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does not believe it all, may probably believe enough of it to conclude that Pennsylvania is peopled by a set of the most unprincipled, wicked, rascally and quarrelsome scoundrels upon the face of the globe. I have sometimes, indeed, suspected that these papers are the manufacture of foreign enemies among you, who write with a view of disgracing your country, and making you appear contemptible and detestable all the world over; but then I wonder at the indiscretion of your printers in publishing such writings! There is, however, one of your inconsistencies that consoles me a little, which is, that, though living you give one another the characters of devils, dead you are all angels! It is delightful, when any of you die, to read what good husbands, good fathers, good friends, good citizens, and good Christians you were, concluding with a scrap of poetry that places you, with certainty, every one in heaven. So that I think Pennsylvania a good country to die in, though a very bad one to live in.”
[To CHARLES THOMPsoN.]
DEAR olD FRIEND: Enclosed I send a letter to the President of Congress for the time being, which, if you find nothing improper in it, or that in regard to me you could wish changed or amended, I would request you to present. Irely much on your friendly counsel, as you must be better acquainted with persons and circumstances than I am ; and I suppose there will be time enough before the new Congress is formed to make any alterations you may advise, though, if presented at all, it should be to the old one.
In the copy of my letter to Mr. Barclay, you may observe, that mention is made of some “considerable articles which I have not charged in my accounts with Congress, but on which I should expect from their equity some consideration.” That you may have some information what those articles are, I enclose also a “Sketch of my Services to the United States,” wherein you will find mention of the extra services I performed that do not appertain to the office of plenipotentiary, namely, as judge of admiralty, as consul before the arrival of Mr. Barclay, as banker in examining and accepting the multitude of bills of exchange, and as secretary for several years, – none being sent to me, though other ministers were allowed such assistance.
I must own I did hope that, as it is customary in Europe to make some liberal provision for ministers when they return home from foreign service, the Congress would at least have been kind enough to have shown their approbation of my conduct by a grant of a small tract of land in their western country, which might have been of use and some honor to my posterity. And I cannot but still think they will do something of the kind for me whenever they shall be pleased to take my services into consideration, as I see by their minutes that they have allowed Mr. Lee handsomely for his services in England, before his appointment to France, in which services I and Mr. Bollan coöperated with him, but have had no such allowance; and, since his return, he has been very properly rewarded with a good place, as well as my friend Mr. Jay: though these are trifling compensations in comparison with what was granted by the king to M. Gérard on his return from America, – but how different is what has happened to me! On my return from England in 1775, the Congress bestowed on me the office of Postmaster-general, for which I was very thankful. It was indeed an office I had some kind of right to, as having previously greatly enlarged the revenue of the post, by the regulations I had contrived and established, while I possessed it under the crown. When I was sent to France, I left it in the hands of my son-in-law, who was to act as my deputy. But, soon after my departure, it was taken from me, and given to Mr. Hazard. When the English ministry formerly thought fit to deprive me of the office, they left me, however, the privilege of receiving and sending my letters free of postage, which is the usage when a postmaster is not displaced for misconduct in the office; but in America I have ever since had the postage demanded of me, which since my return from France has amounted to above fifty pounds, much of it occasioned by my having acted as minister there.
When I took my grandson, William Temple Franklin, 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 became 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), I 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 Col. 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 themselves 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 gour services, remember that you have a right to unbosom yourself in communicating your griefs to your ancient friend, and most obedient humble servant, B. FRANKLIN. CHARLEs THOMPSON, Esq., Sec'y to Congress.
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 three hundred pounds sterling a year, and obliged to resign his agencies, namely:
Of Pennsylvania, . . . . . 500l.
In the whole, fifteen hundred pounds 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 frize 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 Carrol, 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, three hundred and fifty-three pounds in gold out of his own pocket, on the credit of Congress, which was a 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 of the cause. He made no bargain for appointments, but was promised, by a vote, the net salary of five hundred pounds sterling per annum, his expenses paid, and to be assisted by a secretary, who was to have one thousand pounds 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 three hundred pounds 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, seven hundred pounds 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