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1774: DLVI: TO THOMAS CUSHING - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. VI Letters and Misc. Writings 1772-1775 
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. VI (Letters and Misc. Writings 1772-1775).
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TO THOMAS CUSHING
London, 5 January, 1774.
I received the honor of yours dated October 28th, with the journals of the House and Mr. Turner’s election sermon. I waited on Lord Dartmouth, on his return to town, and learned that he had presented to his Majesty a petition for the removal of the governors. No subsequent step had yet been taken upon it, but his Lordship said the king would probably refer the consideration of it to a committee of council, and that I should have notice to be heard in support of it. By the turn of his conversation, though he was not explicit, I apprehend the petition is not likely to be complied with, but we shall see. His Lordship expressed, as usual, much concern at the differences subsisting, and wished they would be accommodated. Perhaps his good wishes are all that is in his power.
The famous letters having unfortunately engaged Mr. Temple and Mr. Whately in a duel, which, being interrupted, would probably be renewed, I thought it incumbent on me to prevent, as far as I could, any further mischief, by declaring publicly the part I had in the affair of those letters, and thereby at the same time to rescue Mr. Temple’s character from an undeserved and groundless imputation, that bore hard upon his honor, viz., that of taking the letters from Mr. Whately, and in breach of confidence. I did this with the more pleasure, as I believe him a sincere friend to our country. I am told by some that it was imprudent in me to avow the obtaining and sending those letters, for that administration will resent it. I have not much apprehension of this, but if it happens I must take the consequences. I only hope it will not effect any friend on your side of the water, for I have never mentioned to whom they were transmitted.
A letter of mine to you, printed in one of the Boston papers, has lately been reprinted here, to show, as the publisher expresses it, that I am “one of the most determined enemies of the welfare and prosperity of Great Britain.” In the opinion of some, every one who wishes the good of the whole empire may nevertheless be an enemy to the welfare of Great Britain, if he does not wish its good exclusively of every other part, and to see its welfare built on their servitude and wretchedness. Such an enemy I certainly am. But methinks it is wrong to print letters of mine at Boston, which give occasion to these reflections.
I shall continue to do all I possibly can this winter towards an accommodation of our differences; but my hopes are small. Divine Providence first infatuates the power it designs to ruin. With great esteem and respect, I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient humble servant,
TO WILLIAM FRANKLIN
London, 5 January, 1774.
I received yours of October 29th, and November 2d. Your December packet is not yet arrived.
No insinuations of the kind you mention, concerning Mr. Galloway, have reached me, and if they had, it would have been without the least effect; as I have always had the strongest reliance on the steadiness of his friendship, and on the best grounds, the knowledge I have of his integrity, and the often repeated disinterested services he has rendered me. My return will interfere with nobody’s interest or influence in public affairs, as my intention is to decline all interest in them, and every active part, except where it can serve a friend, and to content myself with communicating the knowledge of them which my situation may have furnished me with, and be content with giving my advice for the public benefit, where it may be asked, or where I shall think it may be attended to; for, being now about entering my sixty-ninth year, and having lived so great a part of my life to the public, it seems but fair that I should be allowed to live the small remainder to myself and to my friends.
If the honorable office you mention will be agreeable to him, I heartily wish it him. I only hope that, if offered to him, he will insist on its being not during pleasure, but quamdiu se bene gesserit.
Our friend Temple, as you will see by the papers, has been engaged in a duel, about an affair in which he had no concern. As the combat was interrupted, and understood to be unfinished, I thought it incumbent on me to do what I could for preventing further mischief, and so declared my having transmitted the letters in question. This has drawn some censure upon myself; but, as I grow old, I grow less concerned about censure, when I am satisfied that I act rightly; and I have the pleasure of having exculpated a friend, who lay undeservedly under an imputation much to his dishonor.
I am now seriously preparing for my departure to America. I propose sending my luggage, books, instruments, etc., by All or Falconer, and taking my passage to New York in one of the spring or summer packets, partly for settling some business with the post-office there, and partly that I may see you on my way to Philadelphia, and learn thereby more perfectly the state of affairs there. Your affectionate father,
TO JOSIAH TUCKER
London, 12 February, 1774.
Being informed by a friend that some severe strictures on my conduct and character had appeared in a new book published under your respectable name, I purchased and read it. After thanking you for those parts of it that are so instructive on points of great importance to the common interests of mankind, permit me to complain that, if by the description you give in pages 180, 181, of a certain American patriot, whom you say you need not name, you do, as is supposed, mean myself, nothing can be further from the truth than your assertion that I applied or used any interest, directly or indirectly, to be appointed one of the stamp officers for America. I certainly never expressed a wish of the kind to any person whatever; much less was I, as you say, “more than ordinary assiduous on this head.” I have heretofore seen in the newspapers insinuations of the same import, naming me expressly; but being without the name of the writer, I took no notice of them. I know not whether they were yours, or were only your authority for your present charge; but now that they have the weight of your name and dignified character, I am more sensible of the injury; and I beg leave to request that you will reconsider the grounds on which you have ventured to publish an accusation that, if believed, must prejudice me extremely in the opinion of good men, especially in my own country, whence I was sent expressly to oppose the imposition of that tax. If on such reconsideration and inquiry you find, as I am persuaded you will, that you have been imposed upon by false reports, or have too lightly given credit to hearsays in a matter that concerns another’s reputation, I flatter myself that your equity will induce you to do me justice by retracting that accusation. In confidence of this, I am, with great esteem, reverend sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,
FROM JOSIAH TUCKER1
Monday, 21 February, 1774.
The letter which you did me the honor to send to Gloucester, I have just received in London, where I have resided many weeks, and am now returning to Gloucester. On inquiry I find that I was mistaken in some circumstances relating to your conduct about the Stamp Act, though right as to the substance. These errors shall be rectified the first opportunity. After having assured you that I am no dealer in anonymous newspaper paragraphs, nor have a connection with any who are, I have the honor to be, sir, your humble servant,
TO JOSIAH TUCKER
London, 22 February, 1774.
I received your favor of yesterday. If the substance of what you have charged me with is right, I can have but little concern about any mistakes in the circumstances; whether they are rectified or not will be immaterial. But, knowing the substance to be wrong, and believing that you can have no desire of continuing in an error prejudicial to any man’s reputation, I am persuaded you will not take it amiss, if I request you to communicate to me the particulars of the information you have received, that I may have an opportunity of examining them; and I flatter myself I shall be able to satisfy you that they are groundless. I propose this method as more decent than a public altercation, and suiting better the respect due to your character. With great regard, I have the honor to be, reverend sir, your most obedient humble servant,
FROM J. TUCKER
Gloucester, 24 February, 1774.
