The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 3 [of 3]

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 283

the establishment of
the new constitution, whereby they brought upon themselves much
inconvenience and misfortune. It farther appears, from the same
inestimable history, that when, after many ages, the constitution
had become old and much abused, and an amendment of it was proposed,
the populace, as they had accused Moses of the ambition of making
himself a prince, and cried out, stone him, stone him; so, excited by
their high-priests and scribes, they exclaimed against the Messiah,
that he aimed at becoming king of the Jews, and cried, crucify him,
crucify him. From all which we may gather, that popular opposition
to a public measure is no proof of its impropriety, even though the
opposition be excited and headed by men of distinction.

To conclude, I beg I may not be understood to infer, that our general
convention was divinely inspired when it formed the new federal
constitution, merely because that constitution has been unreasonably
and vehemently opposed: yet, I must own, I have so much faith in the
general government of the world by Providence, that I can hardly
conceive a transaction of such momentous importance to the welfare
of millions now existing, and to exist in the posterity of a great
nation, should be suffered to pass without being in some degree
influenced, guided and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent and
beneficent ruler, in whom all inferior spirits live, and move, and
have their being.


[163] From the Repository, vol. II. p. 313. _Editor._

[164] Numbers, chap. xiv.

[165] Numbers, chap. xvi. ver. 3. "And they gathered themselves
together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, ye
take too much upon you, seeing all the congregations are holy,
every one of them,--wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the

[166] Numbers, chap. vii.

[167] Exodus, chapter xxxv. ver. 22.

[168] Numbers, chap. iii. and Exodus, chap. xxx.

[169] Numbers, chap. xvi. ver. 13. "Is it a small thing that thou
hast brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill
us in this wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince
over us?"

[170] Numbers, chap. iii.

[171] Exodus, chap. xxx.

[172] Numbers, chap. xvi.

_Final Speech of Dr. Franklin in the late Federal Convention[173]._


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 opinions, even
on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be
otherwise. It is, therefore, that, the older I

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Text Comparison with The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 3 [of 3]

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_ Otherwise the union of the whole would weaken the parts, contrary to the design of the union.
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king and country may inspire; and this by writers, whose understanding (however they may differ from each other) appears not unequal to their candour and the uprightness of their intention.
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Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, unequal as they are to this nation in power and numbers of people, are enemies to be still apprehended; and the Highlanders of Scotland have been so for many ages, by the greatest princes of Scotland and Britain.
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The growth of the children tends to increase the growth of the mother, and so the difference and superiority is longer preserved.
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On the whole, no method has hitherto been formed to establish a medium of trade, in lieu of money, equal in all its advantages, to bills of credit--funded on sufficient taxes for discharging it, or on land-security of double the value for repaying it at the end of the term; and in the mean time, made a GENERAL LEGAL TENDER.
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This particular, therefore, was no more than another requisition of greater _clearness_ and precision; and by no means a foundation for the charge of fundamentally wrong and unjust.
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[112] 13th and 14th Car.
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But remember to make your arbitrary tax more grievous to your provinces, by public declarations, importing, that your power of taxing them has _no limits_, so that when you take from them without their consent a shilling in the pound, you have a clear right to the other nineteen.
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If any colony should _at their own charge erect a fortress_, to secure their _port_ against the fleets of a foreign enemy, get your governor to betray that fortress into your hands.
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These atrocious injuries have extinguished every spark of affection for that parent country we once held so dear: but were it possible for _us_ to forget and forgive them, it is not possible for _you_ (I mean the British nation) to forgive the people you have so heavily injured; you can never confide again in those as fellow-subjects, and permit them to enjoy equal freedom, to whom you know you have given such just causes of lasting enmity; and this must impel you, were we again under your government,.
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_Remarks concerning the Savages of North-America[158].
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and about this city, who will ask, on which side the writer is, before they presume to give their opinion of the thing wrote.
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But poverty often deprives a man of all spirit and virtue.
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I long much to see again my native place; and once hoped to lay my bones there.
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No outward air that may come into you is so unwholesome, as the unchanged air, often breathed, of a close chamber.
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The galling chains, that bind his body, do also fetter his intellectual faculties, and impair the social affections of his heart.
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_Savages_ of North America, remarks on, iii.