Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The time had come. The new Constitution had been drafted and presented to the delegates.

Not all of them approved. But, wise men that they were, they determined to find unity, for after all, these were to be The United States of America.

Benjamin Franklin expressed to the assembly what had to be done to accomplish what needed to be accomplished if we were to form a new country.

We could learn from him...indeed, if we are to survive, we must.

Constitutional Convention, Monday, September 17, 1787.

DOC'r FRANKLIN rose with a speech in his hand, which he had reduced to writing for his own coveniency, and which Mr. Wilson read in the words following:


"I confess, that there are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.

"It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgement of others.

"Most men indeed as well as most sects in Religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them it is so far error.

"Steele a Protestant in a Dedication tells the Pope, that the only difference between our Churches in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrines is, the Church of Rome is infallible and the Church of England is never in the wrong.

"But though many private persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their sect, few express it so naturally as a certain french lady, who in a dispute with her sister, said, "I don't know how it happens, Sister but I meet with no body but myself, that's always in the right -- Il n'y a que moi qui a toujours raison."

"In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.

"I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected?

"It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the Builders of Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats.

"Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution, because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best.

"The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die.

"If every one of us in returning to our Constituents were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavour to gain partizans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects & great advantages resulting naturally in our favour among foreign Nations, as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity.

"Much of the strength & efficiency of any Government in procuring and securing happiness to the people depends, on opinion, on the general opinion of the goodness of the Government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its Governors.

"I hope therefore that for our own sakes as a part of the people, and for the sake of posterity, we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this Constitution (if approved by Congress & confirmed by the Conventions) wherever our Influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts & endeavours to the means of having it well administered.

"On the whole, Sir, I cannot help expressing a wish, that every member of the Convention who may still have objections to it, would with me, on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility, and to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this Instrument."

He then moved that the Constitution be signed by the members . . .

It was.


Quite Rightly said...

There never has been another constellation shining half so bright as our Founders.

"Much of the strength & efficiency of any Government in procuring and securing happiness to the people depends, on opinion, on the general opinion of the goodness of the Government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its Governors."

As Americans become more and more aware that the current "governors" could not have less interest in "securing happiness to the people," it is only a matter of time that whatever strength and efficiency our political leaders derive from the support of the people will dwindle to almost nothing.

I only hope and pray that they don't bring the whole system crashing down with them when they fall.

Joe said...

Quite Rightly: I think you're right about that. Very soon our government will either buckle under the weight of disgust from the people or it will assume tyranical control.

ablur said...

Few can be wiser or spoke more brilliantly then Ben Franklin. He seemed to have a way of cutting threw the crap and bringing people together at many points during the convention. His reminders to pray and his careful prodding to deny selfishness, made much of what made this nation.

Glad to see you back Joe. I hope all is well with you and yours.

Lately my worry is that some major event will suspend our elections this November. It will sound pure enough.
Another Katrina, "We can't deny an American citizen their right to vote. With the conditions as they are we must wait so that their rights may be secure."
The true result of our current representatives may be enough to destroy our nation.

Joe said...

ablur: As a nation, we are as disunited as they come. We must come to realize that unity is basic to freedom and move us back to where Mr. Fraklin envisioned.

JMK said...

Great piece of history!

ben Franklin was perhaps the most visionary Founder, a man who embodied what has become "the working middle class" and who saw that as the future of America.

He was also a man who, like Jefferson, Adams and most of the other Founders, saw government (ALL government) as at best "a necessary evil," and an instrument prone to despotism and tyranny.

It is unfortunate that so much mythology (ie. "the New Deal brought America out of the Depression") has eroded many American's innate fear and distrust of the centralized state.