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ed upon the topics most interesting to the public, and gave particular satisfaction by asserting the rights of the people, against the governor of Massachusetts, on the occasion of a dispute in which they were involved. The notice of the assembly of Pennsylvania was attracted to his paper, and but a short time elapsed before the editors were appointed its official printers. This he mentions as “one of the first good effects of his having learned to scribble.”
In the year 1729, his partner, who had become a mere burden, happily retired from the association, and the capital which he withdrew was replaced, as a loan, by two of the many zealous friends whom Franklin had created. He greatly increased, at this time, his reputation and popularity, by publishing a pamphlet of his own, “ On the Nature and Necessity of Paper Currency." He treated this subject in such a manner as to occasion an additional emission of paper, which proved of signal utility to trade in general. The industry which he displayed, in every way, was truly admirable. He had opened a small stationer's shop, which he contrived to conduct in person, besides performing the manual labour of the printing office, arranging and replenishing his Gazette, writing pamphlets, and taking part in the literary exercises of the Junto. The paper which he purchased at the stores, he carried home through the streets in a wheelbarrow: though not twenty-four years of age, he abstained from all idle diversion, and if a book seduced him from his work, he read clandestinely, lest he should give scandal. Credit, confidence, and custom, were the natural effects of this demeanour. He was enabled by degrees to pay off his debt, and to venture upon marriage. Before his voyage to England, he had exchanged Vows with a Miss Read, a young lady of excellent character and respectable connexions. He nega lected her somewhat, however, during his absence; and this circumstance, added to the exhortations of her relatives, hurried her into a match of a very inauspicious nature. She soon parted from a worthless husband, who fled from his creditors to the West Indies, and there died. Franklin finding her again free, renewed his addresses, as well to repair the wrong he accused himself of having committed by his neglect when in England, as to indulge the mutual affection which had revived in the intercourse of society. They were united in 1730, and he depicts her in his memoirs, as "a. good and faithful helpmate.”
About the date of his marriage, he projected a common library for the club, and soon afterwards procured the establishment of the Philadelphia Library, 6 the fruitful mother of a hundred more,” throughout these states. This institution afforded him the means of wider research. He set apart a small portion of each day for study, and gave the remainder entirely to business. His domestic economy lost nothing by the presence of his wife in point of order and frugality, cheerfulness, and unremitting diligence. His mind became more intent, as his circumstances grew easier, upon the permanent regulation of his appetites, and the general perfection of his moral temperament. The edifying, sure train of reflection into which he fell on the subject, and the strict, ingenious system of discipline, which he followed for the purpose, may be seen at large in his memoirs. It will likewise be seen there, that he kept steadily in view the benefit to accrue to the public from his example and reasonings. He was brought early, by experience and meditation, to the conviction, that virtue, in the most enlarged sense, is the nepenthe of life; and, from first to last, his desire was not more earnest to secure it for himself than for the human race.
In 1732, he began to publish poor Richard's almanac, which was enriched with maxims of frugality, temperance, industry, and integrity. So great was its reputation, that he sold ten thousand annually, and it was continued by him about twenty-five years. The maxims were collected in the last almanac, in the form of an address, called the way to wealth, which has appeared in various publications. In 1736, he was appointed clerk of the general assembly of Pennsylvania, and in 1737, postmaster of Philadelphia. The first fire company was formed by him in 1738. When the frontiers of Pennsylvania were endangered in 1741, and an ineffectual attempt was made to procure a militia law, he proposed a voluntary association for the defence of the province, and in a short time obtained ten thousand names. In 1747, he was chosen a member of the assembly, and continued in this station ten years. In all important discussions his presence was considered as indispensable. He seldom spoke, and never exhibited any oratory; but by a single observation he sometimes determined the fate of a question. In the long controversies with the proprietaries or their governors, he took the most active part, and displayed a firm spirit of liberty.
He was now engaged for a number of years in a course of electrical experiments, of which he published an account. His great discovery was the identity of the electric fluid and lightning. This discovery he made in the summer of 1752. 10 the upright stick of a kite he attached an iron point: the string was of hemp, excepting the part which he held in his hand, which was silk; and a key was fastened where the hempen string termi, nated. With this apparatus, on the approach of a thunder storm, he raised his kite. A cloud passed over it, and no sign of electricity appearing, he began to dispair; but observing the loose fibres
of his string to move suddenly toward an erect position, he presented his knuckle to the key, and received a strong spark. The success of this experiment completely established his theory. The practical use of this discovery in securing houses from lightning, by pointed conductors, is well known in America and Europe. In 1753, he was appointed deputy postmaster-general of the British colonies, and in the same year the academy of Philadelphia, projected by him, was established. In 1754, he was one of the commissioners, who attended the Congress at Albany, to devise the best means of defending the country against the French. He drew up a plan of union for defence and general government, which was adopted by the congress. It was, however, rejected by the board of trade in England, because it gave too much power to the representatives of the people; and it was rejected by the assemblies of the colonies, because it gave too much power to the president general. After the defeat of Braddock he was appointed colonel of a regiment, and he repaired to the frontiers and built a fort.
Higher employments, however, at length called . him from his country, which he was destined to serve more effectually, as its agent in England, whither he was sent in 1757. The stamp act, by which the British minister wished to familiarize the Americans to pay taxes to the mother country, revived that love of liberty, which had led their forefathers to a country, at that time a desert; and the colonies formed a congress, the first idea of which had been communicated to them by Franklin, at the conferences at Albany, in 1754. The war that was just terminated, and the exertions made by them to support it, had given them a conviction of their strength; they opposed this measure, and the minister gave way, but he reserved the means of renewing the attempt. Once catr
tioned, however, they remained on their guard ; liberty cherished by their alarms, took deeper root; and the rapid circulation of ideas, by means of newspapers, for the introduction of which they were indebted to the printer at Philadelphia, united them together to resist every fresh enterprise. In the year 1766, this printer, called to the bar of the house of commons, underwent that famous interrogatory, which placed the name of Franklin as high in politics, as it was in natural philosophy. From that time he defended the cause of America with a firmness and moderation becoming a great man, pointing out to the ministry all the errors they committed, and the consequences they would produce, till the period when the tax on tea mecting the same opposition as the stamp act had done, England blindly fancied herself capable of subjecting, by force, 3,000,000 of men determined to be free, at a distance of 1000 leagues. In 1766, he visited Holland, and Germany, and received the greatest marks of attention from men of science. In his passage through Holland, he learned from the watermen, the effect which the diminution of the quantity of water in canals has in impeding the progress of boats. Upon his return to England, he was led to make a number of experi. ments, all of which tended to confirm the observation.
'In the following year, he travelled into France, where he met with no less favourable reception than he had experienced in Germany. He was introduced to a number of literary characters, and to the king, Louis XV.
He returned to America, and arrived in Philadelphia in the beginning of May, 1775, and was received with all those marks of esteem and affection, which his eminent services merited. The day after his arrival he was elected by the legislature of Pennsylvania, a member of congress.