What Is the Preamble to the Constitution?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 28, 2020 12:15:39 AM ET

The Preamble to the United States Constitution is a written introduction to the statutes listed in the Constitution. The brief paragraph, written by the Constitutional Convention in 1787, is said to be the statement that outlines the intents and purposes of the Constitution, which serves as the supreme law of the United States of America. The full body of the text can be found at the National Constitution Center's website.

The Preamble is best recognized by its opening statement, "We the people ..." The Preamble itself is not a law, but it helps explain the spirit in which the U.S. Constitution was written, a crucial tool when interpreting the law.

The paragraph was written separately from the Constitution and was added by an ad hoc group of the Constitutional Committee in the final days of preparation in the late 1800s. The Preamble hints toward the Founding Fathers' desire to improve their system of government, since the Constitution was written to replace the laws of the land, the Articles of Confederation. The original phrasing of the Preamble included a listing of the nine colonial states. The Constitution, along with the Preamble, was signed into law on Sept. 17, 1787, and ratified on June 21, 1788.