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Philadelphia. The Quakers, as a class, were not interested in colleges or universities, and confined their efforts to elementary schools. People were alarmed at the ignorance in which not only the masses but even the sons of the best citizens were growing up, and it was the general opinion that those born in the colony were inferior in intelligence to their fathers who had emigrated from England.
Franklin's efforts failed in 1743 because there was much political agitation in the province and because of the preparations for the war with Spain in which England was about to engage ; but in 1749 he renewed his attempt, and was successful. He was then a man of forty-three, had been married thirteen years, and had children, legitimate and illegitimate, to be educated. The Junto supported him, and in aid of his plan he wrote a pamphlet called Proposals relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania."
In this pamphlet he could not set forth his extreme views of education because even the most liberal people in the town were not in favor of them. Philadelphia was at that time the home of liberal ideas in the colonies. Many people were in favor of altering the old system of education and teaching science and other practical subjects in addition to Latin and Greek ; but they did not favor abolishing the study of these languages, and they could not see the necessity of making English so all-important as Franklin wished. He was compelled, therefore, to conform his arguments to the opinions of those from whom
he expected subscriptions, and he did this with his usual discretion, making, however, the English branches as important as was possible under the circumstances.
The result of the pamphlet was that five thousand pounds were subscribed, and the academy started within a year, occupying a large building on Fourth Street, south of Arch, which had been built for the use of George Whitefield, the famous English preacher. It supplied a real need of the community and had plenty of pupils. Within six years it obtained a charter from the proprietors of the province, and became a college, with an academy and a charitable school annexed.
A young Scotchman, the Rev. William Smith, was appointed to govern the institution, and was called the provost. He had very advanced opinions on education, holding much the same views as were expressed in Franklin's proposals; but he was not in accord with Franklin's extreme ideas.* Those who intended to become lawyers, doctors, or clergymen should be taught to walk in the old pathsnd to study Latin and Greek; but the rest were to be deluged with a knowledge of accounts, mathematics, oratory, poetry, chronology, history, natural and mechanic philosophy, agriculture, ethics, physics, chemistry, anatomy, modern languages, fencing, dancing, religion, and everything else that by any chance might be useful.
Thus the academy founded by Franklin became
* Pennsylvania : Colony and Commonwealth, p. 141.
the College of Philadelphia, and as managed by Provost Smith it was a very good one and played a most interesting part in the life and politics of the colony. Its charter was revoked and its property confiscated during the Revolution, and another college was created, called the University of the State of Pennsylvania, which was worthless. Eleven years afterwards the old college was restored to its rights, and soon after that it was combined with the State University, and the union of the two produced the present University of Pennsylvania.* It should, however, have been called Franklin University, which would have been in every way a better name.
* Pennsylvania : Colony and Commonwealth, pp. 374-377, 381.
RELIGION AND MORALS
FRANKLIN's father and mother were Massachusetts Puritans who, while not conspicuously religious, attended steadily to their religious duties. They lived in Milk Street, Boston, near the Old South Church, and little Benjamin was carried across the street the day he was born and baptized in that venerable building.
He was born on Sunday, January 6, 1706 (Old Style), and if it had occurred in one of the Massachusetts towns where the minister was very strict, baptism might have been refused, for some of the Puritans were so severe in their views of Sabbathkeeping that they said a child born on the Sabbath must have been conceived on the Sabbath, and was therefore hopelessly unregenerate.*
These good men would have found their theory fully justified in Franklin, for he became a terrible example of the results of Sabbath birth and begetting. As soon as opportunity offered he became a most persistent Sabbath-breaker. While he lived with his parents he was compelled to go to church; but when apprenticed to his elder brother, and living away from home, he devoted Sunday to reading and
* Men, Women, and Manners in Colonial Times, vol. i. p. 210.
study. He would slip off to the printing-office and spend nearly the whole day there alone with his books; and during a large part of his life Sunday was to him a day precious for its opportunities for study rather than for its opportunities for worship.
His persistence in Sabbath-breaking was fortified by his entire loss of faith in the prevailing religion.
“I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian; and tho' some of the dogmas of that persuasion, such as the eternal decrees of God, election, reprobation, etc., appeared to me unintelligible, others doubtful, and I early absented myself from the public assemblies of the sect, Sunday being my studying day, I never was without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that he made the world and governed it by his Providence ; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter.” (Bigelow's Works of Franklin, vol. i. p. 172.)
It will be observed that he speaks of himself as having been educated a Presbyterian, a term which in his time was applied to the Puritans of Massachusetts. We find Thomas Jefferson also describing the New Englanders as Presbyterians, and in colonial times the Quakers in Pennsylvania used the same term when speaking of them. But they were not Presbyterians in the sense in which the word is now used, and their religion is usually described as Congregationalism.
In the earlier part of his Autobiography Franklin describes more particularly how he was led away from the faith of his parents. Among his father's books were some sermons delivered on the Boyle foundation, which was a fund established at Oxford,