Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

other eminent scholars and writers. In a letter some months afterwards to Lord Kames, he alludes to his six weeks spent in Scotland as a period of “the densest happiness” he had met with in any part of his life; and he adds: “The agreeable and instructive society we found there in such plenty has left so pleasing an impression on my memory, that, did not strong connections draw me elsewhere, I believe Scotland would be the country I should choose to spend the remainder of my days in.” On hearing that Franklin was about to return to America, David Hume wrote to him: “I am very sorry that you intend soon to leave our hemisphere. America has sent us many good things, gold, silver, sugar, tobacco, indigo (?), &c.; but you are the first philosopher, and, indeed, the first great man of letters, for whom we are beholden to her.” During a second visit to Scotland, in 1771, Franklin passed some three weeks in Edinburgh, during which he lodged with David Hume.

Academic honors, similar to those awarded by the University of St. Andrew’s, were conferred on Franklin by the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh; and, by the former of these last, the degree of Master of Arts was conferred on his son William. Another distinction awaited the latter. Through the influence of Lord Bute, he was appointed Governor of New Jersey.*

* Franklin was subjected to some uncharitable attacks in consequence of this appointment. A caricature of him, published in Philadelphia, contained these lines:

“All his designs concentre in himself,
For building castles and amassing pelf;
The public *t is his wit to sell for gain,
Whom private property did ne'er maintain.”

False in spirit and in fact, these lines indicate the malevolence of his
enemies, and the abuse to which Franklin, in common with Washington
and other great men, was subjected.
William Franklin was born in 1731. He was a captain in the French
and English war, and fought bravely under Abercrombie at Ticonderoga.
He was for a time popular as Governor of New Jersey; but, taking sides
with the ministry, he was declared by the Congress of New Jersey to be
an enemy to liberty, and was seized in his own house at Perth Amboy,
and conveyed a prisoner to Connecticut. In 1778, he was exchanged and
released. He went to England at the close of the war, where he resided
until his death, in November, 1813, in the receipt of a pension from the

III.

AFTER a sojourn of more than five years in England, Franklin sailed for home, the latter part of August, 1762. His vessel, being under convoy of a man-of-war, was obliged to touch at Madeira, and remained there a few days; so that it was the first of November before he arrived in Philadelphia. He was welcomed with enthusiasm by his many political and personal friends. He found his wife and daughter well; “the latter grown quite a woman, with many amiable accomplishments acquired in my absence, and my friends as hearty and affectionate as ever; with whom my house was filled for many days, to congratulate me on my return.” During his absence he had been annually elected a member of the Assembly; and now that body passed a vote of thanks “as well for the faithful discharge of his duty to that province in particular, as for the many and important services done to America in general, during his residence in Great Britain.” They voted him also a more substantial testimonial, in a compensation of three thousand pounds sterling for his six years' service.

John Penn, son and presumptive heir of Richard Penn, one of the joint proprietors, succeeded Hamilton as governor in October, 1763. He entered upon his official duties at a time when the back settlers of Pennsylvania were in a state of great excitement, because of the depredations of the confederated tribes of Indians, under the instigation of Pontiac, upon the frontiers of that province; hundreds of persons had been plundered and slain, families driven from their homes, and a state of constant disquiet and alarm produced among the settlers, who were goaded to exasperation by the cruelties that had been practised. The Pennsylvania borderers were chiefly Presbyterians of Scotch and Irish descent, and religious antipathy and fanaticism concurred to inflame their resentment. The scriptural

British government of four thousand dollars per annum. He left a son, William Temple Franklin, who edited his grandfather’s works, and died at Paris in 1823. In his will, after making a few inconsiderable bequests to his son, Franklin remarks: “The part he acted against me in the late war, which is of public notoriety, will account for my leaving him no more of an estate he endeavored to deprive me of.”

