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December 5, 1933- Repeal of Prohibition

Story ID:10179
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Philadelphia Pennsylvania USA
Year:1933
Person:Ben Franklin
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This week I watched an re-enactment of the Constitutional gathering which
took place among the statesmen after the American victory over the superior
British forces. One reporter observed that few if any of the nations at the time
believed we could do it. It was also said that Washington and the others put
their faith in God. Obviously, He heard their prayers because otherwise- how
can you ascribe victory to this ill-equipped rag tag army – even though admittedly
led by one astounding military strategist like George Washington?

Meeting together to choose a better governing doctrine than the Articles of
Confederation, these men certainly were gifted with vision. James Madison’s
Virginia’s constitution provided the starting point and I believe much of it was
adopted in this new constitution for the whole United States.

I watched the proceedings with great interest. I had not given too much thought
to this happening before, and that indeed is something quite shameful. We all
should know our history better than I do. Much of the episode centered on the
thoughts of Ben Franklin, and of course, this man of many talents displayed his
wisdom and foresight at this gathering. I hadn’t fully realized what an amazing
thinker and orator he really was until then. Gifted on many levels, we also owe
him a debt of gratitude for enlisting the help of France in our Revolution. Could
we have succeeded without it?

But now I was reflecting on his gift of analyzing and putting into writing his
amazing thoughts. Here in part is the paragraph which had me awe-struck re his
assessment of the final draft of the Constitution:

“.....I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a
better Constitution. For when you assemble a Number of Men to have the Advantage
of their joint Wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those Men all their Prejudices,
their Passions, their Errors of Opinion, their local Interests, and their selfish Views.....”

So very true, and I thought that this reflection is probably descriptive of almost any
gathering of people who are called upon to make serious decisions. And of course,
this was especially true of the delegates of the 13 original states who were there
to make a better blueprint then the Articles of Confederation on how to govern this
fledgling new nation.

He had his young friend read his prepared paper and again his thoughts are refreshingly
true: “From such an Assembly can a perfect Production be expected? It therefore
astonishes me, Sir, to find this System approaching so near to Perfection as it does;
and I think it will astonish our Enemies, who are waiting with Confidence to hear that our
Councils are confounded, like those of the Builders of Babel, and that our States are on
the point of Separation, only to meet hereafter for the Purpose of cutting one another’s
throats. Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution BECAUSE I EXPECT NO BETTER, AND
BECAUSE I AM NOT SURE THAT IT IS NOT THE BEST.”

Thank God we had the likes of men like Ben Franklin, James Madison, George Washington,
Thomas Jefferson, James Adams and others at this crucial time in our history. They
all believed in God or Divine Providence. I even admired Ben Franklin more when I
learned that he had made a request that all the meetings of this group be started with
prayer. Sadly, his fellow statesmen did not agree, but I believe that this man of such
innate goodness probably harbored no ill will to them because of this.

Truly a man of God -his one disappointment re the new Constitution was that it did not
abolish slavery.

I smiled this evening (December 5th) when I heard on the local evening news how the
Constitution was tested. The reporter reminded us that on December 5, 1933 the 18th
Amendment (Prohibition) was repealed by the 21st Amendment. How wisely the founding
fathers had not cast the Amendments in stone.

I was only 3 at the time, but somehow whether then or later I began to realize the
ramification of the 18th Amendment on basically the hard working class of people at the
time. Among them were my Slovak father and his friends. These early immigrants
worked hard- primarily for a pittance and they needed to be able to enjoy a shot and beer
with their friends to rest and unwind.

It was wrong to deprive them of this simple luxury. I would often thereafter see my Dad
raise his shot of whiskey and say to his friend –“Na zdravije” – To your health. I didn’t
know then but this 18th Amendment was the only Amendment to be repealed in its entirety
by the 21st Amendment. Maybe well-meaning in intent, it failed to realize that people
should not be deprived of imbibing alcoholic beverages. Even when Jesus lived – He and
His mother attended a wedding at Cana where the wine supply became inadequate. We
all know that at His Mother’s request, Jesus changed water into wine at this wedding feast,
and saved the wedding couple from embarrassment.

So, thank you Founding Fathers for your wisdom in giving us a pretty darn good blue print
for governance. I think it can be safely said that it has worked until now. Somehow though
we need more people with the caliber of a Ben Franklin, George Washington, and Abraham
Lincoln to name a few. Will we ever see their like again? We seem to have lost our way.