Front Page Titles (by Subject) CCLXXXV: HINTS FOR A REPLY TO THE PROTESTS OF CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS AGAINST THE REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT. - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. IV Letters and Misc. Writings 1763-1768
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CCLXXXV: HINTS FOR A REPLY TO THE PROTESTS OF CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS AGAINST THE REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT. - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. IV Letters and Misc. Writings 1763-1768 
The Works of Benjamin Franklin, including the Private as well as the Official and Scientific Correspondence, together with the Unmutilated and Correct Version of the Autobiography, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). The Federal Edition in 12 volumes. Vol. IV (Letters and Misc. Writings 1763-1768).
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HINTS FOR A REPLY TO THE PROTESTS OF CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS AGAINST THE REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT.
The following “Hints” were found in the margin of Dr. Franklin’s printed copy of the protests written at the time (1766), from which it would appear that it was his intention to make a formal answer to these Protests. This purpose does not yet appear to have been executed.—Editor.
We have submitted to your laws; no proof of our acknowledgment of your power to make them; rather an acknowledgment of their reasonableness, or of our own weakness. Post-office came as a matter of utility; was aided by the legislature. Mean to take advantage of our ignorance. Children should not be imposed on; are not, even by honest shopkeepers. A great and magnanimous nation should disdain to govern by tricks and traps, that would disgrace a pettifogging attorney.
Settlement of the colonies stated. Parliament not consulted; not till after the Restoration, except by rebel Parliament. Anxious about preserving the sovereignty of this country? Rather be so about preserving the liberty. We shall be so about the liberty of America, that your posterity may have a free country to come to, where they will be received with open arms.
King, the sovereign, cannot take in his Parliament; at least, can give no greater power than he had himself.
Compliment the Lords. Not a wiser or better body of men on earth. The deep respect impressed on me by the instance I have been witness to of their justice. They have been misled by misinformation. Proof of my opinion of their goodness, in the freedom with which I propose to examine their Protests.
The trust of taxing America was never reposed by the people of America in the legislature of Great Britain. They had one kind of confidence, indeed, in that legislature; that it would never attempt to tax them without their consent. The law was destructive of that confidence among them.
Other advantages of colonies besides commerce. Selfishness of commercial views.
The sovereignty of the crown I understand. The sovereignty of the British legislature out of Britain I do not understand.
The fear of being thought weak is a timidity and weakness of the worst sort, as it betrays into a persisting in errors that may be much more mischievous than the appearance of weakness. A great and powerful state like this has no cause for such timidity.
Acknowledging and correcting an error shows great magnanimity. Small states and small republics cannot afford to do so.
America not in the realm of England or Great Britain? No man in America thinks himself exempt from the jurisdiction of the crown, and of the assemblies, or has any such private judgment.
The agitation of the question of rights makes it now necessary to settle a constitution for the colonies. Restrictions should be only for the general good. Endeavour to convince reasonable creatures by reason. Try your hands with me.
Never think of it. They are reasonable creatures. Reasonable laws will not require force.
I observe two or three Scotch Lords protest. Many more voted against the repeal. Colonies settled before the union. Query: If the Parliament had a jurisdiction over the colonies by the first settlement, had they a right to introduce new legislators? Could they sell or commute the right with other nations? Can they introduce the Peers of Ireland and Commons, and the States of Holland, and make them legislators of the colonies? How could Scotland acquire a right to legislation over English colonies, but by consent of the colonies themselves?
I am a subject of the crown of Great Britain; have ever been a loyal one; have partaken of its favors. I write here with freedom, relying on the magnanimity of the Parliament. I say nothing to your Lordships, that I have not been indulged to say to the Commons. Your Lordships’ names are to your Protest, therefore I think I ought to put mine to the answer. Desire what I have said may not be imputed to the colonies. I am a private person and do not write by their direction. I am over here to solicit, in behalf of my colony, a closer communication with the crown.
Talk with Bollan on this head. Query: Courts of common law? Particular colonies drained; all drained, as it would all come home. Those that would pay most of the tax would have least of it spent at home. It must go to the conquered colonies. The view of maps deceives.
All breach of the constitution. Juries better to be trusted. Have rather an interest in suppressing smugglers. Nature of smuggling. It is picking of pockets. All oppressions take their rise from some plea of utility; often in appearance only.
The clamor of multitudes. It is good to attend to it. It is wiser to foresee and avoid it. It is wise, when neither foreseen nor avoided, to correct the measures that give occasion to it. Glad the majority have that wisdom.
Wish your Lordships had attended to that other great article of the palladium: “Taxes shall not be laid but by common consent in Parliament.” We Americans were not here to give our consent.
My duty to the King, and justice to my country, will, I hope, justify me if I likewise protest which I now do with all humility in behalf of myself and of every American, and of our posterity, against your declaratory bill, that the Parliament of Great Britain has not, never had, and of right never can have, without consent given either before or after, power to make laws of sufficient force to bind the subjects in America in any case whatever, and particularly in taxation.
I can only judge of others by myself. I have some little property in America. I will freely spend nineteen shillings in the pound to defend my right of giving or refusing the other shilling, and, after all, if I cannot defend that right, I can retire cheerfully with my little family into the boundless woods of America, which are sure to afford freedom and subsistence to any man who can bait a hook or pull a trigger.