Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Rising Sun

Independence Hall
One of the highlights of my trip to Philadelphia was to see the birthplace of the two greatest documents that man ever devised The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Very few people are indispensable but Washington in my view was indispensable on three occasions in American history. As commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. As President of the Constitutional Convention. And as President of the United States.The purpose of the Constitutional Convention was not to form a new government but to reform the Articles of Confederation. Washington as one of the delegates, along with Madison and others wanted to write a new constitution that would recognize the sovereignty of the states but would create a strong central government that would be the supreme law of the land with the power to tax. Washington knew what it was like to try to fight a war supported by a central government that had no real power. It had to beg the individual states for financial and other support to keep the Army in the field. To keep the soldiers fed, equipped, and paid. Washington operated on a shoe string and had to fight off mutiny from his soldiers because of the governments ineffectiveness. Without his presence as the convention president the Constitution had no chance of passage. By this time Americans viewed Washington almost as a god-like figure. Washington sat in a chair at the center of the room with his back to the wall facing the delegates. Benjamin Franklin was old and infirm during this convention He was 81 years old. This would be his final public service. He was revered in Europe as a diplomat, scientist, author, and statesman. He urged his fellow delegates to put aside their criticisms and compromise to bring about an effective government. I had always read that Washington's chair had a carving of the sun on the back of it. I was pleased to learn that the chair in Independence Hall is the actual chair that he sat in. On the final day, as the last delegates were signing the document, Franklin pointed toward the sun on the back of the Convention president's chair. Observing that painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising sun from a setting sun, he went on to say: "I have often ... in the course of the session ... looked at that sun behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now at length I have the happiness to know it is a rising and not a setting sun." I am not as optimistic now as Franklin was then. Unfortunately my children and grandchildren may live to see this bright and shining sun called America as a setting sun.

No comments:

Post a Comment