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in experimental philosophy. For some time no sign of electricity presented itself; he was beginning to despair of success, when he suddenly observed the loose fibres of the string to start forward in an erect position. He now presented his knuckle to the key, and received a strong spark. On this depended the fate of his theory: repeated sparks were drawn from the key, a phial was charged, a shock given, and all the experiments made which are usually performed with electricity. This great discovery he applied to the securing of buildings from the effects of lightning.
In 1753, Dr. Franklin was appointed deputy postmaster-general of British America. In this station, he rendered important services to General Braddock, in his expedition against Fort Du Quense, and marched at the head of a company of volunteers to the protection of the frontier. He visited England, in 1757, as agent for the State of Philadelphia ; and was also entrusted by the other colonies with important business. While in London, he wrote a pamphlet, pointing out the advantages of a conquest of Canada by the English; and his arguments are believed to have conduced considerably to that event. About this period, his talents as a philosopher were duly appreciated in various parts of Europe. He was admitted a fellow of the Royal Society of London, and the degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred upon him at St. Andrews, Edinburgh, and at Oxford.
In 1762, he returned to America, and in 1764 was again appointed the agent of Philadelphia, to manage her concerns in England, in which country he arrived in the month of December. About this period the stamp act was exciting violent commotions in America. To this measure, Doctor Franklin was strongly opposed, and he presented a petition against it, which, at his suggestion, had been drawn up by the Pennsylvania Assembly. Among others, he was summoned before the House of Commons, where he underwent a long examination. His answers were fearless and decisive, and to his representations the repeal of the act was, no doubt, in a great measure, attributable. In the years 1766-67, he made an excursion to Holland, Germany, and France, where
le met with a most flattering reception. He was chosen a member of the French Academy of Sciences, and received diplomas from many other learned societies.
Certain letters had been written by Governor Hutchin son, addressed to his friends in England, which reflected in the severest manner upon the people of America. These letters had fallen into the hands of Doctor Frank. lin, and by him had been transmitted to America, where they were at length inserted in the public journals. For a time, no one in England knew through what channel the letters had been conveyed to America. In 1773, Franklin publicly avowed himself to be the person who obtained the letters and transmitted them to America. This produced a violent clamor εgainst him, and upon his attending before the privy council, in the following January, to present a petition from the colony of Massachusetts, for the dismissal of Governor Hutchinson, a most abusive invective was pronounced against him by Mr. Weddeburne, afterwards Lord Loughborough. Among other epithets, the honorable member called Franklin å coward, a murderer, and a thief. During the whole of this insulting harangue, Franklin sat with a composed and unaverted aspect, as if his countenance had been made of wood.” Throughout this personal and public outrage, the whole assembly seemed greatly amused at Doctor Franklin's expense. The president even laughed aloud. There was a single person present, however, Lord North, who, to his honor be it recorded, expressed great disapprobation of the indecent conduct of the assembly. The intended insult, however, was entirely lost. The coolness and dignity of Franklin soon discomposed his enemies, who were compelled to feel the superiority of his character. Their animosity caused him to be removed from the office of postmaster-general, interrupted the payment of his salary as agent for the colonies, and finally instituted against him a suit in chancery concern. ing the letters of Hutchinson.
Despairing of restoring harmony between the colonies and mother country, Doctor Franklin embarked for Amer. ica, where he arrived in 1776. He was received with every mark of esteem a: d admiration. He was imme
diately elected a delegate to the General Congress, and signed the Declaration of Independence. In 1776, he was deputed with others to proceed to Canada, to persuade the people of that province to throw off the British yoke; but the inhabitants of Canada had been so much disgusted with the zeal of the people of New England, who had burnt some of their chapels, that they refused to listen to the proposals made to them by Franklin and his associates. In 1778, he was despatched by Congress, as ambassador to France. The treaty of alliance with the French government, and the treaties of peace, in 1782 and 1783, as well as treaties with Sweden and Prussia, were signed by him. On his reaching Philadelphia, in September, 1785, his arrival was hailed by applauding thousands of his countrymen, who conducted him in triumph to his residence. This was a period of which he always spoke with peculiar pleasure. In 1788, he withdrew from public life, and on the 17th of April, 1790, he expired in the city of Philadelphia, in the eightyfourth year of his age. Congress directed a general mourning for him throughout the United States; and the National Assembly of France decreed that each member should wear mourning for three days. Doctor Franklin lies buried in the north-west corner of Christ Church yard, in Philadelphia. In his will he directed that no monumental ornaments should mark his grave. A small marble slab points out the spot where he lies.
