« PreviousContinue »
officers and persons by whom it shall be taken.
Washington, in the preservation of American liberty,
answer of Thomas Mifflin, President of Congress, to
JAMES Madison, President of the United States, on entering upon the duties of the office, declared, that “to support the Constitution, which is the cement of the Union, as well in its limitations as in its authorities, and to favor the advancement of science and the diffusion of information, as the best aliment to true liberty," with other salutary sentiments and intentions, would be a resource which could not fail him; and added, “but the source to which I look for the aid which alone can supply my deficiencies, is the well tried intelligence and virtue of my fellowcitizens, and in the counsels of those representing them in the other departments associated in the care of the national interests."
“ To support the Constitution” by his talents, by his best services, and with his life, if required, is the firm and irrevocable determination of every true patriot; but the support
support” presupposes a knoroledge of that valued instrument; and the knowledge can
alone be expected to follow a careful reading and study of its letter and its spirit. To afford an opportunity to every American citizen to do this, is the object in the publication of the present edition.
If, as Cicero informs us, in ancient Rome the very boys were obliged to learn the twelve tables by heart, as a carmen necessarium, or indispensable lesson, to imprint on their tender minds an early knowledge of the laws and constitution of their country,
“ Nocturna versate manu, versate diurna.” If it was deemed important to the preservation of British liberty, in the earlier and better days of that country, that Magna Charta should be authoritatively promulgated and read to the people, it is no less important to the preservation of American literty, that every intelligent citizen should, by his own will and authority, aided by the liberality of the Government, possess a copy of this great charter of American liberty.
There appears to have been no formal provision made by the Government of the United States for the promulgation of the Constitution, except by a concurrent resolution of the two Houses of Congress, made during the first Congress, (6th July, 1789,) whereby it was " Resolved, that there be prefixed to
the publication of the acts of the present session of Congress, a correct copy of the Constitution of Government for the United States." This, however, was sufficient to shew the intention and the judgment of the Patrcs Patriæ upon the subject.
Every good citizen, capable of reading and understanding its meaning, is bound by duty to his country, if in his power, to possess a copy of the Constitution. The compiler of this publication has added the Declaration of Independence, with invaluable matter claiming paternity of the “Father of his country,'' and other interesting information, and has sa limited the cost of this Constitutional bouquet, as to enable the Government, should such be its pleasure, by a judicious and liberal investment in this provident stock—to lay up, for a time of need, a vast fund of available treasure in the minds and the hearts of the people, for the defence of their liberties and the perpetuity of their institutions—to sow the good seed in virgin soil, which might otherwise be occupied by noxious weeds. With diffidence it is submitted, that this nationul object may be practically effected by the distribution of barely so many copies as may place one in each village or neighborhood, which would introduce it to the knowledge of the people, who