The term constructionist came into use in the United States of America during the argument over the early US government's ability to create a national bank.

On one side were the Strict Constructionists, who believed that the federal government did not have powers outside those given to it in the constitution. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were strict constructionists.

Loose Constructionists, on the other hand, believed that the elastic clause of the constitution (Article I, Section VIII) gave Congress more far-reaching power. Alexander Hamilton was a Loose Constructionist. In this case the Loose Constructionists won, and in 1791 Congress approved the bank for a 20-year charter.