Infomotions, Inc.Observations concerning the increase of mankind, peopling of countries, &c. By Benjamin Franklin. Boston: Printed and sold by S. Kneeland in Queen-Street, 1755. / Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790




Author: Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790
Title: Observations concerning the increase of mankind, peopling of countries, &c. By Benjamin Franklin. Boston: Printed and sold by S. Kneeland in Queen-Street, 1755.
Publisher: Tarrytown, N.Y., Reprinted, W. Abbatt, 1918.
Tag(s): population; subsistence; britain; colonies; manufactures; slaves; america; labour; increase; mankind; nation; foreign; marriage; proportion; inhabitants; births; foreigners; trade
Contributor(s): Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.)
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 2,879 words (really short) Grade range: 12-15 (college) Readability score: 50 (average)
Identifier: increasemankind00franrich
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OBSERVATIONS 



CONCERNING THE INCREASE 



OF 



MANKIND, PEOPLING OF 
COUNTRIES, &c. 

By Benjamin Franklin 
BOSTON: 

Printed and Sold by S. K N E E L A N D in Queen- 
Street, i 7 5 5. 



TARRQTOWN. NEW YORK 

BEFBINTED 

WILLIAM ABBATT 
IMS 

Being Extra Numbtr BS of Tarn Muim* OF HUTOBI WITH NOTM *o QOMII 



OBSERVATIONS concerning the Increase of Mankind, 
Peopling of Countries, &c. 

TABLES of the proportion of Marriages to Births, of Deaths 
to Births, of Marriages to the numbers of inhabitants, &c. 
form d on observations made upon the Bills of Mortality, 
Christenings, &c. of populous cities, will not suit countries; nor 
will tables form d on observations made on full settled old countries 
as Europe, suit new countries, as America. 

2. For people increase in proportion to the number of mar 
riages, and that is greater in proportion to the ease and convenience 
of supporting a family. When families can be easily supported, 
more persons marry, and earlier in life. 

3. In cities, where all trades, occupations and offices are full, 
many delay marrying, till they can see how to bear the charges of 
a family; which charges are greater in cities, as Luxury is more com 
mon : many live single during life, and continue servants to families, 
journeymen to Trades, &c. hence cities do not by natural generation 
supply themselves with inhabitants; the deaths are more than the 
births. 

4. In countries full settled, the case must be nearly the same; 
all Lands being occupied and improved to the heigh th ; those who 
cannot get land must labour for others that have it; when labourers 
are plenty their wages will be low; by low wages a family is sup 
ported with difficulty; this difficulty deters many from marriage, 
who therefore long continue servants and single. Only as the Cit 
ies take supplies of people from the country, and thereby make a 
little more room in the country, Marriage is a little more incourag d 
there, and the births exceed the deaths. 

5. Europe is generally full settled with husbandmen, manu 
facturers, &c. and therefore cannot now much increase in People: 
America is chiefly occupied by Indians, who subsist mostly by hunt- 

217 



4 OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING THE 

ing. But as the hunter, of all men, requires the greatest quantity 
of land from whence to draw his subsistence, (the husbandman 
subsisting on much less, the gardener on still less, and the manu 
facturer requiring least of all), the Europeans found America as 
fully settled as it well could be by hunters; yet these having large 
Tracts, were easily prevailed on to part with portions of territory 
to the new comers, who did not much interfere with the natives 
in hunting, and furnish d them with many things they wanted. 

6. Land being thus plenty in America, and so cheap as that 
a labouring man that understands Husbandry, can in a short time 
save money enough to purchase a piece of new Land sufficient for 
a plantation, whereon he may subsist a family; such are not afraid 
to marry ; for if they even look far enough forward to consider how 
their children when grown up are to be provided for, they see that 
more Land is to be had at rates equally easy, all circumstances 
considered. 

