« ZurückWeiter »
lin, with me to France, I purposed, after giving him the French language, to educate him in the study and practice of the law. But, by the repeated expectations given me of a secretary, and constant disappointments, I was induced, and indeed obliged, to retain him with me, to assist in the secretary's office, which disappointments continued till my return, by which time, so many years of the opportunity of his studying the law were lost, and his habits of life become so different, that it appeared no longer advisable; and I then, considering him as brought up in the diplomatic line, and well qualified by his knowledge in that branch for the employ of a secretary at least, (in which opinion I was not alone, for three of my colleagues, without the smallest solicitation from me, chose him secretary of the negotiation for treaties, which they had been empowered to do,) took the liberty of recommending him to the Congress for their protection. This was the only favor I ever asked of them; and the only answer I received was, a resolution superseding him, and appointing Colonel Humphreys in his place; a gentleman, who, though he might have indeed a good deal of military merit, certainly had none in the diplomatic line, and had neither the French language, nor the experience, nor the address, proper to qualify him for such an employment.
This is all to yourself only, as a private friend; for I have not, nor ever shall, make any public complaint; and, even if I could have foreseen such unkind treatment from Congress, their refusing me thanks would not in the least have abated my zeal for the cause, and ardor in support of it. I know something of the nature of such changeable assemblies, and how little successors know of the services that have been rendered to the corps before their admission, or feel them
selves obliged by such services; and what effect in obliterating a sense of them, during the absence of the servant in a distant country, the artful and reiterated malevolent insinuations of one or two envious and malicious persons may have on the minds of members, even of the most equitable, candid, and honorable dispositions; and therefore I will pass these reflections into oblivion.
My good friend, excuse, if you can, the trouble of this letter; and if the reproach thrown on republics, that they are apt to be ungrateful, should ever unfortunately be verified with respect to your services, remember that you have a right to unbosom yourself in communicating your griefs to your ancient friend and most obedient humble servant,
Sketch of the Services of B. Franklin to the United States of America.
In England, he combated the Stamp Act, and his writings in the papers against it, with his examination in Parliament, were thought to have contributed much to its repeal.
He opposed the Duty Act; and, though he could not prevent its passing, he obtained of Mr. Townshend an omission of several articles, particularly salt.
In the subsequent difference he wrote and published many papers, refuting the claim of Parliament to tax the colonies.
He opposed all the oppressive acts.
He had two secret negotiations with the ministers for their repeal, of which he has written a narrative. In this he offered payment for the destroyed tea, at his own risk, in case they were repealed.
He was joined with Messrs. Bollan and Lee in all
the applications to government for that purpose. Printed several pamphlets at his own considerable expense against the then measures of government, whereby he rendered himself obnoxious, was disgraced before the privy council, deprived of a place in the postoffice of £300 sterling a year, and obliged to resign his agencies, viz.
In the whole £1500 sterling per annum.
Orders were sent to the King's governors not to sign any warrants on the treasury for the orders of his salaries; and, though he was not actually dismissed by the colonies that employed him, yet, thinking the known malice of the court against him rendered him less likely than others to manage their affairs to their advantage, he judged it to be his duty to withdraw from their service, and leave it open for less exceptionable persons, which saved them the necessity of removing him.
Returning to America, he encouraged the Revolution. Was appointed chairman of the Committee of Safety, where he projected the chevaux de frise for securing Philadelphia, then the residence of Congress.
Was sent by Congress to head-quarters near Boston with Messrs. Harrison and Lynch, in 1775, to settle some affairs with the northern governments and General Washington.
In the spring of 1776, was sent to Canada with Messrs. Chase and Carroll, passing the Lakes while they were not yet free from ice. In Canada, was, with his
colleagues, instrumental in redressing sundry grievances, and thereby reconciling the people more to our cause. He there advanced to General Arnold and other servants of Congress, then in extreme necessity, £353 in gold, out of his own pocket, on the credit of Congress, which was of great service at that juncture, in procuring provisions for our army.
Being at the time he was ordered on this service upwards of seventy years of age, he suffered in his health by the hardships of this journey; lodging in the woods, &c., in so inclement a season; but, being recovered, the Congress in the same year ordered him to France. Before his departure, he put all the money he could raise, between three and four thousand pounds, into their hands; which, demonstrating his confidence, encouraged others to lend their money in support cf the cause.
He made no bargain for appointments, but was promised by a vote, the net salary of £500 sterling per annum, his expense paid, and to be assisted by a secretary, who was to have £ 1000 per annum, to include all contingencies.
When the Pennsylvania Assembly sent him to England in 1764, on the same salary, they allowed him one year's advance for his passage, and in consideration of the prejudice to his private affairs that must be occasioned by his sudden departure and absence. He has had no such allowance from Congress, was badly accommodated in a miserable vessel, improper for those northern seas, (and which actually foundered in her return,) was badly fed, so that on his arrival he had scarce strength to stand.
His services to the States as commissioner, and afterwards as minister plenipotentiary are known to Congress, as may appear in his correspondence. His
extra services may not be so well known, and therefore may be here mentioned. No secretary ever arriving, the business was in part before, and entirely when the other commissioners left him, executed by himself, with the help of his grandson, who at first was only allowed clothes, board, and lodging, and afterwards a salary, never exceeding £300 a year, (except while he served as secretary to the Commissioners for peace,) by which difference in salary, continued many years, the Congress saved, if they accept it, £700 sterling a year.
He served as consul entirely several years, till the arrival of Mr. Barclay, and even after, as that gentleman was obliged to be much and long absent in Holland, Flanders, and England; during which absence, what business of the kind occurred, still came to Mr. Franklin.
He served, though without any special commission for the purpose, as a judge of admiralty; for, the Congress having sent him a quantity of blank commissions for privateers, he granted them to cruisers fitted out in the ports of France, some of them manned by old smugglers, who knew every creek on the coast of England, and, running all round the island, distressed the British coasting trade exceedingly, and raised their general insurance. One of those privateers alone, the Black Prince, took in the course of a year seventy-five sail! All the papers, taken in each prize brought in, were in virtue of an order of council sent up to Mr. Franklin, who was to examine them, judge of the legality of the capture, and write to the admiralty of the port, that he found the prize good, and that the sale might be permitted. These papers, which are very voluminous, he has to produce.
He served also as merchant, to make purchases, and direct the shipping of stores to a very great value, for which he has charged no commission.