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was appointed to succeed him, in 1785. Some time in September of the same year, Dr. Franklin arrived in Phi. ladelphia. He was shortly after chosen member of the supreme executive council for the city; and soon after was elected president of the same.
When a convention was called to meet in Philadelphia, in 1787, for the purpose of giving more energy to the government of the union, by revising and amending the articles of confederation, Dr. Franklin was appointed a delegate from the State of Pennsylvania. He signed the constitution which they proposed for the union, and gave it the most unequivocal marks of his approbation.
A society for political enquiries, of which Dr. Franklin was president, was established about this period. The meetings were held at his house. Two or three essays read in this society were published. It did not long con. tinue.
In the year 1787, two societies were established in Philadelphia, founded' on the principles of the most liberal and refined humanity. The Philadelphia Society for alleviating the miseries of public prisons; and the Penn. sylvania Society for promoting the abolition of slavery, the relief of free negroes unlawfully held in bondage, and the improvemeut_of the condition of the African race. Of each of these Dr. Franklin was president. The labours of these bodies have been crowned with great success; and they continue to prosecute, with unwearied diligence, the laudable designs for which they were established.
Dr. Franklin's increasing infirmities prevented his regular attendance at the council-chamber; and, in 1788, he retired wholly from public life.
His constitution had been a remarkably good one. He had been little subject to disease except an attack of the gout occasionally, until about the year 1781, when he was first attacked with symptoms of the calculous com. plaint, which continued during his life. During the intervals of pain from this grievous disease, he spent many cheerful hours, conversing in the most agreeable and instructive manner. His faculties were entirely unimpaired, even to the hour of his death.
His name, as president of the abolition society, was signed to the memorial presented to the house of repre. sentatives of the United States, on the 12th of February, 1789, praying them to exert the full extent of power vested in them by the constitution, in discouraging the traffic of the human species. This was his last public act. In the debates to which this memorial gave rise, several attempts were made to justify the trade. In the Federal Gazette of March 25th, there appeared an essay, signed Historicus, written by Dr. Franklin, in which he communicated a speech, said to have been delivered in the Divan of Algiers, in 1687, in opposition to the prayer of the petition of a sect called Erika, or purists, for the abolition of piracy and slavery. This pretended African
speech was an excellent parody of one delivered by Mr. Jackson, of Georgia. All the arguments urged in favour of negro slavery, are applied with equal force to justity the plundering and enslaving of Europeans. It affords, at the same time, a demonstration of the futility of the arguments in defence of the slave trade, and of the strength of mind and ingenuity of the author, at his ad. vanced period of life. It furnished too, a no less convincing proof of his power of imitating the style of other times and nations, than his celebrated parable against persecution. And as the latter led many persons to search the scriptures with a view to find it, so the former caused many persons to search the book-stores and libraries, for the work from which it was said to be extracted.
In the beginning of April following, he was attacked with a fever and complaint of his breast, which terminato ed his existence. The following account of his last ill. ness was written by bis friend and physician, Dr. Jones.
u The stone, with which he had been afflicted for several years, had for the last twelve months confined him chiefly to his bed; and during the extremely paintul paroxysnis, he was obliged to take large doses of laudanum to mitigate his tortures; still, in the intervals of pain, he not only amused himself with reading and conversing cheerfully with his family and a fiw friends who visited him, but was often employed in doing business of a public as well as private nature, with various person who waited on him for that purpose; and in every instance displayed, not only that readiness and disposition of doing good, which was the distinguishing characteristic of his life, but the fullest and clearest possession of his uncommon mental abilities; and not unfrequently indulged himself in those jeux d'esprit and entertaining anecdotes, which were the delight of all who heard him.
* About sixteen days before his death, he was seized with a feverish indisposition, without any particular symptoms attending it, till the third or fourth day, when he complained of a pain in the left breast, which increased till it became extremely acute. attended with a cough and laborious breathing. During this state, when the severity of his pains sometimes drew forth a groan
complaint, he would observe, that he was afraid he did not bear it
ught; acknowledged his grateful sense of the many blessings he had received from the Supreme Being, who had raised him from small and low beginning to such high rank and consideration among men, and made no doubt but his present afflictions were kindly intended to wean him froni a world, in which he was no longer fit to act the part assigned him. In this frame of body and mind he continued till five days before his death, when his pain and difficulty of breathing entirely left him and his family were flattering themselves with the hopes of his recovery, when an imposthumation, which had formed itself in his lungs, suddenly burst, and discharged
a great quantity of matter, which he continued to throw up while he had sufficient strength to do it, but, as that fáiled, the organs of respiration became gradually oppres. sed, á calm lethargic state succeeded, and on the 17th of April, 1790, about eleven o'clock at night, he quietly expired, closing a long and useful life of eighty-four years and three months. »
It may not be amiss to add to the above account, that Dr. Franklin, in the year 1735, had a severe pleurisy, which terminated in an abscess of the left lobe of his lungs, and he was then almost suffocated, with the quantity and suddenness of the discharge. A second attack of a similar nature happened some years after this, from which he soon recovered, and did not appear to suffer any inconvenience in his respiration from these diseases.
