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I CONFESS that I do not entirely approve of this conftitution at present: but, Sir, I am not fure I fhall never approve it; for having lived long, I have experienced many inftances of being obliged by better information, or fuller confideration, to change opinions even on important fubjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwife. It is, therefore, that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own

*Our reafons for afcribing this fpeech to Dr. Franklin, are its internal evidence, and its having appeared with his name, during his life-time, un contradicted, in an American periodical publication.



judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. Moft men, indeed, as well as most sects in religion, think themselves in poffeffion of all truth, and that whenever others differ from them, it is fo far error. Steel, a proteftant, in a dedication, tells the pope, that "the "only difference between our two "churches, in their opinions of the cer66 tainty of their doctrines, is, the Romish "church is infallible, and the church "of England never in the wrong. But, though many private perfons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their fect, few exprefs it so naturally as a certain French lady, who, in a little dispute with her fifter, faid, I don't know how it happens, fifter, but I meet with nobody but myself that is always in the right. Il n'y a que mci qui a toujours raifon. In thefe fentiments, Sir, I agree to this conftitution, with all its faults, if they are fuch; because I


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think a general government neceffary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a bleffing, if well administered; and I believe farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people fhall become fo corrupted as to need defpotic government, being incapable of any other. I doubt, too, whether any other convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better conftitution. For when you affemble a number of men, to have the advantage of their joint wifdom, you inevitably affemble with thofe men, all their prejudices, their paffions, their errors of opinion, their local interefts, and their selfifh views. From fuch an affembly can á perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this fyftem approaching fo near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish


our enemies, who are waiting with confidence, to hear that our councils are confounded, like thofe of the builders of Babylon, and that our ftates are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting eacli other's throats.

Thus I confent, Sir, to this constitu tion, because I expect no better, and because I am not fure that this is not the beft. The opinions I have had of its errors, I facrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a fyllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born; and here they fhall die. If every one of us, in returning to our constituents, were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavour to gain partisans in fupport of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lofe all the falutary effects and great advantages refulting naturally in our fa vour among foreign nations, as well as among

among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity. Much of the ftrength and efficiency of any government, in procuring and fecuring happinefs to the people, depends on opinion; on the general opinion of the goodness of that go. vernment, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its governors.

I hope, therefore, that for our own fakes as a part of the people, and for the fake of our pofterity, we shall act heartily and unanimoufly in recommending this conftitution, wherever our influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts and endeavours to the means of having it well administered..

On the whole, Sir, I cannot help expreffing a wifh, that every member of the convention, who may ftill have objections, would with me, on this occafion, doubt a little of his own infallibility, and, to make manifeft our unanimity, put his name to this inftrument.


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