Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

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Power of Religion

{Pearls on the String}
Gloria Dei Old Swedes Episcopal Church

Religious power can be seen in various ways; here, we refer to the power to command obedience. Disobedience usually has some religious punishment, the power to send someone to hell for disobedience, or the power to extend or deny communion. To a certain degree these punishments are enumerated in advance and agreed-to specifically, and to a certain degree are revealed in retrospect under a blanket agreement to obey if you join. They are semi-contracts. And to a certain degree are revealed in retrospect, as in the power of Reverend Jones to command an entire colony to commit suicide likely was.

The point of no return is at the moment of joining the religion and resembles a contract freely given. Baptism at birth is involuntary and thought by some to go too far. So some religions like the Pennsylvania Amish give the joiner a second chance to reconsider, whereas certain Moslem sects regard the decision to join as final. There are many variations, which bothered the founders of the American Constitution as too much to handle when your goal was unification. and they probably correctly wished they could have found a workable inclusion for slavery. Except for occasional exceptions, joining a religion was the point before and after which the implied contract was considered final. It was the point before which the quid was in existence for the pro quo. Borderline cases would have to be settled by a Judge, or else by a court of Equity. Notice: the default was institutional, usually governmental because by definition it was retrospective, defined by the prior act of accepting citizenship. But if you went beyond that, two systems were unified by a general belief in God. When you are dealing with a large number of dissenters, this system is a little weaker in theory than it was in 1789.

Unalienable Rights Before 1776

Magna Carta

In 1976, the bicentennial birthday celebration of the Declaration of Independence contained two major exhibits of its conceptual origins. Mr. H. Ross Perot of Texas loaned his copy of the 1215 Magna Carta, and the Proprietors of West Jersey loaned their 1677 original of William Penn's Concessions and Agreements to the colonists of New Jersey. The purpose of the exhibit was to emphasize the historical origins of the concepts within the Declaration, but even the language of the Concessions is remarkably similar, quite evidently lifted by Jefferson when he was writing. On one point, Penn had the better of Jefferson; he correctly wrote about inalienable rights, while somehow Jefferson gave us unalienable ones.

William Penn

The matter came up recently at a Socrates meeting of the Right Angle Club, where at least one member felt there was no such thing as a natural right, while others wavered. In discussing the rights which the Creator, William Penn and/or Thomas Jefferson may have given us, the various contexts must be held in mind. At the time of declaring our intention to sever relations with Britain's King, there was no Constitution to refer to as a source, and it was impolitic to assert the rights had been given by English kings, like King John. Therefore, the language cleverly short-cuts around the divine right of kings to make a direct connection between the Creator and the colonists. William Penn on the other hand, was a real estate promoter, offering enticements and assurances to prospective colonists who were naturally fearful of risking their lives in sailboats, only to face the possible tyranny of a vassal king who might be even worse than the anointed one. Not only did Penn renounce any suggestion of a Royal role for himself, but went to considerable length describing the legally binding concessions and agreements he was offering. The right of trial by jury, for example, became a right to be punished only by a jury of twelve of one's neighbors. He wasn't talking to lawyers, he was making important distinctions very clear to laymen. These were not rights given by a Divinity who could be trusted, nor something which grew out of Mother Nature. They were the personal promises of William Penn, in personal legal jeopardy of the English courts if he reneged on them. He even had a ready answer for those who discovered the religious language in legal documents -- the Quaker belief that, occasional appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, There is That of God, in every man.

H. Ross Perot

As a small sidelight of the Concessions document, it had long been housed in the little brick hut on Main Street in Burlington NJ, where the Proprietors of West Jersey keep their treasures. The obscurity of these papers was probably their best protection, but the risk of displaying them in Philadelphia at the centennial brought out the need to ensure them, hence to appraise their value. The figure of four million dollars was kicked around. Ross Perot might have felt comfortable with this sort of expense as the natural cost of being a rare book collector, but it seemed highly unnatural to Quakers. Sometime afterward, the Surveyor General, William Taylor, was awakened by a call from Burlington neighbors that someone was trying to break in the roof to steal contents of the Proprietorship building. The burglars were unaware that underneath the shingles, the roof was actually made of concrete a foot thick. So the perps were frustrated in their aims, but Bill Taylor was greatly troubled by the implications, actually unable to sleep at night worrying about what was in his custody. So, in time the State of New Jersey constructed a suitable archives building, and the valuable documents were transferred up to Trenton. Time will tell what the Soprano State does with such a valuable possession, but at least the Quakers can now sleep at night.

Franklin: Upstart Hero of King George's War (1747)

In 1747, Benjamin Franklin had a life-transforming experience, acting quite unlike his character before, or later. At that time, Old Europe was engaged in some distant tribal skirmishing which has come to be known as King George's War. King George II, that is, under whose rule Franklin in 1751 inscribed on the cornerstone of the Pennsylvania Hospital that Pennsylvania was flourishing, "for he sought the happiness of his people."

The cornerstone of the
Pennsylvania Hospital inscribed by Franklin.

Those distant commotions suddenly developed a harsh reality for the little pacifist sanctuaries on the Delaware River, when French and Spanish privateers suddenly raided and destroyed settlements on Delaware Bay. The Quaker Assemblies and their absentee Proprietor merely dithered and huddled in the face of what impended as a totally unexpected threat of annihilation of the pacifist colonies. It probably only seemed natural for the owner of the largest newspaper in the colony to publish a pamphlet called "Plain Truth," urging the inhabitants to rally to their own defense, and pressure their government to lead them. The Quaker leaders were in fact unable to readjust a lifetime of pacifist belief in a few days of an emergency, and the English Proprietor, then Thomas Penn, was far too remote to take active charge of matters. So, Franklin gave speeches, also an unfamiliar role for him, and finally brought out a detailed proposal for the creation of a Pennsylvania Militia. Ten thousand volunteers promptly signed up, elected Franklin as their Colonel; but he declined, and served as a common soldier.

Benjamin Franklin in 1767.

Against naval attack, the Militia needed cannon, which did not exist in the colony. So Franklin organized a lottery, raised three thousand pounds, and tried to buy cannon from Governor Clinton of New York. New York declined to sell, and so Franklin led a delegation to New York to negotiate. The negotiations largely consisted of getting Governor Clinton drunk and convivial, but they were successful, the artillery was shipped off to Philadelphia. Although they were undoubtedly grateful to Franklin for saving the day, this entirely extra-legal recruitment of an army badly rattled the Quakers and their Proprietor, since it demonstrated the ineffectiveness of their governance at a time of obvious crisis, and might ultimately have led to their overthrow. Franklin's heroic behavior seemed so threatening to Thomas Penn that he described him as "a dangerous man," acting like "the Tribune of the People."

When the underlying commotion in Old Europe subsided, the threat to the colonies disappeared, so the Militia disbanded in a year. Franklin seemed to be just as uncomfortable with his unaccustomed role as the governing leaders were, and he hardly ever mentioned it again. However, this is the sort of reflex leadership that makes political careers, and it surely influenced his decision to retire from business in 1748, run for election to the Assembly, and live like a gentleman. Seven years later, during the French and Indian War, he had become the chosen leader of the Pennsylvania Assembly, had much longer to think through what he was doing, and had learned how to organize a war. By that time, as the saying goes, he knew who he was. He was a man whose silent memories could flashback to that time when a bald fat printer stepped out of the crowd, saying "Follow me," and ten thousand men with muskets did so.

Franklin was a hero to every man in Philadelphia, except one. That was Thomas Penn, who thought to himself, "That man is dangerous."

Philadelphia in 1658

Annals of Philadelphia

Of all the settlers prior to Penn, I feel most interested to notice the name of Jurian Hartsfield, because he took up all of Campington, 350 acres, as early as March 1676, nearly six years before Penn's colony came. He settled under a patent from Governor Andros. What a pioneer, to push on to such a frontier post! But how melancholy to think, that a man, possessing the freehold of what is now cut up into thousands of Northern Liberty lots, should have left no fame, nor any wealth, to any posterity of his name. But the chief pioneer must have been Warner, who, as early as the year 1658, had the hardihood to locate and settle the place, now Warner's Willow Grove, on the north side of the Lancaster Road, two miles from the city bridge. What an isolated existence in the midst of savage beasts and men must such a family have then experienced! What a difference between the relative comforts and household conveniences of that day and this! Yea, what changes did he witness, even in the long interval of a quarter of a century before the arrival of Penn's colony! To such a place let the antiquary now go to contemplate the localities so peculiarly unique!"

--John F. Watson, Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania in the Olden Time

Boundaries of the Grant of Pennsylvania

Boundary Disputes Before 1776 : New Blog 2334 Set by King or his courts.: Blog 2334 ; Topic 703 :

{4 Corners of Pennsylvania}
Four Corners of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania always had its best lawyer in William Penn. Until 1776, the boundaries between the American colonies were settled in London, either by the King or the British courts.: After 1787, disputes over boundaries were settled in the United States Federal Courts, acting under Section III brieflyof the Constitution. Generally speaking, boundaries were originally created by treaties, Kings, and briefly by Congress. Boundary disputes were then settled in the courts, first in England, and briefly in Federal Courts. Between 1776 and 1787, however, the Articles of Confederation governed. The immediate problem was that the Articles were not finally ratified until 1781. A technical problem was that surveying instruments were improving during this period. The judicial problem was that a body of law was evolving about when to use the deepest channel of a river or when to use the half-way point between the two banks of a river, and whether to use just one bank of the river or the other. The political problem was that major immigration made everyone less care-free about boundaries of the land which were steadily growing more valuable. The American period under the Articles of Confederation were just one big argument about state borders.

A century earlier, when British kings were handing out charters to those adventurous enough to accept them, there was plenty of cheap land if someone could defend it. The common approach to granting charters was to pick two points along the Atlantic, and from there to extend lines westward as far as they could go. When the lines bumped into lines given to other colonies, there were countless lawsuits and occasionally little wars.

Only the three Quaker colonies of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware were formed late enough in the colonial period to enjoy practical ways even to define a western border. Virginia, the largest colony, officially extended itself to include what is now Kentucky and West Virginia, and had reasonably defensible claims to all the land of the Northwest Territory, on the western side of the defined Pennsylvania western border, all the way north to the Great Lakes. When the Indians finally woke up to what was happening, they rebelled under the leadership of Pontiac and Tecumseh and were helped in their massacres of white settlers by the French, later by the British.

Peaceful rectangular Pennsylvania experienced armed nibbles at each of its four corners; from Maryland in the southeast, Virginia in the southwest, Connecticut in the northeast. On its northwestern corner, Pennsylvania had the award of the Erie connection to the Great Lakes to settle an overlapping conflict between Connecticut and New York.

The Articles of Confederation, composed mostly with common defense against England in mind, were deliberately inadequate to govern disputes between allies within the revolters. Discovering remarkable subsidence of such disputes after the installation of the Constitution, this might well have become a major reason for replacing the Articles of Confederation if it had been foreseen. But that was scarcely the case. The American colonists simply had no idea the Union would make such disputes immediately seem trivial if still remaining fairly numerous. When the advantages of peaceful unification are considered by other nations on other continents, consideration really should highlight the sense of delight America felt at the discovery of this unexpected bounty. At a minimum, it helped us ignore the many fumbles we also experienced.

William B. Willcox, the editor of volume 22 of Yale's collected works of Benjamin Franklin, prefaces that 706-page book about Franklin's pre-Revolution activities with a long essay of his own. In it he attributes Franklin's frenzy to his early perception that war with England was inevitable, while it is equally arguable that failure to mention it (and land speculation) was due to the secrecy he learned as Grand Master of the Masons. Certainly George Washington was a Mason, Mozart was a Mason, and Franklin frequently used this wide and powerful association to advance his friendships with people far above a printer's social status. And yet neither mentions freemasonry. The index to this collected work about it, although 47 pages long, makes no mention of Masons (or related phrasings), in spite of Grand Master Franklin's portrait hanging next to the portrait of Washington in the Masonic Temple of Philadelphia. Franklin's strange silence may well prove the insignificance of the matter, while freemasonry might just as well be regarded as proof of exaggerated secrecy, and the undeniable land wealth of his estate as proof of land speculation. "Poor Richard" indeed. He died one of the richest landholders in America. To cite a later editor who says, "Franklin is always straight in what he says, he just doesn't tell us everything".

Second Amendment: The 28th Infantry Division

SINCE the nation was only formed in 1776, and the only memorable war before that was the French and Indian War of 1754, the origin in 1747 of the Pennsylvania 28th Division of Infantry needs a little explaining. The 28th is a National Guard reserve unit, taking its present organizational form 138 years ago. Even counting from that moment makes it the oldest (and third largest) division in the Army, but another 123 years of history stretch back before that.

{top quote}
AMENDMENT II A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. {bottom quote}
Second Amendment

A few people remember that Ben Franklin made his first step into politics during King George's War (1744-48), when French and Spanish privateers were suddenly roaming Delaware Bay . The pacifist Quaker government hesitated in confusion, so Franklin stepped forward to call for a volunteer militia. It was paid for with a lottery because the Quaker legislature resisted; there seemingly was no end to Franklin's ingenuity. The unit remained a permanent one, and since then served with distinction in the various conflicts through the Civil War, when it was organized into the National Guard. The volunteer movement it inspired was part of the impetus for the Second Amendment to the Constitution which the National Rifle Association will be glad to explain to you, although historians commonly trace the civilian soldier tradition back to King James and the English Civil War. Franklin was unfailingly patriotic, and never hesitated about military measures when they seemed necessary. He lived long enough so his military sympathies were still a dominant force at the Constitutional Convention, more than forty years later.

Major General Wesley E. Craig Jr., former commander of the Division, was kind enough to address the Right Angle Club about the 28th Division recently. Since the citizen soldiers of the National Guard all have other careers, his daytime job was as an executive for Strawbridge and Clothier. A moment of reflection about the Scottish origin of his own name, connected with a strongly Quaker firm, evokes the two strongest social and ethnic tensions of early Pennsylvania history.

The audience was treated to a description of the military history of the unit, whose largest battle was the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. But they are in Iraq today, with almost every soldier having served one tour of duty, many of them two or even more. They were the unit stationed in El Ambar province during the period before the Sheiks finally decided that America was going to win this war, and changed sides. General Craig had returned to America only a month before this famous turning-point. Before that, units of the 28th were in Bosnia and Kosovo, and are proud to have been chosen for the introduction of many innovative technologies. They are the only reserve division with Stryker vehicles, and before that employed unmanned drone aircraft for reconnaissance. Observer drones fly at 2000 feet and carry no weapons, unlike the Predator drones which carry rockets and fly at 10,000 feet.

Not everything is a story of combat action; the 28th Division is very proud of its activities in the Katrina rescue missions and other domestic emergencies. The Go Ahead Division is proud of its reputation for being on time, every time.

And it is mindful of the sad side. In Iraq, it is 31 KIA, with 167 WIA. If you're uncertain what that means, try a little harder.

John Head, His Book of Account, 1718-1753

{American Philosophical Society}
American Philosophical Society

Jay Robert Stiefel of of the Friends Advisory Board to the Library of the American Philosophical Society entertained the Right Angle Club at lunch recently, and among other things managed a brilliant demonstration of what real scholarship can accomplish. It's hard to imagine why the Vaux family, who lived on the grounds of what is now the Chestnut Hill Hospital and occasionally rode in Bentleys to the local train station, would keep a book of receipts of their cabinet maker ancestor for nearly three hundred years. But they did, and it's even harder to see why Jay Stiefel would devote long hours to puzzling over the receipts and payments for cabinets and clock cases of a 1720 joiner. Somehow he recognized that the shop activities of a wilderness village of 5000 residents encoded an important story of the Industrial Revolution, the economic difficulties of colonies, and the foundations of modern commerce. Just as the Rosetta stone told a story for thousands of years that no one troubled to read, John Head's account book told another one that sat unnoticed on that library shelf for six generations.

{Colonial Money}
Colonial Money

The first story is an obvious one. Money in colonial days was mainly an entry in everybody's account book; today it is mainly an entry in computers. In the intervening three centuries, coins and currency made an appearance, flourished for a while as the tangible symbol of money, and then declined. Although Great Britain did not totally prohibit paper money in the colonies until 1775, in John Head's day, from 1718 to 1754, paper money was scarce and coins hard to come by. Because it was so easy to counterfeit paper money on the crude printing presses of the day, paper money was always questionable. Meanwhile, the balance of trade was so heavily in the direction of the colonies that the balance of payments was toward England. What few coins there were, quickly disappeared back to England, while local colonial commerce nearly strangled. The Quakers of Philadelphia all maintained careful books of account, and when it seemed a transaction was completed, the individual account books of buyer and seller were "squared". The credit default swap "crisis" of 2008 could be said to be a sharp reminder that we have returned to bookkeeping entries, but have badly neglected the Quaker process of squaring accounts. As the general public slowly acquires computer power of its own, it is slowly recognizing how far the banks, telephone companies, and department stores have wandered from routine mutual account reconciliation.
John Head's Account Book

From John Head's careful notations we learn it was routine for payment to be stretched out for months, but no interest was charged for late payment and no discounts were offered for ready money. It would be another century before it became routinely apparent that interest was the rent charged for money and the risk of intervening inflation, before final payment. In this way, artisans learned to be bankers.

And artisans learned to be merchants, too. In the little village of Philadelphia, chairs became part of the monetary system. In bartering cabinets for the money, John Head did not make chairs in his shop at 3rd and Mulberry (Arch Street) but would take them in partial payment for a cabinet, and then sell the chairs for the money. Many artisans made single components but nearly everyone was forced into bartering general furniture. Nobody was paid a salary. Indentured servants, apprenticeships trading labor for training, and even slavery benignly conducted, can be partially seen as efforts to construct an industrial society without payrolls. Everybody was in daily commerce with everybody else. Out of this constant trading came the efficiency step for which Quakers are famous: one price, no haggling.

One other thing jumps out at the modern reader from this book of account. No taxes. When taxes came, we had a revolution.

Second and Market to Sixth and Walnut

{top quote}
Millions of eye patients have been asked to read the passage from Franklin's autobiography,

"I walked up Market Street, etc.",

which is universally printed on eye-test cards. Here's your chance to do it. {bottom quote}
Dr. Fisher

Emerge from Christ Church onto Market Street, crossing to the Southside. Between Third and Fourth Streets (318 Market), there is a row of Eighteenth-Century Houses, commissioned by Benjamin Franklin, with a central archway leading to the interior of the block where he placed his own house. The restorationists have cleverly displayed the skeleton of the rafters of the house. When the British occupied Philadelphia in 1788, Major Andre (later to become Benedict Arnold's spy-handler) insolently took Franklin's own house as his headquarters (General Howe took Robert Morris's much more splendid house further up Market Street between Fifth and Sixth.) John Andre was court jester for the British officers. He was a poet, playwright, wit, and dashing life of every party. Washington was in tears when he ordered his hanging.

Continue on and out the South end of Franklin Court, onto Chestnut Street, after you have visited the Museum of Ben Franklin, aimed at children but containing examples of his many inventions, a theater with interesting short presentations, and a fascinating sound and light show of Franklin's great moments. The somewhat unexpected underground building is a product of the famous architect, Frank Venturi. At the corner of 3rd and Chestnut (where a restaurant now stands) once stood the house of Alexander Hamilton, and a few houses further North on 3rd Street remains the dilapidated remnant of the business of Anthony Drexel, the mentor and later senior partner to J.P. Morgan. Turning about and looking south, you can see the reason for this concentration of financiers. Just south of Chestnut is the First Bank of the United States (the fascinating Museum of Old House Parts is on the second floor), while the two blocks of Chestnut Street -- Third to Fifth Streets -- are filled with the massive stone piles of other banks of Philadelphia, culminating in that Parthenon-appearing Second Bank, Nicholas Biddle's bank. In the forty years before Andrew Jackson and Martin van Buren interfered, it wasn't Wall Street that mattered, it was Chestnut Street.

Proceed westward on Chestnut Street, and pass the converted bank now used by the Chemical Heritage Foundation, followed by another bank used by the American Philosophical Society as an auditorium. On the other side of the street, an alley leads southward to Carpenters Hall, where the First Continental Congress held deliberations. At that time, it was the largest private building in the Colonies.

Continuing to Fifth and Chestnut, you may wish to take a detour south to around Sixth and Pine to see the mansions of Society Hill, particularly the Powell House and the Physick House. Intermingled with the red brick Georgian style are examples of classical style reflecting French influence. Our present tour, however, points you to the red brick building just to the south of Independence Hall on Fifth Street. It looks like part of the State House complex but is actually the home of the American Philosophical Society, now housing its fascinating museum (seen only by appointment). After that, by all means, stand in line and take the National Parks tour of Independence Hall, which is one of the best displays in the whole Park Service. After that, the tour of the Liberty Bell on the north side of Chestnut is just a trifle tame, but a mandatory visit.

{The PCurtis Building}
The Curtis Building

Do not neglect to cross Sixth Street to the Curtis Building, where a few steps inside is the astonishing mosaic constructed by Louis Comfort Tiffany out of Tiffany glass, based on the artistry of Philadelphian Maxfield Parrish. Look around the lobby, which is pretty ornate, but it once held printing presses for the Saturday Evening Post.

Emerge from the Curtis Building on the Seventh Street side. Take a look at the Atwater Kent Museum of the City of Philadelphia, then notice the Jeweler's Row on Samson Street. The house where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence is at the corner of 7th and Market; it's a reproduction, however. This would bring you back to the subways and high-speed line where the tour began. Instead, the full tour goes back to the Curtis Building and heads south.

New blog 4374 2020-09-22 21:06:52 TITLE Knight's Templar : Blog 4374 :

CONTENTS: this is

Knights Templar :

Blog 4374 : Topic 701 :

The One Day University undertook the Knights Templar about the same time we took up Freemasonry, so there was some repetition with Hiram Abiv-Solomon. But not completely, so we reprint a review here.

For a secret Society, the Freemasons and the Knights Templar are pretty broad in their claims, tracing their beginnings to Solomon"s Temple, and who is to argue with a secret society? It gets them Jewish members, who don't outnumbhorer the offended Catholic non-members, but it helps. The more likely legend is the Knights Templar had their beginnings in the Crusades and the Freemasons took over the abandoned Temples when the French King suddenly assassinated the Knights. For their money or power, we presume, and the Masons moved in. But that's just conjecture. They both believe in equality, and geometry is the route to God. They believe in democratic freedom, and the Knights are (now?) a member of the Masons. In the 16th Century they turned away from religion, and Isaac Newton, though a determined alchemist, took over. In the 19th Century, maybe it was the 13th, they fell out with the Pope and he said he would excommunicate anyone who joined. Somewhere the Scottish rite at Rosslyne took over, adding some ritual, and Sir William St. Clare assumed leadership. Thousands visit Rosslyne every year, and membership is in the millions, world-wide. But as Nancy Pelosi said of Obamacare, you have to join, to find out what's in it.

Ben Franklin joined in 1731, John Hancock, Paul Revere and Joseph Warren were members, meeting regularly with George Washington at the Green Dragon Tavern in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Later on, Franklin substituted "self evident" for Jefferson's "sacred honor", and being a good Mason, Jefferson complied. Since Voltaire, Hume, and 40 percent of the Revolutionary officers were Masons, there is little doubt the Masons were central to the Revolution, maybe even started it.

That isn't the end of it. The square is the symbol of Masonry, and Washington was keen on having Enfant lay out the capital in Masonic design. The cornerstone of the capitol building was dedicated in Masonic ritual. And have you looked at the back of a dollar bill, lately?


Albany Conference 1754

State and Federal Powers: Historical Review

John Dickinson of Delaware

It was expedient to leave certain phrases in the Constitution intentionally vague, but the overall design is clear enough. Just as twenty-eight sovereign European nations now struggle to form a European Union, thirteen formerly sovereign American colonies once struggled to unify for the stronger defense at a reduced cost. Intentionally or not, that created a new and unique culture, reliant on the constant shifting of power among friendly rivals. Everybody was a recent frontiersman, trusting, but suspicious. It still takes newcomers a while to get used to it.

So the primary reason for uniting thirteen colonies was for a stronger defense. As even the three Quaker colonies of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware could see, if you are strong, others will leave you alone. In time, the unification of many inconsequential behaviors created a common culture of important ones; and in time that common culture strengthened defense. At first, it seemingly made little practical difference locally whether construction standards, legal standards, language and education standards and the like were unified or not. Except, that in the aggregate, it forged a common culture.

The practice of Medicine was certainly one of those occupations where it mattered very little whether we were a unified nation. Unification of medical care offered a few benefits, but mostly it didn't matter much, right up to 1920 or so. Even then I would offer the opinion, that unification of the several states (with consequent Free Trade) only made a big difference to health insurance, and still made little difference to the rest of medical care. In fact, there are still about fifteen states with too little population density to provide comfortable actuarial soundness for health insurance, as can readily be observed in the political behavior of their U.S. Senators. Although the number of low-population states gets smaller as the population grows, there are even so perhaps only ten big states where multiple health insurance companies can effectively compete within a single state border. Quite naturally the big-state insurers expect one day to eat up the small ones. By contrast, the nation as a whole, the gigantic population entity which Obamacare seeks to address, has far too many people spread out over far too large an area, to be confident we could unify them into one single program. Dividing the country into six or seven regions would be a much safer bet. That's the real message of the failure of the Computerized Insurance Exchanges -- far too much volume. And the coming failure of the Computerized Medical Record -- with too much complexity. With unlimited money, it can be done, because diseases are disappearing and computers are improving. But why struggle so hard?

It is at least fifteen years too early, and mostly serves the interest of insurance companies, if they can survive the experience. At the same time, we are at least fifteen years away from growing the smallest states to the point where we could decentralize. It's really a situation very similar to the one John Dickinson identified, James Madison briefly acknowledged, and where Benjamin Franklin improvised a solution. In their case, it was a bicameral legislature. In the case of medical care, it could be an administrative division of revenue from the expenditure. It could be the cure of a half-dozen chronic diseases. It could be six regional Obamacare. But creating one big national insurance company during a severe financial recession is something we will be lucky to survive.

Returning to the Constitutional Convention, an additional feature was added to the tentative 1787 document to respond to protests from small component states. They objected that whatever the big-state motives might be, small states would always be dominated by populous ones with more congressmen if a unicameral Legislature is made up of congressmen elected by the population. Pennsylvania had recently had a bad experience with a unicameral legislature. So a compromise bicameral legislature (with differing electoral composition in the two houses) was added to protect small-state freedoms from big domineering neighbors. Even after the Constitution was agreed to and signed, the states in ratifying it still insisted on a Bill of Rights, especially the Tenth Amendment, elevating certain citizen prerogatives above any form of political infringement, by any kind of a majority. These particular points were "rights"; individuals were even to be insulated from their own local state government. The larger the power of government, the less they trusted it.

John Dickinson of Delaware, the smallest state, soon made the essential point abundantly clear to a startled James Madison, when he pulled him aside in a corridor of Independence Hall, and uttered words to the effect of, "Do you want a Union, or don't you?", speaking on behalf of a coalition of small states. It was probably galling to Dickinson that Madison had never really considered the matter, and went about the Constitutional Convention airing the opinion that, of course, the big states would run things. Dickinson, who had been Governor of two states at once, had observed the effect of this attitude and wasn't going to have more of it.

{William Bingham class=}

Benjamin Franklin, who for over 40 years had been working on a plan for a union of thirteen colonies (since 1745, long ago producing the first American political cartoon for the Albany Conference), devised the compromise. It was essentially a bicameral legislature -- with undiminished relative power in the Senate for small states. In this backroom negotiation, it was pretty clear Franklin held the support of two powerful but mostly silent big-state delegates, Robert Morris and George Washington. These were the three men of whom it could be said, the Revolution would never have been won without each of them. In 1787 they were still the dominant figures in diplomacy, finance, and the military. All three were deeply committed to a workable Union, each for somewhat different reasons. Now that a workable Union was finally within sight, parochial squabbles about states rights were not going to be allowed to destroy their dream of unity.

And so it comes about, they gave us a Federal government with a few enumerated powers, ruling a collection of state governments with regional power over everything else. And since big-state/small-state squabbles are unending, almost any other solution to some problem repeatedly, seemed preferable to disturbing what holds it all together. On the other hand, the Industrial Revolution was beginning at about the same time, and people who recognized the power of larger markets almost immediately set about attacking state-dominated arrangements, systematically weakening them for a century, and redoubling the attack during the Progressive era at the end of the 19th Century. Attacks on what seemed like an abuse of state power, the power to retain slavery, and later the power to perpetuate white racism, were claimed to justify this attrition of states rights. The ghost of the Civil War hung over all these arguments, restraining those who pushed them too far.

However, the driving force was industrialization, with enlarged businesses pushing back against the confinement of single-state regulation within a market that was larger than that. This restlessness with confining boundaries was in turn driven by railroads and the telegraph, improving communication and enlarging markets, which offered new opportunities to dominate state governments, and when necessary the political power weakens them. One by one, industries found ways to escape state regulation, although the insurance industry was the most resistant, whereas local tradesmen like physicians found it more congenial to side with state and local governments. The 1929 crash and the Franklin Roosevelt New Deal greatly accelerated this dichotomy, as did the two World Wars and the Progressive movement from Teddy Roosevelt to Woodrow Wilson. The Founding Fathers were said to have got what they wanted, which was a continuous tension between two forces, supporting both large and small governments; with neither of them completely winning the battle.

Insurance Monopoly

The medical profession further evolved from a small town trade into a prosperous profession during the 20th century, but the practice of medicine remained comfortably local. Even junior faculty members who move between medical schools quickly come to realize their national attitudes are somewhat out of touch with local realities. For doctors, state licensure and state regulation remained quite adequate, and state-regulated health insurance companies paid generously. State-limited health insurance companies had a somewhat less comfortable time of it, but the ferocity of state-limited insurance lobbying, as exemplified by the McCarran Ferguson Act, perpetuated it. The medical profession watched uneasily as the growth of employer-paid insurance extended the power of large employers over health insurance companies beyond state boundaries, and thus in turn over what had been medical profession's kingdom, the hospitals. And the medical profession also had to watch increasing congeniality with big government extend through businesses, unions and universities, fueled by overhead allowances of federal research grants and finally in 1965, federal health insurance programs. Nobody likes his regulator, but national organizations inevitably prefer a single regulator to fifty different ones. Furthermore, everybody could see that health care suddenly had lots of money, and naturally, everybody wanted some.

{top quote}
There is nothing naturally inter-state about medical care -- except health insurance. {bottom quote}
It was all very well to pretend that health care was out-growing local-state regulation, but those on the inside could uneasily watch the federal/state competition for control, with the federal government repeatedly stacking the deck more in its own favor. Aside from federal program interventions, there is still nothing naturally inter-state about medical care -- except health insurance. Doctors, hospitals, and patients all tend to remain local, but insurance can easily cross state lines if regulation permits. Even in insurance, small states have difficulty maintaining actuarial stability, driving health insurance toward one-state monopolies. With a few big-state exceptions, even most health insurance companies prefer single-state monopoly status to federal regulation because it facilitates marketing. To praise the virtues of insurance competition is fine, but if sharing the local market means struggling for adequate risk reserves, nationwide regulation will inevitably lead to domination by a few big-state insurance companies. Small-state insurers would enjoy access to a national market; but blocked from it, they need to retain a local monopoly to survive. Fleeting thought might be given to Constitutional Amendment, but there are probably always going to be enough states which consider themselves small, to block the two-thirds requirement for Amendment. Imposing nationwide uniformity by force would possibly improve standards, but uniformity is increasing rather than decreasing, so the argument is not a strong one.

To be fair about it, there was not a strong case for state regulation, either. It could have been argued that uniformity and reduced administrative costs favored central regulation over-dispersed control, because of improved efficiency; and few would have argued about it. Until the ACA insurance exchanges crashed of their own weight around the ears of hapless creators, that is, unable to do what Amazon seems to do every day, and raising quite a few embarrassing recollections. Recollections of the mess the Sherman Antitrust Act inflicted on local medical charity in Maricopa County, Arizona. Recollections of the "Spruce Goose" airplane that Howard Hughes made so big it couldn't fly. Recollections of the gigantic traffic jam strangling the District of Columbia every weekend. And, reminders that 2500 pages of legislation remain to be converted into 20,000 pages of regulations which it would take a lifetime to understand. Suddenly, let's face it, retaining state regulation of health care, or not rocking the boat, gets a lot better press. It might even work better than the national kind, especially in an environment where no one expected a perfect solution, and just about everyone had heard of the Curse of Bigness. When we first discovered that use of health insurance added 10% to the cost of health care, it had seemed like an easy place to extract 2% of the Gross Domestic Product for better things, just by streamlining administration. But after the health exchange fiasco, some people begin to wonder if 10% is just what it costs to use insurance to pay for healthcare. If that is the case, perhaps we should look at other ways of paying our bills, not just a different regulator. Nobody would pay 10% just to have his bills paid, if he understood what he was doing.

Quakers Turn Their Backs on Power

{Pearls on the String}
Benjamin Franklin

There have been a number of excellent books about Ben Franklin lately, but all take his side in the dispute with Quakers. These authors relate Franklin struggled with the Quakers, fought with that political party, heroically overcame them with wisdom and guile. Good thing, too, or we all might still be subjects of the British crown.

Well, within the Quaker community these events are viewed differently. Around the year 1755, the Quakers who owned and ran Pennsylvania abruptly turned away from politics and left the government to their political enemies, rather than compromise religious principles. It is difficult to think of any other instance in history when a ruling party decided to become humble subjects of the opposing party, simply because they refused to do what obviously had to be done.

The background of this perplexing issue goes back to the founding of the Quaker colonies, which had lived in a real Utopia for seventy-five years. Repeatedly it had been true that if they just followed the highest principle, things worked out well for everybody. For example, they didn't need to buy the land a second time from the Indians, but they did, with the gratifying result of peaceful co-existence while other colonies experienced constant Indian wars. Penn negotiated the borders of his states with the neighbors, and although it took decades, brought peace and prosperous trade in return. Strict honesty in mercantile matters led to a reputation for trustworthiness, and that in turn led to prosperous commerce. Using a fixed price rather than haggling over price speeded up transactions, gained respect for fair dealing, led to more prosperity. Just you do the right thing, and all will be well. That includes extending freedom of religion, welcoming strangers to the colony to worship together in peace.

{Pearls on the String}
William Penn

Toward the end of this Utopian period, some questions began to arise. More and more non-Quakers came to the colony, making the colony progressively less Quaker. That was a silent disappointment to William Penn. The founder had been a charismatic evangelist for his religion as a youth but came to grave disappointment about peaceful persuasion by the end of his life. Convincing the adherents of other religions of reasonable Quaker principles had often proved to be as intractably difficult as arguing religion with Henry VIII. The Quakers, a religion without a clergy, were appalled that so many adherents of other religions did not concern themselves with earnest reasoning, preferring to do strictly what their ministers told them to do.

Another disconcerting thought was growing within the Quaker community that success itself might be corrupting them. Worldliness seemed to grow inevitably out of wealth and prominence; all power does tend to corrupt. If you are rich, people always seem to steal from you, and that leads to violent punishments, something regrettable in itself. These were not new arguments, but by 1750 nearly a century of success in paradise had begun to stir Pennsylvania Quakers to wonder why more of their neighbors did not ask to become Members. These were troubling concerns of the day which would probably have worked themselves out, except that far-away France and England declared war on each other. The French responded by stirring up the Indians along the Western frontier. Pennsylvania settlers were soon scalped, kidnapped and burned at the stake. Something had to be done about it since protection was a duty of government, and effective protection now had to be non-peaceful. The Quakers dithered. More Scotch-Irish settlers around Pittsburgh were slaughtered. The Quaker meetings sent minutes to the Quakers in the legislature that they must not compromise their peaceful principles, and the Scotch-Irish exploded with rage. The Meetings told their representatives to resign from office, their members to retreat from politics altogether.

{Pearls on the String}
General John Forbes

So Ben Franklin rose to the occasion, and General Forbes led an army to Fort Duquesne at the forks of Ohio, and Colonel George Washington was the hero of that day. The French were driven off the frontier, the English were victorious at Quebec. North America became a British continent.

Meanwhile, the Quakers retreated into tight-lipped solitude. And self-doubt, because the episode seemed to demonstrate that rigidly peaceful principles cannot govern a state or a nation if that nation contains others unwilling to be sacrificed for peaceful principles. An unthinkable logic emerged; freedom of religion led to conflict with the duty of a non-violent government to protect its citizens. It began to be clear it was the duty of government to enforce its laws, by force if necessary. Underneath the pile of documents, was a gun.

So, the Quakers proudly walked away from power and dominance, for all time. Sadly, too, because the significance was clear. Peaceful utopia may be not possible, within a dangerous world.

New blog 4376 2020-09-23 20:51:10 TITLE Quaker Power vs. Persuasion : Blog 4376 : Topic 701 :,


Quaker Power vs. Persuasion :

Blog 4376 : Topic 701 :

Camden NJ: The Third, or Irish, Tenth

{Camden in 1662}
Camden in 1662

The early Swedish and Dutch settlers tended to sail up the Delaware Bay, and settle on the right-hand bank, which we now call New Jersey. In time, Seventeenth-century settlers, even William Penn, switched over to the left, or Pennsylvania, side. The Dutch, who had experience with dikes on the Zuider Zee, knew that it was quicker and easier to drain the lowlands than to chop down big trees and dig up the roots. Although the Dutch were more interested in fur trading than agriculture, they had to eat. Fish, crabs, oysters and truck gardens were enough for that purpose. After establishing a Fort Nassau at what is now the town of Gloucester, on the south edge of Camden, fur trading on the New Jersey side began to fall off, and the Dutch settlement was moved across the river as Fort Casimir, next to the mouth of the hidden river, the Schuylkill, just south of what is now the international airport. That was fine for the Dutch to stay close to their ships, but the Indians on the far side of the swamp resisted coming down the swampy river and held back to do their fur trading at Gray's Landing, on the high ground between Bartram's Gardens and the University of Pennsylvania. For the Dutch it was a pleasant paddle up from the mouth of the river at Fort Casimir, and anyway you never know about strangers.

William Penn followed the same path, buying and reselling farmland in New Jersey for a decade before he asked for, and King Charles gave him, Pennsylvania. Skipping many of the details, northern New Jersey, called East Jersey, was given to Scottish Quakers, while what we call South Jersey and they called West Jersey, was divided into ten parts among the English Quakers. The Third Tenth around the Cooper River roughly corresponds to Camden County, and was mainly purchased by Irish Quakers and for a while was called the "Irish Tenth". In time, Gloucester County was split off from Camden County, which was mainly known originally as Newton Township. After a century, the Irish origins of the local inhabitants of Newton and Haddonfield were largely forgotten. The town of Gloucester, however, was situated on the river next to what was to be the vast shipyards of New York Shipbuilding Corp.(1899-1967). First addressing the oak forests of West Jersey for the masts of sailing ships, sailing ships were built with lumber logs floated down the Susquehanna River in rafts during the Nineteenth century. This industry attracted later Irish immigrants during the time of the great Irish migrations, and still more were attracted when World War I made Camden a major steamship building center. The experience was repeated during World War II, reaching its eventual high point when the nuclear Aircraft carrier Eisenhower could be seen under construction by commuters going over the Walt Whitman Bridge.

Shipbuilding, like other heavy industry of the rust belt, moved abroad seeking cheaper labor, and what little remained on American soil moved to Norfolk, Virginia. The response of protectionist legislation made America even less attractive for unionized industry. The wiser workers saw what was happening and sought jobs in other industries, elsewhere. But Gloucester City, underneath the bridge girders and surrounded by winding creeks, held out as an oasis of working-class Irish as the southern anchor of crumbling, decaying Camden. About a thousand homes had been built by the federal government during the labor shortages of World War I, as Fairview. These two little Irish enclaves, 97% Caucasian, continue to hold out for a day that will likely never return, gathering in their taverns to sing songs about old martyrs, fighting to maintain control of the industrial unions, and dominating the Democrat politics of the county. There was a time when leverage might have established political control of South Jersey, and through that to the domination of the whole state, but that gets progressively less likely. Tough politics essentially met more than its match in the river towns of North Jersey, other groups learned to play the ethnic game, and the recent uproar about child molestation has loosened the hold of their church on young adherents with school children. The same pattern seems to be emerging on the Pennsylvania side of the river in Delaware County, where however the political machine has historically been Republican.

Meanwhile, just a little to the north, the city of Camden steadily decays and deteriorates. Now only half the size of its 125,000 "Citadel of Republicanism" in 1950, the title of America's poorest city is applied to an average income of $18,000, and various statistics of violent crime make it the first or second most dangerous place in America to live. The City is 53% black, 29% of Puerto Rican origin, and 44% below the official poverty level. In 2001, its Mayor was sent to jail as an affiliate of the Mafia, and the state took over the running of the city. In 2009, a state auditor reported that the books were in such chaotic condition that it was impossible to say where they stood, financially. Along the way to this sorry state, RCA Victor (1901-1986) finally moved out, after decades of watching its employees migrate to the suburbs, taking their tax revenue with them. Although Campbell Soup loyally maintains and is even expanding its national headquarters in Camden, the soup is made elsewhere. Frozen chicken dinners are made by the hundreds of thousands in Delaware, assembling the tinfoil, chickens, and peas from hundreds of miles to the moment when it is packaged mechanically in a manner that would shame the Japanese. There was a time in living memory when truckloads of Jersey tomatoes were lined up at the Camden soup factory for miles, but all that has moved to California. Jersey tomatoes ripened sequentially throughout the season, requiring human tomato pickers to tell green ones from red ones. A new form of hybrid tomato ripens all the fruit simultaneously, allowing it to be mechanically harvested, and taking advantage of three crops a year in California. The Golden State on our western coast seems to be having labor and tax trouble, too; but that is small comfort to Camden.

As factories close, people abandon their homes, slums result. The schools deteriorate, migration and crime increase. Most people would say it is a mess. A recent sociological study, called Camden After the Fall describes in painful detail how every idea anyone has ever had about how to turn Camden around -- has been tried, amply funded and found to be an utter and discouraging failure. The highway system has been modernized, only to allow commuters to buzz through Camden somewhat faster. Public buildings have been built, only to underline the fact that no new construction has taken place with private money in decades. Building a prison in the center of town created jobs, and now more jobs are being created to tear it down. Rutgers, the state university, has a branch under the shadow of the Ben Franklin Bridge. The battleship New Jersey is at anchor in a lovely riverside park, there's a nice little minor league baseball park. Anything you can build with tax money has been built. There's just no private industry, or business, or profession. Anyone who has a bright idea is welcome to read Camden After the Fall . It's just possible something to try has been overlooked, though it isn't very likely. Except for law, order and good schools.

After decades of watching Camden get steadily worse as I commuted hastily through it, I would say there actually is sort of a plan visible. As houses decay, they are torn down, and the grass is planted. It seems likely that the plan is to wait until a large enough plot of land is cleared ecentlyand planted to grass, so it eventually becomes attractive to a developer. And then the developer will make tons of money with raw land that even the Indians in 1640 could see was very well situated.

Recently, a long, long movie has appeared, purporting to tell the story of an housepainter who claims to have shot Hoffa. However truthful this account may or may not be, it is a lousy picture. If you want to see what the Teamsters looked like when they got twenty or thirty years older, well, go ahead. But it's still a lousy movie. Not at all in a class with Godfather I or even II. It's called The Irishman.

Using the Delaware River as a Weapon

{George Washington on a Horse}
George Washington on a Horse

After the Battle of Trenton, Washington emerged as a remarkably bold and creative General. In this battle of maneuver can be seen the elements of audacity, timing and courage that were notable in Stonewall Jackson, George Patton -- Virginians, both -- the Normandy Invasion, and the Inchon Landing. He forged, if he did not create, the American military tradition of inspired risk-taking. And he did it with a collection of starving amateurs, up against the best Army in the world at the time. Probably without realizing it, his coming victory at Trenton also gave Benjamin Franklin in Paris a major enticement to the French King to support the American cause. Washington produced a significant achievement, but just to make sure, Franklin exaggerated it just as much as he could.

On December 21, Washington thought Howe was immediately going to sweep on through Trenton to Philadelphia. In a day or two, he saw that wasn't the plan, organized the famous re-crossing of Delaware in horrible weather, and caught and captured a thousand Hessians with a three-pronged attack which cut off their retreat and made resistance useless. Nowadays, the event is marked by a reenactment on Christmas Morning, although it took place on December 26, 1776. The timing did not have to do with religious observance, it had to do with hangovers. To the great disappointment of his troops, he made them abandon the great stores of booze in Trenton because a second detachment of Hessians was in nearby Bordentown, and retreated back to the Pennsylvania side of the river. As you might imagine, Howe's Cornwallis promptly came charging down from New Brunswick to exact bitter vengeance. Instead of trying to rescue their comrades in Princeton, the Bordentown Hessians took off for New Brunswick. Defiantly, Washington taunted his enemies by again recrossing Delaware to the New Jersey side, putting up fortifications, just waiting for them to make something of it.

Well, that's the way it was meant to seem. On the night of January 2, the two armies were facing each other with about five thousand men on both sides, but with the British much better trained and equipped. The Americans had the advantage of not being exhausted by a fifty mile forced march, except for about a thousand who had been deployed forward to skirmish and delay the British advance with sniping from the bushes. The Americans made a great deal of noise and had many bonfires behind their fortifications. But when they advanced the next morning, the British found out where the Americans really were by hearing distant cannon fire coming from Princeton, ten miles away.

Washington had slipped five thousand men wide around the enemy flank during the night and had taken a parallel country road to Princeton where a major detachment of British was then defeated at the Battle of Princeton. An infuriated Cornwallis wheeled his army around in pursuit, and the race was on for the supplies left undefended in New Brunswick. Washington might have been able to get there first, except his men were too exhausted, and he was afraid to risk his long-run strategy, which was to avoid head-on collisions with the main British Army.

So Washington went into winter quarters in nearby Morristown, and thousands of British soldiers were thus bottled up in winter quarters in Perth Amboy and New Brunswick, where scurvy, lack of firewood and smallpox gave them a few months to consider their miscalculations. But the most important action of all was getting the news to Benjamin Franklin in Paris, to tell the French king of the victory. Franklin even dressed it up a little.


Logan, Franklin, Library

{The Library Company of Philadelphia}
The Library Company of Philadelphia

Jim Greene was a librarian at the Library Company of Philadelphia, and one of the leading authorities on James Logan, the Penn Proprietors' chief agent in the Colony. Since Logan and Ben Franklin were the main forces in starting the oldest library in America, knowing all about Logan almost comes with the job of Librarian. We are greatly indebted to a speech the other night, given by Greene at the Franklin Inn, a hundred yards away from the Library.

{James Logan}
James Logan

Logan has been described as a crusty old codger, living in his mansion called Stenton and scarcely venturing forth in public. He was known as a fair dealer with the Indians, which was an essential part of William Penn's strategy for selling real estate in a land of peace and prosperity. Unfortunately, Logan was behind the infamous Walking Purchase, which damaged his otherwise considerable reputation. Logan must have been a lonesome person in the frontier days of Philadelphia because he owned the largest private library in North America and was passionate about reading and scholarly matters. When he acquired what was the first edition of Newton's Principia, he read it promptly and wrote a one-page summary. Comparatively few people could do this even today. It's pretty tough reading, and those who have read it would seldom claim to have "devoured" it.

{Benjamin Franklin}
Benjamin Franklin

Except young Ben Franklin, who never went past second grade in school. The two became fast friends, often engaging in such games as constructing "Magic Squares" of numbers that added up to the same total in various ways. For example, Franklin doodled off a square with the numbers 52,61,4,13,20,29,36,45 (totaling 260) on the top horizontal row, and every vertical row beneath them totaling 260, as for example 52,14,53,11,55,9,50,16, while every horizontal row also totaled 260 as well. The four corner numbers, with the 4 middle numbers, also total 260. Logan constructed his share of similar games, which it is difficult to imagine anyone else in the colonies doing at the time.

Logan and Franklin together conceived the idea of a subscription library, which in time became the Library Company of Philadelphia in 1732. The subscription required of a library member was intended to be forfeited if the borrower failed to return a book. Later on, the public was allowed to borrow books, but only on deposit of enough money to replace the book if unreturned. We are not told whose idea was behind these arrangements, but they certainly sound like Franklin at work. More than a century later, the Philadelphia Free Library was organized under more trusting rules for borrowing which became possible as books became less expensive.

Logan died in 1751, the year Franklin at the age of 42 decided to retire from business -- and devote the remaining 42 years of his life to scholarly and public affairs. He first joined the Assembly at that time, so he and Logan were not forced into direct contention over politics, although they had their differences. How much influence Logan exerted over Franklin's plans and attitudes is not entirely clear; it must have been a great deal.

George Washington's View of the British Army

George Washington

TWO things about George Washington continue to puzzle us. Why would the rich, aristocratic Virginia gentleman become a revolutionary? And, how could he or his backwoodsmen soldiers even imagine they could defeat the British, the greatest military force in the world? The following letter, written to his mother after the defeat of Braddock's army, shows his viewpoint at the age of 23, putting the British regular army in a very bad light, indeed.

"HONORED MADAM: As I doubt not but you have heard of our defeat, and, perhaps, had it represented in a worse light, if possible than it deserves, I have taken this earliest opportunity to give you some account of the engagement as it happened, within ten miles of the French fort, on Wednesday the 9th instant.

"We marched to that place, without any considerable loss, having only now and then a straggler picked up by the French and scouting Indians. When we came there, we were attacked by a party of French and Indians, whose number, I am persuaded, did not exceed three hundred men; while ours consisted of about one thousand three hundred well-armed troops, chiefly regular soldiers, who were struck with such a panic that they behaved with more cowardice than it is possible to conceive. The officers behaved gallantly, in order to encourage their men, for which they suffered greatly, there being near sixty killed and wounded; a large proportion of the number we had.

"The Virginia troops showed a good deal of bravery and were nearly all killed; for I believe, out of three companies that were there, scarcely thirty men are left alive. Captain Peyrouny and all his officers down to a corporal were killed. Captain Polson had nearly as hard a fate, for only one of his was left. In short, the dastardly behavior of those they call regulars exposed all others, that were inclined to do their duty, to almost certain death; and, at last, in spite of all the efforts of the officers to the contrary, they ran, as sheep pursued by dogs, and it was impossible to rally them.

"The General was wounded, of which he died three days after. Sir Peter Halket was killed in the field, where died many other brave officers. I luckily escaped without a wound, though I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me. Captains Orme and Morris, two of the aids-de-camp, were wounded early in the engagement, which rendered the duty harder upon me, as I was the only person then left to distribute the General's orders, which I was scarcely able to do, as I was not half recovered from a violent illness, that had confined me to my bed and a wagon for above ten days. I am still in a weak and feeble condition, which induces me to halt here two or three days in the hope of recovering a little strength, to enable me to proceed homewards; from whence, I fear, I shall not be able to stir till toward September; so that I shall not have the pleasure of seeing you till then, unless it be in Fairfax... I am, honored Madam, your most dutiful son."

Franklin Bets His Wad on General Braddock

{General Edward Braddock}
General Edward Braddock

The defeat of General Braddock at Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh) in 1755 was not a turning point of the French and Indian War, because although the French won the battle, they lost that War, they also lost Canada in the Seven Years War that followed, and eventually had to sell what remained of their American dream in 1804 as the Louisiana Purchase. The French dream was an empire stretching in an arc from the St. Lawrence River to New Orleans, leaving the British only the thirteen Eastern seaboard colonies.

Nevertheless, the disastrous defeat of the Redcoats was a real turning point in the attitudes of two direct participants, Lieutenant Colonel George Washington of Virginia, and Pennsylvania's political leader, Benjamin Franklin. Both men greeted the arrival of Braddock's troops in America with great relief because it was increasingly evident to them that the Colonies themselves were too indecisive to survive. Both of them were in a unique personal position to see that the French and their Indian Allies were serious about conquering the backcountry, even likely to do so. These two staunch British patriots, therefore, threw themselves into the crisis, with Washington eventually having two horses shot from under him, taking charge of the retreat after Braddock's death. And Franklin pledged his considerable personal fortune on Braddock's behalf, almost losing it and spending the rest of his life in debtor's prison as Robert Morris would later actually do. These two men knowingly laid their lives on the line for the British Empire and came very close to losing everything else for their King and country.

Franklin had retired seven years earlier, a rich man at the age of 42. We now know that he lived like a gentleman for another 42 eventful years. Puttering with science and public works, he joined the Assembly in 1750. It was not long before he was the political leader of the Colony, in a peculiar struggle with the dominant Quaker party who not only opposed war for their own self-defense but were enraged that the Penn family had turned away from Quakerism and refused to be taxed for the defense of its colony. The Governor was appointed by the Penns, with an express contract not to agree to any taxation of the Penn holdings. Since it began to look to Franklin as though everybody was trying to commit suicide rather than spend a farthing, he greeted the arrival of General Edward Braddock's redcoats with great relief. But then Braddock himself turned out to be a brave but exasperating ninny.

Braddock's plan was to take the old Indian trail from the Potomac River to the Monongahela (now Route 40), fording the Monongahela just below its junction with Ohio at Fort Duquesne, then blowing up the French fort with artillery. He had brought plenty of troops and cannons on his ocean transports, but he needed horses and wagons from the colonies. When he was warned of the dangers of Indian ambush in the wilderness, he made a much-quoted response, "These savages may be a formidable enemy to your raw American militia, but upon the king's regular and disciplined troops, sir, it is impossible they would make an impression." The other thing he said was if he didn't get wagons and horses pretty damned quick, he was going back home to England.

Within two weeks, Franklin and his son William collected 259 horses and 150 wagons for him. But to do so, they had to overcome the Pennsylvania farmer suspicion that the swaggering English General wouldn't pay for the goods. To persuade them, Franklin made a public pledge to stand behind the debts with his own money, and his word was known to be good.

The other thing wrong with Braddock's plan was that the trail wasn't wide enough for the wagons and gun carriages, so he had so sent a body of axeman ahead of the troops to widen the road. Progress was at times as slow as two miles a day, plenty of time for word to be taken to Fort Duquesne that the British were coming with cannon. Since it was clear that the Fort could not withstand a siege army, the French commander ordered his troops to attack Braddock as he was crossing the Monongahela. It was meant to be an ambush, but the two armies blundered into each other on the trail, and the Indians simply fought the way they knew best, from behind trees. Two-thirds of the British were killed and most of those captured were burned at the stake. The death toll would have been even higher, and probably would have included Washington, except the Indians, ignored French orders and delayed pursuit to collect scalps. And by the way, all of Franklin's wagons were burned.

Franklin spent an anxious two months since his later reflection was that the loss of 20,000 pounds sterling would surely have ruined him. However, he was lucky that Governor Shirley of Massachusetts, an old friend of his, was appointed at Braddock's successor, and Shirley ordered the debt to be repaid out of Army funds.

The American Revolution would not come for another twenty years, but you can be sure the Braddock episode had an important impact on the minds of both Franklin and Washington. The British Army was not invincible. It was not even very smart.

George Washington Starts The French and Indian War(?)

{Pearls on the String}
George Washington

George Washington started in the British Army as a Lieutenant Colonel in a Virginia militia company. As was customary at the time among the families of the several-generation- in-Virginia set, his family probably purchased his commission and helped raise his troop. Since he started life as a surveyor, his family had probably come up in life, socially.

The British Army at the time had the reputation as a killing machine, so it was not too much of a stretch to suppose the Brits were fairly open (and merciless) about their contempt for the colonials, and the colonials were probably fairly sullen about it. In any event, when Robert Dinwiddie the Governor of Virginia dispatched Washington's troops to Ohio to tell the French to stay clear of Virginia's land claims (with private instructions to kill them if you must), Washington undoubtedly saw this as an opportunity to advance his military career. Then, or possibly when he watched the Virginia troops stand while British under Braddock ran for their lives, he developed a new view of their relative merits, perhaps a new view of the advantages of guerrilla warfare fighting against regular troops, trained to a different sort of war. Or a little of both. Washington was tall, well-dressed and aristocratic, but was not a deep thinker. There is, of course, an alternative story. It blames the death of the French Ensign Joseph Coulon de Jumonville on the Iroquis leader Tanaghrison, or his two chief warriors, Kankusky or Tar Heels. According to this version, these Indians were traitors to the French who had stolen Indian lands in Ohio. This story has it these two got away with it, in the heat of battle.

In any event, a decade later the tall Virginia gentleman presented himself as an aristocratic rebel soldier from by far the largest colony, who badly wanted the job. John Adams grabbed him when the choice for defending Boston was his. It perhaps proved to be a good choice for the wrong reasons.

Governor Keith's House

Just off Route 611 adjoining the Willow Grove Air Station, and on the County Line Road between Montgomery and Bucks County, is the summer estate of Sir William Keith, Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania from 1717 to 1726. Well worth a visit.Route 611 begins at Philadelphia's City Hall and goes due north, headed for the Delaware Water Gap. In 1717 Governor Keith had decided he needed a summer residence to compliment his in-town establishment on Second Street, and acquired the 1200 acres of land of Samuel Carpenter on Easton Road, now Route 611. Sam had been entrusted with 2000 pounds against a possible French invasion, which Keith transferred to himself by taking Carpenter's land in lieu of it. The ethics of everybody in this transaction are now a little murky.

The selected farm area was cool and tranquil, with creeks and level land, so a suitable three-story mansion was built of local stone, with outbuildings. A large mushroom-shaped rock was carved, polished and set on a pedestal beside the house. Tradition has it that Governor Keith asked servants and slaves to lift the stone as a test of physical strength. (Keith had several negro slaves, eight or ten indentured servants, and others who were simply hired help for a rather large farm.) Criticism was heard for the elaborate luxury of a mansion fifteen miles from town which it took five or six hours to reach.

Governor Keith was an interesting person. He inherited a Scottish baronetcy from his father and is the only Governor of Pennsylvania with a claim to noble blood. His finances were meager, however, and his life was a succession of efforts to advance his own wealth and position, which he regularly consumed with high living. He involved himself in coups and rebellions in Scotland, probably out of expectation of reward from the exiled King James. Efforts at court were finally rewarded by Queen Anne making him Surveyor-General of English land from Pennsylvania to Jamaica, but only after his nearly being hanged for treason for suspected efforts on behalf of the exiled former King James. Keith lost his essentially tax-collector position which he had performed creditably when the Hanoverian King George I took over the throne.

After William Penn encountered difficulties which returned him to England, he and the Penn family were in need of an administrator in America, and Keith was at pains to ingratiate himself with Hannah Penn after William suffered several strokes from which he was to die in 1718. Most who met him felt that Keith was charming, although some regarded him as a charming rogue; he succeeded in ingratiating himself to the Penns and was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania in 1716, incurring substantial debts to transfer his family to America in style.

After taking office, he wasted no time starting schemes and devices to enrich himself, while at the same time pursuing a populist political style which involved him in more or less constant controversy. There are many echoes in his career of that enduring subsequent conflict in America between creditors and debtors; as probably the most indebted man in Pennsylvania, his populism was highly troubling to conservative Quaker farmers. He pushed hard for paper currency, always popular among debtors, and probably sought to soften the feelings of the Quakers by pushing hard for the replacement of legally binding oaths with secular "affirmations". By doing so, however, Keith infuriated the vestry of Christ Church, representing widely held Anglican support for requiring oaths.

Keith's pandering to differing viewpoints succeeded in infuriating James Logan, the secretary of the Penn proprietorship, into setting sail for England to seek Keith's removal from office. Logan only returned with a letter of admonishment from Hannah Penn, and controversy continued to simmer. Reduced to its essentials, a case can be made that Keith behaved like an unrestrained modern machine politician exploiting every opportunity he could find.

However, certain things can be said in Keith's defense. There is no doubt the Quaker farmers were hypersensitive about the display of wealth which a Scottish baronet would find quite appropriate for a man in his station. His mansion, for example, would barely qualify today as a five-bedroom house in the suburbs, and it is a little quaint to recall that generations of Penrose's and Strawbridge's subsequently lived on the property quite proudly, or even defiantly in view of their ample means.

Paper money is indeed always the favorite of debtors who seek to dishonor their debts, but the colonies in Keith's times were suffering from a severe lack of space which can now be explained as the consequence of colonial terms of trade but which at that time was a severe economic hardship. His efforts to stop the practice of executing debtors may well have been made with his own indebtedness in the back of his mind, but still, it seems like a step in the right direction.

Even the inventory of his property probably exaggerates the ostentation of his lifestyle. True, he had 144 chairs in the house, but the shortage of currency at that time had converted chairs into a form of exchangeable value, employed by almost every shopkeeper. Land was similarly used as a form of currency, although here most people would raise their eyebrows at a governor accumulating in eight years a list of property including not only this country estate and the downtown house in Society Hill, but a dozen rather large estates in other colonies, and a particularly troublesome investment in a copper mine on the west side of the Susquehanna.

To some degree, Keith was a good Governor but was forced into a number of conflicts between the wishes of the settlers and the best interest of the Penn proprietors. Three thousand miles from the Court of St. James, he would scarcely be expected to display universal agility in shifting allegiance between the Stuart Kings, Queen Anne and the Hanoverian King George I, not to mention the Penn family and the settlers on their land. Keith did maintain reasonable stability in the colony while seeming to undermine the best interests of the Penn family. He was said to have made shrewd business decisions for the whole region converting surplus grain into malt at a time of money shortages in the colony, even though it particularly profited his own acreage.

In some ways, his reputation remains chiefly tarnished by his treatment of Benjamin Franklin. Encouraging Franklin to go to England to buy some printing equipment, Keith promised letters of credit for what was presumably intended as a joint venture. The letters were never forthcoming, Franklin was stranded for months in England without means to return home. Franklin got his revenge years later in his autobiography. This was not the only example of Franklin nursing a grudge for decades. Poor Keith returned to England to defend himself against dismissal by the Penns because of all the turmoil and factionalism, but essentially never got another job and died in debtors prison. During that time he published extensively about current affairs and economics, but the value of that writing is now difficult to judge.

{Horsham Friends Meeting}
Horsham Friends Meeting

After Keith returned to England in 1726, presumably to defend his interests and possibly to evade his creditors, the mansion and estate on County Line Road was sold to Keith's son in law, Dr. Thomas Graeme who was a physician at the founding of the Pennsylvania Hospital in 1751 and evidently had become quite prosperous. Graeme paneled the interior of the mansion in high Georgian style, revised the floor plan, generally making the place elegant. Records of how the region between the counties became named Graeme Park, but presumably Graeme would now put up no objection to it. A second house on the property was home to several generations of Penrose's and Strawbridge's; the Strawbridge family donated the estate as a park. Governor Keith having left his wife forever to her distress alone, fathered two illegitimate children in England, making his prevailing emotions subject to uncertainty.

Around the corner, so to speak, on Route 611 the Horsham Friends Meeting is built of the same sort of stonework, with dates which suggest the meeting itself was present well before Keith appeared on the scene, and the string of similar but tavern-like buildings along 611 suggest the highway to Easton was a busy one even at an early time. Increasing traffic and construction carry an ominous prediction that growth of the area will eventually swallow both Graeme Park and Horsham Meeting in a sea of subdivisions and industrial parks. Placing a turnpike entrance nearby almost certainly hastened that fate.

Poor Richard Plays Hardball 628 :

Several distinguished biographies of Benjamin Franklin have recently skirted his January 1774 confrontation with the British government in the "Cockpit" of Whitehall. Presumably, the exquisite details are too fancy and complicated for easy description, or possibly the cardinal significance of this intellectual duel is underestimated. It seems possible the American Revolution was declared by one man's making up his mind. A mind made up in one particular hour in one particular room, irrevocably, in front of the whole British Establishment.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was there, and so were Edmund Burke and Joseph Priestley. So were all the Privy Council, and most of British high society, giggling and hissing at his discomfort. Poor Richard stood there silent and impassive. The Enlightenment thought they were deciding his fate, but he was deciding theirs.

Lord Alexander Wedderburn

Franklin had published some letters he had promised not to publish, but they showed the British government in a very bad light. Alexander Wedderburn the Solicitor-General had deliberately orchestrated the meeting to shift the emphasis to Franklin's broken promise and away from British provocation of it. The room had been packed with highbrows promised a delicious treat, and Wedderburn's speech was meticulously planned as an entertainment for the intelligentsia. The man who discovered electricity was mocked as "conducting" the letters. And a famous man of letters was reminded that the ancient Athenians would brand three letters on the back of the hand of a thief: FUR, the name for a thief, an elaborate 18th Century pun making reference to fur hats and collars, which were the traditional symbol of printers. Wedderburn roused himself to the climactic announcement that the famous Roman, Plautus, had invented the famous derivative epithet, "Homo, triumph literarum," portentously meaning a three-letter man. The galleries of Whitehall tittered and applauded this thrilling attack. Franklin continued to stand, his face perfectly inscrutable to the end.

Deplessis Portrait of Benjamin Franklin

In his report back to the Massachusetts Legislature, Franklin used dismissive understatement to show he had not been asleep while he was impassive. He had been, he said, "the butt of his invective ribaldry for nearly an hour." After that, Poor Richard seemed to disappear from British society for nine months, seeing only close friends in his house, and then he sailed home to America, becoming a member of the Continental Congress the day he stepped off the boat. Meanwhile, he had arranged to have his portrait painted by Duplessis, the most distinguished painter in France, eventually to have it hang next to a painting by the same artist, of the King of France. To the original sketch for the portrait had been added a fur collar, the traditional emblem of the painter's guild. At the bottom, where a motto ordinarily would be found, was the single, three-letter Latin word, "VIR," or man, which would today be equivalent to he-man. And just so everyone would get the point, Franklin sent an otherwise anonymous letter to the newspapers, signed "Homo Triumph Literarum" in which he taunted that the friends of Mr. Franklin would have to agree he was a thief, as in the famous line of poetry that "He stole the lightning from the skies." But old Ben wasn't just bragging. Anticipating the baseball player Dizzy Dean by two hundred years, he was in effect saying "It ain't braggin' if you really have done it."

On Feb. 6, 1778 he and Silas Deane went over to the French palace to sign the Treaty of Alliance with the King of France. Instead of his usual brown suit, Franklin was wearing a faded blue one, and Deane questioned why he wore old clothes to such an important ceremony. "To give it a little revenge," was the answer. "I wore this suit on the day Wedderburn abused me at Whitehall." The true depth of Franklin's feelings would never have been known if Deane had not asked.

As a reminder, the Treaty they were signing said, "The essential and direct end of the present defensive alliance is to maintain effectually the liberty, sovereignty, and independence of the said United States. . . ." All in all, not a bad academic performance for a man who never went past the second grade in school.


The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution,and The Birth of America, Steven Johnson ISBN: 978-1-59448-852-8 Amazon

Philosophy Means Science in Philadelphia

American Philosophical Society Seal

In the age of the Enlightenment, science was called natural philosophy; that accounts for the present custom of awarding PhD. degrees in chemistry and botany. The sort of thing which interested Ralph Waldo Emerson was called moral philosophy, and you will have to visit some other place than the A.P.S. if that is what interests you. Roy E. Goodman is presently the Curator of Printed Material (some would say he was chief librarian) at the American Philosophical Society, founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin who was clearly the most eminent scientist of his day, having discovered and explained the nature of electricity.

{Roy E. Goodman}
Roy E. Goodman

Roy Goodman is descended from cowboys and rodeo stars, but in spite of that he gave an entertaining talk recently at the Right Angle Club about this society devoted to useful knowledge, this oldest publishing house and scholarly society in America, once the home of the U.S. Patent Office, and scientific library and museum. They have many rare items in their collection, but the unifying theme is not a rarity, but curiosity. You might say some of the items reflect the whimsy of Franklin, but it would be fairer to say it is an enduring monument to Franklin's universal curiosity about all things.
Nobel Prize Medal

There are about 900 members of APS, about 800 of them Americans, about 100 of them winners of a Nobel Prize. Let's just make a little list of a very few notables in the past and present membership. Start with the first four Presidents of the United States, add Alexander Hamilton and Lafayette, David Rittenhouse and Francis Hopkinson and you get the idea that Founding Fathers got in early. Robert Fulton, Lewis and Clark, Alexander Humboldt, John Marshall were early members, and more recent ones were Madame Curie,

Geographical Troubles Underlying Small Nation Unificatons

{Pearls on the String}
Constitutional Convention 1787

One of the basics of nations is, for the most part, their boundaries were geographical in origin. They follow rivers, mountain ranges, deserts, etc., and consequently are dissimilar in size. Just about the closest to boundaries-by-instrument are those of the United States of America, and those were so dissimilar in size they started all this discussion. At America's Constitutional Convention (in Independence Hall of Philadelphia in 1787) John Dickinson pulled James Madison aside and asked him, "Do you want a country or don't you?", and then demonstrated he had the votes from the smaller states in his pocket. It is fairly reliably told that Ben Franklin invited everyone to dinner at the City Tavern, there unveiling his proposal to give all states two senators in the upper house of the Legislative branch. The analogy to the House of Lords was clear enough for ratification of the proposal, even though Franklin himself had reservations. When asked by Mrs. Powell what they had produced, he famously replied, "A Republic, Ma'am. If you can keep it."

The demonstration was clear; nations accustomed to total sovereignty are fiercely reluctant to accept less than equal power when they attempt to join. No matter how persuasive "One man, one vote" may sound, it is fair to observe that adherence to such doctrine caused both the League of Nations and the United Nations to fail. To insist on a similar arrangement in the European Union for a third time, was utter folly. The powerful large states were so certain to reject unification rather than face further wars; they must have had other reasons.

A nation may be as large as Russia or as small as Luxembourg or Singapore; a large country may be as dense as India, a small one may be as sparsely populated as Bhutan. Nations are collections of people, and population density surely makes some difference, whether caused by mountain valleys or famines. It is not clear that similarities of inhabitants are much related to population density, but constitutional conventions are infrequent events whose effect may seem to subside between political events. One is reminded of the several languages of little Switzerland, and its several religions, as well as the uniformity of these features in China or Latin America. Apparently, these human variations require some sort of augmentation, because there are numerous examples of important Civil Wars and resistances to unification traceable to them. It's hard to say why human influences are so variable, but it is possible to imagine the important human issue is satisfaction with the present state of governance, compared with that of neighbors.

There are enough exceptions to any rule to suggest caution in advancing any universal new constitution while suggesting more praise for our own for being alone in surviving two centuries. The longer it lasts, the more we must applaud its survival, and the more we must attend to its flexibility and brevity. And the more we must urge our courts to examine the careful wording of its penman, Gouverneur Morris.

Sorting of blogs can be found in TOPICS. Since blogs are what is sorted, an individual blog does not provide an option to sort.

Last Will of Benjamin Franklin

{Benjamin Franklin}
Benjamin Franklin

The Last Will and Testament of Benjamin Franklin

I, Benjamin Franklin, of Philadelphia, printer, late Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States of America to the Court of France, now President of the State of Pennsylvania, do make and declare my last will and testament as follows:

{William Franklin}
William Franklin

To my son, William Franklin, late Governor of the Jerseys, I give and devise all the lands I hold or have a right to, in the province of Nova Scotia, to hold to him, his heirs, and assigns forever. I also give to him all my books and papers, which he has in his possession, and all debts standing against him on my account books, willing that no payment for, nor restitution of, the same be required of him, by my executors. The part he acted against me in the late war, which is of public notoriety, will account for my leaving him no more of an estate he endeavored to deprive me of.

Having since my return from France demolished the three houses in Market Street, between Third and Fourth Streets, fronting my dwelling-house, and erected two new and larger ones on the ground, and having also erected another house on the lot which formerly was the passage to my dwelling, and also a printing-office between my dwelling and the front houses; now I do give and devise my said dwelling-house, wherein I now live, my said three new houses, my printing- office and the lots of ground thereto belonging; also my small lot and house in Sixth Street, which I bought off the widow Henmarsh; also my pasture-ground which I have in Hickory Lane, with the buildings thereon; also my house and lot on the North side of Market Street, now occupied by Mary Jacobs, together with two houses and lots behind the same, and fronting on Pewter-Platter Alley; also my lot of ground in Arch Street, opposite the church-burying ground, with the buildings thereon erected; also all my silver plate, pictures, and household goods, of every kind, now in my said dwelling-place, to my daughter, Sarah Bache, and to her husband, Richard Bache, to hold to them for and during their natural lives, and the life of the longest liver of them, and from and after the decease of the survivor of them, I do give, devise, and bequeath to all children already born, or to be born of my said daughter, and to their heirs and assigns forever, as tenants in common, and not as joint tenants.

And, if any or either of them shall happen to die under age, and without issue, the part and share of him, her, or them, so dying, shall go to and be equally divided among the survivors or survivor of them. But my intention is, that, if any or either of them should happen to die under age, leaving issue, such issue shall inherit the part and share that would have passed to his, her, or their parent, had he, she, or they were living.

And, as some of my said devisees may, at the death of the survivor of their father or mother, be of age, and others of them underage, so as that all of them may not be of capacity to make division, I in that case request and authorize the judges of the Supreme Court of Judicature of Pennsylvania for the time being, or any three of them, not personally interested, to appoint by writing, under their hands and seals, three honest, intelligent, impartial men to make the said division, and to assign and allot to each of my devisees their respective share, which division, so made and committed to writing under the hands and seals of the said three men, or any two of them, and confirmed by the said judges, I do hereby declare shall be binding on, and conclusive between the said devisees.

All the lands near the Ohio, and the lots near the centre of Philadelphia, which I lately purchased of the State, I give to my son-in-law, Richard Bache, his heirs and assigns forever; I also give him the bond I have against him, of two thousand and one hundred and seventy-two pounds, five shillings, together with the interest that shall or may accrue thereon, and direct the same to be delivered up to him by my executors, canceled, requesting that, in consideration thereof, he would immediately after my decease manumit and set free his Negro man Bob. I leave to him, also, the money due to me from the State of Virginia for types. I also give to him the bond of William Goddard and his sister, and the counter bond of the late Robert Grace, and the bond and judgment of Francis Childs, if not recovered before my decease, or any other bonds, except the bond due from ----- Killian, of Delaware State, which I give to my grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache. I also discharge him, my said son-in-law, from all claim and rent of money due to me, on book account or otherwise. I also give him all my musical instruments.

{Sarah Bache}
Sarah Bache

The king of France's picture, set with four hundred and eight diamonds, I give to my daughter, Sarah Bache, requesting , however, that she would not form any of those diamonds into ornaments either for herself or daughters, and thereby introduce or countenance the expensive, vain, and useless fashion of wearing jewels in this country; and those immediately connected with the picture may be preserved with the same.

I give and devise to my dear sister, Jane Mecom, a house and lot I have in Unity Street, Boston, nor or late under the care of Mr. Jonathan Williams, to her and to her heirs and assigns forever. I also give her the yearly sum of fifty pounds sterling, during life, to commence at my death, and to be paid to her annually out of the interests or dividends arising on twelve shares which I have since my arrival at Philadelphia purchased in the Bank of North America, and, at her decease, I give the said twelve shares in the bank to my daughter, Sarah Bache, and her husband, Richard Bache. But it is my express will and desire that, after the payment of the above fifty pounds sterling annually to my said sister, my said daughter be allowed to apply the residue of the interest or dividends on those shares to her sole and separate use, during the life of my said sister, and afterwards the whole of the interest or dividends thereof as her private pocket money.

I give the right I have to take up to three thousand acres of land in the State of Georgia, granted to me by the government of that State, to my grandson, William Temple Franklin, his heirs and assigns forever. I also give to my grandson, William Temple Franklin, the bond and judgment I have against him of four thousand pounds sterling, my right to the same to cease upon the day of his marriage; and if he dies unmarried, my will is, that the same be recovered and divided among my other grandchildren, the children of my daughter, Sarah Bache, in such manner and form as I have herein before given to them the other parts of my estate.

The philosophical instruments I have in Philadelphia I give to my ingenious friend, Francis Hopkinson.

To the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of my brother, Samuel Franklin, that may be living at the time of my decease, I give fifty pounds sterling, to be equally divided among them. To the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of my sister, Anne Harris, that may be living at the time of my decease, I give fifty pounds sterling to be equally divided among them. To the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of my brother James Franklin, that may be living at the time of my decease, I give fifty pounds sterling to be equally divided among them. To the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of my sister, Sarah Davenport, that may be living at the time of my decease, I give fifty pounds sterling to be equally divided among them. To the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of my sister, Lydia Scott, that may be living at the time of my decease, I give fifty pounds sterling to be equally divided among them. To the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of my sister, Jane Mecom, that may be living at the time of my decease, I give fifty pounds sterling to be equally divided among them.

I give to my grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, all the types and printing materials, which I now have in Philadelphia, with the complete letter foundry, which, in the whole, I suppose to be worth near one thousand pounds; but if he should die under age, then I do order the same to be sold by my executors, the survivors or survivor of them, and the money be equally divided among all the rest of my said daughter's children, or their representatives, each one on coming of age to take his or her share, and the children of such of them as may die under age to represent and to take the share and proportion of, the parent so dying, each one to receive his or her part of such share as they come of age.

