Having gone through the background of the writing of the Constitution, we shall now examine the Preamble. Frequently in the history and/or civics classes where students are exposed to this wonderful document, there is a tendency to slide over the Preamble and jump right into the text itself, but this misses an important step in setting the stage.
This post is part of a series that will make more sense if it is read in order. If you haven’t read the earlier posts in this series, please click here to start with the first one. One reason I’ve broken this series into fairly small parts is that we have a tendency to rush through reading the Constitution and miss a lot of it. I hope the readers of this series will ponder the points in each session. I also hope you will comment on each post as we go along.
Throughout this series on the Constitution, my comments will be in black normal font, and the text of the document and comments which accompanied the version I’m using will be in this color and italicized.
WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
This important paragraph announces to the world who is doing this and why they are doing it. Understanding the who and why is a very important step in understanding the what.
“We the people of the United States . . .” Obviously, the entire population of the United States was not gathered in that building in Philadelphia, but the men there were gathered as representatives of the people. They didn’t represent a king or a particular state of colony. They represented the people. Every word in the Constitution was put there for the benefit of the people.
“. . . in order to form a more perfect union . . .” These men had seen the inherent shortcomings of the government set up under the Articles of Confederation, and they were determined to improve upon it—to form a more perfect union of the states they represented.
“. . . establish justice . . .” They had lived through great injustice under the rule of King George, and they sought to correct the unfairness of that system with the fairest system they could come up with.
“. . . insure domestic tranquility . . .” It was the overwhelming desire of these men to see the various states live in peace and harmony with one another, but they also recognized that human nature is such that we fall into disagreement from time to time. Under the Articles, the central government lacked the authority to moderate any such disagreements among the states effectively. They put all their collective wisdom into creating a system that would effectively deal with all such differences.
“. . . provide for the common defense . . .” The Articles pretty much left it up to each state to defend itself, opening our nation to weakness and confusion. Georgia might make an ally out of Connecticut’s enemy and an enemy of Connecticut’s ally. We would be pulling in different directions with no one state having the strength to protect itself against a powerful enemy. This document put all the states under the same umbrella and concentrated enough power to defend the new nation.
“. . . promote the general welfare . . .” These few words have been horribly distorted in our nation over the last eighty plus years. Leftists have used them as their justification in establishing an extensive welfare system that traps people in poverty they can’t escape rather than giving them opportunities to rise above their surroundings. I’m sure our forefathers turn over in their graves when they see this perversion of the words they so carefully put together.
The federal government under this Constitution was to help the states provide for the prosperity of their citizens by encouraging trade and business and farming activities that produce the goods and services which give our citizenry a good standard of living. It certainly didn’t mean to establish a system that saps the nation’s energy by siphoning off potentially productive people and locking them into a dole system.
“. . . and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity . . .” Utmost in the minds of the men who put this Constitution together was providing liberty for the people of this nation both then and now. They did not intend that the government use its power to enslave people by trapping them on welfare rolls or punishing them for being successful by imposing punitive, progressive taxes and stifling regulations. Such are NOT blessings of liberty. Again, the forces of the left have abused the power of the federal government to subvert it’s intent for their own purposes.
Check back Thursday as we begin examining Article I.
Benjamin Franklin, exiting Constitutional Convention:
“We’ve given you a republic, if you can keep it.”
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Continuing to enjoy your blog on the Constitution. Keep up the fine and interesting work.
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Really liking this sovfar. We all need a refresher course. I applaud your efforts and eagerly await more.
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Thanks, Julie. Hope you’re doing all right.