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Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1847, by
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of
STEREOTYPED BY L. JOHNSON & CO.
GEORGE MIFFLIN DALLAS,
VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,
THIS EDITION OF THE CONSTITUTION
IS XNSCKIBED BT
"The Constitution in its words is plain and intelligible, and it is meant for the homebred, unsophisticated understandings of our fellow-citizens."
"The people alone are the absolute owners and uncontrollable movers of such sovereignty as human beings can claim to exercise; subject to the eternal and unchangeable rules of justice, of truth, and of good Faith. The moral law is out of its reach; sovereignty cannot violate that, and be more justified than the humblest individual."
"Yield away the Constitution and the Union, and where are we? Frittered into fragments, and not able to claim one portion of the past as peculiarly our own! Our Union is not merely a blessing; it is a political necessity. We cannot exist without it. I mean, that all of existence which is worth having must depart with it. Our liberties could not endure the incessant conflicts of civil and conterminous strife; our independence would be an unreal mockery, our very memories would turn to bitterness."
(Mr. Dallas in defence of the Constitution.)
The provision under which This Book May Be Transmitted By Mail free or Fosta&e, by persons having the privilege of franking public documents, is contained in "An act to establish certain post-routes, and for other purposes," approved 3d March, 1847, in the following words:—
"Such publications or books as have been or may be published, procured, or purchased by order of either House of Congress, or a joint resolution of the two Houses, shall be considered as public documents, and entitled to be franked as such."
The Constitution, as the fireside companion of the American citizen, preserves in full freshness and vigor the recollection of the patriotic virtues and persevering courage of those gallant spirits of the Revolution who achieved the national independence, and the intelligence and fidelity of those fathers of the republic who seemed, by this noble charter, the fruits and the blessings of independence. The judgment of the Senate of the United States has declared the importance of familiarizing American citizens, more extensively, with this fundamental law of their country, and has approved its association with the examples of republican virtue and the paternal advice of the "Father of his country," joined to other kindred matter, constituting the body of this work. To this honorable body is due the credit of having provided for the first general promulgation of the Constitution, the continued dissemination of whose wise injunctions and conservative principles among the people, can alone preserve their fraternal union and the precious inheritance of freedom.
That branch of the government which is clothed by the Constitution with legislative, executive and judicial powers, and thus invested with three separate authorities to preserve, protect, and defend this venerated instrument, has been pleased to take the initiative in a measure calculated so powerfully to support the Constitution, as that of giving it, in its simplicity and purity, to the people, who possess, themselves, the sovereign power to judge of the manner in which it may be executed, to rebuke its infraction, and to defend its integrity, and who therefore require every legitimate aid to enable them to perform this vitally important duty in justice, truth, and good faith, for "The Constitution in its words is plain and intelligible, and it is meant for the homebred, unsophisticated understandings of our fellow-citizens." "It is addressed to the common sense of the people."
Several distinguished authorities and individuals having, in the plenitude of their liberality, honored the author and compiler with their sentiments on the subject-matter of the work, he claims the indulgence of the friends of the Constitution in giving them place in this edition, believing, that a salutary effect may be produced by the sanction of their special approbation, and the expression of their several views of the importance of an extended dissemination of that instrument. These may impress, in terms more unexceptionable, the obligation incumbent on every intelligent citizen to make himself acquainted with its provisions, restrictions, and limitations, and of imparting, so far as the ability may extend, a knowledge of this paramount law of our country to the minds of the rising generation.
The length of time required in the ordinary course of business, for obtaining a practical knowledge of the operations of government, by persons entering into public life, and their embarrassments for the want of a convenient mode of reference to the various sources of information, have suggested the utility of preparing, as a part of this work, and as germain to its design, a means of collecting and rendering available to the public interest the experience and information acquired in this respect, in the progress of time, by attention to the business of legislation in the public service. The five new chapters in this edition may therefore be considered an essay, to be improved and extended hereafter, with a view, not only to add to the intrinsic matter proper to be read and studied by the great body of American citizens, but to render it peculiarly a vade meeum to the statesman and legislator, the ministering to whose individual convenience must, necessarily, result in facilitating the performance of arduous public duty, and in promoting, in no inconsiderable degree, the public interests.