"Why should I trade one tyrant three thousand miles away for three thousand tyrants one mile away? An elected legislature can trample a man's rights as easily as a king can."
--Benjamin Martin (The Patriot)
Limited government was the original idea behind the formation of a federal government of the United States. The Constitution enumerated a small list of powers that the central government was permitted to exercise. If the power wasn't enumerated, then the federal government did not legally have it.
However, skepticism of central government was so pervasive that many states agreed to ratify the Constitution only if a list of fundamental rights that would be free from government infringement was amended to the Constitution. This list, of course, became known as the Bill of Rights.
What about issues not covered by either the Constitution or the Bill of Rights? The Ninth and Tenth amendments clearly state that those powers are retained by the states and their people.
Our ancestors clearly did not trust centralized government or the types of people that government attracts to office. This is why the framers did not endow the federal government with a blank check to do whatever government officials "thought was right."
Subsequent events clear demonstrate that their skepticism was justified and prescient.