National Center for Constitutional Studies
|"A primary object.should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing.than.communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?"
Click here to order
Click here for some
great ideas on celebrating
Remembering Benjamin Franklin – America’s Greatest Diplomat
On January 17, 2006, our nation will celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birthday of Benjamin Franklin. His birth began a long line of those whom we have since termed “Founding Fathers”, who came in preparation for the establishment of the American Republic. Samuel Adams would come in 1722; George Washington in 1732; John Adams in 1735; Patrick Henry in 1736; Thomas Jefferson in 1743; and James Madison in 1751. In fact, by 1760, a period of only 54 years, all 121 of the men we generally call Founding Fathers would be born. Fifty-five of them would attend the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The other 66 would attend the ratification conventions or otherwise be active in promoting and adopting the Constitution of the United States.
Of their work, other national leaders would say:
"It will be the wonder and admiration of all future generations, and the model of all future constitutions." (William Pitt, leader of British Parliament)
"It is the greatest piece of work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man." (William E. Gladstone, prime minister of England)
"I think and believe that it is one of the most perfect organizations that ever governed a free people.” (Sir John A. Macdonald, first prime minister of Canada)
John Adams believed these and others were fulfilling a larger purpose in establishing America. Said he:
"I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in Providence for the illumination of the ignorant, and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth." (Above quotes in Skousen, The Making of America, pp.7-9)
The great English philosopher, John Locke, in his Second Essay Concerning Civil Government apparently felt the birth of particular persons into this world was by design and purpose. Said he: “…for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent and infinitely wise maker; all the servants of one sovereign master, [they are] sent into the world by His order and about His business…”
Who Is the Real Benjamin Franklin?
Andrew M. Allison, author of The Real Benjamin Franklin, published by NCCS, begins his book by declaring:
“There are many Benjamin Franklins. Or at least he has taken on many different forms in the history books and conversations of the last two centuries.
“Some historians have shown us an aged statesman whose wise and steadying influence kept the Constitutional Convention together in 1787, while others have pictured a chuckling prankster who couldn't resist a funny story. Some remember Franklin for flying a kite in a thunderstorm; others think of him as a successful printer of the colonial era; still others know him only as an expounder of clever maxims ("A penny saved is a penny earned") or the author of a now famous autobiography.
“More recently, a certain brand of biographers and journalists has conjured up sensational tales of a lecherous old diplomat in his seventies who enjoyed illicit affairs with adoring young French women. And a few years ago Franklin even reappeared as a British spy! Some of these myths are now being repeated and embellished in school textbooks and ‘educational’ television programs.
“There are many other versions of Franklin as well—some slanderous, some complimentary. New portrayals continue to come forward, multiplying and changing with each generation.
“Which of all these Benjamin Franklins, if any, is real? This book is an attempt to answer that question. Or, more accurately, it is an attempt to let Franklin himself provide the answer. The Real Benjamin Franklin makes no effort to develop another ‘fresh interpretation’ of the Sage of Philadelphia. Instead, it seats us across the table from the one person who really knew Ben Franklin—that is, Franklin himself—and gives him an opportunity to explain his life and ideas in his own words. (See Allison, The Real Benjamin Franklin, preface)
A Life of Incredible Accomplishments
No short letter can do justice to Benjamin Franklin’s life. However, a short preview of the highlights of his life can remind us of how blessed we Americans should feel that such an one so talented and brilliant was helping found our nation. Again, Andrew Allison outlines for us the biographical highlights of this amazing personality.
“God Governs in the Affairs of Men”
Probably no instance in Franklin’s life is more telling of his beliefs and character than the moment he arose on the floor of a confused, angry, and frustrated Constitutional Convention to plead for the one method he knew could help them solve their problems. Said he:
“…The small progress we have made...is, methinks, a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the human understanding.... In this situation of this assembly, groping, as it were, in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it 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 contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard—and they were graciously answered....
“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 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....”
Perhaps no other better advice could be given today to our confused, quarreling, and misguided Congress than these words of Franklin. How appropriate it would be to have this counsel from Benjamin Franklin read on the floor of Congress and in legislative halls throughout the land on January 17th.