Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States

Constitution 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 author of the Wikipedia article on the Preamble describes it in the following manner.

"The Preamble to the United States Constitution is a brief introductory statement of the Constitution's fundamental purposes and guiding principles. It states in general terms, and courts have referred to it as reliable evidence of, the Founding Fathers' intentions regarding the Constitution's meaning and what they hoped the Constitution would achieve. The phrase 'We the people' epitomizes the United States government's republican form."

If this is so then the first thing that needs to be recognized is the fact is that the founding fathers who gathered together were representatives of their respective independent States. Thus, we know that they were speaking on behalf of the States and not of the individual persons of their respective State as promoted by one ideology. We can know this because the union they refer to is an union of States not an union of people. The name that they chose for this new nation is proof of that.

While I might agree with the author in regards to the fact that the first phrase epitomizes the fact that the government is of a republican form, it says more than that. The word people is also a collective term. Thus, the word State may be used synonymously in its place also. So, that phrase serves two purposes. In applying this term we can use a more specific manner for the interpretation of the Constitution of the U.S. Constitution.

We can now say “We, the States,” and do so without corrupting the intent of the founding fathers. We can also refer it as saying “We the people who rule” without corrupting the meaning behind the phrase since it is the people who make up the governments of each state that are the representatives of their respective States and act in the name of their States. It also complies with the political definition of the word State which each State was at the time of the Constitution's writing. It would also recognize that each State was intended to be self ruling. By its ratification, each State was assured of remaining a self ruling State.

We can now expand that phrase to include the second phrase. Thus, we have, “We, the States, in order to form a more perfect union of States,." From this we must remember that this constitution was intended on replacing the old constitution of the Articles of Confederation. Therefore the intent to was declare that this constitution was an improvement over the last which they considered as flawed thus declaring that this was a more perfect document of rule of government.

Further expansion gives us this. “We the States, in order to form a more perfect union of States, establish justice for the States,”. We must recognize this from the fact that the founding fathers thought that the Crown was not treating the colonies in a just manner. The Declaration of Independence reveals some of the grievances that the colonies had with the Crown.

The “insure domestic tranquility” phrase would then be written as “insure domestic tranquility among the States,”. This phrase was included in hopes of averting something that seemed to be a common occurrence in Europe, wars between the States over there. That was the primary purpose of the establishment of the Supreme Court. It was set up to be the arbitrator of any domestic disputes that might lead to a war between any of the States such a the Civil war that occurred later. As set up in this manner the Supreme Court would be an unbiased independent party of any dispute brought before it.

To “provide for the common defense” phrase is pretty obvious that it was meant to be thought of in respect to the States. Its intent being to declare to all foreign nations that an attack upon one State was an attack on every State. It recognized the strength of the foreign States and the weakness of each independent State at this time and saw the value of unity for this purpose.

The rest of the preamble deals with foreign policy. It was to declare that the President was to pursue a foreign policy that was to promote the general welfare of the States, and secure the liberty for them and for their posterity in accordance to the will of the States. This was to assure that each State remained self ruled.

It is from this understanding we can see the the intent of the States who had just fought a war for the purpose of becoming self ruled and wanting to remain self ruled. To say that these States fought for independence then to turn around and subordinate themselves to another government would be inconsistent.

It is this understanding that allows us to see how the fathers remained consistent in regards to self rule under this constitution as it was declared under the previous one. It would take one hell of an argument to persuade me that this understanding was not the intent of the founding fathers as well as the States when they accepted this constitution.


Gorges Smythe said...

I agree with you, but there was dissent, even back then. If I remember, Hamilton was one of those.

BB-Idaho said...

Interesting concept. The preamble was written by
Governeur Morris.
Morris "was perhaps the most outspoken nationalist among the Founding Fathers. Although born into a world of wealth and aristocratic values, he had come to champion the concept of a free citizenry united in an independent nation. In an age when most still thought of themselves as citizens of their sovereign and separate states, Morris was able to articulate a clear vision of a new and powerful union." As a founding father, he was more interested in a new nation, rather than an aglommeration of states.
A prescient man, Morris was one of the few who came out at that time against slavery..the ugly
economics of which led to
the question of 'states
rights'...and why some
libertarians dislike Lincoln (and IMO, the other four stone faces on Mt. Rushmore. All water under the bridge now, but
I would be interested in
how 13 separate and individual states would have fared over these last 240 years....

