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at the expiration of a year, was taken home to assist his father in his business. In this occupation, he continued two years, when he became heartily tired of cutting wicks for candles, filling moulds, and running errands. He resolved to embark on a seafaring life; but his parents objected, having already lost a son at sea. Having a passionate fondness for books, he was finally apprenticed as a printer to his brother, who at that time published a newspaper in Boston. It was while he was in this situation, that he began to try his powers of literary composition. Street ballads and articles in a newspaper were his first efforts. Many of his essays, which were inserted anonymously, were highly commended by people of taste. Dissatisfied with the manner in which he was treated by his relative, he, at the age of seventeen, privately quitted him, and went to Philadelphia. The day following his arrival, he wandered through the streets of that city with an appearance little short of a beggar. His pockets were distended by his clothes, which were crowded into them; and, provided with a roll of bread under each arm, he proceeded through the principal streets of the city. His ludicrous appearance attracted the notice of several of the citizens, and among others of Miss Reed, the lady whom he afterwards married. He soon obtained employment as a printer, and was exemplary in the discharge of his duties. Deluded by a promise of patronage from the Governor, Sir William Keith, Franklin visited England to procure the necessary materials for establishing a printing-office in Philadelphia. He was accompanied by his friend Ralph, one of his literary associates. On their arrival in London, Franklin found that he had been deceived ; and he was obliged to work as a journeyman for eighteen months. In the British metropolis, the morals of neither of our adventurers were improved. Ralph conducted as if he had forgotten that he had a wife and child across the Atlantic; and Franklin was equally unmindful of his pledges to Miss Reed. this period he published " A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain.”
In 1726, Franklin returned to Philadelphia; not long after which he entered into business as a printer and stationer, and, in 1728, established a newspaper. In 1730, he married the lady to whom he was engaged previous to his leaving America. In 1732, he began to publish " Poor Richard's Almanac,” a work which was continued for twenty-five years, and which, besides answering the purposes of a calendar, contained many excellent prudential maxims, which rendered it very useful and popular. Ten thousand copies of this almanac were published every year in America, and the maxims contained in it were often translated into the languages of Europe.
The political career of Franklin commenced in 1736, when he was appointed clerk to the General Assembly of Pennsylvania. His next office was the valuable one of postmaster; and he was subsequently chosen as a representative. He assisted in the establishment of the American Philosophical Society, and of a college, which now exists under the title of the University of Pennsylvania. Chiefly by his exertions, a public library, a fire-preventing company, an insurance company, and a voluntary association for defence, were established at Philadelphia
He was chosen a member of the Provincial Assembly, to which body he was annually re-elected for ten years. Philosophy now began to attract his attention, and, in 1749, he made those inquiries into the nature of electricity, the results of which placed him high among the men of science of the age. The experiment of the kite is well known. He had conceived the idea of explaining the phenomena of lightning upon electrical principles. While waiting for the erection of a spire for the trial of his theory, it occurred to him that he might have more ready access to the region of clouds by means of a common kite. He accordingly prepared one for the purpose, affixing to the upright stick an iron point. The string was, as usual, of hemp, except the lower end, which was silk, and where the hempen part terminated, a key was fastened. With this simple apparatus, on the appearance of a thunder cloud, he went into the fields, accompanied by his son, to whom alone he communicated his intentions, dreading probably the ridicule which frequently attends unsuccessful attempts in experimental philosophy. For some time no sign of electricity presented itself; he was beginning to despair of success, when he suddenly observed the loose fibres of the string to start forward in an erect position. He now presented his knuckle to the key, and received a strong spark. On this depended the fate of his theory: repeated sparks were drawn from the key, a phial was charged, a shock given, and all the experiments made, which are usually performed with electricity. This great discovery he applied to the securing of buildings from the effects of lightning.
