws which it should have no power to enforce.
- A President and Executive Branch which regularly rule by fiat.
- An unaccountable Bureaucracy which issues "rules" and "regulations" based less on what is necessary for the smooth operation of the Country, and more on what is politically convenient.
- An unaccountable Judiciary which routinely overturns laws which have been vetted and approved by the very people which Constituted the Courts in the first place.
- A Culture of "Delegation" in which Congress establishes new Bureaucracies which rule by decree.
At some point, the Rights of the States, as well as the Rights of the People have fallen by the way-side. We must strive and struggle to regain them. The first step is to get engaged with your State. The States are the first and most stalwart defense against Federal Overreach, but they have not acted in that Capacity in generations. Even when ObamaCare was passed, rather than simply stating that this was a power the Federal Government did not have and refusing to comply, the States "accepted the Premise" and took it to the Courts. The EPA has just issued new CO2 guidelines which will ultimately cripple (and possibly kill) our single largest source of electrical power- Coal Power Plants. The correct entities to oppose these offenses against the Constitution are the States.
Even our US Representatives are too remote, and must cater to too many people, to be counted upon to reign in the Federal Behemoth; not to mention the fact they are part of that very monster we wish to vanquish. So engage with your state Legislators, and with your Governor. Remind them that the Constitution assumes that the Power rests with the States on behalf of the People, and that you will support them if they will engage with, and attempt to quell, this Federal invasion, and the usurpation of our Liberties.