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reporting on the state of trade in America and on Lord North's motion in Parliament, for employing packet ships and disposing of captured vessels, for establishing a war-office, for drawing up a plan of treaties to be proposed to foreign powers, for preparing the device of a national seal, and many others. A Secret Committee was appointed, of which he was a member. At first, it was the province of this committee to import ammunition, cannon, and muskets; but its powers and duties were enlarged, so as to include the procuring of all kinds of military supplies, and the distributing of them to the troops, the Continental armed vessels, and privateers, and also the manufacturing of saltpetre and gunpowder. The country was alarmingly deficient in all these articles; and it was necessary to procure them from abroad by contracts with foreign merchants, and to have them shipped as secretly as possible, that they might not be intercepted and captured by the enemy. Remittances were made in tobacco and other produce, either directly or through such channels as would render them available for the payments. As soon as Congress had determined to raise an army, and had appointed a commander-in-chief and the other principal officers, they applied themselves to the business of finance, and emitted two millions of dollars in bills of credit. This was the beginning of the Continental paper-money system. Dr. Franklin entered deeply into the subject, but he did not altogether approve the principle upon which the bills were emitted. He proposed that they should bear interest, but this was rejected. After the first emission, he recommended that the bills already in circulation should be borrowed on interest, instead of issuing a larger quantity. This plan was not followed at the time, but, when the bills began to sink in value, it was resorted to, and he then proposed to pay the interest in hard dollars, which would be likely to fix the value of the principal. This was deemed impracticable, although Congress came into the proposal afterwards; but not till it was too late to check the rapid progress of depreciation. The army at Cambridge, employed in besieging the British forces in Boston, was adopted by Congress as a Continental army before General Washington took the command. This army would cease to exist at the end of the year, by the expiration of the periods for which the soldiers were enlisted. Thus the arduous task of organizing and recruiting a new army devolved on the Commander-in-chief. To assist him in this work, Congress deputed three of their body, Dr. Franklin, Thomas Lynch, and Benjamin Harrison, to proceed to the camp, and confer with him on the most efficient mode of continuing and supporting a Continental army. They met at head-quarters, on the 18th of October, where they were joined by delegates from each of the New England governments. The conference lasted several days, and such a system was matured, as was satisfactory to General Washington, and as proved effectual in attaining the object.” Some time before, Dr. Franklin had received the sum of one hundred pounds sterling, sent to him by benevolent persons in England, as a donation for the relief of those, who had been wounded in the encounters with the British troops on the day of their march to Lexington and Concord, and of the widows and children of such as had been slain. While he was in the camp at Cambridge, he paid this money over to a committee of the Massachusetts Assembly.
* See an account of these proceedings in Sparks's edition of Washington's Writings, Vol. III. p. 133.
It was probably about this time, that Dr. Franklin drew up the following resolves, which have been found in his handwriting. It is uncertain whether they were adopted in Congress, but they were published, except the last paragraph, with considerable modifications, and were reprinted in England.
“Resolved, that, from and after the 20th of July, 1776, being one full year after the day appointed by a late act of the Parliament of Great Britain for restraining the trade of the confederate colonies, all the custom-houses in the said colonies shall be shut up, and all the officers of the same be discharged from the exercise of their several functions; and all the ports of the said colonies are hereby declared to be thenceforth open to the ships of every State in Europe, that will admit our commerce and protect it, who may bring in and expose to sale, free of all duties, their respective produce and manufactures, and every kind of merchandise, excepting teas and the merchandise of Great Britain, Ireland, and the British West India Islands. “Resolved, that we will, to the utmost of our power, maintain and support the freedom of commerce for two years certain, after its commencement, and as much longer as the late acts of Parliament for restraining the commerce and fishery, and altering the laws and charters of any of the colonies, shall continue unrepealed. “And whereas, whenever kings, instead of protecting the lives and properties of their subjects, as is their bounden duty, do endeavour to perpetrate the destruction of either, they thereby cease to be kings, become tyrants, and dissolve all ties of allegiance between themselves and their people; we hereby further solemnly declare, that, whenever it shall appear clearly to us, that the King's troops and ships now in America, or hereafter to be brought there, do, by his JVMajesty's orders, destroy any town or the inhabitants of any town or place in America, or that the savages have been by the same orders hired to assassinate our poor out-settlers and their families, we will from that time renounce all allegiance to Great Britain, so long as that kingdom shall submit to him, or any of his descendants, as its sovereign.”
During his absence, the Assembly of Pennsylvania met, and by the returns of the election it appeared that he had been chosen a representative for the city of Philadelphia. He was now a member of three public bodies, which convened daily for business, that is, Congress, the Assembly, and the Committee of Safety; but he usually attended in Congress whenever the times of meeting interfered with each other. 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.
WOL. I. 5 1 HH “
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 Canadians 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