The request made in your last letter is so very just and reasonable, that I shall comply with it very readily. It has long appeared to me, that you much exceeded the bounds of morality in the methods you pursued for the advancement of the supposed interest of America. If it can be proved that I have unjustly suspected you, I shall acknowledge my error with as much satisfaction as you can have in reading my recantation of it. As to the case more immediately referred to in your letters, I was repeatedly informed that you had solicited the late Mr. George Grenville for a place or agency in the distribution of stamps in America. From which circumstance I myself concluded that you had made interest for it on your own account; whereas I am now informed there are no positive proofs of your having solicited to obtain such a place for yourself, but that there is sufficient evidence still existing of your having applied for it in favor of another person. If this latter should prove to be the fact, as I am assured it will, I am willing to suppose, from several expressions in both your letters, that you will readily acknowledge that the difference in this case between yourself and your friend is very immaterial to the general merits of the question. But if you should have distinctions in this case which are above my comprehension, I shall content myself with observing that your great abilities and happy discoveries deserve universal regard; and that, as on these accounts I respect and esteem you, so I have the honor to be, sir, your very humble servant,
TO JOSIAH TUCKER
London, 26 February, 1774.
I thank you for the frankness with which you have communicated to me the particulars of the information you had received, relating to my supposed application to Mr. Grenville for a place in the American stamp office. As I deny that either your former or later informations are true, it seems incumbent on me, for your satisfaction, to relate all the circumstances fairly to you, that could possibly give rise to such mistakes.
Some days after the Stamp Act was passed, to which I had given all the opposition I could with Mr. Grenville, I received a note from Mr. Whately, his secretary, desiring to see me the next morning. I waited upon him accordingly, and found with him several other colony agents. He acquainted us that Mr. Grenville was desirous to make the execution of the act as little inconvenient and disagreeable to the Americans as possible; and therefore did not think of sending stamp officers from hence, but wished to have discreet and reputable persons appointed in each province from among the inhabitants, such as would be acceptable to them; for, as they were to pay the tax, he thought strangers should not have the emoluments. Mr. Whately therefore wished us to name for our respective colonies, informing us that Mr. Grenville would be obliged to us for pointing out to him honest and responsible men, and would pay great regard to our nominations. By this plausible and apparently candid declaration we were drawn in to nominate; and I named for our province Mr. Hughes, saying, at the same time, that I knew not whether he would accept of it, but, if he did, I was sure he would execute the office faithfully. I soon after had notice of his appointment. We none of us, I believe, foresaw or imagined that this compliance with the request of the minister would or could have been called an application of ours, and adduced as a proof of our approbation of the act we had been opposing, otherwise I think few of us would have named at all; I am sure I should not. This, I assure you, and can prove to you by living evidence, is a true account of the transaction in question, which, if you compare with that you have been induced to give of it in your book, I am persuaded you will see a difference that is far from being “a distinction above your comprehension.”
Permit me further to remark that your expression of there being “no positive proofs of my having solicited to obtain such a place for myself,” implies that there are nevertheless some circumstantial proofs sufficient at least to support a suspicion. The latter part, however, of the same sentence, which says, “there is sufficient evidence still existing of my having applied for it in favor of another person,” must, I apprehend, if credited, destroy that suspicion, and be considered as positive proof of the contrary; for, if I had interest enough with Mr. Grenville to obtain that place for another, is it likely that it would have been refused me, had I asked it for myself?
There is another circumstance, which I would offer to your candid consideration. You describe me as “changing sides, and appearing at the bar of the House of Commons to cry down the very measure I had espoused, and direct the storm that was falling upon that minister.” As this must have been after my supposed solicitation of the favor for myself or my friend, and as Mr. Grenville and Mr. Whately were both in the House at the time, and both asked me questions, can it be conceived that, offended as they must have been with such a conduct in me, neither of them should put me in mind of this my sudden changing of sides, or remark it to the House, or reproach me with it, or require my reasons for it? And yet all the members then present know that not a syllable of the kind fell from either of them, or from any of their party.
I persuade myself by this time you begin to suspect you may have been misled by your informers. I do not ask who they are, because I do not wish to have particular motives for disliking people who in general may deserve my respect. They too may have drawn consequences beyond the information they received from others, and, hearing the office had been given to a person of my nomination, might as naturally suppose I had solicited it, as Dr. Tucker, hearing that I had solicited it, might “conclude” it was for myself.
I desire you to believe that I take kindly, as I ought, your freely mentioning to me “that it has long appeared to you that I much exceeded the bounds of morality in the methods I pursued for the advancement of the supposed interests of America.” I am sensible there is a good deal of truth in the adage that our sins and our debts are always more than we take them to be; and though I cannot at present, on examination of my conscience, charge myself with any immorality of that kind, it becomes me to suspect that what has long appeared to you may have some foundation. You are so good as to add that, “if it can be proved you have unjustly suspected me, you shall have a satisfaction in acknowledging the error.” It is often a hard thing to prove that suspicions are unjust, even when we know what they are; and harder, when we are unacquainted with them. I must presume, therefore, that, in mentioning them, you had an intention of communicating the grounds of them to me, if I should request it, which I now do, and, I assure you, with a sincere desire and design of amending what you may show me to have been wrong in my conduct, and to thank you for the admonition. In your writings I appear a bad man; but, if I am such, and you can thus help me to become in reality a good one, I shall esteem it more than a sufficient reparation to, reverend sir, your most obedient humble servant,
Feb. 7, 1775, no answer has yet been received to the above letter.
TO THOMAS CUSHING
London, 15 February, 1774.
I wrote a line to you by the last packet, just to acquaint you there had been a hearing on our petition. I shall now give you the history of it as succinctly as I can.
We had long imagined that the king would have considered that petition, as he had done the preceding one, in his cabinet, and have given an answer without a hearing, since it did not pray punishments or disabilities on the governors. But on Saturday, the 8th of January, in the afternoon, I received notice from the clerk of the council that the Lords of the Committee for Plantation Affairs would, on the Tuesday following at twelve, meet at the Cockpit, to take into consideration the petition referred to them by his Majesty, and that my attendance was required.
I sent directly to Mr. Arthur Lee, requesting a meeting, that we might consult upon it. He was not at his chambers, but my note was left for him. Sunday morning I went to Mr. Bollan and communicated the affair to him. He had received a similar notice. We considered whether it was best to employ other counsel, since Mr. Lee, he said, could not be admitted as such, not being yet called to the bar. He thought it not advisable. He had sometimes done it in colony cases and found lawyers of little service. Those who are eminent, and hope to rise in their profession, are unwilling to offend the court, and its disposition on this occasion was well known. But he would move to be heard in behalf of the council of the province, and thence take occasion to support the petition himself.
I went and sent again to Mr. Lee’s chambers in the Temple, but could not meet with him, and it was not till near the end of the week that I learnt he was at Bath. On Monday, very late in the afternoon, I received another notice, that Mr. Mauduit, agent for the governor and lieutenant-governor, had asked and obtained leave to be heard by counsel on the morrow in their behalf. This very short notice seemed intended to surprise us. On Tuesday we attended at the Cockpit, and, the petition being read, I was called upon for what I had to offer in support of it, when, as had been concerted between us, I acquainted their Lordships that Mr. Bollan, then present, in pursuance of their notice, would speak to it.
He came forward and began to speak; but objection was immediately made by some of the Lords, that he, being only agent for the council, which was not a party to this petition, could not properly be heard on it. He, however, repeatedly endeavored to obtain leave to speak, but without effect; they would scarce hear out a sentence, and finally set him aside. I then said that, with the petition of the House of Representatives, I had received their resolutions which preceded it, and a copy of the letters on which those resolutions were founded, which I would lay before their Lordships in support of the petition.
