The Preamble to the Constitution begins with “We the People”. The reason for such an introduction is perhaps a bit more intricate than most understand it to be. There are two reasons for this introduction. The first being that the Articles of Confederation and the government created by it, were created by the states. It was a “perpetual union“, and could not dissolve itself. However, going to the ultimate source, the People, they had every right to reject that government for one created by themselves. The right is clearly spelled out in the Declaration of Independence, to wit:
That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, 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.
The second reason is based upon who was to approve the Constitution. Most of the states had created new governments, via their respective constitutions. However, the constitutions, in most states, were created and approved by the legislative body. Each had an amendment provision, though that provision allowed the successive legislatures to change the constitution through legislative enactment. This meant that the constitutions were an ineffective safeguard against usurpation. By the time of the Philadelphia Convention, most states had resorted back to the people for both ratification and amendment to their constitutions. This concept had permeated the legislative bodies, including that Convention — and the authority of the People, though through conventions, the sole source of authority. The government could not remove the constraints placed upon it by the Constitution.
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