In 1753, Dr. Franklin was appointed deputy postmaster general of British America. In this station, he rendered important services to General Braddock, in his expedition against Fort Du Quesne, and marched at the head of a company of volunteers to the protection of the frontier, He visited England in 1757 as agent for the State of Philadelphia ; and was also intrusted by the other colonies with important business. While in London, he wrote a pamphlet, pointing out the advantages of a conquest of Canada by the English ; and his arguments are believed to have conduced considerably to that event. About this period, his talents as a philosopher were duly appreciated in various parts of Europe. He was admitted a fellow of the Royal Society of London, and the degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred upon him at St. Andrews, Edinburgh, and at Oxford.
In 1762 he returned to America, and in 1764 was again appointed the agent of Philadelphia, to manage her concerns in England, in which country he arrived in the month of December. About this period the stamp act was exciting violent commotions in America. To this measure Doctor Franklin was strongly opposed, and he presented a petition against it, which, at his suggestion, had been drawn up by the Pennsylvania Assembly. Among others, he was summoned before the House of Com. mons, where he underwent a long examination. His answers were fearless and decisive, and to his representations the repeal of the act was, no doubt, in a great measure, attributable. In the year 1766–67, he made an excursion to Holland, Germany, and France, where he met wi!h a most flattering reception. He was chosen a member of the French
Academy of Sciences, and received diplomas from many other learned societies.
Certain letters had been written by Governor Hutchinson, addressed to his friends in England, which reflected in the severest manner upon the people of America. These letters had fallen into the hands of Doctor Franklin, and by him had been transmitted to America, where they were at length inserted in the public journals. For a time, no one in England knew through what channel the letters had been conveyed to America. In 1773, Franklin publicly avowed himself to be the person who obtained the letters and transmitted them to America. This produced a violent clamor against him, and upon his attending before the privy council, in the following January, to present a petition from the colony of Massachusetts, for the dismissal of Governor Hutchinson, a most abusive invective was pronounced against him, by Mr. Weddeburne, afterwards Lord Loughborough. Among other epithets, the honorable member called Franklin a coward, a murderer, and a thief. During the whole of this insulting harangue, Franklin sat with a composed and unaverted aspect, “as if his countenance had been made of wood.” Throughout this personal and public outrage, the whole assembly seemed greatly amused at Doctor Franklin's expense. The President even laughed aloud. There was a single person present, however, Lord North, who, to his honor be it recorded, expressed great disapprobation of the indecent conduct of the assembly. The intended insult, however, was entirely lost. The coolness and dignity of Franklin soon discomposed his enemies, who were compelled to feel the superiority of his character. Their animosity caused him to be removed from the office of postmaster general, interrupted the payment of his salary as agent for the colonies, and finally instituted against him a suit in chancery concerning the letters of Hutchinson.
Despairing of restoring harmony between the colonies and mother country, Doctor Franklin embarked for America, where he arrived in 1775. He was received with every mark of esteem and admiration. He was immediately elected a delegate to the general Congress, and signed the Declaration of Independence. In 1776, he was deputed with others to proceed to Canada, to persuade the people of that province to throw off the British yoke; but the inhabitants of Canada nad been so much disgusted with the zeal of the people of New England, who had burnt some of their chapels, that they refused to listen to the proposals made to them by Franklin and his associates. In 1778, he was dispatched by Congress, as ambassador to France. The treaty of alliance with the French government, and the treaties of peace, in 1782 and 1783, as well as treaties with Sweden and Prussia, were signed by him. On his reaching Philadelphia, in September, 1785, his arrival was hailed by applauding thousands of his countrymen, who conducted him in triumph to his residence. This was a period of which he always spoke with peculiar pleasure. In 1788, he withdrew from public life, and on the 17th of April, 1790, he expired in the city of Philadelphia, in the eighty fourth year of his age. Congress directed a general mourning for him. throughout the United States; and the National Assembly of France decreed that each member should wear mourning for three days. Doctor Franklin lies buried in the north-west corner of Christ Church-yard, in Philadelphia. In his will he directed that no monumental ornaments should mark his grave. A small marble slab points out the spot where he lies.
Doctor Franklin had two children, a son and a daughter. The son, under the British government, was appointed Governor of New Jersey. On the breaking out of the revolution, he took up his residence in England, where he spent the remainder of his days. The daughter was respectably married in Philadelphia, to Mr. William Bache, whose descendants still reside in that city.
