Sunday, August 21, 2011

Response of the Convention to Benjamin Franklin's Speech

Jonathan Dayton, delegate from New Jersey, reported the response of the Constitutional Convention at Independence Hall in Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

"The Doctor sat down, and never did I behold a countenance at once so dignified and delighted as was that of Washington at the close of the address; nor were the members of the convention generally less affected. The words of the venerable Franklin fell upon our ears with a weight and authority, even greater than we may suppose an oracle to have had in a Roman Senate."

After Benjamin Franklin made his historical speech, James Madison moved the motion. Roger Sherman of Connecticut seconded the motion for Dr. Franklin's appeal for prayer be enacted. Edmund Jennings Randolph of Virginia further moved:

"That a sermon be preached at the request of the convention on the 4th of July, the anniversary of Independence; & thenceforward prayers be used in ye Convention every morning."

Ever since the enactment of Franklin's motion, prayers have opened both houses of Congress ever since this historic event.

The clergy of the city of Philadelphia cordially responded to the request and a profound change took place among the delegates at the Convention as they reconvened on July 2, 1787. Jonathan Dayton recorded the following statement:

"We assembled again; and...every unfriendly feeling had been expelled, and a spirit of conciliation had been cultivated."

The entire body of delegates to the Constitutional Convention assembled in the Reformed Calvinistic Church on July 4, 1787 as proposed by Edmund Jennings Randolph of Virginia. Reverend William Rogers preached a sermon; his prayer reflected the hearts of the delegates in response to Franklin's admonition.

"We fervently recommend to the fatherly notice...our federal convention. Favor them, from day to day, with thy inspiring presence; be their wisdom and strength; enable them to devise such measures as may prove happy instruments in healing all divisions and prove the good of the great whole;...that the United States of America may from one example of a free and virtuous government...

"May we...continue, under the influence of republican virtue, to partake of all the blessings of cultivated and Christian society."

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