The resolutions were accordingly read; but, when the letters were taken up, Mr. Wedderburn, the solicitor-general, brought there as counsel for the governors, began to object, and inquire how they were authenticated, as did also some of the Lords. I said the authentications were annexed. They wanted to know the nature of them. I said that would appear when they were read, and prayed they would hear them. Lord Chief-Justice De Grey asked whom the letters were directed to; and, taking them in his hand, observed there was no address prefixed to any of them. I said that, though it did not appear to whom they were directed, it appeared who had written them; their names were subscribed; the originals had been shown to the gentlemen themselves, and they had not denied their handwriting; and the testifications annexed proved these to be true copies.
With difficulty I obtained leave to have the authentications read; and the solicitor-general proceeding to make observations as counsel for the governors, I said to their Lordships that it was some surprise to me to find counsel employed against the petition; that I had no notice of that intention till late in the preceding day; that I had not purposed troubling their Lordships with the hearing of counsel, because I did not conceive that any thing could possibly arise out of the petition, any point of law or of right, that might require the discussion of lawyers; that I apprehended this matter before their Lordships was rather a question of civil or political prudence, whether, on the state of the fact that the governors had lost all trust and confidence with the people, and become universally obnoxious, it would be for the interest of his Majesty’s service to continue them in those stations in that province; that I conceived this to be a question of which their Lordships were already perfect judges, and could receive no assistance in it from the arguments of counsel; but, if counsel was to be heard on the other side, I must then request leave to bring counsel in behalf of the Assembly, and that their Lordships would be pleased to appoint a further day for the hearing, to give time for preparing the counsel.
Mr. Mauduit was then asked if he would waive the leave he had, of being heard by counsel, that their Lordships might proceed immediately to consider the petition. He said he was requested by the governors to defend them, and they had promised to defray the expense, by which he understood that they expected he should employ counsel; and then, making me some compliments, as if of superior abilities, said he should not against me, hazard the defence of his friends by taking it upon himself. I said I had intended merely to lay the papers before their Lordships, without making a single comment on them. But this did not satisfy; he chose to be heard by counsel. So finally I had leave to be heard by counsel also in behalf of the petition. The solicitor-general, finding his cavils against the admission of the letters were not supportable, at last said that, to save their Lordships’ time, he would admit the copies to be true transcripts of the originals, but he should reserve to himself a right, when the matter came on again, of asking certain questions, such as how the Assembly came into possession of them, through what hands, and by what means they were procured. “Certainly,” replied Lord Chief-Justice De Grey, somewhat austerely, “and to whom they were directed; for the perfect understanding of the passages may depend on that and other such circumstances. We can receive no charge against a man founded on letters directed to nobody, and perhaps received by nobody. The laws of this country have no such practice.” Lord President, near whom I stood, as I was putting up my papers, asked me if I intended to answer such questions. In that, I said, I shall take counsel. The day appointed for the hearing was the 29th of January.
Several friends now came to me and advised me to retain Mr. Dunning, formerly solicitor-general, and very able in his profession. I wished first to consult with Mr. Lee, supposing he might rather be for his friend, Mr. Sergeant Glynn. I found Mr. Lee was expected in town about the latter end of the week, and thought to wait his coming; in the meantime I was urged to take Mr. Dunning’s advice as to my own conduct if such questions should be asked me. I did so, and he was clear that I was not and could not be obliged to answer them if I did not choose it, which I informed him was the case, being under a promise not to divulge from whom I received the letters. He said he would attend, however, if I desired it, and object in my behalf to their putting such questions.
A report now prevailed through the town that I had been grossly abused by the solicitor-general at the council board. But this was premature. He had only intended it, and mentioned that intention. I heard, too, from all quarters, that the ministry and all the courtiers were highly enraged against me for transmitting those letters. I was called an incendiary, and the papers were filled with invectives against me. Hints were given me that there were some thoughts of apprehending me, seizing my papers, and sending me to Newgate. I was well informed that a resolution was taken to deprive me of my place; it was only thought best to defer it till after the hearing, I suppose, because I was there to be so blackened that nobody should think it injustice. Many knew, too, how the petition was to be treated, and I was told, even before the first hearing, that it was to be rejected with some epithets, the Assembly to be censured, and some honor done the governors. How this could be known one cannot say. It might be only conjecture.
The transactions relating to the tea had increased and strengthened the torrent of clamor against us. No one had the least expectation of success to the petition, and, though I had asked leave to use counsel, I was half inclined to waive it, and save you the expense, but Mr. Bollan was now strongly for it, as they had refused to hear him. And, though fortified by his opinion, as he had long experience in your affairs, I would at first have ventured to deviate from the instructions you sent me in that particular, supposing you to allow some discretionary liberty to your agents; yet, now that he urged it as necessary, I employed a solicitor and furnished him with what materials I could for framing a brief; and Mr. Lee, coming to town, entered heartily into the business, and undertook to engage Sergeant Glynn, who would readily have served us, but being in a fit of the gout, which made his attendance uncertain, the solicitor retained Mr. Dunning and Mr. John Lee, another able man of the profession.
While my mind was taken up with this business, I was harassed with a subpœna from the chancellor to attend his court the next day, at the suit of Mr. William Whately concerning the letters. This man was under personal obligations to me, such as would have made it base in him to commence such a suit of his own motion against me, without any previous notice, claim, or demand; but if he was capable of doing it at the instance of the ministry, whose banker he is, for some pension money, he must be still baser.
The briefs being prepared and perused by our counsel, we had a consultation at Mr. Dunning’s chambers in Lincoln’s Inn. I introduced Mr. Arthur Lee as my friend and successor in the agency. The brief, as you will see by a copy I send you, pointed out the passages of the letters which were applicable in support of the particular charges contained in the resolutions and petition. But the counsel observed, we wanted evidence to prove those passages false; the counsel on the other side would say, they were true representations of the state of the country; and, as to the political reflections of the writers, and their sentiments of government, their aims to extend and enforce the power of Parliament and diminish the privileges of their countrymen, though these might appear in the letters and need no other proof, yet they would never be considered here as offences, but as virtues and merits. The counsel therefore thought it would answer no good end to insist on those particulars; and that it was more advisable to state as facts the general discontent of the people, that the governors had lost all credit with them, and were become odious etc.; facts of which the petition was itself full proof, because otherwise it could not have existed; and then show that it must in such a situation be necessary for his Majesty’s service, as well as the peace of the province, to remove them. By this opinion, great part of the brief became unnecessary.
Notwithstanding the intimations I had received, I could not believe that the solicitor-general would be permitted to wander from the question before their Lordships into a new case, the accusation of another person for another matter, not cognizable before them, who could not expect to be there so accused, and therefore could not be prepared for his defence. And yet all this happened, and in all probability was preconcerted; for all the courtiers were invited, as to an entertainment, and there never was such an appearance of privy councillors on any occasion, not less than thirty-five, besides an immense crowd of other auditors.
