BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

The Constitutional Convention met at Philadelphia in the hot summer of 1787 to rewrite the Articles of Confederation which had been so ineffective. The quarrels between the States were deep and divisive; each state lowered or raised it's own tariffs and coined it's own money. There was no Union. The delegates began to realize that they needed to do something more than patch up the Articles of Confederation. It was a stormy convention. The debate over representation grew more bitter and hopelessly deadlocked. The strength of George Washington's personality was the glue that had held them together, and his power was waning. At one point, Ben Franklin, 81 years of age, rose and spoke quietly:

 

"In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle have observed frequent instances of superintending Providence in our favor.... And have we now forgotten this powerful Friend? Or, do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing I see of this truth: "that God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without
His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his Aid?

We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without his
concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little, partial local interests; our projects will be
confounded; and we shall become a reproach and a byword to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing
government by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war, or conquest.

I therefore beg to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and it's blessing on our deliberation be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business."