Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/438

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MR. FREDERICK FRALEY, who died in Philadelphia on September 23, at the age of 98 years, was the president of the oldest learned society in this country, the American Philosophical Society. He occupied this office longer than any other president except Benjamin Franklin. Both Mr. Fraley and Dr. Franklin served for twenty-one years, Franklin the first president, from 1769 until 1790, and Fraley the last, from 1880 until 1901. Thomas Jefferson was president of the Society for eighteen years, or from 1797 to 1815, therefore during the entire time he was president of the United States. David Rittenhouse served it in this capacity from 1791 until his death, and some facts in the life of an organization which boasts of such early connections should be recalled by a generation to whom its history is very little known.

Behind the State House in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was adopted and liberty was proclaimed throughout the land, where the Continental Congress met, where the Constitution of the United States was framed and the American government was established, where the new Congress convened for ten years and Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, Morris and the fathers of the Republic were figures passing through its doors and down its corridors, as familiar as the old porters and watchmen who now guard the relics that are displayed there to the populace, stands a detached colonial building of red brick which is almost as old as Independence Hall itself. This is the Hall of the American Philosophical Society, and it so closely abuts upon one wing of the State House that it seems to be almost a part of it. Its rooms downstairs are hired out to-day to stockbrokers, but the apartments in the two upper stories are hung with interesting portraits and filled with busts and books and relics of another day, a trust bequeathed to the living members by a notable galaxy of men who created the Society to propagate scientific knowledge in the new world.

Nearly everything of any antiquity in Philadelphia may be traced back to Benjamin Franklin. It was he, of course, who founded the American Philosophical Society. When a young man still at work at the printing trade he organized a number of his fellows into a club which he called the Junto. This band of young Philadelphians met