Monday, July 17, 2006

House of Representatives, February 7, 1791....

"The Constitution, in the present case, is the great law of the people, who are themselves the sovereign legislature; and the preamble is in these words--
"We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
"These are the great objects for which the Constitution was established; and in administering it, we should always keep them in view. And here it is remarkable, that, although common defence and general welfare are held up, in the preamble, amongst the primary objects of attention, they are again mentioned in the 8th section of the 1st article, whereby we are enjoined, in laying taxes, duties, &c., particularly to regard the common defence and general welfare. Indeed, common sense dictates the measure; for the security of our property, families, and liberties--of every thing dear to us--depends on our ability to defend them. The means, therefore, for attaining this object, we ought not to omit a year, a month, or even a day, if we could avoid it; and we are never provided for defence unless prepared for sudden emergencies."
- Elbridge Gerry, [Elliot's Debates, Volume 4]


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