With regard to my books, those I had in France and those I left in Philadelphia, is now assembled together here, and a catalog made of them, it is my intention to dispose of them as follows: My "History of the Academy of Sciences," in sixty or seventy volumes quarto, I give to the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, of which I have the honor to be President. My collection in a folio of "Les Arts et les Metiers," I give to the American Philosophical Society, established in New England, of which I am a member. My quarto edition of the same, "Arts et Metiers," I give to the Library Company of Philadelphia. Such and so many of my books as I shall mark on my said catalog with the name of my grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, I do hereby give to him; and such and so many of my books as I shall mark on the said catalog with the name of my grandson, William Bache, I do hereby give to him; and such as shall be marked with the name of Jonathan Williams, I hereby give to my cousin of that name. The residue and remainder of all my books, manuscripts, and papers, I do give to my grandson, William Temple Franklin. My share in the Library Company of Philadelphia, I give to my grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, confiding that he will permit his brothers and sisters to share in the use of it.

I was born in Boston, New England, and owe my first instructions in literature to the free grammar schools established there. I, therefore, give one hundred pounds sterling to my executors, to be by them, the survivors or survivor of them, paid over to the managers or directors of the free schools in my native town of Boston, to be by them, or by those person or persons, who shall have the superintendence and management of the said schools, put out to interest, and so continued at interest forever, which interest annually shall be laid out in silver medals, and given as honorary rewards annually by the directors of the said free schools belonging to the said town, in such manner as to the discretion of the selectmen of the said town shall seem meet.

Out of the salary that may remain due to me as President of the State, I do give the sum of two thousand pounds sterling to my executors, to be by them, the survivors or survivor of them, paid over to such person or persons as the legislature of this State by an act of Assembly shall appoint to receive the same in trust, to be employed for making the river Schuylkill navigable.

And what money of mine shall, at the time of my decease, remain in the hands of my bankers, Messrs. Ferdinand Grand and Son, at Paris, or Messrs. Smith, Wright, and Gray, of London, I will that, after my debts are paid and deducted, with the money legacies of this my will, the same be divided into four equal parts, two of which I give to my dear daughter, Sarah Bache, one to her son Benjamin, and one to my grandson, William Temple Franklin.

During the number of years I was in business as a stationer, printer, and postmaster, a great many small sums became due for books, advertisements, postage of letters, and other matters, which were not collected when, in 1757, I was sent by the Assembly to England as their agent, and by subsequent appointments continued there till 1775, when on my return, I was immediately engaged in the affairs of Congress and sent to France in 1776, where I remained nine years, not returning till 1785, and the said debts, not being demanded in such a length of time, are become in a manner obsolete, yet are nevertheless justly due. These, as they are stated in my great folio ledger E, I bequeath to the contributors to the Pennsylvania Hospital, hoping that those debtors, and the descendants of such as are deceased, who now, as I find, make some difficulty of satisfying such antiquated demands as just debts, may, however, be induced to pay or give them as charity to that excellent institution. I am sensible that much must inevitably be lost, but I hope something considerable may be recovered. It is possible, too, that some of the parties charged may have existing old, unsettled accounts against me; in which case the managers of the said hospital will allow and deduct the amount, or pay the balance if they find it against me.

My debts and legacies being all satisfied and paid, the rest and residue of all my estate, real and personal, not herein expressly disposed of, I do give and bequeath to my son and daughter, Richard and Sarah Bache.

I request my friends, Henry Hill, Esquire, John Jay, Esquire, Francis Hopkinson, Esquire, and Mr. Edward Duffield, of Benfield, in Philadelphia County, to be the executors of this my last will and testament; and I hereby nominate and appoint them for that purpose.

I would have my body buried with as little expense or ceremony as may be. I revoke all former wills by me made, declaring this only to be my last.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal, this seventeenth day of July, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight.

B. Franklin

Signed, sealed, published, and declared by the above named Benjamin Franklin, for and as his last will and testament, in the presence of us.

Abraham Shoemaker, John Jones, George Moore.


I, Benjamin Franklin, in the foregoing or annexed last will and testament named, having further considered the same, do think proper to make and publish the following codicil or addition thereto.

It has long been a fixed political opinion of mine, that in a democratical state there ought to be no offices of profit, for the reasons I had given in an article of my drawing in our constitution, it was my intention when I accepted the office of President, to devote the appointed salary to some public uses. Accordingly, I had already, before I made my will in July last, given large sums of it to colleges, schools, the building of churches, etc.; and in that will I bequeathed two thousand pounds more to the State for the purpose of making the Schuylkill navigable. But understanding since that such a work, and that the project is not likely to be undertaken for many years to come, and having entertained another idea, that I hope may be more extensively useful, I do hereby revoke and annul that bequest, and direct that the certificates I have for what remains due to me of that salary be sold, towards raising the sum of two thousand pounds sterling, to be disposed of as I am now about to order.

It has been an opinion, that he who receives an estate from his ancestors is under some kind of obligation to transmit the same to their posterity. This obligation does not lie on me, who never inherited a shilling from an ancestor or relation. I shall, however, if it is not diminished by some accident before my death, leave a considerable estate among my descendants and relations. The above observation is made as merely as some apology to my family for making bequests that do not appear to have any immediate relation to their advantage.

I was born in Boston, New England, and owe my first instructions in literature to the free grammar schools established there. I have, therefore, already considered these schools in my will. But I am also under obligations to the State of Massachusetts for having, unasked, appointed me formerly their agent in England, with a handsome salary, which continued some years; and although I accidentally lost in their service, by transmitting Governor Hutchinson's letters, much more than the amount of what they gave me, I do not think that ought in the least to diminish my gratitude.

I have considered that, among artisans, good apprentices are most likely to make good citizens, and, having myself been bred to a manual art, printing, in my native town, and afterward assisted to set up my business in Philadelphia by kind loans of money from two friends there, which was the foundation of my fortune, and all the utility in life that may be ascribed to me, I wish to be useful even after my death, if possible, in forming and advancing other young men, that may be serviceable to their country in both these towns. To this end, I devote two thousand pounds sterling, of which I give one thousand thereof to the inhabitants of the town of Boston, in Massachusetts, and the other thousand to the inhabitants of the city of Philadelphia, in trust, to and for the uses, intents, and purposes hereinafter mentioned and declared.

The said sum of one thousand pounds sterling, if accepted by the inhabitants of the town of Boston, shall be managed under the direction of the selectmen, united with the ministers of the oldest Episcopalians, Congregational, and Presbyterian churches in that town, who are to let out the sum upon interest, at five per cent, per annum, to such young married artificers, under the age of twenty-five years, as have served an apprenticeship in the said town, and faithfully fulfilled the duties required in their indentures, so as to obtain a good moral character from at least two respectable citizens, who are willing to become their sureties, in a bond with the applicants, for the repayment of the moneys so lent, with interest, according to the terms hereinafter prescribed; all which bonds are to be taken for Spanish milled dollars, or the value thereof in current gold coin; and the managers shall keep a bound book or books, wherein shall be entered the names of those who shall apply for and receive the benefits of this institution, and of their sureties, together with the sums lent, the dates, and other necessary and proper records respecting the business and concerns of this institution. And as these loans are intended to assist young married artificers in setting up their business, they are to be proportioned by the discretion of the managers, so as not to exceed sixty pounds sterling to one person, nor to be less than fifteen pounds; and if the number of appliers so entitled should be so large as that the sum will not suffice to afford to each as much as might otherwise not be improper, the proportion to each shall be diminished so as to afford to everyone some assistance. These aids may, therefore, be small at first, but, as the capital increases by the accumulated interest, they will be ampler. And in order to serve as many as possible in their turn, as well as to make the repayment of the principal borrowed easier, each borrower shall be obliged to pay, with the yearly interest, one-tenth part of the principal and interest, so paid in, shall be again let out to fresh borrowers.

And, as it is presumed that there will always be found in Boston virtuous and benevolent citizens, willing to bestow a part of their time in doing good to the rising generation, by superintending and managing this institution gratis, it is hoped that no part of the money will at any time be dead, or be diverted to other purposes, but be continually augmenting by the interest; in which case there may, in time, be more than the occasions in Boston shall require, and then some may be spared to the neighboring or other towns in the said State of Massachusetts, who may desire to have it; such towns engaging to pay punctually the interest and the portions of the principal, annually, to the inhabitants of the town of Boston.

If this plan is executed, and succeeds as projected without interruption for one hundred years, the sum will then be one hundred and thirty-one thousand pounds; of which I would have the managers of the donation to the town of Boston then layout, at their discretion, one hundred thousand pounds in public works, which may be judged of most general utility to the inhabitants, such as fortifications, bridges, aqueducts, public buildings, baths, pavements, or whatever may make living in the town more convenient to its people, and render it more agreeable to strangers resorting thither for health or a temporary residence. The remaining thirty-one thousand pounds I would have continued to be let out on interest, in the manner above directed, for another hundred years, as I hope it will have been found that the institution has had a good effect on the conduct of youth, and been of service to many worthy characters and useful citizens. At the end of this second term, if no unfortunate accident has prevented the operation, the sum will be four million and sixty-one thousand pounds sterling, of which I leave one million sixty-one thousand pounds to the disposition of the inhabitants of the town of Boston, and three million to the disposition of the government of the state, not presuming to carry my views farther.

All the directions herein given, respecting the disposition and management of the donation to the inhabitants of Boston, I would have observed respecting that to the inhabitants of Philadelphia, only, as Philadelphia is incorporated, I request the corporation of that city to undertake the management agreeably to the said directions; and I do hereby vest them with full and ample powers for that purpose. And, having considered that the covering a ground plot with buildings and pavements, which carry off most of the rain and prevent its soaking into the Earth and renewing and purifying the Springs, whence the water of wells must gradually grow worse, and in time be unfit for use, as I find has happened in all old cities, I recommend that at the end of the first hundred years, if not done before, the corporation of the city Employ a part of the hundred thousand pounds in bringing, by pipes, the water of Wissahickon Creek into the town, so as to supply the inhabitants, which I apprehend may be done without great difficulty, the level of the creek is much above that of the city, and may be made higher by a dam. I also recommend making the Schuylkill completely navigable. At the end of the second hundred years, I would have the disposition of the four million and sixty-one thousand pounds divided between the inhabitants of the city of Philadelphia and the government of Pennsylvania, in the same manner as herein directed with respect to that of the inhabitants of Boston and the government of Massachusetts.

It is my desire that this institution should take place and begin to operate within one year after my decease, for which purpose due notice should be publicly given previous to the expiration of that year, that those for whose benefit this establishment is intended may make their respective applications. And I hereby direct my executors, the survivors or survivor of them, within six months after my decease, to pay over the sum of two thousand pounds sterling to such persons as shall be duly appointed by the Selectmen of Boston and the corporation of Philadelphia, to receive and take charge of their respective sums, of one thousand pounds each, for the purposes aforesaid.

Considering the accidents to which all human affairs and projects are subject in such a length of time, I have, perhaps, too much flattered myself with a vain fancy that these dispositions, if carried into execution, will be continued without interruption and have the effects proposed. I hope, however, that is the inhabitants of the two cities should not think fit to undertake the execution, they will, at least, accept the offer of these donations as a mark of my good will, a token of my gratitude, and a testimony of my earnest desire to be useful to them after my departure.

I wish, indeed, that they may both undertake to endeavor the execution of the project, because I think that, though unforeseen difficulties may arise, expedients will be found to remove them, and the scheme be found practicable. If one of them accepts the money, with the conditions, and the other refuses, my will then is, that both Sums be given to the inhabitants of the city accepting the whole, to be applied to the same purposes, and under the same regulations directed for the separate parts; and, if both refuse, the money, of course, remains in the mass of my Estate, and is to be disposed of therewith according to my will made the Seventeenth day of July, 1788.

I wish to be buried by the side of my wife, if it may be, and that a marble stone, to be made by Chambers, six feet long, four feet wide, plain, with only a small molding around the upper edge, and this inscription:

Benjamin And Deborah Franklin 178-

to be placed over us both. My fine crab-tree walking stick, with a gold head, curiously wrought in the form of the cap of liberty, I give to my friend, and the friend of mankind, General Washington. If it were a Sceptre, he has merited it and would become it. It was a present to me from that excellent woman, Madame de Forbach, the Dowager Duchess of Deux-Ponts, connected with some verses which should go with it. I give my gold watch to my son-in-law Richard Bache, and also the gold watch chain of the Thirteen United States, which I have not yet worn. My timepiece, that stands in my library, I give to my grandson, William Temple Franklin. I give him also my Chinese gong. To my dear old friend, Mrs. Mary Hewson, I give one of my silver tankards marked for her use during her life, and after her decease, I give it to her daughter Eliza. I give to her son, William Hewson, who is my godson, my new quarto Bible, and also the botanic description of the plants in the Emperor's garden at Vienna, in folio, with colored cuts.

And to her son, Thomas Hewson, I give a set of "Spectators, Tattlers, and Guardians" handsomely bound.

There is an error in my will, where the bond of William Temple Franklin is mentioned as being four thousand pounds sterling, whereas it is but for three thousand five hundred pounds.

I give to my executors, to be divided equally among those that act, the sum of sixty pounds sterling, as some compensation for their trouble in the execution of my will; and I request my friend, Mr. Duffield, to accept moreover my French waywiser, a piece of clockwork in Brass, to be fixed to the wheel of any carriage; and that my friend, Mr. Hill, may also accept my silver cream pot, formerly given to me by the good Doctor Fothergill, with the motto, Keep bright the Chain. My reflecting telescope, made by Short, which was formerly Mr. Canton's, I give to my friend, Mr. David Rittenhouse, for the use of his observatory.

My picture, drawn by Martin, in 1767, I give to the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, if they shall be pleased to do me the honor of accepting it and placing it in their chamber. Since my will was made I have bought some more city lots, near the center part of the estate of Joseph Dean. I would have them go with the other lots, disposed of in my will, and I do give the same to my Son-in-law, Richard Bache, to his heirs and assigns forever.

In addition to the annuity left to my sister in my will, of fifty pounds sterling during her life, I now add thereto ten pounds sterling more, in order to make the Sum sixty pounds. I give twenty guineas to my good friend and physician, Dr. John Jones.

With regard to the separate bequests made to my daughter Sarah in my will, my intention is, that the same shall be for her sole and separate use, notwithstanding her coverture, or whether she be covert or sole; and I do give my executors so much right and power therein as may be necessary to render my intention effectual in that respect only. This provision for my daughter is not made out of any disrespect I have for her husband.

And lastly, it is my desire that this, my present codicil, be annexed to, and considered as part of, my last will and testament to all intents and purposes.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and Seal this twenty-third day of June, Anno Domini one thousand Seven hundred and eighty-nine.

B. Franklin.

Signed, sealed, published, and declared by the above named Benjamin Franklin to be a codicil to his last will and testament, in the presence of us.

Francis Bailey, Thomas Lang, Abraham Shoemaker.

Znote: The Road to the Convention

Click Here to Go On to The Constitution

Republics and Modern America (Constitution) : Blog 4063 :

New blog 4317: TITLE Grand Master Franklin: 4317: 601:

When Benjamin Franklin died at age 84, he was considered an old man.

Your author had lived to be 94, knowing only that Franklin's portrait was hanging on a first-floor wall in the Masonic building across from City Hall. I supposed he had been a member, had become famous and his picture found, so the Masons wanted to get some free advertising. George Washington's portrait next to it, probably made the same point. My father and I were Masons, but what do we know, applying 21st Century attitudes to the 18th Century?

Well, old men can indeed sometimes learn something new. Franklin had been a very influential Grand Master around 1735. He was sworn to secrecy, but seeing him as a secret leader of the Masons would cast certain matters into whole new light.

New blog 4365 2020-09-16 20:50:09 TITLE Franklin and Freemasonry : Blog 4365 :

Franklin And Freemasonry :

Blog 4365 :

It's probably wise advice to stay away from religion, since it provokes such strong and often irrational feelings on all sides. But it is impossible to avoid it when discussing Ben Franklin's role in 1775-76 without discussing Franklin's relationship to the Masons. Franklin became a Mason in 1731, at the age of 25,and worked his way up to Grand Master of the American Masons. His portrait hangs next to that of George Washington in the Masonic Temple across from Philadelphia's City Hall. Dr. Warren and nine signers of the Declaration of Independence were Masons. Let's begin with a short history of the oldest international secret society in continuous existence.

The Masons claim to trace their origin back to the building of Solomon's Temple, and many of their rituals have an oriental flavor. A more plausible history traces their origin to the medieval stone mason guild which built the cathedrals, and uniquely acquired the right to travel freely between countries. The Knights Templar returned from the Crusades rich, and attracted the attention of the French king. On one notable Friday the Thirteenth, the French King arranged a one-day coordinated a takeover and assassinated every knight they found. Whatever the association between the two, the Masons took over most of the abandoned property, and their subsequent desire for secrecy is understandable. There are differences between the European and the American ones, for example the Europeans admit women members, the American ones are all-male, although the wives of members are eligible for the Eastern Star. In Europe there is a stronger Germanic and pro-Jewish slant. Petain, for example, made it illegal to be a Mason in France, and it is hard to imagine that happening in America. One gets the impression there are other issues, now shrouded in secrecy.

One sees an ebb and flow to the American Freemasonry, somewhat reminiscent of American politics. But there has been a more or less continuous discord between the Scottish Masons and American Catholics. This traces back at least as far as the time of William Penn, when European ships were required to stop in England to remove any Catholics, before sailing for America. A succession of Popes gradually forbade Masonic membership on pain of excommunication during the nineteenth Century. This allows the Masons to claim the animosity is entirely on the Catholic side, but the Scottish hatred of the Irish around Pittsburgh is something to behold, allegedly tracing back to the "Mollie Maguires". In spite of William Penn, Philadelphia is now one-third Catholic, so the traditional hostility of the two ends of the state persists in its Masonic as well as its political forms. Freemasonry reached its peak in 1826, when just about every male who wanted a governmental job was a Mason seeking the job. And then came Morgan.

Skipping the details, four men were accused of murdering Morgan, but his body was never found. The masons undoubtedly put on a campaign to persuade juries and judges that you can't convict for murder without proof that the man is dead by finding a corpus delicti. The anti-Masons trivialized such fancy legalisms, and demanded justice for an obvious murder. The men were acquitted, the anti-Masons demanded justice, the anti-Masons got 8% of the next presidential election, and the Masons nearly fell apart. The Masons regained most of their stature during the nineteenth Century, by reason of their enormous charity work, amounting to millions of dollars per year but the anti-mason feeling was unpacified and seems to continue to this day. There are over two million Masons in America, but never to the stature they had in Franklin's day, when forty percent of the Revolutionary officers including Dr. Warren and Paul Revere, Von Steuben, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and most Scotch-Irish were both Revolutionaries and Masons. With Ben Franklin and George Washington fervent Masons, it is fair to suspect the Masonic pattern for Revolution. To say nothing of the influence of Free masonry on the nations capital, and the Masonic symbolism on the back of its dollar bill. Even the membership of Isaac Newton, Voltaire, Mozart, Hume and fourteen Presidents of the United States (including FDR) counts for something in this dispute.

Alexander Hamilton, Celebrity

{top quote}
He had the kind of taudry private life and flashy public behavior that Philadelphia will only tolerate in aristocrats, sometimes. {bottom quote}

It comes as a surprise that most of the serious, important things Alexander Hamilton did for his country were done in Philadelphia, while he lived at 79 South 3rd Street. That surprises because much of his more colorful behavior took place elsewhere. He was born on a fly-speck Caribbean island, the "bastard brat of a Scots peddler" in John Adams' exaggerated view, was orphaned and had to support himself after age 13. The orphan then fought his way to Kings College (now Columbia University) in New York in spite of hoping to go to Princeton, and has been celebrated ever since by Columbia University as a son of New York. He did found the Bank of New York, and he did marry the daughter of a New York patroon, and he was the head of the New York political delegation. As you can see in the statuary collection at the Constitution Center, he was a funny-looking little elf with a long pointed nose, frequently calling attention to himself with hyperkinetic behavior. Even as the legitimate father of eight children, Hamilton had some overly close associations with other men's wives, probably including his wife's sister. Nevertheless, he earned the affection of the stiff and solemn General Washington, probably through a gift of gab and skill getting things done, while outwardly acting as court jester in a difficult and dangerous guerilla war. There is a famous story of his shaking loose from the headquarters staff and fighting in the line at Yorktown, where he insolently stood on the parapet before the British enemy troops, performing the manual of arms. Instead of using him for target practice, the British troops applauded his audacity. Harboring no such illusions, Aaron Burr later killed him in a duel as everyone knows; it was not his first such challenge.

{Alexander Hamilton}
Alexander Hamilton

Columbia University President Nicholas Murray Butler told other stories of celeb behavior to reinforce Hamilton's New York flavor. But in the clutch, General Washington learned he could always trust Hamilton, who wrote many of his letters for him and acted as his reliable spymaster. When the first President faced signing or not signing the fateful bill to create the National Bank, a perplexed Washington had to choose between: the violent opposition of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, or the bewildering complexity of Alexander Hamilton's reasoning in arcane economics. On the one hand, there was the simple principle that owing money was seemingly always evil; on the other was the undeniable truth that for every debit created, you create a balancing credit somewhere. Washington ultimately chose to go with Hamilton, whose reasonings he likely didn't understand very well. If you doubt the difficulty, try reading Hamilton's Report on the Bank, written to persuade the nation and its first President of the soundness of his ideas. And then consider the violence of even present-day arguments about such "supply side" economics.

{ Nicholas Murray Butler}
Nicholas Murray Butler

All of these momentous events happened in Philadelphia at places now easily visited in a morning's stroll. But Hamilton's image as a Philadelphian, doing great things in and for Philadelphia, was forever tarnished at one single dinner he hosted. Jefferson and Madison, his political opponents but his guests, were persuaded to provide Virginia's votes for the federal takeover of state Revolutionary War debts, in return for offering New York's votes for moving the nation's capital to the banks of the Potomac. True, Pennsylvania allowed itself to be pacified with having the capital remain here for ten years while the southern swamps were being drained. But it was Hamilton who cooked up this deal and sold it to the other vote swappers. Philadelphia felt it was entitled to the capital without needing to ask, felt that Hamilton was deliberately under-counting Pennsylvania's war debts, and this city has never appreciated the insolent idea that its entitlements were forever in the hands of wine-swilling hustlers. As the economic consequences of this backroom deal became evident during the 19th Century, it was increasingly unlikely that Philadelphia would lionize the memory of the man responsible for it. Let New York claim him, if it likes that sort of thing. When Albert Gallatin, who was more or less a Pennsylvania home town boy, attacked Hamilton as a person, as a banker, and as a Federalist -- he had a fairly easy time persuading Philadelphians that this needle-nosed philanderer was an embarrassment best forgotten.


Alexander Hamilton Ron Chernow ISBN:978-0-14-303475-9 Amazon

New blog 4362 2020-09-14 20:13:54 TITLE Title Insurance (Present State)

CONTENTS: this is the main body of text

Title Insurance (Present State)

Blog 4362 :

Most people only see the Title Insurance folks at the "closings" of their purchase or sale of their house. Maybe house flippers or real estate folks know more about Title Insurance than I do, since I only owned one house in my life. At the closing of my only house a Title Representative was supposed to be present, but he was busy and didn't. I noticed he was not too busy to send me a bill for thousands of dollars one-time premium. So it was of interest later when two of them rented a vacated lawyers office next door to me, and I paid them a welcome call. They were surprisingly young for such quarters, especially whenever I knocked on the door and found they were almost never there. And surprisingly uncordial for unbusy people when they were there. That's the way it stayed, all the years we were neighbors. So one day I asked my ROMEO lunchmates what Title Insurance was all about. They laughed and said that Title Insurance used to pay the Proprietors a fee for every house sale but a few years ago they just stopped. Considering the hazy history of New Jersey land ownership I can see why there might be a need for some insurance, but I couldn't see why they stopped. The answer was it was a unilateral decision, and the Proprietors weren't given any choice. That's no answer I replied. And that's all I know from them, except I know that Quakers are very reluctant to sue anybody, feeling you can usually work everything out in a dispute by personal negotiation.

Wyoming, Fair Wilkes Barre

Wyoming Valley

There are a dozen or so places on the planet where a natural bowl formation famously moderates the climate. Cuernavaca in Mexico, the Canary Islands, and Chungking in Western China all claim to have temperatures which range from 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, year-round. In Cuernavaca at least, they claim it only rains at night. These three places have a high plateau in the center of a mountain bowl, like an angel food cake pan, which may (or may not) contribute to the unusually mild climate effect. Several other places within inner China compete for the title of Shangri La, famous in song and story, never precisely located by tourists. The Wyoming Valley of the Susquehanna River once enjoyed a similar luster during the Romantic Period at the very beginning of the Nineteenth century, although unfortunately, its temperature is plainly not so balmy. Wyoming of song and poem was imagined to be the home of the Noble Savage, unstained by the wayward influences of civilization, and thus a model for the democratic ideal expected to emerge in Old Europe once the aristocrats were exterminated by nature's noblemen, European version. That seems to have been Robespierre in France, as disappointing to idealists as the Iroquois along the Susquehanna.

Massacre Monument

But one must not scoff. The Wyoming Valley was created long ago by a lake between two mountain ridges, which gradually dried up leaving flat topsoil deep at the bottom of the valley when the river finally broke through at Nanticoke and drained it. Its appearance is enhanced by surroundings in all directions of at least fifty miles of bleakness. Nowadays, the best way to appreciate the natural beauty of the place is to arrive from the south, gaining the summit of the ridge by one of the secondary roads. Housing development down below stops at the edge of the level plain, so as one ascends to the southern rim it is possible to see the inside of the bowl without seeing much of the town, and thus appreciate how it must have looked to frontiersmen searching for likely places to settle. It's quite beautiful. Descending into the bowl, the potholes in the road and roadhouses along the way to begin to make an impression. In full sight, it looks as though a city suburb has filled the place to its edge, with a rather decaying Nineteenth-century town center, but towering wooded mountainsides. There's a quiet park in the very center, through which the quiet river runs. In a little subdivision named Wyoming, there is a monument to The Massacre, now described as a hopeless defense by untrained Revolutionaries against the fearsome Indians and British Loyalists. The names of the fallen and the names of those who escaped are carved on this monument near Forty Fort. One presumes the wounded and some bystanders were massacred, the officers and trained infantry were more likely to escape the hopeless odds by fleeing into the woods. It is claimed that common soldiers were finished off by Indian Queen Esther smashing their heads between two flat rocks. Wounded officers were tortured to death.

Delaware Water Gap at Stroudsburg

Just where the Connecticut immigrants, or invaders, first arrived in the Wyoming Valley is not known. Their most likely entrance was at the top of the northern end of the valley, where ski lodges now cluster, after coming up the mountains from the east. The hills rising from the Delaware watershed are wooded but too rocky for farming. It's therefore inexpensive to set aside parks named "Promised Land" and "The Lord's Valley" and such, with some Milford, scattered here and there in the woods. A section of the upper Delaware River fifty miles long, from Port Jervis down to the Delaware Water Gap at Stroudsburg is enclosed in a National Wildlife and Recreation Area of about a mile's width on either side of the river. It's surprising how little is said of this rather large national park close to two large metropolitan areas. No doubt the visitors are torn between wishing it was more appreciated, and hoping to keep it secret and unspoiled.

{Wyoming Massacre}
Wyoming Massacre

The Decision of Trenton(1782) simply gave the disputed land back to Pennsylvania. There is a strong presumption the Connecticut migrants were privately promised land in the Western Reserve, in Ohio, whenever Ohio became a state. In spite of the implicit guarantees, the Pennsylvanians nevertheless treated the usurpers pretty roughly, and traces of Connecticut trail westward toward the Ohio line. There's a Westmoreland County near Pittsburgh, where many stranded families in the bituminous coal regions can thus trace their ancestry back to the Mayflower. It is truly extraordinary that such bitterness could leave so little trace of itself later. History may not be bunk, but persistent grievances are surely a menace to a peaceful existence. The events of the Pennamite Wars are widely believed to have led to the slanting of the 1787 Constitution toward the protection of individual property rights, but the wording to that effect within the Constitution is hard to locate. Somehow, like the implicit promises of the Western Reserve, ways were found to provide credible promises that it soon wouldn't matter which state you lived in. Somehow the word got to John Marshall that in actual practice, what would matter was whether an identified person could demonstrate clear title to specific land back to, or a little beyond, 1787, no matter what state the land was in. And the obscurity of the complex connection between this revolution in the law of property, and the very sad events in the Wyoming Valley suited everybody concerned. Stare decisis.

The Signers of the Declaration of Independence

{Josiah Bartlett}
Josiah Bartlett
{Matthew Thornton}
Matthew Thornton
{William Whipple}
William Whipple
{John Hancock}
John Hancock
{Elbridge Gerry}
Elbridge Gerry
{Samuel Adams}
Samuel Adams
{Robert Paine}
Robert Paine
{Stephen Hopkins}
Stephen Hopkins
{William Ellery}
William Ellery
{Samuel Huntington}
Samuel Huntington
{William Williams}
William Williams
{Rodger Sherman}
Rodger Sherman
{Lewis Morris}
Lewis Morris
{Francis Lewis}
Francis Lewis
{Philip Livingston}
Philip Livingston
{Abraham Clark}
Abraham Clark
{Francis Hopinson}
Francis Hopkinson
{JOhn Witherspoon}
John Witherspoon
{John Hart}
John Hart
{George Clymer}
George Clymer
{Robert Morris}
Robert Morris
{Benjamin Rush}
Benjamin Rush
{James Smith}
James Smith
{Benjamin Franklin}
Benjamin Franklin
{John Morton}
John Morton
{George Ross}
George Ross
{James Wilson}
James Wilson
{George Read}
George Read
{Thomas McKean}
Thomas McKean
{Caesar Rodney}
Caesar Rodney
{Charles Carroll}
Charles Carroll
{Thomas Stone}
Thomas Stone
{Samuel Chase}
Samuel Chase
{William Paca}
William Paca
{Carter Braxton}
Carter Braxton
{Thomas Jefferson}
Thomas Jefferson
{Thomas Nelson}
Thomas Nelson
{Francis Lightfoot Lee}
Francis Lightfoot Lee
{Benjamin Harrison}
Benjamin Harrison
{George Wythe}
George Wythe
{William Hooper}
William Hooper
{Joseph Hewes}
Joseph Hewes
{John Penn}
John Penn
{Edward Rutledge}
Edward Rutledge
{Thomas Lynch}
Thomas Lynch
{Arthur Middleton}
Arthur Middleton
{Thomas Heyward}
Thomas Heyward
{George Walton}
George Walton
{Lyman Hall}
Lyman Hall
George Taylor

Greenwich, Where?

{Greenwich NJ}
Greenwich NJ

If you sail north up the Delaware Bay, you would go past Rehoboth, Lewes, Dover, New Castle, Wilmington -- on the left, or Delaware side. On the right, or New Jersey side, it's a long way from Cape May to Salem, the first town of any consequence. That is, the Jersey side of the riverbank is still comparatively uninhabited. When the first settlers came along, with vast areas to choose among, it might have seemed attractive to settle on the Delaware side, because the peninsular nature of what is now called Delmarva (Del-Mar-Va) would provide land access to two large navigable bays, the Delaware, and the Chesapeake. To go all the way up the Delaware to what is now Pennsylvania would give trading access to a whole continent, so that eventually proved to be where immigration was headed. But as a matter of fact, the marshy Jersey shore seemed more attractive for settlement by the earlier settlers.

A settler has to think about starving the first year or two, because trees have to be cut down, and stumps pulled up before the land can even be plowed. After that, comes planting and growing, then finally harvesting. Trees, behind which Indians can hide, are a bad thing all around in the eyes of a settler. The flat swampy meadows of the Jersey bank were just exactly what the Dutch knew how to manage. Dam up the creeks and drain the ground, and you will soon have lots of lands ready for the plow, without any confounded trees. By the end of the seventeenth century, the English who had made the mistake of settling in rocky Connecticut finally saw what the Dutch were able to do, and came down to take it away from them.

{Greenwich scenery}
Greenwich scenery

That's why there is a Salem, New Jersey, and also a Greenwich, New Jersey. Greenwich ( around here they pronounce it green-witch) had 870 residents at the last census. It is one of the cutest little colonial villages you are likely to encounter. The local historians refer to it as an unreconstructed Williamsburg, drawing prideful attention to the fact that these houses were really built in the colonial period, and are in no way imitation reconstructions. The isolated charm of this place is in large part due to being surrounded by a maze of wandering creeks, so visitors by land travel don't get there in time for lunch unless they take great care to follow a local road map. If you arrive by water, it's no problem; just navigate up the crooked and twisting Cohansey River.

Although pioneer settlement was much earlier, the oldest house still standing in that rather damp area was built in 1730. Things are pretty much the way they were before the American Revolution because the Calvinists who settled here were not prepared for the Jersey mosquito, which obviously is abundant in such a marshy area. With the mosquito comes relapsing (Vivax, malaria, black water (Falciparum) malaria, and Dengue Fever (graphically known locally as break-bone fever). As a matter of fact, encephalitis is also mosquito-borne. When you don't understand the insect carrier situation, survival in such an environment depends on local fables and lore, like going to the mountains for the summer after the planting season, and only returning at harvest time. That sounds to a New Englander newcomer like a superstitious cloak for lazy living, especially since masses of fish come up the river in teeming waves, looking for mosquitoes to eat. So, Greenwich is charming, but it never was thriving.

Working hard to find something to say about the town, it would appear that Paul Revere himself came riding into Greenwich in December 1774, urging the town to join their Boston relatives in the destruction of tea belonging to the British East India Company. Greenwich accordingly had a public tea burning on December 22. Since the more notorious Boston tea party took place on December 16, 1773, and the British Tea Act was passed in May, 1773, it is not exactly accurate to say the rebellion spread like wildfire. One has to suppose that the inflammatory tale told to the local farmers by Paul Revere was likely a little enhanced, since a careful recounting of the events in Boston suggests a number of ways the uproar might have been avoided if Samuel Adams and his friends had been less provocative. Or if Massachusetts Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson had been less flighty. Or for that matter, if Benjamin Franklin had restrained himself when he got hold of Hutchinson's letters at a critical moment when he was in London. In retrospect, the best model for behavior was provided by the Royal Navy; the whole Boston Tea Party was surrounded by armed British naval vessels, who did not lift a finger throughout the demonstration.

Anyway, little Greenwich had its minute of fame with a tea burning. Otherwise, it has had a very quiet existence for three centuries. The point behind bringing it up is to emphasize that New England was at least two years ahead of the Quaker states in rebellion against England, and needed to stir those pacifists up.


Paul Revere & The World He Lived In Amazon

What Happened in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776?

Spirit of 76'

The American colonies were growing too big, too fast, and the British Empire had too many international distractions, to have smooth relationships across three thousand miles of ocean, using uncertain communications available in the late Eighteenth century. Friction and misunderstanding were inevitable without far more statesmanship than either side thought was necessary. So, when the Continental Congress dispatched George Washington to Boston with troops to defend rebellious Massachusetts at Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill, it was hard for the British to believe the colonists were merely helping out one of their distressed neighbors. It seemed in London that the thirteen colonies had united, formed not only an army but a government, and gone to war. In December 1775 England passed the Prohibitory Act, essentially declaring war, and organized a huge invasion fleet to put down the rebellion. It now seems hard to understand the first notice the Americans had of this huge over-reaction was a private letter to Robert Morris from one of his agents in March 1776; no warnings, no negotiations, no attempt to investigate problems and correct them. The British just sent a fleet to settle this problem, whatever it was. It's all very well to say the Americans should have known they were playing with fire. They didn't see it that way; they were being self-reliant, responding to attack. In June 1776 British patrol frigates were skirmishing in the Delaware River; late in the month, British troops landed on Staten Island. The American reaction to all this was a muddle of confusion. A few were delighted, most of the rest were amazed or appalled.

Although the deeper strategic origins of the American Revolution are subtle, complex, and controversial, there is far less muddle about what happened on July 2, 1776, publicly proclaimed two days later. Adopting a resolution written by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, the Thirteen Colonies stated they had now clarified their goals in the controversy with the British monarchy. For a year before that, the Continental Congress had been corresponding with each other and meeting in Carpenters Hall with the goal of achieving representation in the British parliament -- "No taxation without representation". The model for most of them was based on the Whig agitation for Ireland -- for a local parliament within a larger commonwealth. But the passing of the British Navy in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and then the actual appearance of seven hundred British warships in American waters showed that not only was Parliamentary representation out of the question, but King George III was going to play rough with upstarts. The new goal was no longer just representation, it was independence. If we were going to resist a military occupation at the risk of being hanged as traitors, we might as well do it for something substantial. The meeting had a number of Scotch-Irish Princeton graduates, whose basic loyalty to England had long been divided. Pacifist Pennsylvania, chief among the wavering hold-outs, was mostly won over by its own Benjamin Franklin, who was optimistic the French would help us. Even so, both Robert Morris and John Dickinson refused to sign the Declaration; Franklin persuaded both to abstain by absence, which created a majority of the Pennsylvania delegation in favor. That's a pretty slim majority for a crucial decision. Franklin was soon dispatched back to Paris to make an alliance; Washington was dispatched to hold off that British army in the meantime. Jefferson was designated to write a proclamation, which even after editing is still pretty unreadable beyond the first couple of sentences. Meeting adjourned. This brief account may not qualify as a serious examination of the causes of the American Revolution, but it comes close to the way it seemed to the colonist in the street.

Colonist's Complaint

The rebels then spent eight years convincing the British they were serious and have been independent ever since. But, just a minute, here. Reflect on the fact that fighting had been going on for a year in Massachusetts, and that Lord Howe's fleet had set sail a month before the Declaration, actually landing on Staten Island at just about the same time as the Fourth of July. Add the fact that only John Hancock actually signed the document on July 4th, and some of the signers even waited until September. You can sort of see why John Adams never got over the idea that Thomas Jefferson had a big nerve implying the whole Revolution was his idea. What's more, there's a viewpoint that New England subsequently had to endure a President from Virginia for thirty-two of the first thirty-six years of the new nation because loud talk from New England still made the rest of the country nervous. Philadelphia may have been the cradle of Independence, but that was not because it was a colony hot for war, dragging others along with it. Rather, it was the largest city in the colonies, centrally located. It had a strong pacifist tradition, and it had the most to lose from a pillaging enemy war machine. When Independence was finally declared the goal, many of Philadelphia's leading citizens moved to Canada.

New England had started hostilities and was about to be subdued by overwhelming force. The Canadians were not going to come to their aid, because they were French, and Catholic, and enough said. What New England and the Scotch-Irish needed were WASP allies, stretching for two thousand miles to the South. By far the largest colony was Virginia, which included what is now Kentucky and West Virginia; it even had some legal claims for vastly larger territory. Virginia was incensed about its powerlessness against British mercantilism, especially the tobacco trade. The rest of the English colonies had plenty of assorted grievances against George III, and almost all of them could see that America was rapidly outgrowing dependency on the British homeland, without a sign that Parliament was ever going to surrender home rule to them. It was perhaps unfortunate New Englanders were so impulsive, but it looked as though a military confrontation with the Crown was inevitably coming. Without support, New England was likely to be torched, as Rome once subdued Carthage.

And the last hope for an alternative of flattery and diplomacy, for guile and subtlety, had stepped off the boat a year earlier. Benjamin Franklin, our fabulous man in London, arrived with the news he had finally had it "up to here" with the British ministry. He was a man who quietly made things happen, carefully selecting his arguments from amongst many he had in mind. In retrospect, we can see that he held the idea of Anglo-Saxon world domination as far back as the Albany Conference of 1745, and could even look forward to America outgrowing England in the 19th Century. His behavior at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 strongly suggests he never completely gave up that long-term dream. Just as Edmund Burke never gave up the idea of Reconciliation with the Colonies, Benjamin Franklin never quite gave up the idea of Reconciliation with England. While John Dickinson and Robert Morris resisted the idea of Independence down to the last moment, Franklin took a much longer view. For the time being, it was necessary to defeat the British, and for that, we needed the help of the French. In 1750, America joined with the British to toss out the French. And then in 1776, we joined the French to toss out the British. Franklin didn't always get his way. But Franklin was always steering the ship.

And by the way, only a couple of signers joined John Hancock on July 4, 1776. George Ross, for example, signed it when the Continental Congress reconvened on August 2 of that year.

The Walking Purchase

William Penn and the Indians

Any fair discussion of Quaker relations with the Indians must emphasize that almost all other colonists of the time regarded Indians as subhuman components of the local wilderness. Only William Penn was careful to treat the Indians as fellow human beings, entitled to fair play, dignity, and respect. Like a good politician, he entered into their games with enthusiasm and definitely earned their respect by outdoing them all in the broad jump contests. Even though he had bought the land from King Charles II, he took care to buy it a second time from the Indians, and for many decades was able to enforce the wise rule of never permitting settlers on the land before the Indians agreed to its purchase. After Penn's death, however, and particularly from 1726 to 1736, a major wave of German and Scotch-Irish immigration created an overwhelming population pressure on the seaboard areas, resulting in much unauthorized pioneering and settlement. Since William Penn spent only a few years in the colonies his agents chiefly James Logan, had long set the tone.

Walking Purchase

Logan had been equally famous for his many efforts to treat the Indians fairly, and the grounds of Stenton, his manor house, were often filled with Indians come to pay their respects. Against all this evidence of the benign attitudes of both Penn and Logan, there stands the episode of the Walking Purchase of 1737. No doubt about it, the Indians were treated badly.

In the triangle between the Neshaminy Creek and the Delaware River, the Delaware Indians agreed to a sale with the third side of the triangle established at a distance from Wrightstown, as far as a man could walk northward toward the Wind Gap in a day and a half. That was a common form of boundary for Indian land sales, and its distance was fairly well understood. In anticipation of pacing out the distance, the colonists sent out explorers to find the easiest path, then sent out woodsmen to clear a path in the forest, and selected three of the fastest runners in the colony to do the running. The pace was so fast that two of the runners had to drop out, and the third one nearly did so. The resulting boundary was nearly twice as far into the wilderness as was commonly accepted for the measurement, taking advantage of the sharp bend in the river which widened the land in question by a great deal. The Indians were so disgusted they refused to leave the territory. Logan had already made an agreement with the Iroquois nation, to whom the Delawares were subject, and the Delawares only surrendered the land when the Iroquois began to look as though they really would act as enforcers for the bargain. Although serious Indian warfare did not break out for another twenty years, the Walking Purchase went a long way toward convincing the Delaware tribe that the Quakers were no more trustworthy than the settlers in other colonies, and is said to have been on their minds when twenty years later they helped the French decimate General Braddock's army.

There will probably never be a clear resolution of the paradox of Quakers, particularly Logan, behaving in this reprehensible manner within a very long history of the unusually honorable treatment of the Indians. With William Penn now dead and gone, no doubt Logan was caught in a squeeze between the two rather dissolute sons of William Penn, neither of them Quaker, who had over-indebted themselves with high living and were pressing their agent to make land sales to pay for it. Then there was the pressure of the new German and Scotch-Irish immigrants, brought to the New World by real estate promises, and stranded in the seaport unable to complete their land purchases. Under this pressure, Logan may have been unduly persuaded that the 1684 treaties with the Indians, along with many other treaties and understandings, were all the legal justification he needed. Whatever the specifics of the situation at the time, it is now clear the Walking Purchase was a blot on the Quaker record that can never be entirely justified within the Quakers' own standards of fairness. Within the Society of Friends, whatever other English colonists might have done in their position, let alone what French and Spanish regularly did to the Indians, doesn't matter in the slightest.

New blog 2020-09-07 17:48:04 TITLE Franklin's Literary Side In Context.

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Franklin Inn, The Literary Side of Him

Blog 4357 : Topic 13 :

We think of Franklin as a publisher turned politician, but in addition to starting revolutions and writing Constitutions, he had a strong literary side. In fact, he was drummed out of Boston for writing satirical songs and poetry at the age of 17, under the pen name of Silence Dogood for the New England Courier. He made his first fortune when Poor Richards Almanac was a success, and long afterwards his autobiography got him included in the Harvard Classics. Just compare the style of his 80-volume collected work with that of his correspondents. This man who never got past the second grade was indeed a literary giant.

The founders of The Franklin Inn knew that, and in spite of locating the Club next to the College of Physicians, it has been a literary club from its beginning. In spite of Franklin's many other talents, this club required the admissions committee to examine the books the applicant had written--other than medical ones.

Just look at his 80-volume collection of writing, remembering that this handwriting was only about half of it. Remember that each 600 page volume costs $250 on today's market, and ask yourself whether your own writing measures up. If the cost bothers you, focus on Volume 22, which was all originally written in longhand over the course of 19 months. He says he worked 12-hour days, founding the republic. And then left for Paris, to found the diplomatic service.

Franklin Endorses the Constitution

Monday Sepr. 17, 1787. In Convention (6th and Chestnut, Philadelphia).

The Engrossed Constitution being read, Doctor. Franklin rose with a Speech in his hand, which he had reduced to writing for his own convenience, and which Mr. Wilson read in the words following:

Mr. President,

{Bust of Benjamin Franklin}
Bust of Benjamin Franklin

I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, then I am to doubt my own judgment and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. Most men indeed as well as most sects in Religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them it is so far error. Steele, a Protestant in a Dedication tells the Pope, that the only difference between our Churches in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrines is, the Church of Rome is infallible and the Church of England is never in the wrong. But though many private persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their sect, few express it so naturally as a certain French lady, who in a dispute with her sister, said, "I don't know how it happens, Sister, but I meet with nobody but myself, that's always in the right"- "Il n'y a que moi quia Toujours reason."

{Signing of the Constitution}
The signing of the Constitution

In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other. I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an Assembly can a perfect production be expected? It, therefore, astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so 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 Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats. Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its error, I sacrifice to the public good--I have never whispered a syllable 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 endeavor to gain partisans in support of them, we might prevent it is being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects and great advantages resulting naturally in our favor among foreign Nations as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity. Much of the strength and efficiency of any Government in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depends, on opinion, on the general opinion of the goodness of the Government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its Governors. I hope therefore that for our own sakes as a part of the people and for the sake of our posterity, we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this Constitution (if approved by Congress and confirmed by the Conventions) wherever our influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts and endeavors to the means of having it well administered.

On the whole, Sir, I cannot help expressing a wish that every member of the Convention who may still have objections to it, would with me, on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility--and to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.

He then moved that the Constitution be signed.

When the last members were signing it, Doctor Franklin looking towards the President's Chair, at the back of which a rising sun happened to be painted, observed to a few members near him, that Painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising from a setting sun. I have, said he, often and often in the course of the Session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issues, looked at that behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting: But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting Sun.

Book Review: Signing Their Lives Away by Denise Kiernan

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The Basis for a Revised Description of the Beginning of the American Revolution

The conventional description of the beginning of the American Revolution has it that the Americans started it. Taxation Without Representation was the slogan.

Philadelphia sees things a little differently. What about Independence? What about Ben Franklin in the cockpit at Whitehall? What about Admiral Howe's enormous fleet and the Proclamation? What were Franklin and Howe secretly meeting about?

Philadelpia After The Revolution, Before the United States

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Black Philadelphia

Tne first movement to free the slaves began by the Philadelphia Quakers, first in Germantown, and then under the leadership of====in Mt. Holly, New Jersey.

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Fort Washington, PA

{Fort Washington Map}
British Campaigns

The Revolutionary War lasted eight years, so there are a half dozen Fort Washingtons, in several states. Pennsylvania's Fort Washington gets free advertising from being a stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike at the intersection of the East-West branch and the North-South branch, near some very large shopping malls. Nevertheless, the suburbs haven't reached it yet, and it is on a series of wooded mountain ridges discouraging housing development. Another way of describing its location is that it is several miles north of Chestnut Hill along the Bethlehem Pike, a road which begins in the center of Chestnut Hill at Germantown Avenue. The Pike is quite old, with many surviving colonial-era houses and inns to liven up the trip.

A third way to describe Fort Washington is that the headquarters were at the point where Bethlehem Pike crosses the Wissahickon Creek. How's that again? How does the western Wissahickon Creek then flow uphill to Chestnut Hill? Of course, it doesn't, but the appearance takes some explaining. The northwestern end of Philadelphia is reached by two ancient roads running on ridges quite close together like the split tail of a fish. Germantown Avenue runs up one ridge, and Ridge Avenue runs up the second ridge closer to the Schuylkill. The Wissahickon runs in the gully between these two ridges and tumbles down the hill at Wissahickon Avenue, or Rittenhousetown if that is more understandable. The ridge of Ridge Avenue is essentially cut off by the creek, but engineers have put Ridge Avenue on a high arching bridge as it crosses the creek far below, and by this magic Ridge Avenue and Germantown Avenue are at about the same height most of the way. The Wissahickon Creek is really running downhill the whole way, but sort of disappears from sight and reappears as it twists through the gorges, misleading the casual visitor (or commuter). As happened so often during the Revolutionary War, Washington showed his understanding here of geography in the service of guerrilla warfare.

Since the British were headquartered in Germantown, and the Americans have camped a few miles away on the same creek, it was inevitable there would be some sort of battle in the region. Washington launched a three-pronged attack on the British soon after arriving at Fort Washington, but his troops fired at each other in the fog, and apparently, two prongs more or less got lost in the gorges. The Americans retreated, and the British consolidated their conquest of Philadelphia. They did launch one surprise attack on the American encampment (the Battle of Whitemarsh), but that was mainly a reconnoiter, given up after a few days when it became clear Washington's troops held the high ground. It really is high ground (hawk-watching platforms and all) for reasons already stated. Chestnut Hill is a pinnacle sticking up on the west side of the Creek, with the Wissahickon snaking around its base.

This really was a perfect place for Washington to aim for after the Brandywine Battle, close enough to threaten the British, located in a bowl-like valley for camping, but terminating at the top of a mountain ridge in case the British counter-attacked. And with plenty of running water from the Wissahickon. However, it was a little too close for comfort, and he withdrew across the Schuylkill into Valley Forge as a more substantial natural fortress. Valley Forge is also on a hilltop, but one sitting in the middle of the Great Valley (Route 202 to Wilmington), as the center of an angel food cake tin. No doubt, the advantages of this new location became evident to him at the earlier skirmishes of the Battle of the Clouds, and the Paoli Massacre, which occurred nearby.

In retrospect, these maneuvers and skirmishes were of little military significance, except for the major Battle of Brandywine. The lost opportunity was the chance to catch the British Army without supplies or access to the Navy, aborted by what was probably a hurricane, the so-called Battle of the Clouds. Philadelphia was lost, and the opportunity to win the war early by smashing a third British army was gone for good. The defeat of the Hessians at Trenton, the loss of Burgoyne's army at Saratoga, and a victory on the outskirts of Philadelphia might together just have finished the War. But things didn't work out, the British similarly missed some opportunities, and the war was to last another five years. Once the French allied themselves, their wealth and naval strength tended to make French priorities dominate strategy.

Nevertheless, a perfectly splendid tourist trip awaits the history buff who travels from Elkton, Maryland, where the British landed, to the Battle of Brandywine battlefield, up the Great Valley to Immaculata University where the Battle of the Clouds took place, over to the Battlefield of the Paoli Massacre, crossing the Schuylkill and going to Whitemarsh, then to Fort Washington, and back up Bethlehem Pike to Germantown Avenue, and down to the Chew Mansion. The campaign for the conquest of Philadelphia ended with the fall of Ft. Mifflin when the British fleet was finally able to re-supply Howe's army. This direct auto tour is a little out of chronological sequence, but it can be done in one day if you don't dawdle. If you slow down and spend an extra day, you can include the Moland House where Washington waited to see where General Howe was going. At the right season, there's hawk watching on the ridge at Fort Washington Park, and maybe on to Trenton, or even up the New Jersey waist to Perth Amboy on lower New York Bay, where the Howe brothers began and ended their Philadelphia adventure. That would take you past Princeton and New Brunswick, or even include a trip to the Monmouth Battleground. With this extension, you have traveled much of the extent of the Revolutionary War in the Mid-Atlantic states.

Encampment At East Falls

The urban intersection at Queen Lane and Fox Avenue in East Falls is a busy one, and except for a few stately residences, it easily escapes notice by commuters. However, the landscape forms a bowl atop a steep hill, fairly near the Schuylkill River. George Washington had evidently picked it out as a strong military position near the Capital at Philadelphia, either to defend the city or from which to attack it, as circumstances might dictate.

{Encampment at East Falls}
Encampment at East Falls

Washington's plans and thought processes are not precisely recorded, but when Lord Howe had sailed south from the Staten Island- New Brunswick area, he ordered his troops to head for an East Falls encampment at the southern edge of Germantown. Crossing the Delaware River at Coryell's Ferry (New Hope), the troops marched inland a few miles and then down the Old York Road to this encampment. Their stay at the beginning of August 1777 was quite brief because Washington changed his mind. When it took Howe's fleet longer than expected to appear in the Chesapeake, Washington became uneasy that Howe might be conducting a feint designed to draw the Continental troops south, and after cruising around the coast, might still return to attack down the undefended New Jersey corridor from Perth Amboy to Trenton. That proved wrong, but in Washington's defense, it must be said it was a plan that had actually been considered by the British. Anyway, Washington ordered his troops to pull out of the East Falls encampment and march back up Old York Road to Coryell's Crossing, which would be a more central place to keep his options open for the time when Howe's true intentions became clear. Washington and his headquarters staff went on ahead of the main body of troops, setting up headquarters at John Moland's House a little beyond Hatboro and a few miles west of Newtown, Buck's County. The Hatboro area was a pocket of Scotch-Irish settlement, without any local Tory sentiment, thus preferable to the rest of largely Quaker Buck's County.

To jump ahead chronologically, the East Falls encampment site must have seemed agreeable to the Continental Army, because a few weeks later it would be sought out as the main refuge and regrouping area, following the defeat at the Battle of Brandywine. The American troops were to withdraw from the Brandywine Creek when Washington realized he had been out-flanked, and head for Chester. Quickly recognizing that Chester was vulnerable, they headed for East Falls. Not only was Washington preparing to defend Philadelphia at that point, but was using the Schuylkill River as a defense barrier. As he had earlier done at the Battle of Trenton, he ordered all boats removed from the riverbanks, and artillery placed at any likely fording places, all the way up the Schuylkill to Norristown. Having accomplished that, this extraordinary guerrilla fighter then moved his troops from Germantown up the river to defend the fords. Meanwhile, Congress decided to move to the town of York on the Susquehanna, just in case.

Book Review: The Abandonment of the West by Michael Kimmage

A State Department official works for his boss the President, even though he may secretly disagree. He can work inside the Department to change the policy but seldom lets it show to outsiders. I read 300 pages of such balance about the reasonings from McKinley to Trump, without deciding how he came down personally, until the conclusion. When he finally told the reader what he proposed, he stood out as a brilliant, very opinionated history professor from Catholic University. He shows why he differed with the various Popes. Yet here and there were scattered some persuasive Catholic viewpoints. Aside from revealing Presidential policies from the empire-building of Teddy Roosevelt to the pacifism of Jimmy Carter, he must be an entertaining Professor of History and a very informative one.

You can read the first three hundred pages as a balanced recital of the views of changing State Department positions during the past century.

Or you can read the last thirty pages as a reasoned position on the coming election. Or you can do both, as I recommend you do, no matter what your party position may be.

Franklin's Real Estate Holdings

Benjamin Franklin

Having since my return from France demolished the three houses in Market Street, between Third and Fourth Streets, fronting my dwelling-house, and erected two new and larger ones on the ground, and having also erected another house on the lot which formerly was the passage to my dwelling, and also a printing-office between my dwelling and the front houses; now I do give and devise my said dwelling-house, wherein I now live, my said three new houses, my printing- office and the lots of ground thereto belonging; also my small lot and house in Sixth Street, which I bought off the widow Henmarsh; also my pasture-ground which I have in Hickory Lane, with the buildings thereon; also my house and lot on the North side of Market Street, now occupied by Mary Jacobs, together with two houses and lots behind the same, and fronting on Pewter-Platter Alley; also my lot of ground in Arch Street, opposite the church-burying ground, with the buildings thereon erected; also all my silver plate, pictures, and household goods, of every kind, now in my said dwelling-place, to my daughter, Sarah Bache, and to her husband, Richard Bache, to hold to them for and during their natural lives, and the life of the longest liver of them, and from and after the decease of the survivor of them, I do give, devise, and bequeath to all children already born, or to be born of my said daughter, and to their heirs and assigns forever, as tenants in common, and not as joint tenants.


All the lands near Ohio, and the lots near the center of Philadelphia, which I lately purchased of the State, I give to my son-in-law, Richard Bache, his heirs and assigns forever;


To my son, William Franklin, late Governor of the Jerseys, I give and devise all the lands I hold or have a right to, in the province of Nova Scotia, to hold to him, his heirs, and assigns forever.


I give and devise to my dear sister, Jane Mecom, a house and lot I have in Unity Street, Boston, now or late under the care of Mr. Jonathan Williams, to her and to her heirs and assigns forever.


Since my will was made I have bought some more city lots, near the center part of the estate of Joseph Dean. I would have them go with the other lots, disposed of in my will, and I do give the same to my Son-in-law, Richard Bache, to his heirs and assigns forever.

Forming the State of Delaware

{Philip Yorke 1st Earl of Hardwicke}
Philip Yorke, Earl of Hardwicke

When the Duke of York was within hours of being banished, he told his agent Sir John Werden to give the contested strip (now the state of Delaware) to Penn, but save out the town of Newcastle with a twelve-mile strip of land around it. Werden wrote that into the charter with a proviso based on the idea that the fortieth parallel was to the south of Newcastle, when in fact it was fifty miles north of it, and could not possibly conform to the stated boundaries. Both Penn and Baltimore learned the true situation in a year or two, and both attacked the other for dissembling ignorance, each seeking to take advantage of implausible arguments. What in fact they both discovered was that if the dividing line could be pushed a few miles south, Penn would acquire the mouth of the Susquehanna in the Chesapeake Bay, while if it went north a few miles, Maryland would acquire most of Philadelphia. Lord Hardwicke worked out a reasonable compromise which, while ignoring some plain language in the documents, eventually resulted in the Mason-Dixon line which is now reasonably comfortable for everybody, although first subjected to another two decades of wrangle.

{Delaware Wedge}
Delaware Wedge

Even part of the eventual compromise, a semicircular northern border, didn't come out right, resulting in a wedge of no-man's land. Landowners didn't enjoy paying disputed taxes, so they held up the settlement of the wrangle into the Twentieth Century. Eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court cut the wedge into two pieces, giving one piece each to Pennsylvania and Delaware. Meanwhile, disputes continued which had their basis in the way the semi-circular line was plotted out on the land. The surveyors ran 120 straight-line radii outward from the courthouse tower in Newcastle, and then connected the ends. Obviously, that resulted in 120 straight chords instead of a smooth semi-circle, and a couple of bulges had to be accommodated where the circle grazed other straight borders. The semi-circle crossed the Delaware River, so New Jersey helpfully abandoned its portion, only to regret its decision later when toll bridges were constructed, and ship channels deepened.

{King Charles I}
King Charles I

Two major societal changes took place between 1632 -- when Charles I granted the proprietorship of Maryland to the first Lord Baltimore -- and 1776 when all American real estate changed its rules. The first change was that the Delaware Bay morphed from a swamp into settlements of people; settlers came into possession. The second evolution was to the current view that if you sell some real estate it is no longer yours; in earlier eras, everything belonged to the king, who could take it away and give it to others as often as he pleased. In legal terms, the last king had the last word. Although acres of parchment were scribbled by lawyers pro and con, these considerations are what make clear how Lord Baltimore could hold the unchallenged legal title for fifty years to everything up to the fortieth parallel, but then have a court take away thousands of square miles. A land which was to become the three lower counties of Pennsylvania was given to William Penn by the Duke of York in 1682, using some flawed documents and only fully enjoyed by Penn's heirs for six years until they morphed into the new State of Delaware. From 1684 to 1769, legal ownership was a matter of continuing dispute. The exasperated Lord Chancellor (Hardwicke) in 1750 declared the case as one "of nature worthy of the judicature of a Roman senate rather than of a single judge".

{Lord Baltimore}
Lord Baltimore

Lord Baltimore had been given "unsettled" land, occupied only by savages. William Penn's lawyers struggled to prove the Dutch had settled the area before 1632, while Baltimore's lawyers sought to prove that pirates and wandering fur traders don't count, nor do villages of thirty people who were wiped out by the Indians. By the Doctrine of Discovery, taking land from pagans was encouraged, but taking land from Christians required special formalities. Since this Doctrine dates back before there were Protestants, it might have been pertinent to inquire whether the Dutch should be regarded as pagans, as the Spanish surely did when they suppressed Dutch independence in the Eighty Years War, ending in 1648.

Lord Baltimore advertised land along Delaware for sale to settlers while the matter was still under litigation. That was the foulest play said Penn, a weak argument to make if litigation was intentionally pursued for a century.

Maryland favored the Catholic cause, so it seemed plausible for them to want to stall, hoping the Catholic Duke of York would ascend to the throne. Under the new King James II, however, Baltimore seemed unlikely to prevail that the same person, as Duke of York, really didn't own the land he was trying to give to William Penn. So of course, Lord Baltimore claimed he never stalled.

{Cape Henlopen}
Cape Henlopen

And by the way, ocean currents moved Cape Henlopen a mile or so southward, but the real boundary problem was that common usage over the centuries confused Cape Henlopen with Fenwick's Island (to which it is usually attached by a thin barrier island), making an implicit difference in the Maryland/Delaware ownership of the corresponding strip of land at the southern border of the State of Delaware, a matter of a hundred or so square miles.

And all of this confusion was merely about the borders of one of the smallest of our fifty states. The political manner in which Delaware became a colony without a charter to the King, and became a state by gradual and mystifying degrees separate from the other counties of Pennsylvania are other complicated stories. Never mind the reasons Delaware remained in the Union during the Civil War, even though it also remained a slave state.

With gratitude to the memory of Dudley Cammett Lunt 1896-1981, whose books are a most readable but scholarly analysis of this complicated history. In particular, The Bounds of Delaware and, for the Mason-Dixon Line, Taylor's Gut in the Delaware State are recommended. The courts rejected arguments that the land was essentially wilderness when Lord Baltimore acquired his patent, and history has been sympathetic to Penn, the winner. The contention was the Dutch owned the land by right of discovery ( a Doctrine applied to land ruled by pagans by Pope Nicholas II in 1454), while the Duke of York later took it from the Dutch by surrender to force of arms -- another legally benign method of acquiring sovereignty. However, Lunt points out that a far more significant issue was the southern border of Pennsylvania in Penn's original grant, which asserted geographical impossibility to replace Maryland's plain and simply defined boundary. History has tended to regard this as understandable error, and subsequent legal quarrels to have been perpetuated by William Penn's greedy heirs. However, Lunt seems to reveal his own opinion of the affair by ending his book with a July 31, 1683 quotation from a letter by William Penn to Colonel Thomas Tailleur:

I, finding this place necessary to my Province and it ye Presence of Ld. Balt. was at Law, civil & common, I endeavoured to get it, & have it, & will keep it if I can.

George: 10 Randomly numbered Blog ID numbers into 20 Chapters in Two Steps

The blogs and blog IDs are presently generated by the machine as "New Blogs", and later converted to Topics. In the process, every item of text, whether a blog, a topic name or a chapter name, acquires a blog ID number. Much of the following discussion is conducted by manipulating blog IDs and then mentally converting them to Blog Names, Topic Names, and Chapter names -- without excessive description. Chapter Headings are manually generated by the author, supplied as a list (see below) to be manually replaced as needed; this process is continued wherever the material justifies it. Alternative pathways are deletions of extra steps, occasionally required by the material. To be entirely comprehensive, it is contemplated that the machine will make the selection when feasible. For the most part, the material will not cost-justify a completely automated operation. The first step, conversion of English terms to Topic Headings, is so burdensome it justifies the programming effort.

The Mechanical Process alternating with the Manual Process. The problem to be solved is to present the operator with ten Blog-ID's listed in the modified table of contents by the TF-IDF process, from which approximately 2-5 blogs are manually chosen for relevance, and the remaining blogs either made invisible or erased (or ignored). ( In this way, a set of up to ten blog numbers are selected randomly by the machine, as relevant to each Chapter heading grouping of 2-5 -- also generated manually at random times. {Out of these, two blog numbers are selected and printed, occasionally more, occasionally less, but eventually, about two are selected manually to accompany one Chapter heading.} This seemingly impossible connection is accomplished by TF-IDF selecting ten keywords as intermediary steps mechanically, and then manually selecting the (up to) 2-5 finalists. At the moment, the synthetic intermediary TF-IDF output need not be displayed, but it may have other uses.

At this First step, the manual input of Chapter headings is produced in English prose, and the Blog ID is produced by the machine. The relevant connecting step is produced by TF-IDF. The intermediate connecting number need not be printed out, at least at present. {The Blog ID is later to be converted to a list of Chapter Headings with related blog IDs but this last step is invisible, merely printed out as the random Blog IDs within Chapter headings.} The "Chapter Heading" or manually produced Topic Grouping (they are the same because all text is first entered as a Blog) is entered manually, but here reproduced as a guide, but produced in "Table of Contents" language. In a day or two, we will have constructed the two lists of two sets of outputs, each produced both manually and by machine. The assumption to be tested in two widely different subjects (A collection of Japanese Haiku 14-line poems, and a History of American Constitutional sovereignty arguments) is that the TF-IDF product and the randomly-assigned Blog IDs are substantially interchangeable, at least for this purpose.

Early "Chapter Headings": Introduction, The English Settlements 1619-1776, William Penn, Quakers Feel Their Oats, The Era of French and Indian War 1763-1776, Redirecting the Revolution Toward Independence: The British Prohibitionary Act of 1775, Subjugating the Mid-Atlantic States 1776-1778, Constitutions: What's So Good about Ours; Why Does Europe's Fail Them?; The Federalist Founders; The National Perspective; Articles of Confederation, Would They Suffice?; Architecture of a National Governance; Afterthought Amendments 1793-97; Marshall and the Third Branch of Government; The Small-Government Rebels; Ratification and Balance; Washington's Two Terms; Chaotic Rebalancing; Pre-Civil War; The Guano Approach; The Lincoln Approach; Reconstruction; The Gilded Age; That Damned Teddy Roosevelt Cowboy; Woodrow Wilson; The First World War; The Greatest Generation; Bretton Woods; The Woodstock Phenomenon; Opening Up Asia; The Third World War; American Dominance; etc.

Second Step, assuming tests of the First Step show substantially identical results between manual and automated:

There is one weak step. Without trying it, it is is not possible to judge which of two branches to take, at worst, it requires both of them. The first step assumes the Chapter Heading is the same as the Blog heading. In fact, it is only one-tenth its size and the blog quantity must be reduced by 90%, to accomplish the desired outcome. (There are about 10-20 Chapters and about a thousand Topics, so the Topics are in need of 10:1 reduction.) In one example (U.S. Constitution), TF-IDF is perhaps completely unnecessary, because the linkage between blogs and chapters is almost entirely chronological. This issue should be tested.

However, where the linkage between blog numbers and chapter headings is chronologically impossible (as in Terse Verse), some other method of linkage must be provided. One approach is to envision the process as linking three stages (blog heading, topic heading and Chapter heading), but only printing the Chapter heading. Where there is only one blog per chapter or the topic chapter heading is blank, the goal is satisfied by producing the Chapter headings from the Blog headings. Where there is more than one blog per chapter, an additional step is required. It should be remembered that the purpose of automation is the reduction of manual input, and sometimes the manual phase does not justify the cost of automation. The provision of twenty Chapter summaries might be the price of adopting this approach, although the combined blog titles might suffice for a re-run of IF-IDF if the Chapter titles are supplied. If we are lucky, the IF-IDF processing might be unnecessary.

The submission of a one-paragraph summary at this point would surely suffice, or else the multiple blog titles from IF-IDF, perhaps in the Description block.The changed goal of this approach is to reduce the eligible contestants to the point where manual completion is feasible, a ratio of at most 3 or 4 per one. As an act of desperation, completely manual Chapter Heading composition is probably feasible.

Eleventh Amendment

There are certainly a lot of Ingersolls in Philadelphia. A lot of Jared Ingersolls, a lot of Charles Ingersolls, and even a lot of Charles Jared Ingersolls. At a dinner party, a lady whose maiden name is Ingersoll was asked about Charles Ingersoll, and was forced to say, "Just how old would you say he is?"

{Jared Ingersoll, Jr.,}
Jared Ingersoll, Jr.,

The one we are talking about here is Jared Ingersoll, Jr., the son of a Tory who had once been tarred and feathered by Revolutionaries in New Haven. Young Jared was in England at the Inns of Court when the Declaration was signed, became a fervent Revolutionary, and represented Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Convention. It was thus difficult to predict where his sympathies would lie in the settling of debts and grievances associated with the Revolutionary War; in fact, he might be as impartial as any lawyer to be found at the time. At their best, all lawyers reach for the peaceful settlement of grievances, serving their clients best by finding a solution that puts an end to reprisals. Furthermore, he had excellent legal training, something which could not be said of most apprentice-trained lawyers of that time, and had faithfully attended every single session of the Continental Congress, while commenting very little about his own views. The first ten amendments are the Bill of Rights which had been promised during the ratification process, so the Eleventh became the first real amendment, in the sense that it specifically reverses some feature of the original design. To present observers it may not be easy to surmise just what the purpose might have been to outlaw the method which had been established for an injured citizen to sue a state. To be blunt about this point, the colonists wanted to welch on paying debts to Loyalists and Englishmen, those hated enemies, without admitting this was their motive. The spin they put on this shabby attitude was that states were now sovereign entities without a king, and since historically a British king could not be sued without his consent, therefore neither could the states. Probably the best that can be said for this cloud of words is the point that suing the government should not be made too easy, for fear of overwhelming the court system with endless clamor. The historical episode surrounding the Eleventh Amendment is an important one in our national struggle to balance the accusations of hypocrisy and chiseling, with the opposite tendency of slavish adherence to procedure, or "due process".

{Alexander Chisholm}
Alexander Chisholm

Ingersoll had attended the Constitutional Convention as part of the most influential state delegation of insiders and was set up to practice law in the capital city of Philadelphia just a few blocks from the heart of government. A case came up. The estate of Captain Robert Farquhar, an Englishman, was owed $169,613.33 for "goods" sold in 1777 to agents of the embattled State of Georgia during the Revolution. The executor of Farquhar's estate, a resident of South Carolina named Alexander Chisholm, then sued the state of Georgia after the war was over for that state's extinguishing the debt by a statute passed after the contract. This had been the rather common treatment of Loyalist debts by other colonies and thus enlisted their sympathies to Georgia in this case. Furthermore, it was the sort of uncivil behavior that had enraged John Jay and George Washington, leading them to press for the Constitutional Convention. On the other hand, the new state governments were hard-pressed for cash and had to contend with highly combative citizens who resented even the suggestion that they play fair with people who had so recently been trying to kill them. Furthermore, it was entirely realistic for them to fear a flood of lawsuits from people they mercilessly pursued under what "everyone" considered the rebellion's accepted rules of engagement. It was thus clever for Georgia to seek the help of Ingersoll in appealing to the Supreme Court, and the previous tarring and feathering of his Loyalist father was not entirely irrelevant. Ingersoll, unfortunately, lost his case of Chisholm v Georgia when the Supreme Court (John Jay, CJ) declared that Chisholm was indeed entitled to sue the State of Georgia. It is hard to see how Ingersoll (and his colleague Alexander Dallas) could have won this case when the Constitution which he helped write plainly provided the rules for citizens of one state suing another state; it seems remotely possible that the officials of Georgia were attempting to shift the blame of an inevitable loss of the suit:

Article III - Section 2 -The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority; to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls; to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party; to Controversies between two or more States; between a State and Citizens of another State; between Citizens of different States; between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

John Jay ultimately revealed the depth of his dismay at dishonoring debts when he negotiated Jay's Treaty during the Adams administration, providing for adjustment of such debts. Adams, in turn, was to reveal where his own sympathies lay by refusing to announce -- for three years -- the reversal of this position by the Eleventh Amendment, stirred up in his own state. Adams' rather flagrant abuse of a technicality might well have led to another constitutional amendment, except for the Supreme Court later ruling that official enactment of amendments did not require Presidential announcement, but took effect upon ratification by the required number of states.

Adams, in turn, had ample political problems in his home state of Massachusetts. John Hancock, then Governor, called a special session of the Massachusetts legislature to propose an amendment to reverse the Constitutional language on which the Supreme Court's decision had relied: It soon became clear, or perhaps Ingersoll was determined to make it seem clear, that Georgia had been smart to employ this political insider. Congress soon enacted, and the necessary states soon ratified the Eleventh Amendment. It stated that a citizen of another state may not sue a State government in Federal Court:

Amendment XI. The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.

Later decisions included citizens of the same state, so in effect, this amendment stated that no one may sue a State Government unless the state agrees to be sued. That's essentially what is true of the federal government; the states were given the same sovereignty with all of its features, as the federal government and that was an intentional slap in the Federalist faces.

It sounds as though Jared Ingersoll might have been a states-righter, although nothing in his past or future behavior suggests that he was anything but an ardent Federalist. He was even proposed as vice presidential candidate for the Federalist Party. No one called him wishy-washy, or a traitor or a covert anti-federalist, and he never acted like one. He was just a lawyer with a client.

A Toast To J. William White, MD

JWilliam White left a legacy to the Franklin Inn, the income from which was to pay for an annual dinner, with all the trimmings. Good as its word, the Inn holds the J. William White dinner every year on Benjamin Franklin's birthday, although inflation and fluctuations of the stock market require it to make a modest charge for attendance. White also created the J. William White Professorship in Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, a chair which was once occupied by Jonathan Rhoads.

William J White MD

These trust-fund memorials do little to convey the wild and glamorous image of Bill White. White was a member of the First City Troop and fought the last known honest-to-goodness duel on Philadelphia's field of honor (in the accidental "wedge" of disputed land between Delaware and Pennsylvania). The right and wrong of the argument about wearing the City Troop uniform are in dispute, but the details boiled down to White at the critical moment raising his gun to the sky and firing at the stars. That it was not a meaningless gesture was then brought out by his opponent ( a fellow Trooper named Adams) taking slow and deadly aim -- but missing him.

White was an academic in the sense that he was the first, unpaid, Professor of Physical Culture at the University of Pennsylvania. Active in the Mask and Wig Club, he was a chief surgeon at Philadelphia General Hospital, chief surgeon to the Philadelphia Police, and chief surgeon to the Pennsylvania Rail Road. He is the surgeon actually operating in Thomas Eakins' Agnew Clinic, while Agnew himself stands as the "rainmaker", to use a term from legal circles. He was Chairman of the Fairmount Park Commission, and numerous other positions where political contact was more important than surgical skill. When World War I came along, he was off to France with the University of Pennsylvania Hospital Unit, writing two books with Theodore Roosevelt. Although his friendship with Henry James suggests greater literary talent, he was supportive of Adams' transfer of citizenship in protest of America's staying out of World War I; but nonetheless, Roosevelt published more than thirty books. What emerges from the history of Bill White is flamboyance and lots and lots of unfettered energy. He might feel a little out of place at one of his endowed dinners today, but he was probably always a little out of place in any company -- and didn't care a whit.


Philadelphia Gentlemen: The Making of a National Upper Class: E. Digby Baltzell ISBN-13: 978-0887387890 Amazon

Prohibitory Act of the British Parliament

Apparently New England and Parliament had been negotiating over fishing rights, but it is not clear from the available correspondence whether this was a sincere effort to link New England to the former English Civil War or whether John Adams was conducting a pretense. Nor is it clear whether the omission of Parliament was a deliberate snub or merely a casualty of the poor communication. The tone suggests that Adams was openly chafing for war, while Dickinson at least maintained more diplomatic obscurity.

In any event, the huge naval response was certainly more warlike than the correspondence, and Adams was rather pleased to shift responsibility for initiating hostilities to the Mother country. There is no mention of the legalities of Westphalia in an Act which was both brief and heedless.

Declaration of Independence: Jefferson's Response to Prohibitory Act

George III seems to have been told that actions speak louder than words, and the Prohibitory Act was not meant to demonstrate a need to conciliate. Jefferson's position was about the same as a young press agent for Congress. He went on and on about why the Colonists were the offended party and were going to put up a fight. It seems very doubtful the King paid any attention to what Jefferson said at such great length.

The Failed Mid-Atlantic Subjugation, 1776-78

It will be a disappointment to my Philadelphia friends to find I have been forced by time to omit the details of their favorite dinner table conversation, the British occupation of Philadelphia and all its wonderful details. But a summary is that Washington lost just about every battle, but won the war of attrition. His job was to keep the Continental Army alive at Valley Forge during the Howe brothers assault, until subordinate Generals in other regions had better but similar luck, for eight years. The French assistance grew, and finally, the greatest war machine in the world just gave up and concentrated on the rest of the earth. America may have been an attractive place to conquer, but it was just too expensive.

The story includes Ben Franklin's social conquest of France, to the point of essentially bankrupting his ally. It includes the skillful British attack on Philadelphia's back door through Delaware, the majestic land victory then defeat, then victory and then defeat of Lord Cornwallis across the waist of New Jersey, the battle of Trenton and return to Washington's cold winter retreat in Morristown. It has all of the juicy details of betrayal by Benedict Arnold and Philadelphia's social elite. And it includes the details of Robert Morris, who was essentially acting President while the politicians fled to York and Lancaster, taking the Liberty Bell along with them. It includes Betsy Ross and the other common folk who survived while they subverted their conquerors. It is a grand story, but there just isn't time to tell it. It might even mention gunpowder smuggling to the battle of Trenton by The Barber of Seville, Beaumarchais the French King's watchmaker. Mozart and Beethoven and Poor Richard's French girlfriends also figure, but there just isn't time to invent a pretext for mentioning them, so we return to the Constitution and how it got to be what it is.

