The Wisdom of a Few Words by a Founding Father, Can We Still Ignore Them?


“Grandpa, you posted a quote from Mr. Franklin but you never added any commentary to it. This seems like a strange way to make a post deserving of being read by our loyal visitors can you explain the reason why you did that?”

Grandpa just looked across the table at me and quietly responded,

“ Boy, that quote was the most significant find for me and in that short quote was so much to understand that I thought each of our visitors ought to have the opportunity to think about it on their own without any influence from us. Let’s take a close look at that quote and see if we can find out why it be so significant. I’ll repeat the quote here for clarification.

“Those, who desire to understand the state of government in America, would do well to read the constitutions of the several States, and the articles of confederation that bind the whole together for general purposes, under the direction of one assembly, called the Congress. These constitutions have been printed, by order of Congress, in America; two editions of them have also been printed in London; and a good translation of them into French has lately been published at Paris.”
Benjamin Franklin-1794

First of all it is the first time I have seen anything that looked like an instructional as to the mindset of the founding fathers as this. Ol’ Ben was telling everyone just how to go about understanding the government that the fathers had set up. And if you read closely no one follows that formula when discussing the purpose of the government they had set up. Nor do they follow that formula when trying to ascertain the intent of the founding fathers and they should. And if we look deeply at it it is meant to be a timeless instructional.

Look at when Ben Franklin expressed these words. It was 17 years after the Articles of Confederation was ratified by all thirteen States. It was also 6 years after the Articles of confederation were de-ratified and the new constitution was ratified. Doesn’t it seem strange that he would refer people to a document no longer in force instead of the one in force at the time he expressed this? This would imply to me that the state of government did not change with the new constitution but that they only changed it in a structural level by adding the executive branch as well as the judicial branch to the federal government. This had the effect of making the federal government stronger but not more powerful.

And what can be found in the Articles of Confederation that would not be apparent in the new federal constitution? Well, for one thing we can ascertain that once ratified all of the States agreed that this union would be a union of perpetuity. This would lead us to the conclusion that the principles that bound the States were meant to be perpetual also and not changed at the whim of a few people of a new generation as some would have us believe.

We can also learn from the Articles of Confederation that each State was intended to retain their sovereignty in perpetuity thus subordinating the federal government unto the State governments for the same period of time, a relationship that no longer exists.

In viewing the intent from this point of view we can better understand Lincoln’s mindset and the mindset of the people at the time leading up to the War between the States. For it was from the viewpoint of perpetuity of the union that was behind all of Lincoln’s thoughts at the time as well as Andrew Johnson’s. And it was from the viewpoint of the perpetuity of State sovereignty that led the thinking of those from the southern States thus their decision to secede from the union.

But most important is how this quote effects us today. This quote when given the understanding it must have can only result in one conclusion. It belies the whole ideology of the left and much of the ideology of the right as they are espoused now days.

My only question that would be is why would anyone want to take the Constitution out of its intended context so as to create a misleading ideology when taken in the context intended would lead us to a very simple understanding by just the reading of it? And in the reading of it bring us back to being a people united under one constitution instead of a people divided by two interpretations of that constitution. What is the goal of those who wish that the people be divided? If their goal is to form a new type of government then what form would necessitate that the federal government be the sovereign government and the State governments subordinate?”

What say you, my friends?

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Categories: History, Politics | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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