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acted, and before it had ever been carried into execution.
In the year 1776, he made a visit to Holland and Germany, and received the greatest marks of atten. tion from men of science. In his passage through Holland, he learned from the watermen the effect which a diminution of the quantity of water in ca. nals has, in impeding the progress of boats. Upon his return to England, he was led to make a number of experiments, all of which tended to confirm the observation. These, with an explanation of the phenomenon, he communicated in a letter to his friend, Sir John Pringle, which is among his philoso phical pieces. * In the following year he travelled into France, where he met with a no less favorable reception than he had experienced in Germany. He was introduced to a number of literary characters, and to the king, Louis XV.
Several letters written by Hutchinson, Oliver, and others, to persons in eminent stations in Great Bri. tain, came into the hands of Dr. Franklin. These contained the most violent invectives against the leading characters of the state of Massachusetts, and and strenuously advised the prosecution of vigorous measures, to compel the people to obedience to the measures of the ministry. These he transmitted to the legislature, by whom they were published. At. tested copies of them were sent to Great Britain, with an address, praying the king to discharge from office persons who had rendered themselves so obnoxious to the people, and who had shown them so uin. friendly to their interests. The publication of these letters produced a duel between Mr. Whately and Mr. Temple; each of whom was suspected of having been instrumental in procuring them. To pre. vent any further disputes on this subject, Dr. Frank, lin, in one of the public papers, declared that he had sent them to America, but would give no information concerning the manner in which he had obtained them; nor was this ever discovered.
Shortly after, the petition of the Massachusetts assembly was taken up for examination, before the privy-council. Dr. Franklin attended as agent for the Assembly; and here a torrent of the most violent and unwarranted abuse was poured upon him by the solicitor-general, Wedderburne, who was engaged as counsel for Oliver and Hutchinson. The petition was declared to be scandalous and vexatious, and the prayer of it refused. so
Although the parliament of Great Britain had repealed the stamp-act, it was only upon the principle of expediency. They still insisted upon their right to tax the colonies; and, at the same time the stampact was repealed, an act was passed, declaring the riglit of parliament to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever. This language was used even by the most strenuous opposers of the stamp-act: and, amongst others, by Mr. Pitt. This right was never recognized by the colonists; but as they flattered themselves that it would not be exercised, they were not very active in remonstrating against it. Had this pretended right been suffered to remain dormant, the colonists would cheerfully have furnished their quota of supplies, in the mode to which they had been accustomed; that is, by the acts of their own assemblies. in consequence of requisitions from the Secretary of State. If this practice had been pursued, such was the disposition of the colonies towards their mother country, that, notwithstanding the disadvantages un. der which they laboured, from restraints upon their trade, calculated solely for the benefit of the commercial and manufacturing interests of Great Britain, a separation of the two countries might have been a far distant event. The Americans, from their ear. liest infancy, were taught to venerate a people from whom they were descended; whose language, laws, and manners, were the same as their own. They looked up to them as models of perfection; and, in their prejudiced minds, the most enlightened nations of Europe were considered as almost barbarians, in comparison with Englishmen. The name of an En glishman conveyed to an American the idea of every thing good and grcat. Such sentiments instilled into them iu early life, what but a repetition of unjust treatment could have induced them to entertain the
most distant thought of separation! The duties on glass. paper. leather, painters' colours, &c. the disfranchísement of some of the colonies: the obstruction to the measures of the legislature in others, by the king's governors ; the contemptuous treatment of their humble remonstrances, stating their grievances, and praying a redress of them, and other violent and oppressive measures, at length excited an ardent spirit of opposition. Instead of endeavouring to al lay this by a more lenient conduct, the ministry seem ed resolutely bent on reducing the colonies to the most slavish obedience to their decrees. But this only tended to aggravate. Vain were all the efforts made use of io prevail upon them to lay aside their designs, to convince them of the impossibility of carrying them into effect, and of the mischievous consequences which must ensue from a continuance of the attempt. They persevered with a degree of in flexibility scarcely parallelled.