command, that Joshua should destroy the heathen, was conveniently construed into an injunction to Pennsylvanians to exterminate the Indians. In December, 1763, a band of Indian haters from Paxton, a little town on the east bank of the Susquehannah, made an excursion to Conestoga, some distance above, and slaughtered, in cold blood, six poor Indians, chiefly women and old men, belonging to a remnant of twenty of the Iroquois tribe, living in a peaceable manner under the superintendence of Moravian missionaries. After this outrage, the other Indians belonging to the settlement, and who did not happen to be in the village at the time of the massacre, were lodged for safety in Lancaster jail. The Governor issued a proclamation denouncing the massacre, and offering a reward for the guilty parties. But the Paxton men, instead of being intimidated, ventured upon an aggravation of their crime. On the 27th of December, a party of about fifty ruffians rode at a gallop into Lancaster, broke into a yard adjacent to the jail where the Indians were assembled, and slaughtered them all, without regard to age or sex. Another proclamation was issued by the Governor; but so audacious had the rioters become, that a number of them marched in arms to Philadelphia to pursue some other friendly Indians, who had taken refuge in that city. This was towards the end of January, 1764. The detachment of rioters numbered from five to fifteen hundred men. The were inflamed by exasperation at once against the Indians and the Quakers, looking upon the latter, through their opposition to defensive measures, as aiders and abettors of the barbarities inflicted by the former. There was a considerable class in Philadelphia who sympathized with the rioters. Franklin was now, as ever, found arrayed on the side of humanity and justice. The persecuted and detested Indians found in him a zealous champion and protector. He wrote a pamphlet, giving a narrative of the massacre, and calling earnestly on “all good men’’ to “join heartily and unanimously in support of the laws.” The Assembly having passed a vote extending the English riot-act to the province, he organized, at the Governor's request, military companies composed of the citizens, and exerted himself most effectually in giving the right direction to a divided public sentiment. In a letter to Lord Kames, relating to this period, he says: “Near one thousand of the citizens accordingly took arms. Governor Penn made my house for some time his head-quarters, and did everything by my advice; so that, for about forty-eight hours, I was a very great man, as I had been once some years before, in a time of public danger. But the fighting face we put on, and the reasonings we used with the insurgents (for I went, at the request of the Governor and Council, with three others, to meet and discourse with them), having turned them back and restored quiet to the city, I became a less man than ever, for I had by this transaction made myself many enemies among the populace; and the Governor (with whose family our public disputes had long placed me in an unfriendly light, and the services I had lately rendered him not being of the kind that make a man acceptable), thinking it a favorable opportunity, joined the whole weight of the Proprietary interest to get me out of the Assembly.” The rioters having advanced as far as Germantown, within six miles of Philadelphia, Franklin, with three other influential citizens, was deputed to go out and confer with them. The deputation was received with respect, and prevailed upon the rioters to abandon their hostile project. Franklin's conduct was the more creditable throughout this affair, as it exposed him to the abatement of his popularity among a class from whom he had hitherto derived much political support. He was at this time a member of the Board of Commissioners for the disposal of the public money in carrying on the war against the Indians, and his labors in this capacity were quite arduous. He still held the office of Postmastergeneral. . In the spring of 1763 he made a tour through the northern colonies, to inspect and regulate the postoffices. He travelled some sixteen hundred miles, and did not get home till the beginning of November. He was accompanied, during a considerable part of the journey, by his daughter, on horseback. Governor Penn was no more fortunate than his predecessors in avoiding collisions with the Assembly. Franklin, who had resumed his place in that body, was still the leader of the opposition. A militia bill, which he had framed, was vetoed by the Governor, who claimed the appointment of officers, and made other arbitrary demands which were inadmissible. The Paxton riots showed the danger of the absence of an organized military force. Franklin published an account of the loss of the militia bill, and he did not spare the Proprietary party in his animadversions. Other difficulties ensued between the Assembly and the Governor, in which the latter showed himself intractable. Persuaded that the evils of the Proprietary system were incurable, Franklin, in the early part of 1764, published a tract entitled “Cool Thoughts on the Present Situation of Public Affairs,” in which he proposed the substitution of a Royal for a Proprietary government. Numerous petitions to the king in favor of the change were sent in to the Assembly. A petition from the Assembly to the king, to the same effect, was drafted by Franklin, and warmly discussed. John Dickinson, a wealthy lawyer of Philadelphia, was one of the ablest supporters of the Proprietary interest. It being proposed to send Franklin to England as bearer of the petition, Dickinson remarked, in a speech to the Assembly: “The gentleman proposed has been called here to-day a great luminary of the learned world. Far be it from me to detract from the merit I admire. Let him still shine, but without wrapping his country in flames. Let him, from a private station, from a smaller sphere, diffuse, as I think he may, a beneficial light; but let him not be made to move and blaze like a comet, to terrify and distress.” Norris, Speaker of the Assembly, was also opposed to Franklin's project, and, refusing to sign the petition, he resigned his seat, and Franklin was chosen in his stead, and signed the petition as Speaker. He was ably seconded in his opposition to the existing system by Joseph Galloway, an eminent lawyer. A speech which the latter delivered in reply to Dickinson was published with a preface by Franklin, which is one of his most adroit and caustic political essays. At the annual election, in the autumn of 1764, the Proprietary party made great efforts to defeat him; and, after having been elected to the Assembly fourteen successive years, Franklin lost his election by a majority of about

« ZurückWeiter »