In stature, Dr. Franklin was above the middle size. He possessed a sound constitution, and his countenance indicated a placid state of mind, great depth of thought, and an inflexible resolution. In youth he took
eptical turn with regard to religion, but his strength of mind led him to fortify himself against vice by such moral principles as directed him to the most valuable ends, by honorable means. According to the testimony of his most intimate friend, Doctor William Smith, he became in maturer years a believer in divine revelation. The following epitaph on himself was written by Doctor Franklin, many years previously to his death :
The body of
like the cover of an old book,
its contents torn out,
lies here food for worms.
in a new
by the Author.
ELBRIDGE Gerry was born at Marblehead, in the State of Massachu. setts, July 17th, 1744. He became a member of Harvard college before his fourteenth year, and on leaving the university, engage i in commercial pursuits at Marblehead, under the direction of his father. His inclination would have led him to the study of medicine; but great success attended his mercantile enterprise, and, in a few years, he found himself in the enjoyment of a competent fortune.
!May, 1772, Mr. Gerry was chosen a representative to the General Coart of Massachusetts, to which office he was re-elected the following year. During this year he was appointed one of the committee of correspondence and inquiry. In June, the celebrated letters of Governor Hutchinson to persons in England were laid before the House by Mr.
Adams. In the debates on this disclosure, Mr. Gerry highly distinguished himself. He was also particularly active in the scenes of 1774. He was a member of the Provincial Congress which met at Concord, and powerfully contributed to the measures of opposition, which led to the Revolution. In 1775, the new Provincial Congress, of which he was one, assembled at Cambridge. In this body, he evinced a degree of patriotic intrepidity, which was surpassed by none.
A committee of Congress, among whom were Mr. Gerry, Colonel Orne, and Colonel Hancock, had been in session in the village of Menotomy, then part of the township of Cambridge. The latter gentleman, after the close of the session, had gone to Lexington. Mr. Gerry and Mr. Orne remained at the village; the other members of the committee had dispersed. Some officers of the royal army had passed through the villages just before dusk, and the circumstance so far attracted the attention of Mr. Gerry, that he dispatched an express to Colonel Hancock, who, with Samuel Adams, was at Lexington. Mr. Gerry and Colonel Orne retired to rest, without taking the least precaution against personal exposure, and they remained quietly in their beds, until the British advance were within view of the dwelling-house. It was a beautiful night, and the polished arms of the soldiers glittered in the moon-beams, as they moved on in silence. The front passed on. When the centre were opposite the house, occupied by the committee, an officer and file of men were detached by signal, and marched towards it. The inmates, for whom they were in search, found means to escape, half dressed, into an adjoining cornfield, where they remained concealed until the troops were withdrawn. Every part of the house was searched " for the members of the rebel Congress ;" even the beds in which they had lain were examined. But their property, and, among other things, a valuable watch of Mr. Gerry's, which was under his pillow, were undisturbed.
On the 17th day of June, the memorable battle of Bunker Hill was fought. The Provincial Congress was at that time in session at Watertown. Before the battle, Doctor Joseph Warren, President of the Congress, who was the companion and room-mate of Mr. Gerry, communicated to him his intention of mingling in the approaching contest. The night preceding the Doctor's departure to the scene of battle, he is said to have lodged in the same bed with Mr. Gerry. In the morning, in reply to the admonitions of his friend, he uttered the well known words, “ Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori."* The sweetness and the glory, hz but too truly experienced, and died one of the earliest victims to the cause of his country's freedom.
In 1775, Mr. Gerry proposed a law in the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, to encourage the fitting out of armed vessels, and to provide for the adjudication of prizes. This important measure was passed, and under its sanction, several of the enemy's vessels, with valuable cargoes, were captured. In 1776, Mr. Gerry was chosen a delegate to the ContiDental Congress, in which body he shortly after took his seat. His services in this capacity were numerous and important. Having married
* It is sweet and glorious to die for one's cíuntry.