What compromises were forged or brokered by Benjamin Franklin in the US constitution that would be considered “tragic” by historian Ken Burns?

The Politicus
Apr 02, 2022 12:31 PM 0 Answers
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The Late Show with Stephen Colbert's April 2, 2022 Ken Burns Was Watching "Homeland" When He Realized Mandy Patinkin Should Be His Ben Franklin begins with noted historian and documentarian Ken Burns summarizing what made Benjamin Franklin such a compelling figure to him.

From the notes on the video:

Ken Burns and Mandy Patinkin join Stephen for a two-part conversation about the flawed genius of the man who is the subject of Ken's new PBS documentary series, "Ben Franklin."

Burns begins (my transcription with help from closed captions):

He's the most accessible of the founding fathers. He's the oldest, the wisest... He's the only American known throughout the world for his scientific discoveries. He's the greatest diplomat in American history, securing the French support that wins the revolution. He's as important as Washington.

Know him, know us.

He's editor of Jefferson's prose in the declaration in the subtlest but most important ways. He forges compromises -- some of them tragic -- of the constitution.

He's an inventor, that he holds all this stuff without patents.

He's just irresistible, and he's filled with flaws and contradictions.

Question: What compromises were forged or brokered by Benjamin Franklin in the writing of the US constitution that would be considered "tragic" by noted US historian and documentarian Ken Burns?

Surely the process of creating the United States (or any) Constitution can be considered a political process. I had never heard the word "tragic" used by a US historian in connection to the genesis of the constitution, but based on the extent of Burns' depth and seriousness when explaining and documenting American history this must be something pretty specific and clear and not just a random person's opinion.

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