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Please Critique Benjamin Franklin: “Speech in the Convention: At the Conclusion of Its Deliberations” (Sept. 17, 1787)

Does not have to be a full research paper…only 400-600 Word essay

At the Conclusion of its Deliberations

[September 17, 1787]

Mr. President,

I confess, that I do not entirely approve of this Constitution at present; but, Sir, I am not sure

I shall never approve it; for, having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being

obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change my 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 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 two churches in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrine, is, the Romish

Church 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 little dispute with her sister, said, “But I meet with

nobody but myself that is always in the right.” “Je ne trouve que moi qui aie 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 I 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 endeavour to gain Partisans in support of them, we might

prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects and great advantages

resulting naturally in our favour among foreign nations, as well as among ourselves, from our
real or apparent unanimity. Much of the strength and efficiency of any government, in procuring
and securing happiness to the people, depends on opinion, on the general opinion of the goodness

of that government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its governors. I hope, therefore, for

our own sakes, as a part of the people, and for the sake of our posterity, that we shall act heartily
and unanimously in recommending this Constitution, wherever our Influence may extend, and
turn our future thoughts and endeavours to the means of having it well administered.

On the whole, Sir, I cannot 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.