the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

He remained enamored for example with a single house

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politically eccentric. He remained enamored, for example, with a single-house legislature in the mode of the Pennsylvania constitution, and he expressed his conviction that all government officials at the federal level should serve without pay. But his reputation as second only to Washington in stature meant that other delegates humored his suggestions, never questioned his judgment, and allowed his proposals to die respectfully and silently without a vote. There was an unspoken consensus that he was the wisest man in the room. He lived up to that reputation on the last day of the convention with remarks, again delivered by Wilson, that were both elegantly pragmatic and politically profound: I confess that I do not entirely approve this Constitution at present, but Sir, I am not sure I shall never approve it: For having lived long, I have experienced many Instances of being oblig’d, by better Information or fuller Consideration, to change opinions 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 Judgment of others…. 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…. I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution…. 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
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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 I am not sure that it is not the best. 46 Over two centuries later, we can safely say that the Constitution has stood the test of time and fulfilled Franklin’s fondest hopes. Almost inevitably, a mystic haze has formed around the document over the years, and words like miracle are used to describe its creation. No one present in Philadelphia at the time would have understood such a reverential gloss on the Constitution. Much later, several delegates recalled that “the hand of Providence” was at work. But Hamilton, Madison, and Washington all left town thinking they had failed to transform a confederation into a full-blooded nation. Franklin’s eloquent elegy served to remind them that perfection was never in the cards, that they had, in fact, designed the framework for a government that assumed human imperfection, which turned out to be an elemental insight denied his French friends. Within that realistic context, they had done their best. The fact that they had been unable to resolve the question of federal versus state sovereignty, or even to face the moral implications of the slavery question, did not mean that they had failed but rather that, in the current political context, those issues were irresolvable. The Constitution had created a framework in
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