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Please Tread on Me

Sic Semper Tyrannis.”

—from the Great Seal of the
Commonwealth of Virginia

“I want everybody to hear loud and clear that I’m going to be the president of everybody.”

—George W. Bush

“I hope we get to the bottom of the answer.  It’s what I’m interested to know.”

—George W. Bush

A bit of folklore, often retailed, reports a remark made by the sage Ben Franklin at the conclusion of the Philadelphia convention that drafted the U.S. Constitution.  Franklin is supposed to have said: “Well, gentlemen, you have made a Republic—if you can keep it.”

The story is hokey.  Except for one point, everything about it is designed to give a false impression.  The delegates had not “made a Republic.”  There already existed 13 republics recently created by the political genius and physical and moral courage of various communities of Anglo-Americans.

What the convention had “made” was a draft proposal to make “more perfect” collaboration among the 13 republics and any future republics to be created by their kinsmen and descendants...

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