Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech.”,Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin was a writer and diplomat. He was also an inventor. Franklin was born in Boston, Massachusetts on 17 January 1706. His father Josiah Franklin was a soap maker. Benjamin went to school for only a very short time. When he was 10 when he started work in his father’s shop. Later Benjamin was apprenticed to his brother James, a printer.
Benjamin soon argued with James and in 1723 he went to Philadelphia where he found a job in a print shop. In 1724 Franklin then went to London to buy print equipment. He returned to Philadelphia in 1726 and shortly afterward he started his own printing business. Benjamin Franklin prospered and in 1730 he bought a newspaper The Pennsylvania Gazette. In 1732 he began publishing Poor Richard’s Almanac. Meanwhile, in 1730 Benjamin married a woman named Deborah Read.
Franklin was clerk of the Pennsylvania Assembly from 1736 to 1751. He was a member of the assembly from 1751 to 1764. He was deputy postmaster for the colonies from 1753 to 1774. Franklin also invented a kind of metal stove in 1742. In 1752 he carried out a famous experiment with a kite in a thunderstorm which proved lightning is a form of electricity.
In 1757 Franklin went to England as a diplomat as relations between Britain and the North American colonies deteriorated. Franklin spent the years 1757-1762 and 1764-1775 in England. He returned to America in 1775. Franklin was elected to the Second Continental Congress and he signed the Declaration of Independence.
At the end of 1776, Franklin was sent to France as a diplomat. France declared war on Britain in support of the colonies in 1778. Franklin returned to France in 1785. Benjamin Franklin died on 17 April 1790. He was 84.
The “Speech to the Convention” was written by Benjamin Franklin and delivered on his behalf at the Constitutional Convention in 1787.
- In this brief speech, Franklin seeks to persuade his fellow delegates to sign the newly drafted Constitution, which is not perfect but “near to perfection.”
- Franklin cautions against believing too strongly in the infallibility of one’s own judgment, admitting that while he finds fault with some parts of the Constitution, he may very well be proven wrong.
- Noting that other countries expect the US to fail, Franklin stresses the importance of appearing unified in support of the Constitution
Benjamin Franklin’s Speech at the Constitutional Convention
“I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. Most men indeed as well as most sects in Religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them it is so far error. Steele a Protestant in a Dedication tells the Pope, that the only difference between our Churches in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrines is, the Church of Rome is infallible and the Church of England is never in the wrong. But though many private persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their sect, few express it so naturally as a certain french lady, who in a dispute with her sister, said “I don’t know how it happens, Sister but I meet with no body but myself, that’s always in the right-Il n’y a que moi qui a toujours raison.”
In these sentiments, 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, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the Builders of Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another’s throats. Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us in returning to our Constituents were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavor to gain partizans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects & great advantages resulting naturally in our favor among foreign Nations as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity. Much of the strength & efficiency of any Government in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depends, on opinion, on the general opinion of the goodness of the Government, as well as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its Governors. I hope therefore that for our own sakes as a part of the people, and for the sake of posterity, we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this Constitution (if approved by Congress & confirmed by the Conventions) wherever our influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts & endeavors to the means of having it well administred.
On the whole, Sir, I can not help expressing a wish that every member of the Convention who may still have objections to it, would with me, on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility, and to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.”-