The hearing began by reading my letter to Lord Dartmouth, enclosing the petition, then the petition itself, the resolves, and lastly the letters, the solicitor-general making no objections, nor asking any of the questions he had talked of at the preceding board. Our counsel then opened the matter, upon their general plan, and acquitted themselves very handsomely; only Mr. Dunning, having a disorder on his lungs that weakened his voice exceedingly, was not so perfectly heard as one could have wished. The solicitor-general then went into what he called a history of the province for the last ten years, and bestowed plenty of abuse upon it, mingled with encomium on the governors. But the favorite part of his discourse was levelled at your agent, who stood there the butt of his invective ribaldry for near an hour, not a single Lord adverting to the impropriety and indecency of treating a public messenger in so ignominious a manner, who was present only as the person delivering your petition, with the consideration of which, no part of his conduct had any concern. If he had done a wrong in obtaining and transmitting the letters, that was not the tribunal where he was to be accused and tried. The cause was already before the chancellor. Not one of their Lordships checked and recalled the orator to the business before them, but, on the contrary, a very few excepted, they seemed to enjoy highly the entertainment, and frequently burst out in loud applauses. This part of his speech was thought so good, that they have since printed it, in order to defame me everywhere, and particularly to destroy my reputation on your side of the water; but the grosser parts of the abuse are omitted, appearing, I suppose, in their own eyes, too foul to be seen on paper; so that the speech, compared to what it was, is now perfectly decent. I send you one of the copies. My friends advise me to write an answer, which I purpose immediately.
The reply of Mr. Dunning concluded. Being very ill, and much incommoded by standing so long, his voice was so feeble as to be scarce audible. What little I heard was very well said, but appeared to have little effect.
Their Lordships’ Report, which I send you, is dated the same day. It contains a severe censure, as you will see, on the petition and the petitioners; and, as I think, a very unfair conclusion from my silence, that the charge of surreptitiously obtaining the letters was a true one; though the solicitor, as appears in the printed speech, had acquainted them that the matter was before the chancellor; and my counsel had stated the impropriety of my answering there to charges then trying in another court. In truth I came by them honorably, and my intention in sending them was virtuous, if an endeavor to lessen the breach between two states of the same empire be such, by showing that the injuries complained of by one of them did not proceed from the other, but from traitors among themselves.1
It may be supposed that I am very angry on this occasion, and therefore I did purpose to add no reflections of mine on the treatment the Assembly and their agent have received, lest they should be thought the effects of resentment and a desire of exasperating. But, indeed, what I feel on my own account is half lost in what I feel for the public. When I see that all petitions and complaints of grievances are so odious to government, that even the mere pipe which conveys them becomes obnoxious, I am at a loss to know how peace and union are to be maintained or restored between the different parts of the empire. Grievances cannot be redressed unless they are known; and they cannot be known but through complaints and petitions. If these are deemed affronts, and the messengers punished as offenders, who will henceforth send petitions? And who will deliver them? It has been thought a dangerous thing in any state to stop up the vent of griefs. Wise governments have therefore generally received petitions with some indulgence, even when but slightly founded. Those who think themselves injured by their rulers are sometimes, by a mild and prudent answer, convinced of their error. But where complaining is a crime, hope becomes despair.
The day following I received a written notice from the secretary of the general post-office, that his Majesty’s postmaster-general found it necessary to dismiss me from my office of deputy postmaster-general in North America. The expression was well chosen, for in truth they were under a necessity of doing it; it was not their own inclination; they had no fault to find with my conduct in the office; they knew my merit in it, and that if it was now an office of value it had become such chiefly through my care and good management; that it was worth nothing when given to me; it would not then pay the salary allowed me, and unless it did I was not to expect it; and that it now produces near three thousand pounds a year clear to the treasury here. They had besides a personal regard for me. But as the post-offices in all the principal towns are growing daily more and more valuable by the increase of correspondence, the officers being paid commissions instead of salaries, the ministers seem to intend, by directing me to be displaced on this occasion, to hold out to them all an example, that if they are not corrupted by their office to promote the measures of administration, though against the interests and rights of the colonies, they must not expect to be continued. This is the first act for extending the influence of government in this branch. But as orders have been some time since given to the American postmaster-general, who used to have the disposition of all places under him, not to fill vacancies of value till notice of such vacancies had been sent hither and instructions thereupon received from hence, it is plain that such influence is to be a part of the system, and probable that those vacancies will for the future be filled by officers from this country. How safe the correspondence of your Assembly committees along the continent will be through the hands of such officers may now be worth consideration, especially as the post-office act of Parliament allows a postmaster to open letters if warranted so to do by the order of a secretary of state, and every provincial secretary may be deemed a secretary of state in his own province.
It is not yet known what steps will be taken by government with regard to the colonies, or to our province in particular. But as inquiries are making of all who come from thence concerning the late riot and the meetings that preceded it, and who were speakers and movers at these meetings, I suspect there is some intention of seizing persons, and perhaps of sending them hither. But of this I have no certainty. No motion has yet been made in the House of Commons concerning our affairs, and that made in the House of Lords was withdrawn for the present. It is not likely, however, that the session will pass over without some proceeding relating to us, though perhaps it is not yet settled what the measures shall be.
With my best wishes for the prosperity of the province, I have the honor to be, sir, etc.,
While acting as agent for the colonies in London, certain letters were placed in Franklin’s hands, which had been written in Boston by Governor Hutchinson, Lieutenant-Governor Oliver, Charles Paxton, Nathaniel Rogers, and G. Rome, to Thomas Whately, at the time a member of Parliament and private secretary to Mr. Grenville, one of the cabinet. After Mr. Whately’s death, these letters were handed, by some person still unknown, to Dr. Franklin, with permission to show them to some of his correspondents in Boston, but upon the conditions that they were not to be printed, that no copies should be taken of them; that they should be shown only to a few leading people of the government; and that they should be carefully returned. The Doctor, finding they were in no sense private letters, but were from an official source and designed and calculated to exert an important influence upon the government, to the manifest prejudice of the colonies, sent them to Thomas Cushing, the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts, who exhibited them to a few confidential friends.
The sentiments expressed in them were about as unpalatable on this side of the Atlantic at that time as any thing they could have written. “There must be an abridgment,” Hutchinson wrote, “of what are called English liberties; for a colony cannot enjoy all the liberty of a parent state.” He recommended not only coercive measures, but also a material change in the system of chartered government. He expressed “hopes that provisions for dissolving commercial combinations, and for inflicting penalties upon those who do not renounce them, would be made by Parliament.”
These communications were deemed to be of such a treacherous character, the principal, if not all the writers, being native-born Americans, that no efforts on the part of Mr. Cushing were sufficient to prevent their being made public. As Hutchinson afterwards told the king, “the people abroad compelled their publication, or would not be satisfied without it.” The Massachusetts legislature promptly sent to Franklin a petition addressed to the king for the removal of the governor and lieutenant-governor. The presentation of this petition before the council placed Franklin in what was probably the most painful and embarrassing position of his life. Franklin’s account of the foul treatment which he received at the hands of the privy council, as set forth in his correspondence, is confirmed by witnesses interested in extenuating the conduct of the council to the utmost.
The report of the “Examination” here given, was made by Mr. Israel Mauduit, the counsel for Hutchinson and his friends. He was the petitioner against the application of the Massachusetts Assembly to have them recalled.
Examination of Dr. Franklin at the Council-Chamber, January 11, 1774. Present: Lord President, the Secretaries of State, and many other Lords.
