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of March, 1776, but they did not reach Montreal till near the end of April. The badness of the roads at that season of the year, and the obstruction to navigation in Lake Champlain, occasioned by the broken ice, retarded their progress, and made their journey tedious and toilsome. And, after all, the commission produced very little effect. The American army had already begun its retreat from Quebec, pursued by an enemy superior in numbers, well disciplined, and amply supplied. In this state of affairs it was not to be expected, that the Canadians would venture upon the hazardous experiment of setting up a new government, and joining the colonies, even if they had been previously inclined to take such a step. But, in reality, a few individuals excepted, they never had been thus inclined. Intelligence, a knowledge of their rights, love of freedom, liberal sentiments, and a spirit of enterprise, were elements requisite for a political change, which they did not possess. Dr. Franklin's health was much impaired by the hardships of the journey. He had been exposed to the inclemency of the weather, and in some parts of the route he was obliged to lodge in the woods. He stayed a fortnight at Montreal, and then, in company with Mr. John Carroll, he set out on his way homeward, leaving the other commissioners behind, who remained in Canada till near the time it was evacuated by the American troops. With some difficulty he proceeded to Albany. From that place to New York he was conveyed in a private carriage, with which he had been accommodated by the kindness of General Schuyler. He arrived at Philadelphia early in June. The most agreeable incident during this tour was a visit to his old friend, Dr. John Bard, with whom he had been long and intimately acquainted in Philadelphia, but who had removed some years before to New York, and had lately given up his business, and sought retirement at his beautiful seat on the banks of the Hudson at Hyde Park; a man distinguished for skill in his profession, his respectable character, and all the estimable qualities, which adorn private life. Before he left home, Dr. Franklin had withdrawn from the Assembly and Committee of Safety, not knowing how long he should be absent, and deeming it improper to hold public stations the duties of which he could not discharge. In his letter of resignation he said; “I am extremely sensible of the honor done me by my fellow citizens, in choosing me their representative in Assembly, and of that lately conferred on me by the House, in appointing me one of the Committee of Safety for this province, and a delegate in Congress.” It would be a happiness to me, if I could serve the public duly in all those stations; but, aged as I now am, I feel myself unequal to so much business, and on that account think it my duty to decline a part of it. I hope, therefore, that the House will be so good as to accept my excuse for not attending as a member of the present Assembly, and, if they think fit, give orders for the election of another in my place, that the city may be more completely represented. I request, also, that the House would be pleased to dispense with my further attendance as one of the Committee of Safety.” On his return, therefore, he was at liberty to give his undivided attention to the national counsels in Congress. He was chosen a member of one of the committees, which assembled in June from the several counties of Pennsylvania, for the purpose of deliberating on the mode of summoning a convention to form a new constitution; but the conference was short, and, if he attended at all, he took little part in the proceedings. A subject of the greatest importance was now brought before Congress. For some months past, there had been much discussion in the newspapers, in pamphlets, and at public meetings, as well as in private circles, about independence. It was evident, that a large majority of the nation was prepared for that measure. At length the legislature of Virginia instructed their delegates to propose it in Congress. This was done by Richard Henry Lee; and a debate ensued, which elicited the opinions of the prominent members. All agreed, that, sooner or later, this ground must be taken; but a few believed that the time had not yet come. Among the doubters was the virtuous, the patriotic, the able, but irresolute John Dickinson. His objections, and those of his party, were met by the fervid zeal and powerful arguments of John Adams, the persuasive eloquence of Lee, and the concurring voice of many others. On this side was Franklin, whose sentiments have been sufficiently indicated in the preceding pages. A committee of five was chosen to prepare a Declaration, consisting of Jefferson, John Adams, Franklin, Sherman, and Livingston. The his tory of this transaction is too well known to need a repetition of it in this place. The Declaration, drafted by Jefferson, was reported as it came from his pen, except a few verbal alterations suggested by Adams and Franklin. It was debated three days, and passed on the 4th of July, when the United States were declared to be, and became in fact, an independent nation. Mr. Jefferson relates a characteristic anecdote of Franklin, connected with this subject. Being annoyed at the alterations made in his draft, while it was under discussion, and at the censures freely bestowed upon parts of it, he began to fear it would be dissected and mangled till a skeleton only would remain. “I was sitting,” he observes, “by Dr. Franklin, who perceived that I was not insensible to these mutilations. ‘I have made it a rule,” said he, “whenever in my power, to avoid becoming the draftsman of papers to be reviewed by a public body. I took my lesson from an incident, which I will relate to you. When I was a journeyman printer, one of my companions, an apprentice hatter, having served out his time, was about to open shop for himself. His first concern was to have a handsome sign-board, with a proper inscription. He composed it in these words, John Thompson, Hatter, makes and sells Hats for ready JMoney, with a figure of a hat subjoined. But he thought he would submit it to his friends for their amendments. The first he showed it to, thought the word hatter tautologous, because followed by the words makes hats, which showed he was a hatter. It was struck out. The next observed, that the word makes might as well be omitted, because his customers would not care who made the hats; if good and to their mind, they would buy, by whomsoever made. He struck it out. A third said he thought the words for ready money were useless, as it was not the custom of the place to sell on credit. Every one, who purchased, expected to pay. They were parted with ; and the inscription now stood, “John Thompson sells hats.” “Sells hats?” says his next friend; “why, nobody will expect you to give them away. What then is the use of that word ' " It was stricken out, and hats followed, the rather, as there was one painted on the board. So his inscription was reduced ultimately to John Thompson, with the figure of a hat subjoined.”” There is also another anecdote related of Franklin, respecting an incident which took place when the members were about to sign the Declaration. “We must be unanimous,” said Hancock; “there must be no pulling different ways; we must all hang together.” “Yes,” replied Franklin, “we must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Nearly two months before the declaration of independence, Congress had recommended that new systems of government should be framed and adopted by the representatives of the people, in the colonies where a change was required by the exigencies of their affairs. In conformity with this recommendation, delegates from the counties of Pennsylvania met in convention at Philadelphia, about the middle of July, to form a constitution. Dr. Franklin was chosen president. The convention sat more than two months, but the President was occasionally absent in Congress. The part he actually took in framing the constitution is not known, but it has generally been supposed, that its principles were approved by him. This opinion is in some degree confirmed by his having defended it late in life, when a change was contemplated. Rotation of office was one of its provisions; and the right of suffrage, the freedom of the press, and religious toleration were secured on the most liberal scale. He is reported to have been the author of the most remarkable feature in this constitution, that is, a sin

* The allusion here is to his second appointment to these two offices.

* See a letter from Mr. Jefferson in the first number of Walsh's .National Gazette.

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