The Myth of ‘We The People’, Part 2: Origins and rebuttal

In regards to the origins of the myth, we must first look to the Constitution itself.

The preamble to the Constitution states that, “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 perpetrators of this myth regard this as the fundamental basis to their theory. Since the preamble (which for the record has no legal weight) states that “We the People of the United States…ordain and establish this Constitution,” rather than stating the several states ordained the Constitution, and listing them individually as the Articles of Confederation does, it definitively establishes that ‘the People’ created the Constitution and the States’ sovereignty was rendered null. The Constitution also does not explicitly state that all the States retain their sovereignty, as the Articles did. Alexander Hamilton, followed by John Marshall, and later Abraham Lincoln all perpetrated this myth, culminating in the Civil War which supposedly settled the issue of state sovereignty. On this information alone, it seems reasonable to a casual observer that this must be true. However, when the evidence is more carefully scrutinized, the theory falls apart.


Firstly, the change made from the Articles to the Constitution, listing the several States, like the original draft of the Constitution did versus stating ‘We the People’, although seemingly substantial, was actually unsubstantial. The change was made not to affect some change in who established and ordained the Constitution, it was changed for practical reasons. It was changed to reflect the realization that all the 13 states that would be listed MAY NOT ratify the Constitution. Thus, this change was affected by the Committee on Style and Arrangement to reflect this concern and save any embarrassment that would come if all 13 states didn’t ratify it (only 9 states needed to ratify the Constitution for it to take effect). This change WAS NOT even voted on, and certainly cannot be construed as some drastic change from the Articles to the Constitution, as they’d like you to believe.


Secondly, the most important fact about the ratification of the Constitution: it had to be, and was, ratified individually by all of the 13 states for the federal government under the Constitution to have power over them. This also precludes the idea that the Federal government somehow preceded the States and was one amorphous mass, rather than a Union of sovereign states. One only need to look to the Declaration of Independence, which declares the thirteen United States independent, and the Treaty of Paris where King George recognized each of the States individually listed as sovereign bodies, not as some centralized body called the United States. Back then, when the “United States” was referred to, it was as a plural, ie. a group of United States, as opposed to today when the “United States” is referred to as a singular. The Treaty of Paris reads, “His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent states, that he treats with them as such, and for himself, his heirs, and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof.” So much for the states not being sovereign?


Thirdly, the claim that since sovereignty is not expressly listed in the Constitution (as it is in the Articles of Confederation) the States do not have it goes against the principle of enumerated powers. This claim inverts the intention of the framers of the Constitution. The Constitution was designed to limit the powers of the FEDERAL government, not the States. The Tenth Amendment states that, “
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” So, we can see that whether it be sovereignty, or any other power, if it is not expressly given to the Federal government, it is reserved to the states. This is why powers like secession and nullification are actually Constitutional.

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