A Republic, If You Can Keep It

The Founding Fathers, as a group, were a band of very wise men.  Perhaps the wisest was Benjamin Franklin, a rare combination of genius and solid common sense.  He also had that attribute of truly wise people:  the sense to hide his intellect to some extent behind a fog of good humor.  How fortunate for America that throughout his life he placed his intellect at the service of his country, a country he understood at an early date embraced all of the colonies in British America.

At the end of his life his final great service to America was at the Constitutional Convention where his calming words helped bring disputing factions together to achieve the task of hammering a document together that has endured through the centuries.  Many of the delegates noted the importance of Doctor Franklin in the process of bringing the Constitution to life.  One of the delegates, Dr. James McHenry of Maryland, a surgeon who had served as an aide to General Washington during the Revolutionary War, recorded that as Franklin was leaving Constitution Hall   “A lady asked Dr. (Benjamin) Franklin, “Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”  “A republic,” replied the Doctor, “if you can keep it.”

I have always been struck by that answer, because Franklin indicated in it that it is the responsibility of each individual American to keep the nation a Republic, not the responsibility of someone else.  Sound advice in 1787, sound advice in 2011.

Published in: on July 27, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on A Republic, If You Can Keep It  
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