The Constitution of the United States of America is the document nobody knows. Like the Bible, all Americans make reference to it, and some profess to revere it, but few read it. Fewer still understand the written words and appreciate the effect of its provisions upon their daily lives and interests.
How long has it been since you read the Constitution? Have you studied it with a view to understanding the effect it has on your daily acts? Did you know that it was the supreme law of the land, and that by it you are guaranteed the right to life, to liberty, and to property?
This is the first of a series of articles designed (1) to renew our knowledge of that document. (2) to assist us in gaining a healthy reverence for the document itself and for the rights and privileges which it guarantees, and (3) to prepare us to maintain those rights and privileges against all subversive influences however subtle.
From time to time an idea gets out into the political field to the effect that the Constitution of the United States is an anachronism, a mass of dry bones, an instrument of government adapted to a horse and buggy age.
Some of our politicians and would-be politicians are preaching that our form of government, is obsolete and that it should be replaced by a planned economy, and that the restraints of the Constitution are not practical in a modern industrial and complex civilization. They profess to admit that this form of government may have sufficed for thirteen sparsely settled colonies on the Atlantic coast but claim that it is entirely out of step with the progress of an enlightened industrial age.
In recent years recurring attempts have been made to override many of the time tested constitutional restraints with what seemed to be the will of the people for the moment. To accomplish this end. demagogues have affirmed that this basic law of the land is no longer so wholly essential as it has previously been in guaranteeing our rights and that humanitarianism and social betterment require the disregarding of some of its precepts.
To champion principles more divergent from fundamental political truth and verity would be difficult to do. To disregard the constitutional rights guaranteed in that document is to trample under foot the cumulative experience of over 900 years of the development of the common law. It is to suppose that the rights and freedoms for which Englishmen have been fighting and dying since the days of William the Conqueror have not been worth the sacrifice.
The Constitution is the very foundation and substance of the freedom of all men of this nation, and it is as needful, or more needful that its precepts be kept alive today than at any other time in the history of man’s struggle for freedom. Freedom is dearly bought, but easily sold.
The study of the Constitution is the study of the rights of free men, and of the development of the liberties of the people. The Constitution is a code of the people’s liberties; it came into existence by the sovereign will of the people, and is so ordered that it cannot go out of existence except by the will of the people, or at least as a result of their indifference and acquiescence.
These rights did not spring spontaneously into existence in 1787 when the Founding Fathers sat in convention in Philadelphia; they had been brought and paid for by the blood of one revolution in the colonies, and several in the mother country. If they are to be lost in our time, it will be because the descendants of the free no longer hear the cry of the blood spilled in freedom’s cause crying from the ground. But they need no be lost if the valor will gained them can be found to defend them. If our freedoms should be load the lesson of history is that to regain them would require again the blood and toil and struggle by which they were made secure by our fathers.
The political and civil salvation of the United States lies in maintaining those rights and privileges and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. A knowledge of that document is essential to a decent preparation to a decent preparation of the ability to preserve those freedoms.
“Frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is essential to the security of individual rights and the perpetuity of free government.” (Constitution of Utah).
which appeared on the editorial page (page 4) of
The Deseret News, 19 March 1945 through 10 April 1945.