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Rated: E · Fiction · Contest Entry · #2224181
Travel back in time and meet ...?
An Interview with Benjamin Franklin

         “Dr. Franklin. Good of you to meet with me.”
         “How could I refuse a request from my old friend Monsieur Bertin l’Aîné? We both have a newspaper background, you know.”
         “Yes. That’s why Monsieur Bertin sent me to interview you.”
         “I miss that man. We had good times in Paris. My memory fails again. You are …?”
         “I am François-René Chateaubriand. Call me René. I am a reporter for Bertin’s new newspaper Journal des Débats.
         “ ‘Journal of Debates.’ An interesting title, but new to me.”
         “New to all. We opened this year.”
         “Why has Bertin sent you to interview me?”
         “France just adopted our ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen’, modeled after your Declaration of Independence. You were at the center of the American adventure; Monsieur Bertin felt you might share your thoughts on what lies ahead for our countries.”
         “Fine. Where shall we start?”
         “… with the creation of the two documents — the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.”
         “God wanted to give us a taste of the hell that awaited us if we got it wrong, so he put us in Philadelphia during the summer, both times.”
         “Was it awful?”
         “Terrible! The unrelenting heat brought intelligent men to their wit's end.”
         “Talk about the Declaration.”
         “In June, Congress appointed the Committee of Five to create the declaration. We drafted Tom Jefferson to write it. He has an incredible gift with words, and nobody else wanted the job.”
         “How did it go?”
         “We all helped. The middle was easy — list all the king’s deeds. The preamble and closing were Tom’s genius.”
         “We hold these truths …”
         “Yes. The most profound words ever put on paper by a human being.”
         “I don’t recall the closing.”
         “… we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor.”
         “That’s a lot.”
         “That’s everything! A man has no more to pledge than that.”
         “What about the Constitution?”
         “That was much harder. The page was blank.”
         “But you knew what you wanted.”
         “No! We knew what we didn’t want, but you can’t write a constitution about what you don’t want. We were putting together something never done before on planet earth.”
         “You had a lot of smart people.”
         “Yes, with egos bigger than their intellects.”
         “Did you succeed?”
         “Who knows.”
         “This is an experiment?”
         “Yes, and always will be.”
         “For the first time in human history, the citizen has been given the authority and responsibility to rule himself.”
         “You have concerns?”
         “I do. Men are both good and evil, smart and stupid, generous and greedy, farsighted and shortsighted, and combinations of all these at once.”
         “The good angels, bad angels thing.”
         “How long can our good angels win out?”
         “I hope they win for a very long time. Thank you for your time, Dr. Franklin.”
         “I do too. It was my pleasure, René. I wish you good fortune with Journal of Debates and my best wishes to my dear friend Bertin l’Aîné.”

Word Count: 498

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