By Alan on Jul 24 in Blog tagged Assembly, Benjamin Franklin, constitution, Convention, evolved, george Washington, God, hand, Independence Hall, John Fiske, National, politics, The Almighty, the fainger, Thomas Madison | 1 Comment
The Constitution Evolved With The Finger Of The Almighty Hand.
As the delegates shuffled into Independence Hall during that hot Philadelphia summer of 1787, Thomas Madison was tense and uneasy as he failed to mention to them the real cause for calling the convention: to present his Virginia Plan … even to present a new national constitution.
Madison knew that if the delegates had understood his true intention, they may not have participated as they had no idea that they would be asked to form an entirely new national system.
Had not America’s two most inspired and respected citizens, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, sat in council with them, and vigorously promoted the plan, the entire Convention might have ended before it began.
Benjamin Franklin pointed out, the interference of “all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views.” Perhaps it was Franklin himself who understood better than anyone else that something bigger than anything they could imagine was behind the Convention.
Franklin humbly offered the last and only solution as he declared:
The small progress we have made after four or five weeks close attendance and 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 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 aroung Europe, but find none of the Constitutions suitable to our circumstances.
In this situation of the Assembly, groping as it were to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish a 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 Congest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. –Our prayer, 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 in consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need his assistance? 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 the 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 Government 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 deliberations, be held in this Assembly.
George Washington, as we have previously demonstrated, certainly understood Franklin’s sentiments as well as anyone at the Convention, and therefore would happily add his own endorsement to such counsil. Standing before the Convention, during a heated debate, Washington declared: ”If to please the people, we offeer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterward defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the event is in the hand of God!”
Historian John Fiske commented that something “from that moment the mood in which [the delegates] worked caught testimony from the glorious spirit of Washington.” Indeed, the testimony from such spiritually powerful men seemed to change the entire environment, as a spirit of brotherhood and compromise, at last, entered Independence Hall. The Lord had intervened once again.