Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 105

I stated our defenseless situation in strong lights,
with the necessity of union and discipline for our defense, and
promised 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 called 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 dispersed 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
thousand. These all furnished themselves as soon as they could with
arms, formed themselves into companies and regiments, chose their own
officers, and met every week to be instructed in the manual exercise
and other parts of military discipline. The women, by subscriptions
among themselves, provided silk colors, which they presented to the
companies, painted with different devices and mottoes which I supplied.

The officers of the companies composing the Philadelphia regiment,
being met, chose me for their colonel; but, conceiving myself unfit, I
declined that station, and recommended Mr. Lawrence, a fine person and
man of influence, who was accordingly appointed. I then proposed a
lottery[132] to defray the expense of building a battery below the
town, and furnishing it with cannon. It filled expeditiously, and the
battery was soon erected, the merlons[133] being framed of logs and
filled with earth. We bought some old cannon from Boston, but, these
not being sufficient, we wrote to England for more, soliciting at the
same time our proprietaries for some assistance, though without much
expectation of obtaining it.

Meanwhile Colonel Lawrence, William Allen, Abram Taylor, Esq., and
myself were sent to New York by the associators, commissioned to borrow
some cannon of Governor Clinton. He at first refused us peremptorily;
but at dinner with his council, where there was great drinking of
Madeira wine, as the custom of that place then was, he softened by
degrees, and said he would lend us six. After a few more bumpers he
advanced to ten, and at length he very good-naturedly conceded eighteen.
They were fine cannon, eighteen-pounders, with their carriages, which we
soon transported and mounted on our battery, where the associators kept

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