Tony Junker; Peace Museum

Tony Junker

The Right Angle Club was once again honored by a recent talk by Tony Junker, the novelist, retired architect, Center City resident -- and now the leader in an effort to start a Peace Museum. He's a Quaker, as Philadelphians would easily guess, and a charming peace advocate. He tells us his specialty while a practicing architect, was designing museums, so the whole thing starts to fit together. The museum is still in the planning stages, hoping to raise two million dollars as start-up money. Needless to say, Philadelphia has a long history of Quaker advocacy for Peace. It is not saying too much to suppose William Penn designed his whole colony as a peace demonstration. And Tony began his talk by noting that in England, Penn's father remains much better known than his son.

William senior conquered the island of Jamaica and gave it to King Charles, in return for which the King repaid his debt by giving the admiral's son Pennsylvania. On his deathbed, the Admiral beseeched his king to look after his rebellious and somewhat disobedient son; this was King Charles' way of doing it. By the way, he had distinguished himself with successful administration of New Jersey before the King gave him Pennsylvania, and acquired what is now the state of Delaware, somewhat later. With these three states, he became the largest private landowner in our history -- ever. He makes the Klebergs of the King Ranch look pretty paltry by comparison, and indeed Charles even offered to make him a vassal king. Young William, however, told him that really wasn't the idea, at all. Young Penn sold land to his suspicious co-religionists, and in order to facilitate the sales, drew up a document called, Concessions and Agreements , which was in considerable part a model for America's Constitution. It can be found in the Archives of the State of New Jersey, in Trenton.

The Peace Museum

The Peace Museum is projected to open in a few years; it would be a great mistake to underestimate Tony's ability to get it started. Since his retirement, he has founded a Quaker retirement community on Front Street which is already in existence. It's open to non-Quakers of course, and there are quite a few Quaker retirement villages in the suburbs. But Philadelphia is returning to Center City, and the need for a retirement home has often been expressed but never implemented until Tony came along. Early Quakers lived in caves along the banks of the Delaware River, just about where the retirement village is situated, and Quaker settlement later concentrated along Arch Street. Arch Street, by the way, really had an arch. Evidently, the river was once much deeper and somewhat wider, so it had one embankment which began at Front Street and a lower one on Water Street. So as the town grew, it was natural to undercut a tunnel with an arch bearing Front Street. Many houses eventually had one door on Water Street and another door on Front Street, higher up. Relics of Quaker settlement can still be noticed on Arch Street, cut off by the Benjamin Franklin Parkway slanting Northward. Front and Arch was the location for the main anchorage in those days, and the London Tavern at Front and Market was the main hangout of sailors off the ships nearby, a rich source of gossip and the origin of a number of rebellious episodes. The Fifteenth Street Meetinghouse now seems to be the most westward sign of this Quaker settlement, but Isaac Sharpless bought the land of Friends Select School further west and shared the land between Friends Select and his high-rise headquarters of what was the Pennwalt headquarters. If you are planning a Quaker museum in Center City, you can find plenty of choices to be called historic Quaker property, along Arch Street. The still earlier Quaker settlements around Dock Creek, beginning at about Spruce Street, have long been outgrown and abandoned.

Unfortunately, although we experienced long periods of Peace during the Nineteenth Century, it must be admitted that Penn's hope for an example of peaceful existence to the rest the world, would have to be called a failure. We have had several major foreign wars during the Twenty-first century, and show every sign of preparing for more. The Quakers literally owned a major portion of the American colonies and withdrew from politics rather than vote for war taxes in the Revolutionary War. While the example of courageous conscientious objection had its impact, it also developed an image of martyrdom which the rest of the world declines to imitate. Friends are perfectly capable of forming their own opinions, but it might be suggested to them that more of their efforts would be successful if somehow they made more publicity of their successes.

Whiskey Rebellion

George Washington, for example, was effective in keeping us out of foreign entanglement, in large part by the fact that he was a famous athlete and a successful warrior. His example for the country was in effect, "If you are strong, people leave you alone." He was surely successful in achieving a peaceful settlement of the Whiskey Rebellion by saddling up his horse and riding at the head of 10,000 troops in a threatening manner. Later in his presidential administration, he was surely more effective in dealing with European powers because of his former military reputation than he would have been without it. His second inaugural address was in effect a plea that good things could emerge from self-interest: Honesty is the best policy. There's a primitive quality to this appeal, reminding his countrymen they are more likely to get rich if they were honest, than if they were dishonest. Purists may squirm at the undertones of this motto, but surely it was effective with his countrymen. And three-quarters of the world's population might still be better off if they adopted a motto which falls just a little short of being altruistic.

Why Do We Need a Constitution?

There was a long interval between the Battle of Yorktown, and the Treaty of Paris, three thousand stormy miles away. The British were in no hurry, and Washington dared not disband his army until a treaty was complete. So Washington holed up at Newburgh, NY with nothing to do but write letters to his friends, Even here, he acted as a General. Alexander Hamilton organized a group of letter-writers, to copy and improve upon his "Circular Letters" to his influential friends. Originally, the purpose was to hold the Army together while everyone waited, but over time the letters offered ideas for a new nation. Washington had eight years to watch how the Revolution progressed -- plenty of time to see how things might be improved. Somewhere along the way, he collected Hamilton and James Madison as young, ambitious, smart and loyal agents. Their ideas were welcome, but there was no question who was in charge. When the time came, George Washington presided over the meeting but said very little. He didn't need to.

Over two hundred years later, it is clear the American Constitution was so unique it was to be seen as the first written Constitution, and the only one to survive so long. Much imitated, it was singularly terse and to the point. Gouverneur Morris was a well-trained lawyer, and the only titled aristocrat among the founding fathers, so professional that no one has come forward to claim perjury or deviation from the client's intent. And yet this penman of the Constitution was to renounce his own product during the War of 1812. We see in retrospect that in spite of its brevity it has only been amended twenty-odd times, mostly to expand the voting franchise. Just what the real secret of success might have been, remains a mystery. The secret is so obscure most detractors are afraid to touch it. The Supreme Court, for example, is charged with deciding what it means, but with 9 times 80 opportunities a year to suggest improvements in 'the law" they rarely do so, even when it is clearly established the Court has a right to return legislation whenever it is "void for vagueness".


The Perils of Peace: America's Struggle for Survival After Yorktown Amazon

Caesar Rodney Rides Through the Rain

{Caesar Rodney}
Caesar Rodney

If you have a quarter minted in 1999, you can see a depiction of Caesar Rodney riding through the rain, mud and heat, all night, to cast his July 2 vote for independence at the 1776 Continental Congress. There are no known painted portraits of Rodney, probably because his face was badly mutilated by cancer which ultimately killed him.

On July 1, Thomas McKean and George Read had split Delaware's votes in a tie, and McKean had urgently sent word to Rodney, the absent third vote, that he must come to Philadelphia quickly. Rodney was suffering from cancer. It may thus have been Thomas McKean's idea to invoke the concepts of the Treaty of Westphalia to escape hanging for armed rebellion, but Ben Franklin seems more likely. Once an idea like that gets started in a gathering, it quickly becomes everyone's idea. But Franklin was the only one to stampede a group and take no credit for doing so.

Admiral Howe was already starting to land his seven hundred ships at Staten Island and Perth Amboy. It would not be difficult for him to travel a hundred miles across New Jersey to Trenton and down the Delaware River -- to hang them all as rebels. But Franklin had traveled that distance many times and had plenty of time to consider its strategic location. Only if they could establish the notion that they were an independent country could they hope to shelter themselves in the rules of war? (Even so, most of them found it prudent to wait a few weeks before signing Jefferson's somewhat specious arguments.) In the background, of course, Benjamin Franklin had a shrewder assessment or possibly even overt threat: the King of France wasn't going to help them unless they severed their allegiance with England.

Schoolchildren in Delaware can be forgiven for asking why Rodney wasn't in Philadelphia for the vote without being sent for. And we don't really know. Rodney certainly had plenty of other things competing for his attention, like being a Supreme Court Justice, the Speaker of the Delaware Assembly and the de facto Governor of the State, as well as being a Brigadier General in the Militia (he later was made Major General in charge of the garrison at Trenton). One has to suspect, however, that he had not expected George Read to vote against independence. Read, after all, had married the widowed sister of George Ross, who did sign the Declaration.

Asthma, a notoriously intermittent condition, may have been a worse impediment to Caesar Rodney's ride than his cancer. Although he was badly disfigured, cancer did not kill him until 1784. The prospect of riding eighty miles in the rain with asthma may well have been the reason Rodney held off until he was absolutely certain his vote was needed. The esteem and affection that Delaware holds for this farmer from Dover can be gauged by the fact that he remained the elected speaker until the day he died, and during his last three months, the legislature held its meetings in his house so he could be present.

Yet Another Toast to Dr. J. William White

Dr. J. William White

Who was Dr. J. William White, and why do we drink a toast to him every year at our Annual Meeting?

I will answer my second question first: Dr. J. William White died on April 24, 1916, leaving a Will that he finally signed only on March 24 of that year. The Will, drafted by John G. Johnson, the most famous Philadelphia lawyer of that time, runs to 26 pages and disposes of an estate of $868,176.05,--which was real money in 1916.

Dr. David Hayes Agnew

Item 17 of that Will reads as follows: "I give to the Franklin Inn Club of Philadelphia five of its bonds of $100 each to me belonging.

IN ADDITION TO THIS, I give to said Club the sum of $5,000 to be invested by the Directors of the Club, with the approval of the majority of the membership, and the income to be expensed in such way as will best subserve the interests of the Club and conduce to its perpetuation.

I will be glad if, in doing this, they can assure the occasional remembrance of my name. The Club has been of me the source of so much pleasure and happiness that I feel that I owe it something in return."

Well, I have not examined the minutes of our Board to see if it really was discussed and voted upon by a majority of the members, but when I joined in 1968, I was told that Dr. White's bequest had been used for this annual dinner in his memory as long as there was money to pay for it, then only to buy the champagne for the toast to his memory, and then in my time even the champagne money was drunk up.

We still talk about him. He was in every sense a "character", a special Philadelphia character. A lot of this information comes from a biography his friend Agnes Repplier published in 1991. J. William White's father James William White Senior was a doctor, the founder of Womens' Maternity Hospital, and President of the S.S. White Dental Supply Company, an extremely successful business which operated until recently from a big building just down there on 12th Street. The Money that flowed from this business enabled our Dr. J. William White to do pretty much what he wanted all of his life.

Professor Louis Agassiz

He was a very smart boy, strong, and with a bad temper. He got into fights at school, but he also managed to earn both an MD and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1871, at the age of 21. He maintained a passionate loyalty to Penn all of his life. Directly after graduation, he obtained a job on a U.S. Coastal Survey ship, theHassler on a survey of marine life and ocean bottoms conducted by Professor Louis Aggassiz of Harvard. He was hired as a "Hydrographic Draughtsman" but it turned out he was to be the expedition photographer and film developer because nobody else knew how to do that. Before they sailed, he also wangled a job as correspondent for The New York Herald. They sailed from Boston in December 1871, explored their way around South America and arrived in San Francisco in August of 1872. On his way home by train, young Dr. White stopped in Salt Lake City to hear Bringham Young preach. Bringham Young preached against doctors and lawyers, and told the women in his audience that they should not employ obstetricians, that they and their babies would be better off without them.

When Dr. White returned to Philadelphia, he went to work, first as a resident at


Philadelphia General Hospital, then a doctor for Eastern State Penitentiary, where he apparently lived for a while, where he took boxing lessons from a giant prisoner. By 1876 he was an Assistant Demonstrator of Practical Surgery at Penn, and a couple of years later he was working under the most prominent Philadelphia surgeon Dr. D. Hayes Agnew. In Thomas Eakins' famous painting "Dr. Agnew in his Clinic" we can see Dr. White doing the actual cutting, while Dr. Agnew is giving the lecture.

This picture is also interesting because

{Agenew Clinic}
Agnew Clinic

right there in the middle of the action is a stalwart female, the surgical nurse. By the time of this picture, both Drs White and Agnew were having trouble with the Board of Governors: female students were complaining that they were not allowed into these clinics.

Drs Agnew and White replied that "the nature of the diseases and the conditions of the patients made the presence of females undesirable."

The doctors offered to quit and the Governors apparently backed down. But what about that nurse?

Another famous story: In 1877 Dr. White was elected to the First City Troop

First City Troops

. For some reason, this didn't look right for a young doctor, because in these long years between wars, the Troop was known more for parties, banquets, and balls than for national defense. However, he joined, enjoyed the parties and the riding. Previous Troop surgeons had worn regular street clothes; Dr. White put on the fancy Troop uniform. Probably at a party, a Trooper named Adams objected, became loud. Dr. White floored him. Mr. Adams sent a formal challenge to a duel.

Sensation! Nobody could remember a duel in Philadelphia, where it was against the law. The newspapers were in an uproar, the New York Herald,

for which Dr. White once wrote letters from his voyage around South America, invented a story about a lady who was supposed to be the real cause of the fight. Mr. Adams and Dr. White, accompanied by seconds and a surgeon, crossed the Mason-Dixon Line, took single shots at each, shook hands and went home. Dr. White shot into the air. Years later, Adams confessed that he had aimed at Dr. White, but missed. Eventually, the storm blew over, but it is remembered as the last duel around here -- as far as I Know.

As to the City Troop, Dr. White's Will left $5,000 in Trust for a "J. William White Fund, the income to keep remembrance of the facts that I served as Surgeon and was the first incumbent of that position to be directed by the Troop to wear the time-honored full dress uniform."

I don't know if the Troop bought champagne to keep remembrance.

Franklin Field

Although Dr. White became one of the best surgeons here, and wrote several successful textbooks, he is mainly remembered for his passion for athletics. He was made the first Director of Athletics at Penn.

{Army-Navy Games}
Army-Navy Games

He built the first Gymnasium, he built Franklin Field, he arranged for Army-Navy Games to be played here, he got his friend Theodore Roosevelt to attend, he spent every summer either climbing the Rockies or climbing the Alps together with his very sporting and strong wife, Letitia.

Letitia was also a better shot than her husband.

Perhaps Dr. White's most famous sport was called "Angling for Men". He learned this sport on vacation in

Narragansett Bay

Narragansett Bay. The players are in a rowboat, and the contestant jumps into the water, with a strong rope tied around his waist. The Men in the boat try to haul the Swimmer back into the boat, while he resists. When Dr. White was 46 years old it took three of his friends 38 minutes to get him back within 100 feet of the boat, but they never got him in!

Dr. White moved in very exalted circles. Among his close friends were Henry James,

whom he visited in Rye and who lived with the White's on his visits to Philadelphia: John Singer Sargent, whom Dr. White persuaded to paint his portrait although Sargent had given up portraits; and the famous English doctors Sir Frederick Treves and Sir Joseph Lister, and as I said, President Theodore Roosevelt.

In later years, after retiring from regular surgery, Dr. and Mrs. White traveled all over the world, although some patients including John G. Johnson insisted that only Dr, White could do any procedures upon their own bodies!

William Mayo

Well, of course, Dr. White had his own problems, and like all men, became a patient himself. In 1906, he developed a hard nodular mass in his left iliac fossa which, I gather, is not good. Probably cancer. He knew what to do. He took a train Rochester, Minn. To his friends the Mayo Brothers. When they decided to operate, three top surgeons from Penn went out to watch. Dr. William J. Mayo operated and successfully removed congenital diverticulitis which had caused a perforation of the bowel.

Later: Dr. Mayo: "Well, you're all right."

Dr. White "Well, you're a good liar. I've been there myself, and I know."

Dr. Mayo: You don't know everything. It's like a bag full of black beans, and one white bean. You pull out the white one. Now get well!"

{Thomas Hardy}
Thomas Hardy

By next summer he was well and traveling again. He received a degree from University of Aberdeen, he met Thomas Hardy, he went to Egypt, next year to China, when the First World War began he was passionately pro-Allies, visited friends in London, visited wounded soldiers at the American Ambulance Hospital in Paris, spent much time there but did not operate, flew over the battlefields in a French military plane, and visited Reims during a German bombardment. He visited the British front, returned to London, involved himself in the issue of Henry James becoming a British citizen because of America's Neutrality, then sailed home across an ocean full of U-Boats.

Back in Philadelphia - actually on his estate in Delaware County he raised money for the American Hospital in Paris, and again involved himself in several disputes, about the War, about a Penn faculty member...but now he was dying, we're not clear from what, but it sounds like cancer, after all. He was in great pain and had to be hospitalized. He died in his beloved University Hospital, surrounded by colleagues and friends, on April 24, 1916.

I close with a few more words about his Will. As I said, it is 26 legal-size pages, really the story of a life, packed with bequests to every person who was close to him, every organization he belonged to-- and most of them, like the one to us here at the Inn, ask that something be done to remember J. William White, which seems --to me -- little sad. Why were this popular, successful men so afraid of being forgotten? Was it because he and his wife had no children?

I don't know, but here, tonight, we remember: I raise my glass-- champagne or not--to the memory of Dr. J. William White, a character if there ever was one!

------given at the Franklin Inn Club on January 14, 2005, by Arthur R. G. Solmssen

Constitution : Franklin Sells the Slave Compromise
very pleasant

LIVING in a small country seems to be very pleasant, and many people prefer it to the hustle, bustle and high taxes of living in a large country. Unfortunately, big neighbors are tempted to conquer and enslave you. Aside from this one disadvantage, many people would prefer a simple, quiet life among blood relatives, all tending to think the same way. It's one step above tribalism, and maybe it's a form of peaceful tribalism.,.JPG

But our evolutionary ancestors didn't think they could afford this luxury. They lived in a strange wilderness filled with fierce aborigines who often took a notion to scalp you, even if you were willing to become a hunter-gatherer like them, because they scalped other hunter-gatherers, too. And they were good at making war. Later historians sometimes contend that European settlers only gained a foothold in the New World because the Indians had been weakened by smallpox, measles, and other contagions which advanced ahead of the exploring Europeans. English settlers along the Atlantic coast were able to overcome the Dutch and Swedes who preceded them, but the French in Quebec and the Spanish in Florida were a greater threat. Worst of all enemies were the rulers of England, who seemed to think it was natural to enjoy the benefits of the New World without the nuisance of living there. A century or more of conflict from the enemies who surrounded them had pretty well convinced the English Atlantic settlers that they simply had to get bigger and stronger. Otherwise, one of the many enemies surrounding them would eventually succeed in what seemed to be a universal goal: conquest.

{The summer of 1787}
The summer of 1787

The colonists had learned one other thing. Their own loose federation of small peaceful states was in some ways worse than rule by an outside King. The Confederation had been constantly reluctant to surrender local power to a unified defense; almost by definition, an invader was better disciplined than the defenders of a loose tribal alliance. The defense alliance had few advantages for keeping local bickering under control and was definitely less effective with families and children to protect against a mobile force of adult male warriors. The Confederation barely held together during an eight-year war against a common enemy, and it was rapidly coming apart after peace was declared in 1783. The English and French could see all this, too. Once they settled their own war with each other, each of them planned to envelop the former colonies. So George Washington and James Madison gathered the Best and the Brightest together in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, intending to construct a practical plan for what almost all the colonists wanted: a Union. A Union strong and big enough so other nations would leave them alone. A Union was benign enough so its citizens would enjoy the same Liberty they had as a loose alliance. Divided informally into four interest groups, each of the four needed concessions to be made. But each also needed to leave the other three feelings they had gained something important as the price of surrendering to what some other group could not do without. Having found the vital concessions, it was then still necessary to tinker and re-balance, so that everyone could still "live with it". In essence: 1) The South had to be given time and forbearance to work out its difficult problem of slavery, moral qualms notwithstanding. 2) The nine small states had to be protected against perpetual domination by the three big ones, of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. 3) If America was to realize the full advantage of growing from thirteen states to fifty, existing old states must not take advantage of new ones. 4) Political revolution was not the end of it; there was also the Industrial Revolution. Fishing, lumbering, farming, trade, and cotton, would in some way need to accommodate banking and manufacturing, assisting rather than upsetting other compromises. Given these tangled issues, it would be a long, hot summer in Philadelphia.
Treaty of Westphalia in 1648

Three of the four main problems were obvious, demanding to be addressed. Slavery was obvious from the start; you either solved this problem or the South would walk out. The western wilderness was bigger than existing America; it too could not be ignored. And finally, huge variations of climate and resources led to local specialization; a marvelous thing, if you could trust your suppliers and customers to cooperate. But curiously, none of these issues got directly to the political problem the Constitutional Convention was meant to solve, which was unifying thirteen different sovereignties, each of which was prepared to get up and walk out. The modern nation state was created by the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648; its guiding principle was mutual respect for local sovereignty. Having pacified over a hundred contentious central European states, it required a great deal of self-assurance for anyone to flout it. It seemed hard to imagine any way to remain sovereign, without commanding a vote equal to that of other sovereignties. The delegates from the State of Delaware, which had separated from Pennsylvania within the past decade, were "prohibited [by their legislature] from changing the Article in Confederation establishing an equality of votes among the States". Just what agitated the minds of the Legislature of Rhode Island was kept private, but something about a Union bothered them so much they refused to send delegates to Philadelphia even to discuss Union. After they assembled and started having dinner together at taverns, and later as they were beginning to vote in coalitions, one thing began to emerge. The small states banded together, hung out together, talked alike, and began to vote alike. Their emerging leader was John Dickinson of Delaware, the author of the Articles of Confederation, and very likely one of the prime agitators in the lower three counties of Pennsylvania -- breaking off from Pennsylvania and becoming the State of Delaware. Furthermore, Dickinson had been Governor of both Delaware and Pennsylvania, so he was very familiar with the deplorable behavior of the Legislature of Pennsylvania, now and for decades in the past. It took a long time for this sly old political operator to show his cards, but when he did, he gave James Madison the shock of his life. Madison, the near neighbor of George Washington and leader of the Virginia delegation, the author of the Virginia Plan, and the clear authority on the politics of government in America was busily consumed with working out the details of the emerging Constitution. Obviously, it went to his head a little, and so he was dumbfounded when Dickinson drew him aside in the corridor to tell him he wasn't going to have a Constitution at all. Dickinson was walking around with the votes in his pocket of five or six of the nine small states and was telling Madison that the small states were fed up, and not going along. Young Madison was suddenly confronted by the most respected lawyer in America, whose timing was perfect. For what may have been the first time in his life, Dickinson fully revealed the depth of his annoyance, that the big states would always take the little ones for granted. That the little ones were always expected to be deferential to the big fellows in charge of the big states. And then the clincher: "I would rather risk conquest from a foreign state than being forever dominated by my larger neighbors." That put it in a nutshell. If the only reason for joining a Union was to be protected from foreigners, Dickinson wasn't so sure he preferred his coalition partners. Evidently, this was the feeling of most of the other small states at the Convention, and it may well be the feeling of all small states, anywhere and everywhere.

{Promoting the Abolition of Slavery}
Promoting the Abolition of Slavery

Once the Convention got the idea, solving it became comparatively easy, but why waste an opportunity? There is a good reason to suppose it was Ben Franklin, silent as a cat watching a mouse, who matched it up with slavery. His fellow Pennsylvania delegate, James Wilson, had prepared the way by starting the discussion of granting 3/5 representation for slaves, but it had received comparatively little notice in the previous few weeks. Franklin rammed it home, adding a sop to the large states by according to the House of Representative sole power to introduce money legislation. Two of the main issues of the convention were solved with one agreement, small-state representation, and slavery. Who can say how long he had been nursing this idea. He had agreed to be president of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, about a month before the Constitutional Convention began. Prior to that, he and his wife had owned a slave or two, for many years. On June 2, the society adopted a resolution to end the slave trade and presented it to Dr. Franklin, asking him to present it to the Convention. He never did, explaining later it was "advisable" to let the matter lie over. In August, Alexander Hamilton blocked a similar resolution from the New York Manumission Society, even though he had been a fervent lifelong opponent of slavery.

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It's a sign of Philadelphia as a small town, but it's also a sign of young Franklin's brashness, that he and the Royal Governor of the colony would enter into an agreement to sail to England to purchase a printing press, with the Lieutenant Governor putting up the money. Apparently Governor Keith began to think so, too. Beause he welched on the deal and left Franklin stranded in London without the necessary introductory letters. He never admitted this, but Franklin was left adrift for a year of giving swimming lessons to support his wanderings. Somehow, this vagabond got a girl pregnant, and somehow he made "connections". When he returned as a rich man several decades later, many of his wild ideas had matured and many of his acquaintances reappeared, too. Perhaps it was here that he became a Mason, who knows. Eventually, he scraped together enough money and returned to Philadelphia as a struggling young printer.

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Blog 4355: Topic 4355 :

Franklin And the Nation He Created.

The Franklin family (originally Francklyne of Ecton in Northumberland, England) were prosperous and well-connected silk dyers, on the wrong side of history. Whether it was the English Civil War, the plague, the fire, the famine, or something else, they decided to emigrate to Boston. Once there, they were reduced to poverty by the refusal of the locals to accept their money. They survived on sister Jane's invention of bar soap (soft soap treated with salt.) Whether this implanted respect for innovation in Benjamin's mind is unknown.

An older brother had learned printing as a profession, and so Benjamin apprenticed himself to James to follow his example. Both were skalawag hippies, annoying the authorities with satire in the New England Courier under the pen name of "Silence Dogood. " Although James wrote some, Benjamin did write most, and the authorities were not pleased. So, although Ben claimed to be mistreated by James, scholars have since discovered that Benjamin was fleeing to Philadelphia to escape possible arrest. Although he was only seventeen, perhaps he had already learned to be quiet about his past.

Arriving nearly penniless, he found Philadelphia needed a printer, and he worked his way up to retirement at the age of 42. Except for a one-year fling in London to buy a printing press, the first part of the book describes the slow, steady climb of this young printer as he gradually absorbed the functions and perfected the techniques of publisher and newspaper owner. He then expanded them into partnerships up and down the Atlantic seaboard on his deputy postmaster roads. In his spare time, he printed New Jersey's paper money and probably prospered from the currency manipulations of the various wars. He got into politics through his associations, and through the Junto of tradesmen, or the acquaintance of Andrew Hamilton and William Allen, eventually becoming the leader of the Quaker party, then their enemy. It's likely that during this period, he became the Grand Master of the local Masonic Temple and somehow became the Grand Master of the three Quaker colonies in his twenties. The scientific achievements forwarded by associations leading toward but never quite succeeding to the Grand Mastership of the Protestant world. The secrecy of the Masons covers up many associations with men of high station, and perhaps we will never know how his portrait comes to hang next to that of George Washington in the Masonic Temple across the street from Philadelphia's City Hall. The overlapping layers of Masonic secrecy are something to behold. Anyway, Franklin, who never went past second grade in school, lost an election and retired to London a hundred feet from Picadilly. A rich man, consorting with Mozart and standing before five Kings. He thought his scientific, sexual, and political careers were over -- but instead, the best parts still lay ahead.

The Founding of The Franklin Inn Club

An address by Arthur Hobson Quinn at the J. William White Dinner on January 17,1952, commemorating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the founding of the Franklin Inn Club.

The Founders:

Edward W. Bok, Cyrus Townsend Brady, Edward Brooks, Charles Heber Clark, Henry T. Coates, John Hornor Coates,

John Habberton, Alfred C. Lambdin, Craige Lippincott, J. Bertram Lippincott, John Luther Long, Lisle De Vaux Matthewman,

John K. Mitchell, S. Weir Mitchell, Harrison S. Morris, Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer, Arthur Hobson Quinn, Joseph G. Rosengarten,

Charles C. Shoemaker, Solomon Solis-Cohen, Frederick William Unger, Francis Chruchhill Willams, Francis Howard Williams.

It is a somewhat lonely eminence in which I find myself. That I am the only living founder of the Inn is due simply to the accolade of chronology -I have been able to survive the others! May I take this opportunity to thank the Inn for creating me the first honorary member? My association with it has been purely one of enjoyment; I have never held an Office, and except for membership on Entertainment Committee, I have done little to serve the Inn. It has not been because of any lack of affection.

The founding of the Inn was due to some intangible and some concrete impulses. The turn of the century was responsible for many new movements and it is heartbreaking now, to those of us who were young at the time, to remember how we welcomed the dawn of what we were sure would be better days.

Centering in Philadelphia, there were at that time an unusual number of men of distinction as creators of literature. Weir Mitchell had written in Hugh Wynnethe greatest novel of the Revolution, and in his Characteristics had created the novel of psychology. Horace Howard Furness, Senior, had won eminence with his Variorum Shakespeare. Henry Charles Lea was producing his histories of the institutions of the Middle Ages. John Bach McMaster had just published the fifth volume of his great History of the People of the United States. John Luther Long had just created the Character of Madame Butterfly, to become a world figure. Langdon Mitchell had won a triumph with his play of Becky Sharp. Owen Wister had scored a popular success with The Virginian, a romance with a theatrical flavor appropriate to the grandson of Fanny Kemble, and while Charles Heber Clark was trying to forget that as Max Adeler he had delighted thousands with his humor, Out of the Hurly-Burly was not forgotten . I can still remember the day when he remarked dryly, "I can not bring myself to read these books written by other people."

It should be a matter of pride to us that it was in this creative atmosphere that the Inn was born. All the writers I have mentioned were members of the Inn, and although their participation in our activities varied, their fellowship was an inspiration. I owe to Karl Miller's great statistical ability and keen interest in the Inn some figures which show that of the fifty-one members who joined in 1902, forty-four were then of later listed in Who's Who in America. It was a noteworthy group.

As long as I have been selected as the "authority" on the foundation, here is the result of my memories and my research, aided greatly by the labors of the Secretary, William Shepard.

For the record, then, the concrete sources were follows:

On February 19, 1902, ten men meet at the University Club, drew up a preliminary draft of a constitution and signed a Call for the formation of an "Authors' Club." In our printed booklet of 1950, the statement is made that Dr. Mitchell was present. I see no evidence that he was there, for he did not sign the Call. The account is in the handwriting of Francis Churchill Williams, the first secretary, and it is clear that Dr. Mitchell was elected President in his absence. It is interesting that of the ten signers of the call, J. Bertram Lippincott, John Luther Long, William J. Nicolls, Harrison Morris, and Craige Lippincott remained members of the Inn until their death; that Francis Howard Williams became Vice-President and Churchill Williams was the most active force in the actual organization of the Inn.

While Weir Mitchell was not the actual founder, he became the inspiration, the creator of the spirit of the Inn. While he did not belong to any organized preliminary group, his home was the center of gatherings which met there on Saturday evenings after nine o'clock to listen to what he truly described as "the best talk in Philadelphia," and these gatherings were certainly one of the indirect sources of the Inn. Many of his guests joined the Inn, and while I was a guest only after the Inn was founded, I am sure there must have been discussion of such a club.

Another concrete source was the Write about Club, a small group of men founded in 1897 and still in existence, who met weekly and read stories and verse for the criticism of their fellows. Among this group were Churchy Williams, who joined it with the idea of turning it into a club such as the Inn became, but found this impracticable; Charles C. Shoemaker, a publisher, for thirty-four years Treasurer of the Inn, needed the money ; Edward Robins, a short story writer; Edward W. Mumford, who became president of the Inn and did great service at the time of temporary low water; Rupert Holland, a director, and still a member of the Inn, and Lawrence Dudley, for many years the active chairman of the Entertainment Committee. The relations of these two clubs were mutual, Dudley and John Haney were first members of the Inn and later joined the Write about Club. Robins, Williams, Shoemaker, and I were first members of the Write about Club and were elected members of the Inn at its foundations.

To return to actual meetings of the Inn. Dr. Mitchell did preside at the meeting held at the Art Club on March 4, 1902, when the scope and purpose of the Club were definitely settled. Thirty-two or Thirty-three men were present. The Name of the Club was the subject of heated discussion. Dr. Mitchell objected to the proposed name "Authors' Club." He remarked that the "Authors' Club." in New York was one of the dullest place he has ever visited, and some years later, I was able to confirm his opinion. Another heated discussion as to qualifications was crystallized by the decision that the Club should be founded upon "the book, its creator, its illustrators and its publisher," who made the book available. The undated minutes of the next meeting tells us that the name "Franklin Head" and three for "Authors' Club." I have among my own memorabilia a notice which reads, "A first meeting of the Franklin Inn Club will be held at the Club House, 1218 Chancellor St., at eight, Wednesday evening June 4, 1902." I also find in my scrapbook an invitation reading, "The President of the Franklin Inn Club desires to say that the dinner you have done him the honor to accept will be at the Club House at seven, punctually, on January 6, 1903."

It will be noticed that although some of us have made it a point to say "Franklin Inn" without the "Club," the earliest notices were inclusive of that word. The names of the diners are recorded in a framed manuscript, hung on the wall in an inconspicuous place; it should have a more dignified position, for it was the first of these dinners, of which this is the fiftieth. Thirty-six names are immortalized there, signifying the Club's willingness to accept an invitation to good dinner. Dr. Mitchell's presiding was, of course, the feature of any dinner. When he died in 1914 it was impossible to replace him, the resulting election for president tore the Inn in two.

I wish to take this opportunity to pay a tribute not only to the first president of the Inn but to the man himself and to the great novelist. He was always willing to help younger writers and great novelist. He was willing to help younger writers, and I owe to his friendship introductions to men like William Dean Howells and others which aided me greatly in my work in American Literature. He was a patrician, as George Meredith recognized when he, in commenting on Dr. Mitchell's Roland Blake, Which he had read three times said, "It has a kind of nobility about it." He imparted this quality to his characters from Hugh Wynne down to Francois, the thief of the French Revolution they too are patricians. They do not argue about caste like the people in the novels of Henry James, who saw his countrymen through a haze of social hopeless. From whatever time or place they come, they are natural gentlefolk, who have seen the best of other civilization, and remained content with their own inheritances of culture.

Like all men of spirit, Weir Mitchell had a large capacity for scorn. In his fiction and poetry, this revealed itself in his artistic reticence, springing from the innate refinement of his soul. He knew death in its most horrible forms; he knew life in its most terrible aspects. He had read human minds in the grim emptiness of decay or the frantic activity of the possessed. With his great descriptive power, he could have painted marvelous portraits of the human race in its moments of disgrace. But with a restraint which puts to shame those who today in the name of realism are prostituting their art and exploiting the base or the banal in our national life, the first great neurologist knew the difference between pathology and literature. The scientist knew how bitter life would be for in Roland Blake he said, "if memory were perfect, life unendurable. " But the artist knew that the highest function of literature is to record those lofty moments which make endurable the rest of life.

May I appeal with a message from the founders to keep our ideals clear; they would wish me, I know, to remind you that it is not just another club of gentlemen interested in literature. Our Constitution provides for a limited number of distinguished public citizens. But unless the Inn is built around the "Book," it has not kept the spirit and intention of the founders. I realized this is not always easy. Great writers and painters come in clusters. They have come three times to Philadelphia first in the late eighteenth century, when Franklin, Francis Hopkinson, Thomas Godfrey, and Benjamin West established in America the art of the essay, poetry, drama, and painting; second, in the middle of the nineteenth century, when Robert Montgomery Bird and George Henry Baker for the first time challenged the playwrights of England with The Gladiator and Francesca da Rimini, and when Poe spent his six greatest years in Philadelphia; Third, in other group of our founders. Another cluster will arise in Philadelphia and, when that day dawns, may the Franklin Inn keep the light burning to attract them to its fellowship. I believe that ed can be helped by celebrations of the pioneers. I have tried to pay a tribute to them in a bit of verse-.

Those days are done. Around the hall

You see the portraits on the wall

Of those who played the founder's part

In this, our friendly home of art,

Whose triumphs we tonight recall.

Time runs-He never stoops to crawl-

The veil of memory partly pall

The splendors which the years impart-

Those days are done!

Yet when across this evening fall

Clear voices from the past call

The quick blood back along the heart,

We know, by every pulse's start,

That Never, Till the end of all,

Those days are done!

-- by: Arthur Hobson Quinn, January 17, 1952

Toast To Benjamin Franklin

{Benjamin Franklin}
Benjamin Franklin,

Benjamin Franklin for whom we are named, was after all a club man. In his London years every Thursday he attended the Club of Honest Whigs, and every Monday a coffeehouse called the George and Vulture. His conviviality is part of my theme, but especially his congeniality with women.

Scientist and statesman, of course. We nod to bifocals, lightning rod, storage batteries, daylight savings time, less smoky stoves, and a flexible urinary catheter (which he commissioned for his ailing brother from a Philadelphia silversmith). We bow to lending libraries, fire brigades, insurance associations, planned giving, philosophical society, and legislatures. Above all, he helped to design and invent the United States of America, and by example, to inspire the free and mobile society that inhabits our states.

But tonight I celebrate his relationships with and his treatment of women. Let me dispose at once of an image of him as young playboy or old lecher. He was always responsible in his relationships. He acknowledged and raised his illegitimate son William (who as royal governor of New Jersey, loyal to the Crown, split with his father). He helped to raise and educate Temple Franklin, the bastard son of his bastard son, who stayed loyal to him as grandfather.

{Deborah Read}
Deborah Read

His 44-year common law marriage with Deborah Read (an abandoned wife of another man) was a tender and practical bond. She bore two children and managed his print house and bookkeeping. She was half-literate and afraid of the ocean, and so may be thought to have been spared the high politics and intellectual life of England and France. In his duties overseas, Franklin was absent fifteen of the last seventeen years of her life. When she wrote him about rumors of other women, he answered, ".while I have my senses, and God vouchsafe me his protection, I shall do nothing unworthy the character of an honest man, and one that loves his family." His best biographers find nothing to stain his promise to Deborah.

That is not to say that he lacked interesting friendships with other women. Four long and intense ones are worth special mention: one American, one English, and two French.

{Claude-Anne Lopez}
Claude-Anne Lopez

Katie Ray was the first of his romantic "but probably never consummated flirtations." When they met, he was 48, she 28. Over the course of their lives, they exchanged more than 40 letters. He "made a few playful advances that [she] gently deflated." Claude-Anne Lopez describes the kind of bond he established, first with Katie, as "somewhat risque, somewhat avuncular, taking a bold step forward and an ironic step backward, implying that he is tempted as a man but respectful as a friend." She uses a French term for this --amitie amoureuse-- a little beyond the platonic, but short of the grand passion."

Such a loving friendship he also had with Polly Stevenson. He was 51 when he met her; she, 18. Her intellectual quotient was high, like Katie, and he talked science with her. They exchanged 130 letters. She, as a widow, was at his deathbed 33 years later. Charles Wilson Peale came upon Franklin one day in London, and later sketched what he saw: sitting with a young lady on his knee. She is thought to be Polly. But we should not treat that as a tabloid photo. He was sincere in urging Polly to raise a family rather than pursue more learning. There is nothing as important "as being a good parent, a good child, a good husband, or wife."

In Paris, as Ambassador to France, 1776-85, Franklin found two more mistresses of mind and soul. Mme. Anne-Louise Brillon was a famous harpsichordist and a supporter of the American Revolution. When they met, she was 33 and married; he 71 and a widower. In an eight-year relationship, he sent her 29 letters; she to him, 103. She finally turned aside his inquiries about a more corporeal relationship. But she wrote with affection that he demonstrated "a droll roguishness which shows that the wisest of men allows his wisdom to be perpetually broken against the rocks of femininity."

{Anne-Catherine Helvetius}
Anne-Catherine Helvetius

Mme. Anne-Catherine Helvetius was a lively and beautiful widow near 60 when she met Franklin at age 73. He eventually went beyond the bounds of his usual dance between sincerity and self-deprecating playfulness. He ardently proposed marriage to her. She found this entreaty a bit wearying. But when in the winter of 1785 he finally departed France, she was there, visiting his home. So was Mme. Brillon; as well as Polly Stevenson and her three children; altogether a splendid "network of good will" with himself at the center.

Jefferson, his friend, and successor in Paris noted on his last day before sailing that the ladies were smothering him with embraces. He told Franklin that as well as the duties transferred to him, he wished to have those privileges as well.

But Franklin answered: "You are too young a man."

Sisters and brothers of the Franklin Inn'let us toast Benjamin Franklin: his constancy with his wife, his well-contained passion, his well-expressed wit, his amitie amoureuse. May his example of loving friendship enfold and inspire the members of our club named for him.

-- Theodore Friend

At the Annual Dinner of the Franklin Inn Club

Philadelphia, 18 January 2008


Based on:

Walter Isaacson, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (New York, 2003)

Edmund S. Morgan, Benjamin Franklin (New Haven, 2002)

Claude-Anne Lopez, Mon Cher Papa: Franklin and the Ladies of Paris (2nd ed., New Haven, 1990; 1st ed., 1966)

Tom Paine: Rabble-Rousing Quaker? 692:: Blog 692:

Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was born of Quaker parents, which makes him a "birthright" Quaker. Children born into Quaker families are accustomed to the subtleties of speech and behavior of that religious sect, ultimately growing up to be the main nucleus of tradition. Knowing what they are getting into, however, they are more likely to rebel against it than others who, coming to the religion by choice rather than by birthright, are commonly described as "Convinced Friends."

These stereotypes may or may not explain some of Tom Paine's paradoxes. He certainly was not a pacifist, a quietest, or a plain person. He was an important historical figure; Walter A. McDougall, the famous University of Pennsylvania historian, feels the American colonists might have sputtered and complained about Royal rule for decades, except for Paine. The American Revolution happened when it happened because Tom Paine stirred up a storm.

Common Sense

According to the traditional way of telling his story, Tom Paine was a ne'er do well failure in London. He ran into Benjamin Franklin, who advised him to emigrate to America in 1775, and within a year his pamphlet called ""Common Sense"" had sold 150,000 copies (some even claim 500,000), galvanizing the public and the Continental Congress into action on July 4, 1776. George Washington read Paine's writings to his troops on the eve of the Battle of Trenton. After that, Paine got mixed up with the French Revolution, and apparently became a severe alcoholic, proclaiming atheism all the way. Although Thomas Jefferson remained friendly to the end, Benjamin Franklin essentially told him to go leave him alone, and Washington would cross the street to avoid him. According to the usual line, Tom Paine was a big-mouthed rabble-rouser and a drunk, who traveled the world looking to stir up revolutions.

However, that cannot possibly be a fair recounting of the whole story. Thomas Alva Edison, whose opinion certainly counts for something, regarded Tom Paine as one of the greatest American inventors, creating the first steel bridge, the first hollow candle, and the principle of central drought in heating. Paine early became a close friend of the Hicks family, the central figures in modern Quakerism; it seems a little unclear how much Tom Paine was reflecting the views of Elias Hicks, and how much Hicksite Quakerism can be said to have originated in the thinking of Thomas Paine. Paine was very far from being an atheist. In fact, both he and Hicks believed so fervently in the universality of God that both of them scorned the rituals, paraphernalia, and transparent superstitions of -- religion.

Furthermore, Paine was able to reach the rationalists of The Enlightenment with arguments which cut to the heart of Royalist loyalties. America was too big and too remote to be ruled by a king, particularly one who abused his privileges behind a claim of divine right. href="">William the Conqueror, for example, never denied he was a usurper. One way or another, every king must earn his throne. So, as for feudalism and hereditary aristocracy, what was King George doing with all those German mercenaries? After two centuries of democracy, most Americans are too far from feudalism to appreciate the legitimacy of military meritocracy. Whatever King George was up to, he didn't stand for empowerment of the best and the brightest Englishmen, who in fact might well be opposed to him. If you wanted to get to Virginia aristocrats, Boston sea captains, and Kentucky backwoodsmen, that was exactly the line to take in Common Sense.

Unfortunately, Citizen Tom Paine was a freethinker and couldn't be quiet about it in his later books. He didn't like the way the Old Testament Hebrews hungered for a king. He didn't like the way the New Testament sprinkled miracles on top of unassailable moral principles, and he particularly didn't like the claim that God got an unmarried girl pregnant. He antagonized almost every established religion by proclaiming that no one should make a living from religion. He wrote a book called href="">Age of Reason proclaiming all these freethinking ideas, which struck Ben Franklin as such a stupid thing to do that he would not discuss it, beyond saying that even if he should succeed in convincing people to abandon religion, just imagine how much worse they would probably behave without it. George Washington, who hadn't a trace of intellectualism about him, more accurately portrayed the typical American revulsion at anyone who was so unprincipled as to say such unorthodox things in public. Jefferson distanced himself for political reasons rather than intellectual ones. Franklin thought Paine was a fool. Washington and the rest of the country thought he was a viper.

It would have to be conceded -- by anyone -- that Tom Paine was self-destructive, even sassing Robespierre while in a French prison. How is it such a loose cannon could get the American public off dead center and make the Continental Congress grasp the nettle of revolution, in less than a year? Let's go back to how he came to America in the first place. Franklin sent him.

Then he promptly got a job as editor of the Pennsylvania Gazette, which Franklin had owned for thirty years. And then, in an era when the largest city in America had a population of twenty-five thousand, and the printing presses of the day were able to turn out three or four pages a minute, he sold 150,000 copies of the fifty-page "Common Sense." Who but Franklin, in private partnerships with sixty printers, could have possibly authorized, financed, and printed 150,000 copies of a colonial pamphlet? In order to find that much printing capacity in colonial America, a great deal of other printing had to lose its place in the queue.

Even today, a best-seller is defined as a book that sells 50,000 copies, and it generally takes three years to get it done. In the Eighteenth Century, for an unknown alcoholic to get off the boat and find a publisher for a best seller in a few weeks is hard even to imagine. Unless he had important help.

Union, Now and Forever: Constitution: Articles of Confederation 2234 : Blog 2234::

BIG nations gobble up small ones, so small ones band together. As George Washington observed, when you are strong the others leave you alone. But other forces sometimes make smallness seem more attractive, especially if the nation is already uniform in religion, language, and culture. Nations search for an ideal size for both War and Peace and discover they praise two incompatible sizes. Both the American Revolution of 1776 and today's struggles of the European Union fit a common formula: banding together for military security, then pulling back from declining Liberty. The American experience of a Civil War after eighty years under the Constitution suggests the margin for error is narrow. And enduring; even in the Twenty-first century, it is striking that both little Scotland and that little bit of little Belgium that is Flemish seem willing to sacrifice major economic benefits for what seems to outsiders a minor step for Liberty. But the whole point of the Constitutional Convention then seems to emerge: Nine years previously, thirteen separate sovereignties had been more or less hustled into a military alliance by the appearance of a hostile British fleet. That war was now over, the thirteen had grown accustomed to living together, but the Articles of Confederation had not foreseen a large nation clearly enough in 1776. The Articles did not even provide for an executive branch. In the chaotic conditions of 1787, a calmer choice could be made between breaking apart and unifying, for a different set of reasons based on Peace and Prosperity rather than war: Either surrender some aspects of state power to a real union or let each contentious state confront its future, unsupported. In many ways, it was the vision of Liberty which changed between times of peace and times of war. In 1860 the stakes were higher than in 1787 but the issues were mixed. Industrializing states in the northern part viewed the Union as an economic opportunity. Purely agricultural southern American states were not so sure; in the end, preferring the older set of rules, they took their leap. To the amazement of Southern leaders, the North was ready to die to preserve that Union, and so the demands of warfare reasserted themselves.

{Europe Colonies}

Geography doubtless imposes variable limits for both war and peaceful prosperity, anywhere. Some nations have therefore banded together for military reasons then split apart in local quarrels, more or less regularly. Thirteen American colonies had been afraid to confront Britannia alone, but somewhat overconfidently took on that challenge as a confederation. At the other extreme, little Rhode Island even refused to send delegates to the Constitutional Convention, fearing big neighbors more than remote British rule. Fortunately, similar possessiveness about local perks was unable to collect enough political power to dominate other states. After a year by the time of the state ratifying conventions, however, it was a close call. Peace and prosperity: getting bigger discourages predators, but getting smaller offers sole possession of what you have. Since the United States grew in jumps through most of its history, it probably learned intangible things from alternating episodes of being too big and then too small. Frederick Jackson Turner's thesis of the advancing frontier as a shaper of culture is not greatly different in the essence of its argument.

When ideas of Union first gained traction, both the thirteen American colonies in the Eighteenth century and the twenty-five nations of the Eurozone in the Twenty-First, were dominated by the memory of war. The American objective was the simple one of military parity with a common enemy. The nations of the European Union had a longer view; a seemingly endless cycle of bloody wars sustained their conviction that other wars would inevitably follow unless they did something innovative. National unification on the American model sounded ideal but difficult. Perhaps the habits of cooperation and trade would lead to it. The unexpected decline of the Soviet empire further reduced the fear of war. Pride may also have led to over-reaching; twenty-five is comfortably larger than thirteen, which up to that time was the largest nation merger to survive. But twenty-five is smaller and thus more manageable than the present American fifty. To begin the process with monetary union might produce quick benefits from a source too mysterious to produce much public resistance. Nobody could think of a war started by a monetary dispute.

{Justice Blackmun}
Justice Blackmun

, Of course, the Europeans expected difficulties from speaking many languages, but they probably still underestimate how far the legal profession has already gone in confining nuanced words to a single meaning; it is essential to their trade. When many languages split off from a common stem, many unaccepted interpretations re-emerge when they are later re-combined. Even without the nuance problem, translation into many languages is a serious expense, which is at least as burdensome as currency exchanges were among multiple sovereignties. By contrast two centuries earlier, the American revolutionaries shared a single language but soon found espionage was an unusually serious problem. Even their enemy spoke English, so sometimes improved clarity itself creates unexpected problems. Indeed, in American disputes about Original Intent, we repeatedly encounter the tenacity of people believing a document says what they want it to say. Vigorous legal advocates think they are paid to marshall every argument weak or strong. Staying within the English language, the evolution of U.S. Supreme Court interpretations often turns on subtle differences in the meaning of simple words. Penumbras and emanations from the word "Privacy" in Roe v. Wade soon force our judges to decide whether abortion within a right of privacy is simply too far from a common understanding of English, in a double way. Both in the discovery of a right to privacy within a document which does not use the word, and then in the inclusion of abortion within that, Justice Blackmun clearly overestimated the capacity of excited citizens to be flexible. Much more surely, he would have overestimated public willingness to grasp his meaning in two-step translations of a foreign language. Since this famous decision is destined to stand or fall, depending on public tolerance for such wordplay, having almost every citizen confidently understanding English is at least one advantage. Parenthetically, we will need every advantage possible. The really serious box which Justice Blackmun put us in, was to invent a Constitutional mandate which thus can only be compromised in a Constitutional amendment. In almost every other conflict, the system of checks and balances permits either the Congress or the state legislatures to soften the conflict with conciliatory modification. The constitutional amendment is already difficult to achieve; inflaming the religious passions of the forty-odd bodies who must agree to amendment makes amendment nearly impossible.

{Burned at the stake}

By contrast with important language confusions, "hatreds between nations" are often mentioned as an obstacle to unification but the claim seems largely bogus. Argot and slang are commonly invented to conceal the opinions of a minority group. Over thousands of years, this purpose of "jiving" a secret code among conspirators has been perfected exquisitely. It's hard to overcome, easy to teach children. But the memory of actual wars really dies out rather quickly, not least because atrocities are so hideous, mankind wants to forget them. I was seventy years old before someone told me I had ancestors burned at the stake. By whom? By someone who has also been dead for four hundred years, not likely to seem threatening to me. Over the fifty years since the Second World War, I have run into former German and Japanese soldiers; they now seem pretty benign. One American former prisoner of war was forced to stand at attention while his Japanese captor pulled out his gold teeth with pliers; he told this story with a faint smile. It is one of the benevolence of biology that we are born without memories, and a second is a biological impossibility of remembering the feeling of pain without first re-dramatizing the experience for future reference. Once actual onlookers stop grinding the grievance ax, it should be possible to get on with devising a European constitution, provided it contains a meaningful equivalent of our First Amendment.

{Helen of Troy}
Helen of Troy

It's an important point for a proposal unifying two dozen different priesthoods and a number of nations wholly defined by a single religion. A workable constitution for them must contain a strict separation of church and state, because ballads, epic poems, and traditions are synthetic, quite different from actual experiences. Helen of Troy may or may not have had a face that launched a thousand ships, but Homer's Iliad certainly glorified more hatred than she did; who can say whether the poem portrays the truth? That's the war side of things; the Odyssey is powerful in evoking the special virtues leading to prosperous nationhood. Because you can't argue or reason with epic myth, it is the many exaggerated glorifications and exaggerated condemnations by them which supply endurance to patriotic myths, easily reducing macroeconomists of the European Central Bank to tears of frustration. Because the best of these epics stand alone as powerful literature, their propaganda strength is all the more difficult to deconstruct with mere logic. Quoting Arnold Toynbee, it is not weaknesses, but overextension of their finest qualities, which usually brings nations down.

{Euro zone symbolic}
Euro Zone

While true grievances seldom pose obstacles of their own, they do often misdirect political leadership from what is best for their countries. European Unification had a primary goal of eliminating future wars, but its leaders decided the peace goal was achievable only by indirection and began first with monetary tools for prosperity. That takes a long time; America was still fumbling monetarily until the end of the Civil War. So while starting with small victories seems a plausible route to big victories, in fact, it drains much of the idealism out of revolutions by avoiding the cataclysmic issues which justify great sacrifices. Even worse, it here made the financial disaster of the Euro symbolic of tawdry hazards on the road to Prosperity, raising issues of corruption and self-advancement, rather than idealistic sacrifice. At least when you struggle for national security, every day you survive is another victory. There is, of course, no room in past struggles for Americans to gloat over their superior approach to permanent Union. But a defeat is a defeat, and the Euro mess could become a big defeat.

{Ron Paul}
Congressman Ron Paul

From a commentator's perspective, currency matters are difficult to understand and explain. For contrast, the Battle of Normandy is thrilling and awe-inspiring; every death is the death of a hero. But rises in productivity and the risk implications of volatility, seem hopelessly confusing to an economics beginner. Worse still, there exists real uncertainty among experts. We now have a currency which has no backing in precious metals and is really just a book entry. That's useful for transactions, less certainly useful for a storehouse of value. Mr. Ron Paul ran for President of the United States challenging the whole Federal Reserve concept, and a possibility must be admitted that his speeches have a grain of truth. We trust our bankers to devise a workable system of exchange without gold and silver, and readily admit that Mr. Bernanke knows more about it than we do. But. But the world economy nearly collapsed utterly a few years ago, and ynou know, Dr. Ron Paul might just have a valid point or two. Europe has not yet emerged into a fit environment for enjoying a monetary Crusade to a World Without War. For a striking contrast, just go to any Civil War movie. And watch those teenaged soldier boys charge up the hill, ready to die for the Union.

Let's make a few points in summary. The Articles were ratified in 1781, well after the Battle of Yorktown. They were suggested by Franklin, written by Dickenson. Their purpose was primarily unification to fight another common enemy, because it was felt that a united nation worked better to fight a common enemy than thirteen separate tribes would. This concept helped a few other things like the settling of quarrels, but generally it was not comprehensive enough for a united nation. George Washington wanted stronger defense and a tax system to pay for it. That's all he asked for, and generally all he got. The Virginians, especially Patrick Henry, had a lot of misgivings about going further. Even Franklin was hesitant. Why was that? Land speculation had a lot to do with such hesitation, and both the King of England and the tribes of Indians were in the way. Maybe a United States might also get out of hand. That's not exactly what happened, but that theory could explain a lot of what did.


A Study of History Arnold J. Toynbee ISBN-13: 978-0195050806 Amazon

New blog TITLE Franklin Persuades Paris,Washington the Hessians : Blog 4345 : Topic 672 :

CONTENTS: this is the main body of text

Blog 4345 : Topic 672 : Volume 2244 :

Adam Smith and Karl Marx

{William Bingham class=}
Adam Smith

Ever since the two revolutions, American and French, the Anglo-Saxon world has strongly believed there is no better way to determine fair prices than by marketplace auction. There are, of course, a few situations of market failure which call for government intervention. The continental Europeans tip their caps to this idea, but often revert to central planning of the Napoleonic variety, with its idea that if you have a very smart expert, you should listen to him. We are a nation of immigrants, of course, and so modern American politics quite often divides along lines of preference between market-set prices and central planning. Both systems occasionally fail us, but the native preferences of people mainly divide between faith in central planning and faith in "common sense" market solutions. Our present tangle of opinion about paying for healthcare brings out this distinctive divide. Most of us believe in the marketplace, but in a pickle half of us will give it up pretty quickly and look for expert guidance, while the other half grimly continues to believe "a thing is only worth what you can sell it for."

Karl Marx

Mitigated individually by compassion and charity, American healthcare prices were always market prices until health insurance made an appearance in the 1920s. The insurance company could employ accountants, but they could not adjust for either quality or personal hardship. The response has been relentlessly in the direction of setting prices as the cost of production plus a standard mark-up. When Lyndon Johnson gave us Medicare and Medicaid, he gave us the accounting approach, in spades. In place of the accounting approach as a check against market failures, he gave us a common sense as a check against accountant errors. For some years, hospital prices haven't seemed quite right. Increasing peculiarities were met by increasing administrative protectiveness keeping the public, even doctors, from getting a sense of satisfaction from increasingly vague responses. Some people are instinctively suspicious, and this sort of behavior brought it out in them. Maybe I'm just like that, but I prefer to think that my views are mostly colored by happening to sit in a congressional hearing room, while Brian McMahon explained the proposed DRG system.

American Exceptionalism Has Something To Do With Compromise

{William Bingham class=}
European Union Map

Let no one suppose I imagine myself an expert in international law. But as a member of a family with newspaper connections, I more readily recognize when someone is conducting a campaign, using a set of plausible arguments in place of the real ones. So, my suspicions are repeatedly reinforced by regular repetitions of the same arguments in different ways, to the effect that America should be more respectful of what is called International Law. Curiously, the same people are of a mindset to oppose European Union, when you would suppose that one argument leads to the other. It is almost a pose that, having won the war as legitimate sovereigns, they are already quashing would-be competitors.

Nationalism had its formal beginnings in the Treaty of Westphalia, about 1648. At that time, there were about a hundred little countries along the banks of the Rhine River, starting in Switzerland which was broken into four cantons, and south of the Swiss stretching the length of Italy, ending up in the far tip of Sicily. Many of these nations were no bigger than a golf course and were often leftovers from the robber barons who extorted bribes from passing boats in return for not attacking them. That is, they were protection rackets, which survived as rackets in the far tip of Sicily until 1880 or so, until Garibaldi emancipated them from their evil ways, and unified Italy.

Treaty of Westphalia

In 1648 the Pope was in nominal charge of everything, and all the rest of the Rhineland behaved the way we now think of the Mafia as behaving, in secret societies. Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation had broken the Holy Roman Empire into warring camps, shifting alliances as local politics required. It took a long time to get everyone into an agreement, but the outcome was the Treaty of Westphalia, which essentially made everyone agree to respect the national boundaries of the others, and the religion of the inhabitants of each country would adopt the religion of the local king. There had been nations before there was nationalism, but the Westphalian version operated with national boundaries as the defined beginning, rather than tribes, languages or religions. That sort of agreement displeased the Pope, of course, but it had the utility of lessening the endless warfare and pillage, each one of each other. Offhand, you might not have thought of boundaries as superior to ethnic inhabitants as an organizing principle, but somehow it worked better than the alternatives. Nationalism became the ruling premise throughout the world. If you win, your winnings are limited to the established boundaries. The treaty of Westphalia served essentially the constitution for a majority of western civilizations, and it was pretty short and sweet, essentially downgrading religion as an organizing principle and replacing it with defensible boundaries, seemingly a degrading change.

{William Bingham class=}
City Tavern

Eventually, thirteen "sovereign nations" in the Western Hemisphere got together and wrote our new Constitution, which had an additional novelty of being written down and describing how the new United States would be organized. Religion was banished from governance, of course, so the way was open to our own nationalism. Among other features was a bicameral legislature. Pennsylvania in 1787 had just had a lot of trouble with a unicameral legislature, but the main impetus opposing that format was found in the small states. John Dickinson of Dover Delaware drew a startled James Madison of Virginia aside and told him the small states didn't like being bossed by the big ones (Virginia was the largest, at that time), and they particularly disliked the idea that it would be written down as a permanent arrangement. In the view of the big states, power would naturally go to the biggest and richest, and that infuriated the small states even more. To them, it meant the small states were expected to pay permanent deference to the ideas of their bigger neighbors, and for example, no one from a small state could ever expect to be elected President. Dickinson drew Madison aside and asked, "Do you want to have a Union, or don't you?" Dickinson was probably thinking in terms of equal representation for each state, no matter its size, while Madison was thinking of proportional representation like the House of Representatives. Rumor has it that Benjamin Franklin gathered folks into the City Tavern and worked out the present compromise. Which is, a bicameral legislature, one body with two and only two Senators per state, the second body with additional representatives for more population, and the agreement that no law would be passed without the agreement of both houses of Congress. Pretty simple, but it has gradually dawned on most people that the United State has held together (Civil War excepted) for two hundred years by debate and compromise, but meanwhile no other union has survived by any means except military force. Underneath that rule must be an assumption: for every quarrel, somewhere there exists a workable compromise. Even Ben Franklin was a little hesitant about that idea.

{William Bingham class=}
The League of Nations, United Nations

The League of Nations, United Nations, and all of the other national groupings, so far including even the European Union, have unicameral legislatures which follow the traditions of the Treaty of Westphalia. Equal representation for all, and therefore majority rule is expected to leave major groups nursing a grudge. In a bicameral state with different rules for election, the ruling instruction is "Don't you come out of that room until you agree on some compromise which will endure." A bicameral legislature is expected to produce flawed legislation; a unicameral body is expected to produce a victory. Therefore, a unicameral is expected to produce a vanquished foe; a bicameral needs cooperation to justify flawed legislation and keep it workable. As things work out, there is no perfect law, only laws which are more or less imperfect.

"On the whole, sir, I can not help expressing a wish that every member of the convention who may still have objections to it, would, with me, on this occasion, doubt a little of his own infallibility, and, to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument."

ZNOTE: America's Historic Square Mile (pre-1800)


Philadelphia Vaguely Hears About Bunker Hill

The thirteen English colonies were far apart in the Eighteenth century, communicated very little, regarded their religions as more or less hostile to each other. July 4, 1776, was indeed a major turning point, but Thomas Jefferson's role was mainly to write a defensive tract to convince the colonial population and the rest of the world that the colonies had little choice but to fight. It was mainly Benjamin Franklin who recognized they could not win without foreign support, and could not expect foreign (French) support if they appeared to be willing to rejoin the British Empire. In a single action, more or less on one day, the American Revolution was transformed from New England demanding a separate parliament within a Commonwealth, into thirteen colonies fighting for Independence from Great Britain. Such a war could not be won without Virginia, the largest and richest colony, or without Pennsylvania, physically uniting the other two power centers. Virginia had serious difficulties with the British concerning its tobacco trade and its local land ambitions. Essentially, the main holdout was Pennsylvania, whose main problem now was that it was a contented prosperous state, suddenly forced to make unwelcome choices. Without Franklin's presence, it is hard to guess how things would have turned out.

Bunker Hill

To this day, Pennsylvania has trouble appreciating that things in Boston had gone too far for New England to turn back. The quarrels about English rule had gone on for decades, and the actual warfare had escalated over three years since the Tea Party, leading to thousands of casualties. Too many people had friends and relatives killed to suppress the urge for vengeance. The British king was now revealed as deeply involved in British politics and was not at all the benign father figure he had been portrayed. The British Army thought of itself as the mightiest war machine in the world and was not going to tolerate or soon forget a bloody defeat at Bunker Hill. The Prohibition Acts had been passed, the fleet had been assembled, the honor was at stake. The Quakers of Pennsylvania may have thought they had a choice, but they had little choice.

Battle of Saratoga

As a matter of fact, the British had little choice left, once the battle of Saratoga was over. With France convinced to join us (mainly by Franklin), the hope of suppressing the revolt by lack of colonist gunpowder and money was lost, and British public opinion grew progressively more opposed to warring against fellow Englishmen. Lord North seems to have realized this when he sent the Earl of Northumberland to Philadelphia to explore reconciliation, but the momentum of war forced him out of office. And the bloody revolution continued for five more years before the defeat at Yorktown forced an end to it.

The Battle of Bunker Hill probably had more effect than the questionable victory it supplied. The Americans had dragged the cannon from Ticonderoga up the mountain and they were placed on Boston's Dorchester Heights. The British saw them and rushed to get their fleet out of Boston, away from those cannon. But the Americans had no gunpowder, and Washington must have noticed you could beat the British by keeping your own nerve, even if they outnumbered you. And it wasn't the first time he saw the Brits run, he saw the same thing when he was with General Braddock.

Another Toast to S. Weir Mitchell

{Pearls on the String}
S. Weir Mitchell

Proposed to the Annual Dinner of the Franklin Inn Club, 16 January 2009:

p>In the century after Benjamin Franklin, one of the most diversely creative Americans was S. Weir Mitchell. Like Franklin, he was an empirical scientist. But whereas Franklin went in the direction of homely philosophy, diplomacy, and urban institutions, Mitchell shot off into practical and theoretical medicine and was the first president of the American Neurological Association. He wrote several historical novels, some juvenile literature, and 440 pages of collected poems; as well as the penetrating case studies, essays, and books he contributed to medicine.

The year after Mitchell helped found The Franklin Inn Club, 1902, a painting of him was commissioned, by John Singer Sargent. The world’s leading social portraitist was 47; his subject was 74. Sargent fretted over the beard, and muttered, “I mustn’t make him look like a goat.” Mitchell’s thin, silvery beard nonetheless looks like an afterthought, brushed over his clothing. Mitchell’s left-hand rests awkwardly on a book standing vertically, index finger inserted, holding a place. His light blue eyes look watery and accusing as if from eyestrain combined with irritability at keeping still for this arrogant young Englishman. When the painter finished he exclaimed, “At least it is a Sargent.” To which the sitter replied, “Yes, and it is of S. Weir Mitchell.”

Mitchell’s own fame dated from experience as a surgeon in the Civil War and a book on gunshot wounds, a classic still used by the French in World War I. If he was active today, editorial writers would be quoting Mitchell on whether or not post-traumatic stress disorder should qualify a warrior for the Purple Heart. He also generated monographs on rattlesnake poison, and on relations among nurses, physicians, and patients. Most famously, his “Rest Cure” for depressed patients was adopted in Europe, and some of its features remain in practice today in Japan and China.

We may see Weir Mitchell, then, as one of the great medical figures between the first surgical anesthesia and the eminence of Sigmund Freud. But where exactly fit him? Critics of the Rest Cure might say that he came to embody the title of a short story he wrote during the Civil War 'Autobiography of a Quack. It is easy to concede that he may have been a strange duck; but I should also insist that he was a pioneer in experimental physiology, studying carefully how things happen in the human body and mind.

That said, I wonder about the title of his classic book on the treatment of hysteria and neurasthenia, which went through eight editions before his death in 1914. Its title is Fat and Blood. Something seems wrong there. He believed that neuralgic conditions of all kinds were treatable by managing ratios between blood and fat. His theory figured centrally in the Rest Cure, which required four to eight weeks of seclusion, away from family and intellectual work, in the care of a nurse who bathed, dressed, and massaged the patient, while a doctor occasionally prescribed electricity and dietetics, and studied weight gain, which would be evidence of improvement. (This, after all, was the age of Lillian Russell, no slender beauty; and of William Howard Taft, who at peak weighed 335 pounds.) We may be allowed skepticism regarding features of Mitchell’s treatment: about seclusion, because we are ultra-sociable; about rest and no-use-of-hands, because our age is hyperactive; about massage, which we believe yields only a transient “feel-good” effect; about electricity, which we think useful only in careful shock doses; and about exotic pharmaceuticals such as the glycerin that Mitchell valued, which was specially extracted from bull’s testicles.

If we read the short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper, we may get an even darker view of the Rest Cure. This utopian feminist and prolific writer suffered postpartum depression after her first daughter was born, and for it, she undertook Mitchell’s treatment. In her story, a secluded woman obsesses with the sickly color and creepy patterns of the wallpaper and imagines them hiding a woman who wants to get out. She goes mad and rips the paper off the wall to let the tortured prisoner free. In reality, Gilman ignored Mitchell’s advice against resuming intellectual activity, and flung herself back into it for the rewards of “joy and growth and service.”

Perhaps Gilman’s reputation as a feminist contributes to Mitchell’s as a misogynist. But that charge I believe is wrong. He had many woman friends, and many female patients adored him '" all without scandal. He may have erred in treatment, but his very focus on conditions suffered by educated women was novel in his time. Women were subject to hysteria (which in male doctor language appeared to mean restless, bitchy women), and neurasthenia (which implied more docile, pleasing women). Both kinds might endure headaches, fatigue, anxiety, loss of appetite and motivation, and even suicidal thoughts. [Nowadays, simply “depression.”] But then neurasthenia was taken as ordinary for women, meaning affluent urban women, and certainly not freed slave women. Men, of course, were also subject to such vapors, which they should treat with a stiff upper lip, or to ulcers and heart attacks, which Mitchell also wished to cure and prevent. These stress-produced conditions, as early as 1869, were traced to competitive capitalism. Americans were thought especially prone to neurasthenia, and when William James suffered it, he called it “Americanitis.”

Weir Mitchell’s advance was to approach the condition experimentally and pragmatically. At that time, mental illness was associated with the madhouse. Instead, he considered it as common and treatable. His chief distorting error, surely, was an excess of empiricism, in trying to base every distress and its cure in bodily function. He nonetheless appreciated psychodynamics, and many anecdotes attest to his high appreciation for women and his sensitivity to them. His net contribution was major: Mitchell domesticated mental illness, so to speak, and laid some of the bases for modern psychosomatic medicine.

For an attentive physician and engaging conversationalist, I wish we could still find Weir Mitchell, a short distance west of our Inn at 1524 Walnut Street. To his office at home came numerous patients, who were admitted by a male servant in a red vest and swallowtail coat. It was an easy walk for Weir, of course, to come here to Camac Street, for the kind of conversations with J. William White and others that he cherished: unpredictable, wide-ranging, based on frontiers of knowledge; open to controversy, and hospitable to disagreement, far beyond the norms of Philadelphia society.

Although we cannot host our founder in fact, let us thank him warmly for starting up the Franklin Inn, and together toast his spirit: to S. Weir Mitchell!

Theodore Friend


1. published: Ernest Earnest, S. Weir Mitchell, Novelist and Physician (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1950)

2. web/Wikipedia/Google/ Google Images:

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

S. Weir Mitchell


Rest Cure

John Singer Sargent

Elaine Showalter (selections from The Female Malady)

Trump and Fauci compared with King George and Franklin

{Pearls on the String}

Something important is illustrated by the contemporary conflict between our President and our Chief expert on the novel Coronavirus.

Unless you were asleep you know that there was a public squabble over whether we should follow the advice of our chief expert or our chief elected leader. The President, who was chosen to decide such things, stated his position and his chosen advisor on the subject said he disagreed. The lawyers recognize it should never come to this, that "Never ask a question you don't already know the answer to." The other side was wrong, too. They forgot they were arguing with someone who could instantly fire them, for no stated reason at all. As you notice, the King eventually lost his most important colony, while the upstart opponent had to change his profession from scientist to politician, sail three thousand ocean miles, and nearly lose his life.

This took place close enough to the Fourth of July to permit the history that lighting had once struck the King's own cathedral of St. Paul's, and the King had asked Ben Franklin to advise him about a lightning rod, since Franklin was the world's expert on the subject. The king wanted a brass ball, but Franklin protested that a spike was better. No such argument was worth the consequences, especially one with thousands of years of father-son experience. There's always a third party seeking to gain from such frivolity, especially in an immigrant nation with teachers of the son seeking importance, or opposite politicians seeking to gain from the embarrassment.

New blog TITLE Freemasonry, Franklin's Model?: Matthew J McGovern: Franklin Inn: Blog 4313: Topic 670:


The Franklin Inn recently heard a most interesting talk by one of its members, Matthew J. McGovern, about the Masons. The Inn nowadays doesn't have much to do with either Franklin or the Masons. But it helps to know that Benjamin Franklin was made Grand Master of English Americans around 1735, and that he had a lot to do with its later fight for achieving Independence against English Royals. Royals were naturally aristocrats, succeeding to world dominance of Freemasonry in England. This happened in 1390 or so, thus having a lot to do with Protestantism. Franklin seems to have had a lot to do with dominance. Especially American dominance of Philadelphia Lodge Number One as the Grand Mastery of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware--that is, the Quaker colonies. This happened while Franklin was Grand Master, so he must at least have consented to it.

Since Franklin was only 25 or 30 years old at the time, and the lodges are famous for their secrecy, one supposes that much of his advancement was a result of the favor of William Allen and Andrew Hamilton, who were among the richest and most influential men of the time. That is, to suspect Franklin was the gofer at first, but may have developed ideas of his own later on. It's also legitament to say that much is conjectural about the inner workings of a secret society, both true and wildly untrue. Speaking of secrecy, it seems worth mentioning that the official reason for the existence of Masonry is Charity. This amounts to a million dollars a day, or a billion dollars per year, including benign oversight of the finances of widows of members, and the invention of retirement homes. That's a little self-serving, but Orthopedic and Eye hospitals for children, or similar chaities are beyond challenge.

As for CRM, The Cloud, Google and Microsoft, things are moving so quickly and the election is so near that I have no comment. I find that Yale has produced an 80-volume book of Franklin's correspondence without mention of Masons, so you won't get much help from Ben Franklin, himself. I see that in 1775 Franklin was appointed (by whom?) Postmaster General for all of America. Does that mean something?

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Influencers (people still alive, and influencing it)

Blog 4366 :

Janice Gordon

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Bog 4348: Topic 4349:Topic 231:Volume 234: Volume 4349:

The Origin of States : Articles of Confederation: Land Aspirations of Virginia 2331 : Blog 2331 :

Why was Virginia so obsessed with Independence and states rights? Why was the first, largest and richest colony starting the French and Indian war? Why was Washington, married to the richest woman in Virginia, a rebel, for Heaven's sake? Indeed, what was Franklin all about?

{Pearls on the String}
French Indian War

Almost alone among the British colonies in America, Pennsylvania's western border was specified in the King's charter of akthe colony. It was "five degrees longitude west of the point where the eastern boundary crosses the Delaware" [River]; however, its actual location on the ground was not actually marked until 1784. It's a few miles west of the present city of Pittsburgh, located at the forks of the Ohio River, where the oand Monongahela Rivers join. However, until 1784 it was not a certainty that this complex was within Pennsylvania instead of Virginia. The origin of Ohio is at the only major water gap in the North-South mountains, and the tributary rivers are fairly large. The three merging rivers thus form a nearly continuous water route along the base of the mountain range, from the Great Lakes south to Pittsburgh, or from the Chesapeake Bay north to Pittsburgh, and then to the Mississippi, going past the best topsoil farming land in the world. The forks of Ohio were the great prize of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries, the place where young George Washington himself started the French and Indian War. To include these treasures, it seems vaguely possible that William Penn insisted on having the border of his state safely include the water gap at the beginning of Ohio. Perhaps not, of course, perhaps it was just a sense of tidiness on the part of the ministers of Charles II. The original document stated that the border was a hundred miles east of there, to match where Maryland ended. When the document was returned to Penn by the King's ministers, however, it had the new language.

{Pearls on the String}
Articles of Confederation

The existence of this north-south termination of Pennsylvania began to take on a new significance when other states made claims for their land grant to extend to the Pacific Ocean, and the extensions collided with each other. Virginia then developed its territory to include modern Kentucky and West Virginia. That resulted in Virginia's land aspirations veering northward, to include the Ohio Territory west of Pennsylvania's fixed boundary. By the legal standards of the day, Virginia had a fairly good claim to all of the Indian territories, not merely to the west of Pennsylvania, but extending at least to the Great Lakes, perhaps farther. Maryland, Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts had conflicting claims from an infinite extension of their western boundaries. As a consequence, it was impossible to achieve ratification of the Articles of Confederation for five years. The various states involved were fearful of the creation of a combined political entity might result in a court which would be enabled to rule against their individual aspirations. The stakes were high; the land mass involved would be several times as large as England.

The person who finally broke this deadlock might well have been Robert Morris, who was disturbed that this inter-state dissension was injuring his ability to borrow foreign funds for the Revolutionary War. The internal negotiations took place under wartime conditions, and are poorly researched. No doubt some person deserves credit for bringing this wrangle to a close. Virginia had the strongest claim, New York the weakest. New York gave up its claim first, Maryland was the last, and Virginia the most disappointed. Pennsylvania, unable to make a claim, took the position that the land belonged to everyone, and eventually was mollified by getting a small notch of land extending to the Great Lakes at Erie. It must be noticed in passing that final resolution of the land claims came at the Treaty of Paris ending the Revolution. Benjamin Franklin, soon to become President of Pennsylvania, was the negotiator of the treaty which reflected Pennsylvania's position that the land belonged to all of us, right?

