Benjamin Franklin, the First Civilized American

By Phillips Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII The Challenge to the Clouds

I

FRANKLIN soon finds that his avowed plans for a life consisting entirely of philosophical studies and amusements are not approved by his fellow citizens. They have other uses for him. Wherever they find a vacant office they try to push Benjamin into it. The governor appoints him a justice of the peace. The Philadelphia corporation makes him a member of the common council and later an alderman. The citizens send him to the Assembly as a burgess.

As a judge Franklin is a failure. Court procedure bores him, and he finds excuses for withdrawing from it, pleading insufficient knowledge of the law. Being a legislator is more to his taste. He is re-elected again and again, for ten successive terms. He accepts each time, though never offering himself as a candidate. He has already made up his mind to adhere to this rule: "Never to ask for an office, never to refuse, and never to resign."

Son William, now about 20 years old, gets a job in the Assembly, too, as its clerk. Franklin does not say it was through his influence, but very likely it was. All his life Franklin looked out politically for his relatives. He was one of the earliest American exponents of nepotism.


II

At the first opportunity, however, Ben is back at the magnificent sport afforded by the fascinating jar from Leyden.

-158-

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