Abbildungen der Seite

Thus, unless the proprietors (of the province) shall think fit to put the finishing hand to our institution, it must, I fear, wait some few years longer before it can arrive at that state of perfection, which to me it seems now capable of; and all the pleasure I promised myself in seeing you settled among us, vanishes into smoke.

" But good Mr. Collinson writes me word, that no endeavours of his shall be wanting; and he hopes with the archbishop's assistance, to be able to preval with our proprietors.* I pray God grant them success. “My son presenış his affectionate regards, with,

" Dear Sir, yours, &c.


" P. S. I have not been favoured with a line from you since your arrival in England."

" Philad. April 18, 1754. "DEAR SIR, "I have had but one letter from you since your arrival in England, which was but a short one, via Boston, dated October 18th, acquainting me that you had written largely by Captain Davis.-Davis was lost, and with him your letters, to my great disappointment.--Mesnard and Gibbon have since arrived here, and I hear nothing from you. My comfort is, an imagination that you only omit writing because you are coming, and propose to tell me every thing viva voce. So not knowing whether this letter will reach you, and hoping either to see or hear from you by the Myrtilla, Captain Budden's ship, which is daily expected, I only add, that I am, with great csteem and affection,

“ Yours, &c. " Mr. Smith.


* Upon the application of Archbishop Herring and P. Collinson, Esqr. at Dr. Frapklin's request (aided by the letters of Mr Allor and Mr Peters,) the honourable Thomas Penn, Esqr. subscribed an Annual sim, and afterwardı gave at least 50001. to the founding or et crasting the college upon the academy.

About a month after the date of this last letter, tne gentleman to whom it was addressed arrived in Phijadelphia, and was inimediately placed at the head of the seminary; whereby Dr. Franklin and the other trustees were enabled to prosecute their plan, for perfecting the institution, and opening the college upon the large and liberal foundation on which it now stands, for which purpose they obtained their additional charter, dated May 27th, 1755.

Thus far we thought it proper to exhibit in one view Dr. Franklin's services in the foundation and establishment of this seminary. He soon afterwards enribarked for England, in the public service of his country; and having been generally employed abroad, in the like service, for the greatest part of the remainder of his life (as will appear in our subseqnient account of the same) he had but few opportunities of taking any further active part in the affairs of the seminary, until his final return in the year 1785, when he found its charters violated, and his ancient colleagues, the original founders, deprived of their trust by an act of the legislature; and although his own name had been inserted amongst the new trustees, yet he declined to take his seat among thein, or any concern in the management of their affairs, till the institution was restored by law to its Original owners. He then assembled his old colleagues at his ng house, and being chosen their president, all theu future meetings, were at his request, held there, till within a few months of his death, when with reluctance, and at their desire, lest he might be too much injured by his attention to their business, he suffered them to meet at the college.

Franklin not only gave birth to many useful institutions himself, but he was also instrumental in proinoting those which had originated with other men. About the year 1752, an eminent physician of this city, Dr. Bond, considering the deplorable state of the poor, when visited with disease, conceived the idea of establishing an hospital. Notwithstanding very great exertions on his part, he was able to interest few people so far in his benevolent plan, as to obtain subscriptions from them. Unwilling that his scheine

slould prove abortive, he sought the aid of Franklin, who readily engaged in the business, both by using his influence with his friends, and by stating the advantageous influence of the proposed institution in his paper. These efforts were attended with success. Considerable sums were subscribed; but they were still short of what was necessary. Franklin now made another exertion. He applied to the Assembly; and, after some opposition, obtained leave to bring in a bill, specifying, that as soon as two thousand pounds were subscribed, the same sum should be drawn from the treasury by the speaker's warrant, to be applied to the purposes of the institution. The apposition, as the sum was granted upon a contingency, which they supposed would never take place, were silent, and the bill passed. The friends of the plan now redoubled their efforts, to obtain subscriptions to the amount stated in the bill, and were soon successful. This was the foundation of the Pennsylvania Hospital, which, with the Bettering House and Dispensary; bears ample testimony of the humanity of the citizens of Philadelphia. - Dr. Franklin had conducted himself so well in the office of post-master, and had shown himself to be so well acquainted with the business of that department, that it was thought expedient to raise him to a more dignified station. In 1753 he was appointed deputy post-master general for the British colonies. The profits arising from the postage of letters formed no inconsiderable part of the revenue, which the crown of Great Britain derived from these colonies. In the hands of Franklin, it is said, that the post-office in America yielded annually thrice as much as that of Ireland.

