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several of the commissioners had formed plans of the same kind. A previous question was first taken, whether an union should be established, which passed in the affirmative, unanimously. A committee was then appointed, one member from each colony, to consider the several plans and report. Mine happened to be preferred, and with a few amendments was accordingly reported. By this plan the general government was to be administered by a President General, appointed and supported by the crown; and a grand council to be chosen by the representatives of the people 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 judged to have too much of the democratic. The board of trade did not approve of it; nor recommend it for the approbation of his Majesty : but another scheme was formed, 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, &c. 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 plan, with my reasons in support of it, is to be found among my political papers that were 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 this 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 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 'pretext 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 forced by the occasion.
See continuation of MeMOIRS. “ Writings, Part 1. Sec. 1."
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 their closest and most serious attention.” The house, however, by the management of a certain member, took it up when I happened to be absent, (which I thought not very fair,) and reprobated it without paying any attention to it at all; to my no small mortification.
In my journey to Boston this year, I met at New-York with our new Governor, Mr. Morris, just arrived there from England, with whom I had been before intimately acquainted. He brought a commission to supersede Mr. Hamilton, who, tired with the disputes his proprietary instructions subjected him to, had resigned. Mr. Morris asked me if I thought he must expect as uncomfortable an administration. I said, “ No, you may on the contrary have a very comfortable one, ,
if only take care not to enter into any dispute with the assembly:" “My dear friend," said he pleasantly, “ how can you advise my avoiding disputes ? You know I love disputing, it is one of my greatest pleasures ; however, to show the regard I have for your counsel, I promise you I will, if possible, avoid them.” He had some reason for loving to dispute, being eloquent, an acute sophister, and therefore generally successful in argumentative con
versation. He had been brought up to it from a boy, his father, as I have heard, accustoming his children to dispute with one another for his diversion, while sitting at table after dinner; but I think the practice was not wise, for in the course of my observation those disputing, contradicting and confuting people, are generally unfortunate in their affairs. They get victory sometimes, but they never get good-will, which would be of more use to them. We parted, he going to Philadelphia, and I to Boston. In returning I met at New-York with the votes of the assembly of Pennsylvania, by which it appeared, that notwithstanding his promise to me, he and the house were already in high contention; and it was a continual battle between them, as long as he retained the government. I had my share of it, for as soon as I got back to my seat in the assembly, I was put on every committee for answering his speeches and messages, and by the committees always desired to make the draughts. Our answers as well as his messages, were often tart, and sometimes indecently abusive: and as he knew I wrote for the assembly, one might have imagined that when we met we could hardly avoid cutting throats. But he was so goodnatured a man, that no personal difference between him and me was occasioned by the contest, and we often dined together. One afternoon, in the height of this public quarrel, we met in the street; .“ Franklin," said he, “ you must go home with me pany that
and spend the evening, I am to have some com
you will like;" and taking me by the arm led me to his house. In gay conversation over our wine, after supper, he told us jokingly that he much admired the idea of Sancho Panza, who, when it was proposed to give him a government, requested it might be a government of blacks; as then, if he could not agree with his people, he might sell them. One of his friends, who sat next me, said, “ Franklin, why do you continue to side with those damned Quakers ? had you not better sell them ? the proprietor would give you a good price.” “The Governor,” said I,“ has not yet blacked them enough.”—He indeed had labored hard to blacken the assembly in all his messages, but they wiped off his coloring as fast as he laid it on, and placed it in return thick upon his own face; so that finding he was likely to be negrofied himself, he, as well as Mr. Hamilton, grew tired of the contest, and quitted the government.
These public quarrels were all at bottom owing to the proprietaries, our hereditary Governors; who, when any expense was to be incurred for the defence of their province, with incredible meanness, instructed their deputies to pass no act for levying the necessary taxes, unless their vast estates were in the same act expressly exonerated ; and they had even taken the bonds of these deputies to observe such instructions. The assemblies for three years held out against this injustice, though