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In 1732, he began to publish poor Richard's almanac, which was enriched with maxims of frugality, temperance, industry, and integrity. So great was its reputation, that he sold ten thousand annually, and it was continued by him about twenty-five years.
The maxims were collected in the last almanac, in the form of an address, called the way to wealth, which has appeared in various publications. In 1736, he was appointed clerk of the general assembly of Pennsylvania, and in 1737, postmaster of Philadelphia. The first fire company was formed by him in 1738. When the frontiers of Pennsylvania were endangered in 1744, and an ineffectual attempt was made to procure a militia law, be proposed a voluntary association for the defence of the province, and in a short time obtained ten thousand names. , In 1747, he was chosen a member of the assembly, and continued in this station ten years. In all important discussions his presence was considered as indispensable. He seldom spoke, and never exhibited any oratory; but by a single observation he sometimes determined the fate of a question. In the long controversies with the proprietaries or their governors, he took the most active part, and displayed a firm spirit of liberty.
He was now engaged for number of years in a course of electrical experiments, of which he published an account. His great discovery was the identity of the electric fluid and lightning. This discovery he made in the summer of 1752. To the upright stick of a kite he attached an iron point. the string was of hemp, excepting the part which he held in his hand, which was silk; and a key was fastened where the hempen string terminated. With this apparatus, on the approach of a thunder storm, he raised his kite. A cloud passed over it, and no sign of electricity appearing, he began to dispair; but observing the loose fibres
of his string to move suddenly toward an erect position, he presented his knuckle to the key, and received a strong spark. The success of this experiment completely established his theory. The practical use of this discovery in securing houses from lightning, by pointed conductors, is well known in America and Europe. In 1753, he was appointed deputy postmaster-general of the British colonies, and in the same year the academy of Philadelphia, projected by him, was established. In 1754, he was one of the commissioners, who attended the Congress at Albany, to devise the best means of defending the country against the French. He drew up a plan of union for defence and general government, which was adopted by the congress. It was, however, rejected by the board of trade in England, because it gave too much power to the representatives of the people; and it was rejected by the assemblies of the colonies, because it gave too much power to the president general. After the defeat of Braddock he was appointed colonel of a regiment, and he repaired to the frontiers and built a fort.
Higher employments, however, at length called him from his country, which he was destined to serve more effectually, as its agent in England, whither he was sent in 1557. The stamp act, by which the British minister wished to familiarize the Americans to pay taxes to the mother country, revived that love of liberty, which had led their forefathers to a country, at that time a desert: and the colonies formed a congress, the first idea of 'which had been communicated to them by Franklin, at the conferences at Albany, in 1754. The war that was just terminated, and the exertions made by them to support it, had given them a conviction of their strength; they opposed this measure, and the minister gave way, but he reserved the means of renewing the attempt. Once cau-tioned, however, they remained on their guard ; Jiberty cherished by their alarms, took deeper root; and the rapid circulation of ideas, by means of newspapers, for the introduction of which they were indebted to the printer at Philadelphia, united them together to resist every fresh enterprise. In the year 1766, this printer, called to the bar of the house of commons, underwent that famous interrogatory, which placed the name of Franklin as high in politics, as it was in natural philosophy. From that time he defended the cause of America with a firmness and moderation becoming a great man, pointing out to the ministry all the errors they committed, and the consequences they would produce, till the period when the tax on tea meeting the same opposition as the stamp act had done, England blindly fancied herself capable of subjecting, by force, 3,000,000 of men determined to be free, at a distance of 1000 leagues. In 1766, he visited Holland, and Germany, and received the greatest marks of attention from men of science. In his passage through Holland, he learned from the watermen, the effect which the diminution of the quantity of water in canals has in impeding the progress of boats. Upon his return to England, he was led to make a number of experiments, all of which tended to confirm the observation.
In the following year, he travelled into France, where he met with no less favourable reception than he had experienced in Germany. He was introduced to a number of literary characters, and to the king, Louis XV.
He returned to America, and arrived in Philadelphia in the beginning of May, 1775, and was received with all those marks of esteem and affection, which his eminent services merited. The day after his arrival he was elected by the legislatura of Pennsylvania, a member of congresse
It was in this year that Dr. Franklin addressed that memorable and laconic epistle to his old friend and companion, Mr. Strahan, then king's printer, and member of the British parliament, of which the following is a correct copy, and of which a fac-simile is given in the last, and most correct edition of his works:
Philada. July 5, 1775. MR. STRAHAN,
You are a Member of Parliament, and one of that Majority which has doomed my Country to Destruction.-You have begun to burn our Towns, and murder our People.-Look upon your Hands! -They are stained with the Blood of your Relations! You and I were long Friends:-You are Row my Enemy,--and
B. FRANKLIN. In October, 1775, Dr. Franklin was appointed by Congress, jointly with Mr. Harrison and Mr. Lynch, a committee to visit the American camp at Cambridge, and, in conjunction with the commander in chief, (general Washington,) to endeavour to convince the troops, whose term of enlistment was about to expire, of the necessity of their continuing in the field, and persevering in the cause of their country.
He was, afterwards, sent on a mission to Canada, to endeavour to unite that country to the common cause of liberty. But the Canadians could not be prevailed upon to oppose the measures of the British government.
It was directed that a printing apparatus, and hands, competent to print in French and English, should accompany this mission. Two papers were written and circulated very extensively through
Canada; but it was not until after the experiment had been tried, that it was found not more than one person in five hundred could read. Dr. Franklin was accustomed to make the best of every occurrence, suggested that if it were intended to send another mission, it should be a mission composed of schoolmasters.
He was, in 1776, appointed a committee with John Adams and Edward Rutledge, to inquire into the powers, with which lord Howe was invested in regard to the adjustment of our differences with Great Britain. When his lordship expressed his concern at being obliged to distress those, whom he so much regarded, Dr. Franklin assured him that the Americans, out of reciprocal regard, would endeavour to lessen, as much as possible, the pain which he might feel on their account, by taking the utmost care of themselves. In the discussion of the great question of independence, he was decidedly in favour of the' measure.
He was in the same year, chosen president of the convention which met in Philadelphia, to form a new constitution for Pennsylvania. The single legislature and the plural executive, seem to have been his favourite principles. In the latter end of the year 1776, he was sent to France to assist in negotiation with Mr. Arthur Lee and Silas Deane. He had much influence in forming the treaty of alliance and commerce, which was signed February 6, 1778, and he afterwards completed a treaty of amity and commerce with Sweden. In conjunction with Mr. Adams, Mr. Jay, and Mr. Laurens, he signed the provisional articles of peace, November 30, 1782, and the definitive treaty, September 30, 1783. While he was in France he was appointed one of the commissioners to examine Mesmer's anima magnetism in 1784. Being desirous of returning to his native country he requested that an ambassador might be appointed in his