The Framers, as they are called, elected to hold their deliberations in secret free from the prying eyes of the press or anyone on the outside of the Constitutional Convention. Their expressed reason from doing so was to enable each delegate to freely speak from the heart and convey, argue, contend, or propose those ideas and sentiments they held as core convictions regarding they type scope, and style of the American government. Our fledgling nation operated under the Articles of Confederation in the ensuing years after the end of the Revolutionary War and our victory. Those Articles rendered the Federal Government so impotent that each state did whatever it wanted with no regard for the whole and there was genuine concern that the new nation would not evolve into a Republic but would implode and become prey to more powerful and organized nations. Each of the thirteen states operated as a virtually independent country and some contributed to the support of the national government, some didn’t, and none paid their fully assigned share. It became increasingly evident that something had to be done to preserve the Union and the independence recently won and yet protect the rights of the individuals and states. This was a major undertaking and the outcome still amazes me when I consider what I know of the sentiments of that era and as I view the politics of today. I contend that we would never achieve what they achieved under today’s method of operation and political division, although I affirm that we need to do something. We need to return to their objective, LIMITED GOVERNMENT but strong enough to provide for the common defense and hold the union together forming a Strong Union and Republic.
The fifty-five delegates from the thirteen states that gathered on May 25, 1787, Philadelphia’s Independence Hall found their task not without difficulty and almost failed on numerous occasions. Fifty-five people represented numerous ideological and political positions and most who held those positions were firmly entrenched in their beliefs. George Washington was unanimously elected as the president of the convention and from all accounts, his integrity and honesty brought significant balance to the convention and kept it from jumping the rails and ending in chaos and confusion. Most of the delegates were in their thirties and forties and well educated. Their ranks included lawyers, bankers, merchants, and farmers with Benjamin Franklin being the oldest at eighty-one. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were absent due to serving as ambassadors in Europe. John Jay, Samuel Adams, John Hancock were also absent and Patrick Henry refused to attend believing that he “smelled a rat” and the convention would ultimately jeopardize the rights of states and individuals. James Madison was only twenty-six years of age and fortunately years earlier Thomas Jefferson had sent him crates of books on various forms of governments and he studied them diligently. He became known as the “Father of the Constitution” and was a key advocate of the “Bill of Rights.”
For four months, the delegates labored to hammer out a compromise that established an amazing system of government that was flexible enough to withstand more than two centuries of change. There were many issues that divided the delegates including slavery, popular voice of the people, and states’ rights. Benjamin Franklin, sensing the danger of the entire convention falling apart make his infamous appeal based on Psalm 127:1. I will give a portion of his plea: “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 builds the house, they labor 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 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.” That is an awesome recognition of the Hand and Providence of God in Government and in Life.
There have been and could be entire volumes written on the deliberations and the subsequent government that was reached in their wisdom and the guidance of the divine. Even after they arrived at a final draft of the Constitution there were those who resisted because it did not clearly protect people’s basic civil rights, such as freedom of religion, speech, and press. Samuel Adams and John Hancock agreed to support the constitution only after these three liberties were included in a compromise on February 6th. Patrick Henry, George Mason, and later Richard Henry Lee led the fight for the inclusion of a “Bill of Rights”. Many of the Framers believed those were included in the State Constitutions but those pressing for this action won the debate and thankfully we have the “Bill of Rights” included in our Constitution.
James Madison declared regarding the type of government they sought in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.” That was then and this is now according to the Progressives, Liberals, and politicians that sentiment and document are inadequate and antiquated. The Framers and Founders desired, designed, and presented a system of government that was LIMITED on the federal level and provided safeguards to prevent a Tyrannical Federal bureaucracy. We have allowed politicians and pundits to erode those safeguards and the federal government designed to be LIMITED has become a behemoth that believes it is ALL POWERFUL and rather than being a government where the ultimate power is in the hands of the citizens it has become a government where ultimate power is in Washington and little or none vested in the citizens. THAT MUST CHANGE!
May God, bless you and may He bless America again!