Constitution

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What does it mean to be a part of "We the People"? What rights do "We the People" have, and where do those rights come from?    

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The debate over the precise meaning of "We, the People" has raged ever since the Constitution was first ratified. Right from the outset, it was clear that not all Americans—such as women and slaves—came under the heading, as they were to be denied a share in the new nation's governance. Narrowly constructed, "We, the People" has been interpreted to mean the elite of white, male landowners who formed America's political class. It was, after all, such men who wrote the Constitution and set the rules under which the nation's political life would operate.

In any case, whoever these people were, they were endowed with natural rights, such as life, liberty, and property. These rights belong to the people by virtue of their humanity; they were not graciously bestowed upon them by a king, or a church, or any other kind of man-made political authority. We, the People were endowed with these rights by God himself, and this is what makes them unalienable.

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“We the People” represents a unified...

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