Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/441

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FRANKLIN'S PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY.

was laid by the experience of the Indians and many of their secrets the philosophers hoped to gather from them for the common benefit of man. The hopes of many protectionists of a later time who have labored strenuously to encourage the development of native industries were anticipated by the Philosophical Society. Its members early had a care for the silkworm and the mulberry tree. Franklin sounded the note in a letter written in 1770, and the venerable Peter S. Duponceau, long the president of the society, a distinguished lawyer and philologist who in his youth came hither from France to serve Baron von Steuben as his private secretary during the Revolutionary war, carried on extensive experiments in silkworm culture at his own expense. The Pennsylvania Assembly was asked to pass a bill establishing a public filature in Philadelphia. Eggs were to be distributed and bounties paid for a term of years to the most successful producers of the cocoon.

PSM V60 D441 Building of the american philosophical society.png
Building of the American Philosophical Society.

While the philosophers were not able to convince the legislature that public duty lay in this direction, a private association to encourage silkworm propagation was afterward organized under the auspices of the Society and it received £1,000 from the Pennsylvania Assembly in furtherance of its ends.

The wine grape also greatly appealed to the interest of the Society, which made a collection of receipts for the manufacture of wine forwarded to it by farmers and other colonists who had had experience of the vine in America. The uncleared land was well covered with wild vines, and it was assumed that by a little experimentation the colonies could be made to yield wine fruit abundantly.