That summer was so hot the only thing moving fast was the horde of ever-present, dive-bombing flies. I was 81 years old at the time and more unhappy than most to be attacked by the irritating insect tormentors. This is my town and all the men invited here to change history looked to me, the elder statesman, to provide a modicum of comfort. My name is Ben.
The townspeople did all they could to keep our human visitors fed, rested, and entertained. There wasn’t too much I could contribute. My feet hurt. In fact, all of me hurt. Others suffered as well…but many of them were half as old.
They say I made quite a spectacle of myself by traveling across the city in a Chinese sedan chair. Four prisoners from the local jailhouse carried the thing. It was less jarring on my bones than a carriage, and I was too compromised to get on a horse any more. Age and wisdom have a few advantages.
Even though ours was a most serious agenda, we were tortured by the weather and often angry at the ones who couldn’t come to terms. In such aggravating, nearly impossible conditions, we feverishly worked on what was referred to as “the plan”. In spite of the challenging circumstances, we persevered and birthed a nation.
How can I tell you how HOT we were? Under those woolen clothes our skin crawled with prickly heat and rashes. If it had been appropriate, I would gladly have adjourned to the nearest body of fresh water and continued these proceedings in a swimming hole. History, however, might not have been so kind in its recording of that important summer in 1787.
The famous meeting room had windows, but due to this necessary extreme secrecy they could not be left open for even a whiff of fresh air. There was already enough internal fighting and disagreement. The public’s insatiable need-to know forced extra precaution lest rumors circulated and misinformation leaked out that would hinder this great and taxing assignment.
From the start, James Madison wrote down every word that was said. I don’t know how he could concentrate with arguments that almost came to fisticuffs at times, but he never missed a day in his meticulous record-keeping. Rumors flew about what was being planned in that room, but by God’s grace, fifty-five men (though usually never more than about thirty at a time) managed to keep all the classified information confidential.
When all the delegates from the states finally agreed on how many should be in the Senate and how many in the House of Representatives, we dubbed it The Great Compromise. Exhausted and more than weary, we voted ourselves a ten-day vacation. The first thing sensible Mister Washington did was go fishing.
Many balked at the individual states becoming one nation, and were quite verbal about it. Patrick Henry was so dramatic, when he saw the words, “We the People” he was fit to be tied. He wasn’t the only one. We bickered and ranted; we paced and prayed. In the end, after adding The Bill of Rights to our Constitution, and with some more mind-numbing haggling, we sent the results out to be transferred to parchment.
At last, with dogged determination, and in my opinion no little assist from our Creator, we had a beautiful, never-before-achieved document for the state delegates to sign. It was truly awesome to see; still gives me shivers to wonder how we actually did such an incredible thing.
On September 17, there were forty-two delegates present. Some were still unhappy, even hostile and uncooperative regarding parts of it. Only thirty-nine signed. It took six nail-biting months for each state to call its convention and ratify the proof of our new union.
To celebrate, there was an amazing 4th of July celebration with bands and banners, music and singing, gun shots and marching. We concluded the miraculous commencement of our infant country with a picnic for seventeen thousand people. Hopefully, that celebratory tradition will carry on through the generations. I pray none will forget the significance of this momentous occasion.
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the laws of the land were formed and officially written down. Much like the birth of a baby who comes into the world yelling, but with attention and nurture soon settles down to be loved and protected, in the end, the agony of long and arduous labor produced a brand new nation. The United States of America was born.
Note: A wisp of a brief and shallow overview of America’s official launch cannot begin to cover all the blood, sweat, and tears in its formation that made us a real and significant player on the world’s stage.
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