Colonial Hall -- Biographies of America's Founding Fathers

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Page 8

Benjamin Franklin


In 1776, he was deputed by congress to proceed to Canada, to negotiate with the people of that country, and to persuade them, if possible, 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 Dr. Franklin and his associates. On the arrival of Lord Howe in America in 1776, he entered upon a correspondence with him on the subject of reconciliation. He was afterwards appointed, with two others, to wait upon the English commissioners, and learn the extent of their powers; but as these only went to the granting of pardon upon submission, he joined his colleagues in considering them as insufficient. Dr. Franklin was decidedly in favor of a declaration of independence; and was appointed president of the convention assembled for the purpose of establishing a new government for the state of Pennsylvania. When it was determined by congress to open a public negotiation with France, he was commissioned to visit that country, with which he negotiated the treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, which produced an immediate war between England and France. Dr. Franklin was one of the commissioners who, on the part of the United States, signed the provincial articles of peace in 1752, and the definitive treaty in the following year. Before he left Europe, he concluded a treaty with Sweden and Prussia. By the latter, he obtained several most liberal and humane stipulations in favor of the freedom of commerce, and the security of private property during war, in conformity to those principles which he had ever maintained on these subjects. Having seen the accomplishment of his wishes in the independence of his country, he requested to be recalled, and after repeated solicitations, Mr. Jefferson was appointed in his stead. On the arrival of his successor, he repaired to Havre de Grace, and crossing the English channel, landed at Newport in the Isle of Wight, whence, after a favorable passage, he arrived safe at Philadelphia, in September, 1785.

The news of his arrival, was received with great joy by the citizens. A vast multitude flocked from all parts to see him, and amidst the ringing of bells, the discharge of artillery, the acclamations of thousands, conducted him in triumph to his own house. In a few days, he was visited by the members of congress, and the principal inhabitants of Philadelphia. From numerous societies and assemblies he received the most affectionate addresses. All testified their joy at his return, and their veneration of his exalted character.

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Last modified January 2, 2004