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As soon as Congress had put their military affairs in train, they began to think of foreign alliances. On the 29th of November, they appointed a Committee of Secret Correspondence, for the purpose of establishing and keeping up an intercourse with the friends of the American cause in England, Ireland, and other parts of Europe. Dr. Franklin's long residence abroad, his extensive acquaintance with men of character there, and his knowledge of their political sentiments, naturally qualified him for acting a principal part in this committee. He wrote letters to some of his friends in Europe, on whose discretion and fidelity he could rely, requesting them to watch the current of events, and the tendency of public opinion, in regard to the American controversy; to ascertain, as far as it could be done, the designs of men in power, and to communicate intelligence on these points for the use of Congress. To Mr. Dumas, at the Hague, whom he had known in Holland, he sent particular instructions, investing him, in the name of the committee, with certain powers as a political agent, by which he was authorized and desired to seek opportunities for discovering, through the ambassadors at that place, the disposition of the European courts and the probability of their rendering assistance to the Americans. Mr. Dumas accepted this commission and executed it faithfully. He continued in the service of the United States throughout the Revolution, and for some years afterwards.

From the beginning of the contest, many efforts had been made to induce the Canadians to join the other colonies; and it was proposed to them, that they should send delegates to Congress. A hope of this union was entertained for a time, but it was finally disappointed. The hostile attitude, in which the Canadi

ans and English colonists had been placed towards each other on various occasions, in addition to the inherited national antipathy on both sides, had produced an alienation, which could not easily be softened into a fraternal fellowship; and the obstacles were multiplied by religious animosities. In the first year of the war, while the Americans had an army in Canada, there was some show of a party in their favor; but this party was by no means an index of the popular will or feeling, and it soon dwindled away and disappeared.

The military successes, which had put nearly the whole of Canada into the possession of the Americans, terminated with the fall of Montgomery under the walls of Quebec. More troops were sent forward in the heart of winter; but, when the spring opened, reinforcements arrived from England, threatening disaster and defeat to the American army. At this juncture Congress appointed commissioners to go to Canada, with full powers to regulate the operations of the army, and especially to assist the Canadians in forming a civil government, and to pledge all the support and protection that could be rendered by the united. colonies. Dr. Franklin, Samuel Chase, and Charles Carroll, were selected for this mission. Mr. John Carroll, a Catholic clergyman, afterwards Archbishop of Baltimore, was invited to accompany them. He had been educated in France, and it was supposed that this circumstance, added to his religious profession and character, would enable him to exercise a salutary influence with the priests in Canada, who were known to control the people. Among other things a printingpress was to be established, and Mesplet, a French printer, was engaged to undertake this business, with a promise that his expenses should be paid.

The commissioners left Philadelphia about the 20th

of March, 1776, but they did not reach Montreal till near the end of April. The badness of the roads at that season of the year, and the obstruction to navigation in Lake Champlain, occasioned by the broken ice, retarded their progress, and made their journey tedious and toilsome. And, after all, the commission produced very little effect. The American army had already begun its retreat from Quebec, pursued by an enemy superior in numbers, well disciplined, and amply supplied. In this state of affairs it was not to be expected, that the Canadians would venture upon the hazardous experiment of setting up a new government, and joining the colonies, even if they had been previously inclined to take such a step. But, in reality, a few individuals excepted, they never had been thus inclined. Intelligence, a knowledge of their rights, love of freedom, liberal sentiments, and a spirit of enterprise, were elements requisite for a political change, which they did not possess.

Dr. Franklin's health was much impaired by the hardships of the journey. He had been exposed to the inclemency of the weather, and in some parts of the route he was obliged to lodge in the woods. He stayed a fortnight at Montreal, and then, in company with Mr. John Carroll, he set out on his way homeward, leaving the other commissioners behind, who remained in Canada till near the time it was evacuated by the American troops. With some difficulty he proceeded to Albany. From that place to New York he was conveyed in a private carriage, with which he had been accommodated by the kindness of General Schuyler. He arrived at Philadelphia early in June. The most agreeable incident during this tour was a visit to his old friend, Dr. John Bard, with whom he had been long and intimately acquainted in Philadel



phia, but who had removed some years before to New York, and had lately given up his business, and sought retirement at his beautiful seat on the banks of the Hudson at Hyde Park; a man distinguished for skill in his profession, his respectable character, and all the estimable qualities, which adorn private



Before he left home, Dr. Franklin had withdrawn from the Assembly and Committee of Safety, not knowing how long he should be absent, and deeming it improper to hold public stations the duties of which he could not discharge. In his letter of resignation he said; "I am extremely sensible of the honor done me by my fellow citizens, in choosing me their representative in Assembly, and of that lately conferred on me by the House, in appointing me one of the Committee of Safety for this province, and a delegate in Congress. It would be a happiness to me, if I could serve the public duly in all those stations; but, aged as I now am, I feel myself unequal to so much business, and on that account think it my duty to decline a part of it. I hope, therefore, that the House will be so good as to accept my excuse for not attending as a member of the present Assembly, and, if they think fit, give orders for the election of another in my place, that the city may be more completely represented. I request, also, that the House would be pleased to dispense with my further attendance as one of the Committee of Safety." On his return, therefore, he was at liberty to give his undivided attention to the national counsels in Congress. He was chosen a member of one of the committees, which assembled in June from the several counties of

* The allusion here is to his second appointment to these two offices.

Pennsylvania, for the purpose of deliberating on the mode of summoning a convention to form a new constitution; but the conference was short, and, if he attended at all, he took little part in the proceedings.

A subject of the greatest importance was now brought before Congress. For some months past, there had been much discussion in the newspapers, in pamphlets, and at public meetings, as well as in private circles, about independence. It was evident, that a large majority of the nation was prepared for that measure. At length the legislature of Virginia instructed their delegates to propose it in Congress. This was done by Richard Henry Lee; and a debate ensued, which elicited the opinions of the prominent members. All agreed, that, sooner or later, this ground must be taken; but a few believed that the time had not yet come. Among the doubters was the virtuous, the patriotic, the able, but irresolute John Dickinson. His objections, and those of his party, were met by the fervid zeal and powerful arguments of John Adams, the persuasive eloquence of Lee, and the concurring voice of many others. On this side was Franklin, whose sentiments have been sufficiently indicated in the preceding pages. A committee of five was chosen to prepare a Declaration, consisting of Jefferson, John Adams, Franklin, Sherman, and Livingston. The his tory of this transaction is too well known to need a repetition of it in this place. The Declaration, drafted by Jefferson, was reported as it came from his pen, except a few verbal alterations suggested by Adams and Franklin. It was debated three days, and passed on the 4th of July, when the United States were declared to be, and became in fact, an independent nation.

Mr. Jefferson relates a characteristic anecdote of

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