The American colonies were much exposed to depredations on their frontiers by the Indians; and more particularly, whenever a war took place bea, tween France and England. The colonies, individually, were either too weak to take efficient measures for their own defence, or they were unwilling to take upon themselves the whole burden of erecting forts and maintaining garisons, whilst their neighbourg, who partook equally with themselves of the advan

tages, contributed nothing to the expense. Sometimes also the disputes, which subsisted between the governors and the assemblies, prevented the adoption of means of defence; as we have seen was the case in Pennsylvania in 1745. To devise a plan of union between the colonies, to regulate this and other matters, appeared a desirable object. To accomvlish this, in the year 1754, commissioners from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jer. sey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, met at Albany. Dr. Franklin attended here, as a commissioner from Pennsylvania, and produced a plan, which from the place of meeting, has been usually termed, “The Albany Plan of Union!” This propused, that application should be made for an act of parliament, to establish in the colonies a general government, to be administered by a president-general, appointed by ine crown, and by a grand council, consisting of members, chosen by the representatives of the different colonies; their number to be in direct proportion to the sums paid by each colony into the general treasury, with this restriction, that no colony should have more than seven, nor less than two representatives. The whole executive authority was committed to the president-general. The power of legislation was lodged in the grand council and the president-general jointly; his consent being made neces. sary to passing a bill into a law. The power vested in the president and council was, to declare war and peace, and to conclude treaties with the Indian na. iions; to regulate trade with, and to make purchases of vacant lands from them, either in the name of the crown, or of the union; to settle new colonies, to make laws for governing these, until they should be erected into separate governments; and to raise troops, build sorts, and fit out armed vessels, and to use other mcans for the general defence; and, to effect these things, a power was given to make laws, laying such duties, imposts, or taxes, as they should find necessary, and as would be least burdensome to to the people. All laws were to be sent to England for the king's approbation; and, unless disapproved of within three years, were to remain in force. All officers of the land, or sea service were to be nominated by the president-general, and approved of by the general council ; civil officers were to be nominated by the council, and approved of by the president. Such are the outlines of the plan proposed, for the consideration of the congress, by Dr. Franklin. After several days discussion, it was unanimously agreed to by the commissioners, a copy transınitted to each assembly, and one to the king's council. The fate of it was singular. It was disapproyed of by the ministry of Great Britain, because it gave to much power to the representatives of the people ; and it was rejected by every assembly, as giving to the president-general, the representative of the crown, an influence greater than appeared to them proper, in a plan of government intended for freemen. Perhaps this rejection, on both sides, is the strongest proof that could be adduced of the excellence of it, as suited to the situation of America and Great Britain at that time. It appears to have steered exactly in the middle, between the opposite interests of both.

Whether the adoption of this plan would have pre. vented the separation of America from Great Britain, is a question which might afford much room for speculation. It may be said, that, by enabling the colo. nies to defend themselves, it would have removeu the pretext upon which the stamp-act, tea-act, and other acts of the British parliament, were passed; which excited a spirit of opposition, and laid the foundation for the separation of the two countries. But, on the other hand, it must be admitted, that the restriction laid by Great Britain upon our commerce, obliging us to sell our produce to her citizens only, and to take from them various articles, of which, as our manufacturers were discouraged, we stood in need, at a price greater than that for which they coulă have been obtained from other nations, must inevi. tably produce dissatisfaction, even though no duties were imposed by the parliament; a circumstance which might still have iaken place. Besides, as the president-general was to be appointed by the crown, lie must, of necessity, be devoted to its views, and would, therefore, refuse to assent to any laws, how.

« ZurückWeiter »