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A More Perfect Union

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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 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.

On this date 226 years ago, George Washington et al. signed the proposed Constitution and sent it to Congress with a recommendation to submit it to the States for ratification.
Note the comparative "more perfect."  Politics is the art of the possible, and the proposed Constitution was far from perfect.  The same document that declared its purpose to "establish Justice" also provided, "No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due."

Nonetheless, the Constitution was a big step forward.  Like a scoring drive in a football game, every play that moves the ball downfield from where it was before is a contribution to the final score.  The Constitution established an enduring structure of government that enabled further advances throughout history.

Note also how the preamble includes both public safety and liberty.  Domestic tranquility is essential, as is the common defense, and punishment of crime is a major component of justice.  These values are to be protected along with liberty.  Freedom from excessive government intrusion is also essential, but that freedom is not much use if one is unprotected from murderers and invaders.  The importance of this balance is too often forgotten.

We owe a large debt to those who crafted the Constitution and fought for its ratification.  Despite the necessary compromises of the time, it was a monumental step forward for humanity.

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