I’ll bet you were never asked this question or formulated it by yourself. I certainly never thought about it until I started questioning the authority of our government in DC.
The answer comes out of history … from the writings of John C Calhoun, who contemplated such things in the 1840′s.
The preamble of the constitution is in the following words — “We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, 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 effect, then, of its ratification was, to ordain and establish the constitution — and, thereby, to make, what was before but a plan — “The constitution of the United States of America.” All this is clear.
It remains now to show, by whom, it was ordained and established; for whom, it was ordained and established; for what, it was ordained and established; and over whom, it was ordained and established. These will be considered in the order in which they stand.
Nothing more is necessary, in order to show by whom it was ordained and established, than to ascertain who are meant by — “We, the people of the United States;” for, by their authority, it was done. To this there can be but one answer — it meant the people who ratified the instrument; for it was the act of ratification which ordained and established it. Who they were, admits of no doubt. The process preparatory to ratification, and the acts by which it was done, prove, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that it was ratified by the several States, through conventions of delegates, chosen in each State by the people thereof; and acting, each in the name and by the authority of its State: and, as all the States ratified it — “We, the people of the United States” — mean, — We, the people of the several States of the Union. The inference is irresistible. And when it is considered that the States of the Union were then members of the confederacy — and that, by the express provision of one of its articles, “each State retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence,” the proof is demonstrative, that — “We, the people of the United States of America,” mean the people of the several States of the Union, acting as free, independent, and sovereign States. This strikingly confirms what has been already stated; to wit, that the convention which formed the constitution, meant the same thing by the terms — “United States” — and, “federal” — when applied to the constitution or government — and that the former, when used politically, always mean — these States united as independent and sovereign communities.
Having shown, by whom, it was ordained, there will be no difficulty in determining, for whom, it was ordained. The preamble is explicit — it was ordained and established for — “The United States of America;” adding, “America,” in conformity to the style of the then confederacy, and the Declaration of Independence. Assuming, then, that the “United States” bears the same meaning in the conclusion of the preamble, as it does in its commencement (and no reason can be assigned why it should not) it follows, necessarily, that the constitution was ordained and established for the people of the several States, by whom it was ordained and established. Nor will there be any difficulty in showing, for what, it was ordained and established. The preamble enumerates the objects. They are — “to form a more perfect union, to establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” To effect these objects, they ordained and established, to use their own language — “the constitution for the United States of America” — clearly meaning by “for,” that it was intended to be their constitution; and that the objects of ordaining and establishing it were, to perfect their union, to establish justice among them — to insure their domestic tranquillity, to provide for their common defense and general welfare, and to secure the blessings of liberty to them and their posterity.
Taken all together, it follows, from what has been stated, that the constitution was ordained and established by the several States, as distinct, sovereign communities; and that it was ordained and established by them for themselves — for their common welfare and safety, as distinct and sovereign communities. It remains to be shown, over whom, it was ordained and established. That it was not over the several States, is settled by the seventh article beyond controversy. It declares, that the ratification by nine States shall be sufficient to establish the constitution between the States so ratifying. “Between,” necessarily excludes “over” — as that which is between States cannot be over them. Reason itself, if the constitution had been silent, would have led, with equal certainty, to the same conclusion. For it was the several States, or, what is the same thing, their people, in their sovereign capacity, who ordained and established the constitution. But the authority which ordains and establishes, is higher than that which is ordained and established; and, of course, the latter must be subordinate to the former — and cannot, therefore, be over it. “Between,” always means more than “over” — and implies in this case, that the authority which ordained and established the constitution, was the joint and united authority of the States ratifying it; and that, among the effects of their ratification, it became a contract between them; and, as a compact, binding on them — but only as such. In that sense the term, “between,” is appropriately applied. In no other, can it be. It was, doubtless, used in that sense in this instance; but the question still remains, over whom, was it ordained and established?
After what has been stated, the answer may be readily given. It was over the government which it created, and all its functionaries in their official character — and the individuals composing and inhabiting the several States, as far as they might come within the sphere of the powers delegated to the United States.
John C Calhoun – “A Discourse on the Constitution and Government of the United States ”
Let’s repeat the important conclusion in the argument above … Over Whom or What was our US CONSTITUTION ‘Ordained and Established’ ???
It was over the government which it created, and all its functionaries in their official character — and the individuals composing and inhabiting the several States, as far as they might come within the sphere of the powers delegated to the United States
Not over “The People” (the States) but to establish control over the ‘new’ govenment and its functionaries.