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Unwilling that his scheme should prove abortive, he sought the aid of Franklin, who readily engage ed in the business, both by using his influence with his friends, and by stating the advantageous influ. ence of the proposed institution in his paper. These efforts were attended with success. Considerable sums were subscribed; but they were still short of what was necessary. Franklin now made an. other exertion. He applied to the assembly and after some opposition, obtained leave to bring in a bill, specifying, that as soon as two thousand pounds were subscribed, the same sum should be drawn from the treasury by the speaker's warrant, to be applied to the purposes of the insti. tution. The opposition, as the sum was granted on: contingency which they supposed would never take place, were silent, and the bill passed. The friends of the plan now redoubled their efforts, to obtain subscriptions to the amount stated in the bill, and were soon successful. This was the foundation of the Pennsylvania Hospital, which, with the Bettering. house and Dispensary, bears ample testimony of the humanity of the citizens of Philadelphia. .
Dr. Franklin had conducted himself so well in . the office of post-master, and had shown himself to be so well acquainted with the business of that de. partment, that it was thought expedient to raise him to a more dignified station. In 1753 he was ap. pointed deputy post-master-general for the British colonies. The profits arising from the postage of the revenue, which the crown of Great Britain des rived from the colonies. In the hands of Franklin, it is said, that the post-office in America yielded an. nually thrice as much as that of Ireland.
The American colonies were much exposed to depredations on their frontiers, by the Indians; and
more particularly whenever a war took place between France and England. The colonies, indi. vidually, were either loo weak to take efhcient measures for their own defence, or they were unwile ling to take upon themselves the whole burden of erecting forts and maintaining garrisons, whilst their neighbours, who partook equally with themselves of the advantages, contributed nothing to the expence.' Sometimes also the disputes, which subsisted between the governors and assemblies, prevented the adoption of means of defence; as we have seen was the case in Pennsylvania in 1745. To devise a plan of union between the colonies, to regulate this and other matters, appeared a desirable object. To acconiplish this, in the year 1754, commissioners from Newhampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode-Island, New Jersey, Pennsyiyania, and Maryland, met at Albany. Dr. Franklin attended here as a commis. sioner from Pennsylvania, and produced à plan, which, from the place of meeting, has been usually termed “ The Albany Plan of Union.”
This proposed, that application should be made for an act of parliament, to establish in the colonies a general government, to be administered by a president-general, appointed by the crown, and hy a grand council, consisting of members chosen by the representatives of the different colonies ; their num.
ber to be in direct proportion to the sums paid by ,, each colony into the general treasury, with this re. striction, that no colony should have more than se. ven, nor less than two representatives. The whole executive authority was committed to the president general. The power of legislation was lodged in the grand council and president-general jointlv ; his consent being made necessary to passing a bill into a law. The power vested in the president and
council were, to declare war and peace, and to con. clude treaties with the Indian nations; to regulate trade with, and to make purchases of vacant lands from them, either in the name of the crown, or of the union; to settle new colonies, to make laws for the governing these until they should be erected into separate governments, and to raise troops, build forts, fit out armed vessels and use other means for the general defence: and, to effect these things, a power was given to make laws, laying such duties, imposts, or taxes, as they should find necessary, and as would be least burdensome to the people. All laws were to be sent to England for the king's approbation; and unless disapproved of within three years, were to remain in force. All officers in the land or sea service were to be nominated by the president-general, and approved of by the general council; civil officers were to be nominated by the council, and approved by the president. Such are the outlines of the plan proposed for the considera. tion of the congress, by Dr. Franklin. After seve eral day's discussion, it was unanimously agreed to by the commissioners, a copy transmitted to each assembly, and one to the king's council. The fate of it was singular. It was disapproved of by the ministry of Great Britain, because it gave too much power to the representatives of the people ; and it was rejected by every assembly, as givin;: to the president-general, the representative of the crown, an influence greater than appeared to them proper, in a plan of government intended for freemen. Perhaps their rejection, on both sides, is the strongest proof that could be adduced of the excellence of it, as suited to the situation of America and Great Britain at that time. It appears to have steered ex. actly in the middle, between the opposite interests of both.
Whether the adoption of this plan would have prevented the separation of America from Great Britain, is a question which might afford much room for speculation. It may be said, that, by enabling the colonies to defend themselves, it would have removed the pretext upon which the stampt act, tea. act, and other acts of the British parliament, were passed; which excited a spirit of opposition, and laid the foundation for the separation of the two countries. But on the other hand, it must be ad. mitted, that the restriction laid by Great Britain upon our commerce, obliging us to sell our produce to her citizens only, and to take from them various articles, of which, as our manufactures were discouraged, we stood in need, at a price greater than that for which they could have been obtained from other nations, must inevitably produce dissa. tistaction, even though no duties were imposed by the parliament; à circumstance which might still have taken place. Besides, as the president-gene. ral was to be appointed by the crown, he must, of necessity, be devoted to its views, and would, there. fore, refuse his assent to any laws, however saluta. ry to the community, which had the most remote tendency to injure the interests of his sovereign. Even should they receive his assent, the approba. tion of the king was to be necessary ; who would indubitably, in every instance, prefer the advantage of his home dominions to that of his colonies.Hence would ensue perpetual disagreements be. tween the council and the president-general, and thus, between the people of America and the crown of Great Britain: While the colonies continued
weak, they would be obliged to submit, and as soon e as they acquired strength they would become more urgent in their demands, until at length they would
shake off the yoke, and declare themselves inde. pendent.
Whilst the French were in possession of Canada, their trade with the natives extended very far even to the back of the British settlements. They were disposed, from time to time, to establish posis within the territory, which the British claimed as their own. Independent of the injury to the trade, which was considerable, the colonit's suffered this further inconvenience, that the Indians were, trequently instigated to commit depredations on their frontiers. In the year 1753, encroachments were made upon the boundaries of Virginia. R mon. - strancis had no effect. In the ensuing year, a bos dy of men was sent out under the command of Mr. Washington, who, though a very young man, had, by his conduct in the preceding year, shewn him. self worıhy of such an important trust. Whilst marching to take possession of the post at the junce tion of the Alleghany and Monongahela, he was informed that the French had already erected a fort -there. A detachment of their men marched against hiin. He fortified himself as strongly as time and circumstances would admit. A superiority of num. bers soon obliged him to surrender Fort Necessity. He obtained honorable terms for himself and men, and returned to Virginia. The government of G. Brirain now thought it necessary to interfere. In the year 1755, General Braddock, with some regi. ments of regular iroops, and provincial levies, was sent to dis possess the French of the posts upon which they had seized. After the men were all rrady, a difficulty occurred, which had nearly prevented the expedition. This was the want of waggons. Frank. lin now stepped forward, and with the assistance of his song in a litile cimne procured a hundred and fifty.