On This Day in History: June 28, 1787

 

In June, 1787, The Constitutional Convention was in full swing in Philadelphia.

  • Do you know how many delegates attended the Constitutional Convention?
  • Do you know how many delegates signed the Constitution?
  • Who was the olderst delgate?
  • Who was the youngest delegate?

(Answers at the bottom)


on-this-day-in-history-june-28-1787-1

The Constitutional Convention was called in an effort to seek solutions to problems the nation experienced under the Articles of Confederation. The gathering started with optimism, but after five weeks of frequent disagreements, they were almost at a full impasse. Addressing their frustration, on June 28, delegate Benjamin Franklin told the others:

In this situation of this assembly, groping, as it were, in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with Britain when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for the Divine Protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. . . And have we now forgotten that 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 proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men. 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; and I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel . . . and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages. I therefore beg leave to move, that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business. [1]

The Convention then adjourned for three days. During that time, they gathered at the Calvinist Reformed Church in Philadelphia, where the Rev. William Rogers prayed a special prayer over the Constitutional Convention (WallBuilders has a 1787 newspaper that records this prayer), and according to George Washington, they also “hear[d] an oration on the anniversary of independence.” [2]

Following those three days, the Convention reconvened and experienced unexpected success. Ten weeks later they had finished the U. S. Constitution (under which America has become the longest on-going constitutional republic in the world), and the Founders were quick to acknowledge God’s help in their endeavors.

Alexander Hamilton is reported to have declared:

For my own part, I sincerely esteem it a system which without the finger of God never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests. [3]

James Madison agreed:

It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it the finger of that Almighty Hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the Revolution. [4]

As far as these delegates were concerned, the finger of God – that is, His Divine power – had guided their writing of the Constitution. Benjamin Franklin also believed this to be the case, explaining:

[I] beg I may not be understood to infer that our general Convention was Divinely inspired when it formed the new federal Constitution . . . [yet] 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” [Acts 17:28]. [5]

Others delegates declared the same, so as we remember the call to prayer that Franklin delivered on this day, let’s also follow George Washington’s advice “to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.” [6]

  • Do you know how many delegates attended the Constitutional Convention?
    55 total delegates attended the Constitutional Convention.
  • Do you know how many delegates signed the Constitution?
    39 men signed the Constitution.
  • Who was the oldest delegate?
    At 81 years old, Benjamin Franklin was the oldest delegate.
  • Who was the youngest delegate?
    At 26 years old, Jonathan Dayton from New Jersey was the youngest delegate.

[1] Max Farrand, The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911), Vol. I, pp. 451-452, from James Madison’s Notes on the Convention for June 28, 1787.

 

[2] George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, Worthington Chauncey Ford, editor (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1891), Vol. XI, p. 148, diary entry for July 4, 1787.

 

[3] Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison and Other Men of Their Time, The Federalist and Other Contemporary Papers on the Constitution of the United States, E.H. Scott, editor (New York: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1894), Vol. 2, p. 646, Alexander Hamilton to Mr. Childs, Wednesday, October 17, 1787.

 

[4] Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, & James Madison, The Federalist (Philadelphia: Benjamin Warner, 1818), p. 194, James Madison, Federalist #37.

 

[5] Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Tappan, Whittemore, and Mason, 1837), Vol. V, p. 162, from “A Comparison of the Conduct of the Ancient Jews and of the Anti-Federalists in the United States of America,” no date.

 

[6] George Washington, “Thanksgiving Proclamation,” The Providence Gazette and Country Journal, (October 17, 1789.

*Originally Posted: January 2, 2017.

print

By |2017-07-28T20:09:48+00:00June 28th, 2017|Categories: Library, Updates|0 Comments