Dr. Franklin’s letter and the address, Mr. Pownall’s letter, and Mr. Mauduit’s petition were read.
The address mentions certain papers; I could wish to be informed what are those papers.
They are the letters of Mr. Hutchinson and Mr. Oliver.
Have you brought them?
No; but here are attested copies.
Do you mean to found a charge upon them? If you do, you must produce the letters.
These copies are attested by several gentlemen at Boston, and a notary public.
My Lords, we shall not take advantage of any imperfection in the proof. We admit that the letters are Mr. Hutchinson’s and Mr. Oliver’s handwriting; reserving to ourselves the right of inquiring how they were obtained.
I did not expect that counsel would have been employed on this occasion.
Had you not notice sent you of Mr. Mauduit’s having petitioned to be heard by counsel, on behalf of the governor and lieutenant-governor?
I did receive such notice; but I thought this had been a matter of politics, not of law, and have not brought my counsel.
Where a charge is brought, the parties have a right to be heard by counsel or not, as they choose.
My Lords, I am not a native of that country, as these gentlemen are. I know well Dr. Franklin’s abilities, and wish to put the defence of my friends upon a parity with the attack; he will not, therefore, wonder that I choose to appear before your Lordships with the assistance of counsel. My friends, in their letters to me, have desired (if any proceedings, as they say, should be had upon this address) that they may have a hearing in their own justification, that their innocence may be fully cleared, and their honor vindicated; and have made provision accordingly. I do not think myself at liberty, therefore, to give up the assistance of my counsel, in defending them against this unjust accusation.
Dr. Franklin may have the assistance of counsel, or go on without it, as he shall choose.
I desire to have counsel.
What time do you want?
Ordered, that the further proceedings be on Saturday, 29th instant.
The Privy Council met on the day appointed; and Mr. Vaughan tells us: “It was in consequence of the letter which Dr. Franklin wrote about the letters to the Public Advertiser after the duel, that Mr. Wedderburn ventured to make the most odious personal allusions.” Mr. Mauduit, he continues, has prudently omitted part of them in his account of the proceedings before the Privy Council. They are given here altogether, however (as well as they could be collected), and the nature of the censures passed in English upon Dr. Franklin’s character.
“The letters could not have come to Dr. Franklin,” said Mr. Wedderburn “by fair means. The writers did not give them to him; nor yet did the deceased correspondent, who from our intimacy would otherwise have told me of it. Nothing, then, will acquit Dr. Franklin of the charge of obtaining them by fraudulent or corrupt means, for the most malignant of purposes, unless he stole them from the person who stole them. This argument is irrefragable.
“I hope, my Lords, you will mark and brand the man, for the honor of this country, of Europe, and of mankind. Private correspondence has hitherto been held sacred, in times of the greatest party rage, not only in politics but religion.” “He has forfeited all the respect of societies and of men. Into what companies will he hereafter go with an unembarrassed face, or the honest intrepidity of virtue? Men will watch him with a jealous eye; they will hide their papers from him, and lock up their escritoires. He will henceforth esteem it a libel to be called a man of letters; homotrium1literarum!
“But he not only took away the letters from one brother, but kept himself concealed till he nearly occasioned the murder of the other. It is impossible to read his account, expressive of the coolest and most deliberate malice, without horror” [Here he read the letter dated December 25, 1773; Dr. Franklin being all the time present.] “Amidst these tragical events, of one person nearly murdered, of another answerable for the issue, of a worthy governor hurt in his dearest interests, the fate of America in suspense; here is a man who, with the utmost insensibility of remorse, stands up and avows himself the author of all. I can compare it only to Zanga, in Dr. Young’s Revenge.
I ask, my Lords, whether the revengeful temper attributed, by poetic fiction only, to the bloody African, is not surpassed by the coolness and apathy of the wily American?”
Mr. Vaughan adds: “Unfortunately for Mr. Wedderburn, the events of the war did not correspond with his systems. Unfortunately, too, for his ‘irrefragable argument,’ Dr. Franklin afterwards took an oath in chancery that, at the time that he transmitted the letters, he was ignorant of the party to whom they had been addressed, having himself received them from a third person, and for the express purpose of their being conveyed to America. Unfortunately, also, for Mr. Wedderburn’s ‘worthy governor,’ that governor himself, before the arrival of Dr. Franklin’s packet in Boston, sent over one of Dr. Franklin’s own ‘private’ letters to England, expressing some little coyness, indeed, upon the occasion, but desiring secrecy, lest he should be prevented from procuring more useful intelligence from the same source. Whether Mr. Wedderburn, in his speech, intended to draw a particular case and portraiture, for the purpose only of injuring Dr. Franklin, or meant that his language and epithets should apply generally to all, whether friends or foes, whose practice should be found similar to it, is a matter that must be left to be adjusted between Governor Hutchinson and Mr. Wedderburn.
“It was not singular, perhaps, that, as a man of honor, Dr. Franklin should surrender his name to public scrutiny in order to prevent mischief to others, and yet not betray his coadjutor (even to the present moment) to relieve his own fame from the severest obloquy; but perhaps it belonged to few besides Dr. Franklin, to possess mildness and magnanimity enough, to refrain from intemperate expressions and measures against Mr. Wedderburn and his supporters, after all that had passed.”
Dr. Priestley gave the following account of Wedderburn’s speech, in a communication to the editor of the Monthly Magazine, dated at Northumberland, November 10, 1802:
“On the morning of the day on which the cause was to be heard, I met Mr. Burke in Parliament Street, accompanied by Dr. Douglas, afterwards Bishop of Carlisle; and after introducing us to each other, as men of letters, he asked me whither I was going; I said I could tell him whither I wished to go. He then asked me where that was; I said to the Privy Council, but that I was afraid I could not get admission. He then desired me to go along with him. Accordingly I did; but, when we got to the anteroom, we found it quite filled with persons as desirous of getting admission as ourselves. Seeing this, I said we should never get through the crowd. He said, ‘Give me your arm,’ and, locking it fast in his, he soon made his way to the door of the Privy Council. I then said: ‘Mr. Burke, you are an excellent leader’; he replied: ‘I wish other persons thought so too.’
After waiting a short time, the door of the Privy Council opened, and we entered the first; when Mr. Burke took his stand behind the first chair next to the president, and I behind that next to his. When the business was opened, it was sufficiently evident, from the speech of Mr. Wedderburn, who was counsel for the governor, that the real object of the court was to insult Dr. Franklin. All this time, he stood in a corner of the room, not far from me, without the least apparent emotion.
Mr. Dunning, who was the leading counsel on the part of the colony, was so hoarse that he could hardly make himself heard; and Mr. Lee, who was the second, spoke but feebly in reply; so that Mr. Wedderburn had a complete triumph. At the sallies of his sarcastic wit, all the members of the council, the president himself (Lord Gower) not excepted, frequently laughed outright. No person belonging to the council behaved with decent gravity, except Lord North, who, coming late, took his stand behind the chair opposite to me.
When the business was over, Dr. Franklin, in going out, took me by the hand in a manner that indicated some feeling. I soon followed him, and, going through the anteroom, saw Mr. Wedderburn there, surrounded by a circle of his friends and admirers. Being known to him, he stepped forward, as if to speak to me; but I turned aside, and made what haste I could out of the place.