7. Hence Marriages in America are more general, and more 
generally early, than in Europe. And if it is reckoned there, that 
there is but one marriage per annum among one hundred persons, 
perhaps we may here reckon two; and if in Europe they have but 
four Births to a marriage(many of their marriages being late) we 
may here reckon eight, of which if one half grow up, and our mar 
riages are made, reckoning one with another at twenty years of age 
our people must at least be doubled every twenty years. 

8. But not withstanding this increase, so vast is the Territory 
of North America, that it will require many ages to settle it fully; 
and till it is fully settled, labour will never be cheap here, where 
no man continues long a labourer for others, but gets a Plantation 
of his own, no man continues long a journeyman to a trade, but 
goes among those new settlers and sets up for himself, &c. Hence 
labour is no cheaper now in Pennsylvania, than it was thirty years 
ago, tho so many thousand labouring people have been imported. 

9. The danger therefore of these Colonies interfering with 

18 



INCREASE OF MANKIND 5 

their Mother Country in trades that depend on labour, Manu 
factures, &c. is too remote to require the attention of Great Britain. 

10 But in proportion to the increase of the Colonies a vast 
demand is growing for British Manufactures, a glorious market 
wholly in the power of Britain, in which foreigners cannot interfere, 
which will increase in a short time even beyond her power of sup 
plying, tho her whole trade should be to her Colonies: Therefore 
Britain should not too much restrain Manufactures in her Colonies. 
A wise and good mother will not do it. To distress is to weaken, 
and weakening the children weakens the whole family. 

11. Besides if the manufactures of Britain (by reason of the 
American Demands) should rise too high in price, foreigners who 
can sell cheaper will drive her merchants out of foreign markets; 
foreign manufactures will thereby be encouraged and increased, 
and consequently foreign nations, perhaps her rivals in power, grow 
more populous and more powerful; while her own Colonies, kept 
too low, are unable to assist her or add to her strength. 

12. Tis an ill-grounded opinion that by the labour of slaves, 
America may possibly vie in cheapness of manufactures with Britain. 
The labour of slaves can never be so cheap here as the labour of 
working men is in Britain. Any one may compute it. Interest 
of money is in the Colonies from six to ten per Cent. Slaves one 
with another cost thirty . Sterling per head. Reckon then the 
interest of the first purchase of a slave, the Insurance or risque on 
his life, his cloathing and diet, expenses in his sickness and loss of 
time, loss by his neglect of business. (Neglect is natural to the 
man who is not to be benefited by his own care or diligence), Ex- 
pence of a Driver to keep him at work, and his pilfering from time 
to time, almost every slave being by Nature a thief, and compare 
the whole amount with the wages of a manufacturer of iron or wool 
in England, you will see that labour is much cheaper there than it 
ever can be by negroes here. Why then will Americans purchase 
slaves? Because slaves may be kept as long as a man pleases, or 



6 OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING THE 

has occasion for their labour; while hired men are continually leav 
ing their master (often in the midst of his business,) and setting 
up for themselves. . 8. 

13. As the increase of people depends on the encouragement 
of marriages, the following things must diminish a Nation, viz. 
1. The being conquered; for the conquerors will engross as many 
offices, and exact as much tribute or profit on the labour of the con 
quered, as will maintain them in their new establishment, and this 
diminishing the subsistence of the natives discourages their mar 
riages, and so gradually diminishes them, while the foreigners in 
crease. 2. Loss of Territory. Thus the Britons being driven 
into Wales, and crowded together in a barren country insufficient 
to support such great numbers, diminished till the people bore a 
proportion to the produce, while the Saxons increased on their 
abandoned lands; till the Island became full of English. And were 
the English now driven into Wales by some foreign nation, there 
would in a few years be no more Englishmen in Britain than there 
are now people in Wales. 3. Loss of Trade. Manufactures 
exported draw subsistence from foreign countries for numbers, who 
are thereby enabled to marry and raise families. If the nation be 
deprived of any branch of trade, and no new employment is found 
for the people occupy d in that branch, it will also be soon deprived 
of so many People. 4. Loss of Food. Suppose a nation has a 
Fishery, which not only employs great numbers, but makes the 
food and subsistence of the people cheaper. If another nation be 
comes Master of the Seas, and prevents the Fishery, the people 
will diminish in proportion as the loss of employ, and dearness of 
provision makes it more difficult to subsist a family. 5. Bad 
Government and insecure property. People not only leave such 
a country, and settling abroad incorporate with other nations, lose 
their native Languages, and become foreigners; but the industry 
of those that remain being discourag d, the quantity of subsistence 
in the country is lessen d, and the support of a family becomes more 
difficult. So heavy taxes tend to diminish a People. 6. The 

