Abbildungen der Seite

should be in a few days on his march to New York, he would there deliver their men to them. They accordingly were at the expense and trouble of going to Trenton, and there he refused to perform his promise, to their great loss and disappointment.

As soon as the loss of the wagons and horses was generally known, all the owners came upon me for the valuation which I had given bond to pay. Their demands gave me a great deal of trouble. I acquainted them, that the money was ready in the paymaster's hands, but the order for paying it must first be obtained from General Shirley, and that I had applied for it; but, he being at a distance, an answer could not soon be received, and they must have patience. All this, however, was not sufficient to satisfy them, and some began to sue me. General Shirley at length relieved me from this terrible situation, by appointing commissioners to examine the claims, and ordering payment. They amounted to near twenty thousand pounds, which to pay would have ruined me.*

Before we had the news of this defeat, the two doctors Bond came to me with a subscription paper for raising money to defray the expense of a grand firework, which it was intended to exhibit at a rejoicing on receiving the news of our taking Fort Duquesne. I looked I looked grave, and said, it would, I thought, be time enough to prepare the rejoicing when we knew we should have occasion to rejoice. They seemed surprised that I did not immediately comply with their proposal. "Why the d-l!" said one of them, "you surely don't suppose that the fort will not be taken?" "I don't know that it will not be

* See General Shirley's letter, Vol. VII. p. 94. Also, p. 96.

taken; but I know that the events of war are subject to great uncertainty." I gave them the reasons of my doubting; the subscription was dropped, and the projectors thereby missed the mortification they would have undergone, if the firework had been prepared. Dr. Bond, on some other occasion afterwards, said, that he did not like Franklin's forebodings.*

At this time, in conjunction with several other gentlemen, Franklin was actively engaged in carrying into effect a benevolent plan for improving the condition of the German population in America. At his press was printed a tract entitled, “A Brief History of the Rise and Progress of the Charitable Scheme, carrying on by a Society of Noblemen and Gentlemen in London, for the Relief and Instruction of poor Germans and their Descendants in Pennsylvania and the adjacent Colonies in North Amèrica. Published by Order of the Trustees appointed for the Management of the said Charitable Scheme. Philadelphia; 1755." The Trustees were James Hamilton, William Allen, Richard Peters, Benjamin Franklin, Conrad Weiser, and William Smith. The objects in view were to provide missionaries and teachers of schools, and to render such relief as particular cases might require. For an interesting letter on the condition of the Germans in Pennsylvania, see Vol. VII. p. 66. Editor.


Appointed One of the Commissioners for appropriating the public Money

for military Defence. — Proposes a Militia Bill, which passes the Assembly.-Commissioned to take Charge of the Frontier, and build a Line of Forts.- Marches at the Head of a Body of Troops Account of the March. Operations at Gnadenhutten. - Indian Massacres. - Moravians at Bethlehem. - Returns to Philadelphia. - Chosen Colonel of a Regiment. Journey to Virginia. - Declines accepting the Governor's Proposal to lead an Expedition against Fort Duquesne. — Account of his Electrical Discoveries. — Chosen a Member of the Royal Society. Receives the Copley Medal.

GOVERNOR MORRIS, who had continually worried the Assembly with message after message before the defeat of Braddock, to beat them into the making of acts to raise money for the defence of the province, without taxing among others the proprietary estates, and had rejected all their bills for not having such an exempting clause, now redoubled his attacks with more hope of success, the danger and necessity being greater. The Assembly however continued firm, believing they had justice on their side, and that it would be giving up an essential right, if they suffered the Governor to amend their money bills. In one of the last, indeed, which was for granting fifty thousand pounds, his proposed amendment was only of a single word. The bill expressed, "that all estates real and personal were to be taxed; those of the proprietaries not excepted." His amendment was; for not read only. A small, but very material alteration. However, when the news of the disaster reached England, our friends there, whom we had taken care to furnish with all the Assembly's answers to the Governor's messages, raised a clamor against the Proprietaries for their meanness and injustice in giving their governor such instructions; some

going so far as to say, that, by obstructing the defence. of their province, they forfeited their right to it. They were intimidated by this; and sent orders to their receiver-general to add five thousand pounds of their money to whatever sum might be given by the Assembly for such purpose.

This, being testified to the House, was accepted in lieu of their share of a general tax, and a new bill was formed with an exempting clause, which passed accordingly. By this act I was appointed one of the commissioners for disposing of the money, sixty thousand pounds. I had been active in modelling the bill, and procuring its passage; and had at the same time drawn one for establishing and disciplining a voluntary militia; which I carried through the House without much difficulty, as care was taken in it to leave the Quakers at liberty. To promote the association necessary to form the militia, I wrote a Dialogue stating and answering all the objections I could think of to such a militia; which was printed, and had, as I thought, great effect.*

While the several companies in the city and country were forming, and learning their exercise, the Governor prevailed with me to take charge of our North-western frontier, which was infested by the enemy, and provide for the defence of the inhabitants by raising troops and building a line of forts. I undertook this military business, though I did not conceive myself well qualified for it. He gave me a commission with full powers, and a parcel of blank commissions for officers, to be given to whom I thought fit. I had but little difficulty in raising men, having soon five hundred and sixty under my command. My son, who had in the

* See Vol. III. pp. 78, 84.

preceding war been an officer in the army raised against Canada, was my aid-de-camp, and of great use to me. The Indians had burned Gnadenhutten, a village settled by the Moravians, and massacred the inhabitants; but the place was thought a good situation for one of the forts.

In order to march thither, I assembled the companies at Bethlehem, the chief establishment of these people. I was surprised to find it in so good a posture of defence; the destruction of Gnadenhutten had made them apprehend danger. The principal buildings were defended by a stockade; they had purchased a quantity of arms and ammunition from New York, and had even placed quantities of small paving stones between the windows of their high stone houses, for their women to throw them down upon the heads of any Indians, that should attempt to force into them. The armed brethren too kept watch, and relieved each other on guard, as methodically as in any garrison town. In conversation with the Bishop, Spangenberg, I mentioned my surprise; for, knowing they had obtained an act of Parliament exempting them from military duties in the colonies, I had supposed they were conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms. He answered me, that it was not one of their established principles; but that, at the time of their obtaining that act, it was thought to be a principle with many of their people. On this occasion, however, they to their surprise found it adopted by but a few. It seems they were either deceived in themselves, or deceived the Parliament; but common sense, aided by present danger, will sometimes be too strong for whimsical opinions.

It was the beginning of January when we set out upon this business of building forts. I sent one detachment towards the Minisink, with instructions to

« ZurückWeiter »