Front Page Titles (by Subject) CCCCXV: PLAN FOR BENEFITING DISTANT UNPROVIDED COUNTRIES - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. V Letters and Misc. Writings 1768-1772
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CCCCXV: PLAN FOR BENEFITING DISTANT UNPROVIDED COUNTRIES - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. V Letters and Misc. Writings 1768-1772 
The Works of Benjamin Franklin, including the Private as well as the Official and Scientific Correspondence, together with the Unmutilated and Correct Version of the Autobiography, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). The Federal Edition in 12 volumes. Vol. V (Letters and Misc. Writings 1768-1772).
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PLAN FOR BENEFITING DISTANT UNPROVIDED COUNTRIES
august 29, 1771.
The country, called in the maps New Zealand, has been discovered by the Endeavour, to be two islands, together as large as Great Britain; these islands, named Acpy-nomawée and Tovy-poennammoo, are inhabited by a brave and generous race, who are destitute of corn, fowls, and all quadrupeds, except dogs.
These circumstances being mentioned lately in a company of men of liberal sentiments, it was observed that it seemed incumbent upon such a country as this, to communicate to all others the conveniences of life which we enjoy.
Dr. Franklin, whose life has ever been directed to promote the true interest of society, said “he would with all his heart subscribe to a voyage intended to communicate in general those benefits which we enjoy, to countries destitute of them in the remote parts of the globe.” This proposition being warmly adopted by the rest of the company, Mr. Dalrymple, then present, was induced to offer to undertake the command in such an expedition.
On mature reflection, this scheme appears the most honorable to the national character of any which can be conceived, as it is grounded on the noblest principle of benevolence. Good intentions are often frustrated by letting them remain undigested; on this consideration, Mr. Dalrymple was induced to put the outlines on paper, which are now published, that by an early communication there may be a better opportunity of collecting all the hints which can conduce to execute effectually the benevolent purpose of the expedition, in case it should meet with general approbation.
On this scheme being shown to Dr. Franklin, he communicated his sentiments, by way of introduction, to the following effect:
“Britain is said to have produced originally nothing but sloes. What vast advantages have been communicated to her by the fruits, seeds, roots, herbage, animals, and arts of other countries! We are, by their means, become a wealthy and a mighty nation, abounding in all good things. Does not some duty hence arise from us towards other countries still remaining in our former state?
Britain is now the first maritime power in the world. Her ships are innumerable; capable, by their form, size, and strength, of sailing on all seas. Our seamen are equally bold, skilful, and hardy; dexterous in exploring the remotest regions, and ready to engage in voyages to unknown countries, though attended with the greatest dangers. The inhabitants of those countries, our fellow-men, have canoes only; not knowing iron, they cannot build ships; they have little astronomy, and no knowledge of the compass to guide them; they cannot therefore come to us, or obtain any of our advantages. From these circumstances, does not some duty seem to arise from us to them? Does not Providence, by these distinguishing favors, seem to call on us to do something ourselves for the common interests of humanity?
Those who think it their duty to ask bread and other blessings daily from Heaven, would they not think it equally a duty to communicate of those blessings when they have received them, and show their gratitude to their Benefactor by the only means in their power, promoting the happiness of his other children?
Ceres is said to have made a journey through many countries to teach the use of corn and the art of raising it. For this single benefit the grateful nations deified her. How much more may Englishmen deserve such honor, by communicating the knowledge and use, not of corn only, but of all the other enjoyments the earth can produce, and which they are now in possession of. Communiter bona profundere, Deûm est.
Many voyages have been undertaken with views of profit or of plunder, or to gratify resentment; to procure some advantage to ourselves, or do some mischief to others. But a voyage in now proposed to visit a distant people on the other side the globe; not to cheat them, not to rob them, not to seize their lands, or enslave their persons; but merely to do them good, and make them, as far as in our power lies, to live as comfortably as ourselves.
It seems a laudable wish that all the nations of the earth were connected by a knowledge of each other and a mutual exchange of benefits; but a commercial nation particularly should wish for a general civilization of mankind, since trade is always carried on to much greater extent with people who have the arts and conveniences of life, than it can be with naked savages. We may therefore hope, in this undertaking, to be of some service to our country as well as to those poor people who, however distant from us, are in truth related to us, and whose interests do, in some degree, concern every one who can say, Homo sum, &c.”
Scheme of a voyage by subscription, to convey the conveniences of life, as fowls, hogs, goats, cattle, corn, iron, &c., to those remote regions which are destitute of them, and to bring from thence such productions as can be cultivated in this kingdom, to the advantage of society, in a ship under the command of Alexander Dalrymple.
The expenses of this expedition are calculated for three years; but the greatest part of the amount of wages will not be wanted till the ship returns, and a great part of the expense of provisions will be saved by what is obtained in the course of the voyage, by barter or otherwise, though it is proper to make provision for contingencies.
[1 ]These proposals were printed upon a sheet of paper, and distributed. The parts written by Dr. Franklin and Mr. Dalrymple are easily distinguished.—B. V.