Gambar halaman

arise between the governors and governed, and every thing go into confusion.

“ Perhaps I am too apprehensive in this matter ; but having freely given my opinion and reasons, your Excellency can judge better than I, whether there be any weight in them; and the shortness of the time allowed me will, I hope, in some degree excuse the imperfections of this scrawl.

“With the greatest respect and fidelity, I have the honour to be,

“Your Excellency's most obedient
" And most humble servant,


It cannot after this be said, that the British executive were left in the dark in reference to the effect of those measures which hastened the dissolution of the connexion between the mother-country and her colonies, in a manner so discreditable both to the wisdom and energy

of the former. A dissolution was probably sooner or later inevitable; but indisputably it was hastened by a theory almost as erroneous, and a practice nearly as imbecile, as that which has been more recently exhibited by Old Spain.


Franklin's plan slighted in the Pennsylvanian Assembly: his own final opi

nion of it.-Made a joint post-master-general with {Mr Hunter.- Enters deeply into the disputes between the Assembly and the governor of the province.-Aids materially the British expedition under general Braddock. Account of the failure of that expedition.-Franklin advocates the raising of volunteer corps.-Sent to the frontiers for the defence of the province. Erects forts there.—Made colonel of the Philadelphian association.- Lord Loudon, and his military measures.- Franklin's claims with respect to electrical discoveries.-Appointed agent for Pennsylvania in England. Arrives there. Circulates in London information as to the state of the colonies.--Accomplishes a settlement between the Assembly and the proprietaries.-The degree of LL.D. conferred upon him at St. Andrew's Edinburgh, and Oxford.

The Governor characterized Franklin's plan of union, to the Pennsylvanian Assembly, as “ drawn up with great clearness and strength of judgment, and well worthy their closest and most serious attention.” That body however dismissed it almost without a debate, “ by the management of a certain member,”! Franklin says,

in his absence; which he thought very unfair, and felt very mortifying. After the final success of his countrymen at the close of the American war, he reviewed this part of his life with great satisfaction, and says of this plan, “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. The best public measures are seldom adopted from previous wisdom, but forced by the occasion."

At about this period, Franklin, in conjunction with Mr William Hunter, was appointed to the office of

post-master-general of America, at a salary of 6001. per annum out of the profits. Nothing like this sum, says Franklin, accrued to them for some years : on the contrary, the fourth annual account left the office in debt to them 9001. But Franklin's improving hand was after this felt in every part of the machine. It yielded to the home government, at last, three times as much revenue as the post-office of Ireland, and to himself and his colleague 1000l. per annum each.

Pennsylvania, from its first settlement, had been the scene of endless disputes betv:een the proprietary. and the inhabitants. Each succeeding governor was expected by the people to redress their grievances; but all seemed to have considered themselves the partisans of the proprietors. A great topic in dispute was, whether the proprietors possessed any right of exemption from taxes, in regard to their own estates. Bills of the most important nature, unless containing a clause of exemption, were rejected by successive governors, who are even said to have been compelled to give bonds never to pass such bills.

On the renewal of the war with France, this “incredible meanness, as Franklin calls it, was carried to the following extreme.

The province of Massachusetts Bay solicited the Assembly of Pennsylvania for an aid of 10,0001. to, ward an expedition against the French fort at Crown Point; a request to which the Assembly, who seemed to possess liberal feelings as to the funds of the province, readily listened. But the bill having passed the house without a clause of the above-mentioned kind, the governor refused his assent to it, and the whole affair was thrown into suspense.

Franklin then proposed, that the Assembly should exercise a right, which they possessed independently of the go-vernor, of drawing on the loan-office for the

money a proposal which was instantly complied with ; and although little cash was in the office, and the bills on it were obliged to be made payable the following

[ocr errors]

year, bearing five per cent. interest, they were readily negotiated, and indeed sought after with eagerness. Franklin was therefore clearly, at this time, any thing but indisposed towards the general government. The Massachusetts deputies well knew to whom this great service was owing ; and with one of them, Mr Quincy, Franklin contracted a lasting and cordial friendship

Being at New York in 1753, he was introduced to Mr Morris, a new governor of Pennsylvania, just arrived from England, who asked what he thought of his prospects of a comfortable situation ? Franklin replied, “ You may be comfortable enough, if you will only take care to avoid all disputes with the Assembly.” • My good friend,” rejoined the Governor,

you must know I love disputing; it is one of my greatest pleasures. However, to show the regard I have for you, I promise you I will, if possible, avoid them.” This gentleman however showed but slight recollection of his promise. He was soon at issue with the Assembly on the old point. On Franklin's return from an excursion in New England, he found them in high contention; and being put on every committee for receiving the Governor's messages, was requested to write answers to them all. Great good nature however was manifested in the private intercourse of the leading parties; and Franklin was always cordially received at the table of this governor. In one of their money bills the great question was literally reduced to two words. The bill enacted, that “ail estates, real and personal, should be taxed, those of the proprietaries not excepted." The governor's amend

“ for not read only." This related to a sum of 50,000l. for the defence of their own province; but the governor refused to pass the bill, and the assembly to alter it.

Between these local disputes, and the jealousy of the home government as to the military power of the colonies, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, were now the frequent scenes of attack from the Indians

ment was,

and French. A camp was therefore ordered to be formed at Wills' Creek; and in February, 1755, major-general Braddock landed from England at Alexandria in Virginia, with Dunbar's and Halket's regiments of foot. Operations against the enemy were to have immediately commenced; but the Virginian contractors for the army had furnished neither provisions nor carriages. Greater ignorance could not well have been shown than in the selection of Virginia as the place for disembarking these troops. Intent upon their tobacco manufacture, and wellfurnished with water conveyances, the Virginians had little occasion at any time for wheel carriages or beasts of burden. Instead therefore of one hundred and fifty waggons, and double that number of horses, which were contracted for, only one hundred horses, and twenty-five waggons, for some weeks appeared. In this emergency the Pennsylvanians, who imagined the General to have conceived some strong prejudices against them, despatched Franklin to his assistance, requesting him to ask for the interview, not as deputed from the Assembly, but as postmaster-general. His son accompanied him. Having spent several days in the discussion of his ostensible business, the settling a mode for conveying despatches between the General and the governors of the provinces, Franklin witnessed the discontent of the General, at his present situation and supplies. He casually remarked, how much more readily the troops could have been supplied from Pennsylvania, where every farmer had his waggon and horses. Braddock replied with eagerness, 6 Then you, sir, who are a man of interest there, can probably procure some for us; and I beg you will.” Inquiring into the terms which should be offered to the owners, Franklin was ordered to draw up such proposals as he himself thought reasonable, which he instantly did, and advertised them in the public papers.

One hundred and fifty waggons, and two hundred and fifty-nine carrying horses, were brought in by

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »