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REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE

TO WHICH

MR. DU PONCEAU'S HISTORY WAS

REFERRED
READ OCTOBER 15TH, 1841.

The Committee, to whom were referred, on the 26th of June 1840, the Communications of Mr. Du Ponceau and Mr. Fisher, relating to the early history of the Society, beg leave to present their report:

The paper of Mr. Du Ponceau was presented on the 19th of June, 1840, but read at an adjourned meeting, held a week afterwards, when the Committee was appointed. It is universally admitted that the present Society was formed by the union of two Societies existing prior to 1769, which we shall designate, as the author of the paper has done, by the abridged titles of “Philosophical Society” and “American Society.”

In the outset of his paper, Mr. Du Ponceau states that a difference of opinion exists whether the American Society was a continuation of the Junto instituted by Franklin in 1727, or a different association of more recent date. Among those who hold the latter opinion, Mr. Du Ponceau mentions Mr. Sparks, who expresses it, or at least his doubts on the point, in the first volume of his life of Franklin. As the author of the paper holds this opinion to be erroneous, and as he believes the work

of Mr. Sparks is destined to go to posterity, he 'expresses his desire to correct it, and to give the reasons for his "fullest convictions that the “American Society” was no other than the Junto established by Franklin."

The opinion thus published by Mr. Sparks was founded upon statements furnished, at his request, by Mr. Fisher. The latter, conscious of this fact, and being satisfied that the paper of Mr. Du Ponceau, when read, would be found to object to the account given of the origin of the Society by Mr. Sparks, felt himself called upon to mention that account, as alone answerable for it. Accordingly, between the presentation and reading of Mr. Du Ponceau's paper, Mr. Fisher prepared the Communication, which was referred to this Committee at the same time with that of Mr. Du Ponceau.

Since the reference of the Communications, the Committee have received from the authors, the following papers, to which, though not formally referred to them, they have given attentive consideration. 1. Mr. Du Ponceau to Mr. Kane, June 29th, 1840. 2. Note by Mr. Du Ponceau to his paper, June 30th. 3. Mr. Fisher to Mr. Du Ponceau, June 30th. 4. Mr. Du Ponceau's answer to Mr. Fisher, July 1st. 5. Mr. Fisher to the Committee, Nov. 13th.

The Committee, fully sensible of the interest felt

1

1 These papers are not in the Archives of the Society.

by the members in the early history of the Society, have devoted considerable time to researches, in the hope of shedding additional light to that thrown by the labours of Mr. Du Ponceau and Mr. Fisher, in clearing up the doubtful points in our Annals. They have had a number of meetings, appointed Sub-Committees to confer with surviving members of several families, in the hope of obtaining valuable papers, and examined the Franklin Manuscripts in the possession of the Society. Though they have met with disappointments in several quarters, still they trust that their labours have not been without fruit, at least in the acquisition of some facts and authorities, not heretofore known, or made available.

In tracing the early history of the Society, the point of great difficulty is to determine the origin of the “American Society." It is an undisputed fact that this Society had been called “The Junto." It was the recognized name of the association, as appears from the Minutes in our possession, until the 13th of Dec. 1766, when it was changed to “The American Society for promoting and propagating Useful Knowledge, held in Philadelphia.”

Philadelphia.” Now the minutes of this body are not known to exist at an earlier date than Sept. 22nd, 1758; and hence the question arises, is the Junto of which we have minutes, and which was afterwards called the “American Society, a continuation of the Junto, established by Franklin in 1727 ? In examining this ques

tion, the Committee, to promote perspicuity, propose to call the Junto, which changed its name to the “American Society," the Society-Junto, and that established by Franklin, the Franklin-Junto.

At first blush, nothing can be more natural than to suppose that the Society-Junto was no other than the Junto established by Franklin; and, indeed, the organization of the two associations presents so striking an agreement in one particular, that it seems to confirm the truth of the first impression. But when the question is examined more narrowly, it is remarkable to observe how numerous the facts are which militate against the opinion that the two Juntos were the same Association at different periods of its existence.

The striking agreement, above referred to, consists in the fact that both Juntos adopted four qualifications, in nearly the same words, upon the initiation of members. In order to place this coincidence in the fairest light, the Committee subjoin them in parallel passages.

Franklin-Junto.

Society-Junto. “Any person to be The member elected qualified, to stand up, and shall be “qualified by the lay his hand upon his Chairman after the folbreast, and be asked these lowing manner :questions, viz:

“Standing up, and laying his hand upon his

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