220 



INCREASE OF MANKIND 7 

Introduction of slaves. The negroes brought into the English 
Sugar Islands have greatly diminished the whites there; the poor 
are by this means depriv d of employment, while a few families 
acquire vast Estates, which they spend on foreign luxuries, and 
educating their children in the habit of those luxuries, the same 
Income is needed for the support of one that might have maintain d 
one hundred. The Whites who have slaves, not labouring, are 
enfeebled, and therefore not so generally prolific; the slaves being 
work d too hard, and ill fed, their constitutions are broken, and the 
deaths among them are more than the births; so that a continual 
supply is needed from Africa. The Northern Colonies having few 
slaves increase in Whites. Slaves also pejorate* the Families that 
use them; the white children become proud, disgusted with labour, 
and being educated in idleness, are rendered unfit to get a Living 
by industry. 

14. Hence the Prince that acquires new territory, if he finds 
it vacant, or removes the natives to give his own people room; the 
Legislator that makes effectual laws for promoting of trade, in 
creasing Employment, improving land by more or better Tillage; 
providing more food by Fisheries; securing property, &c. and the 
man that invents new trades, arts or manufactures, or new im- 
provments in husbandry, may be properly called Fathers of their 
Nation, as they are the cause of the generation of multitudes, by 
the encouragement they afford to marriage. 

15. As to Privileges granted to the married, (such as the Jus 
trium Liberorum among the Romans), they may hasten the filling of 
a country that has been thinned by war or pestilence, or that has 
otherwise vacant territory; but cannot increase a people beyond 
the means provided for their subsistence. 

16. Foreign luxuries and needless manufactures imported 
and used in a nation, do, by the same reasoning, increase the people 
of the nation that furnishes them, and diminish the people of the 
nation that uses them. Laws therefore that prevent such impor- 

*Depreciate, or degrade. 

221 



8 OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING THE 

tations, and on the contrary promote the exportation of manu 
factures to be consumed in foreign countries, may be called (with 
respect to the people that make them) generative laws, as by in 
creasing subsistence they encourage marriage. Such laws likewise 
strengthen a Country doubly, by increasing its own people and 
diminishing its neighbours. 

17. Some European Nations prudently refuse to consume the 
manufactures of East India. They should likewise forbid them to 
their colonies; for the gain to the merchant is not to be compar d 
with the loss by this means of people to the Nation. 

18. Home Luxury in the great, increases the nation s manu 
facturers employ d by it, who are many, and only tends to diminish 
the Families that indulge in it, who are few. The greater the com 
mon fashionable expence of any rank of people, the more cautious 
they are of marriage. Therefore luxury should never be suffer d 
to become common. 

19. The great increase of Offspring in particular families is 
not always owing to greater fecundity of Nature, but sometimes 
to examples of industry in the Heads, and industrious education; 
by which the children are enabled to provide better for themselves, 
and their marrying early is encouraged from the prospect of good 
subsistence. 

20. If there be a sect therefore, in our nation, that regard 
Frugality and Industry as religious duties, and educate their chil 
dren therein, more than others commonly do, such sect must conse 
quently increase more by natural generation, than any other sect 
in Britain. 

