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Aristocracy-Anecdote - Conflicting laws of Nations - Franklin's
scheme of colonization Proposal of the British Court—The foresight of Franklin-Braddock's campaign-Remonstrances of Franklin and Washington-Franklin's interviews with Braddock -Franklin's efficiency-Confidence of Braddock—The conflict with the Proprietaries—The non-resistant Quakers-Fate of the Moravian villages—The winter campaign—The camp of Gaudenhutton-Anecdote-Renewal of the strife with the Proprietaries-Franklin recalled to assist the Assembly-Destruction of the Fort-Claim of the Proprietaries—The great controversy.
WITH increasing wealth the spirit of aristocratic exclusiveness gained strength in the higher circles of Philadelphia. Some of the more opulent families planned for a series of dancing entertainments during the winter. It was proposed among other rules that no mechanic, or mechanic's wife or daughter, should be invited. The rules were shown to Franklin. He glanced his eye over them and pithily remarked,
“Why these rules would exclude God Almighty!"
“How so?" inquired the manager.
“ Because,” Franklin replied, “the Almighty, as all know, is the greatest mechanic in the universe. In six days he made all things." The obnoxious article was stricken out.
The following incident, narrated by Franklin, illustrates a very important principle in political economy, which those are apt to ignore, who denounce all the elegancies and luxuries of life.
Mrs. Franklin received some small favor from the captain of a little coaster, which ran between Cape May and Philadelphia. He declined to receive any remuneration for his trifling services. Mrs. Franklin, learning that he had a pretty daughter, sent her a new-fashioned Philadelphia cap or bonnet. Three years after, the captain called again at the house of Mr. Franklin. A very plain but intelligent farmer accompanied him. The captain expressed his thanks to Mrs. Franklin for the gift she had sent his daughter, and rather discourteously added,
“But it proved a dear cap to our congregation. When my daughter appeared with it at meeting, it was so much admired that all the girls resolved to get such caps from Philadelphia. And my wife and I computed that the whole could not have cost less than a hundred pounds."
The farmer, with far higher intelligence, said,
“This is true; but you do not tell the whole story. I think the cap was nevertheless an advantage to us. It was the first thing that put our girls upon knitting worsted mittens, for sale at Philadelphia, that they might have wherewithal to buy caps and ribbons there. And you know that that industry has continued and is likely to continue and increase, to a much greater value, and answer better purposes.”
“Thus by a profitable exchange, the industrious girls at Cape May had pretty bonnets, and the girls at Philadelphia had warm mittens.”
For seventy-five years it had been the constant design of the British government to drive the French from North America. England claimed the whole country, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, because her ships had first sailed along the Atlantic coast. It was one of the recognized laws of nations that a newly discovered region belonged to the nation who had first raised upon it its flag.
France, admitting the claim of England to the Atlantic coast, asserted her right to the great valleys of the interior, those of the Ohio and the Mississippi, because her boatmen had first discovered those magnificent rivers, had explored them throughout, and had established upon them her trading and military posts. It was a recognized law of nations, that the power which discovered, explored, and took possession of a new river, was the rightful possessor of the valley which that river watered. Thus the conflict of claims originated.
To add to the intensity of the insane strife, which caused an amount of blood and misery which no tongue can tell, religious bitterness was aroused, and the French Roman Catholic was arrayed against the British Protestant.
Three wars, bloody and woful, had already ravaged this continent. We have before alluded to the menace of a new war in the year 1754, and to Franklin's mission to Albany to enlist the chiefs of the Six Nations to become allies of the English. We have also alluded to the plan, which Franklin drew up on this journey, for the union of the colonies, and which was rejected. The wisdom of this plan was, however, subsequently developed by the fact that it was remarkably like that by which eventually the colonies were bound together as a nation.
Assuming that the English were right in their claim for the whole continent, Franklin urged the eminently wise measure of establishing strong colonies, in villages of a hundred families each, on the luxuriant banks of the western rivers. But the haughty British government would receive no instructions from American provincials.
Governor Shirley, of Boston, showed Mr. Frank. lin a plan, drawn up in England, for conducting the war. It developed consummate ignorance of the difficulties of carrying on war in the pathless wilderness; and also a great disregard of the political rights of the American citizens. According to this document, the British court was to originate and execute all the measures for the conduct of the war; and the British Parliament was to assess whatever tax it deemed expedient upon the American people to defray the expenses. The Americans were to have no representation in Parliament, and no voice whatever in deciding upon the sum which they were to pay.
Franklin examined the document carefully, and returned it with his written objections. In this remarkable paper, he anticipated the arguments which our most distinguished statesmen and logicians urged against the Stamp Act-against Taxation without Representation. A brief extract from this important paper, will give the reader some idea of its character: . “The colonists are Englishmen. The accident of living in a colony deprives them of no right secured by Magna Charta. The people in the colonies, who are to feel the immediate mischiefs of invasion and conquest by an enemy, in the loss of their estates, lives and liberties, are likely to be bet.