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tain Truxton, one of his fellow-passengers being Mr. Houdon, the artist, engaged by him and Mr. Jefferson to make a statue of Washington for the State of Virginia. The bishop and his family accompanied Franklin on board, and remained during the night before the vessel sailed. Finding in the morning that he was still asleep, they left without disturbing him; and, when he awoke, he learned that the company was gone, and the ship under sail. He was not idle during the voyage. He wrote a paper on “Improvements in Navigation,” and another “On Smoky Chimneys.” When in the Gulf Stream, he renewed his experiments on the temperature of the water. After a voyage of forty-eight days, he arrived at Philadelphia the 14th of September. “We landed,” he says in his journal, “at Market-street wharf, where we were received by a crowd of people with huzzas, and accompanied with acclamations quite to my door. Found my family well. God be praised and thanked for all his mercies' " The ringing of bells and firing of cannon were likewise made to speak a welcome to the returning patriot and sage.
WELCOMEs from public bodies soon followed the outburst of popular affection and enthusiasm. From the Assembly of Pennsylvania, the American Philosophical Society, and the University, he received addresses, to which he sent suitable replies. Washington wrote him the assurance that no one “could salute him with more sincerity or pleasure " . than he. Franklin was now very pleasantly situated in his domestic relations, and there was every temptation for him to withdraw from public affairs. “I am got into my niche,” he writes, “after being kept out of it twenty-four years by foreign employments. It is a very good house, that I built long ago to retire into, without being able till now to enjoy it. I am again surrounded by my friends, with a fine family of grandchildren about my knees, and an affectionate, good daughter and son-in-law to take care of me. And, after fifty years' public service, I have the pleasure to find the esteem of my country with regard to me undiminished.”
But he was not allowed to remain long aloof from public business. In a few days after his return, he was elected a member of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, and in October he was chosen President of the State, as the executive was styled under the old constitution. He filled this office through the three successive years which the constitution allowed, receiving on his first election all the votes of the Legislature except one, and at the two subsequent elections a unanimous vote. Entertaining a theory that in a republican government there should be no emoluments attached to office, he devoted his salary as president to public purposes. Having been elected one of the delegates from Pennsylvania to the convention for forming the constitution of the United States, which met at Philadelphia, May 1787, he objected in that body to the incorporation of the salary principle in the constitution. “There are two passions,” he said, “which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice; the love of power and the love of money. Separately, each of these has great force in prompting men to action; but, when united in view of the same object, they have in many minds the most violent effects. Place before the eyes of such men a post of honor, that shall at the same time be a place of profit, and they will move heaven and earth to obtain it.” The country's experience has proved the truth of this; but where shall we find a remedy?
Franklin made no pretensions to oratory; and when he spoke it was with as much simplicity as pith. “The examples of Washington, Franklin and Jefferson,” says John Adams, “are enough to show that silence and reserve in public are more efficacious than argumentation or oratory.” Where other signal qualities of character and mind are manifested by the individual, the absence of the oratorical accomplishment may not be an obstacle to success; but it must ever be an added charm and power. Franklin introduced a motion into the convention for daily prayers, but it was not adopted. He made the following memorable remarks in its support:
“In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for the divine protection, Our prayers, sir, were heard ; and they were graciously answered. All
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of us, who were engaged in the struggle, must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor. To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance , I have lived, sir, a long time ; and, the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And, if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid 2 We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this ; and I also believe, that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little, partial, local interests, our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a by-word down to future ages. And, what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom, and leave it to chance, war and conquest. I therefore beg leave to move, that henceforth prayers, imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business ; and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that serVice.”
