Fortnight For Freedom: Benjamin Franklin

Monday, June 27, AD 2016

fortnight for freedom 2016

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During the Constitutional Convention, on June 28, 1787, Benjamin Franklin, dismayed by the lack of progress since the convention convened on May 25, 1787, and alarmed at the acrimony of the debates, rose and delivered a memorable address:

 

Mr. President

The small progress we have made after 4 or five weeks close attendance & continual reasonings with each other,”our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes and ays, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, some we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of Government, and examined the different forms of those Republics which having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution now no longer exist. And we have viewed Modern States all round Europe, but find none of their Constitutions suitable to our circumstances.

In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. ”Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move, that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of the City be requested to officiate in that service.

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Washington: The Greatest American Part II

Saturday, February 22, AD 2014

Nor, perchance did the fact which We now recall take place without some design of divine Providence. Precisely at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid, achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional Republic the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by apostolic authority over the American Church. The well-known friendship and familiar intercourse which subsisted between these two men seems to be an evidence that the United States ought to be conjoined in concord and amity with the Catholic Church. And not without cause; for without morality the State cannot endure-a truth which that illustrious citizen of yours, whom We have just mentioned, with a keenness of insight worthy of his genius and statesmanship perceived and proclaimed. But the best and strongest support of morality is religion.

Pope Leo XIII

With the end of the Revolutionary War Washington was looking forward to a well earned retirement from public life at his beloved Mount Vernon.

On June 8, 1783 he sent a circular letter out to the states discussing his thoughts on the importance of the states remaining united, paying war debts, taking care of the soldiers who were wounded in the war and the establishment of a peace time military and the regulation of the militia.  It is an interesting document and may be read here.   No doubt Washington viewed this as in some respects his final thoughts addressed to the American people in his role as Commander in Chief.

Washington ends the letter with this striking passage:

I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.

The War having been won Washington resigned his commission to Congress in Annapolis, Maryland on December 23, 1783.  The next day he had reached his heart’s desire:  home, Mount Vernon.  Christmas the next day was probably the happiest in his life.

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3 Responses to Washington: The Greatest American Part II

  • Pope Leo XIII called the United States of America “a constitutional Republic”. “A constitutional Republic” is the finest definition of this nation.

  • All citizens, born and unborn, although birth gives the sovereign person citizenship and a tax bill, are George Washington’s constitutional posterity. One purpose inscribed in the Preamble to the Constitution for the United States of America, is to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our (constitutional) posterity”, George Washington’s constitutional posterity, all future generations of whom the present generation is part. Those who offer human sacrifice to the devil in the form of abortion and pornography and so called gay unnatural marriage violate the principles set forth in our Constitution.
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    The state does not “own” the sovereign soul newly conceived in innocence and virginity, therefore, the state cannot allow, subsidize, or legalize the termination and destruction of the unborn person’s will to live and his civil right to life.
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    George Washington would have vomited Planned Parenthood out of his mouth. And for certain, Planned Parenthood would not be allowed in the District that bears his name: Washington, D. C.

  • George Washington has served as an example for men and women throughout the world who have sought liberty and the end of repression. Miranda (I don’t remember his first name) was an enthusiastic supporter of the American War for Independence and the American republic and he wanted the same for the nations of South America. Simon Bolivar, too, spent time in the US and admired the country and its system of government. Bolivar was a master military strategist, but as a political leader he was something of a tyrant.

    Poland has a Washington Square in Warsaw. The only other foreign leader so honored by the Polish is Reagan. That tells you something.

    Washington’s warning against getting involved in European entanglements was wise advice at the time, and is usually good advice today when conducting foreign policy. It is people like Pat Buchanan that believe isolationism is a cure for all.

    I alluded to Washington’s activity in ending the Whiskey Rebellion earlier.

    The only political leaders that can measure to Washington since he left the scene were Lincoln, Churchill and Reagan.

Benjamin Franklin’s Speech on Signing the Constitution

Friday, September 21, AD 2012

A woman to Benjamin Franklin at the close of the Constitutional Convention:

“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”

  Benjamin Franklin “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

September 17 of this week was the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution on  September 17, 1787 at the close of the Convention.  The speech of Benjamin Franklin on this occasion has always struck me as being chock full of wisdom.  Here is the text of his address:

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3 Responses to Benjamin Franklin’s Speech on Signing the Constitution

  • Thank you, Donald! Statesmen like that are sorely needed today.

  • It is worth recalling that several of the Founding Fathers expressed grave reservations about the Constitution.

    Washington that at one period of the deliberations the Constitution promised to satisfy his ideas, but that the great principles for which he contended had been changed in the last days of the convention. He meant the law, which required a majority of two-thirds in all those measures, which affected differently the interests of the several States. He said “that he did not like throwing too much into democratic hands.”

    “It is my own opinion,” said Hamilton, “that the present government is not that which will answer the ends of society, by giving stability and protection to its rights, and it will probably be found expedient to go into the British form.” “A dissolution of the Union, after all, seems to be the most likely result.” Like Washington, he was suspicious of democracy, “There are certain conjunctures when it may be necessary and proper to disregard the opinions which the majority of the people have formed. There ought to be a principle in government capable of resisting the popular current. The principle chiefly intended to be established is this, that there must be a permanent will.”

    Jefferson, by contrast, was a Jacobin, pure and simple – “Every people may establish what form of government they please; the will of the nation being the only thing essential. I subscribe to the principle that the will of the majority, honestly expressed, should give law. I suppose it to be self-evident that the earth belongs to the living; that the dead have neither powers nor rights in it. No society can make a perpetual Constitution or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation. Every Constitution then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of thirty-four years.”

    The wonder is that men of such different principles should have reached an agreement at all.

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