Benjamin Franklin, the First Civilized American

By Phillips Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XX Army General and Ambassador

I

IN 1753 the American colonies hear the preliminary rumblings of the Seven Years' War which is enormously to extend the boundaries of England's empire, humilate and weaken France, and bring Prussia into the European picture with a doughty boldness which is eventually to frighten the world into the convulsion of 1914- 1918.

The Americans, being patriots all, prepare to fight for England's claim to the valley of the Mississippi. They hasten to make peace with all the Indian tribes which are not already on the side of the French, in order to prevent the latter from cutting them off from the vast tract of fertile land just granted by George 11 to the Ohio Company. Under this pressure the colonies make their first attempt at union. A conference is called by the English Lords of Trade to make defensive arrangements with the Six Nations. Seven colonies send delegates to Albany, New York, in June, 1754. The Pennsylvanians are John Penn, Richard Peters, Isaac Norris, and Franklin. There for the first time Franklin meets Thomas Hutchinson, of Massachusetts, with whom later he is to have something to do.

Franklin is all for union. He publishes in his Gazette a rough picture of a snake cut into seven pieces, having the caption "Join or Die." He submits a scheme which is to comprise all the provinces under one government, afterwards known as the Albany Plan of Union. After noisy

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