The next morning, I breakfasted with the Doctor, when he said he had never before been so sensible of the power of a good conscience; for that if he had not considered the thing for which he had been so much insulted, as one of the best actions of his life, and what he should certainly do again in the same circumstances, he could not have supported it. He was accused of clandestinely procuring certain letters, containing complaints against the governor, and sending them to America, with a view to excite their animosity against him, and thus to embroil the two countries; but he assured me, that he did not even know that such letters existed, until they were brought to him as agent for the colony, in order to be sent to his constituents; and the cover of the letters, on which the direction had been written, being lost, he only guessed at the person to whom they were addressed, by the contents.
That Dr. Franklin, notwithstanding he did not show it at the time, was much impressed by the business of the Privy Council, appeared from this circumstance. When he attended there, he was dressed in a suit of Manchester velvet; and Silas Deane told me that, when they met at Paris to sign the treaty between France and America, he purposely put on that suit.”
In reference to this account, after it appeared in print, the following particulars were communicated to William Temple Franklin by Dr. Bancroft:
“Dr. Franklin did not ‘stand in a corner of the room,’ ” says Dr. Bancroft, who was for many years one of Dr. Franklin’s intimate friends, and was present during the whole transaction before the Privy Council; “he stood close to the fireplace, on that side which was at the right hand of those who were looking toward the fire; in front of which, though at some distance, the members of the Privy Council were seated at a table. I obtained a place on the opposite side of the fireplace, a little farther from the fire; but Dr. Franklin’s face was directed towards me, and I had a full, uninterrupted view of it, and his person, during the whole time in which Mr. Wedderburn spoke. The Doctor was dressed in a full-dress suit of spotted Manchester velvet, and stood conspicuously erect, without the smallest movement of any part of his body, The muscles of his face had been previously composed, so as to afford a placid, tranquil expression of countenance, and he did not suffer the slightest alteration of it to appear during the continuance of the speech, in which he was so harshly and improperly treated. In short, to quote the words which he employed concerning himself on another occasion, he kept his ‘countenance as immovable as if his features had been made of wood.’ This was late on Saturday afternoon. I called on him in Craven Street at an early hour on Monday morning, and, immediately after the usual salutation, he put into my hands a letter which had just been delivered to him. It was from the postmaster-general, and informed him that the king had no further occasion for his (Dr. Franklin’s) services, as deputy postmaster-general in America.
It is a fact that he, as Dr. Priestley mentions, signed the treaties of commerce and eventual alliance with France, in the clothes which he had worn at the Cockpit, when the preceding transaction occurred. It had been intended, as you may recollect, that these treaties should be signed on the evening of Thursday, the 5th of February, and when Dr. Franklin had dressed himself for the day, I observed that he wore the suit in question; which I thought the more extraordinary, as it had been laid aside for many months. This I noticed to Mr. Deane; and soon after, when a messenger came from Versailles, with a letter from Mr. Gerard, the French plenipotentiary, stating that he was so unwell, from a cold, that he wish to defer coming to Paris to sign the treaties until the next evening, I said to Mr. Deane, ‘Let us see whether the Doctor will wear the same suit of clothes to-morrow; if he does, I shall suspect that he is influenced by a recollection of the treatment which he received at the Cockpit.’ The morrow came, and the same clothes were again worn, and the treaties signed. After which these clothes were laid aside, and, so far as my knowledge extends, never worn afterwards. I once intimated to Dr. Franklin the suspicion which his wearing these clothes on that occasion had excited in my mind, when he smiled, without telling me whether it was well or ill founded. I have heard him sometimes say that he was not insensible to injuries, but that he never put himself to any trouble or inconvenience to retaliate.”
The profound sensation produced by the publication of the Hutchinson letters, and the unmerited obloquy which his part in the matter brought upon Dr. Franklin, decided him, before leaving England, to prepare the detailed account of his connection with these letters, which will be found farther on. He does not reveal the source from which the letters came to him, but Mr. C. Francis Adams, upon the authority of his grandfather, President John Adams, says: “Scarcely a doubt can remain that Sir John Temple was the man who procured the Hutchinson letters and had them delivered to Franklin.”1 This account was not published till it appeared in William Temple Franklin’s edition of his grandfather’s works, in 1817. Franklin probably found it would do no good to make any such defence in the fury of the storm; and before it had subsided, he had left England, the rupture between the countries had become complete, and the press of England was closed against any thing he might write in vindication of himself or the colonies, until after time and events had given him a far more effective vindication than any he could have penned.2
From whom Franklin really received these letters, is one of those historical puzzles which has exercised the ingenuity of eminent scholars on both sides of the Atlantic. The most satisfactory theory that has yet been presented may be found in a minute furnished by Mr. Bancroft to Mr. Robert C. Winthrop, and read by the latter at a meeting of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Feb. 14, 1878.3 Mr. Bancroft’s conclusion, in which Mr. Winthrop expressed his concurrence, is that the Hutchinson letters referred to “were written to produce an effect on George Grenville; that they were sent by Thomas Whately to George Grenville; that they were shown by George Grenville to Lord Temple, and that at Grenville’s death they remained among his papers. The custody of the letters under any hypothesis belonged to the executor of Grenville or to the executor of T. Whately. It came to be agreed by all that the letters were never in the hands of the executor of T. Whately. There remains, then, no other place in which to search for them except among the papers left by Grenville. John Temple, as I believe from his own repeated assertions, ferreted out the matter, and formed the plan of sending them to be read in Boston. But the communication of the papers was made to Franklin by a member of Parliament. For this, the consent of the executor or executors of George Grenville must have been gained. Perhaps Lord Temple was Grenville’s executor; I know not; but whoever was charged with the custody of the papers would hardly have suffered them to be used without Lord Temple’s consent.”
The Diary and Letters of Governor Hutchinson, recently edited by one of his great-grandsons, though it does not furnish any thing decisive of this question, nor even show what was Hutchinson’s own impression, goes far to confirm Mr. Bancroft’s view, which, as we understand it, is, that John Temple procured the papers to be given to Franklin, and “the member of Parliament” was merely a passive instrument in the matter, and brought upon the stage merely to screen the principal.
The letters had not long been before the public before Hutchinson discovered that his native country could no longer be a home to him; he took refuge in England, where a small pension was assigned him. He died at Brompton in 1780.—Editor.
TO JOSEPH GALLOWAY
London, 18 February, 1774.
The acts of the February session, 1773, are at last presented, of which I have lately acquainted the committee.1 They are now before the Board of Trade. I do not yet hear of any objection to the paper-money bill, and hope there can be none that we shall not get over. I observe there is no declaration of the value of the bills, whether proclamation or sterling. Possibly, if this should be taken notice of, it may be thought too loose and uncertain; but it may escape their observation, and, if necessary you can by a little supplement ascertain it.
The treatment of the tea in America has excited great wrath here; but how that will vent itself is not yet known, except that some part of it has fallen upon me; perhaps from a suspicion that I instigated the opposition to its importation. This, however, is not the given reason. My returning Hutchinson’s and Oliver’s letters to Boston is held out to the public as the great offence for which I am deprived of my office. I will explain to you my conduct in that matter.
