Front Page Titles (by Subject) CCLXXXVI: OBSERVATIONS ON PASSAGES IN A LETTER FROM A MERCHANT IN LONDON TO HIS NEPHEW IN NORTH AMERICA - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. IV Letters and Misc. Writings 1763-1768
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CCLXXXVI: OBSERVATIONS ON PASSAGES IN “A LETTER FROM A MERCHANT IN LONDON TO HIS NEPHEW IN NORTH AMERICA” - 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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Extract. “The honest indignation you express against those artifices and frauds, those robberies and insults, which lost us the hearts and affections of the Indians, is particularly to be commended; for these were the things, as you justly observed, which involved us in the most bloody and expensive war that ever was known.”
Observation. This is wickedly intended by the author, Dean Tucker, to represent the North Americans as the cause of the war. Whereas it was in fact begun by the French, who seized the goods and persons of the English traders on the Ohio who encroached on the King’s land in Nova Scotia, and took a fort from the Ohio Company by force of arms, which induced England to make reprisals at sea, and to send Braddock to recover the fort on the Ohio, whence came on the war.
“By the spirit of Magna Charta all taxes laid on by Parliament are constitutional, legal taxes.”
“But then it is to be further observed that this same method of arguing is equally favorable to governors as governed, and to the mother country as the colonies.”
Here is the old mistake of all these writers. The people of the mother country are subjects, not governors. The King only is sovereign in both countries.
“The colonies will no longer think it equitable to insist upon immunities which the people of Great Britain do not enjoy.”
Why not, if they have a right to them?
“To claim a right of being taxed by their assemblies only, appears to have too much the air of independence, and though they are not represented here, would give them an immunity beyond the inhabitants of this island.”
It is a right, however; what signifies what air it has? The inhabitants being freeholders ought to have the same. If they have it not, they are injured. Then rectify what is amiss among yourselves; and do not make it a justification of more wrong.
“Or could they hope to procure any advantages from one hundred representatives? Common sense answers all this in the negative.”
Why not, as well as Scotland from forty-five, or rather sixty-one? Common sense, on the contrary, says, that a body of one hundred votes in Parliament, will always be worth the attention of any ministry; and the fear of offending them will make every minister cautions of injuring the rights of their country, lest they join with his opposers in Parliament.
“Therefore the interest of Great Britain and that of the colonies is the same.”
All this argument of the interest of Britain and the colonies being the same is fallacious and unsatisfactory. Partners in trade have a common interest, which is the same, the flourishing of the partnership business; but they may, moreover, have each a separate interest, and, in pursuit of that separate interest, one of them may endeavour to impose on the other, may cheat him in the accounts, may draw to himself more than his share of the profits, may put upon the other more than an equal share of the expense and burden. Their having a common interest is no security against such injustice. The landholders of Great Britain have a common interest, and yet they injure one another in the inequality of the land tax. The majority in Parliament, being favored in the proportions, will never consent to do justice to the minority by a more equal assessment.
“But what reasonable ground of apprehension can there be, that the British Parliament should be ignorant of so plain a matter, as that the interests of Britain and the colonies are the same?”
If the Parliament is so knowing and so just, how comes it to restrain Ireland in its manufactures, America in its trade? Why may not an Irishman or an American make the same manufactures, and carry them to the same ports, as an Englishman? In many instances Britain shows a selfish regard to her own interest, in prejudice to the colonies. America, therefore, has no confidence in her equity.
“But I can conceive no earthly security better, none indeed so good, as that which depends upon the wisdom and integrity of a British King and Parliament.”
Suppose seats in your House of Commons hereditary, as those of the House of Lords; or suppose the Commons to be nominated by the King, or chosen by the Lords; could you then rely upon them? If your members were to be chosen by the people of Ireland, could you then rely upon them? Could you depend upon their wisdom and integrity as a security, the best possible, for your rights? And wherein is our case different, if the people of England choose legislators for the people of America?
“If they have a spark of virtue left, they will blush to be found in a posture of hostility against Great Britain.”
There was no posture of hostility in America, but Britain put herself in a posture of hostility against America. Witness the landing of the troops in Boston, 1768.
[1 ]Marginal notes in Franklin’s pamphlets.