Our Government’s Core Purpose

Preamble To the Constitution

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.

The preamble is an introductory statement of the Constitution’s fundamental purpose and guiding principles.1 It is not law in its own right—it defines no government power or individual rights. It has been used by the courts as reliable evidence of the Founding Fathers intentions. Hence, it also describes the aims for the US Federal Government. The preamble was crafted by the “Committee on Style” after the preliminary drafting of the Constitution. Gouverneur Morris is credited with being the preamble’s author.

The preamble has five supporting goals to achieve one overarching goal. The five supporting
goals are:

  1. Form a more perfect union.
  2. Establish justice
  3. Insure domestic tranquility
  4. Provide the common defense
  5. Promote the general welfare

The framers of the Constitution judged these supporting goals were essential to achieve the
overarching goal of securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

The preamble begins with “We the people” to illustrate the consent of the governed (the people) to the structure and character of the government described by the Constitution. The phrase “to form a more perfect union” was intended to differentiate the new federal government from the form of government under the Article of Confederation. The preamble has been criticized for stating goals that the US Government has not achieved and hence it inaccurately reflects the governance the people actually experience. This assessment fails to recognize that the US constitutional government has always been a work in progress. While there may not be a perfect union, equal justice, domestic tranquility, adequate defense, or sufficient general welfare for all. Those are still the aspirations of the people and the people can—and should—through the democratic processes describe in the constitution hold the national leaders accountable. Those who serve “to support and defend” the Constitution—federal officials and employees—should also recognize their responsibility to make the supporting goals a reality.


1 When the Air Force was employing Total Quality Management (TQM) principals, one of the first steps was to develop an organizational “core purpose.” This was different from a mission statement. I have always been a huge fan of the Preamble to the US Constitution and judged it was a great “core purpose” for the US Government.