What Does the Preamble of the Constitution Say?

The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution is a brief introduction to the motives of the document's framers and states their common goal of creating a more defensible, more productive and more equitable union between the states. In short, the Preamble promises a constitution capable of preserving American prosperity, not only for the framers' generation, but for those that followed.

The Constitution's Preamble was one of the last additions to the document and was a product of the Constitutional Convention's subcommittee dedicated to the formulation of style. The general delegates didn't debate any of the Preamble's core content on the floor before its completion; however, one significant aspect researchers know changed throughout the Preamble's development was its eventual reference to the "people of the United States."

Initially, the Preamble to the Constitution followed the convention of listing Americans as belonging to individual states, a practice used in every important document preceding it, such as the treaty of military alliance with France; the Treaty of Paris, which formally ended the Revolution War; and the Articles of Confederation. The choice to introduce this new designation likely had strategic motivations, as the framers of the Constitution originally thought it to be effective only for those states that ratified it, making the individual names of states irrelevant if not counter-productive. Eventually, however, all 13 states ratified it, even the originally stalwart Rhode Island.