The Short Constitution by William F. Russell and Martin J. Wade
“The Short Constitution” is one of a series of volumes entitled “Elementary Americanism”, intended for use in the home, the club, the school, and in general Americanization work.
It is our hope that regular courses in “Americanism” will soon be established in all schools, colleges, and universities.
We use the term “Americanism” because we feel that it signifies something broader, deeper, and more appealing than any title now used in the schools in the teaching of American government, or citizenship, or the rights and duties of the citizens of the United States.
We like the term “America” better than “the United States”. “The United States” suggests boundaries, codes, and constitutions. “America” suggests all these and then it suggests _spirit_. There _is_ such a thing as “Americanism”. It includes all there is of information relating to our country; but it also has a soul “Americanism” relates to democracy, into which enter all the ideals, all the impulses, and emotions of men, women, and children. “Americanism” teaches not only the relation of the States to the National government, and the relation of citizens to both the State and the National government, but it also teaches the relation of men, women, and children to each other.
This is a government by the people, and therefore we must understand the people in order that we, the people, may govern.
To arouse patriotism and loyalty we must do more than develop the powers of the mind, do more than expand the field of knowledge. We must inspire in the heart faith, confidence, and love. Men must not only learn how to govern, but they must learn how to be governed. We must not only learn to command but also to obey. Our spirits must be so molded that we can submit to duly constituted authority, submission to which is the most lofty expression of American patriotism.
Submission to authority in America is submission to law, for no man in this country has any authority to command or direct a fellowman, except as the law made by the people vests him with such authority.
To inspire devotion to our country we must arouse in the hearts of our people a sense of gratitude for the blessings which come to us because we live in free America, gratitude for the rights and liberties which we possess, which are protected by the guarantees of a written Constitution adopted by the people themselves.
There is only one way in which the average person may be brought to see what America has done for him, and that is by contrasting the rights, privileges, and opportunities which he has with those possessed by others in the same walk of life before the Constitution became the bulwark of the people against injustice and wrong.
The aim of “The Short Constitution” is to present, in a form as simple as possible, a definite knowledge of all the personal guarantees of the Constitution, with an explanation of what they mean, and what they have done in the advancement of human happiness; and a brief explanation of the machinery of government provided by the Constitution.
Everyone who understands human nature will admit that to mold the spirit, to inspire faith, and to excite gratitude training must begin in childhood. The child must learn:
(a) What authority means.
(b) The source of authority.
(c) In whom authority rests: in the parent, in the teacher, and in public officers selected by the people to enforce the authority of the community, the State, and of the Nation.
(d) How the authority of the people, the community, the State, and the Nation is expressed through laws which are nothing but rules of human conduct.
(e) How we should respect authority and submit to authority.
(f) How and by whom those who will not yield obedience to authority out of respect will be compelled to obey by punishment.
We have adopted a new method of presenting this subject. In this country, authority is largely administered through the courts. Judges of the courts construe the Constitution and the laws; and, generally, with the aid of a jury, determine rights and wrongs, and enforce justice through their judgments and decrees.
We, therefore, feel that the subject “Americanism”, presented through the spoken word of a judge, will better gain and hold the attention of the pupil than in any other way. We have the teacher invite Judge Garland to deliver a series of “Talks” to the pupils, which are herein presented. By this direct method greater freedom of expression is permitted and with the aid of notes greater brevity is possible. In these “Talks” considerable apparent repetition will appear. This is essential to a thorough understanding. Without reiteration, it is impossible to accomplish our purpose which is not only to enlighten but to inspire.
Our endeavor is to present the subject not from the standpoint of the government, but from the standpoint of the people. The _rights of the people_ are of first importance in a Nation where men, women, and children are free. The State and the Nation have no rights except those given them by the people. Strictly speaking the Nation and the States have no “rights” but only the duty to exercise certain powers in the protection of the liberties of the people.
In America the rights of the people are supreme. The state exists for man, not man for the state.
To gain substantial results we must rely largely upon the industry and enthusiasm of the instructors. We are sure they will realize that in the “upbuilding of the spirit” a proper atmosphere must be created and maintained. Doctor Steiner wisely said, “Religion cannot be taught, it must be caught”. In other words, religion is of the spirit; so is patriotism. _Always bear in mind that in presenting the Constitution we are teaching human rights under the Constitution._
It is more than a century since the Constitution was ratified, and, so far as we have knowledge, this is the first direct attempt to translate its guaranties into the language of the ordinary man, woman, and child. We demand respect for, and loyalty to the Constitution, but the truth is that the ordinary citizen has no knowledge of the relation of the Constitution to his life or to the life of his children.