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the defences of the province, and was, in effect, the executive government in place of the proprietary governor. From six to nine in the morning he was with this committee, and from nine till four in the afternoon he attended the session of Congress. He assisted in devising plans for obstructing the channel of the Delaware River, and the chevaux-de-frise, as they were called, which were placed in the water were largely of his design.
It was extremely difficult for the Congress to obtain gunpowder for the army. The colonists had always relied on Europe for their supply, and were unaccustomed to manufacturing it. Franklin suggested that they should return to the use of bows and arrows:
"These were good weapons not wisely laid aside: 1st. Because a man may shoot as truly with a bow as with a common musket. 2dly. He can discharge four arrows in the time of charging and discharging one bullet. 3dly. His object is not taken from his view by the smoke of his own side. 4thly. A flight of arrows seen coming upon them, terrifies and disturbs the enemies' attention to their business. 5thly. An arrow striking any part of a man puts him hors de combat till it is extracted. 6thly. Bows and arrows are more easily provided everywhere than muskets and ammunition."
This suggestion seems less strange when we remember that the musket of that time was a smoothbore and comparatively harmless at three hundred yards.
His letters to his old friends in England were full of resentment against the atrocities of the British fleet and army, especially the burning of the town of Portland, Maine. It was at this time that he
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FRANKLIN'S LETTER TO STRAHAN
wrote his famous letter to his old London friend, Mr. Strahan, a reproduction of which, taken from the copy at the State Department, Washington, is given in this volume. It is a most curiously worded, halfhumorous letter, and the most popular one he ever wrote. It has been reprinted again and again, and fac-similes of it have appeared for a hundred years, some of them in school-books.
He could have desired nothing better than its appearance in school-books. One of his pet projects was that all American school-children should be taught how shockingly unjust and cruel Great Britain had been to her colonies; they must learn, he said, to hate her; and while he was in France he prepared a long list of the British outrages which he considered contrary to all the rules of civilized warfare. He intended to have a picture of each one prepared by French artists and sent to America, that the lesson of undying hatred might be burnt into the youthful mind.
In the autumn of 1775 he went with two other commissioners to Washington's army before Boston to arrange for supplies and prepare general plans for the conduct of the war. In the following March he was sent to Canada with Samuel Chase and Charles Carroll, of Maryland, to win over the Canadians to the side of the revolted colonies. Charles Carroll's brother John, a Roman Catholic priest, accompanied them at the request of the members of Congress, who hoped that he would be able to influence the French Canadian clergy.
It was a terrible journey for Franklin, now an old
man; for as they advanced north they found the ground covered with snow and the lakes filled with floating ice. They spent five days beating up the Hudson in a little sloop to Albany, and two weeks after they had started they reached Lake George. General Schuyler, who lived near Albany, accompanied them after they had rested at his house, and assisted in obtaining wagons and boats. Franklin was ill with what he afterwards thought was an incipient attack of the gout which his constitution wanted strength to develop completely. At Saratoga he made up his mind that he would never see his home again, and wrote several letters of farewell.
But by the care and assistance of John Carroll, the priest, with whom he contracted a life-long friendship, he was able to press on, and they reached the southern end of Lake George, where they embarked on a large flat-bottomed boat without a cabin, and sailed the whole length of the lake through the floating ice in about a day. Their boat was hauled by oxen across the land to Lake Champlain, and after a delay of five days they embarked again amidst the floating ice. Sailing and rowing, sleeping under a canvas cover at night, and going ashore to cook their meals, they made the upper end of the lake in about four days, and another day in wagons brought them to Montreal.
Their mission was fruitless. The army under General Montgomery which had invaded the country had been unsuccessful against the British, had contracted large debts with the Canadians which it was unable to pay, and the Canadians would not