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council were, to declare war and peace, and to coti. elude treaties with the Indian nations; 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 the governing these until they should be erected into separate governments,and to raise troops, build forts, fit out armed vessels and use other means 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 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 in 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 by the president. Such are the outlines of the plan proposed for the consideration of the congress, by Dr. Franklin. After several day's discussion, it was unanimously agreed to by the commissioners, a copy transmitted to each 'nslembly, and one to the king's council. The fate of it was singular. It was disapproved of by the ministry of Great Britain, because it gave too much power to the representatives of the people; and it was rejected by every ass< mbly, 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 their 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 ef both.
Whether the adoption of this plan would have prevented 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 colonies to defend themselves, it would hare removed the pretext upon which the stampt act, teaact, 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 ad. milted, 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 manufactures were discouraged, we stood in need, at a price greater than that for which they could have been obtamed from other nations, must inevitably produce dissatistaction, even though no duties were imposed by the parliament; a circumstance which might still have taken place. Besides, as the president-general was to be appointed by the crown, he must, of necessity, be devoted to its views, and would, therefore, refuse his assent to any laws, however salutary to the community, which had the most remote tendency to injure the interests of his sovereign.— Even should they receive his assent, the approbation of the king wns to be necessary; who would indubitably, in every instance, prefer the advantage of his home dominions to that of his colonies.— Hence would ensue perpetual disagreements between the council and the president-general, and. thus, between the people of America and the crown of Great Britain: While the colonies continued Weak, they would be obliged to submit, and as soon as they acquired strength they would become more urgent in their demautls, until at length they would sh.ike off the yoke,.and declare themselves independent.
Whilst the French were in possession of Canada, their trade with thenatives extended very lar— even to the back of the British settlements. Thty wr.re disposed, from time to time, to establish posts within the territory, which the British claimed as their own. Independent of the injury to the trade, which was considerable, the eclonics suffered this further inconvenience, that the Indians were .frequently instigated to commit depredations on their frontiers. In the year 1753, encroachments were made upon the boundaries of Virginia. R monstiancvs had no effect. In the ensuing year, a bodv of men was sent out under the command of Mr. Washington, who, though a very young man, hud, bv his conduct in the preceding year. shewn himself worthy of such an important trust. Whilst marchingto take possession of the post at the junction of the Alleghany and Monongahela, he was informed that the French had already erected a fort there. A detachment of their men marched against him. He fortified himself as strongly as time and circumstances would admit. A superioritv of numbers soon obliged him to surrender Fort Necessity. He obtained honorable terms for himself and men, and returned to Virginia. The government of (1. Bri'ain now thought it necessary to inteifere. In the vear 1755, General Braddock, with some regiments of regtdar troops, and provincial levies, was sent to dispossess the French of the posts upon which thev had seized. After the men were all ready, a difficulty occurred, which had nearly prevented the expedition. This was the want of waggons. Franklin now stepped forward, and with the assistance of .his son, in a little time procured a hundred and fifty.
Braddock unfortunately fell into an ambuscade, and perished, with a number of his men. Washington, who had accompanied him as an aid-de-camp, and' had warned him, in vain, of his danger, now displayed great military talents in eiFecting a retreat of the remains of the army, and in forming a junction with the rear, under colonel Dunbar, upon whom the chief command now devolved. With some difficulty they brought their little body to a place of safety; but they found it necessary to destroy their waggons and baggage, to prevent their falling into the hands of the enemy. For the waggons which he had furnished,Franklin had givenbonds to a large amount. The owners declared their intentions of obliging him to make a restitution of their property. Had they put their threats in execution, ruin must inevitably have been the consequence. Governor Shirley, finding that he had incurred these debts for the service of government, made arrangements to have them discharged, and released Franklin from his disagreeable situation.
The alarm spread through the colonies, after the defeat of Braddoek, was very great. Preparations to arm were every where made. In Pennsylvania, the prevalence of the quaker interest prevented the adoption of any system of defence, which would compel the citizens to bear arms. Franklin introduced into the assembly a bill for organizing a militia, by which everv man was allowed to take arms or not, as to him should appear fit. The quakers, being th;is left at liberty, suffered the bill to pass; .for although their principles would not suffer them to fighi, they had no objection to their neighbors fighting for them. In consequence of this act a ver. respectable militia was formed. The sense of impending danger infused a military spirit in ail, whose religious tenets were not opposed to wanFranklin was appointed colonel of a regiment in Philadelphia, which consisted of 1200 men.
The north-western frontier being invaded by the enemy, it became necessary to adopt measures for" its defence. Franklin was directed by the gov-' ernor to take charge of this business. A power of raising men, and of appointing officers to command them, was vested in him. He soon levied a body of troops, with which he repaired to the place at which their pri sence was necessary. Here he built a fort, and placed the garrison in such a postiire of! dtjence as would enable them to withstand the ini" roads to which the inhabitants had previously been expostd. He remained here for some time, in or.. der the more completely to discharge the trust committed to him. Some business of importance rendered his presence necessary in the assembly, and he returned to Philadelphia.
The defence of her colonies was a great expence to Great Britain. The most effectual mode of lessening this was, to put arms in the hands of the inhabitants, and to teach them their use. But England wished not that the Americans should become acquainted with their own strength. She was apprehensive, that, as soon as this period arrived, they would no longer submit to that monopoly of their trade, which to them was highlv injurious, but extremely advantageous to the mother country. In comparison with the profits of this, the expence of maintaining artriies and fleets to defend them was trifling. She fought to keep them dependent on ht r for protection, the best plan which could be devised for retaining them in peaceable subjection. The least appearance of a military.spirit was therefore to be guarded agdiust, and, although a war