The Griper said...

interesting question, BB but unfortunately a question that can never be answered factually. in my opinion though, without the unity they each would have lost their independence quickly as they nearly did in the war of 1812 even tho they were united in war.

The Griper said...

and one more note BB, is that the two nations agreed to cooperate in the elimination of the slave trade in the treaty of Ghent also.

The Griper said...

i also agree with you George. In fact i would seriously question anyone who tried to say there was no dissent. that would suggest that it was accepted without debate.

BB-Idaho said...

States rights vs the national constitution, as I understand history, was
sorted out in the transition from the Articles of Confederation
["Nationalists led by George Washington and Alexander Hamilton felt that the Articles lacked the necessary provisions for a sufficiently effective government"] to
the constitution, eg transferring power from the various states to the national gov't. The virtues of this were argued intermittantly, but
became critical when the
slave states began to fall behind in population (and hence fewer reps in congress). This became
exacerbated by abolutionist sentiment in the north. Starting with
John C. Calhoun, the sole remaining argument was
states rights...ulimately
ending with the formation of the abolutionist GOP, the election of Lincoln,
the secession and the war.
While that preserved the union, states rights has continued to be an argument
for those disagreeing with
national policy (Eisenhower federalizing
Arkansas troops and sending
combat units to Alabama-first time since Reconstruction) argument essentially between states rights and civil rights. Being more or less content with both my state and my country,
I have no fish to fry in the matter...but, take the POV that there is a national 'federal', followed by a variety of
states...the states being comprised of counties, counties made up of townships, then cities and towns (well, I DO have a problem with towns..they
assign property taxes!)
Each of these descending
entities reserves certain rights. So in an interesting way, our POV in the matter is EITHER it is a workable natural
order....OR a giant Ponzi
Scheme. :)

The Griper said...

"So in an interesting way, our POV in the matter is EITHER it is a workable natural
order....OR a giant Ponzi
Scheme. :)"

he chuckles. an interesting conclusion my fine feathered friend. :)

and from the viewpoint of a central government being the dominant government I'd agree with the hierarchy as you described. and if we look at most governments around the world it is this hierarchial basis that describes them.

the question becomes on whether that was the intent of the Constitution of this nation or not? and if it wasn't the intent expressed in this Constitution can we say that the Constitution is binding any more?

the funny thing is that we can find both ideas in recent history, the USSR and the EU. in the USSR power was centralized and in the EU power is not centralized yet.

you might find my next post that i'm formulating in my head right now very interesting.

Lista said...

The Actual Phrase that Brings the Individual People into Play is the Phrase "Of the People, For the People and By the People".

Thanks so much for the History Lesson, you Guys.

I Think I Pretty Much Understood all that you said in your Post this time, Griper, but I do have a Question Relating to your Last Comment. What other Structure can there be besides the Hierarchy of Federal, State, County, Town, Etc. and what Evidence is there that anything other than that was Intended?

How Much Power should be Granted at Each Level is an Interesting Question and it is Difficult to Specifically Spell that Out.

The Griper said...

"What other Structure can there be besides the Hierarchy of Federal, State, County, Town, Etc. and what Evidence is there that anything other than that was Intended?"

he smiles. that is a very good question. and in that question you have inspired me in regards to another post.

have to say that both, you and BB, are inspiring the daylights out of me. :)

but a brief response would be a double hierarchy, one hierarchy in respect to domestic affairs and another hierarchy in regards to foreign affairs.

The Griper said...

I might add one more thing to what i said it would have to be a hierarchy that replaces the federal government as the dominant power.

Lista said...

Well, I'm not Following you, for I Still have No Idea what it is that you are saying.

Lista said...

Thanks, though, for Finally Complementing me in the Fact that I too at Times Inspire you. That's nice to Know. I was beginning to Wonder whether or not that was still True.


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