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This Week in History:
September 16-22, 1787
Ratification of the U.S. Constitution

September 2010

This week is the proper time to celebrate and revive the profound concepts which underlie mankind's highest achievement in statecraft, the United States Constitution.

Unlike any other Constitution in the world, the U.S. document is defined by a statement of principle, contained in the Preamble, which reads as follows:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common Defense, 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."

This statement, not the specific measures specified for implementing these purposes, is what makes the U.S. Constitution absolutely unique. As America's leading statesman Lyndon LaRouche put it in a recent leaflet, there are essentially three universal principles expressed by the Preamble:

*First, the universal principle of perfect sovereignty.

*Second, the universal principle of the general welfare, which can also been indicated by the term the "common good."

*Third, the universal principle of posterity, which demands that today's actions be in the interest of future generations, as well as ourselves.

Clearly, the thrust of these principles has not always been carried out by the governments of the United States, in practice. But the standard has been established to which every specific Administration, political office holder, and the American people themselves, should be held accountable.

To fully understand these principles, requires knowing the history of the fight for the Constitution, and the fight over its interpretation over the past 215 years. Most crucial to this history, is the role played by our nation's leading Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin.

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Ratification of the U.S. Constitution, 1787.

As elaborated by EIR Law Editor Edward Spannaus, in an article in the May 4, 2001 EIR, the establishment of the concept of the General Welfare as a bedrock principle in the Constitution, both in the Preamble and Article I, Section 8, must be credited directly to Franklin, who had led the battle for the establishment of the American republic for at least 60 years prior to the Constitution's drafting. Indeed, Franklin's draft of the Articles of Confederation, submitted in 1775, reads like the first draft of the Preamble:

"The said United Colonies hereby severally enter into a firm League of Friendship with each other, binding on themselves and their Posterity, for their common Defense, against their Enemies for the Security of their Liberties and Propertys, the Safety of their Persons and Families, and their mutual and general Welfare."

From Franklin's own proposals, and the discussion around the Constitutional Convention, it is clear that the "general welfare" clause included affirmative actions taken by the Federal government, toward ensuring a flourishing economy for the new nation. However, the interpretations of the powers of the Federal government to pursue that objective by promoting internal improvements of all sorts, were highly diverse over the next 150 years.

It was left to President Franklin Roosevelt's term to revive, and eventually have ratified by the U.S. Supreme Court, the powers of the Federal government to take measures for the general welfare.

From A Leaf From FDR's Book...

Excerpted from A Leaf From FDR's Book: And It Will Be Good, by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., September 1, 2010

The key to understanding the greatest source of danger to the planet during the months immediately ahead, is the crucially needed understanding of the implications of what has happened, since 1971, with the British empire's launching of what became the British empire's Inter-Alpha Group, which now controls an estimated 70% of the entirety of the world's present banking system. The British launching of the sterling devaluation of Autumn 1967, the February-March 1968 revisions of the dollar, and the wrecking of the U.S. economy, under President Richard Nixon in Summer 1971, had combined effects which have been the chief, ever-worsening curse of this planet considered as a whole since those times to the present date.

In the kind of global crisis which the actions of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations have brought down upon us since the close of July 2007, the great danger is the threat that the world as a whole, not only the United Kingdom and our United States, will be plunged into a kind of dictatorship worse than Adolf Hitler's. Such a danger of fascism, as that which threatens under Obama now, was already the potential growing out of the economic and other effects of the prolonged Indo-China War of approximately 1964-1975. The Nixon Administration could have become a dictatorship, already had that President not been ousted when he was.

The only safeguard for our system of government under such conditions as the present world crisis of 2007-2010, is to ensure that the passions of the great majority among our citizens are confidently in charge of the realization of the aims of our constitutional system of government. The watch-word is, therefore, what we must do for our citizens, must be for the realization of the intentions of our constitutional system of government, rather than what the tyrannical character of the present Obama administration demands the privilege of doing to impose its whims at the expense of the rights and of the justice for the people: that the system of our constitutional system of self-government, of the people, for the people, and by the people, not vanish from this Earth.

To this end, we require much more than care for the needs of the people. We must care, above all else, for meeting the urgent needs of the people, that according to the principles of our Federal Constitution, as the crisis faced by President Franklin Roosevelt shows us the true meaning of our constitutional system under terms of grave crisis like those we suffer today.

FDR had to engage in a bitter struggle with those he called the "American Tories," in order to push through his legislation for social protection, as well as infrastructure building. Again and again, in his addresses to the American people, he invoked the Preamble, and the need for the Federal government to have the powers to solve problems beyond local or state purview. His formal success finally came in May 1937, when the Supreme Court upheld both the unemployment tax and compensation provisions of the Social Security Act, and the old-age benefits of that Act, on the basis of Alexander Hamilton's conception of the General Welfare clause.

Justice Benjamin Cardozo justified the measures this way: "There was need of help from the nation if the people were not to starve. It is too late today for the argument to be heard with tolerance that, in a crisis so extreme, the use of the moneys of the nation to relieve the unemployed and their dependents is a use for any purpose narrower than the promotion of the general welfare."

The argument today is, if anything, even more compelling. The very existence of nations is being endangered, by the failure of nations, especially the United States, to enforce the principle of the General Welfare. Only a revival of that principle, in both the government and the minds of the population, is going to enable us to get out of the current crisis.

The original article was published in the EIR Online’s Electronic Intelligence Weekly, as part of an ongoing series on history, with a special emphasis on American history. We are reprinting and updating these articles now to assist our readers in understanding of the American System of Economy.

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