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gain, a decent livelihood. The artifans, who fear creating future rivals in bufinefs, refufe to take apprentices, but upon conditions of money, maintenance, or the like, which the parents are unable to comply with. Hence the youth are dragged up in ignorance of every gainful art, and obliged to become foldiers, or fervants, or thieves, for a fubfiftence. In America, the rapid increafe of inhabitants takes away that fear of rivalfhip, and artifans willingly receive apprentices from the hope of profit by their labour, during the remainder of the time ftipulated, after they fhall be inftructed. Hence it is eafy for poor families to get their children inftructed; for the artifans. are fo defirous of apprentices, that many of them will even give money to the parents, to have boys from ten to fifteen years of age bound apprentices to them, till the age of twenty-one; and many poor parents have, by that means, on their arrival in the country, raifed money enough to buy land fufficient to eftablish themselves, and to fubfift the rest of their family by agriculture. Thefe contracts for apprentices are made before a magiftrate, who regulates the agreement according to reafon and justice; and having in view the formation of a future ufeful citizen, obliges the mafter to engage by a written indenture, not only that, during the time of fervice ftipulated, the apprentice fhall be duly provided with meat, drink, apparel, washing, and lodging, and at its expiration with a complete new fuit of clothes, but also that he fhall be taught to read, write, and caft accounts; and that he fhall be well inftructed in the art or profeffion of his mafter, or fome other, by which he may afterwards gain a livelihood, and be able in his turn to raife a family. A copy of this indenture is given to the apprentice or his friends, and the magiftrate keeps a record
a record of it, to which recourse may be had, in cafe of failure by the master in any point of performance. This defire among the mafters to have more hands employed in working for them, induces them to pay the paffages of young perfons, of both fexes, who, on their arrival, agree to serve them one, two, three, or four years; those who have already learned a trade, agreeing for a fhorter term, in proportion to their skill, and the confequent immediate value of their fervice; and those who have none, agreeing for a longer term, in confideration of being taught an art their poverty would not permit them to acquire in their own country.
The almoft general mediocrity of fortune that prevails in America, obliging its people to follow fome business for fubfiftence, thofe vices that arise ufually from idleness, are in a great measure prevented. Induftry and conftant employment are great prefervatives of the morals and virtue of a nation. Hence bad examples to youth are more rare in America, which must be a comfortable confideration to parents. To this may be truly added, that ferious religion, under its various denominations, is not only tolerated, but refpected and practifed. Atheism is 'unknown there; infidelity rare and fecret; fo that perfons may live to a great age in that country without having their piety fhocked by meeting with either an atheist or an infidel. And the Divine Being feems to have manifefted his approbation of the mutual forbearance and kindness with which the different fects treat each other, by the remarkable profperity with which he has been pleased to favour the whole country.
FINAL SPEECH OF DR. FRANKLIN IN THE
I CONFESS that I do not entirely approve of this conftitution at prefent: but, Sir, I am not fure I fhall never approve it; for having lived so long, I have experienced many inftances of being obliged by better information, or fuller confideration, to change opinions even on important fubjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwife. It is, therefore, that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more refpect to the judgment of others. Moft men, indeed, as well as moft fects in religion, think themselves in poffeffion of all truth, and that whenever others differ from them, it is fo far error. Steele, a proteftant, in a dedication, tells the pope, that" the only "difference between our two churches, in their
opinions of the certainty of their doctrines, is, "the Romish church is infallible, and the church "of England never in the wrong." But, though many private perfons think almoft as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their fect, few exprefs it fo naturally as a certain French lady, who, in a little difpute with her fifter, faid, I don't know how it happens, fifter, but I meet with nobody but myself that is always in the right. Il n'y a que moi qui a toujours raifon. In thefe fentiments, Sir, I agree to this conftitution, with all
* Our reafons for afcribing this fpeech to Dr. Franklin, are its internal evidence, and its having appeared with his name, during his life-time, uncontradicted, in an American periodical publication.
its faults, if they are fuch; because I think a general government neceffary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a bleffing, if well administered; and I believe farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in defpotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people fhall become fo corrupted as to need defpotic government, being incapable of any other. I doubt, too, whether any other convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better conftitution. For when you affemble a number of men, to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably affemble with thofe men, all their prejudices, their paffions, their errors of opinion, their loca interefts, and their selfish views. From fuch an affembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore aftonifhes me, Sir, to find this fyftem approaching fo near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence, to hear that our councils are confounded, like those of the builders of Babylon, and that our states are on the point of feparation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting each other's throats.
Thus I confent, Sir, to this conftitution, because I expect no better, and because I am not fure that this is not the beft. The opinions I have had of its errors, I facrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a fyllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born; and here they shall die. If every one of us, in returning to our constituents, were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavour to gain partisans in fupport of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the falutary effects and great advantages refulting naturally in our favour among foreign nations, as well as among
among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity. Much of the ftrength and efficiency of any government, in procuring and fecuring happinefs to the people, depends on opinion; on the general opinion of the goodness of that government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its governors.
I hope, therefore, that for our own fakes as a part of the people, and for the fake of our pofterity, we fhall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this conftitution, wherever our inHuence may extend, and turn our future thoughts and endeavours to the means of having it well administered.
On the whole, Sir, I cannot help expreffing a wifh, that every member of the convention, who may ftill have objections, would with me, on this occafion, doubt a little of his own infallibility, and, to make manifeft our unanimity, put his name to this inftrument.
[The motion was then made for adding the last formula, viz.
Done in Convention, by the unanimous confent, &c. which was agreed to, and added accordingly.]