Benjamin Franklin Representative selections, with introduction, bibliograpy, and notes

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 49

any equivalent
Benefit, is dangerous to their very Existence.[i-187]

Franklin's view of the economic disabilities of slavery is best
expressed in _Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling
of Countries, Etc._ (1751). Arguing against British restraint of
colonial manufactures, he observed that "'tis an ill-grounded Opinion
that by the Labour of slaves, _America_ may possibly vie in Cheapness of
Manufactures with _Britain_. The Labour of Slaves can never be so cheap
here as the Labour of working Men is in _Britain_."[i-188] With
arithmetic based on empirical scrutiny of existing conditions,
resembling the mode of economists following Adam Smith, he charged that
slaves are economically unprofitable due to the rate of interest in the
colonies, their initial price, their insurance and maintenance, their
negligence and malevolence.[i-189] In addition, "Slaves ... pejorate the
Families that use them; the white Children become proud, disgusted with
Labour, and being educated in Idleness, are rendered unfit to get a
Living by Industry."[i-190] Slaves are hardly economical investments in
terms of colonial character. Looking to the "_English_ Sugar _Islands_"
where Negroes "have greatly diminish'd the Whites," and deprived the
poor of employment, "while a few Families acquire vast Estates," he
realized that "population was limited by means of subsistence,"[i-191]
which foreshadowed the more pessimistic progressions of Malthus. Having
just maintained that "our People must at least be doubled every 20
Years,"[i-192] and intuitively suspecting that the means for subsistence
progress more slowly, he exclaimed, "Why increase the Sons of _Africa_,
by planting them in _America_, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by
excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely White and
Red?"[i-193] He saw mere economic extravagance as the short-time effect
of slavery; he feared that the long-time effect would be to create an
aristocracy subsisting at the head of a vast brood of slaves and poor
whites.[i-194]

It was inevitable in a state having no staple crop, such as rice, sugar,
tobacco, or cotton, which offered at least economic justification for
negro slavery, that abolition of slaves should be urged partially on
purely economic grounds, and that Pennsylvania should have been the
first colony to legislate in favor of abolition, in 1780. Although one
may feel that economic determinism is overly simple and audacious in its
doctrinaire interpretations, one can not refuse to see the extent to
which economics tended to buttress humane and religious factors in
Franklin's mind to make him a persuasive champion of abolition.[i-195]

_A Modest Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of a Paper
Currency_[i-196] has been appraised as "by far the ablest and most
original treatise that had been written on the subject up to

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Text Comparison with Benjamin Franklin and the First Balloons

Page 0
Although the American owners of these copies did not allow them to be transcribed, Mr.
Page 1
[3] Histoire des Ballons, Paris, 1887, Volume I, page 29.
Page 2
It is said that for some Days after its being filled, the Ball was found to lose an eighth Part of its Force of Levity in 24 Hours; Whether this was from Imperfection in the Tightness of the Ball, or a Change in the Nature of the Air, Experiments may easily discover.
Page 3
Montgolfier, is to go up, as is said, from Versailles, in about 8 or 10 Days; It is not a Globe but of a different Form, more convenient for penetrating the Air.
Page 4
as fast as that Wind, and over Hedges, Ditches & even Waters.
Page 5
I am glad my Letters respecting the Aerostatic Experiment were not unacceptable.
Page 6
but there was at the same time a good deal of Anxiety for their Safety.
Page 7
_ That is, in plain English, _burning more straw_; for tho' there is a little Mystery made, concerning the kind of Air with which the Balloon is filled, I conceive it to be nothing more than hot Smoke or common Air rarify'd, tho' in this I may be mistaken.
Page 8
Thus the great Bulk of one of these Machines, with the short duration of its Power, & the great Expence of filling the other will prevent the Inventions being of so much Use, as some may expect, till Chemistry can invent a cheaper light Air producible with more Expedition.
Page 9
BANKS, Bar^t.
Page 10
I had a Pocket Glass, with which I follow'd it, till I lost Sight, first of the Men, then of the Car, and when I last saw the Balloon, it appear'd no bigger than a Walnut.
Page 11
The little Balloon falling at Vincennes, shows that mounting higher it met with a Current of Air in a contrary Direction: An Observation that may be of use to future aerial Voyagers.
Page 12
In paragraph three, for "Post," in Smyth, read "Port;" in paragraph six for "Adventures," in Smyth, read "Adventurers;" in paragraph thirteen.
Page 13
Faujas' work, published in 1784.
Page 14
11, added a missing comma after "Robert" in "Mess^rs.