{Pearls on the String}
Westsylvania Map

Even without these western land claims, Virginia was the largest and richest of the colonies, and rather easily adopted the attitude that Virginia would be the leader of the new United States. From their viewpoint, the preservation of states rights would enhance Virginia's leading the country. More or less immediately, the attitude of small states like Delaware hardened into resistance that this must not happen. Much otherwise inexplicable behavior also begins to make a sort of sense: the perverse behavior of the Lee family in the Continental Congress, the quarrels within George Washington's cabinet, the relocation of the capital and the dreams of the Potomac as the nation's main portal of transportation, the rise of Jefferson's political party, the obstructionist behavior of Patrick Henry, the Virginia domination of the Presidency for decades, and countless less famous episodes of history -- make more sense as residuals of Virginia's early land aspirations, than as defenses of slavery or philosophical convictions that states were somehow superior to nations. These suspicions are difficult to clarify and impossible to prove. The best way to see some substance to them is to imagine yourself in the Virginia House of Burgesses, politically connected and vigorous, able to imagine your descendants all inheriting a county or two of rich land as a remote consequence of a few glamorous deeds by their Cavalier ancestor.

Ben Franklin Notes: Blog 4277 : Poor Richard Almanac : Volume 234 : Blog 4227:


The Prosperous Franklins move from England to Boston: Blog 4227 : Frankin's Childhood in Boston: Franklin's Flight From Boston to Philadelphia: Franklin's Career as a Printer: Retirement As A Printer: Franklin's Short Career As A Prosperous Politician: Eighteen Years in London As A Tourist-Politician: Years as a Parisian Diplomat: Back To Philly as A Sage Politician: Funeral As A Rich Old Man

Protege of Andrew Hamilton: He never was a farmer, but he did a lot of things and a lot of travelling: Religion: Relationship to John Penn: Relationship to Women: Quest For Riches: Enemies--Thomas Penn, John Penn, Quakers, U. of Penn, King George III:Slavery: Germans:

Franklin was an apprentice to his brother James and had a falling out. He was looking for a job as a printer, far enough away so James couldn't come to get him, so he picked Philadelphia.


B. Franklin, a Chronology : Blog 3770: Blog 3771: New Style Birth Blog 3770:


January 17, 1706 (New Style)--Born, the fifteenth child of a Boston candle-maker, Josiah Franklin, and seventh child of his second wife, Abiah Folger Franklin. TWO died early.

Brief acquaintance with school. A rebellious pupil.

Finished second grade, 1715 ,--Ended his formal education.

Apprenticed to his brother James the printer, 1717---They didn't get along. James published New England Courant Franklin, took over when James got jailed for contempt. When James returned, Ben rebelled and escaped to Philadelphia.


Arrived in Philadelphia 1723 --More or less penniless. Soon built a reputation as a strong swimmer, and diligent workman.

Met Governor Keith, who promised (but later failed) to purchase printing equipment in England.

1741, invented Franklin Stove.


First trip to England. 1724 ,--fathered an illegitimate son, unknown mother.


Returned to Philadelphia ,(?) 1725. ,--found that Deborah Reed had married John Rogers, who disappeared after stealing a slave. Built a thriving printing company, with sixty or more partners, as a sort of franchise business. In his spare time, founded the Junto, the First Fire Company, the second fire insurance company, lived with Deborah Reed in a common law arrangement. Had previously had an affair with an unknown woman, resulting in the birth of illegitimate son William.

Another son, Franky, born, died at age four of smallpox (1736) after Franklin had refused to have him vaccinated. One daughter, Sally. Founded Library Company of Philadelphia.

Became a hero of King George's War . 1730 ,--but aroused the jealousies of Thomas Penn the Proprietor, by raising ten thousand armed troops with one newspaper ad.

Published Poor Richard's Almanack, currency of New Jersey, Philadelphia Zeitung, .

--Became a favorite of Andrew Hamilton after writing favorably about Peter Zenger case (1735).

Began serious studies of electricity.

Founded University of Pennsylvania--1749,--later had a falling-out about teaching "practical" subjects, and not a divinity school, essentially a town and gown dispute.

Founded Pennsylvania Hospital with Dr. Thomas Bond--1751

Co-signed General Braddock's purchase of wagons and horses because farmers distrusted British. When all were lost in the defeat (1755), he was almost bankrupted as British dithered about repaying him, but eventually did so.

1748, Retired from business at age 42, with eighteen years of pension. Learned to be a gentleman, entered legislative politics, founded the Pennsylvania Hospital, became chairman of Quaker party when the second generation of Penn Family became Episcopalians. Appointed representative of Pennsylvania and sent to England to demand that Pennsylvania become a crown colony in order to be defended against Indians and Catholics.

In 1754, appointed Delegate to Albany Conference.


Second trip to England. 1757 ,--discovered the Gulf Stream, and the nature of hurricanes while a passenger. Settled down as ambassador, bought Craven Street house (now a few feet from Piccadilly), and enjoyed enormous success with important politicians, scientists, and authors, like Voltaire, Priestley, King George, Frederick the Great, Mozart and Beethoven, Lavoisier, and many others. Perfected the theory of electricity after a trip to see the torpedo fish off the coast of France. Eventually spent eighteen years as a retired rich gentleman, in England. Actively involved in Whig politics in Parliament. Throughout, showed himself to be strongly pro-British, continuing to advocate principles of Albany Conference. Following an uproar about lightning rods on St. Paul 's Cathedral, actively antagonized King George iii, who probably urged Wedderburn the Solicitor to excoriate him while he stood in silence in the Cockpit at Whitehall. After a period of depression, Franklin escaped back to America, barely in time to avoid arrest.


Arrived in Philadelphia, and two days later was made a delegate to the Continental Congress, urging war with England.

July 4, 1776,--authored Declaration of Independence with Thos. Jefferson.

Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown, 1781. In 1783, appointed to negotiate peace with England along with John Jay, John Adams, and Henry Laurens.


Made Ambassador to France, 1783 --Charged with making France our ally in the revolution, and obtaining large grants of funds and gunpowder.

During his long stay in France, he affected the "Poor Richard" pose for French Society, and was spectacularly effective with the King and Prime Minister. Eventually, had the pleasure of negotiating the Treaty of Paris, ending the war and establishing the nation, while proudly wearing the same blue suit he wore at Wedderburn's earlier performance..


On return to America, 1785 ,--was greeted with universal acclaim, and eventually became the oldest Delegate to the Constitutional Convention, in 1789. The details of the debate were bitterly contested and secret, but it is known he suggested the tie-breaker of a bicameral legislature with two senators for each state, but multiple representatives by proportion to population. The issue was defined by John Dickinson, but the solution was Franklin's. The American Constitution has since outlived all other written Constitutions in history.

Died, April 17, 1790--Buried in Christ Church Cemetery, after a celebrated funeral parade. The President of Pennsylvania. Blog 3770: Death 3770:

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The Father of His Country

The convention received bills by the hundreds, but most of the Constitutional founders were members of its First Congress, so it was reasonable to appoint James Madison as chairman of the committee to pare it down to ten or amendments. In view of strong opinion there should be a Bill of Rights (Madison was known to be opposed), and in conformity with the strong opinion, The convention received bills by the hundreds. Most of the Constitutional founders were members of its First Congress, so it was inevitable to appoint James Madison as chairman of the committee to pare instructions down.

Opposition by the Virginians (by far the largest state), to all unnecessary forms of centralized governance, the committee vote was for ten Amendments. The unseen hand of Patrick Henry was heavily felt-- Congress should pass no law of any sort unless it was clearly necessary to defend the nation and tax it sufficiently to conduct a war. Everything else was to be handled by the state legislatures. The bill of Rights was a compromise between hundreds of shouts to that effect and a simple one-line prohibition. That is, it would have been a single sentence if Patrick Henry had his way; it would have contained hundreds of details in another. Virginia was the biggest state and had the loudest voice -- do you want a union, or don't you? In the background was John Dickinson, saying the same thing on behalf of the smaller states. Neither Dickinson nor Patrick Henry was on the floor, but theirs were the only two voices that counted. Washington and Hamilton got the bare essence of what they asked for, not a scrap more.

, Washington was a tenth-generation Virginian, an athlete, a strong Mason, and person of considerable presence, a man's man. He was the Father of his Country, he was rich and could have anything he wanted. He more or less started the French and Indian War. He had then defeated the mighty British empire copying the native tribes in guerilla warfare, then renouncing any and all personal reward for it. It must have then been supremely satisfying to have this acknowledged by the King of England, himself. But this is plainly what he wanted and he wanted it badly enough to renounce all praise for it, against the opposition of most of the Virginia grandees. He had suggested and supervised the first and best Constitution in the western world. He had been handed a blank slate for the duties and responsibilities as President, and neither Patrick Henry nor the Lees nor Thomas Jefferson dared deny him his right to it. He was indeed the Father of His Country, and he knew it. Not even the Virginia grandees had the courage to thwart his minimal demands. He was even a slaveholder who freed his own slaves, at least to the extent it was useful to have more credentials.

So to save face, they gave him his very minimal suggestions for a workable Constitution. And don't you know, it proved to be a better plan for being contested. Patrick Henry deserves more credit than he gets. And so does the Civil War. Any plan which can, almost by itself, defeat those silly amendments, and those preposterous theories of some foreign dictators, deserves its full measure of praise.

William Penn Conducts a Witchcraft Trial

{Salem Witch Trials}
Salem Witch Trials

When trials for witchcraft are mentioned, most people think of Salem, Massachusetts, where 19 people were hanged as witches and hundreds were imprisoned, in 1692. The Salem trials were apparently provoked by a minister from Barbados, and it is thought the uproar about witches in America was in part related to encountering the spiritualism of the Indian tribes. Whatever its origins, the issue has been in the background for a long time, and occasionally even surfaces today in accusations of "Satanic rituals."

There were trials for witchcraft in New York in 1664, in West Chester in 1672, and in Princess Ann county of Virginia. But the trial of central interest to Pennsylvania occurred in 1683, when Governor Penn presided over it, himself. Pennsylvania had adopted British laws, including one from James I concerning the crime of witchcraft, so Penn probably had little choice but to hold the trial. His fellow judges were his Council; there is little doubt the outcome reflects his opinion.

The accused were two Swedish women, Margaret Mattson and Yeshro Hendrickson, who pleaded not guilty. Numerous witnesses told vague stories, and Mattson's daughter expressed her conviction of her mother being a witch. Governor Penn finally charged the jury, which brought in a memorable verdict. The defendants were found guilty of "having the common fame of a witch" but not guilty in the manner and form.

There are times, and this was one of them, when it is not useful to be overly precise in your meaning.

Benjamin Franklin: Chronology

{Ben Franklin on the cover of Time magazine}
Ben Franklin on the cover of Time magazine

January 17, 1706 Born in Boston, the thirteenth child of a candle maker; only went through 2nd Grade, Apprenticed to his brother as a printer, ran away to Philadelphia age 17.
1723 Arrived in Philadelphia penniless, readily found work as a printer.

1725-26 First trip to England. Researched printing equipment, but probably lived a riotous life.

1726-1748 Returned to Philadelphia to found his own print shop and bookstore. Wrote and printed Poor Richard's Almanack organized local tradesmen into the Junto, formed partnerships with sixty printers throughout the colonies, obtained the print business of local governments, became postmaster. Able to retire at the age of 42 by selling his business for 18 annual payments, which offered him comfort and ease for considerably longer than his life expectancy.


1751 Helped found Pennsylvania Hospital. Entered the legislature.

1751-1757 Active in legislature, rising to leadership during the French and Indian War, Pontiac's Rebellion and the uprising of the Paxtang Boys.

1754Took a noteworthy carriage trip to the Albany Conference, accompanied by fellow delegates Proprietor Penn and Isaac Norris at which he proposed unification of the thirteen colonies to fight against the French. Composed the first political cartoon "Join or Die" for that purpose. Notes for the trip on the blank pages of "Poor Richard's Almanac", now at Rosenbach Museum. The other delegates rejected the plan.

1757-1762 Second time in England. Acted as representative of both Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. After his electoral defeat, he returned to England for a total of eighteen years, suggesting hidden British sympathies may have been present.

1764-1775 Third British visit. Although unsuccessful in his lobbying, his fame as a scientist made him welcome among the famous members of the Enlightenment, like Hume, Adam Smith, Mozart. Meanwhile, the colonies became considerably more rebellious than he was. His blunder with the publication of some letters gave the British Ministry an opportunity to humiliate and disgrace him in public, probably as a warning to the mutinous New England leaders. It irreconcilably alienated Franklin, who sulked, the en packed up and joined the Continental Congress the day he arrived back home. The Masonic connection (Franklin was the Philadelphia Grand Master) is just now coming to light.


Brief but fateful return to America. Battle of Lexington and Concord Aril 19, 1775. Franklin returned to Pennsylvania Assembly on May 6,1775 after a 6-week voyage from England. His unpopular agitation for replacing the Penn Proprietors with direct Royal government had once led to his electoral defeat and the seeming end of his elective career. The defeated but determined Quaker party sent him to England to lobby against the Penn family and for the rule of Pennsylvania by the King. The Masonic connection under all this is their secret.

March, 1775-October, 1776 Decisions were made in London to put down the colonists by as much force as necessary. Meanwhile, Franklin persuaded the Continental Congress they must declare independence from England if they expected help from the French.

July 4, 1776, Independence is declared within days after the arrival of a massive British fleet in New York harbor. Franklin dispatched to France to secure the assistance he was confident he could get.

1777-1785 France. Franklin served admirably as American ambassador, his wit and charm persuading the French to overextend themselves with ships, supplies, and money, and very likely contributing to the French Revolution by popularizing the American one.

1785-1790 Returning as a national hero for his final five years of life, Franklin loaned his personal influence to the constitutional convention, became President of Pennsylvania, worked for the abolition of slavery.

April 17, 1790 Died, probably of complications associated with kidney stones.

New blog 4320 TITLE Franklin as Postmaster General: Blog 4320:


Blog 4320

Benjamin Franklin was appointed Deputy Postmaster General by the the King or his representative in xxxxx, while he was still an active printer and needed the money. He kept the title after retirement for unknown reasons, possibly his involvement in the designation of Postal roads, possibly for the honor of the thing, possibly relating to his sale of the printing business. He had cleaned up the mess of politics revolving around corruption in roads designation, and was juatly famous for it.

In the immediate uproar after his return to America from the St. Pauls Cathedral episode, Franklin rejoined the committee considerating, among other matters, the appointment of a Postmaster General. The committee unanimously endorsed the role and the appointment of Franklin to fill it. Franklin accepted, and the Post Office started its move toward independence, since the Continental Congress enjoyed the symbolism. It was made semi-independent in the Constitution, as the reader will recall that Franklin was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention thirteen years later. (The post office became a cabinet position during the Franklin Roosevelt tenure, and assumed regulatory independence later. The Trump administration wanted to shrink the indebted agency and return it to ordinary Executive branch control, so politics goes onward. It's hard for the public to know whether ballot box delivery is the real issue or the pretext.)

Pembertons: Ralph: Israel: King of the Quakers: John Clifford Pemberton

Many Quakers suffered imprisonment or exile for their pacifism, but one Pemberton is the highest-ranking wartime general buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery. He was a Confederate.:

Israel Pemberton, Ben Franklin satire l

Ralph Pemberton was an English Quaker well before 1650; he may have been a Quaker before William Penn was one. As an old man, he accompanied his son Phineas to Pennsylvania in 1682. They established a farm on the banks of Delaware in Bucks County called Grove Place, and Phineas soon became one of the chief men in the colony. In the next generation, Israel Pemberton became one of the best educated, richest merchants in the colony. But it was Israel's son also called Israel, who earned the title of King of the Quakers. He was one of the founding Managers of the Pennsylvania Hospital along with Benjamin Franklin and one of his brothers, James Pemberton, and was a generous philanthropist and leader of a number of other civic organizations. Just exactly what provoked his famous political disputes with Franklin is not clear, but he was a leading friend of the Indians, whom Franklin never much liked. Israel Pemberton strongly and effectively argued William Penn's policy of friendship with the Indians, particularly insisting that sales of land to colonists should be prevented until there was a clear agreement with the Indians about the ownership. Unfortunately, pressures built up as Europeans immigrated faster than this policy could accommodate smoothly, and Franklin mostly sided with the impatient immigrants -- and squatters. This disagreement came to a head in 1756 when Pemberton negotiated a treaty of peace with the Indians at a conference at Easton. Although this treaty seemed to settle matters, it came against a background of the descendants of William Penn abandoning Quakerism. They, however, remained the proprietary owners of the Province with a more narrow focus on speeding up land sales to maximize their investment. Much of the internal dynamics of these quarrels before the Revolutionary War remain unclear and possibly somewhat misrepresented.

Shenandoah Valley

When the Revolution came, Pemberton viewed it with disfavor, mostly for pacifist rather than purely Tory reasons. Feelings ran high since the Pembertons were influential citizens with the potential to dissuade wavering neighbors, which made it difficult to tolerate them as invisible bystanders. However that may be, the three Pemberton brothers and twenty other wealthy and influential Quakers were arrested and, without hearing or trial, thrown in the back of an oxcart and sent into exile in Virginia for eight months. Their journey was a curious one, along a trail up the Schuylkill to the ford at Pottstown, and then down the Shenandoah Valley, an area in which they were well known and highly respected, greeted with great sympathy as they traveled. Isaac's brother John, who had spent several years as a missionary, died during this exile.

John Clifford Pemberton

In some ways, the most curiously notable Pemberton was John Clifford Pemberton, who applied to West Point on his own initiative and was appointed by Andrew Jackson who had been a friend of his father. In itself, it is curious that so combative a person and so vigorous an enemy of the Indians -- as Jackson certainly was -- would have Quaker friendships. But he did not misjudge John Clifford, who became a diligent professional warrior for his country in a number of military incidents with the Indians, the Mexicans, and the Canadians, rising to the rank of captain in the regular Army at the opening of the Civil War. In spite of personal efforts by General Winfield Scott to dissuade him, he resigned his commission and volunteered in the Confederate army. He was quickly promoted to major, then a brigadier general and eventually to Lieutenant General. As such, he was the commanding Confederate officer at the fifty-day siege of Vicksburg where he was finally forced to surrender to Grant's army. In a prisoner exchange, he was returned to the Confederate side, which they had no openings for Lieutenant Generals. He resigned and re-enlisted as a common soldier, but was quickly promoted to the rank of Colonel, in charge of the artillery at the final siege of Richmond. After the war, he became a farmer in Warrenton, Virginia, but was visiting at the family home in Penllyn when he died in 1881. John Clifford Pemberton, the highest-ranking general on the grounds, lies buried in Laurel Hill cemetery right next to Israel Pemberton. In some sort of triumph of the South, he here out-ranks George Gordon Meade, the hero of Gettysburg. Just how his pacifist family reconciled itself to his heroism can only be imagined.

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Philadelphia Gardens

{Ernesta Drinker Ballard}
Ernesta Drinker Ballard

There are many show gardens, mainly on former large estates, scattered around the United States, and the ones on Southern plantations are quite famous.

However, the fact of gardening is that the climate has a lot to do with success. The really premier gardens of America are found in an East Coast strip from northern Virginia to southern Connecticut, with Philadelphia in the center of things. There is also a good-gardening area from Oregon to British Columbia, with a particularly notable garden in Vancouver, named after a sort of Philadelphian named Inazo Nitobe whose story is related in another blog. To have a really notable variation of exotic display plants, you need a lot of rain, a long cool spring, and a tradition of cultural association with the British Isles. Alkaline soils, generated by limestone, will produce a fine lilac display. Denmark would be a good place to go see that, but most of the show gardens in America are based on acid soils, with dogwood and azalea the predominant background coloration in May and June. A visitor from Michigan was once heard to ask what all the pink bushes were around Philadelphia, so it's likely the soil is not acid in Michigan. On the other hand, Korea is where wild azaleas originally came from, making the acid-soil hills crimson in the spring there. It should be noted in passing that Japan, Korea, and the Delaware Bay are on the same 40-degree latitude, but Japan escaped the loss of species caused by glaciers of the ice age.

Many of the Philadelphia suburbs have thousands of azalea bushes in each town, and hundreds if not thousands of pink and white dogwood, or purple Empress Trees, or magnolias. When you have a lot of those as background to start with, you are ready to begin planting a show garden. For that, we can largely thank John Bartram the botanist, one of the earliest Philadelphia settlers. The grounds of Friends Hospital are particularly notable for azalea display, and the Pennsylvania Hospital is pretty good, too. Although they are closer to Wilmington, the two most famous show gardens in the Philadelphia area are on DuPont properties, Winterthur, and

{Longwood Gardens}
Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens, They feed you pretty well in the associated restaurants there, and the bookstores and gift shops are truly outstanding. But what in many ways is the best show garden in Philadelphia is Chanticleer, the former estate of a family that founded what is now Merck Pharmaceuticals, located in the suburb of Wayne, across the street from where Tracy Lord, the heroine of The Philadelphia Story, lived on two square miles of the Main Line.

{Philadelphia Flower Show}
Philadelphia Flower Show

It's not clear why Chanticleer is such a well-kept secret, but it's sure worth the trip to see it at almost any season, May preferred. Interest in gardening is not limited to just a few big estates, it's a Philadelphia sport. Therefore it's not surprising to learn that the largest flower show in America is held in Philadelphia at Convention Hall in the Spring. If your feet aren't flat when you go in, they will surely be flat when you come out because a complete tour would be miles long, threading among the aisles. It's not easy to guess how much money each exhibitor spends on a display, but it's surely not a cheap hobby when you get to this level. If you notice the landscaping on public grounds in the city, it's always a fair guess that it was paid for by the profits generated by The Flower Show. Almost everybody has heard of the Burpee Seed Company, and Mr. Burpee summed up the prevailing attitude of Philadelphia gardeners: "If you want to be happy for a day -- get drunk. If you want to be happy for a week -- get married. But if you want to be happy for a lifetime -- get a garden."


Gardens of Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley William Klein Jr. ISBN-10: 1566393132 Amazon

Armonica, Momentarily Mesmerizing

{Ben Frnklin Glass Armonica}
Ben Franklin's Glass Armonica

Everyone knows Ben Franklin spent a lot of time holding a wine glass. Evidently, he noticed a musical note emerges if you run your finger around the open mouth of the drinking glass, and systematically studied how the tone can be varied by varying the level of liquid in the glass. The same variation in emitted tone relates to variations in the thickness of the glass. So, he set up a series of different sized glasses impaled on a horizontal broomstick, enough to cover three octaves, rotated the broomstick with a treadle like those used for spinning wheels -- and made music. The tone has a haunting penetration to it, which induced both Beethoven and Mozart to write special compositions for the harmonica, and the Eighteenth Century went wild with enthusiasm.

Glass Armonica

Unfortunately, a number of the young ladies who played the armonica went mad. We now recognize that since the finest crystal glass was used, with very high lead content, the mad ladies were suffering from lead poisoning after repeatedly wetting their fingers on their tongues. As a matter of fact, port wine at that time was stored in lead-lined casks, resulting in the same unfortunate consequences, which included stirring up attacks of gout. Franklin himself was a famous sufferer from gout, which was more likely related to the port wine than playing the harmonica, in his particular case.

Anyway, the reputation for inducing madness added to the spooky sort of sound the instrument made, attracting the attention of a montebank named Franz Anton Mesmer, who falsely claimed to be the father of hypnotism. Mesmer enhanced the society of his stage performances by hypnotizing subjects while an assistant played the harmonica, meanwhile relating all sorts of wild tales about animal magnetism. This was pretty sensational at the time until a young man in an audience suddenly died. It is now speculated that the victim probably had an epileptic seizure, but the news of this public fatal event pretty well finished Mesmer as an evangelist and the harmonica as a musical instrument.

Franklin Court

There's a replica of an armonica on display in the Franklin Court Museum around 3rd and Chestnut, which we are vigorously assured is not made with leaded crystal glass. The Park Rangers put on two daily performances by request, at noon, and 2:30 PM.

Benjamin Franklin: Reference Page


Benjamin Franklin: An American Life: By Walter Isaacson (Author)Amazon
Benjamin Franklin: Some Account of the Pennsylvania Hospital: By Benjamin Franklin (Author), I. Bernard Cohen (Introduction)Amazon
Benjamin Franklin: By Carl Van Doren (Author)Amazon
Benjamin Franklin: By Edmund S. Morgan (Author)Amazon
Benjamin Franklin's Numbers: An Unsung Mathematical Odyssey First Edition: By Paul C. Pasles (Author)Amazon
The Invention of Air: By Steven Johnson (Author)Amazon
A Medical History of Benjamin Franklin: By by Benjamin S. Abeshouse (Author)Amazon
A Study of History, Vol. 1: Abridgement of Volumes I-VI: By Arnold J. Toynbee (Author)Amazon
Young Benjamin Franklin: The Birth of Ingenuity: By Nick Bunker (Author)Amazon

General References: Muti-Topic Footnotes: Lifetime Biographies: Notes:

General Biographies.


Benjamin Franklin: An American Life Walter Isaacson ISBN-10: 0684807610Amazon
Benjamin Franklin: Some Account of the Pennsylvania Hospital 1754 Professor I. Bernard Cohen Library Number:54-11251Amazon
Benjamin Franklin Carl Van Doren ISBN-13: 978-0140152609Amazon
Benjamin Franklin Edmund S. Morgan ISBN-13: 978-0300095326Amazon
Benjamin Franklin Numbers: An Unsung Mathematical Odyssey Paul C. Pasles ISBN-13: 978-0691129563Amazon

Morris at the Constitutional Convention

{Constitutional Convention 1787}
Constitutional Convention 1787

TRUE, George Washington was the presiding officer of the Constitutional Convention. But Pennsylvania was the host delegation, so the role of presiding host should have fallen to Benjamin Franklin, the President of Pennsylvania. However, Franklin was getting elderly and turned the job over to Robert Morris, who among other things was rich enough to host some necessary parties. The rules of decorum at that time thus kept Washington and Morris out of the floor debates. The proceedings were, in any event, kept the secret, so occasional frowns or encouraging smiles are not recorded for history.

But Morris had been an active debater in the Assembly and other meetings, so he knew enough to line up a consensus in advance for the matters he thought were essential. Obviously, Morris was strongly in favor of giving the national government power to levy taxes for defense purposes, and Washington whose troops had suffered severely from the inability of the Continental Congress to pay them also regarded this taxing power as the central reason for changing the rules. By making it the central argument for holding the convention at all, Washington, Franklin, and Morris had made taxation power a foregone conclusion. And by giving them what they wanted from the outset, the rest of the convention was in a position to do almost anything else it wanted without open comment from the Titans. The sense of this trade-off was captured by Gouverneur Morris, the editor of the Constitution, in Article I, Section 8:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts, and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
This formulation had the effect of greatly empowering James Madison, the only participant who had studied the inside details intensively and cared about every comma. It also encourages the military to believe that federal taxation was mainly their entitlement, whereas those whose main goals are defined as "the general Welfare" tend to regard defense spending as an unnecessary deduction from their share.

{Constitutional Convention 1787}
Pawn Broker Sign

Most of the convention delegates had experience with state legislatures, and Franklin and Morris had spent decades struggling with the weaknesses of legislators. A wink or a quip in a tavern was as good as an hour's speech for reminding the delegates what they already knew about human nature. What was designed as a dual system of powers of taxation, with federal oversight of balanced state budgets combined with federal power to tax on its own in emergencies or unforeseen situations. Since the members of the first few congresses after 1789 were largely the same people as the members of the constitutional convention, many details of this balance were worked out over a few following years. State powers to tax and borrow were tightly constrained, only the federal government could tax and borrow without limit. Since government borrowing is merely the power to defer taxes until later, the borrower of last resort was the U.S. Congress, alone empowered to encumber the wealth of the whole nation in a federal pawn shop window called the funded National Debt. For almost two centuries, this pawn shop window seemed able to support any imaginable expense. Today, we monitor this as the ratio of national debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and we now have a clearer idea what level of that ratio flirts with hopeless inability to pay the federal government's debt. The experts say it's close to a 60% ratio, and unfortunately, almost every nation on earth now exceeds that limit. The system continues to lack an unchallenged definition of its limit, but the system is nevertheless still Morris's system, wrapped in a mountain of descriptive detail by Alexander Hamilton. If a nation borrows more than that and clearly will never repay it, that nation is to some degree a slave to its creditors, with war its only hope if creditors are unrelenting. Perhaps another way to refine the thought is to say that if the nation wishes to mortgage everything it owns down to the last shoe button, the creditors will only accept additional debt if it is proposed by someone with the power to pawn the last shoe button. To foreigners, the proof of who has what power is much more certain if written down. Morris's protege Alexander Hamilton went even further: "credit" is established when creditors can see that somebody is in the habit of getting the nation's bills paid, and "credit" is injured whenever anyone in charge, welches.

Addressing The Proprietors' Dilemma:Thomas Penn:Franklin:

William Penn

DURING the century which elapsed after Charles II gave away Pennsylvania to William Penn, several hundred thousand people moved in and changed the place. Transformation of the wilderness explains why the terms of the grant seemed logical at one time, but proved almost impossible to manage at the time of the Revolution. The Penns with thirty million acres was the largest landholders in America but, in fact, by 1776 only five million acres had been sold in a century. The land they held was simply too much for one family to handle without an army, and although the original settlers were pacifists, the later ones were combative.

Charles II had written in the Charter that the Penns could have the land if they could maintain order there, retaining the legal right for the King to recover the land if they didn't. This fall-back provision certainly reflects some doubt about the ability of pacifists to shoot the necessary number of Indians, Frenchmen, and Spaniards. On the other hand, the motive for a King delegating away his authority in the first place became clearer when the Penns experienced severe financial strain defending the Northeast corner of the state against the Connecticut invaders. It furthermore helps us understand why Benjamin Franklin received such a cold reception when he was sent to London by the colonists to request the crown to reassert civil authority over the state. That did not necessarily imply stripping the Penns of their land; by this time, it was clear that the Penn Proprietors were mainly interested in selling it to someone. The charter of the King's grant included the offer to make William Penn a King; and although the offer was declined, the Penn Proprietors retained some degree of legal power to govern the territory. Franklin for all his persuasive power was, unfortunately, the one man Thomas Penn didn't want to see, because of the threat he had posed by raising a militia in King George's War, and later his expansiveness at the Albany Conference. And Thomas was a good friend of the King. The King didn't want these problems and particularly didn't want the expense. Ambiguities were, of course, shared all around. William Penn had quite shrewdly seen it was more sensible to treat the Indians decently than to fight with them, and cheaper too; the lesson was not lost on the British crown. But the French Kings posed a much larger world-wide threat to the British colony, finding for their part, it was rather economical to supply munitions to the Indians on the frontier and stir them up emotionally. The French and Indian War was a small component of the Seven Years War, which proved to be a costly adventure for both sides. Its local cost certainly overwhelmed the ability of one family to underwrite local governance in a large wartime colony, and it jeopardized the finances of the British Monarch to carry the rest. The resulting need to tax the colonies for their defense sent things downhill, eventually to the Stamp Act, the Townshend duties, and the Tea Tax. Everyone made lots of mistakes as the whole structure underwent revision, just as pacifists are certain will happen in any war. But when a pacifist utopian colony was prospering while successfully dealing with the Indians, it's all sort of a big pity.

Thomas Penn

With much to lose, the Penn family did pretty well with the resources at hand. By the time of the Revolution, three generations of Penns had divided up ownership shares of the Proprietorship. When French and Spanish ships were marauding the Delaware River, Benjamin Franklin the local printer took it on himself to organize a militia which persists today as the Pennsylvania National Guard, the Twenty-eighth Division. Franklin was suddenly a local hero to everyone, except to one man, Thomas Penn. Thomas was the dominant figure in the Penn family for many years and worried deeply about Franklin, a man who could stir up ten thousand armed volunteers with a poster proclamation. Such a man could mean trouble, as indeed events later proved to be the case.

John Penn was the Governor of the state, residing in his mansion on the Schuylkill called Lansdowne, doing his best to ingratiate the locals. He struggled to be diplomatic when arguing for the decisions actually made by his Uncle Thomas in London. Thomas Penn, on the other hand, was an important friend of the British Ministry, and a notable person in aristocratic England. As the Revolutionary War approached, the problem transformed into how to hold on to 25 million unsold acres, while remaining unsure who was going to win the impending war.

John Penn

The strategy the Penns adopted was to get out of the business of running a local government, as Franklin had proposed but in a different way. John Penn the Governor became a private citizen, just a local real estate agent. He took an oath of allegiance to the Revolutionary government, which in the chaos of the time was equivalent to becoming an American citizen. Meanwhile, other members of the family remained in England, ready to revise the arrangement if the British won the war. It was all fairly transparent straddling of the issues, which was only even remotely likely to be effective because of the enormous store of Penn goodwill built up over a century. In 1789 revolutionary France, for example, such sentimentality would not have delayed the tumbrels to the guillotine for five minutes.

Meanwhile, an unexpected difficulty was created. By withdrawing from control of the local government, the Penn family also withdrew from the defense of state borders against neighboring colonies. Under the circumstances, the Penns were afraid to appeal to the King, while the new government of Pennsylvania found the Articles of Confederation were merely a wartime tribal compact. The Articles stabilized boundaries mainly for the purpose of conducting a united war, and did not seriously contemplate a continuing judicial role for disputes between colonies. When the Revolution was finally over, the Penn Proprietors were not left with much of a bargaining position. The new State of Pennsylvania offered, and they accepted, about fifteen cents an acre to surrender their claims. In Delaware, they got essentially nothing for those three counties. Only in New Jersey did the Proprietors' claims remain durable after the new nation was established. The Proprietorship of East Jersey survived into the late 20th century, and the Proprietorship of West Jersey continues to return a small profit even today. The New Jersey curiosity is treated in a separate essay.

Franklin in Paris

{Benjamin Franklin}
Benjamin Franklin

Adlai Stevenson once observed that every diplomat must make a solemn pledge -- to drink for his country. Ambassadors represent their country to chiefs of state, and everybody involved must participate in constant social masquerades to ease the strain of dealing with people whose interests may conflict with his own. In fact, when some ambassador indelicately blurts out the truth, he can expect to be declared "persona non grata", and replaced.

There are plenty of reasons to suppose that Franklin disliked the French. On several occasions, he had rallied public opinion, raised troops and even served in the Colonial forces during the French and Indian War. As a leader of the Pennsylvania Assembly, he had to cope with the activities of the French in western Pennsylvania, stirring up Indian massacres of Pennsylvania settlers. He very nearly lost his financial shirt helping General Braddock obtain horses and wagons, and surely had numerous acquaintances in the British Army slaughtered at Fort Duquesne. England was at war with France for years, and right up to 1774, Franklin spent most of his energies trying to bring the Colonies into tighter unity with the British throne. The purpose of such a union was primarily to ensure the protection of the Colonies against the French. The goal was always to ensure the protection of the Colonies against the French.

Having spent seventy years building up defenses against the French bogeymen, Franklin's about-face had been abrupt. Right up to the moment of confrontation with Wedderburn in the cockpit of Whitehall, Franklin had been struggling with the English to make America a full part of Great Britain, searching for an acceptable formula for taxing America for its own defense -- against the French and Spanish. After his public humiliation and a brief interval of contemplation, Franklin went home to join the Second Continental Congress, spending only a few months there to bring Revolution to a tipping point. Having succeeded largely because of his assurance that he could get the French to become allies, he promptly returned to Paris to make good on his assurances. Maybe he was a secret French-lover all that time, and maybe his expedition to Paris was just a ruse to let him enjoy a ten-year Parisian vacation. But the utter implausibility of that suspicion is exposed merely by voicing it. Furthermore, he had spent many years at the British Court on his quest to take Pennsylvania from the Penn family and give it back to the King, therein receiving a full education in the wiles and deceits of diplomatic life. He knew what to do, how to dress, how to talk, and what to disassemble as a negotiator. He had seen many diplomats fail in their missions and had a chance to observe what it took for others to succeed. He was forty years older than almost anyone he met, world famous before most of them were born.

So the late Harvey Sicherman, Philadelphia's local State Department alumnus, was almost surely right when he described Franklin as a spinner. He may have grown to like some particular Frenchmen and Frenchwomen, and he certainly enjoyed himself hugely. But to say he loved France is a stretch, while to say he hated most things which are uniquely French is not totally improbable. More likely, he was indifferent to all that, because he was there to do a job. His job description was to make himself charming, attractive, and persuasive to as many influential Frenchmen as he could find. And to wait for any diplomatic opportunities which George Washington might create on some distant battlefield.

When he first arrived in Paris, the military situation back home was bleak. The British had just defeated Washington on Long Island, the expedition against Canada had been a failure. For ten months, Franklin had to keep the American vision alive in Paris without evidence of military success at home. When Washington finally defeated the British at Trenton and Princeton, and particularly when Burgoyne was routed at Saratoga, Franklin pounced. Those victories were exaggerated suitably and celebrated wildly throughout all the social circles which Franklin had charmed for the previous year. Scientific and intellectual leaders, salon society, and even many members of the royal court were on his Rolodex, so to speak. They were useful levers of gossip and news to spread his reports in a suitable way. Paris was full of spinners, spies, and manipulators, but Franklin the old publisher knew how to dominate the news.

Even his famous love affairs could be viewed as having their purpose. Madam Brillon was forty years younger than Franklin, one of the most beautiful and musically talented women of the age. No doubt it was pleasure itself to charm this charmer, and no doubt his advanced age caused her husband to drop his guard. But Franklin knew very well what a stir it would make for a famous man his age to be linked in speculative gossip to a thirty-two-year-old celebrated beauty. That he could have made this conquest in spite of old age, gout, kidney stones and a very rudimentary knowledge of French, was deliciously worth talking about in naughty circles. And then one never knows. The widow Madam Helvetius was the only woman to receive his marriage proposal--and she turned him down. In a time of war, surrounded by spies and assassins, it would always be a good thing to have local friends who might warn him, hide him or help with an escape.

Franklin's association with
Madame Helvetius

Madame Helvetius was much the same in many ways, or at least John Adams thought so, but there are some major differences. In fact, if you discount the parts that offended Adams as largely dissembled, the Helvetius episode may have been the most truly significant relationship of Franklin's life. She was widowed, much closer to him in age, much more his equal in wit and attainment, and he actually proposed marriage to her. She refused him, for reasons we are not in a position to assess, but a marriage between an Austrian relative of Marie Antoinette to an elderly frontiersman might well have seemed too far a social stretch. Furthermore, there seems to be an important connection between the intellectual circle of revolutionaries who clustered with her and her former husband, and the impending French Revolution. The mother of LaRochfoucauld also ran a salon for the same group, attended by LaFayette and others who turned up in America during our revolution, and who associated with others whose names would in time sound like a recital of the leaders of the French Revolution. Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were both active with this group of rebels whose history goes back to the reign of Louis XIV. Jefferson was obviously influenced by them, Franklin's intellect was so much more powerful that it is possible influence ran the other way. The thought has occurred to others that Franklin may have been mainly responsible for two revolutions, not just one. Even two centuries later, feelings run so high that the truth of the matter is unclear. From the point of view of Franklin's diplomatic triumphs, the existence and power of this group of French conspirators both raise a question of just who was using whom. And whose goals were ultimately served.

In any event, Franklin was quick to turn the Battle of Saratoga into a decision by France to become an open ally of the colonists, and the Battle of Yorktown into the Treaty of Paris granting independence to America. During all the years in between, Franklin was wheedling money and munitions secretly from the French, somehow using Haym Salomon to get the money out of France and Holland, around the British navy, and into the hands of the beleaguered Americans. As always happens, the money suffered some shrinkage in transit, for which many fingers were pointed at many reputations, including Franklin's.

Lansdowne: John Penn: Franklin: Robert Morris:

Lansdowne Map

The Granville, or Lansdowne, family had so many members important in English history, that the Lansdowne name adorns countless schools, boroughs, colleges, museums and other monuments around the former British empire. It would require undue effort to sort out just why each memorial is named after just which member of the family. In the Philadelphia region, Lansdowne is the name of a small borough in Delaware County,


often annoyingly confused with Lansdale, a small borough in Montgomery County. However, it really seems more appropriate to focus reverence on the Lansdowne mansion, which from 1773 to 1795 was the home in now Fairmount Park of the last colonial Governor. That would have been John Penn, who was one of several Penns who still shared the Proprietorship until 1789, and who shared in the miserly payment which the Legislature of the new Commonwealth made as compensation for expropriating twenty-five million acres of their property. The French Revolution was going on at that time, so there were probably some patriots who would scoff that John Penn was lucky not to be guillotined.

The Penn family could see the Revolution coming, and like everyone else was uncertain who would win. Real decision-making for the Proprietorship rested with Thomas Penn in London, a close friend of the King and his ministers. The strategy employed in this difficult situation was to surrender the right to govern the colony conferred by its original charter and to become mere real estate owners with John their local representative pledging local allegiance. That might have worked for a while, until General Howe's troops captured Philadelphia. Soldiers were dispatched to Lansdowne to tell John Penn he was under detention, to reduce his potential utility to the occupying army.

Horticultural Hall

As matters eventually worked out, some of the Penn descendants remained fairly wealthy after the Revolution, especially those whose wives had inherited substantial assets from other sources. But some were severely impoverished. The stately Georgian mansion burned down in 1854, and the site was then occupied by the Horticultural Hall of the 1876 Centennial Exposition. Perhaps because of misplaced patriotic fervor, it is now difficult to find a picture of Lansdowne.

The elegance of the place, on 140 acres, is suggested by the fact that William Bingham, the richest man in America at the time, apparently acquired it from James Greenleaf the partner of Robert Morris, and the nephew by marriage of John Penn, who acquired it from Penn's estate but probably had to give it up in the financial disasters of Morris and his firm. Lansdowne was still a grand manner when it was briefly acquired by Joseph Bonaparte, the former King of Spain. In view of the fact that Bingham had provided President Jefferson with the gold to finance the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon Bonaparte, and earlier had practically forced the Congress to call off an impending war with France, there was likely a connection here.

And to some extent, the ill-treatment which John Penn received from the Pennsylvania legislature (roughly fifteen cents an acre) in the Divestment Act of 1779 can possibly be traced to the unrelenting hatred by Benjamin Franklin, Pennsylvania's icon. History does not tell us what made these two former friends fall out in 1754, sufficient to make Franklin willing to spend years in London trying to get the colony away from the Penns. The feeling was surely mutual. When John Penn was offered the patronship of the American Philosophical Society, he declined, just because Franklin was its president. In retrospect, that sounds unwise.

Franklin Declares Independence a Year Early

Joseph Priestly became a close friend of Benjamin Franklin almost as soon as they met. Priestly was an Anglican clergyman who broke loose and formed the Unitarian Church, and meanwhile, his scientific discoveries also entitle him to be called the Father of Chemistry. Franklin, of course, was the discoverer of electricity; it would be hard to be sure which of the two was more brilliant. In July, 1775, Franklin wrote the following letter to Priestly, which makes a trenchant case that the American colonies should, and would, break away from England. Since some legal authorities, following Lincoln's lead, maintain that Jefferson's manifesto "informs" the United States Constitution, it might be well to begin referring to this letter as an even clearer statement of the mindset of America's founding leaders.

General Thomas Gage

" Dear Friend (wrote Franklin),

"The Congress met at a time when all minds were so exasperated by the perfidy of General Gage, and his attack on the country people (i.e. Of Lexington and Concord), that propositions of attempting an accommodation were not much relished; and it has been with difficulty that we have carried another humble petition to the crown, to give Britain one more chance, one opportunity more of recovering the friendship of the colonies; which however I think she has not sense enough to embrace, and so I conclude she has lost them forever.

"She has begun to burn our seaport towns; secure, I suppose, that we shall never be able to return the outrage in kind. She may doubtless destroy them all; but if she wishes to recover our commerce, are these the probable means? She must certainly be distracted; for no tradesman out of Bedlam ever thought of increasing the number of his customers by knocking them on the head; or of enabling them to pay their debts by burning their houses.

"If she wishes to have us subjects and that we should submit to her as our compound sovereign, she is now giving us such miserable specimens of her government, that we shall ever detest and avoid it, as a complication of robbery, murder, famine, fire, and pestilence.

"You will have heard before this reaches you, of the treacherous conduct to the remaining people in Boston, in detaining their goods, after stipulating to let them go out with their effects; on pretence that merchants goods were not effects; -- the defeat of a great body of his troops by the country people at Lexington; some other small advantages gained in skirmishes with their troops; and the action at Bunker's-hill, in which they were twice repulsed, and the third time gained a dear victory. Enough has happened, one would think, to convince your ministers that the Americans will fight and that this is a harder nut to crack than they imagined.

"We have not yet applied to any foreign power for assistance; nor offered our commerce for their friendship. Perhaps we never may: Yet it is natural to think of it if we are pressed.

"We have now an army on our establishment which still holds yours besieged.

"My time was never more fully employed. In the morning at 6, I am at the committee of safety, appointed by the assembly to put the province in a state of defense; which committee holds till near 9, when I am at the Congress, and that sits till after 4 in the afternoon. Both these bodies proceed with the greatest unanimity, and their meetings are well attended. It will scarce be credited in Britain that men can be as diligent with us from zeal for the public good, as with you for thousands per annum. -- Such is the difference between uncorrupted new states and corrupted old ones.

"Great frugality and great industry now become fashionable here: Gentlemen who used to entertain with two or three courses, pride themselves now in treating with simple beef and pudding. By these means, and the stoppage of our consumptive trade with Britain, we shall be better able to pay our voluntary taxes for the support of our troops. Our savings in the article of trade amount to near five million sterling per annum.

"I shall communicate your letter to Mr. Winthrop, but the camp is at Cambridge, and he has as little leisure for philosophy as myself. * * * Believe me ever, with sincere esteem, my dear friend, Yours most affectionately."

[Philadelphia, 7th July, 1775.]


The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution,and The Birth of America, Steven Johnson ISBN: 978-1-59448-852-8 Amazon

Riverline: Camden and Amboy Revival


The RiverLine, a sort of diesel-powered overgrown trolley car line, has just re-opened on the Conrail tracks from Camden to Trenton. It runs every 30 minutes in both directions but unfortunately stops at 10 PM to let Conrail run freight trains at night. That's almost a perfect fit for the two operations, although it could leave baseball fans stranded at a night game at Campbell Park (now closed), or concertgoers at the Tweeter Center. The trains are running fairly full, partly because of their novelty, and partly because of the initial decision not to collect the $1.10 fare on Sunday, but mostly because the Riverline proved to be a better idea than anyone realized it would be. It's considerably cheaper for Philadelphia commuters to Wall Street to take the Riverline and transfer to New Jersey Transit at Trenton, for one thing. Even Amtrak encourages that, because high gasoline prices have filled up the Amtrak trains.

It's well worth a historical excursion on the RiverLine, which runs on the former right of way of the first railroad in New Jersey, chartered in 1830 by Robert L. Stevens. A genius of many talents, Stevens invented the iron rail which looks like an inverted "T," held in place by a system of plates and broad-headed spikes. The system is still in use today. Stevens also devised the use of wooden cross ties rather than granite ones, finding they resulted in a smoother ride. In 1834, he joined forces with another many-talented genius, Robert F. Stockton, who had earlier constructed a canal from New Brunswick to Trenton. Stevens then built a railroad beside the canal, subsequently extending it from Trenton to Camden. Stockton ran ferry boats from Perth Amboy to New York, and from Camden to Philadelphia. The full trip from New York to Philadelphia took nine hours, a remarkable improvement over the horse-drawn competition.

The partnership also got the Legislature to confer monopoly rights, so the arrangement was highly profitable as well as an engineering marvel. Sixty years later, the Sherman Act would declare such monopolies to be crimes, but in 1830 they were considered a clever way for Legislatures to stimulate risky investment. The Pennsylvania Railroad bought the partnership and its monopoly in 1871, but preferred to bridge the Delaware River at Trenton, so the towns and track along the Jersey side of the river soon dwindled away. The RiverLine now provides a pleasant one-hour excursion along the riverbank, down the main streets of some cute little towns, past some remarkable woods and wilderness up near Trenton, and past Camden's urban revival at the southern end.

Benjamin Franklin and The Facts of His Early Formative Years:

Ben Franklin's early life is full of gaps. Consequently, the man whose writings later filled eighty (80) volumes doesn't explain why he made some important decisions. As one of his other biographers once said, "Franklin doesn't tell us everything, but what he does tell us, is straight".

The implication was that he was devious, but I am more Freudian. The implication was that he was following the example of his brother James, instead of becoming a farmer, like most other men his age. And he hated James, so the question moves to -- Why did he hate James? The ultimate answer is lost but is probably childish, as I am ashamed to admit I went to Yale because that was the advice of a taxi-dancer; I went to Lawrenceville because the Mercersburg representative who was interviewing me said it was better than Mercersburg. I later protected the Mercersburg man by denying he said it, for childish reasons I don't even understand myself.

The point I am making, in case you missed it, was even a rich and famous old man sometimes prefers to be called devious, to being charged with the shameful fact of being childish. And even he has maybe forgotten which it really was.

And another comment, he had a funny relationship with women. Even for the time of the Enlightenment, he had a more peculiar conflict with the need to wear fur hats and called "Poor Richard", when he had worked very hard to be the richest man around. He retired at the age of 42 and was later given a portrait with 250 diamonds in its frame, by the King of France, no less.

We may never know the answer to questions like these, which may trace back to a childhood teaching or experience, or else have a more complicated explanation hidden in someone's closet as a letter. One may turn up, the other will not.

The Heirs of William Penn:John Penn:Thomas Penn:

William Penn

Freedom of religion includes the right to join some other religion than the one your father founded; William Penn's descendants had every right to become members of the Anglican church. It may even have been a wise move for them, in view of their need to maintain good relations with the British Monarch. But religious conversion cost the Penn family the automatic political allegiance of the Quakers dominating their colony. Not much has come down to us showing the Pennsylvania Quakers bitterly resenting their desertion, but it would be remarkable if at least some ardent Quakers did not feel that way. It certainly confuses history students, when they read that the Quakers of Pennsylvania were often rebellious about the rule of the Penn family.


Such resentments probably accelerated but do not completely explain the growing restlessness between the tenants and the landlords. The terms of the Charter gave the Penns ownership of the land from the Delaware River to five degrees west of the river -- providing they could maintain order there. King Charles was happy to be freed of the expense of policing this wilderness, and to be paid for it, to be freed of obligation to Admiral Penn who greatly assisted his return to the throne, and to have a place to be rid of a large number of English Dissenters. The Penns were, in effect, vassal kings of a subkingdom larger than England itself. However, they behaved in what would now be considered an entirely businesslike arrangement. They bought their land, fair and square, purchased it a second or even third time from the local Indians, and refused to permit settlement until the Indians were satisfied. They skillfully negotiated border disputes with their neighbors without resorting to armed force, while employing great skill in the English Court on behalf of the settlers on their land. They provided benign oversight of the influx of huge numbers of settlers from various regions and nations, wisely and shrewdly managing a host of petty problems with the demonstration that peace led to prosperity, and that reasonableness could cope with ignorance and violence. When revolution changed the government and all the rules, they coped with the difficulties as well as anyone in history had done, and better than most. In retrospect, most of the violent criticism they engendered at the time, seems pretty unfair.

John Penn

They wanted to sell off their land as fast as they could at a fair price. They did not seek power, and in fact surrendered the right to govern the colony to the purchasers of the first five million acres, in return for being allowed to become private citizens selling off the remaining twenty-five million. Ultimately in 1789, they were forced to accept the sacrifice price of fifteen cents an acre. Aside from a few serious mistakes at the Council of Albany by a rather young John Penn, they treated the settlers honorably and did not deserve the treatment or the epithets they received in return. The main accusation made against them was that they were only interested in selling their land. Their main defense was they were only interested in selling their land.

As time has passed, their reputation has repaired itself, and they bask in the universal gratitude which is directed to their grandfather and father, William Penn. Statues and nameplates abound. Nobody who attacked them at the time appears to have been really serious about it, except one. Except for Benjamin Franklin, who turned from being their close friend to being their bitter enemy. Franklin tried to destroy the Penns, traveled to England to do it, and after twenty years seemed just as bitter as ever. Something really bad happened between them in 1754, and neither the Penns nor Franklin has been open about what it was.

Ben Franklin and Brexit

Minister David Cameron

In June 2016, Great Britain voted by a million plurality, to withdraw from the European Union. The plebiscite was not binding on Parliament, but Prime Minister David Cameron promptly resigned, and there remains little discussion of anything but going ahead with "Brexit". It will take at least two years to accomplish the matter, and there remains great uncertainty about the terms of separation. The British stock market took a sharp dip. Stock markets always hate uncertainty, and from the start, there was little doubt Britain would experience some economic hardship, but still they went ahead with it.

Archbishop of Canterbury

By the greatest stroke of good luck, I happened to be in London for this event. It had been barely noted in the Americana press before I left, and indeed a discussion group hadn't even put it on the agenda after my return. But let me tell you, the British public was talking about nothing else. From the lowest barmaid in a pub to the Archbishop of Canterbury, there was only one topic of conversation and a very real understanding that Britain might well vote to leave the EU. Once the vote had been taken, of course, even the American public appreciated its significance and its resemblance to the headlong tumult in our own political parties. Donald Trump might well win the election, and logic or rhetoric had little to do with it. Other countries, Scotland in particular, were teetering in the same direction of demonstrating how far a democracy was from a republic when each "leader" had a million constituents. And how well the public appreciated the tendency of elected representatives to forget who elected them. Or else, in more rational moments, to appreciate how difficult it is for elected representatives to communicate with constituents.

Ben Franklin London Townhome

To go on with this insight for a moment, my Washington daughter tells me Democrat congressmen are required to spend thirty-six hours every week in a call center, soliciting campaign funds; where do they find time to legislate? But the central background reflection I happened to have about Brexit was how enduring the political split apparently was between the Whigs and the Tories. This thought came to me from one of the real reasons I was in London, to visit Ben Franklin's imposing rowhouse on Craven Street, fifty feet from the National Museum on Piccadilly. Franklin lived there for most of eighteen years, in a style quite different from the two-penny loaf of bread in Philadelphia. He was personal friends with five kings, Voltaire, Mozart, and Beethoven, as well as Priestly, Lavoisier, and Hume. Townsend may indeed have passed the Stamp Act, but he invited Franklin to spend the weekend at his hundred-room castle. The neighbors on Craven Street easily recognized the carriage of the Prime Minister when he came to call on Franklin on Craven Street. From the point of view of this social set, the uproar over the colonies was whether England should conquer them and send their raw materials to British factories (the Tory view), or should instead colonize them with Brits, give them the vote, and rule the world as a commonwealth (the Whig view). Naturally, Franklin supported the Whigs, but his loyalty to his good friend George III never wavered until 1775. And then, lightning struck St. Paul's Cathedral.

King George III

Quite logically, the King asked Franklin's advice. The King, however, insisted on a brass ball on the top of the church. Franklin resisted, saying a spire was much more effective. We don't have the exact words exchanged, but essentially the King said he was going to have his way, while Franklin in effect asked him who he thought he was talking to. In those days, far less direct wording was needed to give offense on such a central issue of the king having the last word whenever he wanted. It is intimated the King suggested to Wedderburn he should take care of the issue for him, and within a few weeks, Franklin was subjected to public humiliation in the cockpit at Whitehall, threatened with arrest, and fled to America to start the war. I had never heard this story, before.

The point leaves me with is not that Franklin lost his cool and should have known better than to express his opinion. Rather, it is the reflection that never before had a king been challenged on his divine opinion on any subject. Just think of the shock this must have caused him, to have to realize this was the first snowflake in a blizzard. With the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, the world was going to be full of experts, who could make a fool of any king by disagreeing with him in public. This particular king was able to have his way, no matter what, but the day was soon approaching when any science editor, any university professor, and ultimately every barmaid in a pub, could pontificate to the Pontiff.

Volunteerism Needs a Business Plan

{Alexis de Tocqueville}
Alexis de Tocqueville

The visiting Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville was struck most by the volunteerism he found everywhere in the young American nation; in his view, the first reaction of 19th Century Americans to a problem was to create a volunteer organization to fix it. Benjamin Franklin, who created dozens of such initiatives, was held up as its great exemplar. But de Tocqueville visited us at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and we are now well past that into the Information Revolution; volunteerism has noticeably declined. Not only have the great volunteer organizations like the Masons and the Red Cross suffered, but it is far more difficult to enlist the help of others to form a pick-up group to attack some issue or other. It is in that sense the general spirit of volunteerism has declined. The likely difficulty is not selfishness, but the helplessness of people to control their own time.

When volunteer groups to assemble, they are mostly composed of self-employed people like plumbers and dentists, free to be somewhere else during "normal business hours", which although shorter than they once were, seem extended by commuting time and by chores pushed aside during workplace confinement. To some extent longer commuting distances make it physically impossible to do personal chores in the vicinity of the workplace. But constrained personal time is also related to increased control behavior by management. A successful big business has to employ strategies to get employees with cell phones to stick strictly to business while the employer is paying for their time. Now that so many women are going out to work, the family unit needs to struggle to coordinate everyone's work time so there will be some remaining opportunity to conduct family life. When a working couple shares the home tasks and babysitting, the preempted time now extends to two working partners, and what is left is called "quality time". A probably temporary elaboration of this time competition is the need to chauffeur teenagers to their resume-enhancing activities. For the time being, you don't pick a college, the college picks you, and parents desperately labor to assist their children on a career path. Quite obviously, America needs to evolve better ways of trading work at home for more flexibility in the actual workplace, and we also need to build more first-rate colleges, but those issues are not the present topic. To summarize: It's awfully hard to assemble a group of volunteers simultaneously because employers have so successfully assembled their time. Failing to appreciate the tradeoffs inherent in commuting time is a secondary but still important factor, somehow related to the recent housing/schools mania.

Consequently, volunteer organizations increasingly tend to regard their chores as something you hire someone else to do if it proves impossible to dump them on someone who is retired or unemployed, or too timid to refuse. Even nominal volunteers are reluctant to step forward. This leads to recruitment lectures along the line that naturally you must sacrifice if you really truly believe in the goals of the dear old Whatsis Association, surely just a coercive speech pattern. That claptrap was never heard during the age of universal volunteers; volunteering was just one of those things everyone expected to do to get community activities accomplished. We're losing something important if we continue to endorse this attitude. Sometime during the first twenty-four hours in military service, for example, someone will surely advise the new recruit -- never volunteer.

For a penniless non-profit to adopt the solution of hiring staff when there is no revenue stream to pay them, is the first step toward the dissolution of the organization. Essentially, the non-volunteers are ordered to contribute money if they choose to be draft-evaders, and eventually, the officers and staff begin to look back at the organization members as cows to be milked. A class of people who are only making a living is substituted for those who understand and promote the goals, and it just goes downhill from there.

Instead, all volunteers really must each do some unpaid work, and the officers and directors must set an example of it. What an organization does next is crucial. Individual members, either anonymous or hoping to remain anonymous, must be approached with the suggestion they accept responsibility for a task. The wild-eyed response to this approach is quite familiar, like the lame excuse that there is no time. A counter response that I'm busier than you are, does not improve the conversation because it suggests the refuser is merely a selfish shirker. Instead, initial requests must take the following form: They should be for a simple, limited task without any obligations stretching to infinity. Almost everyone will be glad to bake a cake for a party, but almost no one will agree to be chairman of the cake-baking department unless the boundaries of that commitment are more reliably limited than they usually are.

In modern times, any major undefined volunteer responsibility is seen as potentially leading to an unthinkable conflict with gainful employment or else its ill-considered outgrowths like commuting. Since that's the basic problem, all-volunteer invitations must respect the true issue and devise workable ways to circumvent it. Role models certainly help if you have any.

C6....Reconsidering the Whole Nation 1783-1789

CONTENTS: this is the main body of text

Philadelpia Hospitals, Past and Future

It was sixty years before Philadelphia had a second hospital, so the way things were done at the Pennsylvania Hospital tended to set patterns. The central pattern was: charity for poor folks, during a period when prosperous people were treated in their homes. Since Franklin was the secretary of the Board of Managers, it is in his own handwriting that we see "Founded for the sick poor and, if there is room, for those who can pay." In 1900, two-thirds of all hospital beds in Philadelphia were still ward beds for the poor. In 1948 when I was a two-year unpaid intern there, a posted sign said the accident room charge was fifty cents, but in fact, it was only collected if the patient happened to have insurance. The student nurses ran the place unpaid, and the main exceptions were the two paid administrators, the Steward, and his secretary. Philadelphia was settled for religious freedom, enjoyed many new religions, and consequently had a long era of Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, two Jewish hospitals and the hospitals belonging to three Catholic Orders.

With the advent of the Civil War, PGH (Philadelphia General) grew to seven thousand beds, all of them free, when it was discovered more soldiers were dying from diseases than from wounds. Surgeons and obstetricians built specialty hospitals for their patients, mostly small ones, like Babies Hospital, Preston Retreat, Contagious Disease (mostly polio), Casualty, and a host of tuberculosis and psychiatry hospitals, Eye Hospitals, HEENT Hospitals, Children's Hosptial, and a number of small paying hospitals. The Civil War and the invention of anesthesia created a need for small hospitals for people who could pay, like Skin and Cancer.often in the shadow of larger charity hospitals for those who couldn't' pay. The first question any audience asks with bewilderment is about the cause of so many current hospital mergers. Part of the answer is we once had too many hospitals, and the rest of the answer was that the Flexner Report created a surplus of government money, intended to support research, and similarly stimulated by the creation of Blue Cross in the 1920s. Flexner favored research money, and the Universities grabbed it. The insurance mechanism was the best available means to save money when you were well, in order to spend it later when you were sick, but insurance muffed the chance. They chose one-year term insurance, mostly because short-term business was paying the bill. When money was no object, money was wasted.

The quickest example of honey attracting flies was observed shortly after 1965, when Philadelphia teaching hospitals (there were 104 of them at the time) went to Mayor Rizzo, suggesting PGH should be closed, ostensibly in order to facilitate the flow of federal funds to private hospitals. Thus they would help teaching hospitals absorb the abundant flow of government charity while eliminating the $11 annual cost of PGH to the City. That transformation from mostly charitable to largely private hospital care took from 1977 to 2010, to the private amusement of those who had been present at the meeting. At the end of this transformation, their positions had reversed; the teaching hospitals now bemoaned the shocking disappearance of the city's medical charity through PGH, casting such people back onto the teaching hospitals. Vannevar Bush probably had a hand in this, as the pretext was that only teaching hospitals did research. Meanwhile, they lobbied strenuously to retain monopoly control of federal research money, at the expense of charity beds within the teaching hospitals. In other words, we had a reasonably satisfactory system of charity care until charity patients demanded equal facilities from public money. Lyndon Johnson gloried in his achievements, but the fact is they opened the door to the unsupportable expense. The nursing profession was utterly flummoxed to be given degrees in return for the disappearance of their profession. If the combatants had stopped long enough to ask, there simply was not enough money to do what politics was demanding. The nursing school was always the heart of the hospital; the doctors were too busy tending to patients. And charts which they mostly falsified to save wasted time. Adding to the confusion was the effect of shifting nurse training costs, from the hospitals (diploma) to university responsibility (bachelorette degrees) and the adverse effect on nurse quality was noticeable. Doctors no longer married nurses, for example, they married lawyers and similar pre-professionals. The greatest effect, aside from higher cost, was to remove the loudest objectors from the scene, at just about the wrong time. The universities were clamoring to transform the nursing profession into administrators, in order to satisfy a seemingly insatiable demand stirred up by muddling the medical record-keeping system with the task of creating huge records which no one has time to read. The public regards medical matters as too obscure to understand and so does not appreciate how much cost has been created by switching everything non-essential around. It seemed obvious to them that non-essentials were poorly done. But not being medically trained, they weren't able to tell what was non-essential. Improving legibility and interphysician communication was nice, but it wasn't the main business of a hospital. Physicians learned to practice good medicine in tents and scarcely saw any difference.

Lawyers have learned something, too. They learned that antitrust violation is not signaled by per se violations or even vertical integration. It is signaled by mergers. Senator Specter may have kept Robert Bork from the Supreme Court. But the Law is slowly catching up with mergers, and Bork's books are still in print.

The future of hospitals does not lie in buildings. Doctors' practices are easily moved to retirement villages where the old folks are. Patients are there a long time, and equipment is easily moved there to be with them. It would save a lot of money because diseases are disappearing. Something like five diseases now represents something like 80% of the cost, but all that money spent on hospital buildings has already been spent, so it will take too long to get there peacefully. For all I know, five new diseases will replace five old ones, but the trend is downward. Costs keep going up. Doesn't that tell you something? What's going to happen to all that real estate after we cure cancer?


Tribal power draws on parental power, often poorly defined, and sometimes even arbitrary. It is the oldest form of aggregate spiritual power, however, and has accumulated a great deal more power over the centuries which is disputed because it was almost never negotiated. Most religions have different spiritual boundaries, having much to do with the American concept of "Freedom of Religion" since the American founding fathers had other priorities. The founders were emphasizing unity rather than diversity, and neither wished to confront differences nor to stir up controversies for others to quarrel about. Their intentional ambiguity seems justified by the subsequent decline of religious controversies without the same quarrels. However, this feature still retains some rough edges, which blur the distinction between spiritual and legal power to command obedience.


Mid-term Election, 2018

This article was written a week before the 2018 mid-term elections in America. There was general agreement that there was more polarization and more violent language than in any mid-term election that anyone could remember. It was pretty hard to know just who was responsible for this deplorable state of affairs, but my experience with political "consultants" in my practice had been they were a pretty deplorable bunch. So I learned in the direction of blaming them. CSpan, the reasonably non-partisan television station financed by the vendors and edited by Brian Lam, ran an extensive series of interviews and debates during the time freed up by Congress going off to campaign in recess. One such was an interview between George Carville, the democratic political consultant, and his wife Mary, the prominent Republican consultant. It taught me a lot about marriages, but on a political level, it surfaced two surprising insights.

GET OUT THE VOTE. Carville, the hard-boiled cynic, said that most elections had previously concentrated on swinging 1 or 2 moderates in the middle to switch sides. That resulted in moderating the tone for both parties, hoping to swing the hesitant moderate voters to their sides. For some reason, plausibly the unusually large campaign contributions by newcomers to politics, this election ignored the views of the other side and concentrated on "getting out the vote" among the faithful core voters. These people tended to vote without much ideology or at least bothering with the details of campaign issues. And they were less repelled by exaggerated claims. They wanted to win at any cost, concentrating attention much more on rhetoric than facts.

CYBERSECURITY. Experts in computer tampering have been surprised to find that most of the "tampering" has been primitive and that most of the resistance to fixing flaws has come from state political machines, anxious to protect the Constitutional provisions directing control of election mechanisms to the states rather than the federal. That is, the state machines, whether R or D, is more interested in keeping control than fixing the problems. The result has been that the election machines, ballot summaries, and summaries sent to the press. are much more antiquated than was expected, and the resistance to improvement has been largely American, not foreign. That redirects the effort to improve things and greatly hampers our effort to catch up with things. It seems entirely plausible that past elections have occasionally been rigged, and that efforts to straighten this mess out will have to wait for at least one more election cycle.

Converting Term Health Insurance Into Lifetime Health Insurance

We start with the lucky circumstance that everyone has belonged to Medicare for half a century, and before that, large populations had Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The cost of healthcare at various ages is pretty well known for large populations. Since lifetime life insurance is cheaper than term life insurance, it is safe to assume lifetime health design is cheaper than year-to-year health insurance. The present inflexibility is one of the relics of an insurance system based on employer gifts to employees who are no longer as sickly as they once were. To go further, it also seems pretty safe to convert from a more expensive system to a cheaper one, and expect profits, except for the quirks of the tax laws. At the least, marketing costs should be reduced, the provision would no longer be needed for gallbladder and cataract removals in people who have already had the surgery, and interest could be earned on unused premiums over long periods -- if we could unify around patient insurance rather than yearly renewals based on place of employment. The system would become vastly more efficient, and interstate transfers would be facilitated. The methods employed by ERISA would be a good model for a start, and its experience would be useful.

{top quote}
Accounting theory has it, every cost must be attached to a charge. So charges inflate to accommodate them. {bottom quote}
What Costs So Much?
Whole-life insurance has its differences. Whole-life experiences fewer drop-outs but makes an extra profit from investing the unused premium money for many more years. The additional investment income allows the premium to be lowered because it is not constantly threatened with non-renewal, and enhanced health care regularly creates greater longevity than the original estimate. So, whole-life insurance really can withstand careful investigation as a model. The bottom line is that healthcare would be less expensive if we shifted to the whole-life approach.

This book's present proposal is to do roughly the same thing, converting term health insurance into lifetime health insurance, year by year. After all, that would start from a 15-million subscriber base. That's just the basic revenue source, however. Health insurance has a number of jumbled issues during a long transition period. The purpose of stressing the life insurance model first is to overcome a natural suspicion that we intend to claim magical powers of predicting the future. That risk is assumed to be stipulated, and we will not bore you with constantly repeating it.

Let's start at the far end, with the final answer to the test. In the year 2000 dollars, the average American spends an average of $325,000 on health care in a lifetime. Women spend about 10% more than men. The main problem is to take a lump of money at the end and restore it to different young people as they get sick. When they remain well, the problem of balance transfers is fairly simple. To ensure the entire lives of 340 million Americans, the cost would be trillions of dollars. That's 110,500 trillion, in fact, give or take a few trillion. Or 110 of whatever is one thousand times bigger than a trillion. The original mind-boggling figures were developed by Michigan Blue Cross from its own data and confirmed by several federal agencies; the future projections are my own. By the end of this book, we will have suggested it should be possible -- to cut that figure in half, without changing the medical part of it very much.

It is legitimate to be skeptical since a ninety-year lifetime history involves a great many diseases we don't see any more. They afflicted many people who would have been readily cured with present medications except the drugs weren't invented. As if that weren't complex enough, it also involves predictions about the health costs of people who are still alive, destined to be treated with drugs nobody has seen, yet. To hammer this last point home, it is roughly estimated that fifty percent of drugs now in use, was not available only seven years ago. Since we must go back ninety years to get data about the childhood illnesses of our presently oldest citizens, the unreliability of also looking ninety years forward from 2015 must be clear. And to do that for a population constantly in the transition from very young to very old is daunting, indeed. But the facts of life, that people are born, go to school, get jobs, get sick, and then die -- never change. What's new, is it takes longer to run the course, and thus opens up gaps between steps. If we gather the gaps and meanwhile charge premiums on the longer time intervals, we produce a brand new source of revenue. While the intricacies sound complicated, in the end, we rely on going from a more expensive process to a cheaper one, assuming the transition costs can be supported.

The value of attempting it is considerable. We already have a technique which the statistical community agrees is reasonable, which tells us lifetime insurance would require something over $350,000 per person. Future trends can be estimated well enough, to show whether costs-after-inflation are going up or down, and roughly by how much. A penny in 1913 money is called a dollar today, just for illustration. Naturally, we then assume a dollar today will be called 100 dollars, a century from now. Regardless of numbers games with the value of a dollar, we have a tool to estimate the general magnitude of health costs, and by how much they will likely change. It's useful, even when its answers are surprising.

Theoretically, there is room for a change in expectations. Some people may decide living eighty years is long enough, and then decline to pay for more. However, I've tried it, and I don't feel eighty is enough. So, for my own benefit if for no better reason, I decided to see what could be done with the cost problem. One solution is to work longer than retiring at age 65. If future medical care changes direction drastically, its payment system might also be forced to change. But if health care doesn't change much, the payment system won't need to predict the future. That reasoning reflects the insurance industry's own history, where the marketing department eventually asserts dominance over the actuaries, by declaring it is more important to predict generally, than with precision.

The approach has its limits. Health insurance did historically underestimate how much the payment system could warp the medical one over long periods, primarily because it initially misapprehended who its customers were. Payment methodology is now relentless in persuading its true customers, who are businessmen in the Human Relations departments of large corporations. They don't like to hear it phrased that way, but we now have a four-party system, not just a third party insurance, and its fourth-party directors, big employers. As corporate taxes rose, the system invented by Henry Kaiser in 1944 used corporate tax deductions to fund the third-party system with 60-cent dollars. In fairness to Mr. Kaiser, much of the system has migrated to take advantage of the tax deduction, and the tax rates themselves are higher.

Looking back over an expedient system designed for short-term goals, a shocking realization now begins to dawn: most current "reform" thinking is about how to twist the medical system to fit some unrelated budget. Even more shocking is the business customers discovered how modified tax laws could let them buy health insurance with a discounted business dollar. When donated to employees, another 15 or 20 cents could be clipped off. Obviously, if health insurance is subsidized by business tax deductions, and Medicare is 50% subsidized directly by tax infusion, health reform can't claim to be a reform until finance is fixed. Essentially, the employer-based system amounts to this: by giving health insurance instead of salary, the employer skips paying for extraneous things which have been linked to the salary level. Union domination of state legislatures has assisted this goal. Just, for example, the Philadelphia wage tax is based on 4% of wages, the New Jersey income tax is based on wages, and so on. If you can find a way to pay the same, but claim the pay packet is smaller, you've got the idea.

Gradually we reach the point of rebellion; if it is legitimate for insurance executives to tell physicians how to practice medicine, it must, of course, be equally legitimate for physicians to re-design the payment system. So let's have a go at it.

Footnote: In the thirty years since I wrote The Hospital That Ate Chicago about medical costs, the newspapers report physician reimbursement has progressively diminished from 19%, to 7% of total "healthcare" costs, so perhaps now it's legitimate for some related professions to answer a few cost questions, too.

As patient readers will gradually see, considerable extra money is already in the financial system, leaving difficult problems of how to get it out and spread it around. This isn't snake oil or a mirage. The beneficiaries would scarcely see any difference in medical care if Health Savings Accounts fulfilled their promise. But frankly, the insurance providers would have to make some wrenching changes. Since millions make their living from sticking with the present, it is undoubtedly harder to design a new system which would please them. We're not going to mention it further in this book, but the easiest way to remove a big business from the equation would be to eliminate the corporate income tax and shift the tax to individual stockholders. It is not corporate revenue which finances the medical system, it is corporate tax deduction, largely because we have imposed a system of double taxation of corporate profits. Eliminate one of the taxes, and business might complain less about losing the tax deduction. Meanwhile, health insurers would have a new line of work offered to them. Corporate officers should, and often do, regard themselves as custodians of the capital in use, which in fact belongs to the shareholders.

What about the public? Well, medical care now costs 18% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 18% is pretty surely crowding out other things the public might prefer to buy. In a sense, the political beauty of the premium-investment proposal we are about to unfold lies in its primary aim of cutting net costs by only adding new revenue. Critics will say we pretend to lower costs by raising them. But essentially the money is spent to eliminate hidden subsidies and red tape which are off the books, and by other means which have been overlooked in the past. The accounting theory is that every cost must be attached to a charge, so charges have been inflated to accommodate that notion.

New blog 4364 2020-09-16 12:01:21 TITLE Philadelphia Faces South : Topic 700 :

CONTENTS: Philadelphia Faces South :

Blog 4364 : Topic 700 :

Republican Convention in the Wigwam (1860)

There were no Republican National Conventions in Philadelphia between 1856 and 1872, but during this period the town became solidly Republican, and federal political patronage had its biggest impact on the region's economy. Pennsylvania threw the nomination to Lincoln in 1860, and Lincoln paid us back.

{1860 Convention}
1860 Convention

The 1860 Convention was held on Wacker Street in Chicago, in a building called the Wigwam. Abraham Lincoln was the favorite son on Illinois, and so his cronies had considerable influence on the convention arrangements. They used this influence, for instance, to counterfeit several hundred tickets of admission to the galleries. The strong favorite to win the nomination was Mr. Seward of New York, and it is fair to say he confidently expected to win. The galleries roared with applause and shouts of approval of any mention of New York, or Seward. On balloting day, the Seward supporters went out into the streets with a joyous noisy parade, which greatly stirred their fervor. However, when they returned to the Wigwam, they found their seats taken by the Illinois supporters of Abraham Lincoln. From that point forward, all mentions of Lincoln, Illinois, or the Great City of Chicago were greeted with thunderous applause and acclamations by the audience.

On the first ballot, as expected, Seward was in the lead,173 votes to Lincoln's 102, followed by about fifty votes each for Simon Cameron (of Pennsylvania), Salmon Chase of Ohio, and Edward Bates of Missouri. Since everyone knows that Lincoln eventually won, we can now look forward to Lincoln's cabinet, which was to contain William Seward as Secretary of State, Bates as Attorney General, Chase as Secretary of the Treasury, and -- Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania as Secretary of War.

{Abraham Lincoln}
Abraham Lincoln

The Pennsylvania delegates from Bucks and Chester Counties were than the rest of the state, and privately regarded their favorite son Cameron, as a crook. Having dutifully voted for their favorite son on the first ballot, the Pennsylvania delegation was then free to make deals. As the roll call of the second ballot moved down the line, there was not much changing of votes. The people in the galleries were shouting away as usual, but the delegates were carefully marking their lists with stubby pencils. When the vote came to Pennsylvania, the insiders were electrified with the realization it was all over. Pennsylvania threw essentially all its votes to Lincoln. Ohio and Missouri immediately got the message and stumbled along to climb on the bandwagon. Lincoln was in.

Historians have frequently noted the unexpected upset had a disproportionate effect on Southern opinion -- after all, scarcely any Southern candidates made it even to the first ballot, and no Southern boss was anywhere near the smoke-filled rooms where the leadership settled things while the ordinary delegates were out at parties. Furthermore, it was an anti-slavery sentiment that made Pennsylvania switch.

