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whole heart is in it. All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope, in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it; and I leave off as I began, that, live or die, survive or perish, I am for the Declaration. It is my living sentiment, and, by the blessing of God, it shall be my dying sentiment; independence now, and independence forever.
THE FLAG GOES BY
Equal justice, right, and law,
Sign of a Nation, great and strong,
H. H. BENNETT
THE DRAFTING OF OUR
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, printer, writer, inventor and statesman, served his country in more different ways than it would seem possible for any one man to do. But perhaps America owes him no greater debt than for the service he rendered in the dark days when, independence won, the states were struggling for a settled form of government.
The country was in debt, her commerce was almost ruined. The states were jealous of each other and all was in confusion. Some agreement must be reached, or the dearly bought liberty of the
WASHINGTON TAKING THE OATH new nation would be
OF OFFICE a mere mockery.
At last a convention of all the states was called to meet in Philadelphia in 1787. Here the existing evils were frankly discussed and out of the discussion came the decision to draw up a new constitution which would determine the power to be given Congress, and the power to be given each separate state. This constitution set forth laws which from that time on, were to form the basis of government of the United States.
So far, so good. But delegate after delegate raised objections to the proposed laws. At times it looked as if no agreement could be reached. Then Franklin, who was Pennsylvania's representative, argued that while he admitted that the Constitution might be improved in some ways, still he believed it was as good a constitution as was to be had. So well did he make his points, in his simple common sense way, that one by one the delegates came to agree with him and finally the majority signed the Constitution, thus making it possible for their states to adopt.
George Washington was then suggested for the first President of the United States.
FRANKLIN URGES THAT THE CONSTI
TUTION BE ADOPTED At the Constitutional Convention, Philadelphia, 1787
I CONFESS that I do not entirely approve of 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 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 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 two churches in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrine is, the Romish Church is infallible, and the Church of England
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN 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 little dispute with her sister, said: “But I meet with nobody but myself that is always in the right.”
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