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to, and were secure in nothing. And, it being hinted how necessary an agreement was for America, since it was so easy for Britain to burn all our seaport towns, I grew warm, said that the chief part of my little property consisted of houses in those towns; that they might make bonfires of them whenever they pleased; that the fear of losing them would never alter my resolution to resist to the last that claim of Parliament; and that it behoved this country to take care what mischief it did us ; for that, sooner or later, it would certainly be obliged to make good all damages with interest!” The negotiation continued thus informally for some time longer. Another paper was produced, which was understood to come from the ministry, and various efforts were made to induce Dr. Franklin to relax from some of his terms. But all the proposed modifications seemed to him of intrinsic importance, and such as his countrymen would not and ought not to accept. Several conferences followed, in some of which Lord Howe and Lord Hyde took a part. It turned out, that Lord Howe had conceived a strong desire to be sent over to America as a commissioner; and this explains the warm interest he took in the subject, as well as the contrivance of his sister to bring him acquainted with Dr. Franklin, in a way that should not excite a suspicion of her motives. Governor Pownall had formed a similar project for himself; and it is probable, that the ministry seriously thought of this step, if they could obtain such propositions from Dr. Franklin, as would afford a reasonable prospect of accomplishing their wishes; it being supposed, that he would express the sentiments of the Americans on all the essential points of difference. When they ascertained the extent of his claims, and G G “
found him unyielding, the scheme was abandoned. And, indeed, before the negotiation was at an end, he became tired of it himself, believing it utterly fruitless; and he said, if any thing more was to be done, the ministers ought to be directly concerned in it, and there should be a full understanding of the dispositions and designs of both parties. Whatever may be thought of this negotiation as an affair of diplomacy, or of the aims of those connected with it on the British side, there can be but one opinion as to the manner in which it was conducted by Franklin. It was creditable to his patriotism and sagacity. He had been absent ten years from America, and could know the opinions and feelings of his countrymen only from the reports of their proceedings and published papers. He was beyond the reach of the enthusiasm naturally inspired by a union of numbers in defending rights and resisting oppression; yet no American could have placed the demands of the colonies on a broader foundation, or supported them with a more ardent zeal, or insisted on them with a more determined resolution. These transactions detained him longer in England than he had expected. He was now ready for his departure, and he received a message from Dr. Fothergill for their mutual friends in Philadelphia. “Tell them,” said he, “that, whatever specious pretences are offered, they are all hollow.” Dr. Fothergill was as much disgusted, as disappointed, with the ministerial manoeuvres, which he had discovered in the course of the late negotiation. The day before Franklin left London, he wrote as follows to Arthur Lee. “I leave directions with Mrs. Stevenson to deliver to you all the Massachusetts papers, when you please to call for them. I am sorry that the hurry of preparing for my voyage, and the many hindrances I have met with, prevented my meeting with you and Mr. Bollan, and conversing a little more on our affairs, before my departure. I wish to both of you health and happiness, and shall be glad to hear from you by every opportunity. I shall let you know how I find things in America. I may possibly return again in the autumn, but you will, if you think fit, continue henceforth the agent for Massachusetts, an office which I cannot again undertake.” In a letter to a friend on the continent, he likewise mentions it as probable that he should return in the autumn. But he did not then foresee the memorable day at Lexington, which occurred a month afterwards, nor the new scene of action that awaited him on the other side of the Atlantic. He sailed from England on the 21st of March, 1775, and arrived at Philadelphia on the 5th of May, employing himself during a long voyage in writing an account of his recent attempts to establish peace and harmony between the two countries; but this paper was not published till after his death. He also made experiments with a thermometer, to ascertain the temperature of the ocean in different places, by which he found that the water in the Gulf Stream is warmer than the sea on each side of it. This result, which he considered “a valuable philosophical discovery,” was confirmed by similar experiments repeated in two other voyages. His inference was, that the body of water, constituting the Gulf Stream, retains a portion of its warmth while it passes from the tropics to the northern seas, thus affording seamen the means of knowing when they are in the Stream by the temperature of the water. By the same warmth, as he supposed, the air above is rarefied 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. – Preparations 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, WOL. I. 50