But somewhat less noted is that the highly political new President soon got a hard-minded new Secretary of War. Cameron wanted, and got, lots of factories to make boots and uniforms, guns and gunpowder, Army depots, Naval Bases -- and so on, and so forth. The Pennsylvania Republican machine was in business for decades to come.

Stretching Out Your Retirement Savings

{Benjamin Franklin}
Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was able to retire from the printing business at the age of 42. His partners bought him out in eighteen yearly installments. In the Eighteenth century, it was unusual to live past the age of 60, so Ben felt pretty well fixed. Unfortunately for this planning, he lived to be 82, so when he did reach the age of 60 he was forced to look around for postmasterships and other ways to survive, for what proved to be 22 more years.

This is the other side of a coin; on one side is written, "Protect your family in case you die young". On the opposite side is written, "Be careful not to outlive your savings", relying on the old Quaker maxim that the best way to have enough--is to have a little too much. For centuries, life insurance was sold to people who mainly feared the first, commonest, possibility, but never completely addressed the opposite contingency, which was growing steadily commoner. Annuity insurance ordinarily is sold for a fixed number of years, so insurance commissioners ordinarily require what is most probable. Unfortunately, this response shifts the risk of guessing wrong onto the subscribers' shoulders. Since science has unexpectedly lengthened average life expectancy (by thirty years since 1900, or by five years in the last ten), experience rather like Ben Franklin's has become a commonplace, but rather poor business judgment. The business remains solvent only as long as the decision to drop the policy is later than the life expectancy.

Retirement Saving Debt

There may exist insurance policies to address this issue, but few companies offer it. We will briefly describe this sort of policy, in case it becomes more widely available, but it is primarily described here to illustrate the issues to consider. If you can get it for a reasonable price, or if you can get it at all, the outline of the policy would be to set a premium and promise to pay 6% for the rest of your life. Underneath the promise is the reality of paying 6% for eighteen years as a non-taxable return of principal. Following that, you don't need to get a postmastership, you are paid a taxable 6% until you die. Presumably, the insurance company has actuaries to help with the math, so the company makes money if you live less than your life expectancy, and loses money if you live longer. If life expectancy suddenly extends much longer (let's imagine a cure for cancer appears), the insurance company is going to go broke. That's why insurance commissioners are uncomfortable with the concept, even though it is obvious how desirable it might be. So that's why annuity insurance typically states a fixed number of guaranteed years and expects the subscriber to shoulder outlier risk.

Any insurance has an administrative cost, so everyone must consider some non-insurance solution to the whole problem. Therefore, we propose you re-examine the old saw about "never dip into principal". If you don't have enough money, you can't do very much except depending on the government, your family, or your fairy godmother to help you out, although it must be obvious that all Americans would be wise to consider retiring five or ten years later than they hoped. Very likely, the government is going to have a difficult time sustaining even the present tax exemption of retirement funds, medical insurance, and social security. Those are called entitlements, but if the government eventually can't afford them, it won't matter what you call them. If entitlements keep getting extended, we can expect our nation to resemble the ancient Chinese and Indian nations -- able to build palaces in their golden era, but eventually crumbling into a gigantic slum in centuries afterward. So please, if you are able to do it, try to keep gainfully employed for a few extra years. If you do it (and some people can't) you may be able to realize the American Dream.

{Inheritance Tax}
Inheritance Tax

The traditional American dream was to accumulate enough money to live off the income from it indefinitely, never touching principal, and then exposing the principal to destructive estate taxes after you finally die. Unless you are unusually wealthy, there isn't much left for the next generation after estate and inheritance taxes and expenses. It's a little inefficient to accumulate more than you actually need, but the government gravitates toward the least painful methods of collecting taxes. By confiscating this safety surplus, however, it declares that "Every ship (generation) must sail on its own bottom." And therefore it must acknowledge responsibility for what inheritances ordinarily pay for, like charity and good works. But there remains a quirk to this.

If Ben Franklin's partners had arranged to invest the money until he needed it, they could at least have afforded to finance two or three extra years. After inflation and expenses have eaten away at your retirement income, your principal may not generate enough income to last forever, but it is still big enough to pay for several years of retirement, which may in fact be longer than you are destined to live. Remember two things: 1) a principal sum, big enough to support you indefinitely, must be roughly eighteen times your yearly expenses. If it is only big enough to support you for fifteen years, it will seem too small until you realize you are probably actually going to live, say, five years. And 2) as far as leaving an inheritance to your children is concerned, there is a realistic probability that the government will consume most of the estate before it ever gets to the kids. These fundamental truths are presently obscured by the Federal Reserve artificially forcing interest rates to less than 1%. But if you can just hold out for a few years, it seems entirely likely that interest rates will return to 6% (meaning your principal will once again produce eighteen equal installments). But such a return of interest rates to normal levels will force the government to pay a comparable amount as interest on its bond debts (meaning it will get hungrier to escalate your estate taxes.) This isn't nearly as satisfactory a solution to the life expectancy quandary as retiring five years later than you once expected to, but you can't say we didn't warn you.

And as for what happened to Ben Franklin, you can read his will. He died a very rich man as a result of shrewd investments, later in his life. Ben left eight or nine houses, several thousand acres in several states, a gold-handled cane, and a portrait of the King of France surrounded by hundreds of diamonds. But it would not seem wise for the rest of us to count on accumulating that much new wealth, after attaining the age of sixty. The way things are going, once you attain your life expectancy, everyone should have some non-insurance plan for supporting himself for two or three extra years.

Ben's Little Legacy

{Benjamin Franklin and George Washington}
Benjamin Franklin and George Washington

ONE of the many compromises of the Constitutional Convention was to allow equal-sized blocs of people to choose their Representatives, but the State Legislatures of any size to appoint two Senators, in a bicameral Congress requiring affirmative votes from both bodies, for action. This was the first step in a separation of powers. After separation came apportionment: every state still got two Senators, but varying numbers of Representative districts would reflect population changes. The effect of this second step was to confer greater Senate power to small states because otherwise, a few states with large populations would probably always dominate the voting. (Shorthand for Constitutional scholars: favoring the House of Representatives means favoring big states.) When Franklin proposed a bargain to give the South time to solve its slavery problem, he needed to maintain balance. The small states were truculent about losing Senate power, so he had to give something else to the big states. The three big states of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia were very mindful that England had primarily targeted Boston, Philadelphia, and Yorktown for attack during the Revolution. Big states are paradoxically more anxious to unify with allies, to gain military strength, because enemy commanders seem to favor them as military objectives. Franklin's proposal was to allow the big states to control tax legislation, through the device of mandating that tax laws must originate in the House of Representatives. He may have known that eight states already had similar laws, but may not have realized such laws were regularly flouted. It's hard to be sure what Franklin knew because although he had once been Speaker of the Pennsylvania House, it was during a time it was a unicameral Legislature.

{top quote}
ARTICLE 1, Section 7. All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills. {bottom quote}
Washington's Gift to Franklin

Experienced politicians in the Convention snorted with disgust. There were a dozen ways to get around such a provision, and nowadays the traditional one is for the Senate to attach a tax amendment to some bill which had originated in the House. Any House bill will suffice, and thus we have Senate-originated Medicare Amendments attached to House-originated bills whose first page purports to be legislation about highway construction. Medicare, don't you see, is an amendment to Social Security, which itself began as tax legislation. Any politician of standing could see his way through that. And even in 1787, the delegates could immediately think of ways to circumvent this little trick. When Chairman Rutledge of South Carolina returned his report from the Committee on Detail, it included Franklin's gift to the big states. His fellow delegate from South Carolina Charles Pinckney immediately proposed a friendly motion to delete the rule. Edmund Randolph of Virginia however, felt the big states "should at least get what they had been promised", thereby upsetting others who felt Randolph was being indelicate. So George Washington stepped out of the shadows and supported Randolph, his long-term neighbor, and friend in the Virginia caucus. The matter was then referred to the Committee on Postponed Parts. After a decent interval, it was reported out of the second committee and adopted. After all, with Washington and Franklin as supporters, it would be embarrassing not to pass an inconsequential motion.

Those Troublesome Lees of Virginia

{Richard Henry Lee}
Richard Henry Lee

SOMETHING useful can, of course, be learned from a man's friends, but descriptions given by his enemies are usually briefer. The Lee family of Westmoreland County Virginia were bitter enemies of Robert Morris the Financier of the Revolution, and they surely said some unfair things about him. Morris paid as little attention to the Lees as possible, but for generations, the Lees had been neighbors of the Washingtons, and so could not be completely brushed aside. Furthermore, they were close to the center of Thomas Jefferson's anti-Federalist party. So insights into the Lee family probably illuminate the main disputes before, during, and after the Revolution. They even illuminate the mixed character of George Washington, who was sometimes unusual by Virginia standards. Nevertheless, the Lees had the same quality of heedless idealism to be found in Samuel Adams of Massachusetts and Patrick Henry of Virginia which goes beyond the ability of two-feet-on-the-ground revolutionaries like Robert Morris and Benjamin Franklin to understand, or even abide; this conflict runs throughout the history of the American founding. It seemed to baffle even those who switched positions, like James Madison going in a leftish direction, and Thomas Paine, going toward the right. So, although reckless idealism cannot be an inborn character, it must quickly acquire very deep roots.

{Arthur Lee}
Arthur Lee

Arthur Lee and his brothers William and Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, were passionate rebels of the Patrick Henry ("Give me liberty or give me death") sort, intermittently reviving lifelong attacks on Robert Morris. Highborn Tidewater aristocrats, they were ancestors of Virginia's revered General Robert E. Lee. Arthur had even attended Eton College and later studied medicine in England. The Lee brothers started attacking Robert Morris well before his famous abstention from the critical 1776 vote on independence. It's much too easy to shrug the Lees off as landed aristocrats who disdained self-made men, or as passionate Jacobins who hated self-made rich people, or maybe just narrow-minded nuts. Out of their often inaccurate attacks emerges an outline of what a lot of other people thought about Robert Morris. Many of these polar mind-sets outline the main divisions of political strife in America right up to the present. For present purposes, let's try to understand why Morris might risk his substantial fortune in underground smuggling before the war, and then dedicate his huge energies to winning the war -- while at the same time, not only refuse to agree to the Declaration of Independence (he did finally sign it in August 1776), but speak out in public opposition to independence. What explains Morris' apparent double-talk?


The explanation I choose to accept is that Robert Morris' real feelings were too sophisticated for this particular crisis, reaching clearer expression in his later activities promoting the Articles of Confederation and its revision the United States Constitution. A man given to terse one-liners, Morris said in December 1775 that he joined his fellow Americans in striving for "Constitutional Liberty" but could not join them in promoting independence.

Morris was never explicit about what would achieve Liberty without Independence; perhaps something like the independent Irish parliament which English Whigs then supported, or the Scottish local parliament which exists today, was in his mind. Both of them link a single King to a commonwealth. At the time, no one was interested in the political philosophy of a shipping merchant.

But today we are in a position to see no member nation of the British Commonwealth has a written constitution; written constitutions are a comparatively recent innovation and not necessarily an essential one. The American Constitution today continues to argue about original intent and living documents, so it is still possible to prefer the wisdom of a benign King to written constitutions. The British goal seems to be to infuse overarching principles of government so deeply into citizen minds that such principles overwhelm any written commandments, however vague all that may sound to outsiders who prefer to niggle over documents. Not in America, of course, because an immigrant nation like ours cannot grow cultural roots sufficiently deep in a few generations, and must have written rules. Great Britain's recent difficulties with immigrants from the Commonwealth may well reassert the limits of unwritten constitutions; constant questioning of the written American constitution by more recent immigrant groups may become a part of the British life, too.

The Articles of Confederation were written by the eminent lawyer John Dickinson, said to be the man closest to sharing Robert Morris' political philosophy. However, for five years the Articles were unratified, and Morris began to believe this lack of ratification was the reason the states were so resistant to taxation. So Dickinson gets credit for writing the Articles, but Morris must be seen as their father. Believing the lack of federal taxation was the main difficulty, and blaming the unratified Articles as the reason for it, our businessman man-of-action pushed them through. Unfortunately, with the Articles it didn't work because the taxation problem still remained, so Morris turned his immense energies toward replacing the Articles with something which would work. It does not twist American history a great deal to believe that Robert Morris, Jr. was one of the main driving forces behind both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of the United States. He was neither a lawyer nor a political scientist and therefore was quite indifferent to who got credit for the documents. As Ronald Reagan was to discover two centuries later, that's one of the best ways to get anything done.

Morris could read; he knew the Articles didn't endorse Federal taxation. But he was apparently convinced an unwritten constitution always contains the latitude to do what simply has to be done; anything else amounts to shooting yourself in the foot. After the Battle of Trenton, when Morris became President of the United States for three months in everything except name, he still blamed his troubles on the inability to levy taxes, which in turn was due to failure of the states to ratify those Articles. So sensible a man as John Dickinson would never assume overly strict interpretation was intended; obviously, a state must confiscate private property when otherwise it cannot survive. After five years of state inaction, Morris abruptly pushed the Articles through to ratification. But he was wrong, it didn't help. When he finally grasped that the explicit limitations on taxation were intentional, intended to override any implicit power in the Articles whatever, he promptly threw his weight behind John Jay, George Washington, and James Madison to support a new Constitutional Convention setting it right, especially the national government's ability to levy taxes. Since Washington had by then become his best friend, who actually lived next door in Morris' Market Street house for years, there is not much paper trail of this interaction between these old friends. Once he got his tax mandate at the Convention, however, Morris had hardly anything further to say. His frenetic later activity immediately after the Constitution was enacted can almost surely be attributed to lifelong habits of a negotiator, avoiding mention of anything which might distract from his main goal, in this case of ratifying the Congressional right to levy federal taxes, but not abandoning subordinate goals for a moment. What the Lees hated about Morris, therefore, cannot be easily explained, but certainly, one feature of it was his ability to hold his cards face-down. The Lees didn't hold their cards, they flourished them. In their eyes, no gentleman would do anything else.

The incidents of June 1776 place the Lees in a more favorable light if they are seen as urging instinctive decisions by popular mandate, essentially favoring an unwritten British Constitutional arrangement. The Lees believed the place of a gentleman was at the head of a troop, daring the rest to follow their lead. The British had blockaded Boston, passed the Prohibitory Acts, fought naval battles in the Delaware River in May of that year. A huge British fleet had landed in New York harbor, and the agitated colonists were about to declare war. At the very moment of crisis, that rich Philadelphia merchant had refused to vote for independence. The Virginia tobacco planters were dancing a war dance in a city known for its pacifist Quakers, while their neighbor George Washington was conducting an actual war with the British. It was then revealed that Robert Morris had been participating in a gunpowder smuggling operation known as the Secret Committee, and Morris had made considerable profits from it. While many of his friends defended Morris, it was pretty easy to go wild with indignation about trusting him to sit on a secret espionage committee, unwatched. The very least that could be done was to appoint Arthur Lee, already a member of the Continental Congress, to that Secret Committee to sound the alarm if anything looked funny. The ironic fact seems to be that Morris and the Lees were passionately committed to the same unwritten approach to government, primarily based on trust in personal character, otherwise defined as fidelity to an unwritten tribal code. If you are the right sort of person, you will be with us; if you are not with us, you must not be the right sort of person. Unfortunately, a nation of immigrants may not survive if it adopts too many such notions.

The Lees had expressed disruptive views of Morris in the past, but they were exactly the sort of clan likely to confront scoundrels whenever facts called for it, and sometimes even when they didn't. The underlying conflicts, fiercely advocating both a strong centralized government and a loose decentralized one but not defining either, continue to run through American politics until the present. Whether Morris ever acknowledged it or not, he ended up on the side of defined contracts, as opposed to a Code of Honor. But he spent his life as a man of his word because in business your word is your bond; if you are any good, you won't need to cheat. If our Tower of Compromises is to endure, its limits of such agreement must be few, but they must somehow be strictly understood.

Poor Richard's Wealth

{Benjamin Franklin}
Benjamin Franklin

I RISE to offer yet another toast to Benjamin Franklin. Like our two leading candidates for the Presidency of the United States, he leaves us uncertain whether he was a rich man pretending to be poor, or a poor man pretending to be rich. To clarify this mystery, I have mainly examined the circumstances of his retirement, and the contents of his last will and testament.

Although he reports that on arrival in Philadelphia at the age of seventeen, he spent his last pennies on a loaf of bread, he was able to retire from the printing business at the age of forty-two, planning to spend the rest of his life as a gentleman at ease. He was able to do so because he had assembled over fifty partners in the printing trade, scattered from Boston to Georgia; today, we would say he had sold franchises to his business. When he came to retire, he arranged to be paid off in eighteen installments, which ought to have lasted him to the age of sixty. That was well past the usual life expectancy at the time, but we can now see it would apparently have run out while he was still in London, acting as our ambassador to Parliament, leaving him without support for the last twenty-four years of his life. Apparently, this was the reason for his seeking postmasterships and acting in some overseas business capacity for Robert Morris, then one of the richest merchants in America.

Assuming he may have run out of money when he was sixty, we look to his final estate to see how he made out in his second career, whatever it was. His assets were in three general categories: land, bonds, and hard money. He bequeathed eleven houses, mostly in Philadelphia, to various relatives. He assigned the ownership in thousands of acres of land in Nova Scotia, Georgia, and Ohio. Just what a bond was in Eighteenth-century America is not exactly clear, but bonds of at least ten thousand pounds sterling were distributed, as well as ten thousand pounds of hard assets. And he forgave a large and undefined number of unpaid debts.

He gave George Washington his gold-handled cane, which had been given to him by Duchess Du Pont, for unknown reasons. His modesty was famous but can be questioned when he gave one of his portraits to be hung in the Council Room of the government of Pennsylvania. He gave his sister a portrait of a French King, with four hundred and eight diamonds set in its frame. He instructed her not to make the diamonds into jewelry because that would be ostentatious. And he instructed that his funeral be plain and simple, although it turned out to be one of the most elaborate parades and ceremonies of the age.

After a few months, Franklin reconsidered his will and wrote a famous codicil. Revoking the gifts to his grandchildren, he ordered that a thousand pounds be set aside for each of the cities of Boston and Philadelphia. His proposal was that this money is loaned to graduating apprentices in order to help them start their businesses, and after a hundred years he envisioned it would amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds; after two hundred years, it would be worth millions and could be used for public improvements. These funds were indeed established and the loaning did begin. Unfortunately after hardly fifty years had elapsed, so many apprentices had failed to repay their loans the experiment was discontinued. What had seemingly been lacking was sufficient will of the trustees to collect the loans with vigor.

Poor Richard may have been born poor at more than one time. But he certainly didn't stay poor, very long. A toast to Ben Franklin, on his birthday, in his club.

Franklin's Codicil to His Will: Strange Afterthoughts

Benjamin Franklin

"I would have my body buried with as little expense or ceremony as may be. I revoke all former wills by me made, declaring this only to be my last.

I wish to be buried by the side of my wife, if it may be, and that a marble stone, to be made by Chambers, six feet long, four feet wide, plain, with only a small molding around the upper edge, and this inscription:

Benjamin And Deborah Franklin 178-

to be placed over us both.

The king of France's picture, set with four hundred and eight diamonds, I give to my daughter, Sarah Bache, requesting , however, that she would not form any of those diamonds into ornaments either for herself or daughters, and thereby introduce or countenance the expensive, vain, and useless fashion of wearing jewels in this country; and those immediately connected with the picture may be preserved with the same.

My fine crab-tree walking stick, with a gold head curiously wrought in the form of the cap of liberty, I give to my friend, and the friend of mankind, General Washington. If it were a Sceptre, he has merited it and would become it. It was a present to me from that excellent woman, Madame de Forbach, the Dowager Duchess of Deux-Ponts, connected with some verses which should go with it. I give my gold watch to my son-in-law Richard Bache, and also the gold watch chain of the Thirteen United States, which I have not yet worn. My timepiece, that stands in my library, I give to my grandson, William Temple Franklin. I give him also my Chinese gong.

To my dear old friend, Mrs. Mary Hewson, I give one of my silver tankards marked for her use during her life, and after her decease, I give it to her daughter Eliza. I give to her son, William Hewson, who is my godson, my new quarto Bible, and also the botanic description of the plants in the Emperor's garden at Vienna, in folio, with colored cuts.

My picture, drawn by Martin, in 1767, I give to the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania if they shall be pleased to do me the honor of accepting it and placing it in their chamber."

Franklin Teaches Investing to Boston and Philadelphia

{Benjamin Franklin}
Benjamin Franklin

CODICIL: I, Benjamin Franklin, in the foregoing or annexed last will and testament named, having further considered the same, do think proper to make and publish the following codicil or addition thereto.

It has long been a fixed political opinion of mine, that in a democratical state there ought to be no offices of profit, for the reasons I had given in an article of my drawing in our constitution, it was my intention when I accepted the office of President, to devote the appointed salary to some public uses. Accordingly, I had already, before I made my will in July last, given large sums of it to colleges, schools, the building of churches, etc.; and in that will I bequeathed two thousand pounds more to the State for the purpose of making the Schuylkill navigable. But understanding since that such a work, and that the project is not likely to be undertaken for many years to come, and having entertained another idea, that I hope may be more extensively useful, I do hereby revoke and annul that bequest, and direct that the certificates I have for what remains due to me of that salary be sold, towards raising the sum of two thousand pounds sterling, to be disposed of as I am now about to order.

It has been an opinion, that he who receives an estate from his ancestors is under some kind of obligation to transmit the same to their posterity. This obligation does not lie on me, who never inherited a shilling from an ancestor or relation. I shall, however, if it is not diminished by some accident before my death, leave a considerable estate among my descendants and relations. The above observation is made as merely as some apology to my family for making bequests that do not appear to have any immediate relation to their advantage.

I was born in Boston, New England, and owe my first instructions in literature to the free grammar schools established there. I have, therefore, already considered these schools in my will. But I am also under obligations to the State of Massachusetts for having, unasked, appointed me formerly their agent in England, with a handsome salary, which continued some years; and although I accidentally lost in their service, by transmitting Governor Hutchinson's letters, much more than the amount of what they gave me, I do not think that ought in the least to diminish my gratitude.

I have considered that, among artisans, good apprentices are most likely to make good citizens, and, having myself been bred to a manual art, printing, in my native town, and afterward assisted to set up my business in Philadelphia by kind loans of money from two friends there, which was the foundation of my fortune, and all the utility in life that may be ascribed to me, I wish to be useful even after my death, if possible, in forming and advancing other young men, that may be serviceable to their country in both these towns. To this end, I devote two thousand pounds sterling, of which I give one thousand thereof to the inhabitants of the town of Boston, in Massachusetts, and the other thousand to the inhabitants of the city of Philadelphia, in trust, to and for the uses, intents, and purposes hereinafter mentioned and declared.

The said sum of one thousand pounds sterling, if accepted by the inhabitants of the town of Boston, shall be managed under the direction of the selectmen, united with the ministers of the oldest Episcopalians, Congregational, and Presbyterian churches in that town, who are to let out the sum upon interest, at five per cent, per annum, to such young married artificers, under the age of twenty-five years, as have served an apprenticeship in the said town, and faithfully fulfilled the duties required in their indentures, so as to obtain a good moral character from at least two respectable citizens, who are willing to become their sureties, in a bond with the applicants, for the repayment of the moneys so lent, with interest, according to the terms hereinafter prescribed; all which bonds are to be taken for Spanish milled dollars, or the value thereof in current gold coin; and the managers shall keep a bound book or books, wherein shall be entered the names of those who shall apply for and receive the benefits of this institution, and of their sureties, together with the sums lent, the dates, and other necessary and proper records respecting the business and concerns of this institution. And as these loans are intended to assist young married artificers in setting up their business, they are to be proportioned by the discretion of the managers, so as not to exceed sixty pounds sterling to one person, nor to be less than fifteen pounds; and if the number of appliers so entitled should be so large as that the sum will not suffice to afford to each as much as might otherwise not be improper, the proportion to each shall be diminished so as to afford to everyone some assistance. These aids may, therefore, be small at first, but, as the capital increases by the accumulated interest, they will be ampler. And in order to serve as many as possible in their turn, as well as to make the repayment of the principal borrowed easier, each borrower shall be obliged to pay, with the yearly interest, one-tenth part of the principal and interest, so paid in, shall be again let out to fresh borrowers.

And, as it is presumed that there will always be found in Boston virtuous and benevolent citizens, willing to bestow a part of their time in doing good to the rising generation, by superintending and managing this institution gratis, it is hoped that no part of the money will at any time be dead, or be diverted to other purposes, but be continually augmenting by the interest; in which case there may, in time, be more than the occasions in Boston shall require, and then some may be spared to the neighboring or other towns in the said State of Massachusetts, who may desire to have it; such towns engaging to pay punctually the interest and the portions of the principal, annually, to the inhabitants of the town of Boston.

If this plan is executed, and succeeds as projected without interruption for one hundred years, the sum will then be one hundred and thirty-one thousand pounds; of which I would have the managers of the donation to the town of Boston then lay out, at their discretion, one hundred thousand pounds in public works, which may be judged of most general utility to the inhabitants, such as fortifications, bridges, aqueducts, public buildings, baths, pavements, or whatever may make living in the town more convenient to its people, and render it more agreeable to strangers resorting thither for health or a temporary residence. The remaining thirty-one thousand pounds I would have continued to be let out on interest, in the manner above directed, for another hundred years, as I hope it will have been found that the institution has had a good effect on the conduct of youth, and been of service to many worthy characters and useful citizens. At the end of this second term, if no unfortunate accident has prevented the operation, the sum will be four million and sixty-one thousand pounds sterling, of which I leave one million sixty-one thousand pounds to the disposition of the inhabitants of the town of Boston, and three millions to the disposition of the government of the state, not presuming to carry my views farther.

All the directions herein given, respecting the disposition and management of the donation to the inhabitants of Boston, I would have observed respecting that to the inhabitants of Philadelphia, only, as Philadelphia is incorporated, I request the corporation of that city to undertake the management agreeably to the said directions; and I do hereby vest them with full and ample powers for that purpose. And, having considered that the covering a ground plot with buildings and pavements, which carry off most of the rain and prevent its soaking into the Earth and renewing and purifying the Springs, whence the water of wells must gradually grow worse, and in time be unfit for use, as I find has happened in all old cities, I recommend that at the end of the first hundred years, if not done before, the corporation of the city Employ a part of the hundred thousand pounds in bringing, by pipes, the water of Wissahickon Creek into the town, so as to supply the inhabitants, which I apprehend may be done without great difficulty, the level of the creek is much above that of the city, and may be made higher by a dam. I also recommend making the Schuylkill completely navigable. At the end of the second hundred years, I would have the disposition of the four million and sixty-one thousand pounds divided between the inhabitants of the city of Philadelphia and the government of Pennsylvania, in the same manner as herein directed with respect to that of the inhabitants of Boston and the government of Massachusetts.

It is my desire that this institution should take place and begin to operate within one year after my decease, for which purpose due notice should be publicly given previous to the expiration of that year, that those for whose benefit this establishment is intended may make their respective applications. And I hereby direct my executors, the survivors or survivor of them, within six months after my decease, to pay over the sum of two thousand pounds sterling to such persons as shall be duly appointed by the Selectmen of Boston and the corporation of Philadelphia, to receive and take charge of their respective sums, of one thousand pounds each, for the purposes aforesaid.

Considering the accidents to which all human affairs and projects are subject in such a length of time, I have, perhaps, too much flattered myself with a vain fancy that these dispositions, if carried into execution, will be continued without interruption and have the effects proposed. I hope, however, that if the inhabitants of the two cities should not think fit to undertake the execution, they will, at least, accept the offer of these donations as a mark of my good will, a token of my gratitude, and a testimony of my earnest desire to be useful to them after my departure.

I wish, indeed, that they may both undertake to endeavor the execution of the project, because I think that, though unforeseen difficulties may arise, expedients will be found to remove them, and the scheme be found practicable. If one of them accepts the money, with the conditions, and the other refuses, my will then is, that both Sums be given to the inhabitants of the city accepting the whole, to be applied to the same purposes, and under the same regulations directed for the separate parts; and, if both refuse, the money, of course, remains in the mass of my Estate, and is to be disposed of therewith according to my will made the Seventeenth day of July, 1788.


And lastly, it is my desire that this, my present codicil, be annexed to, and considered as part of, my last will and testament to all intents and purposes.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and Seal this twenty-third day of June, Anno Domini one thousand Seven hundred and eighty-nine.

B. Franklin.

Sad Aftermath

Extracted from a printed Report of the Committee of Legacies and Trusts, made in the Common Council of Philadelphia April 27th, 1837, by Mr. John Thomason, chairman of the Committee.

"From official returns, it appears, that up to the 1st of January, 1837, the fund has been borrowed by one hundred and ninety-three individuals, in sums mostly of $ 260 each. At that date, the fund was in the hands of one hundred and twelve beneficiaries, of whom nineteen have paid neither principal nor interest, although the accounts of some of them have been open for a period of thirty-four years. Ninety other persons stand indebted in sums from $ 21 to $ 292; and three, having borrowed within the year, were not, at the last-mentioned date, liable to any demand by the trustees. Of these one hundred and nine cases of non-compliance with the terms of the will, fifty-eight bonds may be subject to a plea of the statute of limitation, and the rest is still valid. In this condition of the fund, it becomes difficult to estimate its present value. Should all the debts be recovered, the amount of the fund would be $ 23,627.09; but, from the length of time elapsed since the date of many of those bonds, such a result is hopeless; and even this latter sum, large as it is, is below the amount it would have attained at this time had the intentions of the testator been fully carried out. The original bequest of $4,444.44, at compound interest for forty-five years, would be $ 39,833.29 ; and, although the immediate conversion of interest into principal, as the former becomes due, is not always practical, yet it is believed, that, with careful management, the fund would, at this time, have lacked but little of that amount. How far the fund falls short, may be partly judged from the actual receipts on account of this legacy for the last ten years. During that time the sum of $ 16,191.92 has been paid in. As this period included the term for lending out, and receiving back with interest, the whole fund, the receipts within that term may be taken as a safe approximation to its real value; to which must be added the sum to be obtained through the enforcing of payment, by legal process, from such securities as may be good at this late day. Had the fund been placed at simple interest, it would have amounted to the last-mentioned sum by this time.

"Had the requirements of the will been, in former years, fully complied with, the operation of the fund, at this day, would be sensibly felt by the mechanics of Philadelphia. Passing from one borrower to another, and increasing in a compound ratio, its effect would be to stimulate useful industry, which, without such capital, would have remained unproductive. It would have increased the number of those who do business on their own stock. It would be a standing lesson on the immutable connexion between capital and productive industry, thus constantly inciting to economy and prudence. It would have become the reward of every faithful apprentice, who could look forward to a participation in its benefit. It is deeply to be regretted, that this state of things, which had so captivated the imagination of Franklin that he devoted a portion of his hard-earned wealth to realize it for the mechanics of Philadelphia, should, in the emphatic language of his will, prove 'a vain fancy. ' "

By this statement it would seem, that there had been at some time a remarkable want of fidelity in administering the trust, especially in allowing so large a number of bonds to become worthless by the statute of limitation, and neglecting to make reasonable- demands upon the sureties.

Appended to the same report is a letter from Mr. William Minot, treasurer of the Franklin Fund in Boston, dated December 23d, 1836, which contains the following state, of the fund in that city.

"The whole number of loans from this Fund," Mr. Minot says, " from May 1791 to the present time, has been 255, in sums varying from 70 to $ 266 up to the year 1800, since which time they have usually been 200.

"From July, 1811, to the present time, the number of loans has been 91, of which 50, at least have been repaid (in whole or in part) by sureties, and on four of these are balances which cannot be collected, both principals and sureties being insolvent.

" Dr. Franklin's donation was Pound 1,000 sterling. The present value of the Fund is as follows;

"Estimate of 13 bonds, considered good, 1,428.68 "Amount deposited, on interest, in the office of the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company, 22,739.00 Cash in the hands of the Treasurer 158.15


"It is apparent, from these facts, that the benevolent intentions of the donor have not been realized, and that, in the present condition of our country, it is not advantageous to married mechanics, under the age of twenty-four years, to borrow money to be repaid in easy installments, at a low rate of interest; and the improvidence of early marriages, among that class of men, may fairly be inferred.

"The great number of instances, in which sureties have been obliged to pay the loans, has rendered it not so easy, as formerly, for applicants to obtain the required security. This is proved by the small number of loans from the fund, averaging for the last five years, not more than one a year.

"Until within the last twenty years, no great care was taken in accumulating the fund. It is now carefully attended to; and money not required for actual use is placed in the Life Insurance Company, where it increases at the rate of about five and one-third percent a year.

"The loans are made at the rate of five percent, but, on installments past due, six percent is charged, from the time they were payable, and the bonds of delinquents are put in a suit after reasonable notice. Two sureties, at least, are required on each bond."

According to the treasurer's return on a lot of January 1840, the amount of the fund in Boston was at that time as follows.

Deposited in the Life Insurance office, 26,595.64

Bonds for Loans 1,846.35 $28,441.99

Ball Lightning, Regular Lightning, and B. Franklin

Just about everybody knows that flying a kite in a lightning storm is too dangerous to consider, but hardly anyone appreciates the enormous scientific significance of what happened at 10th and Chestnut Street in 1752. Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity, essentially explained it, displayed its commercial value with lightning rods (but never patented or profited from them), and received the acclaim of the scientific community which would have won him a Nobel Prize if such a thing had existed then. It's true this didn't happen overnight; in many ways, he made the clinching demonstration on the shores of France. Something called the torpedo fish lives there, and Franklin gathered a group of friends holding hands in a circle, demonstrating the electric shock started with the fish and traveled around the circle. Out of this appreciative circle of scientists emerged his rightful reputation as a scientist of the first rank, soon to be the most famous American in the world.

But while millions of people had observed lightning flashes before Franklin connected one to a Leyden jar, those millions were merely content to go inside the house before it started to rain. Millions more still think of the whole episode as a quaintly stupid thing to do, without much scientific or practical value. Dangerous it was indeed, and it knocked young Franklin for a loop at another time and killed several other people who tried to repeat it. But to grasp the scientific feel of it, let's put yourself in Ben's shoes. Let's look at a probably related issue, called ball lightning.

{Ball of Lightning}
Ball of Lightning

Ball lightning is relatively uncommon, but some chronicler has calculated that about a half of one percent of the world's population has observed it. Counting from the beginning of history, that means a lot of ball lightning. Let's describe it here in the words of two Philadelphians who have actually seen it. One lady describes that she was in her kitchen on the Main Line during a thunderstorm when a big ball of light about the size of a basketball bounced through the door and sat on her stove for at least a full minute. It didn't give off much heat, didn't explode, and didn't smell bad. Although she was badly shaken emotionally, she doesn't remember anything much more. It just went away.

And another Philadelphian was on an airplane in a thunderstorm, back in the days when planes mostly flew below the clouds. A smaller blob of ball lightning appeared from nowhere and rolled down the aisle. Although no one kicked it or did anything else stupid, it created its sensation and then was gone.

A student of this matter says that although ball lightning is comparatively rare, it does occur often enough for extensive credible descriptions to exist. The size is most commonly between that of a pea and a sofa. It is not reported to give off much heat, usually but not invariably appears during a thunderstorm. Ball lightning appears to favor appearances over the ocean, and surfaced submarines seem over-represented among reporters of it. By report, the ball usually disappears with an explosion which does not sound like thunder but leaves behind a sulfurous odor. People who physically tangled with it, have been killed.

{Young Franklin and Print Press}
Young Franklin and Print Press

From the descriptions of crowds of people surrounding some of them, it seems unlikely these phenomena are merely visual hallucinations induced by lightning strikes, as has been suggested by some. And just what it would feel like to be that close to astronomical black holes, has not been reported by any survivors. Black holes are found scattered all over the universe, so there is no reason small ones couldn't appear on the Main Line, but it would seem likely they would be surrounded by a turbulent force field of some kind. Lots of other theories have been propounded, but haven't developed much scientific traction. In short, the state of ignorance about ball lightning today is about as total as about regular lightning bolts in the Eighteenth century.

So, there you are, a mysterious natural phenomenon which everybody ignores, just waiting for some amateur to get curious enough to devise a simple experiment to explain it. The remarkable thing about the discovery of electricity was not that it was a problem crying out for a solution, or a dangerous dragon needing to be slain. It was just something that everybody noticed, and everyone ignored. What was remarkable about this episode was not the nature of the phenomenon, but the unusual nature of the curiosity of a local printer named Ben.

University City: Originally At 8th Street, Penn Moved West in 1870:Another Franklin Idea.

{University of Pennsylvania}
University of Pennsylvania

In 1920, the University of Pennsylvania graduated 34 students with B.A. degrees, and 134 with M.D. degrees. Today, the campus is a little self-contained city of 50,000 inhabitants. The transformation of the campus during that period is an outward expression of revolutionary expansion of the student body, involving demolitions, restorations, new construction. And the nearly constant shortage of parking space.

{David Hollenberg}
David Hollenberg

David Hollenberg, the University Architect, recently gave the Franklin Inn Club an interesting description of the University from the point of view of bricks and mortar. Since almost every building on the campus is undergoing or plans to undergo a major building project, he had a lot of material to cover. The disappearance of the railroad-based industrial area of West Philadelphia has been an economic problem for the city, but of course, this abundance of vacant land has created a major opportunity for the University of Pennsylvania. One reflection of this abundance is the opportunity to become the developer for much of the whole region around the campus, working with private developers who wish to be in the University area, and are therefore willing to coordinate their plans with those of the University. It's a remarkable opportunity. Since it comes at the time of a major economic downturn, one can only hope that the University does not impoverish itself taking advantage of this good luck.

{Jonathan E. Rhoads}
Jonathan E. Rhoads

As the graduation statistics illustrate, not so long ago the University was largely a medical school, with appendages. There are rumors of considerable friction from time to time, between the President of the University and the Dean of the Medical School as to who was boss; it is easy to imagine the trustees swinging from one side to the other. The most notable Provost of the University in modern times was Jonathan Rhoads, who also happened to be Professor of Surgery. If you know Quakers, you know that disputes were seldom rancorous. And if you know Jonathan, you know he almost always won the disputes.

{Cira Center}
Cira Center

While today, the dominant change is caused by the Cira Center buildings and the acquisition of the former Post Office building, it is well to keep in mind that the new Cancer Center is a billion-dollar project. A great deal of the medical school expansion is centered on burgeoning research, particularly in molecular biology, largely financed by the National Institutes of Health. While the leaders of the NIH have long struggled with Congress to keep politics out of both the administration and the substance of research, it seems to old-timers that the politicians are slowly winning. Senator Specter's seniority on the Appropriations Committee may have had as much to do with the prosperity of West Philadelphia, as the quality of research, however eminent. We are about to find out, and if things go hard with us in favor of say Chicago, it could be a wrenching experience. Most of those research buildings cost more to heat, air-condition, insure and clean than the entire tuition base of the students; and they wouldn't be good for much if you tried to sell them.

The University is almost unique in being located on contiguous land, near existing public transportation, and occupying substantial old structures capable of renovation to new purposes. Mr. Hollenberg was asked whether it was cheaper to grow like this within a city, or whether it is cheaper to plant a totally new university in several open corn fields, as we often see happen. While this is a hard question to answer, and depends to some extent on the type of architect in charge, it is his view that big-city restoration is a considerably cheaper way to expand than building from scratch on open land, although if you are starting the institution itself from scratch, there isn't much choice but the cornfield.

And then, there is the ancient argument between academics and bricks and mortar. Development officers agree that it is easier to raise donations when you can name a building for the donor; grand visions for new frontiers of teaching are a much harder sell. So a question does hang over this expansion, however exciting, whether the endowment will keep up with the structures, once the excitement of physical expansion dies down. These are definitely things to worry about, but right now you seize the opportunities as they go past, leaving integration to your successors to figure out.


Madeira Party 2009: Franklin Mistakes Lead Poisoning For Gout.

{Madeira Wine class=}
Madeira Wine class=

The hundred years war, the thirty years war, the seven years war, and other European disagreements made it difficult to import wine to England, turning the wine import trade to Portugal. Port wine was, of course, prominent, but the best wine of all came from the Portuguese colony of Madeira. The island of Madeira is closer to Africa than to Portugal, so the triangular slave trade made it easy to import Madeira wine to the British colonies in America. The eastern seaboard of America had no grape culture of any note, so the beverage trade centered on rum, whiskey, beer, and Madeira. George Washington is widely reported to have had half a bottle of Madeira every day for lunch, for example.

{S. Weir Mitchell. Mitchell}
S. Weir Mitchell. Mitchell

The other evening at the Franklin Inn Club, a traditional Philadelphia Madeira party filled the hall, and the membership was brought up to date on some of the traditions and finer points of the occasion. In the first place, the Franklin Inn was founded by S. Weir Mitchell. Mitchell, in his spare time as Father of Neurology, had written a short story called The Madeira Party which worked in a large number of details about what was what about Madeira, ending with ribald tipsiness. Nathan Steven, a well-known wine authority, instructed the group in the various types of grape and vintage, and other members who have summered in Madeira related current conditions. Because the volcanic island is a favorite place for visitors, particularly Englishmen, real estate is at such a premium that most vineyards have only one or two acres of grapes. The wineries whose names are on the bottles pick up the crop from these local growers and take it on from there. This seems as good as any other explanation for the current high prices of the wine. However, a century ago a disease wiped out the French and Portuguese vineyards, who were forced to beg back some exported grapevines from California to get back in business. So, one wonders about the scarcity claim.

{Madeira in a barrels}
Madeira in a barrels

It is related that a number of cargoes of Madeira, particularly those of John Hancock of Boston were caught being smuggled to the colonies, and got returned. It was discovered that the taste of the wine was greatly improved by the tumult so that each vintner experimented with various methods of agitating and heating the wine to produce a particular brand. Madeira, like sherry, is a fortified wine, with various proportions of grain alcohol and brandy added in secret formulas. On one point there is general agreement, that if fortified wines are aged for long enough periods, eventually they all taste alike. There thus has emerged a tricky business of aging the wine long enough for the vintage of the wine to match the age or anniversary of the person being honored by the gift. Fifty years is the tricky goal; it's the most popular gift, but perilously close to the point where you can't tell if it is sherry or Madeira. There are four main varieties of Madeira (brand names are something else), getting progressively sweeter, darker colored and more expensive as they age. Malmsey, in a barrel of which Shakspere portrayed the royal princes being drowned, is claimed to be the very best. Some people regard it as too sweet, however. At proper Madeira party, each variety is served with a different course of terrapin or whatever. The President of the Franklin Inn read off the instructions for cooking the traditional first course of jellied boiled boar's head, and the guests agreed that modern tastes called for a substitute. After the reading of Mitchell's short story, the group added a new tradition of singing Flanders and Swann's ribald song, "Have Some Madeira, m'dear".

Chuck Barber, the current President of the Green Tree Insurance Company, added an entirely new historical slant. The Insurance Company is well known for having the best dinner in town at its meetings since directors of insurance companies don't do much. At the dinner in 1799, the news was brought in that George Washington had just died. A member rose to propose what has become an annual toast in Madeira, "To President Washington!" In time, S. Weir Mitchell became a member of the board, and the famous short story was the outcome which firmly fixed the rules of the Philadelphia Madeira Party. Bill Madeira was called on to verify this history, but he protested that his family name was derived from the wine, not the other way around.

It seems appropriate to add another historical note. Benjamin Franklin, after whom the club is named, suffered severely from gout. Although some sort of association with liquor had been mentioned as far back as Hippocrates, Franklin's powers of observation and his fame as a scientist placed him in a position to make it an irrefutable doctrine that gout was a medical penalty for drinking liquor. It was, of course, Madeira that old Ben was drinking, and it was the rule that Madeira was transported in lead-lined kegs. The Green Tree has some of the old kegs if you doubt it. Franklin's observation was acute, but what he was reporting was the effect of the lead poisoning, not of the wine.

Ben Franklin is Claimed As the Founder of U.S. Diplomacy, Before There Was A USA.

Nancy Wentzler, Deputy Controller of the U.S. Currency, recently dramatized the arcane world of international currency exchange for the Global Interdependence Center's 25th annual Monetary and Trade Conference, held this year at Drexel University. For the most part, controlling currency operates flawlessly as far as the rest of us can tell. But every few years a sudden banking crisis pops up somewhere, pressuring a lot of bureaucrats in many countries to act quickly without a fire drill. Displaying panic could spread into world financial collapse, but so could acting too slowly. There's often a need for that most conflicting of all predicaments, the clear need to act outside of established channels. Hedge funds and private equity funds greatly increase the pace of banking panics, and if panic-stricken, can now send multi-billions from one place to another in fractions of a moment. In that same moment, everybody involved is in a meeting, or else frantically calling somebody. Even if the right person is identified, located, and takes the call, there is natural hesitation to take risky advice from a stranger without an identifiable track record. Protocol-driven supervisory bureaucracies may be suddenly forced to contend with professional traders whose whole life consists of calls roughly like this: "Hi, Joe, this is Bill. Buy me a gazillion shares of XYC at the market." To which Joe's answer commonly would be, "You got it. Thanks for the order, Bill. 'Bye. "

{Benjamin Franklin French Court}
Benjamin Franklin
at the French Court

The potential for sudden fires calls out for fire drills. It also calls for the prior establishment of social networking among those who may have to depend on each other in a crunch. Whether by repeatedly dealing with each other or by social gatherings, or even just by immersing in trade gossip, it must somehow become possible for them to make a quick assessment of the person on the other end of the phone. Is the sound or flighty, can he be depended on to keep his word, or will he take for the hills.

Well, it sounds like a diplomatic corps, doesn't it? For the briefest of moments, one person represents the views of his country. The rest of his life is spent preparing for that moment. The most familiar American example is Benjamin Franklin, for eight years our ambassador to France. Franklin received heavy criticism for spending American money on social functions in Paris. John Adams, in particular, was outraged to see Franklin engaged in a constant series of dinners, balls, Royal parties, and salons; he was obviously having the time of his life, year after year. After all, he really only accomplished two tangible things -- he signed the Alliance with France which effectively won the war, and he signed the Treaty of Paris where Britain agreed to stop fighting.

B. Franklin, a Chronology


Born 1706 --the fifteenth child of a Boston candle-maker, Josiah Franklin, the seventh child of his second wife.

Died, April 17, 1790--Buried in Christ Church Cemetery, in Philadelphia, after a celebrated funeral parade. The President of Pennsylvania.

Franklin Benefits the Pennsylvania Hospital

{Benjamin Franklin}
Benjamin Franklin

During the number of years I was in business as a stationer, printer, and postmaster, a great many small sums became due for books, advertisements, postage of letters, and other matters, which were not collected when, in 1757, I was sent by the Assembly to England as their agent, and by subsequent appointments continued there till 1775, when on my return, I was immediately engaged in the affairs of Congress and sent to France in 1776, where I remained nine years, not returning till 1785, and the said debts, not being demanded in such a length of time, are become in a manner obsolete, yet are nevertheless justly due. These, as they are stated in my great folio ledger E, I bequeath to the contributors to the Pennsylvania Hospital, hoping that those debtors, and the descendants of such as are deceased, who now, as I find, make some difficulty of satisfying such antiquated demands as just debts, may, however, be induced to pay or give them as charity to that excellent institution. I am sensible that much must inevitably be lost, but I hope something considerable may be recovered. It is possible, too, that some of the parties charged may have existing old, unsettled accounts against me; in which case the managers of the said hospital will allow and deduct the amount, or pay the balance if they find it against me.


A Medical History of Benjamin Fanklin: Troubled Water: Benjamin Samuel Abeshouse ASIN: B0069X8GFS Amazon

Benjamin Franklin, Prophet

Benjamin Franklin

Judged by his public and private writings, Franklin was a deist. That is, he believed God sort of wound up the Universe like a clock, then let it run by itself. Furthermore, the Constitution0 which he had a hand in writing, pretty clearly maintains a wide separation between church and state. Nevertheless, historians by the droves have identified a uniquely American culture, apparently based on some fiercely held convictions. We might just as well say America has a secular religion with prophets, and Benjamin Franklin was an early prophet. His enduring message for all time was: Honesty is the best policy.

By this he did not mean, as lawyers do, strict word precision, or as our military academies add, resolute avoidance of half-truths and double-talk. Ol' Ben never admitted who the mother of his illegitimate son was, and positively chortled at hoodwinking the Pennsylvania Assembly into matching private contributions for the nation's first hospital, which he secretly knew he already had in hand. Late in life, he set enduring standards for the American diplomatic service, which some have defined as a profession dedicated to lying for your Country. Not only was Franklin rather sly, he gleefully projected the image of slyness. In recent years, some historians have proposed his adventures with many women were just acting out a playful pose. Frankly, this suggestion is hard to accept.

Poor Richard Almanack

The author of Poor Richard's Almanack, aged 26 at the first edition, was a young man totally consumed with advancing himself in the world; at that stage, he defined himself as a businessman. Like J. Pierpont Morgan, who could thunder "I will never do business with a man I don't trust", Franklin had one set of principles for business and another for love. Or, if you please, one set for men, and another for women, who were thought to play by their own set of rules. Historians have struggled with this paradox or hypocrisy, but it would have seemed strange even to comment on it in Franklin's era, and a conflict is not suggested in eighty volumes of his life writings. Lord Byron, another famous philanderer of the day, stated the matter delicately as "Man's love is to man's life a thing apart; 'this woman's whole existence." And that was just the way it was, in their view.

Franklin, who as an escaped apprentice might well have been punished like a felon in Boston, came to the big town to make his fortune, found himself ina culture of Quakers. Boston Puritans might well have punished him severely, or at least stood by approvingly while his brother beat the daylights out of him. The Dutch in New York were well known as rough customers; just to the south in Delaware, the inhabitants were to maintain a whipping post for two hundred more years. But in Philadelphia, non-violence was eventually carried to the extreme of confining miscreants to solitude until they spontaneously perceived it really was better to behave. Poor Richard's little motto about the best policy was in fact just the Golden Rule, applied to business. Even today, anyone starting a business soon finds a discouraging number of people ready to cheat the businessman; it was even truer in colonial America. Somehow, if you enter the business world, it is to be assumed you are ready to defend yourself. Competitors have little respect if you fail to conduct business warily; even less if you complain and wiper. Although many women have conducted successful businesses, it is so to speak a man's world. Little Benny Franklin, fresh off the boat from Boston, watched with amazement as Quaker merchants and vendors conducted trade on the assumption the counterparty was honest, refused to bargain an openly set price, and avoided violence when cheated. At the same time, Franklin could not fail to notice that Philadelphia was prospering much more rapidly than Boston. After a business trip to England, he could see that London worked at the same disadvantage as Boston. Honesty, it would appear, makes you rich; cheating may sometimes work, but fairness gets you ahead more steadily.

In later years, Franklin shared rooms with John Adams, who became positively livid at the suggestion a person should be honest for any other motive than to be taken into Heaven. It was degrading, even dishonest, to be honest in order to get rich. There is no evidence that Franklin's reaction to this sermon was anything but contempt for the other man's intelligence. Although probably not directly related to this exchange, Franklin's assessment of Adams was "always an honest man, often a wise one, but sometimes and in some things, absolutely out of his senses." Ben Franklin was born in Puritan Boston, fled from it as soon as he could, and thereafter seldom regarded Puritans as having two feet on the ground.

It thus emerges that Benjamin Franklin who was certainly no pacifist, greatly admired Quakers. On the one hand, in desperation he organized Pennsylvania's first militia when in 1730 the Quaker Pennsylvania government refused to act against French and Spanish marauders in Delaware Bay, and in 1752 took the lead again in assisting the British against Fort Deliquesce during the French and Indian War while Quakers resigned from government rather than defend the state. He even volunteered to go to London to lobby against the Penn family. None the less, Franklin was completely converted to Quaker principles of doing business, perceiving a deep underlying truth to them. Honesty, as suggested by the Golden Rule, or fair trade as they say in commerce, is the key to prosperity. Honesty is not just good advice for a young man, it is a principle which brings prosperity to a whole nation, while readily suggesting a clear simple explanation of why it should. Don't you want to be rich? Plenty of other people want to be rich.

Unfortunately, many kings, barons, confidence men, bullies, cheaters, and tough guys have also become rich. Generations of immigrants have come to our shores with the idea that life is a zero-sum game. The way to get money is to take it from someone else. The way to lose money is to give a sucker an even break. But gradually, one generation after another learns the truth, as enunciated by Poor Richard, that everybody is better off if almost everybody tries to be honest.

Surely it is not too much to say that American adventurism in the rest of the world reflects exasperation that the rest don't get the point. Certain parts of Europe, and all of the Mideast, really doubt it will work for them. The Far East does seem to grasp the rudiments, although with inscrutability and all it's hard to be certain. It isn't even true that all Americans get the point, but we have a containment policy for them, based on the fragile belief that here we outnumber the zero-summers. You must be firm, but you must also be fair. The crippled old Franklin hobbled out the door of Independence Hall after the Constitutional Convention. A woman calling to him asked what sort of government had been given us. "A republic," he answered. "If you can keep it."

Franklin on British American Relationships

{Edmond S. Morgan}
Edmond S. Morgan

Edmond S. Morgan spent an academic lifetime collecting and organizing the many volumes of what Benjamin Franklin wrote, and what he has been quoted as saying. Professor Morgan knows more than anyone else will ever know about what Franklin wrote down and signed his name to. Obviously, these records of a long and remarkable career are filled with instances of some of the very wisest, most penetrating observations about earth-shaking events. Although his writings are almost always charming and witty, succinct and penetrating, some of his proposals and comments about important matters could, however, be contradictory and sometimes half-baked. It's sometimes hard to admit that.

{Benjamin Franklin}
Benjamin Franklin

It's difficult to make entire sense of his attitude toward royalty, for example. For years during the time he represented the colonies at the Court, it would seem his vision of the future was that of multiple parliaments, held together by a common loyalty to the King. The concept is somewhat akin to the devolution movement now rumbling around the United Kingdom. It's hard to reconcile that proposal with some of the activities of George III that Franklin was in a position to watch, and it seems a little dubious for him to believe the major errors of the British government were to be mainly blamed on a handful of evil ministers misguiding the monarch. And harder still to reconcile this loyalty to the throne with his indifference or resistance to the American republic having a strong presidency at the later Constitutional Convention -- when his opinion might have made a major difference if it had been sensible. Some of these ideas may be remnants of poorly digested attitudes about the earlier English Civil War or reactions to the behavior of Cromwell. Franklin spent years watching the British Parliament in action and much time lobbying its members in proposed deals and arrangements. It's easy to see how he might have been disillusioned at times, but it's very hard to see the sense of his conclusion that the Parliament was an impediment to ideal relations between the sainted King and his obedient subjects. Since Franklin was not writing rebuttals to himself for saying contradictory things several years earlier, it is very hard to know what he really thought when you bring all these writings together; and unwise to be too certain what it tells us about Franklin.

{British Ministries Symbol}
British Ministries Symbol

There is one thread which weaves for many decades among Franklin's writings, probably coming close to reflecting a hardened, considered, position. As a young man, he could easily observe the American population and wealth growing much faster than growth in the mother country, projecting forward to the firm belief that America would in time eclipse England. Today we see this as common sense, but in the Eighteenth-century population growth was believed to be secondary to economic growth. Some of the seemingly selfish and detestable mercantile policies of the British ministries were based on a sincere belief in this incorrect view of population. Since Franklin saw it was wrong, it is regrettable that he failed to take the approach of discrediting the theory rather than assailing those who mistakenly believed in it.

Taken all together, his 1767 letter to Lord Kames seems to represent Franklin's core position. Closer political union based on equality would actually benefit Britain more than it would America by preserving for Britain an equal place in an empire that must soon be principally American. America had resources far outweighing what British Isles possessed. It was bound to "become a great country, populous and mighty; and will in less time than is generally conceived be able to shake off any Shackles that may be imposed on her, and perhaps place them on the Imposers. In the mean Time, every act of Oppression will sour their Tempers... and hasten their final Revolt."

We now see that as very perceptive, although events diverted matters in other directions for two centuries before returning to the essential truth. The Industrial Revolution was England's achievement before it became the world's. And the Industrial Revolution, not the American one, was central to the British conquests which positioned the Empire for far greater growth than Franklin could foretell. He thought America would overtake England in less than a century, but in fact, it took two centuries. This is one of those arguments where both sides are proven right, but at different times.

{Benjamin Franklin Discovers Electricity}
Benjamin Franklin Discovers Electricity

But while some other false starts about governmental design can perhaps be defended by signed correspondence at the time, they leave behind the embarrassing opinion that it was a good thing he occasionally got distracted by electricity experiments and flirtations with lady friends. And thus, sustained defeat of his silly 1752 proposal to displace the Pennsylvania Proprietorship with a Royal colony, and the equally ill-judged 1787 scheme to replace the American presidency with a debating club. Franklin was a statesman without equal, but no unedited lifetime correspondence can withstand scrutiny as a coherent political theory.

Venturi's Franklin Museum in Franklin Court

{Franklin Court Museum}
Franklin Court Museum

When Judge Edwin O. Lewis was seized with the idea of making a national monument out of Colonial Philadelphia, he wanted it big. Forty or so years later, it's big all right, but not big enough to encompass the whole of America's most historic square mile. Government ownership in the form of a cross now extends five blocks north from Washington Square to Franklin Square, and four blocks East from Sixth to Second Streets. Restoration and historic display have spread considerably beyond that cross, however, and the Park Service has created ingenious walkways within the working city in the neighborhood. If you thread your way through these walkways, you can stroll for miles within the world of William Penn and Benjamin Franklin. One such unexpected walkway is now called Franklin Court, which essentially cuts from Market to Chestnut Streets, within the block bounded by 3rd and 4th Streets. Hidden in the center is the reconstructed ghost of Franklin's quite large house, sitting in an interior courtyard bounded by a colonial post office, and a newspaper office once operated by Franklin's grandson. And, along the side of the walkway near Chestnut Street, is a fascinating museum of Franklin's personal life, built by no less than Frank Venturi, and operated by Park Rangers in the polished but low-key manner for which the U.S. Park Service is famous.

For some reason, this jewel of a museum has not received the high-powered publicity it deserves. It's off the main Park premises, as we mentioned, and some of the problem has to be attributed to Venturi. As you walk through, you don't expect a huge museum to be there, and it can look pretty inconspicuous as you walk past because it is mostly underground. Take my word for it, it's worth a visit. There are long descending ramps inside the doors, which can be pretty daunting if you are elderly and tired. But, also inconspicuous, there's an elevator if you look around for it. Venturi didn't seem to like windows very much, which is a problem for some people.

There's a movie theater inside there, playing a long list of fascinating documentaries. There's an ingenious automated display of statuettes which utilize spotlights and revolving stages to present Franklin in Parliament, resisting the Stamp Act, Franklin being his charming self before the French monarchs, and the frail dying Franklin getting the Constitutional Convention to approve the document. There are also a variety of ingenious inventions of Franklin's on display in the original, including bifocal glasses, the first storage battery, a simplified clock, several library devices, the Franklin stove, and so on. In some ways, the highlight is the Armonica.

The Armonica is the musical instrument invented by Franklin, for which both Beethoven and Mozart composed special music to exploit its haunting tone. If you ask the nice Park Ranger, she will be flattered to play you a tune on it.

Google Earth Tour of Franklin Locations

On the front page of Philadelphia Reflections is found a button which will download Google Earth, and if you follow instructions on the left column, will give you a satellite tour of every blog let on the site. At least, it will when we get it finished; it's only about half complete at present. If you are unfamiliar with this approach, we suggest you download the Earth program from the Google site and get acquainted by locating your own house, or Independence Hall, or the Vatican.

In addition, every Topic (listed in the left-hand column of the front page of Philadelphia Reflections) will contain a button which generates a tour of the geoTags of that particular Topic, providing there are three or more such tags. You will generally get the best results from tours developed by unknown authors if you turn off ALL of the layers provided in the lower section of the left-hand panel of Google Earth, although you might turn them on, one at a time if you want to enhance the effects. Generally speaking, the route of Interstate 95 seems a little out of place among the local wanderings of Ben Franklin.

{Take a satellite tour of nearly every place Ben Franklin ever visited.}
Take a satellite tour of nearly
every place Ben Franklin ever visited.

You should also become familiar with KMZ files and KML files. Keyhole markup language gives instructions to Google Earth, allowing authors like Bob Florig to organize tours of a particular subject. KML files are quite large, so they get compressed to make them easier to send over the Internet. Compressed files of KML are designated KMZ, referring to Winzip the decompressor. Other decompressors will often work, too, especially Stuffit for Apple users. The extra step of decompression is a nuisance, and it is possible to have the file do things itself, to become known as a self-extracting file. Self-extracting files are often, but not always, designated as EXE files.

You are here invited to take a tour of every site Benjamin Franklin is known to have visited as if you were an interplanetary alien riding a flying saucer. Double-click the blue link to download a copy of Google Earth if you don't already have one, followed by a self-extracting KMZ file constructed by Bob Florig and used with his kind permission.

There's one other feature you should know about, called overlays. Bob took an 18th Century map of Philadelphia and substituted it for the satellite map of contemporary central Philadelphia. That lets you see Philadelphia as Franklin saw it, and by changing overlays, also allows you to see the little red-brick buildings which remain standing among the skyscrapers. Both he and I are uncertain about the copyright status of the old maps and may have to remove them if the author identifies himself and protests.

Franklin's Admirers on TV

{Brian Lamb}
Brian Lamb

There are now three channels of C-span, continuous cable television programs about the influence of history on current problems. Sessions of Congress and its committees, the speeches of the President, political campaigns, are shown as they happen. But interviews and book reviews are shown in parallel, with an opportunity to go into the archives and organize originally unrelated programs into seminars on a current topic. The editor, Brian Lamb, has a light hand and considerable impartiality. But he's there, all right, organizing blogs into topics just as Philadelphia Reflections tries to do.

{Friends Select School}
Friends Select School

This similarity of design had been floating around for some time, but it suddenly came into focus when I recognized myself in the front row of an audience on C-span, listening to Edmond S. Morgan talking at the Friends Select School about his new book on Benjamin Franklin, a few months earlier. Thank goodness I bought a book and had it autographed because the filming had been so unobtrusive I hadn't noticed it at the time. I clearly need to have haircuts more frequently. Professor Morgan's parting words that evening had stayed with me, "Franklin doesn't tell you everything about himself, but what he tells you -- is straight." That's quite a compliment from the editor of 47 volumes of Franklin's work.

{Walter Isaacson}
Walter Isaacson

Grouped with this tv portrayal of me as a groupie were interviews with Walter Isaacson and some other Franklin biographers, taken at other times and placing focus on other aspects. Here again, more insights emerged from quickly considered replies to audience questions than from the prepared speeches. Replies to questions from the audience are more in a class with blogs, anyway. Whenever you get all of the adjectives and qualifications polished, you sometimes don't say what you mean. Perhaps that last comment can be rearranged to say that answering audience questions occasionally leads to blurting out precisely what you mean.

And so, two unrelated audience answers need to be linked. A question about Franklin's love life caused Isaacson to refer to Franklin as a lifelong seducer. From the unknown mother of his illegitimate son William, to the simultaneous flirtations with two famous French ladies that took place when he was an octogenarian, and not overlooking several other affairs with Cathy Green and Polly Stevenson and allusions to others, Franklin was obviously an accomplished seducer in the full meaning of the term. It is thus legitimate to suspect the techniques of seduction at work in many of his public projects, from starting the Library Company to persuading the French to help the Revolution. He discovered late in life what many have discovered about the life of a diplomat, and quickly recognized that he was already pretty good at what that seemed to entail. Let's slide to a slightly different application of that idea.

{Benjamin Franklin and French Women}
Benjamin Franklin and French Women

By the accident of hostess seating arrangement, I found myself seated next to two historians from Harvard, and somehow it came out that one of them felt that Franklin loved the French. Simply loved them. Somehow that didn't sound quite right when compared with Franklin's early years of mobilizing Pennsylvania to fight the French, starting the first National Guard militia unit to defend Philadelphia against French raiders, supporting General Braddock's expedition with his own money, urging the British government to sweep the French from Canada, and working most of his life to assemble the colonies and Great Britain into one world-dominating entity. It's true that 18th Century France was at the peak of scientific achievement, and Franklin the inventor of electricity was quickly taken in by the European scientific community, but that's scarcely the same thing as loving France. Louis XVI was in fact quite annoyed by all the attention Franklin was receiving. And so the scholar on TV went on to say that correspondence had been discovered in which Franklin quite casually remarked that during the Continental Congress he had strongly argued that America should stand alone and have no European allies. Congress it seems overruled him, so he dutifully set sail for France to seduce them.

We come to another chance social encounter. On a recent trip to Paris, the GIC had taken along as a speaker, no less than a member of the Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve, a Governor of a Federal Reserve District, to speak about the threat of inflation and currency crisis. In time, our French hosts invited us to look at some documents of interest, like the Louisiana Purchase. Lying on the table was the original treaty between America and France, signed by B. Franklin. The Federal Reserve governor, making small talk, observed that Franklin sweet-talked the French into loaning America too much money, eventually leading to their bankruptcy. As I recall, my rejoinder was, "Well, just print some more paper money, right?" It was intended to be a jocular remark, but it somehow didn't seem to be taken as such.

Franklin's Funeral, 1790

{Benjamin Franklin's Grave}
Benjamin Franklin's Grave

"Philadelphia's silver decade began with the death of Benjamin Franklin, at the age of eighty-four, in 1790. On April 21, some 20,000 people, nearly half the city, lined the route of Franklin's funeral procession from the State House to the Christ Church burying ground. The procession was led by the clergy of the city, and the coffin was carried by six pallbearers:General Thomas Mifflin<, president of Pennsylvania; Thomas McKean, chief justice; Samuel Powell, mayor of Philadelphia; Thomas Willing, president of the Bank of North America; David Rittenhouse, professor of astronomy at the College of Philadelphia; and William Bingham, the richest man in America, member of the Pennsylvania Assembly, and soon to be appointed United States senator from the state. There followed the family and close friends, members of the state Assembly, judges of the State Supreme Court, gentlemen of the bar, printers with their journeymen and apprentices, and members of the Philosophical Society and a host of other associations that Franklin had founded. Doctor Rush sent a lock of Franklin's hair to the Marquis de Lafayette, and when the news reached France, the National Assembly heard a eulogy on the "sage of two worlds" by Mirabeau and sent a letter of sympathy to its sister Republic."

--E. Digby Baltzell, Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia

Those who have experience with arranging state funerals will notice the strong Pennsylvania character of the funeral, and the subdued prominence of national figures, especially those from Virginia, Massachusetts, and New York. Some historians have noticed this anomaly, even surmising that Washington and others were jealous of Franklin's fame. However, the Capital was in New York City until August 12, 1790, and did not move to Philadelphia until December 6, 1790. Under the circumstances, it might have been difficult even to be certain the news of his death on April 17 had reached all the national leaders by April 21, let alone orchestrate arrangements of the funeral ceremonies around their uncertain presence at it.

Furthermore, he had a long life, from rags to riches, through three wars, after many publications, organizations, discoveries and honors, and some heavy tribulations. But those who have themselves lived 84 years will recognize that it all passes rapidly, and seems like a short dream to the central figure.

A Toast to Doctor Franklin

{Benjamin Franklin}
Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin's formal education ended with the second grade, but he must now be acknowledged as one of the most erudite men of his age. He liked to be called Doctor Franklin, although he had no medical training. He was given an honorary degree of Master of Arts by Harvard and Yale, and honorary doctorates by St.Andrew and Oxford. It is unfortunate that in our day, an honorary degree has degraded to something colleges give to wealthy alumni, or visiting politicians, or some celebrity who will fill the seats at an otherwise boring commencement ceremony. In Franklin's day, an honorary degree was awarded for significant achievements. It was far more prestigious than an earned degree, which merely signified adequate preparation for potential later achievement.

And then, there is another subtlety of academic jostling. Physicians generally want to be addressed as Doctor, as a way of emphasizing that theirs is the older of the two learned professions. A good many PhDs respond by rejecting the title, as a way of sniffing they have no need to be impostors. In England, moreover, surgeons deliberately renounce the title, for reasons they will have to explain themselves. Franklin turned this credential foolishness on its head. Having gone no further than the second grade, he invented bifocal glasses. He invented the rubber catheter. He founded the first hospital in the country, the Pennsylvania Hospital, and he donated the books for it to create the first medical library in the country. Until the Civil war, that particular library was the largest medical library in America. Franklin wrote extensively about gout, the causes of lead poisoning and the origins of the common cold. By inventing bar soap, it could be claimed he saved more lives from the infectious disease than antibiotics have. It would be hard to find anyone with either an M.D. degree or a Ph.D. degree, then or now, who displayed such impressive scientific medical credentials, without earning -- any credentials at all.

Charles Dickens Doesn't Like Our Nice Penitentiary

{Charles Dickens}
Charles Dickens

In 1842, Philadelphia's Eastern Penitentiary was innovative and unique. Charles Dickens did go on a bit about what was an important tourist stop, especially for foreign visitors. But he naturally had to pay a visit when he toured America in 1842. He had changed his mind about the prison, and said so as follows:

In the outskirts, stands a great prison, called the Eastern Penitentiary: conducted on a plan peculiar to the state of Pennsylvania. The system here is rigid, strict, and hopeless solitary confinement. I believe it, in its effects, to be cruel and wrong.

In its intention, I am well convinced that it is kind, humane, and meant for reformation; but I am persuaded that those who devised this system of Prison Discipline, and those benevolent gentlemen who carry it into execution, do not know what it is that they are doing. I believe that very few men are capable of estimating the immense amount of torture and agony which this dreadful punishment, prolonged for years, inflicts upon the sufferers; and in guessing at it myself, and in reasoning from what I have seen written upon their faces, and what to my certain knowledge they feel within, I am only the more convinced that there is a depth of terrible endurance in it which none but the sufferers themselves can fathom, and which no man has a right to inflict upon his fellow-creature. I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain, to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body: and because its ghastly signs and tokens are not so palpable to the eye and sense of touch as scars upon the flesh; because its wounds are not upon the surface, and it extorts few cries that human ears can hear; therefore I the more denounce it, as a secret punishment which slumbering humanity is not roused up to stay. I hesitated once, debating with myself, whether, if I had the power of saying 'Yes' or 'No,' I would allow it to be tried in certain cases, where the terms of imprisonment were short; but now, I solemnly declare, that with no rewards or honours could I walk a happy man beneath the open sky by day, or lie me down upon my bed at night, with the consciousness that one human creature, for any length of time, no matter what, lay suffering this unknown punishment in his silent cell, and I the cause, or I consenting to it in the least degree.

I was accompanied to this prison by two gentlemen officially connected with its management, and passed the day in going from cell to cell, and talking with the inmates. Every facility was afforded me, that the utmost courtesy could suggest. Nothing was concealed or hidden from my view, and every piece of information that I sought, was openly and frankly given. The perfect order of the building cannot be praised too highly, and of the excellent motives of all who are immediately concerned in the administration of the system, there can be no kind of question.

Between the body of the prison and the outer wall, there is a spacious garden. Entering it, by a wicket in the massive gate, we pursued the path before us to its other termination and passed into a large chamber, from which seven long passages radiate. On either side of each, is a long, long row of low cell doors, with a certain number over every one. Above, a gallery of cells like those below, except that they have no narrow yard attached (as those in the ground tier have), and are somewhat smaller. The possession of two of these, is supposed to compensate for the absence of so much air and exercise as can be had in the dull strip attached to each of the others, in an hour's time every day; and therefore every prisoner in this upper story has two cells, adjoining and communicating with, each other.

{Charles Dickens}
Eastern State Penitentiary

Standing at the central point, and looking down these dreary passages, the dull repose, and quiet that prevails is awful. Occasionally, there is a drowsy sound from some lone weaver's shuttle, or shoemaker's last, but it is stifled by the thick walls and heavy dungeon-door, and only serves to make the general stillness more profound. Over the head and face of every prisoner who comes into this melancholy house, a black hood is drawn; and in this dark shroud, an emblem of the curtain dropped between him and the living world, he is led to the cell from which he never again comes forth, until his whole term of imprisonment has expired. He never hears of wife and children; home or friends; the life or death of any single creature. He sees the prison-officers, but with that exception, he never looks upon a human countenance or hears a human voice. He is a man buried alive; to be dug out in the slow round of years, and in the meantime dead to everything but torturing anxieties and horrible despair.

His name, and crime, and term of suffering are unknown, even to the officer who delivers him his daily food. There is a number over his cell-door, and in a book of which the governor of the prison has one copy, and the moral instructor another: this is the index of his history. Beyond these pages the prison has no record of his existence: and though he lives to be in the same cell ten weary years, he has no means of knowing, down to the very last hour, in which part of the building it is situated; what kind of men there are about him; whether in the long winter nights there are living people near, or he is in some lonely corner of the great jail, with walls, and passages, and iron doors between him and the nearest sharer in its solitary horrors.

Every cell has double doors: the outer one of sturdy oak, the other of grated iron, wherein there is a trap through which his food is handed. He has a Bible, and a slate and pencil, and, under certain restrictions, has sometimes other books, provided for the purpose, and pen and ink and paper. His razor, plate, and can, and basin, hang upon the wall or shine upon the little shelf. Freshwater is laid on in every cell, and he can draw it at his pleasure. During the day, his bedstead turns up against the wall and leaves more space for him to work in. His loom, or bench, or wheel, is there; and there he labors, sleeps and wakes, and counts the seasons as they change, and grows old.

The first man I saw, was seated at his loom, at work. He had been there six years and was to remain, I think, three more. He had been convicted as a receiver of stolen goods, but even after his long imprisonment, denied his guilt, and said he had been hardly dealt by. It was his second offense.

He stopped his work when we went in, took off his spectacles, and answered freely to everything that was said to him, but always with a strange kind of pause first, and in a low, thoughtful voice. He wore a paper hat of his own making and was pleased to have it noticed and commanded. He had very ingeniously manufactured a sort of Dutch clock from some disregarded odds and ends, and his vinegar-bottle served for the pendulum. Seeing me interested in this contrivance, he looked up at it with a great deal of pride, and said that he had been thinking of improving it and that he hoped the hammer and a little piece of broken glass beside it 'would play music before long.' He had extracted some colors from the yarn with which he worked, and painted a few poor figures on the wall. One, of a female, over the door, he called 'The Lady of the Lake.'

He smiled as I looked at these contrivances to while away the time; but when I looked from them to him, I saw that his lip trembled, and could have counted the beating of his heart. I forget how it came about, but some allusion was made to his having a wife. He shook his head at the word, turned aside, and covered his face with his hands.

' But you are resigned now!' said one of the gentlemen after a short pause, during which he had resumed his former manner. He answered with a sigh that seemed quite reckless in its hopelessness, 'Oh yes, oh yes! I am resigned to it.' 'And are a better man, you think?' 'Well, I hope so: I'm sure I hope I may be.' 'And time goes pretty quickly?' 'Time is very long gentlemen, within these four walls!'

He gazed about him - Heaven only knows how wearily! - as he said these words; and in the act of doing so, fell into a strange stare as if he had forgotten something. A moment afterward he sighed heavily, put on his spectacles, and went about his work again.

In another cell, there was a German, sentenced to five years' imprisonment for larceny, two of which had just expired. With colors procured in the same manner, he had painted every inch of the walls and ceiling quite beautifully. He had laid out the few feet of ground, behind, with exquisite neatness, and had made a little bed in the center, that looked, by-the-bye, like a grave. The taste and ingenuity he had displayed in everything were most extraordinary; and yet a more dejected, heart-broken, wretched creature, it would be difficult to imagine. I never saw such a picture of forlorn affliction and distress of mind. My heart bled for him; and when the tears ran down his cheeks, and he took one of the visitors aside, to ask, with his trembling hands nervously clutching at his coat to detain him, whether there was no hope of his dismal sentence being commuted, the spectacle was really too painful to witness. I never saw or heard of any kind of misery that impressed me more than the wretchedness of this man.

In a third cell, was a tall, strong black, a burglar, working at his proper trade of making screws and the like. His time was nearly out. He was not only a very dexterous thief, but was notorious for his boldness and hardihood, and for the number of his previous convictions. He entertained us with a long account of his achievements, which he narrated with such infinite relish, that he actually seemed to lick his lips as he told us racy anecdotes of stolen plate, and of old ladies whom he had watched as they sat at windows in silver spectacles (he had plainly had an eye to their metal even from the other side of the street) and had afterward robbed. This fellow, upon the slightest encouragement, would have mingled with his professional recollections the most detestable cant; but I am very much mistaken if he could have surpassed the unmitigated hypocrisy with which he declared that he blessed the day on which he came into that prison and that he never would commit another robbery as long as he lived.

There was one man who was allowed, as an indulgence, to keep rabbits. His room having rather a close smell in consequence, they called to him at the door to come out into the passage. He complied of course and stood to shake his haggard face in the unwonted sunlight of the great window, looking as wan and unearthly as if he had been summoned from the grave. He had a white rabbit in his breast; and when the little creature, getting down upon the ground, stole back into the cell, and he, being dismissed, crept timidly after it, I thought it would have been very hard to say in what respect the man was the nobler animal of the two.

