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E foundation of the present library was laid in the year 1731 ; a period when Philadelphia afforded little assistance to the inquiries of the studious. A number of gentlemen having raised the sum of one hundred pounds by subscription a small library was formed upon principles the best calculated to disseminate knowledge: the books were not, as in many of the public libraries of Europe, confined to the
at the company's expense, and liberal donations from persons both at home and abroad.
The then proprietaries of Pennsylvania appear to have taken a patriotic pleasure in the encouragement of the plan. Besides several valuable. donations, they granted a charter of incorporation in the year 1742.
A spirit of literary improvement made its way among all classes of people, and the philanthropy of the great and amiable character" who suggested the plan, was gratified by tracing the books as well into the hands of the opulent, with whom literature is sometimes no more than one of the ornaments of civil life, as among those to whom it renders a more substantial benefit. Letters, while they employ the leisure of the artist, reconcile him to his labour; by removing grosser relaxations they promote his health, while they enlarge his mind; and prolong his life, while they teach him to enjoy it.
* Doctor Franklin. b
The respe&table and intelligent charaćter of the latter class of people in Philadelphia and its environs, cannot be referred to a more probable cause, than the habits of reading promoted by this institution.
The great utility and success of this measure, occasioned the formation of other libraries upon fimilar principles. But as it appeared more conducive to the interests of literature, to be possessed of one large, than of several smaller colle&tions of books, coalitions gradually took place among them, till the Amicable, the Association and the Union Companies were blended with the Library Company of Philadelphia, the title conferred by the charter.
Since this event, which took place in the year 1769, the members and the property of the company have continued to increase : the former being nearly seven hundred in number. The number of volumes, exclusive of nearly four thousand, in the Loganian Library, now annexed to this institution; at present, amounts to about fourteen thousand five hundred ; the sele&tion of which, has in general been calculated to promote the more important interests of society. And the stock of books is continually increased by occasional donations, annual importations and purchases of most of the American produćtions of merit.
Some valuable machines and apparatus for the purposes of natural philosophy, &c. and a variety of curious artificial and natural produćtions also belong to the company, and are deposited in their apartments.
Ten Direétors and a Treasurer are annually eleēted by the members:
the Direétors appoint a Secretary and a Librarian,—for the respective powers and duties of whom, the reader is referred to the charter and the subsequent laws and regulations.
OHN PENN, THOMAS PENN, and RICHARD PENN,
Esquires, true and absolute proprietaries of the province of Pennsylvania, and counties of Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex, upon Delaware: To all to whom these presents shall come, greeting, Whereas Benjamin Franklin, Robert Grace, Anthony Nicholas, Preamble: Thomas Cadwalader, William Coleman, Thomas Godfrey, Henry Pratt, Benjamin Paschall, Joseph Breintnall, John Jones, jun, Samuel Hale, William Parsons, Nicholas Cassel, Francis Richardson, William Maugridge, David Bush, Thomas Hopkinson, Philip Syng, Jacob Duché, Evan Morgan, Joseph Stretch, John Paschall, Nicholas Scull, Thomas Green, Hugh Roberts, Rees Lloyd, John Roberts, Richard Standley, John Nicholas, John Sober, Charles Read, Daniel Harrison, James Morris, Thomas Shaw, John Read, Joshua Richey, James Hamilton, William Plumsted, John Bard, Samuel Morris, John Stamper, Samuel Norris, John Mifflin, John Langdale, Samuel Coates, Samuel Rhoads, Joseph King, Alexander Graydon, James Merrywether, Anthony Morris, jun. Tobias Griscom, Charles Willing, Isaac Williams, William Allen, Joseph Peters, Richard Peters, Thomas Clay, Phineas Bond, Israel Pemberton, jun. Robert Greenway, William Crosthwaite, William Callender, George Emlen, jun. Isaiah Warner, Tench Francis, James Bingham, Charles Meredith, Samuel M*Call, Hugh Davy, Amos Strettell, Benjamin Shoemaker, Joseph Hatton, Andrew Hamilton, Thomas Bond, and William Peters, have, at a great expense, purchased a large and valuable collection of useful books, in order to erect a library for the advancement of knowledge and literature, in the city of Philadelphia ; Now know ye, That we .** being truly sensible of the advantage that may accrue to the" people of this province, by so useful an undertaking, and being willing to encourage the same, Have given and granted, and by