the American Ambassador at the court of France were all grist to the mill of the Society which gained corresponding members from the literati of Europe and exchanged its transactions with every principal scientific body in the world. Membership in a short time came to be looked upon as a mark of distinction for most of our revolutionary leaders, for Washington and the other presidents of the United States, for the Supreme Court judges, the members of the cabinet, senators and congressmen and for the various diplomatic representatives who made Philadelphia their headquarters while the city was the American capital. Strange ideas haunted the minds of the philosophers, and scientists in Europe must have chuckled with amusement when they read some of the Society's reports. Franklin's practical spirit breathes through this statement of the purposes of the Society, which was published in the first volume of the Transactions in 1771:
The writer of this salutatory fondly hoped that America would in time come to possess much likeness in the wealth of its industries to China. It lay in the same latitude as China and our climate was like the Chinese climate. "Could we be so fortunate," said the American Philosophical Society, "as to introduce the industry of the Chinese, their arts of living and improvements in husbandry, as well as their native plants, America might in time become as populous as China which is allowed to contain more inhabitants than any other country of the same extent in the world" To England no less than to her colonies the philanthropic work of the Society should make appeal, 'for if by these means the continental colonies can supply her with the rarities of China and her islands can furnish the rich spices of the East Indies her merchants will no longer be obliged in order to obtain these to traverse three quarters of the globe, encounter the difficulties of so tedious a voyage and after all submit to the insolence and exorbitant demands of foreigners.'
The trees in the wood and the bushes by the roadside were full of possibilities for these philosophers so young in scientific investigation. The persimmon and the sassafras trees, the sumach, the leaves of which the Indians mixed with their tobacco, 'to render it more aromatic and agreeable in smoking,' and many trees and plants it was surmised might yield mankind drugs and dyes and other useful products. Great store