Doctor Franklin had two children, a son and a daughter. The son, under the British government, was appointed governor of New Jersey. On the breaking out of the revolution he took up his residence in England, where he spent the remainder of his days. The daughter was respectably married in Philadelphia, to Mr. William Bache, whose descendants still reside in that city.
In stature, Dr. Franklin was above the middle size He possessed a sound constitution, and his countenance indicated a placid state of mind, great depth of thought, and an inflexible resolution. In youth he took a sceptical turn with regard to religion, but his strength of mind led him to fortify himself against vice by such moral principles as directed him to the most valuable ends, by honor
able means. According to the testimony of his most intimate friend, Dr. William Smith, he became, in maturer years, a believer in divine revelation. The following epitaph on himself was written by Doctor Franklin many years previously to his death :
The body of
its contents torn oul,
lies here, food for worms.
in a new
by the Author.
ELBRIDGE GERRY. ELBRIDGE GERRY was born at Marblehead, in the State of Massachusetts, July 17th, 1744. He became a member of Harvard college before his fourteenth year, and on leaving the university, engaged in commercial pursuits at Marblehead, under the direction of his father. His inclination would have led him to the study of medicine; but great success attended his mercantile enterprise, and, in a few years, he found himself in the enjoyment of a competent fortune.
In May, 1772, Mr. Gerry was chosen a representative to the General Court of Massachusetts, to which office he was re-elected the following year. During this year he was appointed one of the committee of correspondence and inquiry. In June, the celebrated letters of Governor Hutchinson to persons in England were laid before the House by Mr. Adams. In the debates on this disclosure Mr. Gerry highly distinguished himself. He was also particularly active in the scenes of 1774. He was a member of the Provincial Congress which met at Concord, and powerfully contributed to the measures of opposition which led to the Revolution. In 1775, the new Provincial Congress, of which he was one, assembled at Cambridge. In this body he evinced a degree of patriotic intrepidity which was surpassed by none.
A committee of Congress, among whom were Mr. Gerry, Colonel Orne, and Colonel Hancock, had been in session in the village of Menotomy, then part of the township of Cambridge. The latter gentleman, after the close of the session, had gone to Lexington. Mr. Gerry and Mr. Orne remained at the village; the other members of the committee had dispersed. Some officers of the royal army had passed through the villages just before dusk, and the circumstance so far attracted the attention of Mr. Gerry, that he despatched an express to Col. Hancock, who, with Samuel Adams, was at Lexington. Mr. Gerry and Col. Orne retired to rest, without taking the least precaution against personal exposure, and they remained quietly in their beds, until the British advance were within view of the dwelling house. It was a beautiful night, and the polished arms of the soldiers glittered in the inoon-beams as they moved on in silence. The front passed on. When the centre were opposite the house occupied by the committee, an officer and file of men were detached by signal, and marched towards it. The inmates for whom they were in search found means to escape, half-dressed, into an adjoining cornfield, where they remained concealed until the troops were withdrawn. Every part of the house was searched “ for the members of the rebel Congress;" even the beds in which they had lain were examined. But their property, and, among other things, a valuable watch of Mr. Gerry's, which was under his pillow, were undisturbed.
On the 17th day of June, the memorable battle of Bunker Hill was fought. The Provincial Congress was at that time in session at Watertown. Before the battle, Dr. Joseph Warren, President of the Congress, who was the companion and room-mate of Mr. Gerry, communicated to him his intention of mingling in the approaching contest. The night preceding the Doctor's departure to the scene of battle, he is said to have lodged in the same bed with Mr. Gerry. In the morning, in reply to the admonitions of his friend, he uttered the well-known words,