Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 115

little
jealousies and disgusts may arise, with ideas of inequality in the
care and burden of the business, etc., which are attended often with
breach of friendship and of the connection, perhaps with lawsuits and
other disagreeable consequences.




XII

DEFENSE OF THE PROVINCE


I had, on the whole, abundant reason to be satisfied with my being
established in Pennsylvania. There were, however, two, things that I
regretted, there being no provision for defense, nor for a compleat
education of youth; no militia, nor any college. I therefore, in 1743,
drew up a proposal for establishing an academy; and at that time,
thinking the Reverend Mr. Peters, who was out of employ, a fit person
to superintend such an institution, I communicated the project to him;
but he, having more profitable views in the service of the
proprietaries, which succeeded, declin'd the undertaking; and, not
knowing another at that time suitable for such a trust, I let the
scheme lie awhile dormant. I succeeded better the next year, 1744, in
proposing and establishing a Philosophical Society. The paper I wrote
for that purpose will be found among my writings, when collected.

With respect to defense, Spain having been several years at war
against Great Britain, and being at length join'd by France, which
brought us into great danger; and the laboured and long-continued
endeavour of our governor, Thomas, to prevail with our Quaker Assembly
to pass a militia law, and make other provisions for the security of
the province, having proved abortive, I determined to try what might
be done by a voluntary association of the people. To promote this, I
first wrote and published a pamphlet, entitled Plain Truth, in which I
stated our defenceless situation in strong lights, with the necessity
of union and discipline for our defense, and promis'd to propose in a
few days an association, to be generally signed for that purpose. The
pamphlet had a sudden and surprising effect. I was call'd upon for the
instrument of association, and having settled the draft of it with a
few friends, I appointed a meeting of the citizens in the large
building before mentioned. The house was pretty full; I had prepared a
number of printed copies, and provided pens and ink dispers'd all over
the room. I harangued them a little on the subject, read the paper,
and explained it, and then distributed the copies, which were eagerly
signed, not the least objection being made.

When the company separated, and the papers were collected, we found
above twelve hundred hands; and, other copies being dispersed in the
country, the subscribers amounted at length to upward of ten

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