Sunday, November 22, 2009
A More Perfect Union
The second principle in the Preamble of the United States Constitution names the first goal of sound government: Form a more perfect union, meaning to bind the states more strongly together. This principle states that the people of the United States had the Right to live in a nation with unity among the states. I remind you that the Constitutional Convention was held to fix the Articles of Confederation because the leaders of the new nation understood the need for the states to be unified. Historians tell us that there were numerous attempts to bring unity to the Thirteen Colonies over a period of more than one hundred years, but all of the attempts failed until the Constitution was written and ratified. The Constitution was a major achievement for the Founders. Alexander Hamilton stated: "The principle purposes to be answered by union are these - the common defense of the members; the preservation of the public peace, as well against internal convulsions as external attacks; the regulation of commerce with other nations and between the states; the superintendence of our intercourse, political and commercial, with foreign countries" (as quoted by W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America, p 236). The Founders understood that there was great danger if America were divided into thirteen individual governments or several small confederacies. There was also danger if the Thirteen Colonies were united under a loose-knit confederation such as the Articles of Confederation. Individual states or those loosely woven together would be easier to attack and destroy. One reason for this would be the difficulty of raising and supporting armies and navies as was evidenced during the Revolutionary War. Another reason is that different factions might choose to support different foreign nations. For example, the southern states might choose to support France, the middle states choose support Spain, and the northern states choose to support England - and all end up fighting each other. A strong united America would present a more forbidding presence than a weak or disunited America. The Thirteen Colonies could be compared to a family. When the individuals go their separate ways and do their own things, they can be picked off and destroyed one by one. When the family is unified and stands together against all opposition, they are much harder to destroy. As a visual aid for this home evening lesson, gather thirteen items. I suggest pop cycle sticks but pieces of yarn would also work. If you use pop cycle sticks. I suggest that you write the name of one of the Thirteen Colonies on each stick. You could demonstrate how easy it is to break one stick or string compared to how much harder it is to break a bundle of sticks or a rope of string. Thirteen items bound tightly together are much harder to break. To form a more perfect Union was a major goal for the Constitution. The Founders knew that America must show the world that man is capable of self-government. If their great experiment of self-government were to succeed, the states must be unified.