Read the Part 1 here.
The Pennsylvania Constitution Convention of 1776 met from July 15, 1776 to September 28, 1776. Benjamin Franklin was chosen as President of the convention on the second day (July 16, 1776).
Members of the convention were required to take an “oath or affirmation” as a qualification for participating. This was the same profession of faith required of those sitting in the Pennsylvania Provincial Conference in Philadelphia, the conference serving as the revolutionary government of Pennsylvania.
The oath/affirmation read:
I do declare, that I do not hold myself bound to bear allegiance to George the third, king of Great Britain, & c. and that I will steadily and firmly, at all times, promote the most effectual means, according to the best of my skill and knowledge, to oppose the tyrannical proceedings of the king and parliament of Great Britain, against the American Colonies; and to establish and support a government in this province, on the authority of the people only & c. That I will oppose any measure that shall or may, in the least, interfere with or obstruct the religious principles or practices of any of the good people of this province, as heretofore enjoyed.
Also, Resolved, That no person elected to serve as a member of convention, shall take his seat or give his vote, until he shall have made and subscribed the following declaration.
I do profess faith in God, the father, and in Jesus Christ, his eternal son, the true God, and in the Holy Spirit, one God blessed for evermore; and do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the old and new testament, to be given by divine inspiration.
In order to participate in the writing of the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 one had to uphold a belief in the Trinity and the divine inspiration of the Bible. 70 members of the convention took this oath/made this affirmation, including Ben Franklin.
As I wrote in the first post in this series, the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 set up the most democratic government in America. Yet participation in the construction of this constitution was limited to Christians.