There should be no dispute that government is required to secure the rights of life and liberty to the individual, to the community and to the nation. The Declaration of Independence states that: "[T]o secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." Thomas Jefferson said: "The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation for any government." William Penn stated: "[G]overnments rather depend upon men than men upon government." John Jay, author of several of the Federalist Papers, and the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, stated: "Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of Government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights, in order to vest it with requisite powers." These rights and powers, designed to uphold liberty and to protect person and property, are delegated to government by the people. Aristoltle wrote: "If liberty and equality, as it is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in a democracy, they will be best obtained when all persons share in the government to the utmost." Abraham Lincoln described our democratic republic as: "a government of the people, by the people [and] for the people." Thus, "We the People" are the determinants of our government.
The continuing challenge of any people and government is to maintain a balance of power with adequate controls to ensure the safety and felicity of the people. The entire treatise of the Federalist Papers serves as reference to the need to delegate and diffuse governmental powers in order to ensure our safety and felicity from potential internal and external harms. James Madison stated: "[T]he preservation of liberty requires, that the three great departments of power [executive, legislative and judiciary] should be separate and distinct." James Wilson wrote: "Liberty and happiness have a powerful enemy on each hand; on the one hand tyranny, on the other licentiousness [anarchy]. To guard against the latter, it is necessary to give the proper powers to government; and to guard against the former, it is necessary that those powers should be properly distributed." Woodrow Wilson said: "The history of liberty is a history of the limitations of governmental power, not the increase of it."
Both the limitation and balance of power lie at the heart of the U.S. Constitution. It stands as the preeminent example of how a government may be structured with "checks and balances" to secure liberty "with equal justice for all." Various governments may be traced throughout history; yet, the liberty that has existed in America since the establishment of its Constitutional government in 1787 is the most profound and enlightened in secular history. It has served as the model for constitutions of many other nations. Benjamin Franklin said of it: "It astonishes me to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does." Gladstone called the Constitution: "The most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man." The inspired Constitution of the United States of America truly serves as the cradle of liberty.
"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, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." (Preamble)