We begin our interactive film (with audio-animatronic characters) in a law library with Virginia, a second year law student studying for her Constitutional Law final. She laments the state of our nation and the history of iniquities created and promulgated by the U.S. Constitution. She lays her head down on her books, wishing the Constitution had never been drafted or ratified.
You are not the only one watching Virginia. The spirit of Benjamin Franklin notices Virginia is discouraged. He decides he must go to Virginia to restore her faith in the Constitution. Franklin awakens the sleeping Virgina and takes her back in time to the Summer of 1787. Instantly, they are in the Pennsylvania State House (we call it Independence Hall today) and witness to the delegates who are at loggerheads. The representatives from the small states have just lost a vote, allowing for representation based on population. As a whole, the delegates on the losing end of the vote, stand and walk out, never to return. The Philadelphia convention is a failure.
Virginia awakens at her desk. She is startled when Benjamin Franklin is standing next to her. He takes her outside to see the United States of America in the 21st century...a nation still losely governed under the weak and ineffectual Articles of Confederation.
Upon leaving the library, Virgina first notices the roads are in disrepair. America only extends to the Mississippi. To the north (including Maine) is the very powerful province of Canada...a satelite of theUnited Kingdom. The nation of New Spain (made up of Florida, Louisiana and Cuba along with several other Carribean islands) is to the South. Several satellite nations...puppets of European powers...are west of the Mississippi. New Paris on the Mississippi is the biggest city in North America.
Although slavery ended in the south in the early twentieth century, America, south of the Mason Dixon line, is a caste structure, with an aristocracy of rich whites, above two lower classes of poor whites and grandchildren of former slaves. The industrial revolution, with all of its inequality and poverty, continues.
Virginia learns the United States of America has suffered a dozen dissolutions of the union over the last 200 years. The states, fighting among themselves, never had the strength or unity of purpose to fight off meddling European powers, develop a culture of liberty, create an economic super power or foster equality throughout the land. Virgina runs back to the law library, looking for Franklin. He beckons her back to the Constitutional Convention. She watches as Franklin's famous speech to end the convention is being recited. It is September 17, 1787, and the Constitution has just been signed. Yes Virginia there is a Constitution! If you feel like singing Auld Lang Syne, please, do not let me stop you.
When Virginia awakens in the library, she (and we) hear the voice and see the image of Franklin. He explains to her that the Constitution, with its many flaws and inequities, set in motion a constant striving for a more perfect union. Perhaps, it is in the Constitution's appreciation of its imperfections and compomises where the hope and struggle for a more perfect union is born and continues to flourish to this day. Virginia, upon passing her Constitutional Law final the next day, joins in this struggle, as the lights come up on the ride...and we exit to the rest of Constitutionland, hopefully, inspired to join, likewise, in this cause.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Go to the Constituionland Blog to discuss, among other things, what the United States of America would resemble had the Constitution have never been created.