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Also, persons of moderate fortunes and capitals, who having a number of children to provide for, are desirous of bringing them up to industry, and to secure estates for their posterity, have opportunities of doing it in America, which Europe does not afford. There they may be taught and practice profitable mechanic arts without incurring disgrace on that account; but on the contrary acquiring respect by such abilities. There small capitals laid out in lands, which daily become more valuable by the increase of people, afford a solid prospect of ample fortunes thereafter for those children. The writer of this has known several instances of large tracts of land, bought on what was then the frontier of Pennsylvania, for ten pounds per hundred acres, which, after twenty years, when the settlements had been extended far beyond them, sold readily, without any improvement made upon them, for three pounds per acre. The acre in America is the same with the English acre, or the acre of Normandy. Those who desire to understand the state of
government in America, would do well to read the constitu. tions of the several states, and the articles of confederation that bind the whole together for general purposos, under the direction of one assembly, called the Congress. These constitutions have been printed, by order of Congress, in America; two editions of them have also been printed in London ; and a good translation of them into French, has lately been published at Paris.
Several of the princes of Europe having of late, from an opinion of advantage to arise by producing all commodities and manufactures within their own dominions, so as to diminish or render useless their importations, have endeavoured to entice workmen from other countries, by high salaries, privileges, &c. Many persons pretending to be skilled in various great manufactures, imagining that America, must be in want of them, and that the Congress would probably be disposed to imitate the princes above mentioned, have proposed to go over, on condition of having their passages paid, lands, given, salaries appointed, exclu. sive privileges for terms of years, &c. Such persons, on reading the articles of confederation, will find that the Congress have no power committed to them, or money put into their hands for such purposes; and that if any such encouragement is given, it must be by the government of some particular state. This however, has rarely been done in America; and when it has been done, it has rarely succeeded so as to establish a manufacture, which the country was not yet so ripe for as to encourage private persons to set it up, labour being generally too dear there, and hands difficult to be kept together, every one desiring to be a master, and the cheapness of land inclining many to leave trades for agriculture. Some indeed have met with success, and are carried on to advantage; but they are generally such as require only a few hands, or wherein great part of the work is performed by machines. Goods that are bulky, and of so small value as not well to bear the expence of freight, may often be made cheaper in that country than they can be imported; and the manufacture of such goods will be profitable wherever there is a sufficient demand. The farmers in America produce, indeed, a good deal of wool and fax; and none is exported, it is all worked up; but it is in the way of domestic manufacture, for the use of the family. The buying up quantities of wool and flax, with the design to employ spinners, weavers, &c. and form great establishments, producing quantities of linen and woolen goods for sale, has been several times attempted in different provinces; but those projects have generally failed, goods of equal value being imported cheaper. And when the governments have been solicited to support such schemes by encouragements, in money, or by imposing duties on importation of such goods, it has been generally refused, on this principle, that if the country is ripe for the manufacture, it may be carried on by private persons to advantage; and if not, it is a folly to think
of forcing nature. “Great establishments of manufac. ture, require great numbers of poor to do the work for small wages; those poor are to be found in Eu. rope, but will not be found in America, till the lands are all taken ap and cultivated, and the excess of people who cannot get land want employment. The manufacture of silk, they say, is natural in France, as that of cloth in England, because each country produces in plenty the first material : but if England will have a manufacture of silk as well as that of cloth, and France of cloth as well as that of silk, these unnatural operations must be supported by mutual prohibitions, or high duties on the importation of each other's goods; by which means the workmen are enabled to tax the home consumer by greater prices, while the higher wages they receive makes them neither happier
nor richer, since they only drink more and work less. Therefore the governments of America do nothing to encourage such projects. The people, by this means, are not imposed on, either by the merchant or mechanic: if the merchant demands too much profit on imported shoes, they buy of the shoemaker; and if he asks too high a price, they take them of the merchant; thus the two professions are cheeks on each other. The shoemaker, however, has, on the whole, a considerable profit upon his labour in America, beyond what he had in Europe, as he can add to his price a sum nearly equal to all the expences of freight and commission, risque or insurance, &c. necessarily charged by the merchant. And it is the same with every other mechanic art. Hence it is, that artisans generally live better and more easily in America than in Europe; and such as are good economists make a comfortable provision for age, and for their children. Such may, therefore, remove with advantage to America.
In the old long-settled countries of Europe, all arts, trades, professions, farms, &c. are so full, that it is difficult for a poor man who has children to place them where they may gain, or learn to gain, a decent livelihood. The artisans,, who fear creating future
rivals in business, refuse to take apprentices, but upon conditions of money, maintenance, or the like, which the parents are unable to comply with. Here the youth are dragged up in ignorance of every gainful art, and obliged to become soldiers, or servants, or thieves, for a subsistence. In America, the rapid increase of inhabitants takes away that fear of rivalship, and artisans willingly receive apprentices from the hope of profit by their labour, during the remainder of the time stipulated, after they shall be instructed. Hence it is easy for poor families to get their children instructed; for the artisans are so desirous of apprentices, that many of them will even give money to the parents, to have boys from ten to fifteen years of age bound apprentices, to them, till the age of twenty-one; and many poor parents have, by that means, on their arrival in the country, raised money enough to buy land sufficient to establish themselves, and to subsist the rest of their family by agriculture.
These contracts of apprentices are made before a magistrate, who regulates the agreement according to reason and justice ; and having in view the formation of a future useful citizen, obliges the master to engage by a written indenture, not only that, during the time of service stipulated, the apprentice shall be duly provided with meat, drink, apparel, washing, and lodging. and at its expiration with a complete new suit of clothes, but also that he shall be taught to read, write, and cast accounts; and that he shall be well instructed in the art or profession of his master, or some other, by which he may afterwards gain a livelihood, and be able in his turn to raise a family. A copy of this indenture is given to the apprentice or his friends, and the magistrate keeps a record of it, to which recourse may be had, in case of failure by the Master in any point of performance. This desire among the masters to have more hands employed in working for them, induces them to pay the passages of young persons, of both sexes, who, on their arrival, agree to serve them one, two, three, or four years : those who have already learna ed a trade, agreeing for a shorter term, in proportion to their skill, and the consequent immediate value of their service; and those who have none, agreeing for a longer term, in consideration of being taught an art their poverty would not permit them to acquire in their own country.
The almost general mediocrity of fortune that prevails in America, obliging its people to follow some business for subsistence, those vices that arise usually frome idleness, are in a great measure prevented. Industry and constant employment are great preservatives of the morals and virtue of a nation. Hence bad examples to youth are more rare in America, which must be a comfortable consideration to parents. To this may be truly added, that serious religion, under its various denominations, is not only tolerated, but respected and practised. Atheism is unknown there ; infidelity rare and secret; so that persons may live to a great age in that country without having their piety shocked by meeting either with an atheist or an infidel. And the Divine Being seems to have manifested his approbation of the mutual forbearance and kindness with which the different sects treat each other, by the remarkable prosperity with which he has been pleased to favour the whole country.
FINAL SPEECH OF DR. FRANKLIN
IN THE LATE FEDERAL CONVENTION.*
I CONFESS that I do not entirely approve of this constitution at present: but, Sir, I am not sure I shall
Our reasons for ascribingthis speech to Dr. Franklin, are its internal evidence, and its having appeared with his name, during his life time, uncontradicted, in an American periodical publication.