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Democratic ideals in the Preamble to the US Constitution

The Constitutional Convention of 1787 aimed to revise the Articles of Confederation. Key figures like Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wanted a new Constitution, emphasizing "We the People". This phrase highlights popular sovereignty and social contract. The Constitution also signifies limited government and natural rights, aiming to establish justice, ensure tranquility, and promote welfare.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] This over here is a picture of the Constitutional Convention, which we mentioned happened in 1787. The original intent of the Constitutional Convention was to revise the Articles of Confederation, but folks like Alexander Hamilton and James Madison really wanted to replace the Articles of Confederation. You can see it's being presided over by George Washington. And it starts, the preamble says: "We the People of the United States, "in Order to form a more perfect Union, "establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, "provide for the common defense, "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." Once again, pause this video, and think about whether you see ideas of popular sovereignty, limited government, social contract, natural rights, going on even in this preamble, or even from the fact that they took the trouble to create this Constitution. Let's start at the beginning. It starts with "We the People." We, the people, are the ones that are creating this Constitution. And not only does it start with "We the People," but "We the People" is intentionally written in this very, very large writing right over here. This is a picture of the Constitution. It's really all about "We the People." The people are sovereign. This idea of popular sovereignty comes out loud and clear in not just the Declaration of Independence, but also the US Constitution. The fact that "We the People" are setting up this government, this is all about social contract. They are forming a government. They're forming a social contract with a government that is going to protect, that is going to establish justice, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare. Let me make this clear. That is this, this is all social contract. This is what we expect this government that we're creating to do. "Promote the general welfare, "and secure the Blessings of Liberty "to ourselves and our Posterity." Now what about things like limited government? Well, just the very fact that we have a Constitution is a sign of limited government, that it isn't just a pure democracy, that whoever is governing is going to be constrained. There, the rights of the government are going to be described by this constitution. We also talk about the Blessings of Liberty, so this is another reference to natural rights. The Declaration of Independence is a little bit more clear about natural rights, or a little bit more explicit, but the Blessings of Liberty does talk about, or that's maybe in reference to, natural rights. I will leave you there. As we study US Government, both the Declaration of Independence and even more so the US Constitution are going to be things that we keep going back to to understand how we are trying to form a more perfect Union, and what is in line with the vision of our Founding Fathers, and what isn't?