Thomas Jefferson Knowledge Institute

The Constitution of the United States of America

"The Constitution should be thought of as a set of leg irons and handcuffs placed on the Federal Government to keep it under control and in its place." --Wayne Stovcik

Preamble: 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.

The first three words of the preamble: "We the People" -- why? It wasn't long after the first settlers arrived that they, true to their English heritage, began to govern themselves rather than depend on their mother country. The people established colonies, which would eventually become state governments, electing representatives thereto. The states in turn established first an unsatisfactory confederation of states, then, through the new Constitution, the federal government. Thus the Constitution can be traced back through the states to the people, making "We the People" a fitting beginning to this unique document.

What was exceptional about this new nation? The phrase "American exceptionalism" is tossed about casually, even scoffed at. But there were two aspects of this nation's beginning that were true exceptions to the usual course of events. The first was the outcome of the American Revolution. Revolutions to overthrow a tryannical government typically result in a worse tyrant taking control (Examples abound). Ours did not; it resulted in the second exceptional event: The writing of our Constitution to create and define a federal government.

How important is for us to study the Constitution? "The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence can live only as long as they are enshrined in our hearts and minds. If they are not so enshrined, they would be no better than mummies in their glass cases, and they could in time become idols whose worship would be a grim mockery of the true faith. Only as these documents are reflected in the thoughts and acts of Americans can they remain symbols of a power that can move the world." --From an address by President Harry S Truman at the National Archives Dedicating the New Shrine for the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, December 15, 1952

"The history of man does not present a more illustrious monument of human invention, sound political principles, and judicious combinations, than the Constitution of the United States. In many other countries, the origin of government has been vaguely attributed to force, or artifice or accident, and the obscurities of history have been laboriously developed to trace the result of these supposed causes. But America has distinctly presented to view the deliberate formation of an independent government, not under compulsion, or by artifice, or chance, but as a mean of resisting external force, and with a full and accurate knowledge of her own rights, providing for, and securing her own safety. It is not, however, intended to assert that this instrument is perfect, although it is deemed to approach as near to perfection as any that has ever been formed. If defects are perceived they may readily be accounted for." Rawle, William, LL.D. A View of the Constitution of the United States of America, Introduction (excerpt), 2nd Ed. 1829.

The complete Introduction to William Rawle's
A View of the Constitution...

The source of our nation's government -- the Israelites

   

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We the People...