The U.S. Constitution Is Yesterday’s News

  • The Constitution has seen better days. So begins a provocative article in The New York Times (6-Feb-12). Until the 1980s, democratic constitutions around the world were more similar to that of the United States than not. That has changed. Newer constitutions tend to protect more rights, are easier to change, and are replaced periodically. That makes the U.S version as poor a model for a new constitution as using Windows 3.1 to inspire the development of a modern operating system.
JDN | 7-Feb-2012

The French years provided Franklin’s detractors precisely what they needed: proof that the ur-American was un-American. Franklin was the Founding Father who had come the furthest, which makes him today the most compelling; he was also the Founding Father who traveled the farthest, which in his own century made him the most suspect. Few other homes in Philadelphia sported both Réaumur and Fahrenheit thermometers. The story goes that when Franklin proposed that Congress open its meetings with a prayer, Alexander Hamilton quipped that that body had no need of foreign aid. The story may be apocryphal but the sentiment was real. The expatriate patriot, Franklin was associated in many minds with the dependent chapter of American independence, one better expunged from the record.

Stacy Schiff
A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America (2005)