III. The Occasion and Purpose of the Constitution

Catechism of the Constitution Book CoverThe Federalist Papers has posted a PDF copy of an Elementary Catechism on the Constitution by Arthur J. Stansbury. I’m publishing it here on Mondays in a series of posts. There are no sections in the book, so I’m dividing it into any natural breaks of topics and the posts will vary in length. Any emphases within the text are Stansbury’s.

III. The Occasion and Purpose of the Constitution

Q. What was the change produced by the Revolution?

A. The different Colonies became each a free state, having power to govern itself in any way it should think proper.

Q. Had not one state any power over the other?

A. None at all — and the several states might have remained entirely distinct countries, as much as France and Spain.

Q. Did they?

A. No. Having been led to unite together to help each other in the war, they soon began to find that it would be much better for each of them that they should all continue united in its farther prosecution, and accordingly they entered into an agreement (which was called a Confederation) in which they made some laws which they all agreed to obey; but after their independence was obtained, finding the defects of this plan, they called a Convention in which they laid a complete plan for uniting all the states under one GENERAL GOVERNMENT — this plan is called THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION. On this great plan, or Constitution the safety and happiness of the United States does, under Almighty God mainly depend: all our laws are made by its direction or authority; whoever goes contrary to it injures and betrays his country, injures you, injures me, betrays us all, and is deserving of the heaviest punishment. Whoever, on the contrary, loves and keeps it sacred, is his country’s best friend, secures his own safety, and farthers the happiness of all around him. Let every American learn, from his earliest years, to love, cherish and obey the Constitution. Without this he can neither be a great or a good citizen; without this his name will never be engraved with honor in the pages of our history, nor transmitted, like that of Washington, with praises and blessings to a late posterity.

In the heading under Charters of Freedom, you will find a copy of the Constitution as well as links to other pertinent primary documents and commentary on the Constitution.

Elementary Catechism on the Constitution posts:
Elementary Catechism on the Constitution (Preface)
I. The Necessity of Government and Its Forms
II. The American Revolution
III. The Occasion and Purpose of the Constitution
IV. State and National Laws
V. The House of Representatives
VI. The Senate
VII. Impeachment
__________
Book image from The Federalist Papers. Other reading formats of the Elementary Catechism on the Constitution can be found here.

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