There were some features in the constitution of the United States, as finally adopted, which Franklin would have had different. He was in favor of an executive council rather than a single officer as the head of the government; and he was opposed to salaries. But, in his speech at the close of the convention, he said: “I consent to this constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad.” “Much of the strength and efficiency of any government, in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depends on opinion, on the general
opinion of the goodness of that government, as well as of the
wisdom and integrity of its governors. I hope, therefore, for our own sakes, as a part of the people, and for the sake of our posterity, that we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this constitution, wherever our influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts and endeavors to the means of having it well administered.” From the commencement of the government, the inattention of Congress to private claims has been a by-word of reproach. Not even the illustrious services of Benjamin Franklin could exempt him from the habitual fate of public creditors. To use his own words, “Though an active man, he had never gone through so much business during eight years, in any part of his life, as during those of his residence in France, between his seventy-second and eightieth years. Before his departure for that country, he had put all the money he could raise—between three and four thousand pounds— into the hands of Congress, thus demonstrating his confidence, and encouraging others to lend their money in support of the cause. He made no bargain for appointments, but was promised, by a vote, the net salary of five hundred pounds Sterling per annum, his expenses paid, and to be assisted by a secretary, who was to have one thousand pounds per annum, to include all contingencies.” Many services, not appertaining to the office of plenipotentiary, were performed by Franklin in France; such as judge of admiralty, consul, and banker in examining and accepting bills of exchange. His accounts were audited by Mr. Barclay, the agent appointed by Congress; but certain reasonable claims for extra services and assistance were left unadjusted. He repeatedly requested the attention of Congress to these claims, but without success. He was the more anxious, inasmuch as some malevolent persons had insinuated that he was largely indebted to government, and that he avoided a settlement. It was a matter of chagrin to him, to the last, that his appeals for justice were not heeded; and it remains a stigma upon the fair fame of the old Congress, as well as of the first under the new constitution, that these claims were never adjusted. In the year 1788, Franklin wrote a paper, entitled a “Comparison of the Conduct of the Ancient Jews and the Anti-Federalists of the United States,” a satire upon the assailants of the new constitution; also some scientific papers, and a portion of his autobiography. In 1789 he wrote a long memoir relative to the Academy, now the University, of Pennsylvania, and a satirical paper on the Abuses of the Press. He drew up a “Plan for Improving the Condition of the Free Blacks,” and wrote an Address to the Public from the “Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery,” of which society he was president. He was also president of a “Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons.” His last published paper appeared in the Federal Gazette of March 25, 1790, over
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the signature of “Historicus,” and purported to be a speech delivered in the Divan of Algiers, 1687, by a member of that council, against the petition of a sect called Erika, who prayed for the abolition of slavery. It was a parody upon a speech in support of negro slavery by Mr. Jackson, member of Congress from Georgia, and is remarkable as showing that Franklin's intellectual faculties had not deteriorated in his eighty-fourth year. His last public act was the signing, as president of the Abolition Society, a memorial to Congress. His last letter of which any copy has been preserved — and, from its date, probably the last which he wrote—is one addressed, nine days before his decease, to Jefferson, the Secretary of State, upon the subject of the North-eastern Boundary. It is indicative of a mind unimpaired in clearness and strength. A friendship, founded upon the sincerest mutual esteem, appears to have existed between Franklin and Washington. “I must soon quit this scene,” writes the former, in 1780, to the latter; “but you may live to see our country flourish, as it will, amazingly and rapidly, after the war is over; like a field of young Indian corn, which long fair weather and sunshine had enfeebled and discolored, and which in that weak state, by a thunder-gust of violent wind, hail and rain, seemed to be threatened with absolute destruction; yet the storm being past, it recovers fresh verdure, shoots up with double vigor, and delights the eye, not of its owner only, but of every observing traveller.” A comparison this which would have graced the lips of Nestor and the page of Homers “General Washington is the man,” writes Franklin in 1788, to his friend Weillard, at Passy, “that all our eyes are fixed on for president; and what little influence I may have is devoted to him.” After bequeathing, in the codicil to his will, his “fine crab-tree walkingstick, with a gold head curiously wrought in the form of the cap of liberty,’” to Washington, Franklin adds, with one of his felicitous turns of expression, “If it were a sceptre, he has merited it, and would become it.” “I am now,” he writes September 16, 1789, to Washington, “finishing my eighty-fourth year, and probably with it my career in this life; but, in whatever state of existence I am placed hereafter, if I retain any memory of what has passed here. I