There was an English thief, who had been there but a few days out of seven years: a villainous, low-browed, thin-lipped fellow, with a white face; who had as yet no relish for visitors, and who, but for the additional penalty, would have gladly stabbed me with his shoemaker's knife. There was another German who had entered the jail but yesterday, and who started from his bed when we looked in, and pleaded, in his broken English, very hard for work. There was a poet, who after doing two days' work in every four-and-twenty hours, one for himself and one for the prison, wrote verses about ships (he was by trade a mariner), and 'the maddening wine-cup,' and his friends at home. There were very many of them. Some reddened at the sight of visitors, and some turned very pale. Some two or three had prisoner nurses with them, for they were very sick; and one, a fat old negro whose leg had been taken off within the jail, had for his attendant a classical scholar and an accomplished surgeon, himself a prisoner likewise. Sitting upon the stairs, engaged in some slight work, was a pretty colored boy. 'Is there no refuge for young criminals in Philadelphia, then?' said I. 'Yes, but only for white children.' Noble aristocracy in crime.

There was a sailor who had been there upwards of eleven years, and who in a few months' time would be free. Eleven years of solitary confinement!

' I am very glad to hear your time is nearly out.' What does he say? Nothing. Why does he stare at his hands, and pick the flesh upon his fingers, and raise his eyes for an instant, every now and then, to those bare walls which have seen his head turn grey? It is a way he has sometimes.

Does he never look men in the face, and does he always pluck at those hands of his, as though he were bent on parting skin and bone? It is his humor: nothing more.

It is his humor too, to say that he does not look forward to going out; that he is not glad the time is drawing near; that he did look forward to it once, but that was very long ago; that he has lost all care for everything. It is his humor to be a helpless, crushed, and broken man. And, Heaven be his witness that he has his humor thoroughly gratified!

There were three young women in adjoining cells, all convicted at the same time of a conspiracy to rob their prosecutor. In the silence and solitude of their lives, they had grown to be quite beautiful. Their looks were very sad and might have moved the sternest visitor to tears, but not to that kind of sorrow which the contemplation of the men awakens. One was a young girl; not twenty, as I recollect; whose snow-white room was hung with the work of some former prisoner, and upon whose downcast face the sun in all its splendor shone down through the high chink in the wall, where one narrow strip of bright blue sky was visible. She was very penitent and quiet; had come to be resigned, she said (and I believe her); and had a mind at peace. 'In a word, you are happy here?' said one of my companions. She struggled - she did struggle very hard - to answer, Yes; but raising her eyes, and meeting that glimpse of freedom overhead, she burst into tears, and said, 'She tried to be; she uttered no complaint, but it was natural that she should sometimes long to go out of that one cell: she could not help THAT,' she sobbed, poor thing!

I went from cell to cell that day; and every face I saw, or word I heard, or incident I noted, is present to my mind in all its painfulness. But let me pass them by, for one, more pleasant, a glance of a prison on the same plan which I afterward saw at Pittsburgh.

When I had gone over that, in the same manner, I asked the governor if he had any person in his charge who was shortly going out. He had one, he said, whose time was up the next day; but he had only been a prisoner two years.

Two years! I looked back through two years of my own life - out of jail, prosperous, happy, surrounded by blessings, comforts, good fortune - and thought how wide a gap it was, and how long those two years passed in solitary captivity would have been. I have the face of this man, who was going to be released the next day, before me now. It is almost more memorable in its happiness than the other faces in their misery. How easy and how natural it was for him to say that the system was a good one; and that the time went 'pretty quick - considering;' and that when a man once felt that he had offended the law, and must satisfy it, 'he got along, somehow:' and so forth!

'What did he call you back to say to you, in that strange flutter?' I asked of my conductor when he had locked the door and joined me in the passage.

'Oh! That he was afraid the soles of his boots were not fit for walking, as they were a good deal worn when he came in; and that he would thank me very much to have them mended, ready.'

Those boots had been taken off his feet, and put away with the rest of his clothes, two years before!

I took that opportunity of inquiring how they conducted themselves immediately before going out; adding that I presumed they trembled very much.

'Well, it's not so much a trembling,' was the answer - 'though they do quiver - as a complete derangement of the nervous system. They can't sign their names to the book; sometimes can't even hold the pen; look about 'em without appearing to know why, or where they are; and sometimes get up and sit down again, twenty times in a minute. This is when they're in the office, where they are taken with the hood on, as they were brought in. When they get outside the gate, they stop, and look first one way and then the other; not knowing which to take. Sometimes they stagger as if they were drunk, and sometimes are forced to lean against the fence, they're so bad:- but they clear off in course of time.'

As I walked among these solitary cells, and looked at the faces of the men within them, I tried to picture to myself the thoughts and feelings natural to their condition. I imagined the hood just taken off, and the scene of their captivity disclosed to them in all its dismal monotony.

At first, the man is stunned. His confinement is a hideous vision, and his old life a reality. He throws himself upon his bed and lies there abandoned to despair. By degrees, the insupportable solitude and barrenness of the place rouse him from this stupor, and when the trap in his grated door is opened, he humbly begs and prays for work. 'Give me some work to do, or I shall go raving mad!'

He has it; and by fits and starts applies himself to labour; but every now and then there comes upon him a burning sense of the years that must be wasted in that stone coffin, and an agony so piercing in the recollection of those who are hidden from his view and knowledge, that he starts from his seat and striding up and down the narrow room with both hands clasped on his uplifted head, hears spirits tempting him to beat his brains out on the wall.

Again he falls upon his bed, and lies there, moaning. Suddenly he starts up, wondering whether any other man is near; whether there is another cell like that on either side of him: and listens keenly.

There is no sound, but other prisoners may be near for all that. He remembers to have heard once, when he little thought of coming here himself, that the cells were so constructed that the prisoners could not hear each other, though the officers could hear them.

Where is the nearest man - upon the right, or on the left? or is there one in both directions? Where is he sitting now - with his face to the light? or is he walking to and fro? How is he dressed? Has he been here long? Is he much worn away? Is he very white and specter-like? Does HE think of his neighbor too?

Scarcely venturing to breathe, and listening while he thinks, he conjures up a figure with his back towards him and imagines it moving about in this next cell. He has no idea of the face, but he is certain of the dark form of a stooping man. In the cell upon the other side, he puts another figure, whose face is hidden from him also. Day after day, and often when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he thinks of these two men until he is almost distracted. He never changes them. There they are always as he first imagined them - an old man on the right; a younger man upon the left - whose hidden features torture him to death, and have a mystery that makes him tremble.

The weary days pass on with solemn pace, like mourners at a funeral; and slowly he begins to feel that the white walls of the cell have something dreadful in them: that their color is horrible: that their smooth surface chills his blood: that there is one hateful corner which torments him. Every morning when he wakes, he hides his head beneath the coverlet and shudders to see the ghastly ceiling looking down upon him. The blessed light of day itself peeps in, an ugly phantom face, through the unchangeable crevice which is his prison window.

By slow but sure degrees, the terrors of that hateful corner swell until they beset him at all times; invade his rest, make his dreams hideous, and his nights dreadful. At first, he took a strange dislike to it; feeling as though it gave birth in his brain to something of corresponding shape, which ought not to be there, and racked his head with pains. Then he began to fear it, then to dream of it, and of men whispering its name and pointing to it. Then he could not bear to look at it, nor yet to turn his back upon it. Now, it is every night the lurking-place of a ghost: a shadow:- a silent something, horrible to see, but whether bird, or beast, or muffled human shape, he cannot tell.

When he is in his cell by day, he fears the little yard without. When he is in the yard, he dreads to re-enter the cell. When night comes, there stands the phantom in the corner. If he has the courage to stand in its place, and drive it out (he had once: being desperate), it broods upon his bed. In the twilight, and always at the same hour, a voice calls to him by name; as the darkness thickens, his Loom begins to live; and even that, his comfort, is a hideous figure, watching him till daybreak.

Again, by slow degrees, these horrible fancies depart from him one by one: returning sometimes, unexpectedly, but at longer intervals, and in less alarming shapes. He has talked upon religious matters with the gentleman who visits him, and has read his Bible, and has written a prayer upon his slate, and hung it up as a kind of protection, and an assurance of Heavenly companionship. He dreams now, sometimes, of his children or his wife, but is sure that they are dead, or have deserted him. He is easily moved to tears; is gentle, submissive, and broken-spirited. Occasionally, the old agony comes back: a very little thing will revive it; even a familiar sound, or the scent of summer flowers in the air; but it does not last long, now: for the world without, has come to be the vision, and this solitary life, the sad reality.

If his term of imprisonment be short - I mean comparatively, for short it cannot be - the last half year is almost worse than all; for then he thinks the prison will take fire and he be burnt in the ruins, or that he is doomed to die within the walls, or that he will be detained on some false charge and sentenced for another term: or that something, no matter what, must happen to prevent his going at large. And this is natural and impossible to be reasoned against, because, after his long separation from human life, and his great suffering, any event will appear to him more probable in the contemplation, than the being restored to liberty and his fellow-creatures.

If his period of confinement has been very long, the prospect of release bewilders and confuses him. His broken heart may flutter for a moment, when he thinks of the world outside, and what it might have been to him in all those lonely years, but that is all. The cell-door has been closed too long on all its hopes and cares. Better to have hanged him in the beginning than bring him to this pass, and send him forth to mingle with his kind, who are his kind no more.

On the haggard face of every man among these prisoners, the same expression sat. I know not what to liken it to. It had something of that strained attention which we see upon the faces of the blind and deaf, mingled with a kind of horror, as though they had all been secretly terrified. In every little chamber that I entered, and at every grate through which I looked, I seemed to see the same appalling countenance. It lives in my memory, with the fascination of a remarkable picture. Parade before my eyes, a hundred men, with one among the newly released from this solitary suffering, and I would point him out.

The faces of the women, as I have said, it humanizes and refines. Whether this is because of their better nature, which is elicited in solitude, or because of their being gentler creatures, of greater patience and longer suffering, I do not know; but so it is. That the punishment is nevertheless, to my thinking, fully as cruel and as wrong in their case, as in that of the men, I need scarcely add.

My firm conviction is that, independent of the mental anguish it occasions - an anguish so acute and so tremendous, that all images of it must fall far short of the reality - it wears the mind into a morbid state, which renders it unfit for the rough contact and busy action of the world. It is my fixed opinion that those who have undergone this punishment MUST pass into society again morally unhealthy and diseased. There are many instances on record, of men who have chosen, or have been condemned, to lives of perfect solitude, but I scarcely remember one, even among sages of strong and vigorous intellect, where its effect has not become apparent, in some disordered train of thought, or some gloomy hallucination. What monstrous phantoms, bred of despondency and doubt, and born and reared in solitude, have stalked upon the earth, making creation ugly, and darkening the face of Heaven!

Suicides are rare among these prisoners: are almost, indeed, unknown. But no argument in favor of the system can reasonably be deduced from this circumstance, although it is very often urged. All men who have made diseases of the mind their study, know perfectly well that such extreme depression and despair as will change the whole character, and beat down all its powers of elasticity and self-resistance, may be at work within a man, and yet stop short of self-destruction. This is a common case.

That it makes the senses dull, and by degrees impairs the bodily faculties, I am quite sure. I remarked to those who were with me in this very establishment at Philadelphia, that the criminals who had been there long, were deaf. They, who were in the habit of seeing these men constantly, were perfectly amazed at the idea, which they regarded as groundless and fanciful. And yet the very first prisoner to whom they appealed - one of their own selection confirmed my impression (which was unknown to him) instantly, and said, with a genuine air it was impossible to doubt, that he couldn't think how it happened, but he WAS growing very dull of hearing.

That it is a singularly unequal punishment, and affects the worst man least, there is no doubt. In its superior efficiency as a means of reformation, compared with that other code of regulations which allows the prisoners to work in a company without communicating together, I have not the smallest faith. All the instances of reformation that were mentioned to me were of a kind that might have been - and I have no doubt whatever, in my own mind, would have been - equally well brought about by the Silent System. With regard to such men as the negro burglar and the English thief, even the most enthusiastic have scarcely any hope of their conversion.

It seems to me that the objection that nothing wholesome or good has ever had its growth in such unnatural solitude, and that even a dog or any of the more intelligent among beasts, would pine, and mope, and rust away, beneath its influence, would be in itself a sufficient argument against this system. But when we recollect, in addition, how very cruel and severe it is, and that a solitary life is always liable to peculiar and distinct objections of a most deplorable nature, which have arisen here, and call to mind, moreover, that the choice is not between this system and a bad or ill-considered one, but between it and another which has worked well, and is, in its whole design and practice, excellent; there is surely more than sufficient reason for abandoning a mode of punishment attended by so little hope or promise, and fraught, beyond dispute, with such a host of evils.

As a relief to its contemplation, I will close this chapter with a curious story arising out of the same theme, which was related to me, on the occasion of this visit, by some of the gentlemen concerned.

At one of the periodical meetings of the inspectors of this prison, a working man of Philadelphia presented himself before the Board, and earnestly requested to be placed in solitary confinement. On being asked what motive could possibly prompt him to make this strange demand, he answered that he had an irresistible propensity to get drunk; that he was constantly indulging it, to his great misery and ruin; that he had no power of resistance; that he wished to be put beyond the reach of temptation; and that he could think of no better way than this. It was pointed out to him, in reply, that the prison was for criminals who had been tried and sentenced by the law, and could not be made available for any such fanciful purposes; he was exhorted to abstain from intoxicating drinks, as he surely might if he would; and received other very good advice, with which he retired, exceedingly dissatisfied with the result of his application.

He came again, and again, and again, and was so very earnest and importunate, that at last they took counsel together, and said, 'He will certainly qualify himself for admission if we reject him any more. Let us shut him up. He will soon be glad to go away, and then we shall get rid of him.' So they made him sign a statement which would prevent his ever sustaining an action for false imprisonment, to the effect that his incarceration was voluntary, and of his own seeking; they requested him to take notice that the officer in attendance had orders to release him at any hour of the day or night, when he might knock upon his door for that purpose; but desired him to understand, that once going out, he would not be admitted any more. These conditions agreed upon, and he still remaining in the same mind, he was conducted to the prison, and shut up in one of the cells.

In this cell, the man, who had not the firmness to leave a glass of liquor standing untasted on a table before him - in this cell, in solitary confinement, and working every day at his trade of shoemaking, this man remained nearly two years. His health beginning to fail at the expiration of that time, the surgeon recommended that he should work occasionally in the garden; and as he liked the notion very much, he went about this new occupation with great cheerfulness.

He was digging here, one summer day, very industriously, when the wicket in the outer gate chanced to be left open: showing, beyond, the well-remembered dusty road and sunburnt fields. The way was as free to him as to any man living, but he no sooner raised his head and caught sight of it, all shining in the light, than, with the involuntary instinct of a prisoner, he cast away his spade, scampered off as fast as his legs would carry him, and never once looked back.

American Notes for General Circulation
by Charles Dickens, 1842

Amending HSAs To Include Tax Sheltering

Bill Archer

There is nothing the matter with Bill Archer's law to enable Health Savings Accounts, except one thing: it forbids payment of health insurance premiums via the Accounts. Probably, that provision was a necessary compromise, to get the bill passed. But just imagine what would happen if it were amended to permit such payments: money legitimately passing through the accounts gets an income tax deduction.

Henry J Kaiser

Anybody can start an HSA, so with a small amendment, anyone could get an income tax deduction for health insurance, by writing a check from the Account to pay the premium on his present health insurance, or even just notifying his bank's Bill-Pay to do it automatically. By this simple maneuver, everyone would be eligible for the Henry Kaiser tax exemption now limited to employer-paid insurance. This simple change would eliminate a festering sore of unequal treatment under the law which has been allowed to persist for eighty years. Except possibly for those who don't want a tax exemption or don't want to take the trouble to use the HSA. It's hard to imagine anyone taking that attitude, so a powerful incentive to create HSAs would leap into place. As we have said in many places, if the tax cost of the universal exemption to the government is an objection, it could easily be paid for by lowering the exemption for employer-based insurance. The number with the exemption at present so greatly outnumbers the population excluded from it, that the reduction in tax exemption making it equal is surely less than 25%. It will nevertheless be resisted, not because of the small tax cost, but because the present inequality drives people toward employer basing. Even employers would not lose much because all the business competitors would be treated equally. The main resistance would come from insurance companies which specialize in the weird forms of health insurance specially designed to adjust to existing law. Perhaps they should be compensated for their loss, although that sort of thing is seldom done in our system of government. Rather, they would be expected to accommodate the new rules of business or go out of the business. That's traditional, and it is traditional for their stockholders to insist that they resist it, leading to the eternal struggles of "creative destruction," which is universally praised as an ornament of our culture, except when it applies to yourself.

Conversely, insurance companies which provide Health Savings Accounts will flourish with new customers, so existing health insurance companies are urged to add a new form of business and prosper. Any change of the rules requires time to re-adjust, so there will be room for both kinds of health insurance, for a long transition period, perhaps permanently. Let a hundred flowers bloom. In fact, all of the current plans being offered under Obamacare contain deductibles of at least $6000, so the designers of that Act have grasped the right idea, which includes tacit phasing out co-payments. A copayment of 20% is well demonstrated not to be enough to influence patient behavior, and a copayment of 50% is seen by the public as no insurance at all. Copayment has always been a way of making the premium cost appear smaller than it really is, and it's very simple to calculate in a bargaining negotiation. A twenty percent copayment reduces the premium by twenty percent, and that's about all there is to it. Total costs are largely unaffected, except they trigger the invention of another layer of insurance to cover them.


It presently is difficult to know how many people will have health insurance after Obamacare settles down, and how much it will cost. But the Wall Street Journal reports that all of the plans being offered by the Insurance Exchanges have at least $6000 deductibles, and the various approved insurance plans cost between $187 and $590 a month. The Obama administration seems to have grasped the idea that paying small claims with three layers of insurance is a pretty expensive way to pay your bills. Therefore, it is possible to imagine an agreement between the Democratic Senate and the Republican House of Representatives, for reasons of cost, alone. Later in this book, we propose that all small claims by everyone be paid out of Health Savings Accounts, and all hospital claims are paid by diagnosis since the bedfast patient has no opportunity to bargain in the marketplace. Getting the hospitals to charge everyone the same, is an entirely different issue. The concern about such a rule is that it may contain an incentive to perform elective surgery as an inpatient when a vast number of small surgeries are adequately managed as less expensive outpatient procedures. Special accommodating adjustments such as patient discounts will probably prove necessary to prevent such an unwise migration of the locus of care. Indeed, the small but irritating local monopolies of ambulances may need to be addressed, as well, since a patient may be well enough to recover at home, but not well enough to drive himself home.

For the moment, let's not get down into the weeds of this thing. Let's just pass it, and immediately.

Thomas Jefferson, Dual Personality

{Pearls on the String}
Thomas Jefferson

Defecation, urination, and fornication. Commonly displayed for other men but only shared with selected women. Command, good taste, and control. By contrast, gentlemanly learned behaviors like these last three are rarely completely shared with other men, constantly claimed in public. The contrast was later uncovered in Presidents Jackson, Buchanan, Harding, Franklin Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Clinton, Trump, and other politicians, with adultery hidden in the background. But present in Thomas Jefferson to an unusual degree.

Tom Jefferson was the designer of the University of Virginia, and author of the three things he wanted in his epitaph, not to mention a host of other honors due to any rich man with aesthetic tendencies. Tom Jefferson was the designer of the University of Virginia and author of the three things he wanted on his epitaph,

For this he was a designer politician for other politicians. For example, he thought the guillotine was just great, and smashing windows was just fine. Torchlight parades were held on his behalf and newspapers were paid to run his a. Challenge if you will, these statements are documented.

Tom Jefferson was unquestionably the author of the three things he wanted in his epitaph, the Declaration, the Virginia Bill of Rights, and the University. But he was once a poor orphan, taken in by his rich relatives, the Randolphs. We surmise he was never quite accepted by them but tolerated. He nearly bankrupted them by the end of his long life of fancy carriages, Ambassadorship, European travel, education of his three daughters at the fanciest of girl's schools, and related expenditures. His architecture and authorship are unchallenged.

Battle of the Clouds: September, Remember


Weather satellites, television and so on have taught us much about hurricanes that was unknown in 1777. Benjamin Franklin, it should be noted, was the first to observe that Atlantic Coast "Nor'easters" actually begin in the South and work North, even though the wind seems to be blowing in the opposite way; what's moving toward the northeast is a low-pressure zone. We now know that hurricanes begin in Africa, travel West and then veer North when they reach Florida. A great deal is still to be learned about hurricanes, but the most important thing about their timing is contained in a maritime jingle:
June, too soon.
July, stand by.
And then: September, remember.
October, all over.

Along the Atlantic east coast, the end of August to the middle of September, is hurricane season. That's when houses blow down in Florida, and heavy rains hit Pennsylvania. Admiral Howe might have had some clue to this, since Franklin made his observation around 1750, and storms are important to Admirals. But very likely his brother the General just thought it was one of those things when the British landing at Elkton, Maryland in late August 1777 was greeted with an unusually severe downpour of rain. Howe had planned to surprise Philadelphia from the rear by hitting the ground running on horseback. However, he underestimated the debilitating effect on the horses of three weeks at sea on sailboats; to unload and forage horses during a hurricane was almost too much for the plan. For that purpose, he had given orders for the troops to disembark without waiting to pitch camp, or unpacking their gear. But the drenching rain gave Washington several extra days to organize a defense, although he has been given too little credit for the strenuous accomplishment of moving an army from Bucks County to the banks of the Brandywine in that weather. Howe, whose trademark was surprise, deception, outflanking, had anticipated a sudden cavalry thrust into the backyards of unprepared Philadelphia. What he got was 2000 casualties in the biggest battle of the Revolutionary War, against Washington's well-prepared defense along the steep-sided Brandywine Creek.

Howe won this battle, in the sense that Washington was forced to withdraw, because Howe employed another British military trademark, of driving his own troops beyond humane limits in a huge outflanking movement. The countryside around Kennett Square is hilly and broken almost to West Chester, and the American Army felt reasonably prepared along a front of ten or twelve miles. But Howe drove the main force of his army seventeen miles to the north, to Dillworthtown, before turning the unprepared American right flank. And, in the now hot August weather in full uniform and battle pack, the drive continued for twenty-four consecutive hours until Washington saw he had to withdraw. This was what the British meant when they boasted of seasoned regular troops; you win by enduring more than your opponent can endure.

One has to have equal admiration for Washington. Although he was dislodged from his position, losing the opportunity to catch the British in a hostile region without a reliable source of supplies once the fleet weighed anchor, he preserved his army of marksmen and deer hunters intact during the retreat. The two armies started at roughly the same size, and Washington had only about 1300 casualties; his men had more certain supply sources, and they were fighting for their homes. The British, somewhat outnumbered, had the prospect of fighting their way without resupply through an enemy's home territory, capturing the enemy's capital, but still facing the possibility that the British fleet might not get past the Delaware River defenses. If that happened, they could celebrate their victory by starving to death. Just about the only weakness of the Continental Army was its discomfort with bayonet warfare. They could hit a squirrel at a hundred yards, but those long bayonets on the end of very long muskets were designed to protect foot soldiers from cavalry charges. It takes training to put the butt of the musket against a stone on the ground, hold your ground against an oncoming gallop of horsemen, and trust that at the last moment the horses will rear back and throw the riders. But it also takes naked bravado to wave a sword and ride full tilt into a forest of pointing bayonets, trusting that at the last moment the defenders will break and run.

But Washington knew what he was doing. He pulled the troops back to Chester, then over the Schuylkill to the Germantown encampment at Fox and Queen Lane, then up the Schuylkill to Norristown, the first ford in the river that Howe must use when the boats and bridges were destroyed. The river would hold the British while the Americans came at them from the rear; this was essentially the same river strategy he used at the battle of Trenton. Washington picked his battlefield in Chester County and got ready to fight the second installment of the Battle of Brandywine. The campus of Immaculata University now occupies the site.

And then it rained, again. Hard. The gunpowder on both sides was soaked, useless. In what has come to be known as the "Battle of the Clouds", the fighting was called off by mutual agreement. The second hurricane of the year had arrived, and Washington more or less helplessly had to watch Howe take over Philadelphia unopposed. He lost the capital, provoking dismay among the colonists, but his masterful strategy taught the British to respect him. When the British were later considering whether to hold or abandon Philadelphia, this growing respect for their adversary helped tilt their thinking toward prudence.

But that was not before Howe once more showed he too was not the lazy slacker that others had called him. General "Mad Anthony" Wayne was dispatched with fifteen hundred troops to hassle the rear of Howe's army. Wayne was confident he could hide his troops in the Radnor area where he had been brought up, but the region in fact had many Torys to report his movements. Howe ordered Major General Lord Charles Grey to take the flints from his troops' muskets, attack the American camp near Paoli's tavern in the night, and use only bayonets. Waynes' troops were scattered and slaughtered, in what came to be known as the Paoli massacre.

Philadelphia in '76

Spirit of '76

Although the origins of the American Revolution are subtle and complex, even historically controversial, we have more or less united in the idea that we "declared" our independence from Britain on July 4, 1776. We then spent eight years convincing the British we were serious and have been independent ever since. Reflect, however, on the fact that fighting had been going on for a year in Massachusetts, and that Lord Howe's fleet had set sail a month before the Declaration, actually landing on Staten Island at just about the same time as the Fourth of July. Add to that the fact that only John Hancock actually signed the document on July 4th, and some of the signers waited until September. You can sort of see why John Adams never got over the idea that Thomas Jefferson had quite a nerve implying the whole thing was his idea. What's more, New England subsequently had to live with a President from Virginia for thirty-two of the first thirty-six years of the new nation. Philadelphia may have been the cradle of Independence, but that was not because it was a colony hot for war, dragging the others along with it. It was the largest city in the colonies, centrally located. It had a strong pacifist tradition, and it had the most to lose from a pillaging enemy war machine.

New England was in the position of having started hostilities, and about to be subdued by overwhelming force. The Canadians were not going to come to their aid, because they were French, and Catholic, and enough said. What the New Englanders wanted was WASP allies, stretching for two thousand miles to the South. By far the largest colony was Virginia, which included what is now Kentucky and West Virginia; it even had some legal claims for vastly larger territory. The rest of the English colonies had plenty of assorted grievances against George III, and almost all of them could see that America was rapidly outgrowing the dependency on the British homeland, without any sign that Parliament was ever going to surrender home rule to them. Perhaps it was unfortunate that New Englanders were so impulsive, but it looked as though a confrontation with the Crown was inevitably coming, and without support, New England was likely to be subdued like Carthage.

And then, the last hope for flattery and diplomacy, for guile and subtlety, stepped off the boat. Benjamin Franklin, our fabulous man in London, had it "up to here" with the British ministry. He finally was saying what others had been thinking. It was now, or never.

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Perth Amboy Revisited

Perth Amboy

It's now moderately complicated to find Perth Amboy, New Jersey, even after you locate it on a map. Like New Castle DE it flourished early because it was on a narrow strip of strategic land, and like New Castle, eventually found itself cut off by a dozen lanes of highways crowded together by geography. It's an easy drive in both cases only if you make the correct turns at a couple of crowded intersections. Both towns were important destinations in the Eighteenth century, but by the Twentieth century, both were pushed aside by traffic rushing to bigger destinations. Industrialization hit the region around Perth Amboy somewhat harder than New Castle, destroying more landmarks, and bringing to an end its brief flurry as a metropolitan beach resort. If you aspire to preserve your Eighteenth-century glory, it's easier if you don't have too much progress in the Nineteenth. In Perth Amboy's defense, it must be noted that Jamestown and Williamsburg, Virginia had just about totally disappeared when noticed by Charles Peterson and John Rockefeller, but neither of those towns was run over by Nineteenth century industrialization. So, while New Castle has treasures to preserve and display, Perth Amboy seems to have only the Governor's mansion like the one notable building to work with. William Franklin, the illegitimate son of Benjamin, was the royal governor installed in this palace shortly before 1776.

Governor's mansion in Perth Amboy

While it is true that some wealthy local inhabitants did a lot to restore and maintain New Castle (and Williamsburg), the Governor's mansion in Perth Amboy was bought and made the home of Mathias Bruen, who is 1820 was thought to be the richest man in America. If Bruen had only had the necessary imagination and generosity, this was probably the best moment for Perth Amboy to have had a historical restoration. Instead, he added some unfortunate features to the mansion; it later became a hotel, and later on, an office building. Public-spirited local citizens are now trying to set things right, but the costs are pretty daunting. Someone has to find an inspired Wall Street billionaire like Ned Johnson to make over an entire town. Occasionally, a state government will do it, as has been done with Pennsbury. Or a national organization might become inspired, as happened with Mt. Vernon and Arlington. Its present state of peeling paint and makeshift repairs suggests uninterest in Perth Amboy's Governor Mansion by the State, and the absence of whatever it is that occasionally inspires fierce and determined local leadership. Perth Amboy needs some help and needs to forget about its handicaps. Sure, it's hard to commute anywhere, it's even hard to drive across the highways to the countryside. The bluff on the promontory was once quite arresting, now a rusting steel mill occupies that spot. Other than that, it doesn't look ominous or dangerous at all. It's just forgotten.

Pennsbury Mansion

Aside from the Royal Governor's former mansion, it is hard to find a historical marker or monument in this scene of former prosperity and glory, but there is one. Down on the beach is a bronze plaque, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the founding of -- Argentina. So there's a clue, which is not difficult to associate with all of the Hispanic names on the stores, and the Hispanics in evidence on all sides. They all seemed to know that this was once the capital of New Jersey, seemed pleased with it, and could point out the famous building. They are pleasant and friendly enough. Perhaps even a little too comfortable. Because, as William Franklin's famous father once said, all progress begins with discontent.

Parliament Provokes a Revolution

In some medical circles, it is postulated that George III was psychotic, possibly suffering from an inherited rare condition called porphyria.

Magna Carta

That's pretty conjectural, but it is certainly true that his mother egged him on to be a real king, a real force reversing that steady decline in the Monarchy's personal power which began with the Magna Carta. By the time in question, however, so much power had already gravitated into the hands of Parliament that the King could not act in any major way without their consent. Even today, Cabinet Ministers are spoken of as King's ministers but are in fact appointed by leaders of the majority party in Parliament. Some in Parliament, like Edmund Burke, were almost persuasive in resisting the Ministry, urging colleagues to seek reconciliation with the colonies. George III did still retain the power to appoint his favorites to important positions and used this patronage extensively to control the country. Political party chieftains, on the other hand, retained and retain today the power to nominate the party candidate for Parliament in any particular district. The leadership thus selects the members of Parliament, who can, in turn, overturn the leadership only if they dare. Real decisions were largely in the hands of party chieftains, but perhaps to some extent, the Crown, depending on the Monarch's shrewdness in distributing patronage among the party chieftains.

Across thousands of miles of dangerous ocean, the English colonies had changed from the weedy wilderness in the Sixteenth century, into thriving and prosperous small civilizations in the early Eighteenth. Transatlantic communication did not substantially improve in that interval, but colonial population grew to over a million, many of them native-born in the colonies, with increasingly large numbers of immigrants from other nations. Loyalty to the Monarch inevitably declined. True, they spoke English, revered England, but many urgent local issues were difficult to administer at such a distance, encouraging a mentality of self-governance. France, by now at war with England on the Continent, operated on a grand plan of interior encirclement, from Quebec and and Great Lakes, down the Mississippi to New Orleans. The English coastal settlers needed peace with the Indians of the interior;

Benjamin Franklin

the French did not scruple to stir up massacres and Indian warfare. All wars are expensive, the French and Indian war particularly so. After defeating the French, the British were put to the protracted expense of building frontier defenses. Although the British were anxious to attract English-speaking colonists who would defend America for England, it was obvious some of the settlers were becoming very rich. Surely these people could not object to paying taxes for their own defense. In retrospect, it seems remarkably naive of the British to think it was that easy. Americans did not want to pay taxes because they did not want to pay taxes. They settled on the stance of "No taxation without representation" and like Franklin and the Penn family, many really believed in it. That slogan was particularly effective after it became apparent that Parliament wasn't about to give remote colonists reciprocal power in Parliament to interfere with affairs in the British Isles. With Parliament adamantly refusing to dilute its own power, "No taxation without representation" was a neat rhetorical box which meant, "No taxation." Contemporary English historians now throw up their hands in despair that so few members of George III's government had Burke's vision or even the normal wiles of diplomacy. But that understates the hidden political agenda. Parliament just pushed ahead with fairly nominal taxes, but they did so to curtail the independence of colonial legislatures.

The Stamp Act of 1764. It could be argued that Navigation Acts nothing new; earlier versions were first passed in 1651, intended to thwart Dutch trading. They prohibited foreign trade with the British home islands. After fifty years in 1703 similar restraints were extended to trade with the colonies, particularly molasses in the Caribbean area. No outcry was made as these restraints, aimed at retaining the Britishness of British colonies, were occasionally modified and extended over the next sixty years.

Thomas Penn

After a century in 1764, however, the Stamp Act was passed, producing modest revenue but imposing a crippling set of headaches by requiring special papers to transact private business. The uproar was enormous and legitimate, focused mostly on the tangle of red tape needlessly imposed. By shifting taxation from trade to paperwork transactions, suspicions were plausible that the Ministry was scheming something obscure. The Stamp Act was hastily repealed, even before Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Penn recognized its unpopularity and were still to some extent defending it in 1766. Franklin apparently saw the Stamp Act as an opportunity to appoint his friends as stamp agents. Local uproar in Pennsylvania was apparently orchestrated by William Bradford, who in addition to having been Franklin's former competitor in the printing business, was the owner of the London Coffee House at Front and Market. No other prominent colonial leader seems to have been involved in the agitation, and it is remotely conceivable that uproar originated with Bradford alone. More likely, Bradford was merely an opportunist in a genuinely popular uprising. With the familiar maneuvering characteristic of politicians, Franklin took popular credit for defeating the Stamp Act with some skillful criticism of it, while John Penn gained credit with the King for representing Pennsylvania's relative calm about it, compared with other colonies. In Pennsylvania at least, the uproar quickly subsided after the repeal of the Act.

The Townshend Navigation Acts of 1768.In 1766 the Grenville Ministry was replaced by that of Rockingham, then soon by Pitt, who were anxious to disavow the unpopular Stamp Act, but nevertheless needed colonial revenue, and needed a few unpleasant laws to prove that Parliament could not be intimidated by colonial squawking.

Charles Townshend

Charles Townshend, the brilliant, vindictive, Chancellor of the Exchequer then proposed taxes on glass, painter's lead, paper, painter's colors, and tea. The underlying political purpose of these taxes was to provide revenue for paying British colonial administrators directly, rather than depend on the Colonial legislatures to pay them. The Legislatures had long played a game of withholding payments, sometimes even the salaries of Judges and Royal Governors, when they disapproved of projects devised in London. The very predictable uproar provoked by the Townshend Acts propelled John Dickinson into prominence with a pamphlet called Letters From a Pennsylvania Farmer, which popularized the idea of "nonimportation", essentially a boycott of British products. Unintentional nonimportation was in fact the effect of the laws, clogging the ports with paralyzed trade goods. Rather than Dickinson's lofty principles, a little-noticed act of 1764, prohibiting the printing of paper money, paralyzed trade. There simply was not enough available coinage to pay these taxes, which finally pushed the primitive transaction system beyond its capabilities. From the viewpoint of modern economics, a heavy unbalance between imports and exports could not be rebalanced by flows of capital. The disastrous Townshend Acts were mostly repealed in 1770, but the British government was getting in deeper and deeper, discrediting itself at every turn. To retreat but still save face, they repealed all the taxes except the one on tea.

The Tea Act of 1772. To a certain degree, the uproar over the face-saving tax modifications on tea was a pretext for confused but radical colonists who were spoiling for a fight about difficulties they tended to personalize. The act actually lowered the effective taxes on tea, and at first Whig radicals were hard put to find a reason for outrage about lowering the price of tea. However, Bradford and his London Coffee House cronies (Mifflin, Thomson) were imaginative, and soon stampeded a mob scene in Philadelphia, where for a time the populace had seen nothing to get worked up over. Rush and Dickinson joined the chorus; the public feeling was stirred to a frenzy not easily reversed.

The really substantive issues involved were created by several years of Townshend Duties and other forms of import restriction. Laws to ensure the Britishness of British colonies created pleasant opportunities for colonial artisans and craftsmen, difficult hardships for importers. But these dislocations, whether welcome or unwelcome, firmly exposed the underlying truth that they caused all colonists to pay higher prices for goods. Adam Smith was not to publish his Wealth of Nations until 1776, so in this case the proof preceded the theory. The colonists were effectively asked to pay higher prices for everything, in order to increase Britishness and to billet soldiers they could not command. Once that cat was out of the bag, attitudes could never be the same. On the English side of the ocean, the question was framed as colonist unwillingness to contribute to the cost of their own defenses. The two slanted perceptions hardened to the point where arrogance confronted defiance, suggesting combat to both of them.

In the case of tea, taxes and import restrictions were intended to promote English tea over Dutch tea; in fact, they stimulated smuggling. Smuggling grew to a point that vast quantities of tea were stranded in the warehouses of the British East India Company, and trade balances of the British Empire were undermined. By reducing taxes, Parliament made East India tea cheaper than smuggled tea. Going perhaps one step too far, middle-men in the tea import business were cut out of the loop by appointing favored direct agents. In Philadelphia, those were Henry Drinker and Thomas Wharton. Bradford and his group immediately set about intimidating these merchants with threats to burn them out, and the sea captains who worked for them, with threats of tar and feathers. The age of Reason was leaving Reason behind.

B. Franklin, Scientist

{Franklin Institute}
Franklin Institute

FROM time to time, the Franklin Institute has a display of its own and other museums' collections of the scientific instruments of Benjamin Franklin. It's well worth anybody's visit when it is available because the beauty and craftsmanship of these instruments alone make them remarkable works of art. Franklin was financially able to retire at the age of 42, and it tells you something of the 18th-century culture that Franklin took up scientific experiments in order to be like other independently wealthy gentlemen. Science, or natural philosophy, this seems to have been in a class with getting a coat of arms and having his portrait painted, all of which cheapens our view of Franklin as a scientist.

{Peter Collinson, F.R.S.}
Peter Collinson, F.R.S.

In fact, Franklin was conducting an active correspondence with other scientists interested in electricity for many years, in particular, one Peter Collinson, F.R.S. in London. Collinson collected thirteen of Franklin's letters about his experiments, the earliest dated 1747, and printed them in 1751 as an 86-page book called Experiments and Observations about Electricity . By 1769, several more letters expanded the book to 150 pages, almost all of them describing reproducible experiments in great detail. The kite and key episode are described, but soberly and sparingly. Without making the point too graphically, an appendix was added describing how lightning had been used to kill some turkeys, so a somewhat increased power would probably be enough to kill a person. Franklin recognized that something was moving from here to there, that it had positive and negative charges, and that it was possible to store it up in a storage battery. He recognized the difference between substances that would conduct electricity and other substances that would act as insulators. Later on, he would discover that the torpedo fish stores and transmits electricity, suggesting that somehow animals made and used electricity as part of life. And of course, he put the discoveries to practical use as lightning rods, which he refused to patent.

{Madame Helvetius}
Madame Helvetius

By the time he went to England and France as a negotiator, his wide acquaintanceship in the scientific world was happy to introduce him to other famous people, like kings, Voltaire, Mozart, and Madame Helvetius the wife of the Swiss philosopher, the only woman to whom he is known to have made a proposal of marriage. When someone mentioned standing before a king, he replied he had stood before five of them. King Louis XVI, for example, appointed Franklin to a four-man committee to investigate hypnotism, then being touted as "animal magnetism" by Franz Mesmer. The other three committee members were unfortunately also destined to become acquainted with the guillotine: Brother Joseph-Ignace Guillotin himself, and two future victims of the invention, Antoine Lavoisier the discoverer of oxygen, and Jean Sylvain Bailly who first calculated the course of Halley's Comet, not to mention Louis XVI himself. It is not easy to think of any other scientist who was able to mix his scientific fame with changing international history, acquiring in the process the sobriquet of the founder of the American diplomatic corps. But then, he was witty as well as smart, and his career is a warning to those who now hope to devote their whole lives to being admitted to a prestige college and then coasting on its reputation. Franklin, it should be remembered, dropped out of school after the second grade.

Franklin Crown Soap

{Benjamin Franklin}
Benjamin Franklin

It's easy to make soap, but hard to make good soap. You just boil animal fat with wood ashes, and you get soft soap. Softsoap was sold by the barrel in the Colonies. Hard soap is made by adding salt to the mix, allowing it to be sold by the bar. The trick to all this is to know how long to boil it, how much ash of what kind, and how much salt. If you get it wrong it will be too soft or too hard, and if you have too much lye from the ashes, it will burn your skin when you wash with it. Most people made their own soap in the colonies, so they often got it wrong, because they didn't exactly know what they were doing. What they were doing was called Saponification, after the old Roman hill of Sapo. The legend is that burnt animal sacrifices in the Temple at the top of the hill would wash down and help the washerwomen in the river below get their clothes clean. The point of all this is that Josiah Franklin, the father of Benjamin and sixteen other children, was a candle maker and a soap boiler. Somehow he got the recipe right, particularly the part about adding salt, and made famously fine bars of soap with a crown stamped on them -- Crown soap. The formula was a strict family secret, the source of family discord when one sister let it out.

The point which needs reflection is that nobody in Franklin's family ever heard of potassium hydroxide, saponification, triglycerides or fatty acids. The process of achieving fame throughout the colonies -- for making a product everyone could make haphazardly -- must have involved a careful series of experiments with different fats, tallows and lards, with different amounts of ashes of various trees, and different amounts of salt. When you got it right it worked consistently, but it would have been necessary to make many experiments to get it right. To avoid repeating the same mistakes, it would be necessary to keep careful records. In other words, little Benjamin must have observed a great many examples of experimental chemistry which made him a chemist fit to talk with Lavoisier and Priestly on equal terms, even though he quit school after the second grade. His childhood was one long demonstration of a motto of Claude Bernard: "Experiment first, a theory later."

B. Franklin and Daylight Savings

Ben Franklin's father was a candle maker working out of his British home. Little Benjamin was thus in a position to watch the rise and fall of candle sales with each passing season. It must have been a central fact of that household's economy. Many years later when he was American Ambassador to France, the suggestion of Daylight Savings Time was likely a testimony to his powers of observation and reflection, for what was basically a European invention.

Now, over two centuries later than that, the point is being raised that what with Nintendo and television and all, daylight time may actually cause more consumption of electrical energy than it saves. It's a striking thought, even quite a revolutionary one. Until you remember that Franklin, more than any one person, discovered electricity.

Changing Taxing without Representation into Revolution for Independence: The British Prohibitory Act of 1775

In searching for a criminal, policemen have been trained first to search for a motive -- "Cui bono" is the Latin judicial expression. By all reasoning, New England had the most to gain from starting a war against the British military machine, and the British had most to lose. If either one even briefly considered the possibility of losing the war, these two had most to lose. The New Englanders just had more to gain, as well. The New Englanders got twelve contiguous allies they badly needed and wanted, and even so they barely won. William Bradford was doing all he could to stir up a war at Philadelphia's London Coffeehouse, for reasons of his own. Paul Revere had tried on the Delaware River for a tea war at Greenich New Jersey with better reasoning, and John Adams did his best with persuasive arguments at the Continental Congress six or eight blocks away from Carpenters Hall. The big holdouts were the pacifist Quakers, who didn't think anything was worth a war. All three Mid-Atlantic colonies were Quaker-owned and dominated. Nothing would persuade them to go to war, except being attacked.

It is unclear who figured it out, but the British fell for it. They allowed themselves to be persuaded they could win the war quickly, so George Washington drew it out until the French gave the Brits more to contend with. But who was it who perceived there was a legal difference, dating back to the Treaty of Westphalia, between being hanged for armed rebellion and merely negotiating between two sovereign nations? We don't know, but keeping its originator a secret certainly sounds like Benjamin Franklin, who had been an insider on both sides, had prestige and access to the leadership of both hotheaded sides which had betrayed him, and knew how to keep his mouth shut. In fact, he had suggested a common union at the 1745 Albany Conference. He had a score to settle between both the British and the Quakers. Provoking the British to start hostilities first, accomplished the near-destruction of both of the two groups who had offended him, after first promoting him as a distinguished leader. Even centuries later, we continue to learn that Poor Richard had a second side to him. We may never learn the truth of this bold assertion, but no one could challenge its plausibility. Right now, the British need us more than we need them with Brexit, so corroborating evidence may not be soon forthcoming. There are other strong possibilities; John Adams understood the power of privateers better than Lord North of the Admiralty did, and Admiral Howe was in no position to argue but wavered in his loyalty. Somebody engineered this enormous distraction and understood the British weakness for bravado as well as its American cousin, heedlessness. No one admires old Ben more than I do, but I have to admit to myself that Franklin has the best credentials for this job. Unless the real culprit was just that long monthlong communication gap, with its inherent delegation of authority to people who were not in a position to understand the full consequences of their power.

In any event, the pacifist Quakers whose assent was crucial, put up comparatively little opposition to conflict the British had clearly started. Defending yourself was always a weakness of pacifism, especially if you had led the flock to believe God would somehow defend them. And the legal pretext was that armed rebels' only choice was to switch from "Taxation without Representation" which was the slogan for Lexington and Concord, to "Independence" which carried less punishment. This would seem like no choice at all to the Frontiersmen. Opposition to war was anyway undermined when the enemy attacks you. The great miscalculation was to think George Washington didn't have a chance against the greatest war machine in the world. Also, Adams knew 3000 miles of ocean were on his side. And he knew that even the Quakers could agree that hanging for treason was worse than negotiating a treaty between two nations about boundaries. Adams was one of the few lawyers in America, so he would immediately see this distinction and how to exploit it. Besides, he probably was a little bit crazy, himself. North only made one mistake, losing the war, but how could he anticipate that? The more you go down the list, the more disqualified everyone seems. Except Franklin.

Robert Morris:Beaumarchais

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The Silas Deane Affair


Richard Henry Lee: A Pennsylvania Viewpoint

{Daylight Saving Time}
Daylight Saving Time
{Patrick Henry}
Patrick Henry

Although Colonial Massachusetts was combative and outspoken in its demands for liberty, somehow, pacifist Quaker Pennsylvania still got along with Bostonians reasonably well. It was Virginia that was always in Pennsylvania's face, proud, loud and defiant. Patrick Henry was certainly one of Virginia's leaders, but most of the time it was the residents of Westmoreland County VA who wrangled with Pennsylvania, people with names like Washington and Lee. Some of this animosity had to do with competition for access to the Ohio territory through Pittsburgh, some of it was a strong difference in attitude toward the Indians, whom the Quakers sought to treat as equals. Eventually, there was a division over slavery. Arthur Lee had attended Eton College no less and was often the agent who acted out the repeated efforts to stir Pennsylvania from its torpor about rebellion against England. But very likely it was his brother Richard Henry Lee who schemed the most.

{Richard Henry Lee}
Richard Henry Lee

Richard Henry Lee was the author of the Westmoreland County Resolution of 1765, which essentially proclaimed to the neighbors that anyone who cooperated with the Stamp Act was going to be sorry about it. It was the same Richard Henry Lee who introduced the Virginia Resolution of June 1776, declaring that:

Americans are and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

Hotheads of Virginia and Massachusetts formed a political group at the Continental Congress, usually referred to as the Eastern Party. The leadership of a Moderate Party was less clearly defined, but Benjamin Franklin, John Dickinson, and Robert Morris probably qualified. It was almost pre-destined that Morris and Franklin would have trouble with the Lee brothers, especially when Arthur was the spokesman and Richard Henry the ringleader. Like cats and dogs, they seemed to have been some sort of genetic antagonism; topics under dispute tended to vary. No doubt, Robert Morris' enormous wealth and the ease with which he accumulated, even more, irritated the Virginia gentry whose tobacco farms were starting to exhaust their topsoil. For his part, Morris was not likely to be deferential, merely to their ancestry. Morris did sign the Declaration of Independence a month late, but under the circumstances, he could no longer vote for it; Richard Henry Lee had written the Virginia Resolution which glorified the very crux of it. A Secret Committee was soon formed to obtain arms and gunpowder, including Morris and Franklin; Richard Henry Lee saw to it that his brother Arthur was added. When Arthur was sent to watch out for Morris' agent Silas Deane in Paris, Arthur got sent along to stand guard, stirring up endless trouble with Foreign Minister Vergennes. When the Lees finally caught on to the system of sending American products to France on ships that would return with gunpowder, they wanted Franklin removed, Robert Morris' brother Thomas removed, and another Lee brother William added to the group in charge of exchanging goods with the Frenchman Beaumarchais, who was a particular Lee favorite. When Beaumarchais indicated a strong preference for tobacco as the product most in demand in France, it must have set off bells in Richard Henry Lee's head. The Lee home region of Westmoreland County in Virginia dominated the tobacco trade. But Robert Morris was himself a second generation tobacco trader; the Lees had little new to teach him about tobacco. Time and again, Morris defeated the Lee brothers in some such petty quarrels. Gradually, the Lees lost credibility, particularly after scholars began to discover evidence that when the Stamp Act was enacted, Richard Henry Lee had applied for the job of a local agent, and had been rejected.

The Lees were not always in the wrong. Thomas Morris was indeed a hopeless alcoholic and an extreme embarrassment to Robert. But a more fraternal relationship might have led to Lee helping Morris ease Thomas out while concealing his indiscretions; he could have made a friend of Robert Morris for life. Morris was certainly willing to play this game; he praised Arthur Lee in public for his assistance in monitoring the secret committee, a description which at this distance is simply hilarious. John Adams in Paris might be forgiven for taking Puritanical offense at Ben Franklin's exuberant Parisian high life. It is likely the Virginia Cavaliers looked at dalliance through the same lens as the Adams family, disliking Franklin and Morris for having a jolly time, and worse still being acclaimed for it.

CHAPTER THREE: Sudden Fiasco Of Electronic Insurance

In spite of warnings that the computer system had been inadequately tested, political considerations seemed to dictate it was best to go ahead with the system, fixing any minor technical problems as the system unfolded. The problems were far worse than anticipated, and no amount of stress on its theoretical advantages could overcome the embarrassing reality of its abysmal breakdown. The public lost confidence in the competence of the Obama administration to do what it said it would do. Much the same thing had happened in 1965 when Medicare was introduced, but at least Lyndon Johnson demonstrated the political skill to smooth over the mess. The next thing to happen was Obamacare's computer systems didn't work. And they didn't work, in a big way. It had happened before, notably when Medicare was implemented, forty-five years earlier. But by 2013 everybody in California seemed to be running computers with ease, while the U.S. Government couldn't even get started.

It isn't enough to have a good plan, a President has to have the skill to get big projects executed, even though he cannot be expected to manage them himself, day to day. They may fail, but if they do, he has to protect the nation from the failure, and still project the image that he knows what he is doing. Since almost the same disaster befell Lyndon Johnson when he started Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, it seems fair to criticize Barack Obama for failure to learn the lessons. We therefore begin with a brief anecdote from 1965, followed by general endorsement of the idea underlying the computer bumble of 2013. Our criticism centers on his trying to do too much too soon, which has a lot to do with failure to delegate, failure to verify what has been delegated, and failure to master the government style of procurement.

This problem has not been fixed, even after a frantic scramble for months. If chaos continues too long, it will probably tarnish the public image of a good idea so badly, the public will no longer tolerate trying anything which even sounds like it.

1288 Money Bags

2603 Electronic Insurance Exchanges

2604 Redesigning Electronic Insurance Exchanges

2615 Creative Destruction for Health Insurance Companies

2626 Streamline Health Insurance?

2629 Electronic Medical Record


At first, the British Empire wasn't even British, it was English. English history, English religion, English unification, even English court intrigue, and gossip. When Sir Francis Drake brought home the Spanish gold, it was welcome enough, but it was just part of the English Revolution, on its way to becoming the British Empire. English settlers were just a curiosity, like the "Indians" they brought home. England was Ben Franklin's idea of home, left behind by his prosperous family because of largely religious quarrels. The silk-dye Franklins, by the way, had to start over at the bottom in Boston because Cotton Mather's crowd wouldn't accept their money, or see their side of an English religious quarrel. England was, in fact, everybody's home, intellectually, although that was fast coming to an end. Because of the plague and the fire, lots of things were coming to an end, and lots of other things were just starting. For now, the important thing was they were people of former substance, wide acquaintance, and thoroughly English. Whiggish and out of favor perhaps, but not seriously in rebellion.

When they got to America, the whole Franklin family was rambunctious and supported itself with sister Jane's invention of bar soap, her father's candle-making shop, and brother James' printer shop. They got in trouble somewhat with a straight-laced community, but most of their troubles would be called "scrapes" and "quarrels" of a family trying to re-establish itself in new circumstances. When he got to Philadelphia, Benjamin repeated the performance. Arriving at a strange town as a penniless teenager, he turned a print-shop into a chain of newspapers and was ready to retire to his hobbies and politics at the age of 42. Along the way, he learned to keep his mouth shut, selectively.

Franklin was not an aristocrat, but there were scarcely any aristocrats who did not seek him out. In spite of writing one of the most famous autobiographies in America, few people could be certain of his religion, his marital status, his politics. He was definitely not a Quaker, but for a while, he led the Quaker faction. He never went past the second grade, but would have won a Nobel prize if there had been such a thing, and financed his own research. He spent eighteen years living in London, inventing a musical instrument which pleased Mozart, and regularly visited Parliament. When the King's Saint Paul Cathedral was struck by lightning, the King sought his advice. When King George III rejected this advice, the personal quarrel turned him into a personal enemy of the King. As a consequence of a forty-minute public tongue-lashing by Lord Wedderburn at the King's request, he finally turned rebel, joined the Continental Congress, and eventually helped write the American Constitution. At the Albany Conference of 1754, he had proposed a Union of the Thirteen Colonies and lived to see it a reality in 1789, although it was an independent America, not a British colony. But in spite of that, it took a personal confrontation with King George III to convince him Independence was a good idea. In spite of his greatly praised autobiography, no one suspected it of him. No one seems to have known.

The Definition of a Real Philadelphian (1914)

Elizabeth Robbins Pennell

There are several million people living in Philadelphia, but of course, not all of them are real Philadelphians. >Elizabeth Robbins Pennell, a friend and biographer of James McNeill Whistler, tells us the definition of a real Philadelphian in 1914.

"I think I have a right to call myself a Philadelphian, though I am not sure if Philadelphia is of the same opinion. I was born in Philadelphia, as my father was before me, but my ancestors, having had the sense to emigrate to America in time to make me as American as an American can be, were then so inconsiderate as to waste a couple of centuries in Virginia and Maryland, and my Grandfather was the first of the family to settle in a town where it is important, if you belong at all, to have belonged from the beginning. However, [my husband's] ancestors, with greater wisdom, became at the earliest available moment not only Philadelphians, but Philadelphia Friends, and how much more that means Philadelphians know without my telling them. And so, as he does belong from the beginning, and as I would have belonged had I had my choice, for I would rather be a Philadelphian than any other sort of American, I do not see why I cannot call myself one despite the blunder of my forefathers in so long calling themselves something else."

--Our Philadelphia, 1914


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Virginia Invades Pennsylvania

Map of Pittsburg

Pittsburgh is situated at a water gap, where a prehistoric North-South river broke through the mountain to the West. Thus, the southerly Monongahela river joined the northerly Allegheny to form the Ohio river at the "Golden Triangle". Virginian explorers saw the Monongahela as their path to the mid-West, the French in Canada saw the Allegheny as their path from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi, while William Penn had an awkward charter saying he owned the whole territory. To make matters worse, the region was largely settled by semi-barbarian Scotch-Irish squatters, while the equally fierce Indian tribes were pretty outraged by the white men. Benjamin Franklin added his bit to uproar by buying the territory from the Iroquois at the 1754 Albany Conference, when it belonged to the Delaware tribe, who promptly became the main exterminators of General Braddock's army. Lord Dunmore also bought the Ohio territory from the Iroquois, in spite of the fact that it traditionally belonged to the Shawnees. The whole region was a seething cauldron of massacres and assassinations, betrayals and vengeance. Not exactly a place to welcome pacifist Quaker governance.

Young George Washington

It would be interesting to know George Washington's later thoughts about this region since he was the young officer who started the French and Indian War in 1753. The Governor of Virginia had learned the French were fortifying Fort Duquesne at the forks of the Ohio and sent Washington to warn them to desist. He barely escaped with his life, and soon accompanied General Braddock's English troops to their own disaster in 1755. In 1758 the British sent General Forbes with a British army to wipe out Fort Duquesne, which he did, establishing Fort Pitt on the ashes. Fort Pitt somehow remained under the control of -- Virginia -- until 1777.

Delaware River

The Penn proprietors were vigilant, but patient when they had to be. Presumably through influence with the British crown, the Penns gave their consent to the Forbes expedition only on condition their ownership rights were recognized. Their argument was a difficult one to maintain in the face of military realities, since their charter read that the western boundary of Pennsylvania was to be five degrees west of the Delaware River, a rather vague concept in the wilderness of Appalachia. It was maintained that such a boundary would naturally parallel the twists and turns of the Delaware, at a distance of several hundred miles west. Such a preposterous boundary was soon abandoned for the cubist idea of several straight lines with bends at major levels of the Delaware River. With all disputants rather befuddled, it was finally established that any possible variation of language and interpretation would still put the boundary at least six miles west of the forks of the Ohio. Seeing the main point of the sophistry was lost in any event, Virginia gave up.

It might be possible to be sympathetic with Virginia's claim, except for Lord Dunmore the Governor. After all, Virginia had shed blood for the area, surveyed it, built roads, and persuaded the British Ministry to support them militarily. The Pennsylvanians only had a piece of parchment, carelessly engraved with an unworkable depiction of vague boundaries in the woods which totally ignored the most important natural landmark. But Lord Dunmore was too clever by half.

It would appear that his scheme was to make the region uninhabitable by stirring up the Indians and settlers into ferocious massacres. With these competing claims eliminated, it would be far easier to negotiate with other competitive claimants. Virginia was by far the largest of the thirteen colonies, and Pennsylvania was notoriously the most unwilling to meet force with force. It would be interesting to see studies of the inside pressures and negotiations which eventually made Virginia back off. But it seems safe to believe that the necessity for the colonies to unite in their common struggle for independence was in one form or another, the definitive force.

At any rate, at the end of a long career, in 1794 President George Washington personally led an army into Pennsylvania's Appalachia to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion at a town called Monongahela. It would be immensely revealing to know what his thoughts and reflections were, as he jiggled along on his horse.

Overview: The American Flowering

{Pearls on the String}
Plymouth Rock

According to New Englanders, The American flowering began at Plymouth Rock, while it ends with the abandonment of Boston by the British, and replacement of the town's population by Colonial Americans, after the Battle of Bunker (Breeds) Hill.

This book gives the Pennsylvania version: It all started at Braddock PA with George Washington watching the famous Redcoats run for their lives, and ended in 1932 also in Pennsylvania, with the dashing of Philadelphia's dream of being the richest city in the world.

There's a dash of local patriotism in both versions, and both cities continue to fight the battles--politely.

Two Hotheads May Have Destroyed an Empire

{King George III}
King George III

Combatants in a war often personalize the enemy in a single person. In 1776 the American colonists blamed it all on King George III. The British might have picked Sam Adams or Thomas Paine. Things are of course always vastly complicated in the affairs of great nations. Economics and national power are strong forces, like culture, religion, and the accidents of geography and history. But when matters teeter on the edge of a cliff, insignificant pests can occasionally start an avalanche.

Charles Townshend

Consider first Charles Townshend, the Chancellor of England's exchequer in 1768. Townshend didn't particularly want the job, hoping instead for the Admiralty. None of the political power brokers particularly wanted to give him the job, but ultimately regarded it as the place he could do the least harm. He had no less an advisor than Adam Smith, who was the tutor of his son, but Smith's letters to him are so servile that it seems unlikely he would urge free trade to such a headstrong merchantilist employer. It is intriguing to speculate this strange association might have sharpened Smith's opinions in the Wealth of Nations which first appeared in 1776./p>

{William Bradford}
William Bradford

Townshend had been a problem all his life. His mother was brilliant, and notoriously promiscuous. He and his father exchanged 2000-word letters explaining to each other how the other was completely wrong. Charles was witty, eloquent and charming when he wanted to be, and he married an enormously wealthy woman. After that, his family had no hold on him, and they rarely spoke to each other. The same charm plus arrogance can be perversely effective in politics, so other politicians often just had to put up with him. But as politicians do, they roasted him in their letters and private conversations. His political opponent, Edmund Burke, was perhaps a gentle critic when he observed, "His actions... seem never to have been influenced by his most wonderful abilities." Opponents, of course, welcome deficiencies in their enemies, while exasperated political allies can be the most scathing about team members who injure the party with misbehavior. Adam Smith referred to his employer as someone "who passes for the cleverest fellow in England." Chase Price described him as "utterly unhinged". Horace Walpole: "nothing is luminous compared with Charles Townshend: he drops down dead in a fit, has a resurrection, thunders in the Capitol, confounds the Treasury bench, laughs at his own party, is laid up the next day, and overwhelms the Duchess [of Argyll, his mother-in-law] and the good women that go to nurse him!" The final assessment of his biographer Sir Lewis Namier was "...illustrations of Charles Townshend's character can be picked out anywhere during his adult life. He did not change or mellow; nor did he learn by experience; there was something ageless about him; never young, he remained immature to the end."

What matters for contemporary American readers is Townshend's 14-year grievance against American legislatures which seem to have originated when he discovered the New York Legislature in 1754 up to its old tricks of refusing to provide funds for Royal initiatives it did not like. At the time, he was in his first public office, the Board of Trade and Plantations, and had written some highly arrogant orders to New York, making many high-handed and disdainful public asides to his friends, including his wish to have the Assembly cut out of appropriations except for token approval of them. He was young, so his wiser party colleagues simply deflected him. But by 1767 he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, a brilliant speaker, and no doubt had collected many political chits to be cashed in. The Townshend Taxes were enacted, his underlying personal grievances were well known, the colonial assemblies could see it meant big trouble.

Although almost no one could match Townshend for bizarre behavior, in Philadelphia at Front and Market Streets, there was another difficult personality, named William Bradford. As a printer and newspaper publisher, Bradford must have been a person of some note in a town of thirty thousand, but it is difficult to find a portrayal of him, and notes about his personal life are comparatively skimpy. We do know that he was a member of a family of newspaper printers, including grandfather, uncle, and son, all of whom had experienced official prosecution for defiance of government. His grandfather, also named William Bradford, is said to have had Quaker affiliation, but it is not particularly prominent in accounts of him, while almost no mention of Quaker affiliation is made of the rest of the family. Grandfather William had a notable apprentice named John Peter Zenger, who was prosecuted for libel against the Royal Governor of New York, defended in a famous trial by the Philadelphia Lawyer Andrew Hamilton, who established the principle that what is the truth is not a libel. We can rather safely presume that the younger William Bradford had grown up in an environment of hostility to authority, aggravated but not necessarily caused by some rather plain persecutions by authority. It may even have been specific hostility to British authority, since in 1754 young Bradford began publication of a specifically anti-British paper, The Weekly Advertiser. It is interesting to note that its principle competitor was a pro-British paper printed by Ben Franklin. Somewhere along the line, Bradford became head of the Sons of Liberty, clearly marking him as strongly anti-British, probably well before the Townshend Acts.

Bradford established the London Coffee House at Front and Market Streets in Philadelphia. That might seem a strange sideline for a printer, until you reflect that the location was right beside the waterfront, especially the Arch Street warf. Newspapers in those days almost never had professional reporters, depending for their content on gossip from visiting ships. A coffee shop near the waterfront would be an excellent place to hear the maritime news of the world, and possibly hear it sooner than competitors. The London Coffee House provided a place for bargaining and trade; the Maritime Exchange got its start there. It may or may not be significant that a main activity of the Exchange was to buy and sell slaves. It is sure that the Navigation Acts and the Townshend taxes on various imports were a central topic of angry discussion in a waterfront Coffee House from 1768 to 1776. Thus it is possible that Bradford was caught up in the excited opinions of his customers, but plenty of evidence of anti-British sentiment exists in his background to suppose he nursed a long-standing prejudice against the British government. Our most authoritative account of the events appeared in the Pennsylvania Packet of January 3, 1774, but the beginnings of the story were better related in the Pennsylvania Mercury of October 1, 1791, shortly after Bradford's death.

"After the Tax on Tea imported into America was reduced to 3d. per pound by the British Parliament, there appeared to be a general disposition in the colonies to pay it. In this critical situation of the Liberties of America, Mr. Bradford stopped two or three citizens of Philadelphia, who happened to be walking by the door of his house on Front-street, and stated to them the danger to which our country was exposed, by receiving, and paying the tax on, the tea. Many difficulties startled the gentlemen, to whom he spoke, in the face...; and it was particularly mentioned that the citizens of Philadelphia were tired out with town and committee meetings, and that it would be impossible to collect a sufficient number of them together, to make an opposition to the tea respectable and formidable. 'Leave that business to me(said Mr. Bradford),--I'll collect a town meeting for you--Prepare some resolves;--and,--they shall be executed.' The next evening he collected a few of such citizens who were heartily opposed to the usurpations of the British Parliament, who drew up some spirited resolutions to reject the dutied tea, and to send back the tea ship. These resolutions were adopted the Saturday following (October 16, 1773), by a large and respectable town meeting at which the late Dr. Thomas Cadwalader (a decided Whig) presided. The same resolutions were immediately afterwards (November 5, 1773) adopted, nearly word for word, by a town meeting in Boston, where a disposition to receive the tea had become general, from an idea that opposition to it would not be seconded or supported by any of the other colonies. The events (December 16, 1773) which followed the adoption of these resolutions in the town of Boston are well known. However great the merit and sufferings of that town were in the beginning of the war, it is a singular fact, and well worthy of record in the history of the events which produced the American Revolution, the First act in that great business originated in Philadelphia, and that the First scene in it originated with Mr. William Bradford."

Written within a few days of the events, the January 3, 1774 Pennsylvania Packet is more detailed. In particular, the grievance is stated to be "...the pernicious project of the East India Company, in sending Tea to America, while it remains subject to a duty, and the Americans at the same time confined by the strongest prohibitory laws to import it only from Great Britain." While it is not easy to find a quotation capsulizing the British response, it would be something to the effect that the Tea Act was in fact a face-saving gesture which reduced the price of tea for the colonists, and was received as such by most of them, until smugglers of Dutch tea now faced the same surplus of unsold tea which had nearly bankrupted the East India Company after the colonies resorted to non-importation. Both arguments contain a certain amount of spin, but side-by-side, they contained sufficient reasonableness to permit peaceful resolution. To go on with the details:

"Upon the first advice of this measure, a general dissatisfaction was expressed, that, at a time when we were struggling with this oppressive act, and an agreement subsisting not to import Tea while subject to the duty, our subjects in England should form a measure so directly tending to enforce the act and again embroil us with our parent state. When it was also considered that the proposed mode of disposing of the Tea tended to a monopoly, ever odious in a free country, a universal disapprobation showed itself throughout the city. A public meeting of the inhabitants was held at the State-House on the [16]th October, at which great numbers attended, and the sense of the city was expressed in [the following] eight resolves:"

which we will divide into three sections for commentary. Resolves 1,2, and 5 can be said to be a protest against the Tea Act. While the language is a little high-flown, such a protest would be considered a normal exercise of free speech:

"1. That the disposal of their own property is the inherent right of freemen;that there can be no property in that which another man can, of right, take from us without our consent: that the claim of Parliament to tax America is, in other words, a claim of right to levy contributions on us at pleasure. "2. That the duty imposed by Parliament upon Tea landed in America is a tax on the Americans, or levying contributions upon them without their consent. "5. That the resolution lately enered into by the East India Company to send out their Tea to America , subject the payment of duties on its being landed here, is an open attempt to inforce this ministerial plan, and a violent attack upon the liberties of America."

Resolutions 3. and 4. are accusations of a deeper plot. The colonists do not want to be taxed by the British Government directly, but prefer to tax themselves so that final payment to colonial officials must pass through colonial control. Unspoken, of course, is the creation of an ability to thwart implementation of unwelcome directives from London:

"3. That the express purpose for which the tax is levyed on the Americans, namely for the support of government, administration of justice, and defence of his Majesty's dominions in America, has a direct tendency to render Assemblies useless, and to introduce arbitrary government and slavery. "4. That a virtuous and steady opposition to this ministerial plan of governing America is absolutely necessary to preserve even the shadow of liberty, and is a duty which every freeman in America owes to his country, to himself, and to his posterity."

Finally, in the tradition of the writing of resolutions, come the so-called Resolves, the solution to the problem which you wish your audience to agree to. These concrete actions are found in resolutions 6, 7, and 8. The British could be expected to be offended, since the Resolves do not acknowledge the right of Parliament to impose the tax, or humbly petition that they reconsider. Rather, they assume the role of sovereign government themselves, effectively declaring the colonies would punish anyone who obeyed the Law, would coerce those who are charged by Parliament to implement the Law, and would cause those appointed by Parliament to do this work, to resign or else the peace would be disturbed by colonial enforcement of these 'suggestions':

"6. That it is the duty of every American to oppose this attempt. "7. That whoever shall, directly or indirectly, countenance this attempt, or in any wise aid or abet in the unloading,receiving and vending the Tea sent, or to be sent out by the East India Company, while it remains subject to the payment of the duty here, is an enemy to his country. "8. That a Committee be immediately chosen to wait on these gentlemen, who, it is reported , are appointed by the East India Company to receive and sell said Tea, and request them, from a regard to their own character, and the peace and good order of the city and province, immediately to resign. "

The thinly-veiled threats contained in these resolutions against anyone who disagreed were soon made more explicit when the tea ship actually arrived at the mouth of the Delaware around December 23, 1773, by public posters to the Delaware River pilots and Captain Ayers of the incoming Tea ship, signed by THE COMMITTEE FOR TARRING AND FEATHERING. Cards were printed up for the public to distribute around the premises of James and Drinker, telling them to resign as sales agents for the Tea by writing a note, to be delivered to the London Coffee House -- William Bradford's place of business. A few shouts and the waving of a few torches would have been sufficient to indicate that the alternative was arson.

A month elapsed between the proclamation of the Philadelphia resolutions and the actual arrival of Captain Ayers in our harbor. Another tea ship had arrived at Boston in the meantime on December 16,1773. The Boston citizens had dressed themselves as Indians, and dumped the Boston Tea consignment into the harbor, proclaiming the same eight Philadelphia-written resolutions. But in Philadelphia, violence proved unnecessary. James and Drinker resigned their appointments as sales agents, the pilots were ready enough to impede passage, and Captain Ayers on December 27, 1773 meekly sailed his cargo of Tea back where it came from.

Re-Arrangements and Addition of Childhood

Transition Problems

Section Three: An Early Look at the Necklace

ZNOTE: Ronald MacDonald (Podcast)

Section Two: Three More Pearls, Makes Four

Section Two

Three More Pearls, Makes Four


Lindley B. Reagan, M.D.

July 16, 1918 -- September 10, 1995

Lindley B. Reagan, M.D

The first and oldest hospital in America, the Pennsylvania Hospital at 8th and Spruce Streets, always had a strong Quaker flavor but a unique medical tradition as well. Since it was the only American hospital for decades, later becoming the home hospital of the first medical school in the country, it impressed its ideals and traditions on the whole of American medicine. However, it imposed so many difficult demands on its trainees that a century or more of an evolving profession simply moved away from copying it. It was, in 1960, the last hospital in the country to begin paying its resident physicians anything at all, one of the last privately controlled American hospital to adopt a billing and accounting department, and one of the last if not the last to regard a handful of private beds as merely a convenience for the patients of the staff physicians. In 1970 its method of maintaining inventory was to notice that the supplies on the shelf were running low, and ordering some more. It was founded in Benjamin Franklin's words, for the "sick poor, and if there is room, for those who can pay," and could only survive into the late 20th Century through private donations and the freely contributed services of the doctors, student nurses and administration. No amount of money could induce people to work as hard as they worked. You might say this was the only aspect of Medieval monasteries which Philadelphia Quakers thought worthy of imitating.

Somewhere in this set of ideas was the treasured concept of a rotating internship, preferably two years long, prior to entering specialty training through a residency. In 19th Century Vienna, it was a matter of rule that an intern was just that, physically confined within the walls for the term of service, and a resident was just that, someone who lived on the campus. The Pennsylvania Hospital had no such rule, but since it paid the doctors nothing for five or six years of eighty-hour weeks, their poverty forced them to satisfy the Viennese rules by default. Entertainment was bridge or poker in the intern quarters, conversational chit-chat was a description of bizarre cases or peculiar patients, a weekend "off-call" was a good time to catch up on correspondence. There were student nurses around, of course, but the matron was a pretty no-nonsense chaperon. Every class of interns contained one or two millionaires by inheritance, but peer pressure made them nearly indistinguishable in the daily routines. Aristocrats' main value to the resident physician community was their access to the ruling families in the city, and hence to the governance of the hospital, in case governance should occasionally abuse the vulnerability of the trainees.

I find in retirement that most of my colleagues are now willing to tell stories of the "old days" which they were unwilling to tell at the time. Over several glasses of the finest single-malt in a walnut-paneled club, one such story recently surfaced. It concerned Lin.

Lin was a member of an old Quaker family, surprising everybody during the Second World War by volunteering as a junior physician in the Navy. He was assigned to a marine regiment in the Pacific Theater and went through some of the most murderous fightings on Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal. Our grapevine reported that the enlisted Marines in his outfit absolutely worshipped him, and I easily believe there was a lot of quiet heroism behind that gossip. He told me he had decided to become an internist while in the Pacific, but somehow only a surgical residency was available when the War was over, so he took it. He was probably the best internist on the staff, and it showed in his conduct of surgery, where it sometimes matters more what you decide to cut than what you cut. He always looked exhausted, but never hesitated to drive himself another hour when the situation demanded it. One day, he had to excuse himself from an operation, an almost unheard-of event, and testing his own urine, found it loaded with sugar. So, the soft-spoken Quaker internist who was primarily doing surgery had to add the burden of insulin injections to his load. If he ever complained about that or any other thing, no one could remember hearing it.

At about the third glass of single malt, the story came out. My old friend, like the rest of us, had to spend a year as a surgical intern during the two-year rotating internship; he hated surgery and didn't mind telling the world. At the moment in question, he was the assistant at some neck surgery, with Lin performing the actual surgery. He was told to take a long pair of scissors and cut off the excess strands of sutures after Lin tied the knots; that was known as trimming the ligatures. They were working deep in the crevices of the patient's neck. Lin held up the loose ends of the knot and ordered, "Cut". My friend inserted the long scissors into the hole and snipped -- accidentally cutting right through the jugular vein.

As would be expected, a fountain of blood came up out of the hole, and Lin stopped it by putting his thumb on the cut ends of the vein. "Well," said Lin, "I guess we'll have to fix that." And did.

With tears in his eyes, my octogenarian friend cried out to the startled clubroom. "God bless you. God bless you, Lin."

Perhaps the point isn't clear to those who didn't go through the process, so let's be more explicit. Both my friend and I worshipped Lin, as a person, a teacher, and a surgeon. He was the perfect agent for his patients, without the tiniest trace of conflict of interest, income-maximizing or whatnot. He was as technically skillful as it is useful to be, but he was the thinking man's surgeon as well as the utterly faithful servant of the best interests of the humblest patient. He was, in the opinion of his closest professional associates, the best surgeon in the world. In need of surgery ourselves, all of us would have flown the Atlantic to have him operate on us. For reasons of his own, he was to spend the forty years of his professional life in a small country town with a small hospital, scarcely a famous surgeon but a beloved one to his community. Over the past sixty years, I have had a number of opportunities to know many surgeons who would be in contention for the title of the best surgeon in the world. Some have written books, some have struggled successfully upward through vicious competition, some of them would be called "Rainmakers" if the research world followed the pattern of lawyers and architects. One or two have won Nobel Prizes for surgical innovations, but that's different from being the best surgeon around. The best surgeon in the world was Lin, faithfully plying his trade in a little town that could not possibly know how lucky they were.

Around Home: Washington Square



The Future of Individual Equity Index Funds ("Passive investing") As a New Gold Standard

{Joseph Schumpeter}
Joseph Schumpeter

Joseph Schumpeter's famous slogan "Destructive Innovation" fails to mention an important feature: sometimes, the cost of destruction can be greater than the profits from the innovation. The destructive effect makes its appearance early when the innovator is likely to have the insufficient startup capital to overcome a stagnant but politically powerful existing alternative. A suspicion arises that undeveloped markets, lacking "national champions", might actually have an advantaged location to perfect and exploit an innovation.

Kenya seems to present examples of several of the issues. Regardless of whose idea it was, the British but Los Angeles Headquartered Qualcomm Corporation seems to have recognized the potential of electronic banking and hired IBM to develop the technology. Ignoring the British and American markets, they started the M-Pesa Corporation in Kenya and Tanzania, where they quickly assembled 15 million customers producing a 27% profit margin, in spite of a 10% rate of attrition by fraud. Competitors are experiencing similar mixtures of success and failure in India. After the kinks are worked out in Africa, Qualcomm presumably might then be in a position to exploit its experience toward defeating conventional banking competitors in the developed world. Its recent stock market decline may suggest fierce competition even in darkest Africa, or it may suggest an investment bargain. But it illustrates the changing issues within technology innovation.


