Happy Constitution Day! The United States Constitution is 229 years old, which is a remarkable feat. Our nation’s constitution is the oldest constitution still in use. It was was signed in 1787, but wasn’t ratified until 1789.
We have enjoyed a constitutional republic for 229 years which when you look at the world around us is quite a feat as well. This is not something we can sit on our laurels about. Liberty must be preserved, and we must be diligent as Benjamin Franklin warned when asked what form of government was produced by those assembled. “A republic, if you can keep it.”
When you consider how remarkable this document is looking right at the 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.
“We the People” not “we the states” form a more perfect Union. The government established by the Constitution as Abraham Lincoln noted in his Gettysburg address is a government by the people, for the people and of the people.
This shouldn’t surprise us as this line of thought was clearly seen in the Declaration of Independence, “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Something else that is remarkable about our Constitution is that it doesn’t grant us our liberty, but “secures the Blessings of Liberty.” The Declaration in more explicit language made that clear – our rights do not come from Government. Government can protect our rights, but they can never grant them.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” the Declaration declares.
The Declaration also includes a warning that applies to even our own Constitution.
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
We have a republic, if we can keep it and I pray for my children and grandchildren that we do.