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What would the Founding Fathers think now?

It's been 233 years since that sweltering Philadelphia June when Thomas Jefferson sequestered himself in a small apartment a few blocks west along Market Street from the Pennsylvania State House. During his three weeks of trying to, in his words, "place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent," he was frequently visited by the prodding and pestering John Adams and the brilliant Benjamin Franklin. When Jefferson was done with what would become one of the most significant pieces or writing in the history of mankind, the disparate trio would lead 13 even more disparate colonies into truly uncharted seas.

As we know now, Jefferson, Adams and Franklin were successful in their unprecedented endeavour to break successfully from a mother stem. In the process they laid the groundwork for what would quickly become the greatest republic in the world. The American Dream had moved past infancy and had taken flight.

So two and a third centuries later, what would those Founding Fathers think of their creation and the troubles we are enduring now? I'd like to think that this weekend, as they do each Independence Day, and perhaps every day, Franklin, Adams and Jefferson would gather together in the afterlife and look down upon us and discuss what they see.

Adams, for sure, would be despondent, perhaps inconsolable, and certainly highly critical. How could they, he'd ask, throw away so much of what their forebears had achieved? He would wonder how a nation that had been such a beacon of hope for so many for so long, had squandered much of that stature in the global community. "It is an utter disgrace," Adams would surely protest. "An economy in disarray. A nation largely divided upon itself on so many idelogical issues. This is surely a portent of far greater disasters to come."

With a roll of the eyes, Jefferson would see a much different America before him. One of the greatest thinkers of his or any other time would surely be amazed at how far we've come technologically. He would be delighted by how small we've made the world and how easily information can be shared, no matter the distance between two points. "Why, Mr. Adams," he would needle, "do you not see all this people has accomplished? They may have problems, yes, but they have used to their advantage, indeed to the advantage of their fellow man around the world, the opportunities this republic affords. Look not upon the failings of the moment, but of the successes of generations of great Americans."

"I believe I know something of great Americans," Franklin would chide with a twinkle in his eye. He certainly would share Jefferson's optimism, especially in the context of time, rather than join Adams in his pessimistic derision of the patchwork culture below. "What you both fail to consider," Franklin would continue, "are the boundless possibilities yet to come. Yes, Mr. Adams, they are certainly in a bit of a fix right now. But they are far from the greatest concerns our nation has had to overcome. Just ask Mr. Lincoln about real problems on a national scale. Indeed, Tom sees it in a more complete context. It takes more than a sad chapter to make an unhappy story. But Mr. Jefferson, let us not forget that this is still a nation no farther along than early adolescence. Most civilizations have achieved far less in such a short time as ours. Oh, how I wish I had the opportunity to share in the triumphs yet to be known."

Each having their say, they would reflect upon the notions. The ever-anxious Adams would eventually give in, though with a caveat of concern, which the others would have to accept. The nation they bore and raised in infancy is certainly going through some tough times. But they and their contemporaries, like any good parents, gave their offspring a heap of lessons and values to help weather any storm. And so as yet another birthday for the nation comes and goes, the American Dream goes on. These United States were founded on an ideal to build a more perfect union. It is a construction project we continue 233 years after it began.

By: Kevin Wuzzardo


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