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may be soon spent, the regret only remaining of having foolishly consumed it; but in the other case, he escapes the frequent vexation of waiting for barbers, and of their sometimes dirty fingers, offensive breaths, and dull razors; he shaves when most convenient to him, and enjoys daily the pleasure of its being done with a good instrument. With these sentiments I have hazarded the few preceding pages, hoping they may afford hints, which some time or other may be useful to a city I love, having lived many years in it very happily, and perhaps to some of our towns in America.
Having been some time employed by the postmastergeneral of America, as his comptroller in regulating several offices, and bringing the officers to account, I was, upon his death, in 1753, appointed jointly with Mr. William Hunter, to succeed him, by a commission from the postmaster-general in England. The American office had hitherto never paid any thing to that of Britain. We were to have six hundred pounds a year between us, if we could make that sum out of the profits of the office. To do this, a variety of improvements was necessary; some of these were inevitably at first expensive; so that in the first four years the office became above nine hundred pounds in debt to us. But it soon after began to repay us; and before I was displaced by a freak of the ministers, of which I shall speak hereafter,. we had brought it to yield three times as much clear revenue to the crown, as the postoffice of Ireland. Since that imprudent transaction, they have received from it - not one farthing !
The business of the postoffice occasioned my taking a journey this year to New England, where the College of Cambridge, of their own motion, presented me with the degree of Master of Arts. Yale College in Connecticut had before made me a similar compliment. Thus, without studying in any College, I came to partake of their honors. They were conferred in consideration of my improvements and discoveries in the electric branch of natural philosophy.
Attends a General Convention at Albany, as a Delegate from Pennsyl
vania. — Proposes a Plan of Union for the Colonies, which is adopted by the Convention. — Interview with Governor Shirley at Boston. Conversations with Governor Morris on Pennsylvania Affairs. — Assists Mr. Quincy in procuring Aids for New England. — Visits General Braddock's Army in Maryland – Procures Horses and Wagons to facilitate the March of the Army. – Obtains Supplies for the Officers. - Character of Braddock. - Account of his Defeat in the Battle of the Monongahela. Braddock commends his Services in Letters to the Government. — These Services poorly rewarded. — Society for the Relief and Instruction of Germans in Pennsylvania.
In 1754, war with France being again apprehended, a congress of commissioners from the different colonies was by an order of the Lords of Trade to be assembled at Albany; there to confer with the chiefs of the Six Nations, concerning the means of defending both their country and ours. Governor Hamilton, having received this order, acquainted the House with it, requesting they would furnish proper presents for the Indians, to be given on this occasion; and naming the Speaker (Mr. Norris) and myself to join Mr. John Penn and Mr. Secretary Peters, as commissioners to act for Pennsylvania. The House approved the nomination, and provided the goods for the presents, though they did not much like treating out of the province; and we met the other commissioners at Albany about the middle of June.
In our way thither, I projected and drew up a Plan for the union of all the colonies under one government, so far as might be necessary for defence, and other important general purposes.
As we passed through New York, I had there shown my project to Mr. James Alexander and Mr. Kennedy, two gentlemen
great knowledge in public affairs; and, being fortified by their approbation, I ventured to lay it before the congress. It then appeared, that several of the commissioners had formed plans of the same kind. A previous question was first taken, whether a union should be established, which passed in the affirmative unanimously. A committee was then appointed, one member from each colony, to consider the several plans and report. Mine happened to be preferred, and, with a few amendments, was accordingly reported.
By this plan the general government was to be administered by a President-general, appointed and supported by the crown ; and a grand council was to be chosen by the representatives of the people of the several colonies, met in their respective assemblies. The debates upon it in congress went on daily, hand in hand with the Indian business. Many objections and difficulties were started; but at length they were all overcome, and the plan was unanimously agreed to, and copies ordered to be transmitted to the Board of Trade and to the Assemblies of the several provinces. Its fate was singular; the Assemblies did not adopt it, as they all thought there was too much prerogative in it; and in England it was judged to have too much of the democratic. The Board of Trade did not approve it, nor recommend it for the approbation of his Majesty; but another scheme was formed, supposed to answer the same purpose better, whereby the governors of the provinces, with some members of their respective councils, were to meet and order the raising of troops, building of forts, &c., and to draw on the treasury of Great Britain for the expense, which was afterwards to be refunded by an act of Parliament laying a tax on America. My plan, with my reasons in support of VOL. I.
it, is to be found among my political papers that were printed.
Being the winter following in Boston, I had much conversation with Governor Shirley upon both the plans. Part of what passed between us on this occasion may also be seen among those papers.f The different and contrary reasons of dislike to my plan makes me suspect that it was really the true medium; and I am still of opinion, it would have been happy for both sides, if it had been adopted. The colonies so united would have been sufficiently strong to have defended themselves; there would then have been no need of troops from England; of course the subsequent pretext for taxing America, and the bloody contest it occasioned, would have been avoided. But such mistakes are not new; history is full of the errors of states and princes.
“Look round the habitable world, how few
Know their own good, or, knowing it, pursue!” Those who govern, having much business on their hands, do not generally like to take the trouble of considering and carrying into execution new projects. The best public measures are therefore seldom adopted from previous wisdom, but forced by the occasion.
The Governor of Pennsylvania, in sending it down to the Assembly, expressed his approbation of the plan, “ as appearing to him to be drawn up with great clearness and strength of judgment, and therefore recommended it as well worthy of their closest and most serious attention.” The House, however, by the management of a certain member, took it up when I happened to be absent, which I thought not very fair, and reprobated it without paying any attention to it at all, to my no small mortification.
* See Vol. III. pp. 22-55.
# Ibid. p. 56.