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The Power Of The People—What Provisions Should Be Added To It

This morning we are going to apply another test to the Constitution of the
United States. I have already asked you to analyze and study the
Constitution carefully, each provision of the Constitution, to see if
there be any portion that should be taken out. This morning I am going to
ask you to study the Constitution with a view of determining what, if
anything, you wish added to the Constitution. Do not assume that I em
imposing a duty which should only be undertaken by some learned lawyer or
statesman. This Constitution is a Constitution of the whole people and it
must be upheld and defended, not only by lawyers, judges, and public
officials but by the people in every walk of life, by the children as
well as by fathers and mothers, by the poor as well as the rich.(98)
Therefore I come to you who are children today but who in a few short
years will be making the laws of this country through your votes at the
ballot box. I ask you to decide not only what, if anything, should be
taken out of the Constitution, but I ask what, if anything, should be
added to the Constitution; and again I want you to form your own opinions
about this after a careful study, after conference with your parents and
with your friends. It is a strange thing that we seldom hear anyone
talking to his neighbor about the Constitution. People when they get
together talk about all sorts of things, serious and frivolous, but you
seldom hear them discussing the gravest problem in human life, which is
human government. Do not be afraid to take up the subject with your
friends. Do not be afraid to discuss with your friends some provision of
the Constitution. You are having a special advantage in being able to
study the Constitution while many of your neighbors never had such an
opportunity.(99)

What can we add to the Constitution which will make it more effective as
an instrument in the protection of life, liberty, and property for us here
in America?

Remember, we the American people can add anything to the Constitution that
we wish. Nineteen amendments to the Constitution have already been adopted
by the people. Do not feel discouraged because it takes a little time to
secure the adoption of an amendment. The Constitution should not be
amended hastily, but only after grave thought and earnest consideration.

If we can only think of something to add to the Constitution which would
be a good thing for the whole people of America, I will guarantee that we
will have no difficulty in having it added to the Constitution. Of course,
it will take earnest effort, but shaping the destiny of more than
105,000,000 people is a grave matter. The Constitution is the protection
of the rights of each individual and therefore any change in the
Constitution merits most earnest consideration upon the part of each one
of us.

Think it over and advise me someday or inform your teacher of anything
that you can think of which, if added to the Constitution, would improve
this Nation as a country in which the people rule, anything which would
make the rule of the people more complete. That is the big thing after
all—the rule of the people because when the people can rule themselves,
they ought to get out of life everything which they are entitled to by
their individual merits, ability, and effort. Always keep in mind that
there is no way by which a government of the people and by the people can
equalize opportunity for those who will not seek the advantages which are
open to them. No Constitution and no law can equalize industry and
idleness. No scheme of government can provide bread for those who will not
toil. It is impossible that human happiness can be guaranteed to those
whose lives are spent in wickedness and wrongdoing.

So, my friends, after due thought and deliberation, prepare your
amendments to the Constitution of your country. Do not hesitate because
you may think that you cannot put them in proper form. The form is not
important; the idea is the great thing. Perhaps it may be that out of the
mind and out of the heart of some pupil in this school may come someday a
great idea which, incorporated into the Constitution or the law, may bring
added blessings to the American people.(100) I know of no power on earth
which can tie the hands of the American people in any effort toward
enlarging the powers of the people, which will better guard life and
liberty. We have seen how many safeguards were adopted by the framers of
the Constitution to protect each and every one of us against the abuse of
power by the government maintained by the people. We have seen how
earnestly the framers of the Constitution guarded each individual against
wrongful conduct on the part of any servant of the people in any official
position. _Perhaps someone in this class may discover an additional
guaranty which would be helpful. If so, duty demands that the same shall
be made part of the fundamental laws of our country, the Constitution of
the United States._

As you read of America, as you think of its Constitution and laws, don’t
you feel a sense of power, a sense of pride?

If Mr. Allen who owns the big department store on Main Street were to come
here some morning and make each one of you a gift of an interest in his
store, if he should make you partners with him in his entire business, you
would feel grateful and proud. What an intense interest you would take in
the store and all the details. You would talk about it at home and to your
neighbors and friends. Each of you would begin to study the business. You
would take pleasure in reading about merchandise, prices, and business
methods.

Well, we are all partners in this great Nation. Liberty is more valuable
than merchandise or profits. If someone stronger than you should undertake
to take away your liberty, you would fight for it and die for it if
necessary.

Being partners in America, won’t you study America? Won’t you talk about
the blessings of America at home and to your neighbors? Won’t you study
the problems of America so that each succeeding year it can pay greater
profits in freedom and justice and righteousness?

ELEMENTARY QUESTIONS

1. What do your parents say about changes in our Constitution?

2. How would you advise them to act?

3. Can you tell them how changes in our Constitution can be made?

4. Why is it necessary that each one of us take a personal interest in OUR
Constitution?

ADVANCED QUESTIONS

A. How would you meet the argument of the radical who wants a revolution?

B. How would you show others that we have a great partnership in America?

C. What two ways are possible for constitutional amendments?

D. List a series of additions that you think should be made to the
Constitution.

E. Write a paper upon someone amendment to our Constitution that you
believe to be worthy of adoption.