Both the Preamble and Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution call upon the federal government to "promote the general welfare." By extension, "we the people" are urged to promote the general welfare as well. We may disagree as to what the general welfare requires, but the framers hoped that we would accept this principle as being essential to the preservation of freedom.
The citizens of America have too much discernment to be argued into anarchy. And I am much mistaken, if experience has not wrought a deep and solemn conviction in the public mind, that greater energy of government is essential to the welfare and prosperity of the community.
Federalist #26: Full Text
Federalist 41: Full Text
Is it too early for politicians to presume on our forgetting that the public good, the real welfare of the great body of the people, is the supreme object to be pursued; and that no form of government whatever has any other value than as it may be fitted for the attainment of this object. Were the plan of the convention adverse to the public happiness, my voice would be, Reject the plan. Were the Union itself inconsistent with the public happiness, it would be, Abolish the Union. In like manner, as far as the sovereignty of the States cannot be reconciled to the happiness of the people, the voice of every good citizen must be, Let the former be sacrificed to the latter.
Federalist 45: Full Text
The following is the Library of Congress online edition of The Federalist Papers , which is arranged by Number and alphabetically by topic:
Appeals to the general welfare and the common good did not end with the Federalist Papers. Presidents have invoked the principle throughout our history.
The General Welfare and Public Issues
The "General Welfare" is not merely an abstract political principle to It is the vision that ought to guide our response to every problem facing us . That is what we intend to encourage on this page of the Civic Values Web Site. As issues emerge, we will use this unique medium to examine how the "general welfare" might apply.
We begin with the Republican Contract and the Federal Budget
Next is Welfare Reform
Others will follow.
The Social Contract Project and the General Welfare
The Institute for the Study of Civic Values is helping neighborhood organizations in Philadelphia negotiate community social contracts with government, local businesses, and human service agencies that define mutual responsibilities to "promote the general welfare" in community development, neighborhood security, education, and economic opportuity.
The papers that follow describe how this process works. Included is a "Block Club Social Contract" that the Institute has helped civic groups throughout the City develop for use in their neighborhoods.
The Social Contract Project Papers
If you wish to learn more about how to participate in this program, send e-mail directly to Ed Schwartz at the Institute for the Study of Civic Values describing the project you have in mind:
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