21. The importation of foreigners into a country that has as 
many inhabitants as the present employments and provisions for 
subsistence will bear, will be in the end no increase of people; unless 
the new comers have more industry and frugality than the natives, 
and then they will provide more Subsistence, and increase in the 
country; but they will gradually eat the natives out. Nor is it 

222 



INCREASE OF MANKIND 9 

necessary to bring in foreigners to fill up any occasional vacancy 
in a country; for such vacancy (if the Laws are good, 14, 16) will 
soon be filled by natural generation. Who can now find the vacan 
cy made in Sweden, France or other warlike nations, by the Plague 
of heroism forty Years ago; in France by the expulsion of the Protes 
tants; in England by the settlement of her Colonies; or in Guinea, 
by one hundred years exportation of slaves, that has blacken d 
half America? The thinness of inhabitants in Spain is owing to 
national pride and idleness, and other causes, rather than to the 
expulsion of the Moors, or to the making of new settlements. 

22. There is in short, no bound to the prolific nature of plants 
or animals, but what is made by their crowding and interfering 
with each others means of subsistence. Was the face of the earth 
vacant of other plants, it might be gradually sowed and overspread 
with one kind only; as, for instance, with Fennel; and were it empty 
of other inhabitants, it might in a few Ages be replenish d from one 
nation only; as for Instance, with Englishmen. Thus there are 
suppos d to be now upwards of One Million English Souls in North 
America, (tho tis thought scarce 80,000 have been brought over 
sea) and yet perhaps there is not one the fewer in Britain, but rather 
many more, on Account of the employment the Colonies afford to 
manufacturers at home. This million doubling, suppose but once 
in twenty-five years, will in another century be more than the peo 
ple of England, and the greatest Number of Englishmen will be on 
this side the water. What an accession of Power to the British 
empire by the Sea as well as Land! What increase of trade and navi 
gation! What numbers of ships and seamen! We have been here 
but little more than one hundred years, and yet the force of our 
Privateers in the late war, united, was greater, both in men and 
guns, than that of the whole British Navy in Queen Elizabeth s time. 
How important an affair then to Britain, is the present treaty for 
settling the bounds between her Colonies and the French, and how 
careful should she be to secure room enough, since on the room de 
pends so much the increase of her people? 

223 



10 OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING THE INCREASE OF MANKIND 

23. In fine, A nation well regulated is like a Polypus; take 
away a limb, its place is soon supply d; cut it in two, and each de 
ficient part shall speedily grow out of the part remaining. Thus 
if you have room and subsistence enough, as you may by dividing 
make ten Polypes out of one, you may of one make ten nations, 
equally populous and powerful; or rather, increase a nation ten fold 
in numbers and strength. 

And since detachments of English horn Britain sent to America, 
will have their places at home so soon supply d and increase so large 
ly here; why should the Palatine Boors be suffered to swarm into 
our settlements, and by herding together establish their languages 
and manners to the exclusion of ours? Why should Pennsylvania, 
founded by the English, become a colony of Aliens, who will shortly 
be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, 
and will never adopt our language or customs, any more than they 
can acquire our complexion? 

24. Which leads me to add one remark: That the number 
of purely white people in the world is proportionably very small. 
All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (ex 
clusive of the new comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Span 
iards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes are generally of what 
we call a swarthy complexion ; as are the Germans also, the Saxons 
only excepted, who with the English make the principal body of 
white people on the face of the earth. I could wish their numbers 
were increased. And while we are, as I may call it, scouring our 
planet, by clearing America of woods, and so making this side of 
our globe reflect a brighter light to the eyes of inhabitants in Mars 
or Venus, why should we in the sight of superior beings, darken its 
people? why increase the sons of Africa, by planting them in Ameri 
ca, where we have so fair an opportunity, by excluding all blacks 
and tawneys, of increasing the lovely white and red? But perhaps 
I am partial to the complexion of my Country, for such kind of 
partiality is natural to Mankind. 

THE END 

224 




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