The following epitaph on himself, was written by him many years previous to his death:
ITS CONTENTS TORN OUT,
LIES HERE FOOD FOR WORMS;
IN A NEW
With regard to my books, those I had in France, and those I left in Philadelphia, being now assembled together here, and a catalogue made of them, it is my intention to dispose of the same as follows:
My « History of the Academy of Sciences, » in sixty or seventy volumes quarto, 1 give to the philosophical society of Philadelphia, of which I have the honour to be president. My collection in folio of « Les Arts et les Metiers, » I give to the American philosophical society, esta. blished in New England, of which I am a member. My quarto edition of the same, “ Arts et Metiers, » I give to the library company of Philadelphia. Such and so many of my books as I shall mark, in the said catalogue, with the name of my grandson Benjamin Franklin Bache, I
do hereby give to him: and such and so many of my books, as I shall mark in the said catalogue with the name of my grandson William Bache, I do hereby give to him: and such as shall be marked with the name of Jonathan Williams, I hereby give to my cousin of that name. The residue and remainder of all my books, manuscripts, and papers, I do give to my grandson William Temple Franklin. My share in the library company of Philadelphia I give to my grandson Benjamin Franklin Bache, confiding that he will permit his brothers and sisters to share in the use of it.
I was born in Boston, New England, and owe my first instructions in literature to the free grammar schools established there. I therefore give one hundred pounds sterling to my executors, to be by them, the survivors or survivor of them, paid over to the managers or directors of the free-schools in my native town of Boston, to be by them, or the person or persons who shall have the super. intendance and management of the said schools, put out to interest, and so continued at interest for ever; which interest annually shall be laid out in silver medals, and given as honorary rewards annually by the directors of the said free.schools, for the encouragement of scholarship in the said schools, belonging to the said town, in such manner as to the discretion of the select men of the said town shall seem meet.
Out of the salary that may remain due to me, as President of the State, I give the sum of two thousand pounds to my executors, to be by them, the survivors or survivor of them, paid over to such person or persons as the le. gislature of this state, by an act of assembly, shall appoint to receive the same, in trust, to be employed for maßing the Schuylkil navigable.
During the number of years I was in business as a stationer, printer, and post master, a great many small sums became due to me for books, advertisements, postage of letters, and other matters, which were not collected, when, in 1757, I was sent by the assembly to Eng. land as their agent, and, by subsequent appointments, continued there till 1775, when, on my return, I was im. mediately engaged in the affairs of congress, and sent to France in 1776, where I remained nine years, not returning till 1785; and the said debts not being demanded in such a length of time, are become in a manner obsolete, yet are nevertheless justly due. - These as they are stated in my great folio ledger, E, I bequeath to the con. tributors of the Pennsylvania hospital; hoping that those debtors, and the descendants of such as are deceased, who now, as I find, make some difficulty of satisfying such antiquated demands as just debts, may, however, be induced to pay or give them as charity to that excel lent institutlon. I am sensible that much must inevitably be lost: but I hope something considerable may be reco vered. It is possible too, that some of the parties charged
may have existing old msettled acconnts against me ; in which case the managers of the said hospital will als low and deduct the amount, or pay the balance, if they find it against me.
I request by friends, Henry Hill, Esq. John Jay. Esq. Francis Hopkinson, Esq. and Mr. Edward Duffield, of Bonfield, in Philadelphia country, to be the executors of this my last will and testament, and I hereby nominate and appoint them for that purpose.
I would have my body buried with as little expence or ceremony as may be. Philadelphia, July 17, 1778
CODICIL. I Benjamin Franklin, in the foregoing or annexed last will and testament, having further considered the same, do think proper to make and publish the following codicil, in addition thereto.
It having long been a fixed and political opinion of mine, that in a democratical state, there ought to be no offices of profit, for the reasons I had given in an article of my drawing in our constitution, it was my intention, when I accepted the office of president, to devote the appointed salary, to some public use; accordingly I had already, before I made my last will in July last, given large sums of it to colleges, schools, building of churches, etc.; and, in that will l bequeathed two thousand pounds more to the state, for the purpose of making the Schuylkil navigable; but understanding since, that such a sum will do but little towards accomplishing such a work, and that project is not likely to be undertaken for many years to
and having entertained another idea, which ! hope may be more extensively useful, I do hereby revoke and anoul the bequest, and direct that the certificates ! have of what remains due to me of that salary, be sold towards raising the sum of two thousand pounds sterling, to be disposed of as I am now about to order.
It has been an opinion, that he who receives an estate from his ancestors, is under some obligation to transmit the same to posterity. This obligation lies not on me, who never inherited a shilling from any ancestor or relation. I shall, however, if it is not diminished by some accident before my death, leave a considerable estate among my descendants and relations. The above observation is made merely as some apology to my family, for my making beqnest that do not appear to have any immediate relation to their advantage.
I was born in Boston, New England, and owe my first instructions in literature to the free grammar schools established there. I have, therefore, considered those schools in my will.
But I am also under obligations to the state of Mas. sachussets, for having, unasked, appointed me formerly