Those letters, which had, at the time, been shown about here to several persons, fell into the hands of a gentleman, who produced them to me, to convince me of the truth of a fact, the possibility of which I had in conversation denied; namely, that the sending troops to Boston, and other measures so offensive to the people of New England, did not arise from any inimical disposition in this country towards them, but were projected, proposed, and solicited by some of the principal and best esteemed of their own people. I was convinced accordingly by perusing those letters, and thought it might have a good effect if I could convince the leaders there of the same truth, since it would remove much of their resentment against Britain as a harsh, unkind ——1
THE GEORGIA AGENCY
Thursday, 24 February, 1774.
Mr. Farley, from the committee appointed to examine the journals of the Upper House respecting their proceedings on the ordinance for appointing a provincial agent, and the several bills sent from this House, reported, that by the journals of the Upper House their proceedings on the ordinance for appointing a provincial agent are as follows:
Die Lunæ, 24 January, 1774.
A message was brought from the Commons House by Mr. Clay, with on ordinance for reappointing Benjamin Franklin, Esq., agent to solicit the affairs of this province in Great Britain, and desiring the concurrence of this House thereto.
The engrossed ordinance from the Commons House for reappointing Benjamin Franklin, Esq., agent to solicit the affairs of this province in Great Britain, was read the first time, and ordered to be read the second time on Thursday next.
Die Jovis, 27 January, 1774.
The order of the day being read for reading a second time the ordinance from the Commons House for reappointing Benjamin Franklin, Esq., agent to solicit the affairs of this province in Great Britain.
A motion being made was seconded, that the second reading of the ordinance from the Commons House for reappointing Benjamin Franklin, Esq., agent to solicit the affairs of this province in Great Britain be adjourned, and the House being informed that some disagreeable accounts had been received from the back country, which may probably require the immediate attention of the legislature, it is, therefore, ordered that the second reading of the said ordinance be adjourned to Thursday next.
Die Jovis, 3 February.
The order of the day being read for reading the ordinance from the Commons House for reappointing Benjamin Franklin, Esq., agent to solicit the affairs of this province in Great Britain.
Ordered, That the second reading of the said ordinance be adjourned till to-morrow morning.
A motion was made that a committee be appointed to inquire into the conduct of Benjamin Franklin, Esq., during the time he was appointed agent of this province, and that the committee have orders to send for persons, papers, and records, and do make their report to this House forthwith.
Ordered, That Mr. Stokes, Mr. Johnston, and Mr. Hume be the committee.
Mr. Stokes, from the committee appointed to inquire into the conduct of Benjamin Franklin, Esq., during the time he was appointed agent of this province, reported that the committee in pursuance of the order of this honorable House did meet, and on examining the several ordinances for appointing the said Benjamin Franklin agent of this province, do find that the said Benjamin Franklin was agent of this province for the years 1768, 1769, and 1770. That this committee proceeded to examine his Honor the President and several other members of the committee appointed to correspond with the said Benjamin Franklin as agent, and that they severally informed the committee that they did not recollect the ever seeing or hearing read any letter or paragraph of a letter from the said Benjamin Franklin as agent, save and except one general letter soon after his first appointment, declaring his being satisfied with the salary provided for him, and that he would endeavor to serve the province as far as was in his power, or words to that effect, all which is humbly submitted to this honorable Board, and the said report, being again read by the Clerk, was approved by the House.
Die Veneris, 4 February, 1774.
The order of the day being read for the second reading of the ordinance from the Commons House for reappointing Benjamin Franklin, Esq., agent to solicit the affairs of this province in Great Britain, and the question being put that the said ordinance be now read a second time,—
It passed in the negative. Nemine contradicente.
Resolved (nemine contradicente), That the ordinance be rejected.
Your committee further report that by the said journals it appears the Upper House have proceeded on the several bills sent from this House (as your committee apprehends) in the usual forms.
The House having taken the said report into consideration,—
Ordered, That Mr. Farley, Mr. Andrew, Doctor Jones, Mr. Shruder, and Mr. Simpson be a committee to enquire into the several matters set forth in the journals of the Upper House respecting the conduct of Benjamin Franklin, Esq., since his appointment as Agent for this Province, and particularly during the years 1768, 1769, and 1770, and report their opinion thereon to the House, and that they have power to send for persons, papers, and records.
Monday, 28 February, 1774.
Mr. Farley from the committee appointed to enquire into the several matters set forth in the journals of the Upper House respecting the conduct of Benjamin Franklin, Esq., since his appointment as agent for this province, and particularly during the years 1768, 1769, and 1770, report that it appears to your committee, by an ordinance passed the 11th day of May, 1768, Benjamin Franklin, Esq., was appointed agent to solicit the affairs of this province in Great Britain for one whole year.
That in an ordinance for reappointing the said Benjamin Franklin to that office passed the 27th of February, 1770, the preamble sets forth, and whereas the dissolution of the said Assembly immediately following prevented the said ordinance from going through its regular forms, and whereas the said Benjamin Franklin, notwithstanding the want of such an appointment, hath continued to transact the business of this province in Great Britain, be it therefore ordained, etc., that the said Benjamin Franklin was also reappointed agent by an ordinance passed the 10th of May, 1770, and by the journals of the Commons House of the 21st of December, 1770, it appears that the Upper House had agreed to the reappointment of him for the year 1771.
That it appears very extraordinary to your committee that the objection lately made to Mr. Franklin by the Upper House, unfair as it is, should not have taken place in September last, when they agreed to a like ordinance, reappointing the same gentleman as agent.
Your committee further report that the committee appointed to correspond with the said Benjamin Franklin, as agent, transmitted their instructions to him by letter dated 19th of May, 1768, a duplicate whereof was sent the 26th of the same month; that the committee received an answer thereto from Mr. Franklin, by letter, dated the 9th of August, 1768, directed to James Habersham, Esq.
That the said committee transmitted letters to Mr. Franklin bearing date the 11th, 23d, and 28th days of May, 1770, and in that of the 23d they say perhaps it may be necessary to make an apology for an intermission in our correspondence with you as a committee, which, however, you will be pleased to believe did not arise from the least doubt of your intentions or abilities to serve us, but from circumstances arising from the dissolution of the late Assembly which are now subsided. That those letters were severally answered by Mr. Franklin in his of the 10th of August, 1770, directed to the Hon. James Habersham, Esq., and the rest of the gentlemen of the committee of correspondence for the province of Georgia, which letter is entered in the minute-book of the said committee.
That in the journals of the Commons House, and also in the printed copy thereof of the 7th of November, 1769, are two letters dated the 3d of April and the 7th of June, 1769, received from Mr. Franklin as agent on the public business of this province.
That the said Benjamin Franklin, as well during the continuance of his agency as since the expiration thereof, has exerted his utmost abilities to serve his constituents, as appears by many paragraphs in letters received from him (exclusive of those before mentioned), particularly in one bearing date the 1st of May, 1771, wherein was enclosed the draft of a petition to his Majesty in Council relative to the claim of lands by the assigns of Sir William Baker, deceased,—which said paragraphs of letters and draft of petition were (as your committee are informed) communicated to several members of the Upper House, to the Commons House of Assembly, and also to most of the members of the Committee of Correspondence.
