It seemed only fitting to visit with some of them and to talk about what they think about what they created with the Declaration of Independence and to see if they had any advice for us. (Don’t ask me how I did it but wait until my bosses see my travel voucher. Getting to heaven isn’t cheap.)
I was lucky to find George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton together in a pub, enjoying a cool one. (Heaven is even better than I imagined.)
The following is a transcript of that conversation:
DY: Gentlemen, let me start by saying congratulations for a terrific job. We have managed to make it 237 years since you guys penned the Declaration of Independence. Any reaction?
GEORGE WASHINGTON: We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.
DY: I appreciate that observation, sir, but I am writing a column and thought my readers would get a kick out of getting some perspectives straight from the horse’s mouth. Mr. Franklin, you have something to say?
FRANKLIN: Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.
DY: Thank you, sir. I try to do that each week. You are one of my heroes because you had strong opinions and weren’t afraid to express them. I catch a little grief myself from time-to-time.
FRANKLIN: If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.
DY: Sounds like the voice of experience, Mr. Franklin. Anybody else? Mr. Jefferson?
THOMAS JEFFERSON: Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.
DY: I agree, Mr. Jefferson, but it seems we have become so politically-correct in the country that you can hardly say anything without offending some special interest group. Mr. Adams?
JOHN ADAMS: When people talk of the freedom of writing, speaking or thinking I cannot choose but laugh. No such thing ever existed. No such thing now exists; but I hope it will exist.
DY: Not good news, Mr. Adams. However, I am going to keep speaking my piece as long as I live in a democracy.
ADAMS: Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.
DY: Dang. I wonder if people are ignorant of that fact?
FRANKLIN: We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.
DY: Based on some of my mail, the good news is that there seems to be more hard-working people around today than ever before. On another subject, gentlemen, we have had some historic decisions from our Supreme Court recently. A lot of people wonder about what is going to happen to our Constitution. Mr. Hamilton, you want to comment on that?
ALEXANDER HAMILTON: Constitutions should consist only of general provisions; the reason is that they must necessarily be permanent, and that they cannot calculate for the possible change of things.
DY: I hear what you are saying but a lot of people think what has happened is un-American. Mr. Washington?
WASHINGTON: Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.
DY: You want to add to that, Mr. Madison?
MADISON: There is no maxim, in my opinion, which is more liable to be misapplied, and which, therefore, more needs elucidation, than the current one, that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.
DY: I must say you are wise people indeed. Any last thoughts?
WASHINGTON: The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.
DY: Gentlemen, thank you for your time. I hope all Americans appreciate what you are saying and that we don’t squander what you have given us.
Happy Fourth to you all. And the next round’s on me.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at email@example.com or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.