According to reports, M-Pesa eliminates the cost of branch banks by combining the ideas underlying Bill-Pay and Pay-Pal. Others can do the same. Africa may have few strong banks but has millions of wireless telephones. The customers deposit money by phone by increasing the phone charges and then direct its payment by phone. Leverage is developed by outsiders depositing extra money to lend, and thus the basics of banking are assembled inexpensively. A charge to use the system is added, with a surcharge for paying the bills of non-members. The system attracts fraud, but apparently, there are enough honest people starved for banking services, that profits absorb the cost. Bitcoin employs different technology but many of the same concepts, so conventional branch banks are not the only competition. Unless they change ancient ways, somebody is eventually likely to upend conventional banks in developed nations, although it may not necessarily be Qualcomm.

So, many of the objections to substituting new currencies for higher-cost branch banking are surely going to be tested by some system, anyway. Branch banking has been successful for a long time, so it is not likely to collapse because of internal contradictions alone. Innovative competitors are going to have a rough time overturning a useful system, need not be addressed here, so we confine this overview to the peculiarities and specific advantages of a currency replacement by index funds. Are they here to stay?

Proclamation of Parliament: Ben Franklin's Role

{Pearls on the String}
Franklin Lighting Rod

Ben Franklin had a famous tussle with King George about lightning rods on St. Paul's Cathedral, which led to his humiliation by Wedderburn. And that led to this loyal subject of the Crown switching sides to leave London and sail back to America to join the Continental Congress. Franklin thought he knew a thing or two about lightning rods, while the King owned the Cathedral. It tells you as much about Franklin, as it does about the King.

So it turned out that Franklin was one of a dozen in America who knew that the Treaty of Westphalia had the effect of prescribing hanging as the punishment for armed defiance of a King, but

Book Review: The Great Influenza by John M. Barry

CONTENTS: this is the main body of text

another paragraph

Federal Reserve: Guess Who Sets The Internal Boundaries?

another paragraph

Long Range Planning Goes Wrong

At one point, the Reading Railroad was said to be the largest corporation in the world. Whether that was true or not is irrelevant; it was big. It was made so by starting the first industrial revolution along the upper reaches of the Delaware River by building on the land speculation of Robert Morris at Morrisville, followed by the War of 1812 making anthracite supplant Chesapeake coal for the benefit of the Girard Estate.

The Walking Purchase and Ben Franklin had something to do with all this, although it remains unclear just what it was. Eventually, the wide upper Delaware and New Jersey political shenanigans diverted rail traffic to the foot of Market Street, where the Market Street subway (the first American subway) became the focus for Atlantic Coast traffic, and the Girard Estate built an industrial focus for it until 1926 through Philadelphia. Then the Pennsylvania Railroad and the construction of the Ben Franklin Bridge upset the geographic barrier to direct traffic through Philadelphia and from 1926 the whole set of rearrangements shifted to making Philadelphia a dying ghost town by 1933. The careful planning of William Penn, Stephen Girard, Ben Franklin, and Francis Bacon was upset in scarcely more than one decade.

That's an abbreviated summary of a much more complicated history, usually condensed even further by saying the automobile riding on the new Ben Franklin Bridge changed the whole Atlantic geography on the back of World War II. Centuries of planning around the conveniences and obstacles of that happenstance -- went out the window. It remains to be seen whether Meds and Eds will rescue the situation. The rapid migration of the movie, the automobile, the computer, the publishing industry, the banking industry, men's clothing, and countless other industries could not resist the speed and thoroughness of change.

Whither, WHYY


Although presently scheduled to happen between the November 2008 elections and the actual onset of the newly elected government, a big event has been postponed twice, and may be postponed again. The event in question is federal prohibition by Congress of further American broadcasting of analog television, the only free television now being broadcast. Congress has passed such a law, and the President has signed it. Even if you aren't a cynic, it's hard to believe the cable television industry isn't overjoyed, if not a little culpable. Presumably, useless analog television sets will then be put out at the curb for trash collection simultaneously. One could, however, imagine that trash collectors will be busy attending protest riots in Washington, so you can't be entirely sure the trash will be picked up. The Constitution provides for lame-duck sessions of Congress just before this impending moment, so perhaps all can be rescued by chastened legislators.

WHYY Offices

That's one vision of the future. An alternative would be that the spin industry will work us up into a buying frenzy for high-definition television (HDTV) by that time, so the nation may eagerly line up in front of discount stores to buy a technological marvel that renders current television a laughable joke we can hardly wait to eliminate. Judge for yourself, because HDTV capable television sets are already on display in the shops, side by side with the old-fashioned variety. Unfortunately, it is a little hard to observe much difference. The present spin is that HDTV, or digital television, will be such a dramatic improvement that any transitional disruption will be ignored.

In fact, improved reception isn't the issue at all, more bandwidth is. Analog transmission is a bandwidth hog, severely limiting the number of channels available for licensing. Digital transmission would permit a vast increase in the number of channels available to use the free airways, making heftier competition for cable transmission, also a notorious political plum, as all utilities somewhat are. Dig a little deeper and you find that not only is the issue fifty dollars a month versus free, or ten channels versus two hundred, it also has to do with the vast overbuilding of fiberoptic networks by that bearded CEO fellow who went to jail, and the subsequent scooping up of fiberoptic by the Chinese, Google, or whoever. But set that aside. The current buzz is that WHYY, or Channel 12 the Public Broadcasting System, will expand to channels 12.1, 12.2, 12.3 and 12.4. That will give Philadelphia a full-time arts and culture channel, in addition to the present channel 12, which is now somewhat overweighted with environmental photography. It's hard to know whether the existing arts and culture institutions, which charge admission to their content, will welcome or deplore a new competitive medium in their midst. Some of the grimmer realities of the matter are highlighted by the additional reality that Channel 12 will be given yet another two channels to fill, and presently isn't at all sure where any content will come from. One of the most discouraging features of the present single PBS channel is the obvious shortage of money for programming purposes, sadly evident in the irritating and humiliating marathons of public pleading and begging for contributions. If there isn't enough revenue to support one channel, how can four be financed?

Revolt of the Admirals: The Fight for Naval Aviation, 1945-1950

{Pearls on the String}
Revolt of the Admirals

The National Security Act of 1947, intended to unify the separate armed forces services under a single Defense Secretary, failed to settle the deeper issue that divided them: the debate over roles and missions. One symptom of this conflict was a showdown between the Air Force and the Navy over the role of carrier aviation in the national security framework of the United States. From the early days of aviation, Army and Navy aviators had approached their roles very differently. Army air doctrine centered on strategic bombing, while Navy doctrine focused on carrier air power as an increasingly important element of the fleet's offensive striking power. In the postwar era of demobilization, these differences were exacerbated as each service fought for its share of a decreasing defense budget. Louis A. Johnson's appointment as Secretary of Defense in late March 1949 added to the Air Force-Navy friction. While Johnson allowed procurement of B-36s for the Air Force strategic bombing program to be greatly accelerated, he canceled development of the first flush-deck supercarrier, which would have enabled the Navy to operate long-range attack aircraft capable of carrying atomic weapons. This rejection fueled the Navy's fear that naval aviation was to have a diminishing role in the new atomic age and provided the final impetus for a clash between the Air Force and the Navy. The conflict came to a head when an anonymous document was delivered to members of Congress in May 1949, alleging improprieties in the Air Force procurement of the B-36 bomber. Although later found the be baseless, these charges inspired two sets of congressional hearings: the first on the B-36 bomber program itself, and the second on the issue on unification a strategy. During the latter hearings, high-ranking naval officers voiced their opinion that naval aviation was being denigrated by a Defense Secretary enamored with possibilities of strategic bombing and scornful of the Navy's contribution to such a mission. The press soon termed their vehement testimony in support of naval aviation the "revolt of the admirals."

About the Author

{Pearls on the String}
Jeffery G. Barlow

Jeffery G. Barlow has worked as a historian with the Contemporary History Branch of the Naval Historical center since 1987. He is writing an official two-volume history on the U.S. Navy and national security affairs. During 1969-1970, while on active duty with the U.S. Army, he served as a staff member of the newly established U.S. Army Military History Research Collection at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. A Navy junior, Dr, Barlow graduated with a B.A. in history from Westminster College (Pa.) in 1972. At the University of South Carolina, where he was an H.B. Earhart Fellow, he studied under Dr. Richard L. Walker and received a doctorate degree in international studies in 1981. Dr. Barlow's contributions to published works include a biographical chapter on Admiral Richard L. Conolly in Stephen Howarth's Men of War: Great Naval Leaders of World War Two (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993) and chapters on Allied and Axis naval strategies during the Second World War in Colin S. Gray and Roger W. Barnett's Seapower and Strategy (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1989). His work has also appeared in International Security and Air University Review.

Purchase a copy here

Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic

{Anne Mc Donald}
Anne Mc Donald

Anne T. Macdonald developed the idea in 1948 that a large number of blinded war veterans would benefit from recorded textbooks. Starting at the New York Public Library and now with a national headquarters in Princeton, a string of 29 centers have appeared across the nation, with an average of 7000 volunteers contributing their time reading textbooks into recording devices. The Philadelphia effort started at 36th and Market and has since moved to King of Prussia, where 280 volunteers read in teams of two, one inside the recording booth, and the other outside following the performance and stopping it for errors or muffled recordings. Since the effort specializes in technical textbooks, there is a constant search for specialists in particular technical fields. It is particularly important to understand the technical nature of the material when pronunciation is difficult, and when complicated graphs or illustrations need to be described for a blind audience. Originally, the material was produced on reels of tape but tends nowadays to concentrate on CDs and other disc recording devices.

Ralph Cohen

Ralph Cohen, himself a volunteer reader, very kindly described the enterprise to an audience at the Right Angle Club of Philadelphia recently. It is particularly heartening to hear stories of blind persons receiving advanced technical degrees because of the availability of these recorded texts, even stories of those who rose from menial jobs to become engineers through this pathway.

Ray Kurzweil

For those who have a particular interest in the topic, a few facts are important to know. Volunteers in technical fields are particularly needed, with two-hour recording slots extending over a relatively long time until a text is completed. Contributed money is needed in order to buy equipment and house it in a soundproof environment. Because of concern about copyright infringement, it is necessary to insist that the recorded products are only available to members of the reader's group, each one certified to be in need of such material because of a physical handicap. There is a fee of $65 to enroll, with $35 annual dues.

An interesting sidelight on reading difficulties emerges from the fact that most people who need help can see perfectly well. The disorder of dyslexia is so widespread that probably a majority of the population has at least a trace of it. The underlying problem with dyslexia lies in the brain, not in the eyes. The most common variant is to invert the sequence of words or letters, making such people utterly unable to record or remember a telephone number in the correct sequence. Often, psychological difficulties follow, as impatient siblings and acquaintances describe the victims as "stupid", a slur they often come to believe, themselves. A learning difficulty leads to a lack of learning, and the deficit becomes a real one. To the degree that these Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic allow some to conquer their handicaps gives hope to others. One can even hope to see the whole matter unwind into a revision of the educational process, leading to a better and more prosperous society.

By an interesting coincidence, 1948 was the year Ray Kurzweil was born in Brooklyn. Developing an early interest in computers, his name is now associated with synthetic speech and voice recognition technology, and he has even branched out into music synthesis. He's a visionary, all right, and a promoter. If voice transcription gets tweaked just a little more, it is going to replace dictaphones and secretaries by the hundreds of thousands. No doubt Kurzweil is destined to become very rich if indeed he is not already so. It's thus a little startling to encounter him as a professional entertainer on the lecture circuit, apparently driven relentlessly by a need to be appreciated. If that's what he needs, let's give it to him. The transformation of half of our society seems within his grasp. And in many ways his success is based on the flash of insight that dyslexic people are not stupid; in fact, maybe no one is. We all walk around with computers in our skull, and computers are always full of bugs. No doubt it should be said of brains, as it is of computer programs, that one has never been created that did not contain many "bugs". The important issue is not whether the computer is defective, but whether it somehow mobilizes the effort to overcome its defects.

Methods of Thought: Scientific, Logical, Future


Early in the Sixteenth century -- some say it was Galileo who started it -- the Scientific Method appeared. A hypothesis was generated, then subjected to experiment. Flaws were detected, the hypothesis re-modified, then tested again. The central characteristic of truth was established: reproducibility. The same test should always yield the same result in the Scientific Method.

A few decades later someone -- probably Sir Francis Bacon -- applied a modified Scientific Method to the common law. What seemed like a good remedy for a dispute was tested in the courts by entertaining appeals of similar cases, to test how the remedy seems to turn out. The reliance could not be on systematic experiments, so it had to rely on nature's experiments. Of the two disciplines, the scientific thesis-hypothesis-new thesis came to rest with firmer conclusions sooner than the common law did because scientists could devise systematic tests. A Judge, on the other hand, must wait for roughly the same circumstances to come up again before reproducibility can be determined, and that sometimes takes decades. Since a Judge can scarcely be expected to arrange his cases experimentally, non-comparable circumstances are always potentially present.

In both Experimental science and the Law, however, increased velocity --progress -- is an independent variable. It was celebrated enough during the Enlightenment to embolden public acceptance -- not merely of the validity of the Scientific Method, but -- of science itself and the Law itself. During those three hundred years after Galileo dropped bullets of differing sizes down the Tower of Pisa, rapid progress created a new respect for scientists and lawyers. Naturally, that led to lessened prestige for priests and kings, hence disruptions of existing power arrangements. History was the score-keeper of these turmoils, but History itself also became a variant of the scientific method. Unfortunately more than even the Law, History had to wait long periods for natural experiments to present themselves. Unfortunately, also, the effect of history on politics created an incentive for misrepresentation, now one of its main weaknesses.

Meanwhile untested Philosophy languished. The human uterus was not bicornuate, as anyone could see by examining one. Understanding only crept forward in a petty pace among logical philosophers; a century was brief in their vocabulary. For their part, Religions made a poor showing compared with the Common Law, particularly when advocating patterns of behavior. Religions were too rigid, too mysterious in their conclusions, provided too little guidance and too much grief. Too often the object seemed to be a skill in making the worse appear the better reason or acquiring detestable techniques of Oxford debating societies, where framing arguments in sly ways advances inappropriate victories. Logic acquired a bad name when its practitioners could easily be seen to prefer victory for the debater over advances for truth. And yet it does seem much too soon to discard logic and debate; indeed, they may be on the threshold of their finest hour.

A professor of mathematics of one of America's greatest scientific graduate schools, recently expressed his confusion about the nature of logic. Experiencing platoons of math graduate students marching past his blackboard, he commented on the extraordinary diligence of mostly foreign-born students, perfectly content to spend twenty daily hours studying to achieve distinction. "And yet," he said, "Every year there are two or three who never come to class, except to take the test. And they always get the highest possible grades." His inability to discuss the inner workings of such minds was related to the fact that he seldom met them in person. That such logical prodigies are not rare is also seen at chess tournaments, where players of no particular professional distinctiveness are to be observed moving among the chessboards of twenty opponents, occasionally even doing it blind-folded. The rest of us cannot hope to match such performances ourselves, so we are not entitled to scoff at the achievement, or belittle its potential for re-revolutionizing the science of thought.

{Bill Gates}
Bill Gates

Academia sometimes expresses and should express more often, its discomfort that Bill Gates and a number of other certifiable geniuses have found colleges disagreeable, and drop out. When one of them becomes the richest man in the world before he is forty, at least it becomes necessary to acknowledge that his talents are not a one-trick pony. These people seem to be differentially attracted to computer science, perhaps instinctively recognizing that machines seem capable of exceeding the largest human memory, and their integrated processors sit idly waiting for some genius to put them to work. Even today, with mere mortals writing the programs, we are informed that seventy percent of stock market transactions are conducted between two machines, operating unattended. Perfecting stock transactions may well be approaching its useful limits, but potentials for improving the world's daily activities are so vast that grammar school children could easily list a hundred possibilities. What children cannot do is devise something to motivate a man to remain productive, after he already has fifty billion personal dollars. And another thing children cannot do is describe an educational system appropriate for such extraordinary people when they presently find nothing in the classroom worth their attention. We are giving up the Space Program as not worth its cost. Well, here's a goal which is obviously worth its cost, if only to stay ahead of international competitors in an atomic age.

Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art

What can you name that has a woman lawyer for CEO and an eleven million dollar budget? For that matter, what can you name that had its best year ever, the same year that the Carona virus came along? And includes part of the King Ranch and the Scaif property near Rolling Rock in Western Pennsylvania? That is putting together a 30-year long-range plan?

The BC and MA, of course. You may not know that the Battle of Brandywine was the biggest battle of the Revolutionary War. Another is clean water (you can see the hand of Morris Stroud in this), another is helping the plain people of Pennsylvania, still another reflects the merger with Birmingham Hill, where some of the bitterest fighting of the Revolution took place.

You see from these brief notes, how difficult it is to explain what the BC and MA is all about.

Lawn Tennis at the Cricket Club

Merion Cricket Club

Lawn tennis isn't terribly ancient, having originated in England around 1880 as a variation of badminton which was brought back from India during the days of the British Empire. As the name suggests, it was originally played exclusively on grass courts, which proved hard to maintain. It was supplanted for a while by clay courts, and more recently by hard and artificial surfaces. Lawn tennis on lawns has largely become a game for the rich because of the cost and difficulty of maintaining a playable surface in hot weather.

If you wander into the Merion Cricket Club you'll find lawn tennis in the grand style, viewed from luncheon tables under a roofed porch. The long relatively narrow porch is right up against the grass courts, but it's also sort of a Peacock alley where well-groomed young ladies show their stuff, and everybody at the tables wishes to seem to know everyone else. There are times when the athletic entertainment becomes cricket out there on the field beyond the porch, but a larger proportion of the lunchers turn their backs on the field during that season than when exciting tennis championships are reaching the finals.

{Cary Grant and Kathryn Hepburn}
"Lawn" Tennis

In addition to being more expensive to maintain the courts, tennis on the grass is a different game from tennis on a hard surface, like clay or asphalt. The ball tends to skid when it hits the grass, so it is more effective to volley it before it hits or before it takes much of a bounce. The bounce tends to be more nearly straight up, while on harder surfaces the ball bounces at a low angle. Either way, the consequence is a tendency for a faster game on grass. The players run harder to get the ball at the bounce, and the advantage goes to those who serve hard and return the ball hard -- and fast.

{Cary Grant and Kathryn Hepburn}
Cary Grant and Kathryn Hepburn

The rather special nature of the game adds to the up-scale atmosphere. And makes it just as attractive for the Kitty Foyles at the tables, as for the Kathryn Hepburns, both of whom have their own attractions for the Cary Grants. The parking lot is also a good place to form an opinion about the latest in high-priced autos.

Camden Riversharks

{Canden RiverSharks}
Camden RiverSharks

Just about the cutest baseball park anywhere is Campbell's Field, best seen out the windows of the PATCO highspeed train as it crosses over the Ben Franklin Bridge into New Jersey. It's a regulation-size playing field with gleaming green grass, but comparatively small seating capacity. It's a great novelty to sit in the front row and have the umpire come over to chat, or to scold one of the players for spitting chewing tobacco. As told by Joel Seiden to the Right Angle Club, the performances of the home team Camden Riversharks is more about serious entertainment than serious baseball. On certain nights, there are fireworks, and free strawberry sundaes, and comedy. The finger food is cheap by professional sports standards, so it's a great place for dads to take their Little Leaguer sons.

About three-quarters of the audience usually come from New Jersey, and that's where team loyalty centers. There is hope that when the tramway to Pennsylvania finally gets built, or possibly the gambling casinos, more traffic will come over from Philadelphia. The greatest advertising comes from ordinary commuters, looking down from the bridge on a summer evening. A typical audience will be 3700 fans, rising to about 6000 on weekends.

{Campbell Field}
Campbell Field

Although Campbell Field has a band-box new sparkle to it, it's had something of a bumpy financial history. It was built by Steve Schilling for $20 million with a promise to support yearly losses up to a million dollars annually. Unfortunately, he died young, leaving a will that prohibited further support, and sort of a tangled financial structure. As part of an effort to stimulate a Camden renewal, the Delaware River Port Authority loaned $8.5 million, Rutgers Camden owns the field, and Sovereign Bank put up a mortgage. Investor groups have expressed interest, Sovereign Bank has threatened foreclosure, and wrangles which have very little to do with baseball have dominated the private affairs of the team.

Because of the exemptions from antitrust which are exclusively available to organized baseball, no minor league team affiliated with a major league team may play within fifty miles of a major league team. Therefore, the Riversharks are an unaffiliated team, playing in the Atlantic League of Independents. However, this creates a source of revenue from selling promising players to major league scouts (Price: $5000). Since there is a top salary limit for players of $3000 a month, most players have a second job. They are professionals, but not exclusively professional. About 7 players are bought every year.

So, everybody involved struggles just a bit, but it adds to the gossip and buzz. So, take a trip on the PATCO train to the City Hall Station and walk three blocks, or take it to the Broadway Station and then the Riverline down to the field. Lots of fun.

Valentine Tours, Right Here in River City

{Zoo Opening}
Zoo Opening

The Philadelphia Zoo claims to be the oldest zoo in America, although New York's Central Park Zoo is older. The explanation for this puzzle is that the Philadelphia Zoo was chartered by the legislature in 1859, but its opening was delayed by the Civil War until 1874. Meanwhile, the Central Park Zoo was opened in 1862. One hopes the true priorities are perfectly clear, although the Romans had zoos, and Montezuma had a spectacularly big one when Cortes arrived. Why all this wandering prologue before a discussion of a Valentine Tour? Well, since the internet is so plagued by a dispute about what is suitable for children to read, it is not clear that our Zoo's legitimate activities would escape hostile robot detection, banishment by Google, or the like if we talk about them on this website. So we will be indirect.

{Central Park NYC}
Central Park NYC

It is related that it was the women's committee of the zoo who first proposed an adult zoo camp which now goes by the name of Valentine Tours. For a modest fee of $75, it is possible to join this activity, involving discussions and demonstrations of the varieties and complexities of vertebrate reproduction. It is not only the Philadelphia public which needs education in these matters. One of the main sources of infertility among rhinos and gorillas derives from the surprising fact that they must be taught what to do. Apparently, when removed from the voyeur opportunities of their native environment, these monsters can't figure out what is expected of them.

John Bernard, a docent at the zoo for 18 years, has written a book about the varieties of romantic experiences and recently addressed the Right Angle Club on the matter. He tells of four-footers and hundred-pounders, and the like. Apparently, male elephants make their ladies wait in line for their turn, male gorillas have several girlfriends at all times, and male lions are so occupied with demands made on them that they scarcely do anything else. Bats cavort upside down, eagles lock claws and fall out of the sky, polar bears starve for months afterward. The fascination just goes on and on.

The inside details of some recent events are also revealed. Male African elephants go into a variant of heat that lasts three months and makes them dangerous to be around. That's really why the zoo recently decided to get rid of its elephant collection. Orangutans will rape a female zoo employee if given a chance. The Women's Committee of the Zoo is certainly to be thanked for alerting us. For more details, stump up the $75 and take a Valentine Tour.

New Phillies Stadium

Phillies Stadium

Built to house the Dempsey Tunney prize fight, we have seen six stadiums built there in one lifetime, a seventh in prospect, and three torn down. Building stadiums well are not the same as playing sports well, just as buying cameras is not the same hobby as taking photographs. In both cases, it is possible to get confused as to what hobby you are trying to excel in. Anyway, we have just opened stadium number six, for baseball, named Citizens Bank Stadium.

The new baseball park holds 43,500 spectators, and recently it fills to capacity. There are four or five million people in the region, so if everybody goes there just once to see what it looks like, it should stay full for four or five years. On the days of baseball home games, that is, since it is dead empty for away games, and on days when football and basketball are played in the nearby stadiums dedicated to those sports.

Veteran's Stadium

That is, at best it will be empty most of the time. New tickets will be $90 apiece in really choice sections, not to mention the corporate boxes, and the ordinary first-class tickets will be $40. The most expensive seats in the old, so-called Veteran's Stadium, were $28. You can take that either way. Perhaps we are pricing ourselves out of major league baseball. And perhaps a willingness to fill the stadium at these new prices is a sign we should have built a new ballpark long ago.

The first step in building Citizens Park

Citizens Park

was to dig a big hole in the ground. The playing field ends up twenty-five feet below ground level, so that half of the people who arrive at the park will walk downstairs to their seats, and half will walk upstairs. Never mind; when the game is over, the ones who went down will have to climb up, and the people in the balcony can walk down. That's pretty fair. Of more concern is the water level of the former swamp between two rivers. It was necessary to put in a powerful set of pumps to keep the stadium from turning into a lake. If the power goes out for any extended duration, some interesting photographs could emerge.

It's reassuring to know that the Veteran's was built along the same principles.

{Vet Stadium Implosion}
Vet Stadium Implosion

When the Vet was famously imploded into a pile of rubbish, the disintegrated remains of the stadium didn't quite fill the hole. Here's some forward planning, all right. If we are in the business of constructing serial stadiums, the cost of this hobby is appreciably reduced by incorporating the self-service rubbish removal feature. If there are other features like this one, perhaps this stadium collecting hobby isn't as expensive as it sounds.

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Rugby in Our Midst


American sports fans are incorrigibly provincial. The rest of the English-speaking world plays cricket, but Americans play baseball, which is vaguely related. You wouldn't know it in America, but world-wide, cricket is much more widely played and followed. American football is a vague relative of rugby; here, it's a little harder to say which of the two is more popular. The complicated and expensive padded uniforms of football push the game into varsity and professional teams, with droves of spectators. Many more rugby fans, even reasonably elderly ones, are actual players. But both games are played with a funny-looking ball with two pointed ends, and both of them score points by drop-kicking or place-kicking the ball over the horizontal bar between two upright goal posts. In the case of both cricket and rugby, the players hardly stop playing for hours, while the Americans are forever stopping for time-outs. There's a question of manliness here, but very likely the stop-go nature of both American football, and baseball, is also a response to the need for commercials on television. Catching a hardball with a big leather protective mitt, like the wearing of heavy football equipment, is a little harder to defend on the manliness feature, but the usual response is that the American games are so much faster and rougher -- protective devices are justified by common sense.

Well, that's all as may be. The more scholarly approach to game analysis goes back to the custom of Nineteenth-Century British boarding schools of having their own rules. Rugby School definitely started the game of Rugby from its origins in football, which Americans call soccer. When two teams met, the captains would agree on the rules of the day, so it was fairly easy for such games to evolve in many directions. And eventually, you can see why it was necessary to freeze the rules into some sort of international agreement. Captains of two teams who are setting today's rules will naturally attempt to play by rules that give some sort of edge to particular players on their own team. Bookies won't stand for that.

New blog 4359 2020-09-13 15:11:53 TITLE Roe Howell's Death and Land Titles (Romeo, Old Goats Club) :

CONTENTS: this is the main body of text

Blog 4359 :

Roe Howell died last week, a lovely, quiet man, who struggled with lymphoma for several years, but scarcely mentioned it in our monthly luncheons at Tavistock Country Club in Haddonfield. His death followed by a month that of Joe Holman, about whom another blog will be written. Both funerals are disrupted by the Caronavirus epidemic keeping the date uncertain.

The occasion missed at the Country Club, was the invention of Bob Twitchell some time ago, and was never officially named. It was variously referred to as the Old Goats Luncheon, or the Romeos, initials standing for " Retired Old Men Eating Out". Wives sometimes ate on neighboring tables, never at the table for men. I remember inviting the Mayor of Haddonfield, who happened to be a woman, and I never will forget the growls it produced among the members, so the subject of women members never came up again, let alone putting it to a vote. At that time I was in charge of calling the twelve members to remind them of Tuesday's luncheon, so I was more or less officially in charge. But my writ obviously did not extend to the subject of membership. I was the only one at the time who still retained a secretary, who first would remind me to make the calls.

Roe Howell had been the President of the Proprietors of East Jersey, the oldest corporation in America. Shortly after he resigned to become a resident of a sort of nursing home in Moorestown. the Proprietorship of East Jersey disbanded because of fear of lawsuits, so now the Proprietorship of West Jersey is the oldest corporation in America, unless someone in Massachusetts or Virginia wants to contest the issue. Another member of the table, Bill Taylor was the appointed Surveyor-General for both corporations for years until he suddenly died, but appointment of his son kept the matter within the Engineering firm of Taylor and Taylor. We will discuss the issue of land speculation and land titles in another Blog.

To acquaint people, let me say that the Proprietorships were created by the First King James of England, by drawing a line in the sand with his sword. It was a reward for seizing the land between the Connecticut and Delaware rivers from the Dutch. They got New Jersey as a reward for sheltering the two royal brothers (Charles and James) on the Island of Jersey off the English coast What's more, overthrowing permanently the Dutch claims to what became the three Quaker states (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) plus New York and Connecticut. A line was surveyed from "The beach of Egg Harbor" to Dingman's Ferry on the Delaware, separating East from West Jersey. The southern marker is now three miles out to sea, but Dingman's Ferry (now a toll bridge belonging to the Dingman descendants) still exists among the morain ends of the glacier that deposited them. The original land was all sold, but New Jersey is water on three sides, so islands keep appearing. They belong to the Proprietors. You can still buy them, but they take years to dry out. If you wonder how this English corporation survived the Revolutionary War, it had to do with the fact that all the New Jersey Constitutional Convention delegates were Proprietors, and demanded continuity as the price of signing the document.

The present blog was written for the purpose of announcing the deaths of Howell and Holman, two of the finest gentlemen I have ever met, and very distinguished in their quiet leadership of two of the quietest firms having eminence in the nation. Look for announcements of their memorial services, whenever the convair virus permits.

Proposal: Gradually Add Index Funds, Unify European Sovereign Bonds, Expand Swiss BIS I

To the foregoing:

1. Restore the monetary (gold) standard, using national index funds instead of gold, restoring flexibility from the expansion and contraction of the stock market. This would be resisted by those who fear ownership transfer of domestic property by foreigners, so an index fund serving this function must probably lose its voting rights.

2. Unify sovereign bond markets, gradually and voluntarily, allowing national markets to persist as desired.

3. Allow European national central banks to unify through the Bank of International Settlements


Letter: Dan Rostenkowski Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means Re: Using Health Insurance to Increase the Nation's Savings

Dan Rostenkowski, Chairman

Committee on Ways and Means

U.S. House of Representatives

Re; Using Health Insurance to Increase the Nation's Savings

Mr. Chairman,

Hearings were called to examine the nation's collective rate of private savings, reflecting concerns that superior economic performance by certain foreign countries may partly be caused by their greater savings rates. I am not qualified to judge such matters; this testimony accepts it would be useful for the nation to increase its collective investment pool. My proposal; is that this committee could cause a substantial increase in the investment pool through the enactment of some revenue-neutral tax law liberalizations, relating to health insurance.

For persons from birth to age 65, the organizational form of health insurance is almost entirely an outgrowth of the tax laws.


Employees are not required to pay income tax on money used to purchase their health insurance, so long as their employer buys it for them,

And the purchase of health insurance by any other method must be paid for with after-tax dollars,

And employers are permitted to reduce their own income tax by treating such in-kind employee remuneration as a business expense,

It would then seem silly for employees to purchase health insurance in any other way, and silly for employers to provide taxable cash remuneration rather tax-exempt benefits.

The remuneration system has responded massively to this set of tax incentives. The preponderant bulk of health insurance for persons under age 65 is in the form of employer-based group health plans. There are a number of advantages to this uniquely American system, primarily the provision of health insurance to persons who might not be wise enough to buy it out of discretionary income. There are also a number of disadvantages to the system, primarily the international competitive disadvantage it imposes on American industry to have employee personal expenses forcibly included in the cost of manufacture.

Existing Limitations of Law. But the main disadvantage of the system for the purpose of increasing the national savings rate is not inherent in the employer group health insurance system but is rather a product of some traditional rules and rulings which have become attached to it. Somehow the courts and regulatory bodies appear uncomfortable (without express Congressional sanction) with acknowledging that this tax abatement was an inducement to people to buy something they really should have been provident enough to buy without such added incentive. Instead, health care has been treated as preventative maintenance of an employer's necessary asset, his employee. Seemingly following some such reasoning, an employer is not permitted to refund or carry health benefits over from year to year. As a consequence, employer-based group health insurance buys only a current year's health expense in a collective way, sometimes referred to as "pay as you go". Looked at in another way, group health insurance takes a form analogous to "term" life insurance. It is, in short unfunded.

Other Advantages of prefunding. Since the subject of today's hearing is the search for ways to increase investment funding rather than to deliberate how people should best spend their investment proceeds, it may not be entirely germain to tout the considerably reduced cost of health insurance and health care which would result from the infusion of compound interest into the funding of health insurance. Or to tout the increased portability of such funded insurance for the employee as he moves between employers. Or to reflect upon how many fewer persons would lack health insurance coverage during the intervals when they are unemployed. However, since the law of unintended consequences applies to this proposal as it does to any other, the good consequences must be mentioned for balance.

Duration of Investment. For the purpose of visualizing the investment pool which could result from actually encouraging the prefunding of health insurance, consider briefly the shape of average lifetime health costs. A cartoon of the average cost would resemble a dumbbell, portraying heavy costs associated with birth and early childhood, heavy costs associated with the process of dying, but comparatively modest average health costs in the many years between birthing and death. From the employer's point of view, the cartoon is modified by the absorption of most death costs by Medicare after the termination of active employment, qualified in turn by whatever retirement health benefits may be provided. For the present, we can avoid such tangles to concentrate on the point that there are many years of low health care expenditure within the average employees' career, during which time compound interest could be building up to help pay for the rainy day. It is not excessive to project a trillion dollars eventually resting in such a funding pool. I leave economists to conjecture what such a pool would mean to American enterprise, banking, interest rates, inflation and balance of international payments.

Although the insurance industry does sometimes dismay me with lack of statesmanship, I have nothing but admiration for their ability to devise ingenious technical methods for selling their products and reducing their administrative costs. They can probably think of better ways to achieve funded health insurance than the one I am about to propose, but they have not yet done so, and therefore I venture to propose the IRA for Health.

The proposal to fund health insurance would be:

Either employers (treating it as a business expense) or individuals would be permitted to make tax-exempt contributions to individual IRAs, up to the amount of the annual premium for full first-dollar health insurance.

And, IRAs would be permitted to purchase, without tax, health insurance for the individual with copayment and deductible features at a lesser cost, retaining the difference as an investment fund.

And, when the investment fund grew to the point where its investment income equaled the premium of the health insurance, further withdrawals for specified purposes would be permitted without everyone understands the principles involved in the Individual Retirement Account, including tax deductibility of the contribution, tax sheltering of the investment growth until the time of withdrawal, and the 10% penalty for early withdrawal. To use the IRA to fund health insurance, the 10% penalty for early withdrawals is a severe impediment, and that rule mainly imposed at the behest of bankers, I understand must be appropriately modified. Furthermore, people are not interested in accumulating the money they cannot spend, and if their funds generate a profit, it must somehow be available to them. I would propose allowing any surpluses to be applied to long-term health insurance, and/or possibly a few other designated alternatives.

The original IRA was criticized as lacking incentive for truly increasing the saving rate. However, if a new form of medical IRA were to supplant the present system rate. However, if a new form of medical IRA were to supplant the present system of employer-based health insurance groups, there would be ample incentive to use it, and no greater loss of revenue by the Treasury. Although most persons are not sophisticated investors, I presume that banks, mutual funds, and insurance companies would compete to be so for them.

Changing from group policies to individually owned ones exposes the intergenerational subsidy which most of them contain: and transitional intergenerational subsidy which most of them contain, and transitional measures are required. Older employees are subsidized by younger ones in the present health insurance system with a level premium for all members of the group. Older participants can fairly asset their generation subsidized a predecessor generation, and feel entitled to be subsidized in turn. This unwritten covenant is unfair to everyone; the older generation badly needs to have its rights defined, while the system needs to know its obligation.

Much of the early investment income from a funded system would indeed have to be used to pay off this perceived obligation. It would admittedly be quite a while into the transition before health insurance premiums themselves could be lowered. That is irrelevant, of course, if the main focus is placed on increasing the size of the national investment pool.

Deductibles, not Copayments. The main source of investment capital within the proposed system comes from reducing the premium by substituting high-deductible insurance but maintaining a constant employer contribution. In my opinion, a 20% copayment creates more administrative costs than any savings from usage disincentive; it merely shifts 20% of the cost to the subscriber. On the other hand, high front-end deductibles a thousand dollars a year, for example, will reduce the premium of health insurance by nearly $500 a year. Deductibles get rid of costly small claim processing and restore a marketplace for fees, against which the costs of a more major illness can be compared, through the use of relative value scales. Most health insurance abuse takes place in small claims since large medical expenses are seldom discretionary.

Funded Deductibles. My vision is of an individual IRA for Health which rapidly accumulates enough surplus from the use of a deductible, so that the accumulation equals the deductible. After all, if a working person has a thousand dollars in his fund, and carriers a thousand-dollar deductible policy, he is fully covered; but he also faces an incentive not to invade his fund, because it is tax sheltered. Only if the money is locked away forever will the average person overlook a legal opportunity to conduct his affairs "off the books." The principle is, I believe, very widely understood.

Perpetual Insurance. If the employee escapes major health costs for fifteen years, which is the usual pattern for young people, he can find himself in the position where investment income from the fund is sufficient to pay the annual health insurance premium, without further employer contribution. Making allowances for a reinsurance plan for those who are not healthy or fortunate, the remarkable opportunity is remotely visible of persons with permanently funded health insurance, reaching the age of 65 with, then, no need for Medicare.

There is no need today to spin out the filaments of the dream because to do so would provoke not-picking. The main thrust is simple that the incentives to the average American would be quickly perceived and socially useful. And, remarkably, it is difficult to imagine an interest group, whether in the insurance industry, health industry, labor or management, whose interests would be genuinely injured by it.

Everyone would surely be better off if health insurance used investment income to reduce its costs (instead of living from hand to mouth with "pay as you go" financing), and no one has ever publicly disputed it. But there is nevertheless a good reason to be apprehensive about proposals to make such a switch which are careless about the period of transition. Perhaps just because its design was so poor, existing unfunded insurance is fragile. A heedless changeover has the potential to leave many people uninsured for protracted periods, destroying insurance carriers and hospitals in the process. Transitional difficulties consist of fixing an engine with the motor still running.

The transitional issues are pretty obvious. If offered a better or cheaper alternative, most subscribers are not sentimental and would abandon their present coverage if they could. The danger is that healthy (hence cheaper) clients could migrate more readily than sicker more expensive ones, thus forcing higher premiums for those whose poor health made them unwelcome in any company but the one which was stuck with them. The rising premium would soon induce progressively less healthy subscribers also to jump ship, and premiums would soon induce progressively less healthy subscribers also to jump ship, and premium might spiral upward until the carrier collapsed because eventually, no one would pay such prices unless he was already wearing a hospital gown. In this kind of cyclone, hospitals could imagine themselves faced with uninsured sick patients which public opinion would not let them turn away. Imagined Result: bankruptcies, a sacrifice of quality, and hastily contrived legislation which would probably make things worse. Small wonder the insurance industry is so timid and conservative.

Getting Rid of Costly Clients.

A socially acceptable transition must, therefore, include provisions to have the parade of migrants to funded insurance consciously include a representative balance of the whole community, or so to speak "minimize adverse risk avoidance". Some higher-risk individuals must also be encouraged to move to the funded system, while a balancing proportion of low risk younger people must remain on pay-as-you-go until sicker ones come along too. Luckily, each year on their 65th birthdays' certain number of oldest costliest individuals move on to Medicare where coverage is universal. These alumni annually reduce the number of "substandard risks" who must be protected. Actuaries could probably help us guess how many other substandard risks there are, plus the annual rate at which additional people get sick and enter the substandard risk category. Such estimates would help engineer a transition, but it's quite doubtful the cost and accuracy of individual risk assessment could ever permit an equitable quota system. It seems much more workable to let risks fall where they may and subsequently use reinsurance to pay for excess costs wherever they happen to surface. We thus get into the matter of risk pooling, which is the main subject of the third section of this book.

Liberalizing the Reserves of Pay-As-You-Go Policies.

The pilgrimage to funding must be relatively balanced in every company which is to survive, bearing in mind that every insurance company going out of business dumps its expensive risks o society. Companies will vary in their skill and luck in managing upheavals, so the first requirement is more slack in the system. State Insurance Commissioners must be made to understand how essential it would be to relax regulatory restraints on health insurance reserves. It is practically unimaginable that any company could handle major shifts in the severity of its risks, with only two months revenue in reserve. Indeed, it is questionable whether three months in reserve are adequate to protect against the simple premium cycle. Insurance premium tends to follow a six-year cycle, three up and three down. During prosperous years, the companies must be given every incentive to increase a transitional reserve, and during down years premiums must fall less or even rise to keep from depleting the reserve fund.

Along the same lines, a 1987 federal tax law creating special taxes on Blue Cross/Blue Shield reserves greater than three months revenue, should at the least be amended to provide an exception for a transitional reserve fund. To say so might possibly annoy the commercial insurers who encouraged the passage of that legislation, but my intent is to urge the same freedom for all health insurers to increase their tax-paying competitors do not play on a level field, payment into a tax-exempted "transitional reserve" should be a one-way street toward escrowed reinsurance purposes.

Expanding Reserves Into Fully-funded Insurance.

The net effect of increasing reserves is to make pay-as-you-go subscribers pay slightly higher premiums, which is after all why politically minded Insurance Commissioners have constrained the reserves. The pay-as-you-go subscriber would get something for his money in the form of reduced future premiums, but it would probably be politically more visible to give him his share of the transitional reserves as a "cash value", portable as he transfers his coverage. Carry that thinking all the way, and it leads to a transformation of pay as you go into funded insurance by simply allowing the reserves to grow enough to do the job. Therefore, as reserves grow they first satisfy the need to pool the reinsurance risk that some company is unfairly going to have too many sick subscribers, but eventually reserves get large enough to be used to reduce the cost of premiums. How do you draw the line between the two purposes? You do it through the political process, based on a political process, based on a political equity judgment of how much you think young good people should pay for old sick ones, and how much you think the old sick generation has had a free ride in the past and now ought to pay for it.

Taxing the Lucky Ones. Because rising premiums of pay as you go insurance will induce more young subscribers to jump ship, premiums of the other ship, the pre-funded alternatives, can be raised to break the speed of the cyclone. The mechanism would be the imposition of mandatory premium surcharges flowing into the reinsurance pool for their endangered competitors. Although this proposal will seem unwelcome to the funded companies, the actual implementation will only be necessary if they draw too much business too quickly. The general idea would be to try to avoid quota systems, utilizing instead the imposition of mandatory premium surcharge when business gets too good. The proposal is for a "cannibal tax" to fatten their own funded reserves, which in dire emergencies would be available to improve the nutrition of missionaries in the stew pot who are going to be eaten, but later. Since the goal is to replace unfunded insurance with the funded kind, loss of business by a pay=as=you-goer is not a bad thing, but depletion of his reserves by bad loss experience definitely would be a reason to petition the rescue fund. Self-insured company plans which are federally regulated under ERISA will need congressional action, while health insurance companies (which are state regulated) will require fifty different actions. There is considerable merit to following fifty different ideas to be tested in different states since some approaches will undoubtedly prove to be more successful than others which now seem equally plausible. As has been the case so often in the past, the income tax law is the easiest place to hang out a national incentive which requires state action to implement. Since funding of health insurance to be successful is almost certain to require tax-frees compounding of interest on permanent reserves, this by itself should be sufficient incentive to state legislatures.

If you think about it, the elder subscribers to our present form of health insurance are in a pretty shaky position. Each year's coverage is independent of every other year. No matter how many years they have been subscribers improved position to forecast the future of national health care expenditure, through re-adjustment to the existing forecasts of future economic growths. Such a revised health care expenditure forecast would be as imprecise as economic growth forecasts are known to be. But at least it would not coax policy development to react to an assumption of an infinitely rising straight line. If a straight line did in fact define the future of these matters, the only appropriate response would be hysteria.

Changing nature of health care at different economic levels. For a second point, the nature of medical care is materially different between low-income and high-income groups in this country, and health care for high-income groups is cheaper. Our ability to employ shorter lengths of stay for patients in an institutional setting is mostly a or more billing steps inevitably increases claims volume, the resultant cost to the intermediaries will relentlessly find its way back to the Medicare budget. It will likely provoke alarm about the apparent increase in the volume of services since claims volume is the most speedily available surrogate for service volume. It will, no doubt, induce many physicians to refer patients to hospital outpatient laboratories where the charges are clearly higher in absolute terms, and the net revenue effect on the federal government must reflect the tax-exempt status of one type of vendor and the taxable status of the other.

It is different for physicians to measure the increased overhead cost of extra claims efforts since one ordinarily does not hire a fraction of an employee. It is easier to look back over the last ten years and see a truly important upward pressure on the cost of doing medical business, which such organizations as "Medicare Economics" Magazine have documented clearly. Furthermore, new rules take time to move the system, and a better idea of the eventual impact of this rule on physicians can be gained by reviewing the remarkable jump in commercial laboratory charges in the time since they were required to bill Medicare directly, and hence incurred both administrative expenses and bad debt experience from which they had previously been shielding. While there were some reported abuses of the process of physicians subcontracting laboratory work, such could easily have been eliminated by fair handling and preparation charges, and in any event, the scope of abuse could not possibly have equaled the cost escalation provoked by the direct-billing rule. (Please refer to the recent report of the United States General Accounting Office report GAO/HRD-88-32.) The 1987 rule will have the same effect in time although some of it will be hidden in Medicare Part A as a result of physician referral to hospitals.

Increased Reconciliation Costs.

Although your subcommittee includes some members who are former accountants, even they will probably feel their eyes glaze over when the subject of open-balance and open-item billing is mentioned. However, that is the issue which the apparently simple December 1987 prohibition on direct billing has created. Since the doctor who does not welcome the assignment of benefits must bill the patient for office services and also bill Medicare for the office laboratory services, he must find a way to keep the payments separate. That is, instead of merely keeping a running balance of unpaid receivables, he must identify the items and check off each one individually as payment is, or is not, received. Any doctor who uses any sort of assignment process must employ more highly trained employees to cope with the complexity, and hire more of them. He must accept the likelihood of more error, hence lower income. His costs will rise, and inevitably costs to the program will follow.

Mr. Chairman, during the introduction to one of last year's hearings on this subject, you announced your wish to induce physicians to join the Medicare participation program by simplifying their overhead. In that spirit, it would be proper for the government to put itself to extra trouble and expense in order to make things easier for participating physicians. However, once that motivation is announced, it is of increased importance to avoid actions which might give the impression of attempting to coerce unwilling physicians by unnecessarily disrupting their affairs. I am sure you agree with this viewpoint, and urge you to reconsider the office laboratory billing prohibition.

Respectfully submitted,

George Ross Fisher, M.D>


Book Review: The Soul of America by Jon Meacham:

The Battle For Our Better Angels.

Lincoln was elected as a former Whig hoping to preserve the Union. The battle for Maryland (Battle of Antietam), depending on its outcome, was to decide whether the war was to free the slaves or to stop only with saving the Union. Lincoln wrote Horace Greeley in August 1862 explaining he was not conducting the war to destroy slavery, although he personally sympathized with the idea.

"If I could save the Union, without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save the Union by freeing every slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving the others alone, I would also do that."

He thus publicly promised his cabinet he planned eventually not to make emancipation the main reason why the war was fought. That was best for every race.

The North would remain free to call it "The Battle to Save the Union" and Jubal Early would eventually be free to call it "The Lost Cause." (Edward Alfred Pollard had apparently started the latter expression.) But it had been a black Harvard professor, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, who had first beaten the drum for black revenge, and he was beating the same drum half a century later. This straddle thus did not originate with Lincoln. Only one side was heard by each combatant. The North only heard “Union”, The South and Jubal Early's Ku Klux Klan was to hear only “The Lost Cause”. The battle cry of revenge lasted more than a century until a hundred thousand colored people got together at the Lincoln Memorial a century after the end of the Civil War, to hear Martin Luther King, Jr. propose peaceful black forgiveness instead of what they expected would be a vengeful bloodbath. It had been a black Harvard professor, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, who started things for vengeance in 1905, and it persisted. In Churchill's phrase, the “Americans always get things right after they have tried everything else”. Robert E. Lee failed to get a Southern victory, Teddy Roosevelt tried to persuade blacks by making using white soldiers to defeat Cubans and Phillipinos. Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted the black man to do it the peaceful Christian black way, but it was looking as if his followers would learn that politics had failed him in New York City and California.

An unknown black preacher surprised them by calling for a crusade of peaceful forgiveness. He shortly became a martyr to its cause.

Let's now see if the coronavirus will do the trick or lose the game. The words are sometimes hostile, sometimes conciliatory, but are mostly King's. I personally bet King's way will win. I wish I heard more conciliatory sounds from white women, who fan these flames by continuing to repeat the words of vengeance for their own injustices of a much lower degree. That would help convince the rest of the country that Woodrow Wilson's League of Nations and FDR's United Nations will never be accepted as they now stand. Some compromise must be found between 'One man, one vote' and Democracy, which is essentially 'One vote, which is best for everyone'. We need to discover a way to have them both, but it won't be easy.

Interest Rates, Investment Income, and Inflation

Mr. Alan Greenspan

When there is inflation, the value of money goes down, so you might expect interest rates -- the rental cost of money -- to go down, too. However, people anticipate higher prices, so lenders build a premium into the interest rate structure to compensate for the value of the money to be lower when it is repaid. That raises interest rates, and the Federal Reserve will generally raise them even higher to put a stop to inflation. So, buying and selling bonds is a zero-sum game, far riskier than it sounds. Consequently, there is a flight toward common stock, thus raising its price. Meanwhile, inflation usually hurts business, tending to lower the stock prices. As a consequence of all these moving parts, long-term investors are urged to buy at a "fair" price and never sell, no matter what. Even that strategy fails for any given stock because somehow corporations seldom thrive for more than seventy-five years. So, the advice is to diversify into a basket of stocks, and the cheapest way to get that basket is to buy an index fund. In a sense, you can forget about the stock market and let someone else manage the index, for about 7 "basis points", that is, seven-hundredths of a percent. All of this explains the choice suggested for Health Savings Accounts of buying total market index funds. Limiting the universe to American stocks is based on a political hunch that it reduces the chances of harmful Congressional protectionism. Having said that, a Health Savings Account must raise cash from time to time, and to guard against forced selling in a down market, some average amount of U.S. Treasury bonds will have to be maintained. Ideally, the number of Treasuries would be small for young people, and grow as they get older, and therefore more likely to get sick. Pregnancy is the one universal cost risk for younger people, and they know better than anyone what the chances of that would be in their own case.

This approach is greatly strengthened by reference to the modern theory of a "natural" interest rate, to which the whole system has a tendency to revert, if only we knew what the natural rate is. It is not entirely constant, but over time it seems to be something like 2%. If we knew for certain what it was, we could set a goal for perpetuities like the Health Savings Account to be "2% plus inflation". Since inflation is targeted by the Federal Reserve as 2%, that would amount to an investment goal of 4%. If you can buy an American total market index fund consistently gaining at 4.007 % per year, you should buy and hold. If it rains less than that, it is either run by incompetents, or it is a bargain which will eventually revert to 4.007% and pay a bonus. If, on the other hand, it gains more than that, there exists a risk it will revert to the mean. That it is being run by a genius is sales hype to be ignored. We suggest buying into it in twenty yearly installments, which should balance out the ups and downs, so then you can forget about even this issue.

But don't count the same issue twice. In order to assure a 2% real return, it is necessary to obtain 4% in the real world of 2% inflation, and the compounded income of 4% accounts for both in equal measure. A compound income of 6%, however, is two-thirds inflation / one third "real", so artificially raising interest rates to control inflation can progressively overstate the requirement, and hence overdo the deflationary intent. Conversely, when the Federal Reserve fails to raise interest rates as Mr. Greenspan did, the result can be an inflationary bubble. The central flaw in adjusting prevailing rates to current natural rates is that we do not know precisely what the natural rate is. To go a step further for immediate purposes, we are also uncertain how much deviation there is between medical inflation and general inflation. As a result, the best we can expect is to make as much income on the deposits as we safely can, and continuously monitor whether the premium contributions to Health Savings Accounts might need to be adjusted. And the safest way to do that is to have two insurance systems side-by-side, one of them a pay-as-you-go conventional policy for basic needs during the working years, and a second one whose entire purpose is to over-fund the heavy expenses at the end of life and the retirement years, permitting any surpluses to be spent for non-medical purposes. With luck, the beneficiary might retain a choice between increased premiums, and increased (or decreased) benefits.

If these calculations are even approximately close, the financial savings would be several percents of GDP, a windfall so large that mid-course adjustments could be tolerated.

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Bare Bones of Childhood Health Insurance

The insurance plan for childhood isn't complex or tricky; it just has a lot of parts pinned together. Although it is most readily understood by looking at a graph of it, the following is a list of its main ingredients:

1. The child gets his Health Retirement and Savings Account at birth, presumably with some sort of custodial provision for the person now responsible for his health costs. It's legally his only HRSA from birth to death. The reason for this is to start the compound interest running at birth, adding at least two doublings to the end of it.

2. By the appropriate legal methods, half of his mother's (or collectively his family's) responsibility for his obstetrical and neonatal costs become the child's cost, and half of her other costs for obstetrics/gynecology are assigned to her spouse. The reason for this is to equalize (somewhat) the male/female difference in health premiums, and to shift half of the purely delivery and neonatal costs to her offspring. Employers would be permitted to pay for these costs to her HRSA, just as if they pertained purely to the mother.

3. On the assumption that the above maneuvers roughly equalize cost apportionments, the rest of this discussion is in absolute terms.

4. The pooled transfer fund transfers $18,000 to the baby's personal account, discharging the grandparent from further responsibility after his HSRA makes one such transfer. The reason for this maneuver lies in the maternal birth rate of 2.1, making each grandparent or designee responsible for only one grandchild per lifetime.

5. The grandparent has previously executed permission for $18,000 to be transferred to the fund, in consideration of earlier concessions, and it remains in the pool after his death until it has been used a single time, regardless of other children in the family. If the discharge has previously occurred, transfers are made from funds contributed by childless members.

6. After the funds have been transferred to the newborn's HRSA, they pay for the newborn and neonatal costs, and the balance remains in the baby's HSRA until the 26th birthday, responsible for the child's health costs up to that age. Calculations have previously been made, to aim the child's HSRA to arrive at a zero balance at that age. But the right is reserved to increase or decrease the grandparent/grandchild transfer amount, in order to satisfy program requirements, particularly to maintain the solvency of the system, and to prevent the creation of a perpetuity extending further than an additional 21 years. That is, the transfers can be increased for everyone in the event of cost overrun, and decreased individually, in case of overfunding which threatens the probability of a perpetuity.

7. At age 26 the child assumes personal responsibility for his healthcare during the years of his employability age 26-65 unless other arrangements are made with the Affordable Care Act.

8. At the 26th birthday, it is intended that discretionary funds would be zero, and that long-term escrows have been created, in the range of $200 at birth for a long term contingency fund, $100 at birth for Medicare, and $100 at birth for retirement. The last three funds are an obligation of the parent generation, except in the case of poverty or disability, out of consideration for the transfers in item 2.

9. At any time up to age 45, the individual has the right to sign an agreement with Medicare. It should in effect provide that his Medicare withholding tax should be paid into his HRSA instead of to Medicare. His Medicare cost for the last four years of his life should be paid to Medicare as re-insurance benefits. And his Medicare premiums adjusted up or down to keep the system in balance. At age 65 he agrees to have any projected surpluses in this system paid to him as supplemental retirement benefits or turned into an IRA, except at his death he agrees to allow the grandfather assessment to be drawn once out of his HRSA.

10. All ages and dollar amounts are hypothetical, intended only to suggest an order of magnitude.

11. The lifetime cost of this unified "First and Last Years of Life Reinsurance" is suggested to be $400-$500 per person per lifetime, assuming a 6.5% investment income compounded quarterly throughout. Any additional costs or revenue from the Affordable Care Act are not considered, and passage of appropriate enabling acts is assumed. It seems fair to begin consideration with an additional $1000 of out of pocket costs for misjudgments and transition costs, and it seems fair to warn that many observers consider even 5% net return to be optimistic for a 90-year projection. Most investments are the other way: returns are higher for longer commitments. However, few loans are longer than 30 years, and experience is limited.

George Ross Fisher III M.D. Bio

George R. Fisher III M.D.

200 W Washington Square Appt. 1108

Philadelphia, PA 19106-3545


Education: Yale University, BS, Columbia University, MD. Graduate work Pennsylvania Hospital, Jefferson Hospital, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda.

Physician: Former Trustee, College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Delegate to AMA for 25 years-over 100 Resolutions Prompted 50 Reports from the Board of Trustees. Mostly about Medical Economics

Book Publishers: Since 2002, Ross& Perry, Inc., Originally in Washington, D.C. Moved to Haddonfield in 2004. (276 Books)

Author: 5 Books Originator: Health Savings Accounts

High Point: Invited to address White House Health Policy Group and Congressional Committee (2 Times)

Organizations: Mason, Former President, Professional Standards Review Organizations, Right Angle Club, Society of Friends.

The Medicare Directory of Prevailing Charges: Fee Screen Year 1984


This directory contains Fee Screen Year 1984 Medicare reimbursement data based on physician charges submitted to Medicare during the calendar year 1982 in each of the reasonable charge localities within each Part B carrier's service area.

Maps are provided for each State which outlines the separate charge districts (localities) the Carriers use in reimbursing claims under the Medicare program. The counties within each locality are listed to aid in identifying the exact geographic breakdowns. More detailed locality information can be obtained on selected carriers by referring to AppendixA in the back of the directory.

The directory was compiled from magnetic tapes submitted by each of the carriers. Every effort has been made to minimize errors in the data displayed for each of the carriers however because of differences in coding systems it may sometimes be necessary to consult directly with the carrier for clarification.


The dollar amounts shown in the directory are the prevailing charges in the indicated locality for each of the services listed. Except where there are unusual circumstances or medical complications so that more than the normal service is provided, these figures represent the highest dollar amounts that Medicare can use in determining the medical insurance benefits which can be paid on Medicare claims for services in the locality. Others factors, explained below, are also used in determining the medical insurance benefit that is payable.

How The Medicare Allowed Amount Is Determined

Under the law, the allowed amount for a given service shown on a medical insurance claim is generally the lowest of (1) the actual charge made by the physician for the service; (2) the customary charge generally made for that service by the physician; (3) the prevailing charge, which is the charge most physicians in the locality would find acceptable for that service; or (4) the charge that would be recognized by the carrier for its own (non-Medicare) subscribers or policyholders for the service.

The rules that are applicable in calculating the amounts allowed for physicians' services also apply to other services covered under the medical insurance program.

How The Medicare Prevailing Charge Is Determined

Under the law, just before the beginning of each fiscal year Medicare must review the actual charges billed by physicians in the preceding calendar year. The mid-point of these actual charges by a physician for a service is established as his customary charge for that service. The prevailing charge is then established at the 75th percentile of all the individual physician's customary charge for each service. In effect, the prevailing charge for any given service is the amount which is high enough to cover I full the customary charges of those physicians whose billings accounted for at least 75 percent of all claims for that service in the locality in the preceding calendar year.

The amount of prevailing charge recognized under Medicare is also affected by an additional program restraint. In accordance with Medicare law, prevailing charge levels for physicians services for any fiscal year after fiscal year 1973 may not exceed the fiscal year 1973 level except to the extent justified by an economic index that reflects changes in the costs of physician practice and in general earnings levels.

The prevailing charge data represents the Maximum amounts upon which reimbursement is based with the Medicare Part B program. It also reflects the influence of the Economic Index Provisions. For each locality, prevailing charges are listed for 29 medical services performed by General Practitioners (GP) and for 100 physicians services performed by medical Specialists. Where the carrier makes no specialty differentiation in its screens, the top of the page states "combined locality designation". Blank spaces in the prevailing charge columns indicate that (a) prevailing charge data was not collected for GP specialty category, (b) the procedure is not performed in the locality, or (c) the carrier does not use the same definition of the procedure as listed. When an asterisk ( *) appears beside a charge, it means that the charge is adjusted by the application of economic index. When a letter "P" appears next to a charge, the amount represents the Professional component only. The letter "L" stands for the lowest charge levels applying to selected laboratory and durable medical equipment screens. The physician procedure (excluding lab and DME) lists represent the amounts established at the "freeze" level and will continue to be in effect until October 1, 1985.

When reviewing the specialist charge screen data, it should be noted that the amounts represent the prevailing charge screen for the specialist who most frequently performs these procedures. Therefore, the procedure list in Table A contains the category of medical specialists for which charge screen data was collected for the 103 procedures. Seven additional procedures are listed for durable medical equipment.

If you have any questions about the data or locality information displayed in this directory, please direct your questions to James Barnett (301) 594- 6743), Health Care Financing Administration, Bureau of Program Operations, Room 367 Meadows East Building, 6325 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21207. For technical questions involving computer programming of the data, contact our Bureau of Support Services (301) 594-0810).

Paul Robeson 1898-1976 (Obituary)

{Paul Robeson 1898-1976 with a football}
Paul Robeson 1898-1976

Everyone with international fame and fortune seems to belong to another planet, but Paul Robeson belongs to the Philadelphia region as much as to any locality. He was born in Princeton, of a black minister who went to Lincoln University, and a mother of Quaker heritage. Not only an All-American football player, but he also won twelve varsity letters. He not only was accepted to Columbia Law School, but the only black person in the class became its Valedictorian. Later on, his amazing baritone voice made him the perfect person to sing "Old Man River" in the musical Showboat, and quite a different dimension emerged in his highly memorable portrayal of

Paul Robeson as Othello

Shakespeare's Othello. He was combative athlete, nobody's fool, and had a commanding stage presence. It was scarcely surprising that he resented the social slights he encountered in his upward mobility, or in a time when many people -- not just in show business -- were leaning leftward, that he frightened people with his praise of Communist Russia and seeming incitement of his race to rebellion.

Probably the first false note in this tragedy was his resignation from a prestigious New York law firm because a white secretary insulted him. No defensive explanation from his admirers could quite justify this unlikely story of a promising career cast aside for a trifling affront. Some of his foreign travels may have been entirely motivated by a search for social progress, but his several hospitalizations abroad do raise the possibility that he hoped to avoid publicity about his illness. The last two decades of his life were destroyed by undeniable mental illness. There are schools of the psychiatric theory which contend that depression can be caused by severe life stresses, but majority opinion now mostly views such illness as an inherited disorder. In any event, he was born too soon. In recent years, the treatment of depression has much improved.

The failure of early promise is an old story, but in Robeson's case, it was far more than personal decline, and more the hunting-down of a wounded animal. The son of an ex-slave, Robeson evoked memories of slave rebellions in the past with his mournful song of the Mississippi laborer, as did his vengeful destruction of the innocent Desdemona. His exploiters in the entertainment industry probably deserve some criticism for pushing him too far into a rebel image, and the ruthless manipulation of communist agitators during the 1930s is not a myth. So, there was really not much to prevent Senator Joseph McCarthy and his associates Cohn, Shine and Kennedy from converting the post-war fears of the nation into a circus of fearful demagoguery. Millions of people had just died in foreign wars, nations had been reduced to rubble, and vengeful heedlessness was on every side. It was not a pleasant time.

More than twenty years later, Paul Robeson died where he had been living with his sister, in West Philadelphia.

Federal Reserve: How Does It Spend?

Federal Reserve: Natural Interest Rate

The 'natural interest rate' is the term for the ratio of the total indebtedness of a nation, divided by its total equity. Shorthand is the total dividends divided by total interest payments paid out by the Federal Reserve . Inflation is indicated by positive values, deflation by negative ones. From this data, one can derive the probable effect of shifting the ratio of supply to demand. If the numbers are large enough, and the differences great enough, the conclusions will likely be correct.

In 2020, Oscar Jorda, Sanjay Singh and Alan Taylor of California studied fifteen wars or pandemics, which had caused more than 100,000 deaths since the 14th century, a grand total in the millions. They found distinctly opposite effects, lasting three decades, between these two sources of mass deaths. The wars caused a steady decrease in natural interest rates, the epidemics caused a steady increase. When the two occurred at the same time, the curve showed a net increase for a decade, followed by a decrease for a decade, followed by two or three decades of steady increase before it reached baseline again. The round trip lasted a surprisingly long time.

The authors speculate that both catastrophes caused a decrease in the supply of labor, but the wars additionally destroyed investment property, which decreased new investment potential and increased the incentive to save. There is no firm evidence to support such conjectures for such an important issue.

The issuance of more bonds or common stocks, as indicated, is a quick solution.

Assuming these data are correct, and assuming politicians want to change this long experience, they may now seem to possess the tool to do so. A law could be imagined, setting upper and lower bounds to inflations and recessions, so they can have their choice. Much is yet to be learned about this tool, including the unintended consequences of using it. The Japanese, for example, once gave away million-dollar Christmas presents to adjust their ratios. The issuance of more bonds or common stocks is a quick solution. The industrialists would surely howl at this limitation of their rights. But they now howl about inflations and recessions, anyway.


Federal Deposits: How Does the Fed Get Its Money?

First, the deposit side. The Fed manages the "reserves" since the total was usually in surplus, but this arranged stability to carry the times when they weren't, and still kept the volume manageable. When one account is in deficit, the other is in surplus. Computers and wireless transmission caused the cost difference between large and small to decline steadily, so the smaller banks wanted small deposits but don't decide. The credit cards and other non-bank sources followed. Crooks used them to hide their money laundering. The sanctions on Iran were hidden this way, and sanctions were evaded. Cheap pocket computers quickly put a branch bank in every pocket. Migrants could send remittances over borders to the folks back home as direct (non-Fed) deposits. No need to build expensive branch banks. American banks thought it was time to merge; it wasn,t enough. In five or six years, the big Chinese banks courted smaller foreign ones, too, and soon owned half of the deposits, and people were asking who needs banks for investment banking, the really profitable sort of loans. All of a sudden, American banks were threatened and started to merge. Something had to be done, and quickly. Wall Street became focused on the subprime crisis, and politics were allowed to slow the American response.

The pandemic of 2020 provided the necessary American time to accept aggregated small deposits; let's hope they rise to the national need. The Orientals have moved so quickly that some compromises will now be necessary, and some crow will have to be eaten. The Constitution unwisely provides for two parties to share responsibility, but does not provide for the possibility of a

If nothing better is suggested, how about also adding a short clause stating "if the President and Congress cannot agree on a budget within x days, the President's budget will temporarily prevail until the Supreme Court rules."

Addition to page 158 and others

Behind all this may be"The Leopard," which makes the point that Garibaldi was an exterminator, not a liberator, and first attracted the migrants to New Orleans before they suddenly learned about the Ku Klux Klan. Believing this version might assist moving the parade to a climate warmer than January usually provides, which it would take to induce me to return to future Mummers parades.

New blog--Skipping grades. My mother was a school teacher, and like all professions, school teachers take care of each other. Offhand, I don't know how tuba players take care of other tuba players, but I'm sure they do because it's a form of family tribalism which appears to be universal. I stumbled onto the school-skipping thing by being its unwitting beneficiary.

My mother was determined that I skip first grade for some reason still unknown to me, so she went into action back then, finding out all the rules for skipping a grade. It happened that the rules at my local school were more suitable for skipping half a year of kindergarten, plus a year of first grade, so that was what she went after. To accomplish this, one teacher was designated to screen the applicants, and so that particular teacher was targeted to become my mother's best friend. Somehow the two of them arranged the desired outcome while I was busy playing with wooden blocks somewhere else. Fifteen or so years later. public schools didn't suit my father, who wanted me to go to boarding school, so the problem became one of convincing someone else that a terrible mistake had been made in the records of my age, but it was just too late to fix it. Alternative solutions were proposed, but it was decided the simplest way to get it off his desk was to ignore it. Well, along came World War II and I was too young. Furthermore, I was pre-med.

So, a class of 1100 at Yale was quickly reduced to a couple hundred by Christmas, and I missed WW II entirely but was just right for the North Korean war. but as an officer. I realize that many contemporaries in Germany were swept into concentration camps by slightly different variations of the same happenstances, many Yale classmates were killed at the Battle of the Bulge, or even the Korean battles. But I was too young to do anything but watch the main agent, my mother, at work when I was in Kindergarten, and everything unfolded from that. I was lucky.

Harvard Progressives in Philadelphia

{Theodore Roosevelt}
Theodore Roosevelt

The Progressive movement of the early 20th century is most concisely viewed as a futile social reaction to the vast changes in America caused by urbanization and industrialization after the Civil War. The transcontinental railroad threatened to destroy the wild, wild West, but the enduring environmental movement had overtones of even greater hostility toward industrialization, the cause of it all. In this sense, it joined forces with socialist and labor reform movements, in hating the newly rich, the spoilers, the Robber Barons. It briefly shared sympathies with anti-immigrant groups, while simultaneously expressing great sympathy with the decisions of the people, as opposed to corrupt politicians. There was a strong Calvinist streak in Progressivism, linked back to New England and Harvard its intellectual center. Regardless of any other contradiction, it reflected the viewpoint of Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy Roosevelt, "that damned cowboy" in the view of conservatives, did not invent the ideas of Progressivism, but he surely personified them, illustrated them in action. This confused turmoil of resentments was knocked off the front pages by a real threat to European civilization, the First World War. A terrifyingly well organized German war machine took the place of Robber Barons as a symbol of what was wrong with the world. The crash of 1929 and its ensuing long depression finally put an end to older controversies; it pushed the "reset" button.

{Henry Brooks Adams}
Henry Brooks Adams

To understand the position of Philadelphia's upper crust during the Progressive era, four or five names need to be fleshed out. Owen Wister and J. William White would be important Philadelphia links to the Bostonians Henry Adams and Henry James. All of them were leading literary figures, and all of them were close friends of Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt, it might be recalled, was the author of thirty-four books. This little group of literary giants were members of the leading families of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia; what they said, mattered. Although today Owen Wister is mainly known as the author of The Virginian, the first of the cowboy stories of the Wild West, he was, in fact, an observer of the social climates of not only the West, but the deep South (Lady Baltimore ), and the East Coast ( Romney). Some idea of his political leanings can be gleaned from his presidency of the Immigrant Restriction Society, and the authorship of an article called Shall We Let the Cuckoos Crowd Us From Our Nest . Wister has been called "the best born and bred of all modern writers", referring to his descent

V Sixth and Arch to Second and Arch

V Sixth and Arch to Second and Arch Betsy Ross House 239 Arch Street

A lot of Philadelphians don't like Betsy Ross and won't say why. Maybe it shows I am not a true Philadelphian. because I don't know the secret. But I have personal reasons for doubting the premise. More likely it has to do with Arlen Specter, who gave himself credit for getting the funds for the Philadelphia colonial revival, and that seems largely true. So maybe it traces to having several husbands of different religions. but you could say the same of lots of other colonial dames, notably Katy Greene. Possibly they don't like Betsey for being the last surviving Free Quaker, and giving herself the remainder, but she needed it and somebody had to get it. Maybe it was because she was a Quaker and Quakers have a tradition of taking your medicine in silence, regardless of short-term consequences.

In any event, Betsy was a heroine, a Quaker, and an Episcopalian, but she didn't quite pull it off. This is her part of town, her survival. and she did her best in trying times,

Same thing with Specter. He wanted people to think the Philadelphia Revolutionary revival was his accomplishment, and that was only partly true. But it was partly his accomplishment, and let's let it go at that. During a speech Senator Arlen Specter "let it slip" that he had a lot to do with obtaining federal financing to establish the new Constitution Center on the north end of Independence Mall. Probably more important, he intimated that his wife, Joan Specter, did a lot of domestic agitating to see that it happened. The earmarks were his, the fingerprints were hers.

Some have worried about a Center telling the Supreme Court telling the world what the Constitution means because the Justices see that as their unique function. The point that is sensitive is the emphasis on the words. "We the People" which could be seen as urging easy modification of the document by shouting demands or repetition of certitudes without passing due process.

The second floor of this enormous new building is devoted to some very skillful exhibits relating to certain features of Constitutional history. The many auditoriums are the site of public lectures and programs, and there is a very interesting set of life-sized bronze figures of every member of the original Constitutional Convention. A striking feature of this display is how short and inconsequential Hamilton and Madison seemed to be in person, while Ben Franklin and Gouverneur Morris appear imposing. These things matter in politics.


Just across Fifth Street, (in the Christ Church Episcopal graveyard) is the gravesite of Franklin and his wife. This is the site every wintry (Apri 21) morning when the organizations Franklin founded re-enact his funeral march. ending with a speech, a luncheon, and a celebration. It's as close as you might come to remembering Franklin's funeral at age 84, and being gently reminded simultaneously that Franklin was a deist, not a Quaker, not an Anglican. And you do sort of get the idea that Franklin was possibly the most remarkable man who ever lived.


Going down Arch Streett from Fifth to Fourth, you can visit the orthodox pacifist Meeting House, its interior largely unpainted and grimly plain -- quite different from the effect of pristine simplicity of the Free Quakers. If you go inside the meetinghouse, a quiet and unprepossessing Quaker will be more than happy to give you a magnificently short and simple explanation of what Quakerism is all about. In passing down Arch Street, glance at the warehouses on the left, covering the site of what was once a major factory for shoes and uniforms for Union soldiers in the Civil War.


Behind the buildings on the Eastside of Fourth street, as the ground slopes sharply to the river, you can sense the rough-tough feeling of the mid-Nineteenth Century. Looking three blocks further on Second Street, Charles Dickens might have felt entirely at home. Looking three blocks further you can see St. George's Church, the (you heard it correctly) oldest Methodist Church in the world, its view unfortunately obscured by the approaches to Ben Franklin Bridge.


If you reverse course up Arch Street, you will pass the building once said to have been the house of Betsy Ross. When the Free Quaker meeting was "laid down", it had to define a purpose for the funds and assets of an inactive church, and the selected purpose was to care for the poor. According to the records, the first recipient of such charity was Betsy Ross. Anyone who knows Quakers might initially assume there was nothing irregular about this. Money designated for indigents would be used for real indigents, no matter what others may say or think. So this little scrap of paper is taken to be a footnote to her personal history, until proven otherwise.

Phillips Curve

By the time of the Bretton Woods conference in 1945. even a hybrid precious metal standard had to be abandoned as too inflexible. President Nixon closed the "gold window" and Lyndon Johnson closed the "silver window". The virtual standard of inflation monitoring seemed to work for three decades, but the refinement of the Phillips Curve seems to be tottering us into a situation which may not be manageable. What now?

Insurance Commissioner Role in Bond Prices

The Ninth Constitutional Amendment restricts federal law to a handful of topics, mainly national defense and taxes -- all other topics are to be covered by state laws. While federalists have always regarded this balance of power as an unwelcome compromise, gradually chipping away at it for two hundred years, state domination of the business of insurance has remained securely under the control of the state insurance commissioner. As John Dickinson predicted, there has been a steady tendency for the laws of the largest state to set the pattern which the others usually follow by reciprocity. In this case, dominance of state insurance laws has gradually shifted from New York to California. As a further consequence, state insurance laws have grown more liberal.

For this reason, state laws generally follow the pattern of limiting insurance portfolios to no more than 25% common stock, although there is no law or constitutional provision that they must do so. The explanation usually offered is that although stocks generally pay higher dividends, a guaranteed bond dividend comes closer to matching the liabilities of insurance that do variable stock dividends. And originally that may have been true, although gradually changes in other things may well have been responsible for maintaining such an apparently bizarre pattern of lobbying for lower dividends for yourself.

Compendia have been produced, showing blue-chip stock dividends (or index funds) have averaged 12% returns for a hundred or more years, while bond returns have averaged 5%. Life expectancy has meanwhile lengthened by nearly thirty years. While there may be legitimate arguments for gradual lowering the limit rather than abruptly doubling it, the consequences of doing something like that are huge. Furthermore, the variability of insurance products defies blanket rules as they once did not, the expansion of life expectancy is as likely in the future as it was in the past, and its unknowable likelihood can be judged as well by one profession as another. Insurance executives have gradually shifted all risk from the company to the customers, and it is time to consider how simple it would be to shift it back. Arguments and risks would also appear for the stockholders of stock index funds as stockholders absorb more of the risk, although the numbers are so large that probably no one would agree to anything but gradual shifts as proof of concept.

HSA specifics

Health Savings Accounts (HSA)

HSAs allow you to set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses. By using untaxed dollars in a Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay for deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and some other expenses, you may be able to lower your overall health care costs. HSA funds generally may not be used to pay premiums.

You may contribute to an HSA only if you have a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). For 2020, if you have an HDHP, you can contribute up to $3,550 for self-only coverage and up to $7,100 for family coverage into an HSA. HSA funds roll over year to year if you don't spend them.

High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)

For 2020, the IRS defines a high deductible health plan as any plan with a deductible of at least $1,400 for an individual or $2,800 for a family. An HDHP's total yearly out-of-pocket expenses (including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance) can't be more than $6,900 for an individual or $13,800 for a family. (This limit doesn't apply to out-of-network services.)

Premium $1,500/mo $3,000/mo
Deductible $3,000/yr $1,500/yr

HDHPs are appropriate for people who do not expect to have large medical expenses; these people will benefit from the lower premiums. People with large anticipated medical expenses may be better off with an insurance plan that charges higher premiums but covers a greater percentage of their costs.

You can apply for a HDHP on I tried this myself to get data on specific plans but I was blocked because I am on Medicare.

