The phrase, ‘insure domestic tranquility’, appears in the Preamble, and simply put, it means to ensure that peace, calm, and law and order coexist in the country. This Historyplex post tries to understand what insure domestic tranquility means.
THE PREAMBLE TO THE US CONSTITUTION
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, 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 words, ‘insure domestic tranquility’, are of prime significance in the Preamble. Let us take a closer look at the precise meaning of every word individually. In the phrase, ‘domestic’, roughly indicates ‘the country’; it indicates anything and everything that occurs within the country―work activities, the society, people’s welfare, etc. ‘Tranquility’ means peace, calm, protection, law, and safety issues. ‘Insure’ implies maintaining, ensuring, or preserving.
Thus, ‘to insure domestic tranquility’, means to ensure that peace and order (tranquility) exists in the country (domestic).
- The meaning of domestic tranquility indicates protection and security of the American citizens by the government.
- The concept was mainly brought forth for the farmers―they needed peace and security from riots and wars so that they could lead a peaceful life, devoid of fear and peril.
- Today, the concept extends to the whole of the nation―it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that every American citizen is entitled to lead a peaceful, stable life.
- Post the 1780s, the economic condition in the US was pretty bad, and social violence was rampant as well.
- After the Revolutionary War, there existed wide social conflicts between farmers and the wealthy merchants, leading to chaos and disorder.
- During the Revolution, there were increasing domestic and foreign demand for food and supplies. To meet the ever-growing demand, farmers borrowed heavily.
- This condition existed at a time when the federal government was grappling under a huge debt due to the fight against the British.
- Thus, post War, the government demanded heavy property taxes from the farmers to cover off the debt. Besides, the lenders demanded their money back as well.
- After the war; however, the farmers were unable to repay the loans or pay taxes due to insufficient produce, and subsequently, their land was forcibly seized.
- This situation, coupled with inflation, led to unrest and chaos all over.
- The farmers were greatly distressed by the turn of events; many went bankrupt, some decided to fight the system, but to no avail.
- A general outcry of injustice permeated throughout; many farmers decided to burn courthouses to eliminate debt, tax, and loan records, many were imprisoned, and violence was on a steady rise.
- Unfortunately, the government did not respond adequately to riots and rebellions, and many of them were crushed. The bloody conflict continued until some leaders realized the necessity for a new government, and demanded extensive changes in the Federal Revenue system.
- These events were possibly the reason why farmers demanded peace and order, because they wanted an atmosphere free of fear, violence, and unrest.
- Demands were also made to establish paper currency, instead of gold and silver as a medium of exchange.
- This is how the concept of ‘domestic tranquility’ came into being. At the time, domestic tranquility meant abolishment of social injustice and rebellions.
- It meant a safe economy, protected property, and absence of debt. In other words, a strong, stable, secured state of affairs.
- As of today, domestic tranquility primarily demands that American citizens are able to live in secure circumstances, without the fear of being attacked or killed for no reason.
- To insure domestic tranquility, especially with regards to current events, law and order must be preserved; if innocent citizens are being harassed for no reason, the law must interfere and provide justice, and see to it that the accused is punished. This includes verbal, emotional, and physical harassment, felony, robbery, thefts, murder, rapes, and threats.
- Citizens must be protected from foreign invasions and terrorist attacks.
- The Congress is also expected to oversee inter-state financial and legal matters, equality among all citizens, irrespective of work or religion or any other factor, ensuring overall uniformity, and maintenance of the federal and state laws.
- The responsibilities of the Federal government also include building and maintaining new infrastructure, preventing circulation of counterfeit money, minimizing and abolishing crime, undertaking important banking decisions, etc.
- The US Constitution specifies that racial segregation is against the law, which was further supported by the Supreme Court.
- Despite the ruling, some public schools practiced racial discrimination.
- In order to insure domestic tranquility, the Kennedy administration enforced civil rights by signing the Executive Order 10925 and 11063.
- The USA Patriot Act, signed by President George W. Bush, in 2001, is another example of domestic tranquility.
- The Act was initiated to enforce law and prevent terrorist attacks on the nation.
- It was brought to prominence after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, and intended to enforce heavy penalties against terrorists or their accomplices.
Domestic tranquility paints a picture of American citizens who can, without fear, exercise their rights and duties, work, enjoy and contribute to society, all within peaceful confines. It ensures peace and safety within families, neighborhoods, and communities. This, in turn, brings about safety and security in the nation.