“The chair recognizes the gentleman from Pennsylvania, the Honorable.”
It is the 17th of September in 1787, and the venerable Franklin at the age of 81 years has arisen to give his final benediction to that document which the delegates are about to sign, the Constitution of the United States of America.
“Sir,” began Franklin, addressing himself to George Washington, “for four months I have been observing that picture painted on the high arch of your chair. More than anyone in this chamber I have gazed at carvings and paintings of artists of all lands. In the galleries and salons of England and France I have seen innumerable attempts of artists to depict that greatest of planets, the sun. Artists have always found it difficult to distinguish a rising from a setting sun. I have often in the course of these sessions, and vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that sun behind the president of this convention without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising sun and not a setting sun.”
It was the great English Prime Minister Gladstone who said that “the American constitution is the most powerful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.” In the sense that this great document was all written by one convention, Gladstone is correct. But the principles established and the freedoms guaranteed int he Constitution were the outgrowth of over 700 years of struggle by English freemen. Every phrase, word and letter was sanctified by the shedding of the blood of those who loved freedom and right more than life. The constitution was the crowning capstone of all the common law.
But the struggle to assure freedom in this land did not cease with the framing and adoption of the Constitution. It has been amended 21 times since. And there are today many grave problems facing the people who must preserve the Constitution, if freedom is to remain with us.
1–The people must insist that all of their rights and privileges which are curtailed by the prosecution of a total war be returned to them in their entirety as soon as peace is established.
2–The people must determine whether they want the federal government to continue to regulate their whole social and economic existence from Washington under the guise of regulating interstate commerce, or whether they want the control of their domestic and internal affairs returned to their local state governments. Federal regulation will be by impersonal bureaus. Local control will be by the people themselves, with their own interest at heart, and with a knowledge of the personal problems confronting them.
3–The people must determine whether they want their three departments of government to act independently in their proper spheres, or whether the congress shall continue to delegate law making powers to the president, and judicial powers to boards and bureaus.
4–The people must choose whether they want the power of the executive department restricted, so that he will be on a par with the Congress and the courts instead of superior to them. The chief means on doing this would be to restrict the president to one term only.
5–The people must choose between continuing to elect a president by the archaic Electoral College, the reason for the adoption of which has ceased, or whether he shall be elected by the popular vote of the people themselves.
6–The people must require their Congress to take its rightful place in national government, exercise a just control over the executive, and shake itself free from control by pressure groups.
7–The people must choose wise men who are imbued with the cause of liberty and not overcome by the spirit of party to represent them in all governmental positions.
8–The people must require their government to get out of debt. In 1796 George Washington told his countrymen in his farewell address that the government should avoid “the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear.”
9–The people must learn their rights and resolve above all else to preserve them inviolate.
10–If the people will do all these things, and the kindred things that are related to them, they will preserve for themselves those freedoms that their progenitors have given them and they will perpetuate that kind of society in which social and economic betterment will prevail.
11–The constitutional sun is rising, and it has not reached its zenith, nor will it, so long as the love of freedom is sufficiently dear that men will sacrifice their all for it. The people must love freedom more than they love money. The cause is just. The god of freedom has approved. the even is in the hands of the people.
which appeared on the editorial page (page 4) of
The Deseret News, 19 March 1945 through 10 April 1945.