The Essential Constitution

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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.

Understanding the Constitution therefore requires examining each of these principles, and it is essential
that we do so because, as President James Madison stated in his 1810 State of the Union message to
Congress, “a well-informed people alone can be permanently a free people.”1
President Andrew Jackson
made the same point in his 1837 farewell address: “But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that
eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and you must pay the price if you wish to secure
the blessing.”2
This booklet is designed to help all Americans appreciate and defend the meaning and purpose of the
Constitution so that they may preserve freedom for themselves and for succeeding generations.