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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 73

enlightened men there, but discourage
the common people from removing to this Country.[i-360]

Pinckney's motion was rejected. Franklin within the Convention did not
seem to fear Gerry's threat--"the evils we experience flow from the
excess of democracy."[i-361]

Franklin suggested the adoption of a unicameral legislature, but does
not seem to have made any struggle for it. His article of 1789 in
defense of the Pennsylvania (unicameral) legislature, however, shows
that he clung to the principle as firmly as he had in 1776.[i-362] He
questioned: "The Wisdom of a few Members in one single Legislative Body,
may it not frequently stifle bad Motions in their Infancy, and so
prevent their being adopted?" In addition the bicameral house is
cumbersome and provocative of delay.

Little is known of Franklin's attitude toward the violent controversy
attendant upon efforts toward ratification. In his _Ancient Jews and
Anti-Federalists_[i-363] he warned the traducers of the new Constitution
against voiding an instrument which in his opinion was as sound as the
frailty of human reason would allow it to be. In fact, said he, it
"astonishes me, ... to find this system approaching so near to
perfection as it does."[i-364] He may be said to have been
anti-federalistic to the extent that he feared a strong executive,
guarded jealously the legislative sphere, worried little about checks
and balances, sought to accelerate popular sovereignty; he was
federalistic to the extent that he opposed state localism with national
sovereignty, was not blind to the depravity of human nature and hence
felt the need for a vigorous coercive government. To M. Le Veillard he
confessed an almost Hamiltonian distrust of the multitude: The
Constitution "has ... met with great opposition in some States, for we
are at present a nation of politicians. And, though there is a general
dread of giving too much power to our _governors_, I think we are more
in danger from too little obedience in the _governed_."[i-365] He made
the same complaint a year later: "We have been guarding against an evil
that old States are most liable to, _excess of power_ in the rulers,
but our present danger seems to be _defect of obedience_ in the
subjects."[i-366] It is difficult to reconcile his inveterate distrust
of men with his activity in behalf of an almost universal franchise,
reluctance to sanction the principle of checks and balances, and belief
in a unicameral legislature; it is difficult to reconcile the Plutarchan
fervor with which he advocated the wisdom of following great leaders
with his fear of a vigorous executive. It is not improbable that those
ideas which are generally anti-federalistic in Franklin's political

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 2 [of 3]

Page 2
Franklin 51 Answer to the foregoing observations, by B.
Page 37
The preceding cloud over the place shews condensation, and, consequently, tendency downwards, which therefore must naturally prevent any ascent.
Page 46
In some of them the axis of the cone was considerably inclined from the perpendicular, but in none of them was there the least appearance of sucking up of water.
Page 48
Take a piece of wood, of the size and shape of a dollar, between the thumb and finger of one hand, and a dollar, in like manner, with the other hand; place the edges of both, at the same time, in the flame of a candle; and though the edge of the wooden piece takes flame, and the metal piece does not, yet you will be obliged to drop the latter before the former, it conducting the heat more suddenly to your fingers.
Page 68
I am persuaded, from several instances happening within my knowledge, that they do not bear cold weather so well as the whites; they will perish when exposed to a less degree of it, and are more apt to have their limbs frostbitten; and may not this be from the same cause? Would not the earth grow much hotter under the summer-sun, if a constant evaporation from its surface, greater as the sun shines stronger, did not, by tending to cool it; balance, in some degree, the warmer effects of the sun's rays? Is it not owing to the constant evaporation from the surface of every leaf, that trees, though shone on by the sun, are always, even the leaves themselves, cool to our sense? at least much cooler than they would otherwise be? May it not be owing to this, that fanning ourselves when warm, does really cool us, though the air is itself warm that we drive with the fan upon our faces; for the atmosphere round, and next to our bodies, having imbibed as much of the perspired vapour as it can well contain, receives no more, and the evaporation is therefore checked and retarded, till we drive away that atmosphere, and bring drier air in its place, that will receive the vapour, and thereby facilitate and increase the evaporation? Certain it is, that mere blowing of air on a dry body does not cool it, as any one may satisfy himself, by blowing with a bellows on the dry ball of a thermometer; the mercury will not fall; if it moves at all, it rather rises, as being.
Page 90
And as the force of expansion in dense air when heated is in proportion to its density, this central air might afford another agent to move the surface, as well as be of use in keeping alive the subterraneous fires; though, as you observe, the sudden rarefaction of water coming into contact without those fires, may also be an agent sufficiently strong for that purpose, when acting between the incumbent earth and the fluid on which it rests.
Page 120
So that supposing large canals and boats and depths of water to bear the same proportions, and that four men or horses would draw a boat in deep water four leagues in four hours, it would require five to draw the same boat in the same time as far in shallow water; or four would require five hours.
Page 138
We have informed them that they were stemming a current, that was against them to the value of three miles an hour; and advised them to cross it and get out of it; but they were too wise to be counselled by simple American fishermen.
Page 147
Whereas if to avoid the shoals you keep too far to the southward, and get into that stream, you will be retarded by it at the rate of 60 or 70 miles a day.
Page 173
_ _London, August 30, 1769.
Page 189
This trap-door is a very convenient thing.
Page 191
The register has also two other uses.
Page 229
with less fire.
Page 278
| es |This sound is formed by the breath | | | .
Page 282
The vowel _u_ being sounded as _oo_ makes the _w_ unnecessary.
Page 313
Subsistence costs something.
Page 315
When Colbert assembled some wise old merchants of France, and desired their advice and opinion, how he could serve and promote commerce: their answer, after consultation, was in three words only, _Laissez nous faire_; "Let us alone.
Page 360
proposed overture from, in 1775, iii.
Page 363
Page 391
winds blow from all points towards them, 21.