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caution. The first philosophic paper inserted in his collection, in 1756, is entitled, “ Physical and Meteorological Observations, Conjectures, and Suppositions ;” and his last at Passy, in 1784, is written in a similar style; vie. Meteorological Imaginations and Conjectures; Loose Thoughts on an Universal Fluid..." and the like. In 1747 he was elected a representative of the city of Philadelphia in the General Assembly of that province. At that time a contest subsisted between the Assembly and the proprietaries, chiefly with respect to the claim of the latter to have their property exempted from the public burdens. He took the popular side of the question by support. ing the rights of the citizens in opposition to the pro. prietaries. Franklin was a friend to universal freedom from his infancy, and ever distinguished himself as a steady opponent to injustice. His influence in this body was great. His speeches consisted not of rhetorical flowers, they were simple and unadorned, but pointed, sensible, and concise.
Oft has his pen. etrating and solid judgment confounded the most eloquent and subtile of his adversaries. A single ob. servation has rendered ineffectual an elaborate and elegant discourse. But he was not contented with supporting the rights of the people; he wished to render them permanently secure, which can be done only by making their value known, and by increasing and extending information to every class of men. Franklin therefore drew up a plan of an Academy 66 suited to the infant state of the country,” which he was enabled to complete on an enlarged scale, through the interposition of his benevolent and learned friend, Peter Collinson, of London. A charter of incorporation, dated July 13, 1753, was obtained from the honourable proprietors of Pennsylvania, Thomas
Penn and Richard Penn, esqrs., accompanied with a benefaction of five hundred pounds sterling. About this time, Franklin assisted Dr. Bond in insti. tuting the Pennsylvania Hospital. Franklin had now conducted himself so well in his office of postmaster to the province, that in 1753, he was appointed deputy post-master general to the British Colonies; and under his management this branch of the revenue soon yielded thrice as much annually as that of Ireland. Yet none of his public avocations prevented him from attending to his scientific pursuits, in which he so eminently distinguished him self as to attract the attention and applause of the Count de Buffon, and other French philosophers. His theories were at first opposed by the members of the Royal Society in London; but they afterwards voted him the gold medal, which is annually given to the author of a memoir on some curious and interesting subject. In 1754, the American colonies having suffered much by the depredations of the Indians on their frontiers, considerable alarm was excited through the colonies, and commissioners from a number of them held a meeting at Albany for the purpose of concerting a defensive union. Frank. lin attended with the plan of a general government in the colonies, to be administered by a president nominated by the crown; and by a grand council chosen from the representatives of each colony, vesta ed with extensive powers.
The plan was unanim. ously agreed to by the commissioners present, and copies transmitted to each assembly, and one to the king's council in England. It was disapproved of by the English ministry, as giving too much power to the representatives of the people; and rejected by the assemblies, as giving too much influence to the
president, who was to be appointed by the king. This rejection, on both sides, affords the strongest proof of the excellency and impartiality of the plan, as suited to the situation of Britain and America at that period. It appears to have steered exactly between the opposite interests of both parties, When the expedition in 1755, to dispossess the French of some of their encroachments, was in preparation, a difficulty arose for the want of waggons, Franklin stepped forward to obviate it, and in a short time procured one hundred and fifty. The unfortun. ate issue of this expedition having caused their de struction, he was in danger of a ruinous loss, but was relieved from his obligations by the interference of the governor.
He was afterwards instrumental in forming a militia bill; and was appointed colonel of the Philadelphia regiment of twelve hundred men, and took a share in providing for the defence of the porth-western frontier, The militia was however soon disbanded by orders from England. In 1757 Franklin sailed for London in the capacity of agent for Pennsylvania, the assembly of which was involv. ed in warm disputes with the proprietaries. After several debates before the privy council, it was a. greed that the proprietary lands should take their share in a tax for, the public service, provided that Franklin would engage that the assessment should be fairly proportioned. The measure was accordingly carried into effect. He remained at the Brit. ish court as agent for his province; and his reputa. tion caused him also to be entrusted with a similar commission from Massachussets, Maryland, and Georgia. The continual molestation received by the British colonies from the French in Canada induced him to write a forcible pamphlet, pointing out the advantages of a conquest of that province by the English. The subsequent expedition against it, and it's retention under the British government at the peace, were probably much influenced by his rea. sonings. In visiting England, he had opportunities of seeing those friends which his merit had procured him while in America. The opposition which had been made to his discoveries had ceased, and the Royal Society of London, which had refused to admit his performances into it's transactions, now thought it an honour to rank him among its fel. lows. He had likewise the degree of ll. D. confer. red on him by the universities of St. Andrews, Edin. burgh, and Oxford. His correspondence was court. ed by the most eminent philosophers of Europe. His Letters abound with true science, detailed in language the most simple and unadorned. Altho' Dr. Franklin was now principally occupied in political investigation, yet he extended his electric researches, particularly by experiments on the stone called the tourmalin. He repeated some of Dr. Cullen's experiments on cold produced by evaporation, and found that by evaporating æther in the exhausted receiver of an air-pump, so great a degree of cold was obtained, that water was converted into ice on a sum. mer's day. At this time the effect produced by rubbing the brim of a drinking glass with a wet fin. ger was generally known. The sweetness of those tones induced Dr. Franklin to make various experiments. The construction of that elegant instrument called the “ Harmonica,” was the result of them. i! In 1762 he returned to America. On his passage, he had an opportunity of trying the singular effect produced on an agitated vessel by casting oil on the water. The surface of the oil remaining smooth and undisturbed, while the surrounding water was in the utmost commotion. Dr. Franklin received the thanks of the assembly of Pensylvania, and a compensation of 50001. American currency, for his services during his residence in England. He took his seat as a member of the Assembly and continued a steady defender of the liberties of the people. The part he took against the proprietary interest occasioned the loss of his re-election, in 1773, but so powerful were his friends in the assembly, that he was immediately re-appointed agent for the province, and in consequence again visited England. The disturbances produced in America by Mr. Grena ville's stamp-act, and the opposition made to it are well known. Among other means of collecting in. formation respecting the disposition of the people, Dr. Franklin was called to the bar of the House of Commons. His examination was published; in which the strength and clearness of his representations had a material effect in producing the repeal of that ob. noxious measure. At this time, the disputes between the partisians of the British government and the friends of the people ran high.
Letters were dis. covered written by Governor Hutchinson and others in Massachusetts' bay to Thomas Whateley, esq.(pri. vate secretary to Mr. Grenville) containing the most unfavourable reports of the conduct and intentions of persons in that country, and advising coercive measures. These letters were privately put into the possession of Dr. Franklin, who, as agent for the colony, thought it his duty to transmit them to the legislature there, by whom they were published. The assembly of the province was so much exasperated, that they returned attested copies of the letters accompanied with a petition and remonstrance, for