The advantages which Great Britain derived from her colonies was so great, that nothing but a degree of infatuation, little short of madness, could have produced a continuance of measures calculated to keep up a spirit of uneasiness, which might occasion the slightest wish for a separation. When we consider the great improvements in the science of government, the general diffusion of the principles of liberty amongst the people of Europe, the effects which these have already produced in France, and the probable consequences which will result from them elsewhere, all of which are the offspring of the Ameri. can revolution, it cannot but appear strange, that events of so great moment to the happiness of mankind, should have been ultimately occasioned by the wickedness or ignorance of a British ministry.
Dr. Franklin left nothing untried to prevail upon the ministry to consent to a change of measure's. In private conversations, and in letters to persons in government, he continually expatiated upon the impolicy and injustice of their conduct towards America; and stated, that, notwithstanding the attachment to the mother-country, a repetition of ill treatment must ultimately alineate their affections. They listened not to his advice. They blindly persevered in their own schemes, and left to the colonists no al. ternative, but opposition, or unconditional submission. The latter accorded not with the principles of freedom, which they had been taught to revere. To the former they wero compelled, though reluctantly, to have recourse.
Dr. Franklin, finding all efforts to restore harmony between Great Britain and her colonies useless, returped to America in the year 1775; just after the commencement of hostilities. The day after his re.. Turn he was elected by the legislature of Pennsylvania a delegate to congress. Not long after his election & committee was appointed, consisting of Mr. Lynch, Mr. Harrison, and himself, to visit the camp at Cam. bridge, and, in conjunction with the commander-inchief, to endeavour to convince the troops, whose term of enlistment was about to expire, of the neces. sity of their continuing in the field, anů persevering in the cause of their country.
In the fall of the same year he visited Canada, to endeavcur to unite them in the common cause of liberty ; but they could not be prevailed upon to oppose the measures of the British governments. M. le Roy, in a letter annexed to Abbé Fauchet's eulo. giuin of Dr. Franklin, states, that the ill success of this negociation was occasioned, in a great degree, by religious an'mosities, which subsisted between the Canadians and their neighbours, some of whom hach at different times, burnt their chapels.
When Lord Howe came to America, in 1776, vested with power to treat with the colonists, a corres. pondence took place between him and Dr. Franklin on the subject of a reconciliation. Dr. Franklin was afterwards appointed, together with John Adams and Edward Rutledge, to wait upon the commissione -. in order to learn the extent of their powers. Them were found to be only to grant pardons upon sut mission. These were terms which would not be accepred; and the object of the commissioners could not be obtained.
The momentous question of independence shortly after brought into view, at a time when mo
fleets and armies, which were sent to enforce che dience, were truly formidable. With an army, numerous indeed, but ignorant of discipline, and entirely unskilled in the art of war, without money, without a fleet, without allies, and with nothing but the love of liberty to support them, the colonists de. termined to separate from a country, from which they bad experienced a repetition of injury and insuli. In this question, Dr. Franklin was deeided!y in favour of the measure proposed, and had great influ, ence in bringing others over to his sentiments.
The public mind had been already prepared for this event, by Mr. Paine's celebrated pamphlet, Com. areon Sense. There is goud reason to believe that Dr. Franklin had no inconsiderable share, at least, in furnishing inaterials for this work.
In the convention that assembled at Philadelphia in 1776, for the purpose of establishing a new forin of government for the state of Pennsylvania, Dr. Franklin was chosen president. The late constituition of this state, which was the result of their deliberations, may be considered as a digest of his prin. ciples of government. The single legislature, and the plural executive, seem to have been his favourite tenets.
In the latter end of 1776, Dr. Franklin was appointed to assist at the negociation which had been set on foot by Silas Deane, at the cyurt of France. A conviction of the advantages of a commercial in. tercourse with America, and a desire of weakening the British empire by dismembering it, first induced the French court to listen to proposals of an alliance. But they showed rather a reluctance to the measure, which by Dr. Franklin's address, and particularly by the success of the American arms against General Burgoyne, was at length overcome; and in February, 1778, a treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, was concluded ; in consequence of which France hecame involved in the war with Great Britain.
Perhaps no person could have been found wore capable of rendering essential service to the United States at the court of France than Dr. Franklin. He was well known as a philosopher, and his character