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Franklin not only gave birth to many useful institutions himself, but he was also instrumental in promoting those which had originated with other men.About the year 1752, an eminent physician of this city, Dr. Bond, considering the deplorable state of the poor, when visited with disease, conceived the idea of establishsng an hospital. Notwiti:standing very great exertions on his part, he was able to interest few people so far in his benevolent plan, as to obtain subscriptions from them. Unwilling that his scheme should prove abortive, he sought the aid of Franklin, who readily engaged in the business, both by using his influence with his friends, and by stating the advantageous influence 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 another 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 institution. The opposition, as the sum was granted upon a 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, bear 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 department, that it was thought expedient to raise him to a more dignified station. In 1753 he was appointed deputypostmaster-general for the British colonies. The prga
fits arising from the postage of letters, formed no inbonsiderable part of the revenue, which the crown of Great Britain derived from the colonies. In the hands of Franklin, it is said, that the post-office in America yielded annually 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, individually, were either too weak to take efficient measures for theip own defence, or they were unwilling to take upon themselves the whole burden of erecting forts and maintaining garrisons, whilst their neighbors, 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 Pennsylva-, nia in 1745. To devise a plan of union between the Colonies, to regulate this and other matters, appeared a desirable object. To accomplish this, in the year 1754, commissioners from New-Hampshire, Massa. ohusetts, Rhode-Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, met at Albany. Dr. Franklin attended here, as a commissioner from Pennsylvania, and produced a 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 gen· eral government, to be administered by a president
general, appointed by the crown, and by a grandcouncil, consisting of members chosen by the representatives of the different colonies ; their number to be in direct proportion to the sums paid by each colony into the general treasury, with this restriction, that no colony should have more than seven, 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 jointly ; his consent being made necessary to passing a bill into a law. The powers vested in the president and council were, to declare war and peace, and to conclude 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 governing these until they should be erected in 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 presi. dent. Such are the outlines of the plan proposed for the consideration of the congress, by Dr. Franklin. After several days 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 giving to the presidentgeneral, the representative of the crown, an influence greater than appeared to them proper, in a plan of government intended for freemen. Perhaps this 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 exactly 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 enabiing the colonies to defend themselves, it would have removed the pretext upon which the stainp-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 admitted, that the restriction laid by Great Britain upon our commerce, obliging us to sell our produce to her citizens oniy, 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 dissatisfaction, even though no duties were imposed by the parliament; a circumstanice which might still have taken place. Besides, as the president-general was to be appointed by the crown, he must, of necessity, be devoted to its views, and would, therefore, refuse his assent to any laws, however salutary to the community, which had the most remote tendency to injure the interests of his sovereign. Even should they receive his assent, the approbation 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 between 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 as they acquired strength, they would become more ur. gent in their demands, until, at length, they would shake off the yoke, and declare themselves independent.
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 posts within the territory which the British claimed as their own. Independent of the injury to the für trade, which was considerable, the colonies suffered this further inconvenience, that the Indians were frequently instigated to commit depredations on their frontiers. In the year 1753, encroachments were made upon the boundaries of Virginia. Remonstrances had no effect. In the ensuing year, a body 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 himself worthy of such an iinportant trust. Whilst marching to take possession of the post at the junction of the Allegany and Monongahela, he was informed that the French had already erected a fort there. A detachment of their men marched against him. He fortified himself as strongly as time and circumstances would admit. A superiorty of numbers soon obliged him to surrender Fort Necessity. He obtuined honorable terms for himself and men, and returned to Virginia. The government of Great Britain now thought it necessary to interfere. In the year 1755, General Braddock, with some regiments of regular troops, and provincial levies, was sent to dispossess the French of the posts upon which they had seized. After the men were all ready, a difficulty occuired, which had nearly prevented the expedition. T'is was thc want of waggons. Franklin now stepped forward, and with the assistance of his son, in a little time procured a hundred and fifty. Braddock unfortunately fell into an ambuscade, and perished, with a number of his men. . Washington, who had accompinied him as an aid-de-camp, and had warned liim, in vain, of his danger, now displayed great military talents in effecting a retreat of the remains of the army, and in forming a junction with the rear, under Col. Dunbar, upon whoin the chief command now