A very small portion of the internet world might read this post about celebrating Constitution Day. Tomorrow, it will vanish into the bottomless pit of internet blog posts only to be revived momentarily when it is tapped to be displayed somewhere in the 29,400,000 links in a Google search on “Constitution Day.” Yes! Made the top 30,000,000!!!
Organizing my words for this little blog post puts me in awe at how challenging it must have been for Gouverneur Morris, the penman of the Constitution, to find just the right wording to stand the test of time.
His famous 52 words are the words in the Preamble to the United States Constitution and read as follows:
“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.”
What Governeur Morris wrote, with the approval of the Continental Congress, has guided our nation through good times and bad for 228 years now. Many people are at least familiar with the names George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry, and Samuel Adams. Ask 10 people who Governeur Morris was and you’ll most likely get a guess that he was a governor of some state at some time in history. Governeur was actually his first name, which might have helped steer him toward politics. Who knows?
Ask kids to memorize it, and they will. Ask kids to explain who their “posterity” is, or what “general welfare” means, or what Morris meant by “secure the blessings of liberty?” Chances are your students won’t have a clue.
After Thursday, they should have a pretty good idea. I use this Preamble Activity every year with my students on Constitution Day. It gives them a clear and concise way to break down the Preamble into understandable language. They then explain it in a way that people today would go, “Ohhh…so that’s what that means?!”
It’s only 52 words, but I love these 52 words that Governeur Morris wrote.
228 years later we might not have all the wrinkles of our country ironed out yet, but we can look back at those 52 words Governeur Morris wrote like a geographer looks at a compass…for guidance.
Happy Constitution Day!
See you next Monday!
Surviving Social Studies