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During the passage to America, Dr. Franklin not only occupied himself irf writing the preceding narrative of his noble efforts to prevent a war, which the rapacity and infatuation of the British ministry utterly defeated, but he likewise employed himself in making experiments and observations on the waters of the ocean, by means of the thermometer, in order to ascertain the exact course of the gulph stream; by the knowledge of which, mariners might hereafter avoid or avail themselves of its current, according to their various destinations.1 These experiments and observations will be found in their appropriate place—his Philosophical Works; but the following general reflections connected therewith, by this friend of the human race, may with propriety be here introduced.
"Navigation, when employed in supplying necessary provisions to a country in want, and thereby preventing famines, which were more frequent and destructive before the invention of that art, is undoubtedly a blessing to mankind. When employed merely in transporting superfluities, it is a question whether the advantage of the employment it affords is equal to the mischief of hazarding so many lives on the ocean. But when employed in pillaging merchants and transporting slaves, it is clearly the means of augmenting the mass of human misery. It is amazing to think of the ships and lives risked in fetching tea from China, coffee from Arabia, sugar and tobacco from America, all which our ancestors did well without. Sugar employs near one thousand ships, tobacco almost as many. For the utility of tobacco there is little to be said; and for that of sugar, how much more commendable would it be, if we could give up the few minutes gratification afforded once or twice a day by the taste of sugar in our tea, rather than encourage the cruelties exercised in producing it. An eminent French moralist says, that when he considers the wars we excite in Africa to obtain slaves, the numbers necessarily slain in those wars, the many prisoners who perish at sea by sickness, bad provisions, foul air, &c. in the transportation, and how many afterwards die from the hardships of slavery, he cannot look on a piece of sugar without conceiving it stained with spots of human blood! had he added the consideration of the wars we make to take and retake the sugar islands from one another, and the fleets and armies that perish in those expeditions, he might have seen his sugar not merely spotted, but thoroughly dyed scarlet in grain! It is these wars that make the maritime powers of Europe, the inhabitants of London and Paris, pay dearer for sugar than those of Vienna, a thousand miles from the sea; because their sugar costs not only the price they pay for it by the pound, but all they pay in taxes to maintain the fleets and armies that fight for it."
'It is ascertained by Dr. Franklin's experiments, that a navigator may always know when he is in the gulph stream, by the warmth of the water, which is much greater than that of the water on either side of it. If, then, he is bound to the westward, he should cross the stream to get out of it as soon as possible; and if to the eastward, endeavor to remain in it.
After a very pleasant passage of about six weeks, Dr. Franklin arrived at the Capes of Delaware, was landed at Chester, and thence proceeded by land to Philadelphia, where every mark of respect, attachment, and veneration, was shown him by his fellow-citizens; and the very day after his arrival he was elected by the legislature of Pennsylvania, a delegate to congress. In short, his public services met with the most flattering rewards that a patriot could possibly desire.
Shortly after his arrival, he thus notices the then state of the colonies, in a letter of May 16, 1775, to a friend in London.
"You will have heard, before this reaches you, of a march stolen by the British troops into the country by night, and of their expedition back again. They retreated twenty miles in six hours.1
"The governor of Massachusetts had called the assembly to propose Lord North's pacific plan j but before the time of their meeting, began cutting of throats: you know it was said he carried the sword in one hand, and the olive branch in the other; and it seems he chose to give them a taste of the szcord first. He is doubling his fortifications at Boston, and hopes to secure his troops till succour arrives. The place, indeed, is naturally so defensible, that I think them in no danger.
"All America is exasperated by his conduct, and more firmly united than ever. The breach between the two countries is grown wider, and in danger of becoming irreparable."
And to the same friend he wrote some weeks after.
"The congress met at a time when all minds were so exasperated by the perfidy of General Gage, and his attack on the country people, that propositions for attempting an accommodation were not much relished; and it has been with difficulty that we have carried in that assembly, another humble petition to the crown,
* The affair of Lexington.
to give Britain one more chance, one opportunity more of recovering the friendship of the colonies; which however I think she has not sense enough to embrace, so I conclude she has lost them for ever." *
1 Never was a prediction more completely verified. The following is a copy of the petition referred to by Dr. Franklin, and to which an answer was refused to be given.
TO THE KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY.
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We your Majesty's faithful subjects of the colonies of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the counties of Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, in behalf of ourselves, and the inhabitants of these colonies, who have deputed us to represent them in general congress, entreat your Majesty's gracious attention to this our humble petition.
