Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 135

of the
several colonies, met in their respective assemblies. The debates upon
it in Congress went on daily, hand in hand with the Indian business.
Many objections and difficulties were started, but at length they were
all overcome, and the plan was unanimously agreed to, and copies
ordered to be transmitted to the Board of Trade and to the assemblies
of the several provinces. Its fate was singular; the assemblies did
not adopt it, as they all thought there was too much _prerogative_ in
it, and in England it was judg'd to have too much of the _democratic_.
The Board of Trade therefore did not approve of it, nor recommend it
for the approbation of his majesty; but another scheme was form'd,
supposed to answer the same purpose better, whereby the governors of
the provinces, with some members of their respective councils, were to
meet and order the raising of troops, building of forts, etc., and to
draw on the treasury of Great Britain for the expense, which was
afterwards to be refunded by an act of Parliament laying a tax on
America. My plan, with my reasons in support of it, is to be found
among my political papers that are printed.

Being the winter following in Boston, I had much conversation with
Governor Shirley upon both the plans. Part of what passed between us
on the occasion may also be seen among those papers. The different and
contrary reasons of dislike to my plan makes me suspect that it was
really the true medium; and I am still of opinion it would have been
happy for both sides the water if it had been adopted. The colonies,
so united, would have been sufficiently strong to have defended
themselves; there would then have been no need of troops from England;
of course, the subsequent pretence for taxing America, and the bloody
contest it occasioned, would have been avoided. But such mistakes are
not new; history is full of the errors of states and princes.

"Look round the habitable world, how few
Know their own good, or, knowing it, pursue!"

Those who govern, having much business on their hands, do not
generally like to take the trouble of considering and carrying into
execution new projects. The best public measures are therefore seldom
_adopted from previous wisdom, but forc'd by the occasion_.

The Governor of Pennsylvania, in sending it down to the Assembly,
expressed his approbation of the plan, "as appearing to him to be
drawn up with great clearness and strength of judgment, and therefore
recommended it as well worthy of their closest

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Text Comparison with Benjamin Franklin and the First Balloons

Page 0
None of the letters appear in Sparks' edition of Franklin's Works, and while all but one are included in the collections compiled by Bigelow and Smyth, there are numerous inaccuracies, some of which will be specified hereafter.
Page 1
A hollow Globe 12 feet Diameter was formed of what is called in England Oiled Silk, here _Taffetas gomme_, the Silk being impregnated with a Solution of Gum elastic in Lintseed Oil, as is said.
Page 2
A little Rain had wet it, so that it shone, and made an agreeable Appearance.
Page 3
The great one of M.
Page 4
It carried under it a large Lanthorn with inscriptions on its sides.
Page 5
But as more perfect Accounts of the Construction and Management of that Machine have been and will be published before your Transactions, and from which Extracts may be made that will be more particular and therefore more satisfactory, I think it best not to print those Letters.
Page 6
_ That is against the Trees of one of the Walks.
Page 7
The other Method of filling a Balloon with permanently elastic inflammable Air, and then closing it is a tedious Operation, and very expensive; Yet we are to have one of that kind sent up in a few Days.
Page 8
Beings of a Rank and Nature far superior to ours have not disdained to amuse themselves with making and launching Balloons, otherwise we should never have enjoyed the Light of those glorious objects that rule our Day & Night, nor have had the Pleasure of riding round the Sun ourselves upon the.
Page 9
Never before was a philosophical Experiment so magnificently attended.
Page 10
The Persons embark'd were Mr.
Page 11
--I hear farther, that the Travellers had perfect Command of their Carriage, descending as they pleas'd by letting some of the inflammable Air escape, and rising again by discharging some Sand; that they descended over a Field so low as to talk with Labourers in passing and mounted again to pass a Hill.
Page 12
" Both Bigelow and Smyth give another paragraph in the Postscript, beyond the signature "B.
Page 13
"The Journal of the first Aerial Voyage," here mentioned, was written by the Marquis d'Arlandes to M.
Page 14
Robert, two Brothers,"; p.