What is a Con*sti*tu*tion (kon-ste-tü-shen)?
1. n. system of fundamental principles according to which a nation, state, or society is governed.
2. n. the written set of fundamental principles by which the United States is governed.
How Others Have Defined The Constitution
- “I confess that there are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them. For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.”
— Benjamin Franklin
- “My political curiosity, exclusive of my anxious solicitude for the public welfare, leads me to ask who authorized them (the framers of the Constitution) to speak the language of ‘We, the People,’ instead of ‘We, the States’?”
— Patrick Henry
- “As the British Constitution is the most subtle organism which has proceeded from the womb and long gestation of progressive history, so the American Constitution is, so far as I can see, the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”
— W. E. Gladstone
- “The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the Judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”
— Thomas Jefferson
- “I am exceedingly distressed at the proceedings of the Convention—being . . . almost sure, they will . . . lay the foundation of a Civil War.”
— Elbridge Gerry
- “I consider the difference between a system founded on the legislatures only, and one founded on the people, to be the true difference between a league or treaty and a constitution.”
— James Madison
- “Let our government be like that of the solar system. Let the general government be like the sun and the states the planets, repelled yet attracted, and the whole moving regularly and harmoniously in several orbits.”
— John Dickinson
- "Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.”
— Abraham Lincoln
- “The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon.”
— George Washington
- “I also wish that the Pledge of Allegiance were directed at the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as it is when the President takes his oath of office, rather than to the flag and the nation.”
— Dr. Carl Sagan
- “From Watergate we learned what generations before us have known; our Constitution works. And during Watergate years it was interpreted again so as to reaffirm that no one - absolutely no one - is above the law.”
- “A Constitution should be short and obscure.”
- "But the right to freedom obviously includes the right to be foolish. If what I say must be passed over for its sagacity by censors, however wise and prudent, then I have no free speech. And if what I may believe - about gall-stones, the Constitution or God - is conditioned by law, then I am not a free man."
—H. L. Mencken
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