Fidelity HSA accounts

Individuals may open their own no-fee HSA accounts at Fidelity at Individuals may open their own HSA at any time and can contribute whenever they want to. It costs nothing to establish your own individual HSA account at Fidelity; there are no ongoing account fees except for the fees charged by the funds you invest in (see the "net expense ratios" in next paragraph for details).

Once a HSA is established, you can invest in a list of funds. See List of Fidelity HSA funds to invest in.

Employers can establish HSA plans for their employees through Fidelity at The primary reason to do this is to allow the employer to match employee contributions but employees can only join an employer's HSA during pre-defined enrollment periods. [1]

[1] For Ross & Perry, encouraging the employees to get their own individual HSAs would seem to be the better option because of the expense and administrative effort that would be incurred in establishing and maintaining a company plan unless there is a strong desire to provide matching funds (which assumes the employees are committed to joining the plan, getting and paying for the high-deductible insurance, and making ongoing contributions into their HSAs).

The Schools of School House Lane

{Union School founded in 1759}
Union School founded in 1759

The region of Philadelphia defined as Germantown is recorded by the last census as having about 50,000 inhabitants today, 40,000 of whom are of the black race. Germantown has always had an unusual concentration of schools of the highest quality, and here on one street alone there are four. School House Lane runs off to the West of Germantown Avenue, and was originally right at the center of town, the center of the action during the Revolutionary War. The most historic of the schools, the Union School founded in 1759, changed its name to Germantown Academy, and more recently picked up and moved to new quarters in Fort Washington. George Washington sent his nephew there, and its building served as a hospital for the wounded in the Battle of Germantown. When Germantown Academy moved out of Germantown, the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf moved into the vacated quarters. This school had been originally founded in 1820, and is one of nearly a hundred special schools for the deaf in the United States, operating as a quasi-public institution for about 170 students. A remarkable thing about all schools for the deaf is the high IQ of their students. Perhaps deaf underachievers are somehow filtered out by the struggle to adapt before they apply for admission, or perhaps there is something about being deaf that makes you smart. In any event, the average SAT scores of students from PSD, like all schools for the deaf, are always in the very highest ranks among secondary schools.

{Sklar School Entrance}
Sklar School Entrance

More or less next door to it, fronting on Coulter Street, is the Germantown Friends School(GFS), which enjoys and deserves the reputation of the most intellectually rigorous school in the Philadelphia region. There is little question about the Quakers of this school, founded in 1845, but relatively few of the students are now Quaker children. It's pretty expensive and quite uncompromising about its academic standards, but if you want to be accepted by a famous University, this is the place that can boast the most achievement of that variety. By no means all of its graduates become teachers, but alumni of this school do tend to gravitate to the top of academia. That could eventually put them on college admission committees, of course, and perhaps the admission process promotes itself. There can be little doubt that if most of a given college's admission committee happened to play the tuba, that university would soon fill up with tuba players.

{William Penn Charter School}
William Penn Charter School

Further West on School House Lane, is the William Penn Charter School. It's also Quaker, and while it doesn't work quite so hard at it as GFS does, it has plenty of social mission, a great deal more discipline, and plenty of competitive athletics. A minority of its students, also, are Quakers; but as a guess, most of its graduates are headed for disproportionate affluence anyway. The middle school is named for, and was donated by, the former chairman of Morgan Stanley back before Morgan Stanley sold itself to Dean Witter. This school was founded in 1689, and for a long time was located at 12th and Market Streets in Philadelphia, right where the famous PSFS building was built, the one that later converted to Lowe's Hotel .

Finally, near the crossing of Henry Avenue with Schoolhouse Lane, is the Philadelphia University. Since it was founded in 1999 it is the youngest of the schools on School House Lane, specializing in architecture and design, and seems headed for even broader curriculum. The University was formed by the merger of Ravenhill Academy for Girls, and the Philadelphia Textile School. The Textile School was itself formed during the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial, when local industrialists became concerned with how backward America seemed in its quality and design of textiles, compared with other nations which exhibited at that World's Fair. Next door, was once the home of William Weightman, a chemical manufacturer who was reputed to be the richest man in Pennsylvania. After his death, the rather grand estate became the site of the Ravenhill School for Girls, which was the school which could boast Grace Kelly for an alumna. That was natural enough since she lived just around the corner on Henry Avenue and could walk to school. The contrast between the two ends of School House Lane, Henry Avenue on one end, and Germantown Avenue on the other, is just astounding.

So there you have School House Lane. A few short blocks with three distinguished preparatory schools and a university. Plus, the site of three other famous schools which have either moved or merged. You might think Germantown was the home of myriads of school teachers, but that isn't exactly so. It's hard to say just what this complex anomalous situation proves, except to voice the opinion that it is somehow at the heart of what Philadelphia really is.

Note, kind readers have also sent me the names of six more schools on Schoolhouse Lane. Some of them may only be name changes, but the list includes Parkway Day School, Sklar School, Philadelphia Textile and Science, Germantown Stevens Academy, Germantown Lutheran Academy, Greene Street Friends School. (See Comments.)

Chapter Twenty-One : Teddy Roosevelt; Cubans and Philipinos topic 208

When I was a very young medical interne, I had the surprising chance to hear Bill Stroud say a surprising thing. It was to the effect of being called to Sagamore Hill, on consultation about Teddy Roosevelt's being found with a blood pressure of 300/200. 'This man won't live a month,' sez I. 'Well, he lived fifteen years.' Bill was telling me not to be so sure of my predictions. But what I heard was: with Teddy, you never know.

This little anecdote came back to me when I read that Roosevelt and fifteen thousand Rough Riders (mostly volunteers from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton) had easily defeated two hundred thousand Cuban soldiers at San Juan Hill, themselves sustaining only a handful of casualties. The story was further complicated to hear from my Uncle that the same American troops had to invent the .45 caliber service revolver, because the .32 caliber service revolver wouldn,t stop the Philipinos from advancing. We have all sorts of tales of wild men Philipino troops in those conflicts, and the outcome certainly points in the direction of fierce fighting. Furthermore, the Bay of Pigs calamity many decades later under President John Kennedy seems to show that somebody in the CIA was counting on a repeat performance of Teddy's experience, and got the Philippino one. In short, there seems to have been a large dose of "fake news" in the whole thing. At this distance, it's hard to believe the whole story, except to say that something must have happened.

Topic: Chapter Eighteen: South Pacific: Topic 588

America got started badly with European powers. At first, the English King Henry VIII had trouble getting a male heir from numerous European princesses, cut off their heads, remarried, started his own branch of the Catholic Church, defied the Pope of Rome, and engaged in piracy with the Spanish Empire. People took their religion pretty seriously in those days, and a papist version of the same events held that he was looking to grab papist riches and felt the need to have a cover story. There seemed some truth in numerous versions of state affairs, so people believed what suited their inclinations. In any event, the sixteenth century was consumed with stories of piracy that suited their needs. In time, things settled down, but essentially a majority of Englishmen remained strongly anti-catholic amidst the smoking ruins. In time, they also hated Kings who wanted to tax them, and aristocrats who flourished in the confusion. Whalers plied their trade in the South Pacific, and came home rich, or at least ready to be rich.

It happens that the South Pacific region is pretty arid, and the North Pacific rim was soon depleted of fertilizers, held in check by Indian Wars, great buffalo migrations, and strange European diseases like measles. The demarcation line along the Allegheny mountains was followed by even more daunting barriers of the Rocky and Sierra mountains further west, and fleeing white men had an easy time driving the native tribes before them. We tend to think of settlers drawn to the West, but in fact, the settlers were mostly fleeing to the Pacific rim. The general Westward Ho! state of affairs tended to obscure the facts, but from Maine and Connecticut west there was glacial topsoil, and then the great plains were again easily depleted to semi-desert conditions. Americans had other things on their minds. but handsful of dried guano were a Godsend brought home by whalers. Dried bird excrement kept Peru and Chile busy for generations making war on each other. Other things like phosphates sustained Devil's Island on the Atlantic rim, thus is explained more of the history of South America than gold discovery could possibly explain. In a sense, the digging of the Panama Canal brought this to an end, but the steamboat expansion of the post-civil War started it. And back home. George Washington the first President was putting down the Whiskey Rebellion which threatened his retirement plans. It's pretty hard to say what America would have become without this quirk of geography, but it's easy to see how different America would be without the Guano phenomenon, to say nothing of the 1909 discoveries of Fritz Hafer the German, 1924 Nobel Prize-winning chemist, and his associate Bosch.

Nitrogen is the main component of the air we breathe, and the ammoniacal basis for both fertilizer which saved millions of lives, and mustard gas, which destroyed an equal number. So it's hard to know whether to criticize or praise him, but at least he isn't an American, who invisibly affected whatever America has become today.

Flanders & Swann

Through the Council of Medical Economics the Society organize a for-profit subsidiary to perform billing services for members.


That by utilizing automation volume purchasing of supplies, and superior information about how the third party system works, the Society could act as a billing agent for its members more cost effectively than any member could act for themselves, and hence a profitable subsidiary could be created.


That even if the cost to the member utilizing the service should be as large as the cost of doing the work for himself, intangible advantages to the member would make it worth his while to support the service.


That even if the Society should fail to make a profit on the service, the advantages to the Society of being actively involved in the process would justify continuing it.


That if the venture should prove to be successful, even if only in part, it should then be possible to franchise software and successful portions of the process to other state and specialty societies.


So long as control of certain policies can be maintained by the Society, the most promising way to reach a rapid break-even point in this business is by entering into a joint venture with one or more already established firms, and one or more banks.

PREMISE I: (Cost advantages)

The operative word here is "cost-effectiveness." While stationery could be bought cheaper in volume, stamp costs could b reduced by tape-to-tape or courier delivery of invoices in bulk, and labor costs reduced by mass-production methods, the major savings to physician customer are most likely obtainable by:

1. reducing key-entry errors in the provider number.

2. reducing in the interest cost of float.

3. speeding up the third party response time

4. reducing the cost of responding to patient complaints and inquiries

5. paperless bank deposits which result in negotiated concessions from both the depositing and issuing banks.

Somewhat later down the line, additional savings can be contemplated from systemic comparison of delinquent accounts with notices of estate probate, from early notification to subscribers that a patient's deductibles had been satisfied by payments to other subscribers, and from notification to subscribing physicians that a new account already had delinquent debts to other subscriber physicians.

PREMISE II: (Intangible member advantages).

The main advantages to the subscribing physicians are two:

Simplification of the payment system for himself and his patients, and heightened awareness of advantageous intricacies of the payment system. Simplification of a very complicated and confusing process would tend to make the third party system more comparable in the public mind to HMO and PPO systems, which admittedly do represent some simplification of the payment process. Any simplification of the third party system tends to improve its competitiveness in the prepayment environment.

Improved awareness of the intricacies of the third party system usually leads to recognition by the doctor of ways he could improve his position. Most members of the Council of Medical Economics find this to be true for themselves, as do members of the Council of PSIM>. My involving the Council of Medical Economics in the actual mechanics of collection on behalf of members, incentives and mechanism are created to recognize and point out inequities and inefficiencies (in a tactful way, we presume) which are caused by ignorance of how the system works. The time lag, now visible between the introduction of a favorable change in the system and member' appropriate reaction to it, should be appreciably shortened.

PREMISE III: (Intangible Advantages to the Society).

Through the Council on Medical Economics, the Society now spends roughly $100,000.00 a year ($6.00 per member) to "assure appropriate reimbursement to physicians for their services, in a timely efficient manner". There is little doubt that the Council would do a better job with that objective if it had ten times as much money and staff to work with. Even without more money and staff, there would be a very appreciable advantage if the staff was closely linked to reports of the day to day problems, and indirectly had a financial incentive to fix them. Where administrative remedies failed, the frustrated council would surely do what no purely commercial billing service could do: seek remedies through the political process. Recourse to the political process would, in turn, be far more effective if based on statistics and aggregate numbers, rather than on scattered anecdotal complaints as at present is the case. Such political activities would, of course, benefit non-members as well as members, but a heightened image of the Society would surely assist membership recruitment.

Even at a pure break-even point, the Society would have an enlarged staff with extra talents available for consultation. Within the Society's staff expanded career opportunities would enhance the attractiveness of staff employment. With an enlarged staff containing more varied talents in the third-party reimbursement area, planning could more confidently go forward on projects such as telecommunication banks and physician office computer systems, and perhaps proposals for a major restructuring of the reimbursement of the payment system.

Terse Verse: Fee Lines Topic: Aging

Fee Lines

That pet
You get
Once waif
Now safe
Swift lure
Sweet purr
Loves awe
Soft paw

Start ditch
Rags rich
They rule
Act cool
Best perk
Don't work
Prize catch
From scratch

Terse Verse: Shell Shock Topic: Aging

Shell Shock

Birth day
Fowl play
Can't roam
Egg home
First fight
Scratch bite
Break neck
Hunt peck

With luck
Can duck
Lack will
Lay still
Join group
In coop
Crack fool
Roost rule

Pot Belly

In a love song written by T.S. Eliot, the character named J. Alfred Prufrock complains that as he grows old, he wears the bottom of his trousers rolled. College freshmen who encounter this line are apt to glide over it, uncomprehending, but the allusion will eventually grow clearer. The old man tends to find his legs have apparently grown shorter because he has to roll up his pants to keep them from dragging on the ground. Although the cartilages in his knees, hips and the lower spine may have compressed a little, the shortened legs are more apparent than real. The pants seem longer because his belt line has dropped. Dropped below his pot belly, that is.

No medical textbook that I know contains much discussion of pot bellies, even though they are almost universal, and universally noticed. The muscles of the belly wall relax, allowing the guts to bulge forward over the pubic bone.

{top quote}
Even doctors don't know enough about this disorder of old age {bottom quote}

The aging lungs tend to enlarge, pushing the guts downward. The spine bends forward, and of course, the fat tends to increase inside the abdominal cavity. If there has not been too much weight gain, the pot belly tends to flatten out when its owner lies down on his back; if the weight has been gained, the pot sticks up like a pregnancy, obscuring the lower edge of the rib cage, bulging out at the sides. Normally, a young person's abdomen is described as "scaphoid" or hollowed out like the inside of a rowboat. A skinny young woman has wider flaring hip bones, exaggerating this scaphoid appearance, and making the waist narrower by allowing the guts to drop down into the larger pelvic cavity. Younger people are more active, with more muscle tone holding things together somewhat better.

Anyway, when the older person rolls over in bed, the innards of the belly cavity get squashed against the mattress. The old man's prostate leads to a fuller bladder, which means he gets up earlier when he rolls over it and gets up a lot earlier if he is overweight and has more pot belly. Or it may be the upper stomach that gets squashed, forcing the acid stomach contents up the esophagus and resulting in heartburn, burping, and even cough or hoarseness if the acid gets up into the throat and back down the windpipe. With weight gain, the pressure of lying prone can press against the main leg veins as they cross the brim of the pelvis, resulting in swollen ankles. Since the large intestines are coiled and kinked, external pressure against them causes a minor degree of obstruction which can be experienced as constipation or sometimes bowel urgency. Since the bowels contain a fair amount of gas, pressure on them causes small gas bubbles to merge into larger bubbles, with resulting flatulence which can reach startling proportions in the early morning hours. For all these reasons, people with pot bellies tend to sleep on their backs, causing a lot of snoring. If they snort and waken, they may have night time insomnia, daytime drowsiness. One sure sign of this is that the bed partner flees to a separate bedroom.

Victims of this affliction may, if they choose, imitate Scarlett O'Hara in that famous scene in Gone With the Wind with the slave girls pulling a tight corset even more painfully tight, but corsets are currently out of fashion. Or they can take purple pills to correct the heartburn, or regular laxatives for some of the other problems. In general, however, leg-lifting exercises strengthen the belly wall muscles (abs, I believe they are called), and losing weight by eating less does the rest. Losing weight is never easy, but in this case, a few pounds can make big differences in belly circumference, as measured by the belt size. Nothing will shrink the enlarged lungs pushing down, however, and arthritis of the spine may maintain the forward stoop. Very few older people are complete without some signs of this common affliction. Even so athletic a person as the ramrod-straight George Washington developed just a little pot. And Benjamin Franklin, of course, had a hopeless case.

Terse Verse: Fowl Fare Topic: Aging

Fowl Fare

Eggs break
Boil bake
Hens die
Then fry
Their clan
Feeds man
Chick crew
Will do

Cows steers
Give cheers

In brief
Skip beef
Their feat
No meat
Plate full
No bull

Terse Verse: Fly Ways Topic: Aging

Fly Ways

Eggs hatch
Start scratch
Next test
Leave nest
Crane neck
Hunt peck
Hens need
Chick feed

Food chains
Bird brains
Last cluck
Can't duck
End loose
Cook goose
So long
Swan song

Terse Verse: Times Out Topic: Aging

Times Out

Life's plan
Brief span
Hours drag
Hopes sag
Days go
Slow mo
Years zoom
Bodes doom

There comes
Aches tums
Dulls ire
Cools fire
Too late
Tocks fate
Clocks tricked
We're ticked

Terse Verse: Whose who Topic: Aging

Whose Who

Old age
Bumps rage
Names drop
Words stop
Tongues trip
Feet slip
Free will
Down hill

May shrug
Blame drug
Sluff off
Laugh cough
But fear
Stays near
Worst plea
Who's me

Rise and Fall of Books 1470 :

The Library Company of Philadelphia

John C. Van Horne, the retired director of the Library Company of Philadelphia recently told the Right Angle Club of the history of his institution. It was an interesting description of an important evolution from Ben Franklin's original idea to what it is today: a non-circulating research library, with a focus on 18th and 19th Century books, particularly those dealing with the founding of the nation, and, African American studies. Some of Mr. Van Horne's most interesting remarks were incidental to a rather offhand analysis of the rise and decline of books. One suspects he has been thinking about this topic so long it creeps into almost anything else he says.

Join or Die snake

Franklin devised the idea of having fifty of his friends subscribe a pool of money to purchase, originally, 375 books which they shared. The members were mainly artisans and the books were heavily concentrated in practical matters of use in their trades. In time, annual contributions were solicited for new acquisitions, and the public was invited to share the library. At present, a membership costs $200, and annual dues are $50. Somewhere along the line, someone took the famous cartoon of the snake cut into 13 pieces, and applied its motto to membership solicitations: "Join or die." For sixteen years, the Library Company was the Library of Congress, but it was also a museum of odd artifacts donated by the townsfolk, as well as the workplace where Franklin conducted his famous experiments on electricity. Moving between the second floor of Carpenters Hall to its own building on 5th Street, it next made an unfortunate move to South Broad Street after James and Phoebe Rush donated the Ridgeway Library. That building was particularly handsome, but bad guesses as to the future demographics of South Philadelphia left it stranded until modified operations finally moved to the present location on Locust Street west of 13th. More recently, it also acquired the old Cassatt mansion next door, using it to house visiting scholars in residence, and sharing some activities with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania on its eastern side.

Old Pictures of the Library Company of Philadelphia

The notion of the Library Company as the oldest library in the country tends to generate reflections about the rise of libraries, of books, and publications in general. Prior to 1800, only a scattering of pamphlets and books were printed in America or in the world for that matter, compared with the huge flowering of books, libraries, and authorship which were to characterize the 19th Century. Education and literacy spread, encouraged by the Industrial Revolution applying its transformative power to the industry of publishing. All of this lasted about a hundred fifty years, and we now can see publishing in severe decline with an uncertain future. It's true that millions of books are still printed, and hundreds of thousands of authors are making some sort of living. But profitability is sharply declining, and competitive media are flourishing. Books will persist for quite a while, but it is obvious that unknowable upheavals are going to come. The future role of libraries is particularly questionable.

Rather than speculate about the internet and electronic media, it may be helpful to regard industries as having a normal life span which cannot be indefinitely extended by rescue efforts. No purpose would be served by hastening the decline of publishing, but things may work out better if we ask ourselves how we should best predict and accommodate its impending creative transformation.

Terse Verse: Dam Age Topic: Aging

Dam Age

Curse time
Woes Climb
Cheeks sag
Eyes bag
Fault lines
Sad signs
Tick tox
Strain locks

Curses tried
Stem tide
Skin creams
Hold dreams
When told
Look old
Flood fears
Burst tears

Terse Verse: Life Lines Topic: Aging

Life Lines

Years creep
Plow deep
Crows feet
Walk beat
Eyes bag
Rest sag
Fight back
Mask track

Creams soothe
Sands smooth
Save youth
Hide truth
Age curse
Saps purse
Vein race
Saves face

Terse Verse: Sound Bites Topic: Aging

Sound Bites

Song new
Chomp chew
Stars chant
Gnash rant
Lights swirl
Crowds whirl
Oft find
Teeth grind

Old still
Shun shrill
Flee blaze
Seek graze
Wish dine
Fine wine
Leave waste
Choose taste

Terse Verse: Primed Time Topic: Aging

Primed Time

What age
Best stage
First phase
Youth days
Clocks crawl
Days stall
Can't wait
Next state

Climb steps
Slow peps
Years leap
Pains creep
Look round
Bells sound
Think young
Top Wrung

TF-IDF Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency

TF-IDF (Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency) is an algorithm for determining the most-relevant terms in a document within a large collection of documents. One example is Google looking for important terms in a vast collection of websites. I attempted a more modest analysis to find the most important term in each of the works of Shakespeare.

I wrote a collection of Java MapReduce programs to run under Hadoop. My computer setup was/is the following:

  • Ubuntu 14.04 64-bit
    (Windows and Mac will work equally-well as hosts but you need more than 4G of RAM on any system)
  • VirtualBox 4.3.20
  • Cloudera QuickStart VM cdh 5.3.0
    • Hadoop 2.5.0
    • Eclipse Juno
    • Java 1.7

The whole program consists of a MapReduce driver and 5 Mapper/Reducer steps:

NOTES: This algorithm may run into problems at scale either because of memory usage or because of the startup/teardown cost of numerous steps.

  1. Memory is likely to be the larger problem
    • In the first step you can implement stemming to reduce the number of terms and you can include certain high-frequency terms in the stop word list.
    • The memory problems will be more severe in the reducer steps and implementing combiners may help by offloading some of the memory usages to the mapper tasks, which are likely to be more numerous than the reducer tasks.
    • Instead of using in-memory HashMaps, you can implement temporary disk storage.
  2. The second and fourth steps can fairly easily be folded into the previous steps. There are two penalties for this: (1) the code is more complex and harder to understand, explain and debug (2) the individual tasks will require more resources.

My thanks to the following for the help I derived from their websites:

My thanks also to Jure Leskovec and Daniel Templeton for teaching Stanford's CS246 and CS246H

State in Schuylkill Fishing Club

{Richard Romm}
Richard Romm

Richard Romm, a rising historical scholar with a special interest in early Philadelphia, recently educated the Right Angle Club in the history of the Schuylkill Fishing Club in the State in Schuylkill, and was immediately accepted into membership. Of the Right Angle, that is, which is an old club by some standards, but scarcely a hundred years old in the eyes of the really old, old clubs.

The State in Schuylkill is an eating club, originally a fishing and eating club, apparently organized around the annual shad run up the river. The clubhouse, or Castle, was moved several times, in response to damming of the river, and is now located on the grounds of, or adjoining the edge of, Nicholas Biddle's estate on the Delaware River called Andalusia. One by one, the Atlantic Ocean rivers of America have been dammed and their annual shad migrations brought to an end, except through the city of Richmond, Va, so there was little point in moving The Castle to follow the fish. It remains, overlooking Delaware in spite of its name.

There seems to have been several name changes, the most important of which was to change the Colony of Schuylkill to the State of Schuylkill for obvious reasons. Originally, the Castle was roughly opposite the falls of Fairmount on the West Bank of the Schuylkill at about Girard Avenue; thus, from 1732 to 1822 located on Baron Warner's property called Eaglesfield. In 1822 it moved to Rambo's Rock (the Rambo family is said to be the oldest European settler family in Pennsylvania) opposite Bartram's Gardens, then finally in 1887 to Andalusia, Nicholas Biddle's country estate. The club was founded in 1732, and dates of movings are possibly hazy, possibly somewhat because of the reluctance of club officers to return the calls of inquiring historians. The State in Schuylkill claims to be the oldest organized men's club in the world, an honor contested by White's in London. The roots of this argument are found tangled in the vital issue of whether their age should be based on the formal organization of the clubs, or on the establishment of the coffee houses which housed the original clubs. Four books are said to have been written about club history, but we depend here on Mr. Romm.

{Chief Tammenend}
Chief Tammenend

There is also an unclear relationship with Chief Tammenend, possibly traceable to the shad run, but in any event to the Indian chief depicted with William Penn in the paintings by Benjamin West and Edward Hicks. May 1 is St. Tammany's day, growing into the fancy that he was the "Patron Saint of America", before a branch of the nation-wide Tammany association opened in New York and sort of tarnished the name. Other traditions of the Fishing club have to do with wearing Mandarin hats, possibly having to do with the export of ginseng which was once abundant in our colonial suburbs, with a return cargo of Chinese dishware. All of the cooking is done by official citizens of the club. The quantities of food are remarkable; one 19th Century menu listed eleven pounds of meat per member. The club drink is a punch, the famous Fishhouse Punch, widely recognized to be rather strong. Its inventor is reputed to be Edward Shippen Willing, on the occasion of the first visit to the clubhouse by women guests. The quantity of alcoholic beverage at these events is especially remarkable in view of the Quaker origins of many original members of the club, but not necessarily of the guests. Among the various guests were Generals Grant, Meade, and McClellan. Dinner begins with two traditional toasts: to George Washington, and to Captain Sam Morris. Washington was appropriate enough, having a history of drinking a bottle of Madeira every day at lunch. But Sam? Captain Sam the Quaker?

{Free Quaker Meetinghouse}
Free Quaker Meetinghouse, Fifth and Arch Streets

Somewhere in this tradition are allusions to the Free Quakers, Quakers who abandoned the peace testimony to fight the British. There is also the tradition of hostility to British rule which antedates the Revolution and may have some connection to the fanciful contention that their little state was not really part of Penn's colony. Captain (of the City Troop) Sam was a stalwart, possibly the sole founder, of the Gloucester (N.J.) Fox-hunting club. The history is passed down that 22 of the original 26 members of the First City Troop were members of the fox-hunting club, and many if not most were Quakers. The first "Governor" of the State in Schuylkill was Thomas Stretch, but the second Governor, from 1766 until his death, was Captain Sam. He was repeatedly referred to as the life of the club and held in the highest esteem by all. He was "read out" of the main Quaker Meeting, not so much for his drinking as for his flouting of Quaker belief in pacifism. He reputedly led a saber charge at the Battle of Trenton and was a leader of the City Troop in that revolution within a revolution at James Wilson's house, which rescued at least four future signers of the Constitution from a mob of militia which momentarily turned Jacobin.

Naturally, descendants of Quakers on both side of this uproar have been reluctant to say much about it. But somewhere within the history of Samuel Morris must be some important clues about the 18th Century splits within the Quaker Church, to say nothing of the revolt of the three Quaker colonies against British rule.

TF-IDF Most-Significant Term In Each of Shakespeare's Plays

<- TF-IDF Step5
parolles@ALLS_WELL_THAT_ENDS_WELL	636.5775779521175
rosalind@AS_YOU_LIKE_IT	960.3227461677658
org@A_LOVER_S_COMPLAINT	58.20137855562217
hermia@A_MIDSUMMER_NIGHT_S_DREAM	378.3089606115441
imogen@CYMBELINE	603.83930251458
wolsey@KING_HENRY_THE_EIGHTH	367.396202132365
hubert@KING_JOHN	349.208271333733
buckingham@KING_RICHARD_III	337.6937697909743
bolingbroke@KING_RICHARD_THE_SECOND	304.22223709384275
berowne@LOVE_S_LABOUR_S_LOST	716.6044734660979
isabella@MEASURE_FOR_MEASURE	578.3761993964953
pedro@MUCH_ADO_ABOUT_NOTHING	563.8258547575898
falstaff@SECOND_PART_OF_KING_HENRY_IV	497.5354874920355
syracuse@THE_COMEDY_OF_ERRORS	865.7455060148798
talbot@THE_FIRST_PART_OF_HENRY_THE_SIXTH	431.6255580799069
cressida@THE_HISTORY_OF_TROILUS_AND_CRESSIDA	524.1101382916264
fluellen@THE_LIFE_OF_KING_HENRY_THE_FIFTH	323.74516821564833
timon@THE_LIFE_OF_TIMON_OF_ATHENS	1021.7203257707548
bassanio@THE_MERCHANT_OF_VENICE	461.973442285251
ford@THE_MERRY_WIVES_OF_WINDSOR	853.8873039582677
muse@THE_SONNETS	14.872575337986811
petruchio@THE_TAMING_OF_THE_SHREW	633.0543805207847
prospero@THE_TEMPEST	527.4499931603259
warwick@THE_THIRD_PART_OF_KING_HENRY_THE_SIXTH	465.14832600557935
antony@THE_TRAGEDY_OF_ANTONY_AND_CLEOPATRA	710.6432758418573
menenius@THE_TRAGEDY_OF_CORIOLANUS	712.9668873063716
cassius@THE_TRAGEDY_OF_JULIUS_CAESAR	668.3876482707819
lear@THE_TRAGEDY_OF_KING_LEAR	847.5575752162479
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rom@THE_TRAGEDY_OF_ROMEO_AND_JULIET	592.9265440354009
titus@THE_TRAGEDY_OF_TITUS_ANDRONICUS	436.7506089296601
proteus@THE_TWO_GENTLEMEN_OF_VERONA	803.9065412995312
leontes@THE_WINTER_S_TALE	545.6379239589578
toby@TWELFTH_NIGHT_OR_WHAT_YOU_WILL	752.9803350633618
TF-IDF Main Page ->

Debt and Corruption: One of Them May Ruin Us, or Save Us

We are going without a metal gold standard, substituting 2% inflation targeting because we don't really know what else to do. And we seem to be getting away with it, although most people don't trust it. And indeed we have the shock of discovering that the Phillips curve (inflation and joblessness balance each other) doesn't work because we just can't get inflation to rise. By the way, this includes Milton Friedman, who blamed it on the Federal Reserve, but that can't be right, either. Don't listen to experts -- no one knows why this is true. I have a solution which hasn't been tried: we could use index funds as a new gold standard. They would be a real currency backing, which would flexibly respond to inflation and deflation. Come back in a century, if you want to find out how that works.

We have too much paper money. That's another way of saying the banks have thirty times as much paper money as they have hard currency (safe) reserves to back it up. We started out with banks making it two to one, two centuries ago, and gradually raised the ratio. No one knows what the right ratio should be, so we push the envelope and watch. One day, it will be too much, but it will then be too late to do anything about it. Thirty to one seems to account for most of our prosperity, but we have several billion of the world's population still living in poverty, but with atom bombs to blackmail the rest of us. So we apparently are going to inflate the bubble until it breaks. Then we will know what the right ratio should have been. Along comes Stephan Moore of the Heritage Foundation, with either the greatest trial balloon in history or else the best idea. Who cares why interest rates are so stubbornly low, just take advantage while that is the case. He suggests we take advantage of stubbornly low rates to have the federal government issue long-term bonds until interest rates rise, possibly paying off our national debts with the profits. And also bankrupting almost everyone whose survival depended on continuing low rates, and will surely oppose the move. At least, the argument may surface the reason the Phillips Curve stopped working.

Along a different line, James Madison was scared to death poor people will outnumber rich people, so in a democracy, poor people will win. They will vote themselves free college, free medical care, free wealth they didn't earn. We will then be tempted to substitute dictators for leaders, sacrificing democracy permanently to have the joys of a dictatorship temporarily. We may try everything else first, but what we need is something which will work, not demagogues, and probably not college professors, either. God help us if we start electing newspaper columnists. Even Ben Franklin learned that much.

Just remember how long we have been tinkering with bankruptcy solutions. Instead of cutting your heart out if you don't repay your creditors, we improved things somewhat by putting defaulted debtors in prison. Morris the billionaire showed George Washington how to strip all personal wealth from the defaulted debtor in exchange for extinguishing their debts; it's called bankruptcy. The banks figure out how many defaults they will have in bulk, and add that charge to the interest rate they legitimately charge substandard risk debtors and illegitimately charge a lesser amount to non-risky debtors. Unfortunately, lots of people have figured out how to cheat on their bookkeeping, and with cell phones, soon tell their friends. Just have the government bail out bad debts, and then tax the rest of the population to pay for it. It's that last step which makes it socialism. In Philadelphia, someone a century ago thought it was a good idea to have a city/county consolidation, with sheriffs sales to pay the bills. Today, hundreds of millions of dollars are skimmed off this arrangement by corrupt politicians, and the current --allegedly non-corrupt-- Mayor is running for re-election on the promise he will absorb this revenue for worthy causes, like education. In most cities in this country, this corruption goes on, because it pays off. We have had this corruption for a century, and keep electing the same people to continue it. Yes, I know we have a drugs problem, but we voted for this scam and the taxicab medallion scam. We need a few more people to get mad, but they soon turn into elected crooks, if the rest of us let experts seem to run things. Our Constitution assumes half of the public are inherently honest and the other half are inherently bad apples, seeing its job is to maintain a balance between the two.

In short, the Supreme Court could easily fix this, by fixing enforcement and penalties. Let's see if they try. Congress could also fix this, but it would be opposed by others in Congress. The overall potential might be to lower consumer and retail interest rates, because bonds average 5% return over the long run, while equities average 10% for the same risk. If stocks and bonds returned an equal amount, as they should, there should be a doubling of effect. Bonds are mostly purchased by insurance companies, forced by state insurance commissioners to limit equity purchases to 10%. Presumably, insurance commissioners are holding down the cost to the state of municipal bonds, so the cost of this subsidy is not visible. But the net effect is to have the municipal taxpayer subsidize the defaulting debtor. The tax exemption of municipal bonds is yet another feature of this subsidy, in this case drawing the federal government into the process.

Simplifying somewhat, raising the permissible insurance commissioner's permissible level of insurance company's purchase rate from 10% to 11% would double the permissible stock purchases by insurance companies. Not enough to pay off the national debt to foreigners, perhaps, but demonstrating the opportunity just waiting for a presidential candidate to exploit in his campaign.

Yield Curve as Barometer

An inverted yield curve is considered a warning of financial storms ahead. Here is the negative spread between the 10-year Treasury and the 3-month Treasury. It looks a bit like a barometer warning of an approaching low-pressure front.

"Last Time" means 2006. At that time, the yield curve was inverted but the economy didn't seem so bad. Most of us had an inkling but no real idea of what lay ahead.

Using Escrows to Estimate Cost Risks(1)

The general thesis of this proposal is we can make better guesses about the future than we think we can, just as long as we remain aware they are guesses. In the past, that approach has made some blunders, like the sun revolving around the earth, or Columbus badly underestimating the width of the oceans. And so the world divides itself into "failure-avoiders" and "success-seekers", each contemptuous of the other. Those divisions are not likely to change much.

The proposed approach is to estimate how much we must save to achieve a distant goal, subtract it from the amount we can stretch ourselves to save, and see if what's left, is a realistic number. If you envision atom bomb attacks and climate catastrophes, the answer is No. But if you confine yourself to the question at hand, the answer might well be Yes. So as long as we confine ourselves to a voluntary approach, the nation will hold itself together if someone is wrong.

Let us repeat the basic assumption, that for practical purposes, all money is derived from the working age group, 21-66, and everything else is essentially borrowed. That is, the health costs of children under age 21 are supported by their parents, and those over 66, by savings. In addition to this basic division, about 10% of the population are unable to support themselves because of disabilities, prison and related matters--and must be subsidized. All of these side issues are slowly improving, but in this analysis we must ignore them, or at least treat them as a general category. We are now about to consolidate children and elderly people into one group.

That is made possible by the happenstance that our birthrate is 2.1 children per mother, which comes out to be one grandparent per grandchild. There are all manner of exceptions, like trans-gender people, divorces, polygamy and what have you. Our purpose is not to be comprehensively respectful, but to estimate quantities. And one grandchild per grandparent suffices for that. If each grandparent is financially linked to one grandchild, the others are a matter of pooling more with less. All newborn health costs are the responsibility of someone else, usually the father, increasingly the mother. This proposal suggests that we make health costs the responsibility of the grandparent generation, since Medicare has already made the grandparents the responsibility of government. We do this because Medicare is increasingly becoming a burden we cannot sustain. The public does not seem willing to listen to this, and so politicians are unwilling to bring it up. But Medicare is unsustainable in its present form, and therefore is absolutely destined to change. When we eventually face facts, I believe it will seem rational to combine the health costs of the two groups, so I propose we start the ball rolling by taking advantage of it sooner rather than too late. We can come back to this later, but let me briefly step up to the soap box:

We are launched on a demonstration model to the effect that compound interest income can greatly reduce the effective cost of healthcare. It is the nature of compound interest curve to turn upward the longer they extend. Therefore, we would greatly enjoy substituting lifetime compounding for annual premiums, and the greater the longevity the better. However, lifetime healthcare funding is greatly hampered by the rather high costs of the first year of life. People would almost have to live to be two hundred years old to make up for that high cost at the beginning of life, would have to inherit several thousand dollars, and would have to have rich parents instead of nearly insolvent ones. It is almost impossible to overstate the hampering effect of the high costs of the first year of life. So, we propose that grandpa transfer some of his excess Medicare funds to a grandchild, overfund Medicare a little to make room for the cost, and use Health Savings Account transfers as the vehicle for it. That adds at least 21 years to the compounding of 21 to 66, and it could potentially add the years 66 to 83, our present life expectancy. If we can somehow transform 44 years of compounding to a full 83 years, the financial consequence would be astounding. We are talking about lifetime health care, supported by a third of a lifetime of savings, if that much. No wonder the actuaries are wringing their hands.

Mary Stuart Blakely Fisher, MD

Working as a woman doctor in the days when women were limited to 10% of the admissions to many colleges, and often excluded entirely, Mary Blakely graduated first in her co-ed class at Binghamton (NY) High School, followed by first in her class at Bryn Mawr College, and the first in her class at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. In fact, she had the highest grades in five years at Bryn Mawr and was selected as a medical intern at the Massachusetts General Hospital, going on to the nation's most prestigious radiology residency under Ross Golden at Presbyterian Hospital in New York, and subsequently with Aubry Hampton. During much of that time, she lived in Philadelphia and commuted on the train to New York. She had married me a year earlier, and the train conductor grew visibly more anxious as she became increasingly pregnant during the several-month commute from Philadelphia's Broad Street Station to Penn Station in New York. Both railroad stations have since been torn down, and the baby she was carrying has been retired for ten years after being Managing Director at Morgan Stanley.

The State of Pennsylvania required a rotating internship, and while I still believe that is the best sort of internship, it was particularly galling to have the reason given that her internship was the reason for refusing to grant her a Pennsylvania license. So she got a job at the Philadelphia Veteran's Hospital, and later at Philadelphia General Hospital, the City's charity hospital of three thousand beds. Well, she never mentioned this Philadelphia affront to a premier academic Boston institution, but I didn't. Perhaps church politics are more vicious still, but this little episode illustrates how very nasty medical politics can get. Perhaps it is a feature of the human personality everywhere, but some situations freely tolerate it, while a few others just don't.

Well, in time she was offered the chairmanship of just about every Radiology department in Philadelphia, and turned them down, saying she didn't want to be chairman of any department. Perhaps she meant any department in Pennsylvania, but she never did make her feelings known. Eventually, she did become Professor of Radiology at Temple University, where she happily taught the residents for many years, during the course of which she was given the Madam Curie Award, the Lindback Award, and various other honors. She had an amazing facility to start dictating reports on x-rays before they were completely out of the envelope and always won the interdepartmental contest for diagnosis of strange films, to the point where other, mostly male, radiologists were afraid to compete with her. She won the Lindback Award for Excellence in Teaching. I used to say I didn't know whether she was any good or not, but I never met a radiologist who wasn't thoroughly intimidated by her ability to make a strange diagnosis at a glance. All her life she got along with five hours of sleep, invariably getting to bed after me and getting up the next morning before I did. Essentially, there were twenty-eight hours in her day.

So it wasn't just radiology where she excelled. Her father once told me there was nothing she could turn her hand to, where she didn't excel. Especially female skills. She was past the point of competing with males and beating them, but female skills were something else. She was a master cook, a demon housekeeper, a champion seamstress, a masterful dinner partner. Athletics were never attempted because she knew very well that men hate to be beaten at golf or tennis. It was the era of Kathryn Hepburn and Grace Kelly, and with a minimum of makeup, she turned heads where ever she went with that Bryn Mawr look about her and her painfully simple clothes. Several of my classmates, usually from Princeton, was struck dumb by her looks. For example, my book editor from Macmillan had a classmate of mine for his doctor. That Park Avenue physician never married and confined to the editor that he had been carrying a torch for her, all his life. It brought to mind the boastful lines from Congreve, in The Way of the World:

"If there be a delight in love, 'Tis when I see,
The heart that others bleed for -- bleed for me."

C13.............Balance at Last

CONTENTS: this is main body of text

another paragraph

C12..........The Convention and Its Product

CONTENTS: this is the main body of text

another paragraph

C17..........Unresolved Issues

CONTENTS: this is the main body of text

another paragraph

Jottings: Re: AMA


According to the AMA socioeconomic monitoring system the average reimbursement in 1986 was 73% of charges form Medicare, 47% from Medicaid, 86% for PPO's, 83% for IPA-HMO's, and 92% for private insurance. Divided by region, there was very little difference between the payors except for the northeastern section of the United States where both Medicaid and both the northeastern section of the United States where both Medicaid and both PPO's paid approximately 20% less of the charges than the other regions of the country.

In addition, state Medicaid programs only cover the lowest 40% of persons who meet the federal definition of the poverty level. With few exceptions, it would increase by 50% the present Medicaid budget of any state to extend full eligibility for Medicaid to those who meet the 100% poverty level.

Because of the linkage between Medicaid eligibility and program of Aid for Dependent Children, the Medicaid load in hospitals is greatest in those which have a large number of children or a large amount of obstetrics. On the other hand, fewer of these two groups can be found among those who are totally dependent on charity contributions, because the states are making at least some contribution.

Lay Oversight of Physician's Orders in Intermediate Care Facilities

WHEREAS, federal regulations concerning intermediate care facilities (440.150)specify (E), (2) that drugs for the control of inappropriate behavior must be approved by the interdisciplinary team.

AND WHEREAS, regulations (483.440) specify that (c), (1) each "client" must have an individual program plan developed by an interdisciplinary team which represents the "professions, disciplines or services e areas which area which is relevant".

AND WHEREAS, the statute and regulations (1801) declare that "Federal interference with the practice of medicine is prohibited".

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AMA study all sections of the Social Security act which utilize the word "client" in a medical setting where the term "patient" might equally apply, seeking to determine whether some regulatory provisions promote interference with the practice of medicine.


{William Bingham class=}
Alexander Hamilton

Although the Constitution could officially have been declared ratified when nine states had agreed to it, New York and Virginia were such important hold-outs that the new nation would almost certainly fail without them. Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, both of the authors of the Federalist Papers , threatened to have NewYork City succeed if the whole state would not ratify it. Such was their power and prestige, that New York ratification soon followed.

Reference: 8500/14

C7..............Articles of Confederation. Were They Still Adequate?

They got us through the Revolution, but would they get us through the subsequent peace?

C5..................The Revolutionary War in the Mid-Atlantic States 1776-1783

body of text

Tour of Duty in 'Nam

Vietnam War

Col. Dan McCall talked to the Right Angle Club about wartime experiences in Vietnam recently. He really didn't want to, though he was being asked to talk about retirement planning, or asset allocation, or something else he knew something about. But the Program Chairman this year is also a Colonel, and wasn't about to be talked out of it; he wanted Vietnam, sir, and nothing else. So, for the first time in forty years, he did. He hadn't talked about it with his family or, during a career rising from Lieutenant to Colonel, with his associates in the National Guard.

Perhaps a little slow and fumbling at first, we heard of going to a place where it's 120 degrees in the shade, every day. Where he fainted from a heat stroke on the first day off the plane in Saigon, and soon found that it happened to everyone. Within thirty days, every single person had dysentery. The plane that lands troops in Saigon doesn't turn off the engines, and takes off as soon as the last man deplanes. As well it might because it attracts sniper fire as it takes off. Once there, the only form of transportation for anyone going anywhere is by helicopter; plenty of peasants with chickens in their laps are taken along, too.

{82nd Airbourne}
Ho Chin Minh Trail

His unit, the 82nd Airborne, was deployed to the west of Hue, the ancient capital. The country is near the border with North Vietnam, and the land is a fairly narrow strip between the ocean and the Laotian border. The Ho Chi Minh trail, where the enemy comes from, is just over the border inside Laos. Our troops never go there, but B-52 bombers go there plenty, leaving impressive craters in the ground. The unit was mortared every night, and rockets made an impressive noise as they went overhead toward Hue. The American forces almost never went out at night. Deployments in the jungle lasted 45 days, without baths or toilets; mostly, you walked into the enemy by accident on the trail. One of the prizes was a Chinese officer, carrying much better maps of the region than the American Army had. One night, sniper fire seemed to be coming from a small island in the river, and the response was to send thousands of shells back, filled with 3-inch steel darts. The next morning, every tree on the island was normal enough on the Laotian side, but nearly covered with steel darts on the Vietnam side. Although the command from headquarters was to report a body count, there were no bodies to count. At the end of one 45-day deployment, there had been no food or water for three days. When the "ships" came to take them out, there was a celebration with rice wine. You make rice wine by soaking stalks of rice in water, letting it ferment. The water is pretty murky, to begin with, and gets worse as it ferments; you have a good time, anyway, with the villagers bringing in a pig to roast.

{82nd Airbourne}
82nd Airbourne Patch

The CIA had its own private army, Rangers and Special Forces. There were local mercenaries, mostly from Thailand. The 82nd Airborne - The All American Division - had a tradition of parachute jumping in every military engagement since World War II, but in the jungle there was no place for, or point in, jumping. But at the end of their deployment, they jumped once, anyway. When you got home, the movies were kind of a joke, but Apocalypse Now came close to giving the right feeling. Although of course people asked what it was like, you didn't talk about it. No one did.

One member of the Right Angle Club who had spent a year there, muttered an answer. "And people didn't really want to hear about it, either."

C3..........The Clouds Darken 1763-1776

New England wanted to fight for Independence but they knew they were too small, so they tried to enlist twelve contiguous allies by logic, but the British attacked with almost overwhelming force before that happened. Just who remembered the Treaty of Westphalia is unclear, but it had the effect of unifying the contiguous colonies behind Independence. The most serious obstacles were the Quakers, who withdrew from politics in order to avoid a choice between national and domestic resistance.

C2.............The Era of French and Indian War 1754-1763

The French and Indian war was only a small part of the long English-French quarrel, but it was a time when the colonies were still definitely colonies. The British won, but a large French contingent remained behind in Canada. In a sense, the line of demarcation along the Appalachians, while well-intended to keep the colonies from settling Indian land, defined the self-interest of the Colonies as conflicting with British self-interest. This was an unstable four-way arrangement destined to fail in some way, as the Indian interest was to keep the white colonization from spreading, but acknowledged the continued settlements of the European colonists within two East-coast clusters, mostly English but with a stable French cluster around Quebec. Trying to pacify all groups, they antagonized all four. England won the right to decide things, but their attention was really still focused elsewhere. You might say the Revolution of 1776 was to some degree an effort to make a readjustment. Unfortunately, mercantilism was the wrong choice for them in this muddle.

Yield Curve Comparison

Donor Intent

At least three of the greatest treasures of Philadelphia are now used in ways that almost certainly flout the expressed wishes of the donor. Steven Girard's

Alfred Barnes

bequest for the enhancement of "poor, white, orphan boys" is now devoted mostly to black children, many of the girls, many of them non-poor by some definitions, and many of them orphans only in a limited sense. Alfred Barnes wanted his art treasures to be used for education, outside the city of Philadelphia which had offended him, and definitely not part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art which he disliked. They are now to be moved to Philadelphia's Parkway, close to and under the thumb of, the Philadelphia Museum of Art. John G. Johnson's immense art collection now resides within the Museum of Art in spite of the firm declaration by this eminent lawyer that it was to remain in his house, and definitely not to be used to promote some huge barn of a museum.

William J Duane

It's hard to imagine how any set of instructions could be devised to be more clear than these. Barnes employed a future Supreme Court Justice, Owen Roberts, to write his will. Girard similarly employed the preeminent counsel of his time, William J. Duane, to devise an extraordinarily detailed set of instructions. John G. Johnson was himself considered to be the most eminent lawyer in the city. In fact, he once received a fee of $50,000 for his opinion about a corporate financial plan, consisting of the single word "No" scrawled on its cover.

It would be interesting to know whether these famous cases are typical of the way wills are treated, either in this city or in the nation generally. Perhaps they are notorious mainly because they are so unusual. But perhaps they are indeed rather representative and stand as lurid examples of the general failure of the rule of law. Perhaps they reflect some deeper wisdom of the law, where Oliver Holmes intoned that the standard was not logic, but experience.


Perhaps some guidance can be found in the decisions of Lewis van Dusen, Sr. who for several decades established the Orphans Court of Philadelphia as a model for the world to follow. Someone seems to have thought he set a good example. But was his reign an exception, or a glowing example of the triumph of society's wisdom over the crabbed grievances of dying millionaires in their dotage?

These remarks are made while the newspapers are filled with the story of a Texas billionaire who married a magazine model fifty years younger than himself. Some prominent local heiresses are known to have run off with their stable boys. Indeed, you don't need to read many tabloids to see a dozen examples of such behavior. Is it possible that some of them were acting up out of frustration at the probable betrayal by the courts of more reasoned instructions for their wealth?


Born October 14,1644, in Tower Hill, London, England. Father Sir William Penn, Admiral who conquered Jamaica for King Charles II. Mother, Margret Jasper Vanderschuren, daughter of a Dutch merchant.

Education: Protestant Academy, Chigwell School, Oxford, Christ Church

Published a plan for "United States of Europe, EuropeanDyet, Parliment or Estates"

1666Joined Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)c.age 22 Outstanding swordsman. but frequent companion of George Fox.

1680 c. May. Petitions Charles II for a colony in America. June. Crown officials begin their consideration of WP's petition.

1681 January-February. Crown officials revise WP's draft of the charter for Pennsylvania.

4 March. Receives his charter for Pennsylvania.

14 March. Son William Penn, Jr. (1681-1720) is born.

April. Appoints William Markham as deputy-governor of Pennsylvania.

Writes Some Account of Pennsylvania, his first advertising pamphlet.

Spring-summer. Begins work on his constitution for Pennsylvania.

June. Begins lobbying to secure the lower counties (Delaware) from the Duke of York.

July. Announces his plan of land distribution in Pennsylvania.

July-August. Publishes a Map of Pennsylvania.

Takes his first land selling trip to Bristol.

August. His deputy governor arrives in Pennsylvania.

16 September. Writes to planters in Maryland, claiming the northern quarter of that colony.

September-October. Sees his first settlers and land commissioners off to Pennsylvania.

October. Writes a letter of friendship to the chiefs of the Delaware Indians.

1682 January-April. WP and Thomas Rudyard complete the first constitution and laws for Pennsylvania.

February-March. The Free Society of Traders founded.

c. 1 March. His mother, Lady Margaret Penn, dies.

25 April-5 May. Publishes his Frame of Government and Laws Agreed upon in England.

15 July. His agents conclude their first deed with the Delaware Indians.

24 August. Receives the deeds to the lower counties (Delaware) from the Duke of York.

30 August. Sails for America on the Welcome.

28 October. Lands at New Castle, Delaware.

October-November. Visits Chester, Pennsylvania, and the site of Philadelphia.

November. Visits New York and East New Jersey.

December. His first Assembly convenes at Chester.

Meets with Lord Baltimore concerning the Maryland-Pennsylvania boundary dispute.

Twenty-three ships arrive in 1681 -1682; the colony grows rapidly.

1683 January. Quakers begin meeting in Philadelphia; the Philadelphia County Court is established.

March. Visits East New Jersey and sits on its Council. Begins distributing large numbers of Philadelphia lots. His second Assembly approves a revised Frame of Government. 29 May. Meets with Lord Baltimore at New Castle. Spring-summer. Acquires his country manor Pennsbury, in Bucks County.

August. Writes Letter to the Free Society of Traders.

August-September. Tries to buy Susquehanna Valley lands from the Iroquois, but is blocked by New York's Governor Thomas Dongan.

September-November. Many ships arrive; both Philadelphia and Pennsylvania continue to expand.

October. Germantown surveyed.

November. Attempts to collect his quitrents.

1684 March. The Welsh Tract surveyed.

April-May. Decides to return to England to defend his boundary against Lord Baltimore.

May. Lord Baltimore leaves for England.

The Assembly passes an excise tax, which WP suspends.

July. Philadelphia's waterfront residents protest WP's city land distribution policy.

August. Prepares to leave for England; appoints Thomas Lloyd president of the Provincial Council.

18 August. Sails for England from Lewes, Delaware.

5 October. Lands at Worthing, Sussex.

October. Writes to Thomas Lloyd to get copies of documents needed for his defense against Lord Baltimore.

Meets with Charles II and the Duke of York.

December. The Lords of Trade postpone the hearing of the Penn-Baltimore controversy.

Died July 30, 1718, Ruscombe, UK.


Three Different Ways of Looking at the American Revolution.

If you are a resident of nearby Boston, the American Revolution began on April 19, 1775, at Lexington and Concord for reasons having to do with smuggling and tea. If you live near Philadelphia, the chances are fairly good you believe the Revolution began on July 4, 1776, because Admiral Howe attacked us. What's this all about? The colonies had fought the French and Indian War loyally together, with George Washington at Fort Necessity and Ben Franklin supplying wagons to General Braddock with his own money, against the hated French and their Indian allies, English colonists fighting off the enemy, side by side from 1754 to 1763, even back as far as traveling together to the Albany Conference in 1745. Ben Franklin drew the first newspaper cartoon, Join or Die, at that time, and first proposed an alliance of the thirteen English colonies with the homeland. The Quakers would probably still dominate Philadelphia, if they hadn't chosen religious consistency over the dictates of power. And yet a few years later the British were chasing gunpowder stores around the countryside. The British wanted the Americans to help pay the cost of their own defense, but we were all Englishmen, together, and everybody wants something for nothing. New Englanders wanted a negotiated arrangement like Ireland or union like the Scots; these were only technical details.The slogan aimed at representation, not independence. "No taxation without representation" for English-speaking colonists. Eventually, they hoped for parliamentary membership. They were mainly fighting against mercantilism using taxation as a weapon to fend off taxes while they remained English settlers. Franklin wanted a little more, moving the capitol to America because it was biggest, and he nursed this view until King insulted him in person,a few weeks or months before he grudgingly returned to America to help lead the Independence movement.

But this is the story of the forming of the Constitution, and in the fight to remain untaxed, English settlers got left behind and will be left to drift along. Got left behind by the Treaty of Westphalia. Everyone hates to be persuaded of something which hurts his self-interest, and Westphalia said the land became private property if the King had the exclusive right to adjust the borders, and by implication the local religion. That may have been useful in dealing with Indian lands, but in the sixteenth century, people took their religion pretty seriously. That was a serious matter, and it was made worse for Protestants as a consequence of Catholic activity in which Protestants played no role. Even worse, it was accepted by an English King who was German about whom Episcopal Englishmen had some reservations. And still worse was to see German Hessian soldiers about to do most of the fighting arriving in the troop transports, paid for by a German King, enforcing a law most of them didn't understand which had unexpected twists to it which sounded like the fight they ware already fighting about taxation without representation. Remember, Ben Franklin only had a second-grade education, and most of the colonists couldn't read and write. There were only a handful of lawyers in America, and most of them had a conflict of interest about this subject, which was cataclysmic in its sweeping implications. The logic of the new German law which only a few lawyers could follow sounded like a trap. The lawyers back in England at the Inns of Court might explain it, but the essence was that rebellion was punishable by hanging, while Independence was settled by treaty. The colonists might not understand how they got into this fix, but the new legal situation created a much worse punishment for rebellion than for Independence, and hence a strong incentive to prefer Independence. Admiral Howe was only 90 miles away with dozens of warships and hundreds of troop transports, and the Continental Congress was in Philadelphia with the power to make a choice. The Germans had just experienced a large wave of immigration, more German soldiers were sitting in the transports, anxious to obey the orders of a German King, which started as a law passed by other Germans without a vote by any of the colonists affected, starting fight a war about taxation without representation, which hardly anyone had the education to understand. It was, so to speak, a perfect storm. We came very close to losing that war, so after three centuries it is still true: Whether it was the League of Nations or the United Nations, or changing the Health System -- you have a hard time convincing the American public that it's a good idea to follow he decisions of non-American leaders. If the idea was foreign, and particularly if control is left in non-American hands it's going to be a hard job persuading Americans to vote for it. england

Store of Value

Think for a moment how huge stores of sand -- silicon -- changed from almost worthless to immensely valuable when someone got the idea to borrow a considerable amount to transform it into silicon computer chips. It wasn't his money which did it, it was borrowed. It wasn't even his sand, and it quickly became worthless again when someone else put it to more desirable use. According to our standards, the inventor became a billionaire for making this contribution to society, and when he died other people got to spend money they never earned. (Actually, it was many innovators cooperating.) That's our system, and anybody else is free to try to imitate it. Its main justification is that millions of other people got jobs or even wealthy because he risked bankruptcy and they didn't.

The same simple process gave us general prosperity when lots of people did it; many succeeded and some failed. Some succeeded, but made atom bombs; some succeeded and made addicting opiates. Some watched the general process and surmised, in a century we can realistically expect the rest of the six or seven billion on Earth to become involved in a race to eliminate poverty worldwide before others blow us all up. Because, although we have achieved a lot quickly, some will still live and die in poverty, because we didn't achieve it soon enough. Give us some of it, or we will blow you up. Must we give it all?

There are other ways to summarize the economic world, and they could easily triumph. The pirates may enslave the producers, for whatever purpose they have not explained. The have-nots may outvote the haves, causing us to choose falsely between sympathy and democracy. The people who inherited warlike genes may enslave the people who inherited innovative genes, particularly if the non-innovators also inherited genes to persuade with false arguments. Or the innovators may have inherited the Crusader mentality of Convert or Die. But praise of greed may lead to the triumph of greed, and we may agree to a false premise. A false premise that we must choose between becoming the enemy and defeating the enemy, using logic when we need to use self-interest. As the athletic aristocrat George Washington reminded us: Only if you are strong, will other people leave you alone.

Relationships: Bankruptcy and Bond Prices

The price of borrowed money includes a provision to pay for defaults on the loan. That is, the interest rate demanded includes a default provision assessed by the banker against what he thinks is the risk of bankruptcy. Since he wouldn't make the loan if he thought the risk was high, he insures a little more accuracy by assigning a general rate of risk for the class of debtor. But what of the creditor who wouldn't suffer much, no matter what the risk of default? Or who ignores the risk of default because he sees very little? That man would have no interest in supporting loans, except to obtain an adequate rate of return; a pure investor, who has the money and is looking for a place to earn a return. If you don't give him a fair return, he will simply pass bonds by, and invest in something else. If the banker feels the risk is greater than the offered return, he too will let the opportunity pass. The consequence is for a fair price to emerge from the marketplace for bonds. The debtor may cry and protest, talking about the unfairness of it all, and telling his wife that bankers are a greedy bunch of knaves. But in a modern bank, he would merely be offered a Kleenex for his performance. There are just times when loans are expensive, and this particular debtor has encountered one. Sometimes, a disappointed debtor visits his congressman, and sometimes the law is adjusted for him to borrow at a substandard rate. James Madison felt that debtors would always outnumber bankers, so there would be a tendency for interest rates to creep upward in a voting republic. Consequently, a mixture of strategies is employed to suppress interest rates. Sometimes the government subsidizes non-market prices, sometimes the risk of default cost is buried in the overall interest rate, sometimes the bank subsidizes the cost out of more obscure profits, usually by raising the rates for wealthier clients if they are numerous. If these simple strategies go on long enough, the default occurs and its cost is assessed as taxes from the bankruptcy courts. In a modern bankruptcy, the defaulted debtor may be entirely stripped of his other assets. If that's not sufficient to cover the loss, either the banking system collapses, or the government does.

There's another big player in this game: insurance companies. Insurance companies buy lots of bonds, trying to match their interest cost with their other expenses, notably their insurance liabilities. If the insurance commissioner of the state permits it, they may even issue some bonds to cover a shortfall. In recent years, they usually buy stock equities, and if they overdo it, the stock market may get them. The crooks in this business take in the premiums in the early years, and sell the company as the aging liabilities grow older, particularly if the Insurance Commissioner is friendly. Fortunately for them, the population has added thirty years to the life expectancies of their clients, so they have not had to resort to any of these strategies as much as they originally did. Insurance companies have been very profitable, and so bond rates have developed a great deal of slack. Whether they take advantage of their opportunities is not for me to say, but it would not be surprising if bond prices, hence bankruptcy laxness, have been both profitable and slack. The two are huge pools of money, operating in largely independent markets, which can operate comfortably and separately, for long periods of time. The last two stock market crashes have been real estate collapses, and real estate is all about mortgages, banks, and interest rates. And the Federal Reserve has responded to both crashes by artificially manipulating mortgages, banks and interest rates.

Two Different Ways of Looking at the American Revolution.

If you are a resident of Boston, the American Revolution began on April 19, 1775, at Lexington and Concord for reasons having to do with smuggling and tea. If you live in Philadelphia, the chances are fairly good you believe the Revolution began on July 4, 1776, because Admiral Howe attacked us. What's this all about?

The colonies had fought the French and Indian War loyally together, with George Washington at Fort Necessity and Ben Franklin supplying wagons to General Braddock with his own money, against the hated French and their Indian allies, English colonists fighting off the enemy, side by side from 1754 to 1763, and traveling together to the Albany Conference in 1745. Ben Franklin drew the first newspaper cartoon, Join or Die, at that time, and first proposed an alliance of the thirteen English colonies with the homeland. The Quakers woulod probably still dominate Philadelphia, if they hadn't chosen religious consistency over the dictates of power. And yet a few years later the British were chasing gunpowder stores around the countryside. The British wanted the Americans to help pay the cost of their own defense, but we were all Englishmen, together, and everybody wants something for nothing. New Englanders wanted an arrangement like Ireland or union like the Scots. The slogan was representation, not independence. "No taxation without representation" for English-speaking colonists. Eventually, they hoped for parliamentary membership. They were mainly fighting against mercantilism and used taxation as a weapon to fend off taxes, while they continued to be proud Englishmen colonists. Franklin wanted a little more, moving the capitol to America because it was biggest, and he nursed this view until King insulted him in person,a few weeks or months before he grudgingly returned to America to help lead the Independence movement.

But this is the story of the forming of the Constitution, and in the fight to remain untaxed, English settlers got left behind and will be left to drift along. Got left behind by the Treaty of Westphalia. Everyone hates to be persuaded of something which hurts his self-interest, and Westphalia said the land became private property if the King had the exclusive right to adjust the borders, and by implication the local religion. That may have been useful in dealing with Indian lands, but in the sixteenth century, people took their religion pretty seriously. That was a serious matter, and it was made worse for Protestants as a consequence of Catholic activity in which Protestants played no role. Even worse, it was accepted by an English King who was German about whom Episcopal Englishmen had some reservations. And still worse was to see German Hessian soldiers about to do most of the fighting arriving in the troop transports, paid for by a German King, enforcing a law most of them didn't understand which had unexpected twists to it which sounded like the fight they ware already fighting about taxation without representation. Remember, Ben Franklin only had a second-grade education, and most of the colonists couldn't read and write. There were only a handful of lawyers in America, and most of them had a conflict of interest about this subject, which was cataclysmic in its sweeping implications.

The logic of the new German law which only a few lawyers could follow sounded like a trap. The lawyers back in England at the Inns of Court might explain it, but the essence was that rebellion was punishable by hanging, while Independence was settled by treaty. The colonists might not understand how they got into this fix, but the new legal situation created a much worse punishment for rebellion than for Independence, and hence a strong incentive to prefer Independence. Admiral Howe was only 90 miles away with dozens of warships and hundreds of troop transports, and the Continental Congress was in Philadelphia with the power to make a choice. The Germans had just experienced a large wave of immigration, more German soldiers were sitting in the transports, anxious to obey the orders of a German King, which started as a law passed by other Germans without a vote by any of the colonists affected, starting fight a war about taxation without representation, which hardly anyone had the education to understand.

It was, so to speak, a perfect storm. We came very close to losing that war, so after three centuries it is still true: Whether it was the League of Nations or the United Nations, or changing the Health System -- you have a hard time convincing the American public that it's a good idea to follow he decisions of non-American leaders. If the idea was foreign, and particularly if control is left in non-American hands it's going to be a hard job persuading Americans to vote for it.


Burlington County, NJ

{Burlington County Map}
Burlington County Map

Burlington County used to be called Bridlington. It contains Burlington City, formerly the capital of West Jersey, which is how they styled the southern half of the colony, the part controlled by William Penn. In colonial times, the developed part of New Jersey was a strip along the Raritan River extending from Perth Amboy, the capital of East Jersey, to Burlington. To the north of the fertile Raritan strip, extended the hills and wilderness mountains; to the south extended the Pine Barrens loamy wilderness. The Raritan strip was predominantly Tory in sentiment, while the remaining 90% of the colony consisted of backwoods Dutch farmers to the north, and hard-scrabble "Pineys" to the south, except for the developments farmed by Quakers. The Quakers had ambiguous sentiments during the Revolution, leaving conflicts between pacifism and self-defense to individual discretion. The real fighting mostly went on between the Episcopalian Tories and the Scottish-Presbyterian rebels, both of which were sort of newcomer nuisances in the minds of the Quakers. The warfare was bitter, with the Tories determined to hang the rebels, and the rebels determined to evict or inflict genocide on the loyalists. Standing aside from such blood-letting of course inevitably led to a loss of Quaker political leadership. When East and West Jersey were consolidated by Queen Anne into New Jersey in 1702, the main reason was ungovernability, with animosities which endure to the present time in the submerged form. Benjamin Franklin's son William was appointed Governor through his father's nepotism, but when he turned into a rebel-hanging Tory, his father extended his bitterness about it into a hatred of all Tories. The later effect of this was felt at the Treaty of Paris, where Ben Franklin would not hear of leniency for loyalists, striking out any hint of reparations for their property losses. In a peculiar way, the factionalism resurfaced at the time of the Civil War, where the slave-owning Dutch in the North came into conflict with the slave-hating Quakers in the South. The problem would have been much worse if the Jersey slaveholders had been contiguous with the Confederacy, but it was still bad enough to perpetuate local sectionalism. A few decades ago, it was actually on the ballot that Southern Jersey wanted permission to secede.

Under the circumstances, when James K. Wujcik wanted to work for progress in his native area, he avoided any ambition to enter State politics and concentrated his efforts on Burlington County. He is now a member of the Board of Chosen Freeholders of Burlington County, along with four other vigorous local citizens. Most notable among them is William Haines, the largest landholder by far in the area, whose family still controls the shares of the Quaker Proprietorship. Membership on the Burlington County Board of Freeholders is a part-time job, so Mr. Wujcik is also president of the Sovereign Bank. We are indebted to him for a fine talk to the Right Angle Club avoiding, with evident discomfort, many mentions of state politics or sociology.

{Congressman James Saxton}
Congressman Saxton

Burlington is the only New Jersey county which stretches from the Delaware River to the Atlantic Ocean, including the Pine Barrens occupying 80% of the land mass in the center; fishing and resorts dominate near the ocean and former industrial areas along the river. Much of the area has been converted to agriculture for the Garden State, but about 10% is included in a National Preserve. The population has doubled in the past fifty years, so urbanization is replacing agriculture, which had earlier displaced wilderness. The county includes Fort Dix and Maguire Air Force Base, strenuously promoted for decades by now-retired Congressman James Saxton.

Somewhere in the past few decades, Burlington became quite activist. Although many tend to think of real estate planning as urban planning, this largely rural county went in for planning in a big way, deciding what it was and what it wanted to be. Generally speaking, its decision was to replace urban sprawl with cluster promotion. The farmers didn't like an invasion by McMansions or industries, while the towns lost their vigor through tax avoidance behavior of the commuter residents. Overall, the decision was to push urban development along the river in clusters surrounding the declining river towns, while pushing exurban development closer to logical commuting centers, leaving the open spaces to farmers. Incentives were preferred to compulsion, with a determination never to use eminent domain except for matters of public safety. To implement these goals, two referenda were passed with 70% majorities to create special taxes for a development fund, which bought the development rights from the farmers and -- with political magic -- re-clustered them around the river towns. The farmers loved it, the environmentalists loved it, and the towns began to revive. The success of this effort rested on the realization that exurbanites and farmers didn't really want to live near each other, and only did so because developers were looking for cheap land. Many other rural counties near cities -- Chester and Bucks Counties in Pennsylvania, for example -- need to learn this lesson about how to stop local political warfare. Corporation executives don't want to live next to pig farms, but pig farmers are quite right that they were living there, first. When this friction seeps into the local school system, class warfare can get pretty ugly.

{Burlington Bristol Bridge}
Burlington Bristol Bridge

In Burlington County, they thought big. The central project was to push through the legislature a billion-dollar project to restore the Riverline light rail to the river towns, along the tracks of the once pre-eminent Camden and Amboy Rail Road. It was an unexpected success. During the first six months of operation, ridership achieved a level twice as large as was projected as a ten-year goal. Along this strip of the Route 206 corridor, the old Roebling Steel Works are becoming the Roebling Superfund Site, now trying to attract industrial developers. The Haines Industrial Site originally envisioned as a food distribution center was sold to private developers who have created 5000 jobs in the area. Commerce Park beside the Burlington Bristol Bridge is coming along, as are the Shoppes of Riverton and Old York Village in Chesterfield Township. As Waste Management cleans up the site of the old Morrisville Steel plant across the Delaware River, a moderate-sized development project is becoming an interstate regional one.

No doubt there will be bumps in these roads; the decline of real estate prices nationally is a threat on the horizon, because it provokes a flight of mortgage credit. It works the other way, too, as banks decide to deleverage by reducing outstanding loans; this is the way downward spirals reinforce themselves. And anyone who knows anything about all state legislatures will be skeptical about political cooperation in a state as tumultuous as New Jersey. The Pennsylvania Railroad destroyed the promise of this state once; some other local interest could do it again. Nevertheless, right now Burlington County looks like a real winner, primarily because of effective leadership.

The Quaker Who Would Be King

{Pearls on the String}
Captain Ahab

Everybody knows about Ahab, the nutty Quaker captain of a whaling ship, but Ahab was one of the Nantucket Quakers, a notably boisterous subset of the sect. Josiah Harlan (1799-1871), on the other hand, was born on a quiet prosperous farm in Chester County, Pennsylvania. His father had been a Philadelphia Quaker merchant who had accumulated enough funds to settle out in Newlin Township. They were strict, plain dress Quakers. Never mind that Chester County now has the horsey set, with one of the highest per capita incomes in the country, and a local version of Silicon Valley crowding into space. In the early 19th Century, Lewis and Clark days so to speak, this was the home of plain and serious Quakers. Not where you would expect to find the future King of Afghanistan, the real-life model for Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King.

In these days when Afghanistan intrudes into our news and local boys are getting killed there, we must be indebted to Ben Macintyre for his recent book The Man Who Would Be King: The First American in Afghanistan And for the research which went into it, including finding Harlan's papers in the Chester County Historical Society. Macintyre is an experienced writer for the London Times who relates more about the famous massacre of 15,000 British (only one person survived) than we get from The Great Game, which purports to be more serious history.

{Pearls on the String}
The Man who Would Be King

You almost have to read Macintyre's book twice to absorb all the unfamiliar names and to be prepared for the astonishing happenings recorded in it. John Huston made a movie in 1975 about this tale, but Harlan provides material for a dozen movies. In short, Josiah Harlan's father arranged for him to be the supercargo (commercial officer) of a merchant ship which landed in Calcutta. He had told one Eliza Swaim that he would marry her when (if) he came back, presumably prosperous. But he jumped ship in Calcutta in 1822 after he got a Dear John letter via his brother Richard (a physician with the University of Pennsylvania who remains notable for his huge collection of human skulls). Apparently deciding he was going to show Eliza a thing or two, he joined the British East India Company long enough to learn some military skills, and then set out for Afghanistan disguised as a local holy man. Along the way, he became an official for the Maharajah of Punjab, the Vizier for the King of Afghanistan, and led an army over the Hindu Kush into what was called Ghor, now more or less Uzbekistan, becoming the King, with documents to prove it. The Hindu Kush is a ridge of mountains a thousand miles long, containing a couple of dozen peaks over twenty thousand feet high. This Harlan was a real adventurer, and probably an outstanding confidence artist, working his way to the top of countries where it was common to have fifty hangings in a morning. Just staying alive for 19 years in that environment was an achievement. The British sent a fifteen thousand man army into the area to conquer it for the Queen, and only one single solder, who happened to be a physician, survived.

And then, Harlan came back to Chester County and spent 30 years writing books and starting projects, like raising camels and growing Afghan grapes. He accumulated piles of gold in the Orient, but the only way to get it home was to convert it into letters of credit and send it to his sister to invest. Somehow in the process, he ended up broke. But then came the American Civil War, where he raised a regiment in Philadelphia called Harlan's Light Cavalry, making himself its colonel. Whereupon all the officers found him so intolerable they petitioned to have him replaced and were upheld by a court-martial. But the old sociopath in him turned that upside down, and nearly got all those rebellious officers hanged for mutiny. He developed some pulmonary disease, possibly tuberculosis, and ultimately died in San Francisco. According to the newspapers, he had been practicing medicine without a license there.

Under the circumstances, it is not surprising that the Chester County Society of Friends had read him out of a meeting, quite early in these exciting adventures.


The Man Who Would Be King: The First American in Afghanistan Amazon

Two Ways of Looking at the Revolution

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Bi-state Fishing

{Coryell's  Crossing}
Coryell's Crossing
When George Washington was circling around Trenton to attack it on Christmas, a narrow spot up-river with a dozen houses on either side was called Coryell's Crossing or Ferry. That's now Coryell Street in Lambertville, linked to the other side of the river at New Hope, after first crossing a narrow wooden bridge to Lewis Island, the center of shad fishing, or at least shad fishing culture.

The Lewis family still has a house on Lewes Island, and they know a lot about shad fishing, entertaining hundreds of visitors to the shad festival in the last week of April. The river is cleaning up its pollution, the shad are coming back, but they, unfortunately, took a vacation in 2006. At the promised hour, a boatload of men with large deltoids attached one end of a dragnet to the shore, rowed to the middle of the river, floated downstream and towed the other end of the net back to the shore. The original anchor end of the net was then lifted and carried downstream to make a loop around the tip of Lewis Island, and then both ends were pulled in to capture the fish. There were fifty or so fish in the net, but only two shad of adequate size; since it was Sunday, the fish were all thrown back.

But it was a nice day, and fun, and the nice Lewis lady who explained things knew a lot. Remember, the center of the river is a border separating two states. You would have to have a fishing license in both states to cross the center of the river with your net; game wardens can come upon you quickly with a powerboat. But the nature of fishing with a dragnet from the shore makes it quite practical to stop in the middle, where shotguns from the other side are unlikely to reach you. An even more persuasive force for law and order is provided by the fish. Fish like to feed when the sky is overcast, so there is a tendency on a North-South river for the fish to be on the Pennsylvania (West) side of the river in the morning, and the New Jersey (East) side in the evening. During the 19th Century when shad were abundant, work schedules at the local mills and factories were arranged to give the New Jersey workers time off to fish in the afternoon, while Pennsylvania employers delayed the starting time at their factories until morning fishing was over.

Somehow, underneath this tradition one senses a local Quaker somewhere with a scheme to maintain the peace without using force. Right now, there aren't enough fish to justify either stratagem or force, but one can hope.

Rise of the Formidable State

The March of Events

Systems of Governance

This is really a two-volume series, masquerading as four. It was a convenience to put commentary before and after the central two subjects: The Rise of America and the threatening Rise of China. Between them is found the attempt of Europe to choose, haunted by its past while confused about what might follow it. All of this was written after the author reached the age of ninety; hoping to live long enough to complete the thought.

One central character is George Washington, a figure in all four systems of governance, seldom recognizing a preference beyond the system in vogue to the one it was replacing.

Perils of Sovereignty

New blog 2012-07-13 19:51:46 contents

Line Dividing East from West Jersey

The difference between what eventually happened to East Jersey and West Jersey after three hundred years illustrates the difference between an outstanding lawyer like William Penn, and the ordinary run of lawyers. Because we focus here on a title to land in real estate transactions, a three-paragraph historical synopsis is necessary. If you've wondered why you need to buy title insurance when you buy a house, read on.

Four years after his restoration to the throne in 1660, King Charles II got his brother the Duke of York to conquer New Netherlands by first granting him the land. New Netherlands extended from the Connecticut River to the Delaware River. He added that it was up to the brother to conquer it from the Dutch, who had been in disputed possession since 1614. By much the same pass-the-buck process, the Duke of York then conditionally subdivided that part of it which is now called New Jersey, jointly to Sir George Carteret and John, Lord Berkeley -- who promptly delegated the actual fighting to one Colonel Nicholls. The Jersey name derives from an island in the British Channel, where Carteret had once provided a haven from Cromwell for the exiled Charles and James. Nicholls defeated the Dutch on February 10, 1665, although later Dutch attempts at reconquest caused royal clouding of the Berkeley/Cart