Lacey Smith

Freedom Fridays: The Preamble of the Constitution, an overview

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm

For the next several weeks, Freedom Fridays will focus on the Constitution. Some sections are less important to our freedoms than others and so they might not even be mentioned.

One section vitally important to our freedom is the Preamble. A preamble is “an introductory statement; especially : the introductory part of a constitution or statute that usually states the reasons for and intent of the law” (Miriam-Webster online, emphasis added).

Just as the Declaration of Independence was one of the fundamental building blocks of the Constitution, the Preamble is essential to understanding our freedoms.

It’s short, and you should read it:

“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.”

Why do I think the preamble is so important? It establishes the purposes of our federal government and under what authority and power the government is allowed to rule.

According to the Preamble, the purposes of our Constitution are the following:

  • Form a more perfect Union
  • Establish justice
  • Insure domestic tranquility
  • Provide for the common defence
  • Promote the general welfare
  • Secure the blessings of liberty
  • Maintain liberty for generations to come.

The federal government rules, according to the Preamble, because of the people of the United States. We created the constitution (our forefathers did) and whatever the government does, or doesn’t do, is because we give it power.

Whenever a law is proposed, our representatives should compare it to the Preamble.

Does a law perfect our Union, establish justice, bring peace at home, protect us from internal and external threats, encourage the well-doing of the general American public (not individuals or groups, but the whole), and/or secure or maintain liberty? And is it what the people want?

If the answer is not yes to at least one of these (although simply the “will of the people” may not be enough), then the law has no place in our code.

I also believe that the final points, to secure and maintain liberty, should weigh more heavily than the others. I think a truly free people with reasonable laws will be inclined towards domestic tranquility, defending their country and providing for individual and general welfare.

Additionally, we should study the words used. We need to know what they mean and what the original intent was.

We can’t assume we can apply today’s meanings to words written nearly 225 years ago. Words change over time and we should know what they meant when they were written.

Before diving into the rest of the Constitution, I’m going to break down each section of the Preamble and why I think it is one of the keys to a limited government.

The Constitution is a wealth of information about what makes America great and how to keep it free. Studying it in detail can be tough work, but it is always worth it as we discover more of our legacy and heritage.

“We the People of the United States…establish[ed] this Constitution for the United States of America.” It is a sacred document.

Maintaining the integrity of the government established by the Constitution determines whether or not the American Experiment succeeds.

The Preamble gives us a measuring stick to know how well we are doing at keeping what we were given.


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