Read what Founders created 222 years ago

Tue, 09/15/2009 - 3:53pm
By: The Citizen

Lately, there has been a great deal of buzz in the news about the Constitution. How many times do you hear someone say, “It’s my right,” or “That’s unconstitutional”? What does that really mean?
The Constitution is the cornerstone of our government in the United States and specifically details the powers of the three branches. Our elected officials take an oath to protect and to defend the Constitution from all enemies. Are these just words or do they have meaning?
The Constitution was penned by a group of 55 delegates either elected or appointed by the 13 states of a very young America. These men came from different walks of life, but all had one goal in mind. They wanted the best for Americans. They wanted to protect the freedoms for which they had fought, and they wanted a better form of government than the Articles of Confederation had provided in 1781.
The Articles of Confederation had many flaws as it provided for the states to be more powerful than the federal government. There was no way for the federal government to collect taxes, or even to pay an army. There was no national currency as each state produced their own. The one house of Congress had no authority and there was no elected leader of the country.
The year 1787 brought many changes to the young nation. In February, a call had gone out to the states for a convention so the Articles of Confederation could be amended. Instead, the summer saw a long, hot debate in Philadelphia when the states’ delegates gathered to remake the government and its powers through the penning of the Constitution.
The discussions were held behind closed doors and, by all accounts, were quite heated. After the delegates had debated, disagreed, and argued for a period of five or six weeks, Benjamin Franklin, who expressed disappointment in the progress of the Convention, suggested 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.” Perhaps he thought the presence of a clergy might keep some of the tempers in check.
These men eventually came together and compromised for the good of the nation. Several of the delegates were not pleased with the basic Constitution and refused to sign it unless certain amendments were added. These amendments provided for the freedom of speech, the freedom of worship, the right for a public peaceful assembly, the right to bear arms, the right to have a speedy trial and states’ rights and others.
On Sept. 17 of that year, 39 of the 42 delegates who were present signed the Constitution. It was then sent to the states for ratification.
Among his remarks on the day of signing the Constitution, Franklin said, “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 but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.
“I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? 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 ...”
This year, America celebrates the 222nd anniversary of the framing of the Constitution.
Have you read the Constitution recently? Do you know what the Constitution provides for you and your family? I urge you, as an American, to read the Constitution. Protect the freedoms given you by the Constitution, because if we don’t, our lost rights may be just that. Lost.
Ann Eldredge
Peachtree City, Ga.

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