The union between our mother country and these colonies, and the energy of mild and just government produced benefits so remarkably important, and afforded such an assurance of their permanency and increase, that the wonder and envy of other nations were excited, while they beheld Great Britain rising to a power the most extraordinary the world had ever known.
Her rivals, observing that there was no probability of this happy connexion being broken by civil dissensions, and apprehending its future effects, if left any longer undisturbed, resolved to prevent her receiving such continual and formidable accessions of wealth and strength, by checking the growth of those settlements from which they were to be derived.
In the prosecution of this attempt, events so unfavorable to the design took place, that every friend to the interest of Great Britain and these colonies, entertained pleasing and reasonable expectations of seeing an additional force and exertion immediately given to the operations of the union hitherto experienced, by an enlargement of the dominions of the crown, and the removal of ancient and warlike enemies to a greater distance.
At the conclusion, therefore, of the late war, the most glorious and advantageous that ever had been carried on by British arms, your loyal colonists, having contributed to its success, by such repeated and strenuous exertions, as frequently procured them the distinguished approbation of your Majesty, of the late King, and of parliament, doubted not but that they should be permitted, with the rest of the empire, to share in the blessings of peace, and the emoluments of victory and conquest.
While these recent and honorable acknowledgments of their merits remained on record in the journals and acts of that august legislature, the parliament, undefaced by the imputation or even the suspicion of any offence, they were alarmed by a new system of statutes and regulations, adopted for the administration of the colonies, that filled their minds with the most painful fears and jealousies; and, to their inexpressible astonishment, perceived the danger of a foreign quarrel quickly succeeded by domestic danger, in their judgment, of a more dreadful kind.
Nor were these anxieties alleviated by any tendency in this system to promote the welfare of their mother country. For though its effects were more immediately felt by them, yet its influence appeared to be injurious to the commerce and prosperity of Great Britain.
In the same letter he adds, "My time was never more fully employed. In the morning at six, I am at the committee of safety, appointed by the assembly to put
We shall decline the ungrateful task of describing the irksome variety of artifices, practised by many of your Majesty's ministers, the delusive pretences, fruitless terrors, and unavailing severities, that have from time to time been dealt out by them, in their attempts to execute this impolitic plan, or of tracing through a series of years past, the progress of the unhappy differences between Great Britain and these colonies, that have flowed from this fatal source.
Your Majesty's ministers, persevering in their measures, and proceeding to open hostilities for enforcing them, have compelled us to arm in our own defence, and have engaged us in a controversy so peculiarly abhorrent to the affections of your still faithful colonists, that when we consider whom we must oppose in this contest, and, if it continues, what may be the consequences, our own particular misfortunes are accounted by us only as parts of our distress.
Knowing to what violent resentments, and incurable animosities, civil discords are apt to exasperate and inflame the contending parties, we think ourselves required by indispensable obligations to Almighty God, to your Majesty, to our fellow-subjects, and to ourselves, immediately to use all the means in our power, not incompatible with our safety, for stopping the further effusion of blood, and for averting the impending calamities that threaten the British empire.
Thus called upon to address your Majesty on affairs of such moment to America, and probably to all your dominions, we are earnestly desirous of performing this office, with the utmost deference for your Majesty: and we therefore pray, that your Majesty's royal magnanimity and benevolence may make the most favorable construction of our expressions on so uncommon tut occasion. Could we represent in their full force, the sentiments that agitate the minds of us your dutiful subjects, we are persuaded your Majesty would ascribe any seeming deviation from reverence in our language, and even in our conduct, not to any reprehensible intention, but to the impossibility of reconciling the usual appearances of respect with a just attention to our own preservation against those artful and cruel enemies, who abuse your royal confidence and authority, for the purpose of effecting our destruction.
Attached to your Majesty's person, family, and government, with all the devotion that principle and affection can inspire, connected with Great Britain by the strongest ties that can unite societies, and deploring every event that tends in any degree to weaken them, we solemnly assure your Majesty, that we not only most ardently desire the former harmony between her and these colonies may be restored, but that a concord may be established between them, upon so firm a basis as to perpetuate its blessings, uninterrupted by any future dissentions, to succeeding generations in both countries, and to transmit your Majesty's name to posterity, adorned with that signal and lasting glory, that has attended the memory of those illustrious personages, whose virtues and abilities have extricated states from dangerous convulsions, and, by securing happiness to others, have erected the most noble and durable monuments to their own fame.
We beg leave further to assure your Majesty, that notwithstanding the sufferings of your loyal colonists, during the course of this present controversy, our breasts retain too tender a regard for the kingdom from which we derive our origin, to request such a reconciliation as might in any manner be inconsistent with her dignity or her welfare. These, related as we are to her, honior and duty, as well as