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England has begun to burn our seaport towns, secure, I suppose, that we shall never be able to return the outrage in kind. She may, doubtless, destroy them all. But
she wishes to recover our commerce, are these the probable means? She must certainly be distracted; for no tradesman, out of Bedlam, ever thought of increasing the number of his customers by knocking them in the head ; or of enabling them to pay their debts by burning their houses.”
One of Franklin's jokes, in Congress, is very characteristic of the man. It was urged that the Episcopal clergy should be directed to refrain from praying for the king. Franklin quenched the injudicious movement with a witticism.
“ The measure is quite unnecessary,” said he. “The Episcopal clergy, to my certain knowledge, have been constantly praying, these twenty years, that God would give to the king and council wisdom.' And we all know that not the least notice has been taken of that prayer. So it's plain that
those gentlemen have no interest in the court of ? Heaven."
If we sow the wind we must reap the whirlwind. Terrible was the mortification and mental suffering which Franklin endured from the governor of New Jersey. He had lived down the prejudices connected with his birth and had become an influential and popular man. He, with increasing tenacity adhered to the British Government, and became even the malignant opponent of the Americans. He pronounced the idea of their successfully resisting the power of Great Britain, as utterly absurd. His measures became so atrocious, as to excite the indignation of the people of New Jersey. The Assembly finally arrested him and sent him, under guard, to Burlington. As he continued contumacious and menacing, Congress ordered him to be removed to Connecticut. The Constitutional Gazette of July 13th, 1776, contains the following allusion to this affair :
“ Day before yesterday Governor Franklin, of New Jersey, passed through Hartford, on his way to Governor Trumbull. Mr. Franklin is a noted tory and ministerial tool, and has been exceedingly busy in perplexing the cause of liberty, and in serving the designs of the British king and his ministers.
“He is son to Dr. Benjamin Franklin, the genius of the day, and the great patron of American liberty. If his excellency escapes the vengeance of the people, due to the enormity of his crimes, his redemption will flow, not from his personal merit, but from the high esteem and veneration which the country entertains for his honored father.”
His family was left in deep affliction. Franklin
sent them both sympathy and money. The captive governor resided at Middletown on parole. Here the infatuated man gathered around him a band of tories, many of whom were rich, and held convivial meetings exceedingly exasperating, when British armies were threatening the people with conflagration and carnage.
Inflamed with wine, these bacchanals sang treasonable songs, the whole company joining in chorus, with uproar which drew large groups around the house. The tories professed utterly to despise the patriots, and doubted not that their leaders would all soon be hung. One midnight the governor, with his boon companions, having indulged in the wildest of their orgies, sallied into the streets, with such uproar as to make night hideous. The watch found it needful to interfere. The drunken governor called one of them a damned villain and threatened to flog him. A report of these proceedings was sent to Congress.
Soon after it was ascertained that he was an active agent for the British ministry. He was then confined in Litchfield jail, and deprived of pen, ink and paper. For two years he suffered this wellmerited imprisonment. Mrs. governor Franklin never saw her husband again. Grief-stricken, shę fell sick, and died in New York in July, 1778,
After an imprisonment of two years and four months, William Franklin was exchanged, and he took refuge within the British lines at New York. He received a pension from the British government, lived hilariously, and devoted his energies to a vigorous prosecution of the war against his countrymen. Franklin felt deeply this defection of his son. After the lapse of nine years he wrote,
Nothing has ever affected me with such keen sensations, as to find myself deserted in my old age by my only son; and not only deserted but to find him taking up arms in a cause wherein my good fame, fortune and life were at stake." *
* Upon the overthrow of the royalist cause, Governor Franklin with other tories went to England. Government gave him outright eighteen hundred pounds, and settled upon him a pension of eight hundred pounds a year. After the lapse of ten years he sought reconciliation with his father. He lived to the age of eighty-two and died in London, in 1813.
Letter of Henry Laurens—Franklin visits the army before Boston
-Letter of Mrs. Adams—Burning of Falmouth-Franklin's journey to Montreal—The Declaration of Independence-Anecdote of the Hatter–Framing the Constitution-Lord Howe's Declaration-Franklin's reply—The Conference-Encouraging letter from France-Franklin's embassy to France—The two parties in France—The voyage—The reception in France.
THE spirit which, almost to that hour, had animated the people of America,—the most illustrious statesmen and common people, was attachment to Old England.
Their intense desire to maintain friendly relations with the mother country, their " home,” their revered and beloved home, may be inferred from the following extract from a letter, which one of the noblest of South Carolinians, Hon. Henry Laurens, wrote to his son John. It bears the date of 1776. He writes, alluding to the separation from England, then beginning to be contemplated :
“I can not rejoice in the downfall of an old