Friday, May 13, 2005

Foundering Fathers

In recent days, during some repair work on a guest house in Philadelphia, the work crew knocked out an attic wall and discovered a fully-intact close-stool, in which contents were included a handful of soiled, crumpled papers. While most of the pages were a little worse for wear, they appear to have been direct questions for an interview between one of our Founding Fathers (perhaps a Virginian) and a member of the established press in direct competition with Benjamin Franklin and other notables. To the best of our ability, we have restored the notes of one Theodore, whose last name appears to have been Cowper, although the condition of the cover pages leaves us room for debate. The following few paragraphs are the clearest, and may shed some light upon journalism in the early days of our Grand Experiment.


“While the Colonies declared Independency eleven years ago, the heads of this fledgling Nation have yet to have formed a viable Government. ‘Why is this taking so long?’ seems to be the question of the season. We of the [illegible] News Paper and its esteemed Readers hope you can provide us with satisfactory Answers.

“Some have called you Visionaries, some say Radicalists. You and your fellow Dreamers declared us no longer to be the King’s Subjects in July of 1776, with the full Draft and Signature of Mister Jefferson’s Inflammatory Document. And yet You did not establish a new Government until five years later, in the Year of Our Lord one Thousand seven Hundred and eighty-one. Your first Attempts thereafter at our self Governance were abysmal Failures, as the Articles of Confederation did not allow for orderly Defence of our loose, so-titled ‘Perpetual Union’, provided no Commonality for Trade, and gave no Structure for public Finance. General Washington has even described your Construct between the States as ‘a Rope of Sand’.

“What say You to charges that this new Attempt at the whole cloth Creation of a new Government will stand no longer than the first, and that anything You do here is Doomed? Can a Plan, such as you propose, in which all Men are equal, be viewed as Realistic?

“What plan do you have to provide Guaranty that followers of False Faith do not try to spread their lies, when you continue the Design that there be room for them to believe as they choose. Can you continue to accept the practices of idolatrous Papism, fanatic Methodism, absurd Baptism in this Land? Does that not fly in the Face of rational Thought? And, if you must allow Members of all Beliefs to have a Say in this new Government, how can you expect the many differing Groups to ever come to an Accord? Should you not be establishing a Single Church, just as our Mother Country has always done? After All, the King has not yet lost, and likely never will completely lose his Supporters over here. Should we not do our best to avoid further Alienation, and continue his Church?

“How, too, will you respond to the People’s fears of Retaliation from those who continue to believe in the Sanctity of the Crown Itself?

“Most of your Colleagues are calling for a Democracy. Is that at all Wise?

“Owners of small Farms, and those Farmers’ compatriots, are completely untrained in the ways of Law and Governance, and, yet, You propose that they be given the Vote. As you suggest Equality for all Men, do you honestly think that the Tradesmen and Merchants, too, are Intellectually Capable of deciding what is Best for them? Will you next be considering offering the Vote to Negroes and Women? What next?

“You have also had a popular Uprising against you, in Massachusetts, beginning last year, among the Shaysites. Will you -- as you must -- include the Loyalists and Shaysites as a part of your new political Construct, in order for it to be a wholly balanced Government of the People? The Fundamental Nature of these Shaysites is violent. They can not be expected to comprehend a peaceable Solution to any dispute, and so can not be expected to choose to Vote instead of Mob. They will continue their Savage Ways, no matter, for there is no reasoning with these Beasts.

“And It is now the Midst of May, in the year of Our Lord 1787. As of the fourteenth of this month, you had yet to reach a Quorum in order to draft this new plan of Governance, this new ‘Constitution’ for these perhaps United States. With all these things and more against you, how can you think this experiment in Governance could possibly succeed?

“The War has been declared ended, nearly four Years ago. Why is it taking so long?”



Here the page was torn roughly in half and crumpled badly, and the remaining portion was beyond recovery.

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