Preamble to the United States Constitution

 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 opening statement to the Constitution explains the reasons our Framers crafted our Republican form of government, to replace the Articles of Confederation.  The Constitution was drafted over a period of about six weeks, and then was eloquently phrased by the Committee of Style – headed by Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania.  The Preamble is the explanantion, but it is not law.  The powers of each branch of the Federal government, and the states, are clearly detailed in Articles I – VII.

 

  • We the People, of the United States

This means the citizens of the USA.  The new form of government may have been drawn up by some of the best- educated men of the new nation, but the rights of Republican government belonged to all.

 

  • in Order to form a more perfect Union

 The Articles of Confederation had many limitations on governing the new nation.  In this phrase, the Framers were not stating they were crafting a government and nation that were without flaw; they meant that the new Constitution would produce and uphold a better form of governance than the Articles.

 

  • establish Justice

The reasons for Revolution against England were still very much in the minds of American citizens.  Fair trade and fair trial were paramount.

 

  • insure domestic Tranquility

Shays’ Rebellion – an uprising of Massachusetts farmers against the state for repayment of war debts- was one reason the Constitutional Convention was held.  Citizens were very concerned with the keeping of peace within our borders.

 

  • provide for the common defence

The possibilities of attacks by other countries was very real.  No one state by itself had the military might to defend itself against a large-scale attack.  The Framers knew it was necessary for the states to work together to defend the nation.

 

  • promote the general Welfare

This clause means the “well-being” of all.  It relates back to the previous three clauses:  by establishing justice, keeping the peace, and defending the nation, the citizens’ well-being would be taken care of to the best extent possible by a Federal government.

 

  • and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity

America had fought long and hard for liberty…freedom from a tyrannical government that imposed unjust laws, and placed the goals of the English Crown above the individual.  The purpose of the new Constitution was to protect and maintain those hard-won rights, for our Framers’ generation and all that followed.

 

  • do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America

This ending clause makes a powerful statement…We the People have made this governing document for Our nation, and it is We the People who give it the power.

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