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.
The Preamble Project
September 1, 2008
Back in 2008, we had an idea for a project to call attention to the “mission statement” of our Constitution – the Preamble. If it is such a bedrock document, its meaning, message and values should be an important touchstone for running our country. We were particularly interested in the priority of the words and the fact that some are capitalized (like Justice) and others are not (like defense). What if we put this structure to better use as a road map for decision making?
October 5, 2011
In Fall of 2011, Occupy Wall Street spurred a global movement against social inequality and a lack of effective democracy in the face of corporate influence of governments. We heard a lot of critique about the lack of clear “demands” on the part of Occupy participants. It seemed clear to us. Many voices calling for democracy will mean many messages, but those messages can be joined by a common theme. Here in the US, we have a touchstone in the Constitution – and specifically, the Preamble – to make sure we are fulfilling the intent of our stated national core values.
This moment was a good time to officially launch The Preamble Project. We created this flyer, available as a free download, for anyone to use during Occupy action that fall.
October 8, 2011
Words have meaning. And the way we use them is critical to understanding. You know that internet joke about grammar saving lives? There’s a big difference between “Let’s Eat Grandma” and “Let’s Eat, Grandma!”
Through our Preamble Project, we took a deep look at word order and capitalization of the Preamble of the US Constitution and noticed something very interesting. The words that seem the most important are those that are capitalized: Union, Justice, Tranquility, Welfare, Blessings of Liberty. While it was common to capitalize nouns in 18th century grammar, we’re not sure that’s the reason. Another key noun in the sequence is the word “defence” (British spelling) – but it remains lower case. Could it be that the positive and proactive ideas have greater importance for our country’s highest legal document than the reactive necessity of defense? What do you think?
January 22, 2017
The Preamble Project is an ongoing way to highlight our country’s “mission statement” in symbolic and creative ways. As the Constitution is referenced to make, change or dismantle policies, the Preamble becomes an important touchstone to remember what is at its core.
Here are some creative ideas we have for reactivating The Preamble Project in 2017 and beyond. We’d love to hear any other thoughts you might have too!
Calling for the Preamble to be a legally binding part of the Constitution.
Calling for the US government to evaluate new initiatives in relation to the intent of the Preamble, and to uphold the hierarchy and intent when setting legislative and fiscal priorities and legal judgments.
Creating a nationwide network of artists who publicly interpret the meaning of the words in the Preamble in symbolic and creative ways.
Coordinating grassroots events to bring together masses of people to recite the Preamble.
Sharable materials that highlight the core values of the Preamble.
Leave a comment below or e-mail to jump into this project with us!