It’s clear from Monday’s “Three Musketeers” column that they know a lot about American mythology but very little about American history.
Ben Franklin, though a deist, offered his appeal to prayer out of his own sense of despair. The convention, which lasted nearly four months, was contentious throughout and it weighed heavily on the 81-year-old. He ended his speech by suggesting prayer be offered every morning and that “the Clergy of the city be requested to officiate in that service.”
Following a second, Alexander Hamilton and others spoke against the motion, after which Edmund Randolph suggested that a single sermon be preached to the convention on July 4, Independence Day.
Franklin seconded this motion. However, delegates then sought to bury the motion by adjourning for the day, which they did, without ever voting on Franklin’s original motion.
The fact is, the convention never voted on the motion, and Franklin noted this himself in his own handwriting.
Appearing in both John Bigelow’s “The Works of Benjamin Franklin” and in Max Farrand’s “Records of the Federal Convention,” Franklin wrote, “The convention, except three or four persons, thought prayer unnecessary.”
The whole idea that religion played a central role in the Constitutional Convention is a canard. Religion appears only once in the Constitution, in the third and last clause of Article 6, ending with “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” It’s important to note that where an item appears in the Constitution is second only to what appears. Making note of religion in the last clause of the penultimate article says a lot about the role of religion during the convention.
If, as the Musketeers claim, religion played an important role in the convention, why did the document itself barely refer to it except to exclude it from a role as a qualification for office?
The Musketeers also stated that following Franklin’s proposal, “within a few short weeks our Constitution was miraculously finished.” Ahem. The Constitutional Convention opened on May 25, 1787, and concluded on Sept. 17. Franklin’s proposal was made before July 4. A few short weeks indeed.
I propose a reason why the Musketeer’s interpretation of events can’t be trusted.
First, they obviously have a political agenda that transcends facts.
Secondly, they write in an adversarial style. Anyone who has taken a debate class knows that in an adversarial setting you present only information that supports your case while excluding information that tends to repudiate it. This method has winning as it’s ultimate goal, not finding the truth.
You want truth, do your own research.
John Koloen lives in Galveston.