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fied and rendered lighter; currents of wind flow in from opposite directions, and produce the tornadoes and water-spouts so common over the Gulf Stream in southern latitudes. Further north, the warm air mingles with the cold, and is condensed into the fogs, which prevail so remarkably on the Banks of Newfoundland.
Chosen a Member of Congress. - Proceedings of Congress. tions for Military Defence. - Petition to the King. - Franklin assists in preparing for the Defence of Pennsylvania, as a Member of the Committee of Safety. - Drafts a Plan of Confederation. His Services in Congress. Goes to the Camp at Cambridge on a Committee from Congress. Chosen a Member of the Pennsylvania Assembly. Writes Letters to Europe for the Committee of Secret Correspondence. His Journey to Canada as a Commissioner from Congress. Declaration of Independence. - Anecdotes. - President of the Convention of Pennsylvania for forming a Constitution. His Opinion of a Single Legislative Assembly. - Opposes the Practice of voting by States in Congress. - His Correspondence with Lord Howe, and Interview with him on Staten Island. - Appointed a Commissioner to the Court of Versailles. - Lends Money to Congress.
THE next day after his arrival, Dr. Franklin was unanimously chosen by the Assembly of Pennsylvania a delegate to the second Continental Congress, which was to meet at Philadelphia on the 10th of May. At this time the whole country was thrown into a state of extreme agitation by the news of the conflict. at Lexington and Concord, in which the British troops were the aggressors. The yeomanry of New England, as if moved by a simultaneous impulse, seized their arms, and hastened to the scene of action. The indignation of the people was everywhere roused to the highest pitch, and the cry of war resounded from one end of the continent to the other. A few days after he landed, Dr. Franklin wrote as follows to Dr. Priestley.
"You will have heard, before this reaches you, of a march stolen by the regulars into the country by night, and of their expedition back again. They retreated twenty miles in six hours. The governor had called the Assembly to propose Lord North's pacific plan,
but, before the time of their meeting, began cutting of throats. You know it was said he carried the sword in one hand, and the olive branch in the other; and it seems he chose to give them a taste of the sword first. He is doubling his fortifications at Boston, and hopes to secure his troops till succour arrives. The place indeed is naturally so defensible, that I think them in no danger. All America is exasperated by his conduct, and more firmly united than ever. The breach between the two countries is grown wider, and in danger of becoming irreparable."
When the second Congress assembled, the relations between the colonies and Great Britain had assumed a new character. The blood of American freemen had been shed on their own soil by a wanton exercise of military power, and they were regarded as having fallen martyrs in the cause of liberty. This rash act dissolved the charm, which had hitherto bound the affections of many a conscientious American to the British crown, under the long revered name of loyalty. It was evident to every reflecting man, that the hour of trial had come, that a degrading submission, or a triumph of strength, in a hard and unequal struggle, was the only alternative. A large majority of the nation and of Congress were ready to meet the contest by prompt and decided measures of resistance, convinced that any further attempts for a reconciliation would be utterly unavailing. Among the foremost of this number was Franklin. Yet there were some, whose fears ran before their hopes; and others, whose interests outweighed their patriotism. Many of the timid were good patriots, but they dreaded the gigantic power of England, which they believed to be irresistible.
After an animated debate, which continued several
days, it was declared that hostilities had commenced, on the part of Great Britain, with the design of enforcing "the unconstitutional and oppressive acts of Parliament"; and it was then resolved, with great unanimity, that the colonies should be immediately put in a state of defence. This was all, that the most ardent friends of liberty desired, since it enabled them to organize an army and make preparations for war. Having gained this point, they were the more ready to yield another, for the sake of harmony, to the moderate party, at the head of which was John Dickinson. It was urged by this party, that they never had anticipated resistance by force, but had always confided so much in the justice of the British government, as to believe, that, when they fairly understood the temper and equitable claims of the colonists, they would come to a reasonable compromise. Another opportunity, it was said, ought to be offered, and to this end they were strenuous for sending a petition to the King.
The party in favor of energetic action represented the inconsistency and futility of this step. To take up arms and then petition was an absurdity. It could do little harm, however, since it would not retard the military operations; and, as to the petition itself, there was not the least likelihood that his Majesty would pay any more attention to it, than he had paid to the one sent to him the year before, which he treated with contempt. The dignity of Congress would suffer a little, to be sure, by again resorting to a petition, after being thus slighted; yet this was a small sacrifice to make, if it would produce union and concert in affairs of greater moment. Besides, it was supposed that there were tender consciences in the country, which would be better reconciled to the strong measures of
Congress, if accompanied by this appeal, as from loyal subjects.
Franklin was on the committee for reporting a draft, which would seem to imply that he did not resist the proposal; but how far he actually approved it, is uncertain. In writing to a friend he said; "It has been with difficulty, that we have carried another humble petition to the crown, to give Great Britain one more chance, one opportunity more, of recovering the friendship of the colonies; which, however, I think she has not sense enough to embrace, and so I conclude she has lost them for ever." Mr. Jay was likewise a member of the committee, and was in favor of the petition. But its most zealous advocate was John Dickinson, by whom it was drafted. It has been said, indeed, that this token of humility was yielded mainly to gratify his wishes. The uprightness of his character, his singleness of heart, and the great services he had rendered to his country by his talents and his pen, claimed for him especial consideration. The tone and language of the petition were sufficiently submissive, and it stands in remarkable contrast, in the Journals, with other papers, and the resolves for warlike preparations. Mr. Jefferson tells us, that Mr. Dickinson was so much pleased when it was adopted by a vote of the House, that he could not forbear to express his satisfaction by saying; "There is but one word, Mr. President, in the paper, which I disapprove, and that word is Congress." Whereupon Mr. Harrison of Virginia rose and said; "There is but one word in the paper, Mr. President, which I approve, and that word is Congress."
In addition to his duties in Congress, Dr. Franklin had a very laborious service to perform as chairman of the Committee of Safety, appointed by the Assem