Today is September 17, 2014. Two hundred and twenty-seven years ago on this date, in 1787, the greatest governing document the world has ever known came into existence as it was signed in convention in Philadelphia — our United States Constitution.
On that day as our American history teaches, us there was a very memorable exchange.
According to Mount Vernon.org, “Elizabeth Willing Powel was an important figure during the Revolutionary Era, a woman involved in the social and political maneuverings of the era. She was known as the premiere Saloniste of Philadelphia, in charge of a location where elite men and women in the late colonial and early national era spent their evenings. Among them, George Washington became a close personal friend of Powel’s, often asking for her advice about his political career and personal life. Following the Constitutional Convention in September 1787, a famous story surrounding Elizabeth and Benjamin Franklin arose. Elizabeth purportedly questioned Franklin on his way out of the Pennsylvania State House as to what form of government the delegates of the Congress had agreed upon. He replied, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.” The story was originally told by James McHenry, George Washington’s final Secretary of War.”
A republic, if you can keep it — the challenge issued not just to Mrs. Powel but to every generation of America to come. A challenge to maintain this Constitutional Republic and uphold the sanctity of individual liberty and freedom, and the rule of law.
So on this day, pause and ask yourself, are we meeting Benjamin Franklin’s challenge to keep this Republic, or are we failing? If you are honest, there is only one response — or perhaps your response is that Franklin was just an old white guy and who cares what he said.
Well, those of us who took an oath to support and defend the seminal document that defines our Republic — we care. As a matter of fact, we’ve been willing to give our lives to meet Franklin’s challenge.
Here are those beautifully written opening words of James Madison — who had contributing writers and thinkers Alexander Hamilton and John Jay — that we call the Preamble to the United States Constitution:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Happy 227th birthday to our Constitution, to the establishment of this Constitutional Republic and to ol’ Ben Franklin. I will always fight to keep this Republic and thank you for your challenge. I will not surrender the fundamental premise of our existence.
Steadfast and Loyal. Molon Labe!