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But in what sense was the Society begun in 1750 ? That is the real question. In the year 1768, a committee was appointed to draw up a short plain history of the origin of this Society,''but unfortunately there is no evidence that it ever performed that duty, which would have relieved the present committee of its responsibilities. In default of such a history prepared by those who had personal knowledge of the facts, we can only solve the problem of the Society's origin by going back to the minutes and interpreting them in the light of Thomson's statement and of the Autobiography and the correspondence. What occurred would seem to have been something like this. In 1750 a club was formed in exact imitation of the old Junto, so far as concerned number of members, objects, procedure, habitual subjects of discussion, rules, organization, secrecy and every other discernible characteristic, except personnel. It is notable that Franklin's famous four qualifications for membership in his Junto, kindliness to other members of the Society, love for all mankind, devotion to search for truth, and belief in religious freedom, as impressed upon entering members, were almost word for word the same in the younger as in the older society. Moreover, whenever the by-laws are recapitulated or revised they are spoken of as the ancient

or "original laws," as though they were taken over from an older body.10 The members were, as has


9 Report, p. 116.
10 Report, pp. 56–7, 100, 101, 103-4.

been said, in three cases, William Franklin, Philip Syng and George Roberts,—sons of members of the older body. In all cases that can be identified, they were much younger men than the members of the old Junto. This body, formed in 1750 in close imitation and close personal connection with the body established 23 years before, ought therefore to be looked upon as an offshoot of it, a younger branch, just such a body as those five or six “subordinate clubs” described by Franklin in his Autobiography as having been formed in 1736 with the same rules as the parent Society.

This view of the case having been once accepted, many pieces of minor evidence fall readily into place. A letter from Cadwalader Colden to Wm. Franklin, written in the same year as that of Thomson to Benjamin Franklin, speaks twice of the “young Junto,' just as Franklin and Roberts speak of the ancient Junto.'11

The word Junto, therefore, as applied to both societies, may well have been looked upon as a generic rather than a specific term. They were both Juntos, an elder and a younger. So the later general tradition, which is spoken of in the committee's report, of the connection of the American Philosophical Society with Franklin's Junto may not have discriminated between the two forms of the Junto. Even Dr. Smith's references in his address of 1791 may be explained as due to a misunderstanding of the relations of the two societies, to which we now possess the clue

11 Report, pp. 138–9.

through Franklin's correspondence, but to which he had no access.12

It may in all fairness therefore be claimed that the Philosophical Society is derived from the ancient Junto, although through a younger branch. If the history of our Society is followed back from 1769, one of its lines of parentage, that of the Philosophical Society, as is well known, goes back to 1743; the other in my opinion goes back through the American Society and the younger Junto, begun in 1750, to the parent of that Society, the older Junto, established in 1727. The narrative given in the report of the committee of October 15, 1841, seems to me to be a clear and correct statement of the facts and the first, second, third, fourth, and sixth clauses of their conclusion to be fully justified. Thé fifth conclusion, however, the inference from these facts that 1743 should be considered as the earliest date of origin of the Society, does not seem to me to be justifiable.13 If the “date of founding,” as it has been formulated for the use of colleges by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching means “the year in which the institution was established out of which the present college or university (institution), has developed," the Junto of 1750 certainly developed out of the Junto of 1727, and the Society may claim its descent through a younger line just as fairly as by primogeniture, so that the date of origin of the Society

12 Report, pp. 141-2. 13 Report, pp. 53–96.

should be considered that of the formation of Franklin's Junto, in 1727.


The question whether Franklin was in a proper sense the founder of our Society is not in doubt. He founded the American Philosophical Society of 1743. He founded the Junto of 1727. The development of a junior Junto, -if such a thing occurred,was unquestionably due to the impetus of the older Junto; and the change of the local Junto into a Society which included corresponding members from other colonies was a mere broadening of its purpose. In the sense of the ruling of the Carnegie Foundation it is clear that when Franklin founded his original Junto, he became the founder of the American Society. He is admitted by all to be the founder of the Philosophical Society. Our Society therefore owes its origin to him on both sides.

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ACCEPTANCE OF THE REPORT At the Stated Meeting of the Society held May 1, 1914, Hon. Charlemagne Tower, Chairman, presented and read at length the report of the Committee on the Date of Origin of the Society.

On motion, by a unanimous vote, the Report was accepted; the year 1727 was declared to be the date of the foundation of the Society, in accordance with the finding of the Committee; and the Committee was discharged, with the thanks of the Society for its exhaustive report.

Extracted from the Minutes.

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