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Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Preamble of the Constitution of the United States


"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."


"We the People of the United States..."


We: This word is written in the first person. Anyone who says "we" accepts themselves as being a part of a group. The group to which one belongs (if specified) is specified prior or after the word "we." In this case, the group is specified after: "The People of the United States." This group is an exclusive group unlike any in the world. Now I want to point out a very important fact. The words "the Citizens of the United States,"  are nowhere to be found in the Preamble. This is not because the word did not exist or was unfamiliar to them because "citizen" can be found in other parts of the document. I hold to the belief "citizens" was left out purposefully because the Framer's of this powerful document knew this would expand further than citizens of the United States, but to all who are visiting, living, or even desire to live in this great country. Anybody who accepts the social contract has the ability to be associated with "the People of the United States."

"in Order to..."


When each word is broken away and defined separately, the Idea expressed in these three words is lost. These words reveal a future goal for those who associate with the People of the United States, or in this case, a list of end goals for us.

"form a more perfect Union..."


As the first in the list of goals, it begins a pattern for all the others in the list. The first word in this goal is a verb. This indicates the need for action or activity by those who have just undertaken this covenant of being a "People of the United States." The verb, "form" can be defined as organize, build, or create. Now, there ought not be an action verb without a direct object. In this case, Union is the object. "In order to form a union..." Just prior to the adoption of the Constitution, the States were in a union. It could be similar to a treaty now. Each state agreed to the Articles of the Confederacy. However, this caused a whole lot of hurt for people because of the lack of a centralized government. This lead to riots, and burning of buildings. Obviously, a mere "union" would not suffice for the newborn country to continue its existence. Only a perfect union would exist forever. This is for what we must work. Knowing the Union would not be perfect, even after the adoption of the Constitution, a union closer to perfection would be necessary. Hence one of the goals of the People of the United States is to create a union closer to perfection.

"establish Justice..."


You could write volumes on these two words alone and, frankly, there have been volumes written. The word "establish" implies a permanency and/or acceptance of a any noun. One could establish an individual, a colony, a house, and even an idea. However, in order for an idea to be established in a society, it must reproduce and make an exact replica of itself in the minds of people. Richard Dawkins called the reproduction of ideas, "memes." This is necessary in a society for a contract, such as this, to continue it's existence. The idea which must be multiplied is "justice." Simply put, Justice can be considered fairness, and consequences for actions. I have written more about Justice in other posts.

"insure domestic Tranquility..."


Insure, also an action verb, means guarantee. Now, you might have noticed when there is an adjective, I skip over it and go straight to the noun, or object of the verb. This is because we must understand the object prior to completely understanding the state, or description of it. In this case, the direct object is the idea of "tranquility." In this day in age, we think of clam, relaxing, bliss. The idea the Framer's of this document had in mind was along those lines: peace. Of course, we cannot control peace  in places we do not control. Hence, the adjective, "domestic," is necessary. When keeping in mind the policies of the Nation, domestic polices affect the nation, and do not directly affect nations foreign. Delving deeper into the meaning of domestic, we can observe it includes home and family living. When reading these three words, let us not forget the smaller sections of families and their importance when observing the larger country.

"provide for the common defence..."


Considering the fact the people had recently come out of a war, defense still was a big issue. This included their fights with the Native Americans. Seeing as the need for some type of security is necessary for people to live in a state of liberty, "we" have set this a a goal to enhance our liberty.

"promote the general Welfare..."


I'll be honest. I think of advertising when I read "promote," but that isn't a bad thing. Another thought is being a manager a promoting someone to a higher position. In a similar fashion, "promote" is meaning to further the progress of the direct object, being general Welfare, or the happiness and heath of the public.

"secure the Blessings of Liberty..."


One of the many writing styles I have learned about is the power of words, and how many of the words we use have the same or similar meanings as others. The first word, "secure," (an action verb) has similar meanings to verbs mention earlier in the sentence. In my mind, secure means to make firm, and immovable. The noun affected by the verb secure is "blessings." This word can be interpreted many ways. No matter the interpretation, it is always associated as being a positive or beneficial noun. The final phrase "of Liberty" is acting as an adjective. This describes from where the blessings come: LIBERTY. The only way anybody may recieve any blessings, it is upon the eternal laws by which they were written. In order to secure blessings of liberty, "We the People of the United States" must live by the laws we set forth to keep this liberty.

"to ourselves and our Posterity..."



Justice Wilson in "Chrisholm v. Georgia" viewed this phrase as applying to every item mentioned previously in the list of the goals of the People. I lean toward this interpretation, because this extends the other goals to out Posterity, and gives further reasons for those goals to exist. Why would we want to secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, and not form a more perfect union for our Posterity? This question highlights my view on the subject, and Justice Wilson's. Though, at the time, another Justices disagreed.


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


You know, it would still be grammatically correct if the two letter word "do" was removed. Once again, I believe the Framer's placed this word in the Preamble with a purpose. "Do" is an action verb. it also emphasizes in a stronger fashion verb after it, if it is in a verb phrase. Ordain is often used in a religious context, and is often interpreted to mean "prescribe, decree, order, or place someone (or in this case something) higher than oneself. The final verb "establish" has been used to describe settlements, colonies, and other permanent locations. "Establish" in this form often means complete finished and supported. However, action is necessary to maintain that which has been established. The idea of a "Constitution" was not unique at this time. This is due to the fact the defintion is "a body of fundamental principles or established precedent according to which a state or other organization is acknowledged to be governed." Constitutions existed prior to this one, just unwritten. This was the first time in history a people had written a constitution, and created a government with this kind of structure. Now, this was for "The United States of America." States, back then, were viewed as independent sovereign nations. This was the first time in history countries gathered together, and created a larger country. So, this constitution was written for the country of countries in America.

Conclusion:

Of course, this is only a brief explanation of my thoughts. There is always too much to share. But, the mere introduction of the Constitution has a powerful meaning. Throughout the history of the United States, The Supreme Court has dealt with only one case with a direct address an issue of the Preamble. In Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the Court ruled, " the Preamble indicates the general purpose for which the people ordained and established the Constitution" and went on to point out that "[the Preamble] has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred on the Government..." I agree with the court. The Preamble doesn't outline any of the government's responsibilities. Those may be read in the the other sections. However, the unique idea of this document part of the document is the Preamble specifies the responsibilities and goals of the people.

Perhaps the Preamble's power propagates perfectly when spoken like this:

"We, the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union to ourselves and our Posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We, the People of the United States, in Order to establish Justice to ourselves and our Posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We, the People of the United States, in Order to insure domestic Tranquility to ourselves and our Posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We, the People of the United States, in Order to provide for the common defence to ourselves and our Posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We, the People of the United States, in Order to promote the general Welfare to ourselves and our Posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We, the People of the United States, in Order to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."


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