That upon the evidence of the several facts above stated, your committee have.
Resolved, That it is the opinion of your committee, that the determination of the Upper House on the enquiry into the conduct of the said Benjamin Franklin, Esquire, during his agency for this province, is uncandid and contains unjust resolutions on the public reputation of that gentleman.
Resolved, That it is the opinion of your committee, that the said Benjamin Franklin hath, on all occasions since his first appointment as agent, and now especially during the years 1768, 1769, and 1770, been indefatigable in negotiating the affairs of this province, and hath faithfully executed every matter given him in charge either from the Commons House of Assembly or by the Committee of Correspondence.
Resolved, That it is the opinion of your committee, that the thanks of the Commons House be given to the said Benjamin Franklin, Esquire, for the just discharge of the important trust reposed in him, and that Mr. Speaker, be requested to acquaint him therewith, and assure him that the House retains a grateful sense of his repeated offers and endeavors to serve the province, and the same being taken into immediate consideration.
Resolved, That the House doth agree with the committee in their report.
Motion being made that the House do enter into the following resolutions, viz.:
Resolved, That it is the opinion of this House, that the power of appointing an agent to solicit and transact the public affairs of the inhabitants of this province in Great Britain is a right and privilege which is and ought to be exclusively lodged in the representatives of the people.
Resolved, That Benjamin Franklin, Esquire, be agent for one whole year, commencing from this second day of March, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-four, to represent, solicit, and transact the affairs of this province in Great Britain, and he is hereby fully authorized and empowered to follow and pursue all such instructions as he shall from time to time receive from the Commons House of Assembly or the committee apointed to correspond with him.
Resolved, That the Honorable William Young, Esq., Noble Wimberly Jones, Joseph Clay, Samuel Farley, Thomas Shruder, John Simpson, Thomas Netherclift, Thomas Young, and David Zubly, Esquires, shall be and they are hereby appointed a committee to correspond with the said Benjamin Franklin, and give him such orders and instructions from time to time as they shall judge to be for the service of this Province, and the said agent is directed in all his correspondence to address his letters to the first named in the above committee, and the other members thereof, who shall as soon as may be summon the members of the said committee to meet and take under consideration the matters contained in such letters, and in case of the absence from Savannah of the person first in nomination, then any other member of the committee who shall be present, and proceed to business, but no letter to be opened or the seal broke upon any pretence whatsoever before five of the said committee are present.
Resolved, That the said Benjamin Franklin be allowed and paid for his agency the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds sterling money of Great Britain for the term aforesaid, over and above his charges and disbursements, on his application to his Majesty or the several offices and boards in negotiating the affairs of this province in Great Britain.
Resolved, That this House will provide in the next general tax act the said sum of one hundred and fifty pounds, to be paid to the said Benjamin Franklin, Esquire, for his agency, and also all other charges and disbursements attending the same.
A debate arising thereon, and the question being put upon the several resolutions, they passed in the affirmative. The members for the resolutions were Mr. Farley, Doctr. Jones, Mr. Clay, Mr. Zubley, Mr. Thos. Young, Doctr. Houstoun, Mr. Netherclift, Mr. Powell, Mr. Trentlen, Mr. Simpson, Sir Pat’k Houston, Mr. Andrew, Mr. Maxwell, Mr. Sallens, Mr. Stirk, Mr. Millen, and Mr. Shruder; the members against the said resolutions were Mr. Hall and Mr. Jamieson.
Motion being made that it be a direction to the committee of correspondence that they do transmit by the earliest opportunity to Benjamin Franklin, Esquire, agent for this province, a copy of the address of this House to his Majesty, and instruct him to use his utmost endeavors to support the same. A debate arising thereon, and the question being put, it passed in the affirmative. The members for the motion were, Mr. Farley, Mr. Zubley, Doctr. Jones, Mr. Clay, Mr. Shruder, Mr. Henry Yonge, Mr. Isaac Young, Mr. Thomas Young, Mr. Netherclift, Mr. Hillen, Mr. Trentlen, Mr. Stirk, Mr. Sallens, Mr. Andrew, Mr. Maxwell, Mr. Powell, Sir Patrick Houstoun, and Doctr. Houstoun. The members against the motion were Mr. Hall and Mr. Jamieson.
Certified to be a true extract from the original journals.
Richd Cungm Crooke,Clk.
TO SAMUEL COOPER
London, 25 February, 1774.
I have written a pretty full account to the Speaker of the treatment their petition and their agent have received here. My letter went to Symes, and probably you may have seen it before this can reach you; therefore, and because I have a little disorder in my eyes at present, I do not repeat any part of it to you, nor can I well send a copy to him.
You can have no conception of the rage the ministerial people have been in with me, on account of my transmitting those letters. It is quite incomprehensible. If they had been wise, they might have made a good use of the discovery, by agreeing to lay the blame of our differences on those from whom, by those letters, it appeared to have arisen, and by a change of measures, which would then have appeared natural, and restored the harmony between the two countries.
I send, directed to you a set of the late French edition of my Philosophical Papers.1 There are in it several pieces not in the English. When you have looked them over, please to give them to Mr. Winthrop, for the college library. I am ever, dear sir, yours most affectionately,
ON THE RISE AND PROGRESS OF THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GREAT BRITAIN AND HER AMERICAN COLONIES1
To the Printer of the Public Advertiser:
The enclosed paper was written just before Lord Hillsborough quitted the American department. An expectation then prevailing, from the good character of the noble lord who succeeded him, that the grievances of the colonies would, under his administration, be redressed, it was laid aside; but, as not a single measure of his predecessor has since been even attempted to be changed, and, on the contrary, new ones have been continually added, further to exasperate these people, render them desperate, and drive them, if possible, into open rebellion, it may not be amiss now to give it to the public, as it shows in detail the rise and progress of those differences which are about to break the empire in pieces.
I am, sir, yours, etc.,
It is a bad temper of mind that takes a delight in opposition, and is ever ready to censure ministry in the gross, without discrimination. Charity should be willing to believe that we never had an administration so bad, but there might be some good and some wise men in it, and that even such is our case at present. The Scripture saith: “By their works shall ye know them.” By their conduct, then, in their respective departments, and not by their company or their party connections, should they be distinctly and separately judged.
One of the most serious affairs to this nation that has of late required the attention of government is our misunderstanding with the colonies. They are in the department of Lord Hillsborough, and, from a prevailing opinion of his abilities, have been left by the other ministers very much to his management. If, then, our American business has been conducted with prudence, to him chiefly will be due the reputation of it.
Soon after the commencement of the last war, it became an object with the ministers of this country to draw a revenue from America. The first attempt was by a Stamp Act. It soon appeared that this step had not been well considered; that the rights, the ability, the opinions, and temper of that great people had not been sufficiently attended to. They complained that the tax was unnecessary, because their Assemblies had ever been ready to make voluntary grants to the crown in proportion to their abilities when duly required so to do; and unjust, because they had no representative in the British Parliament, but had Parliaments of their own, wherein their consent was given, as it ought to be, in grants of their own money. I do not mean to enter into this question. The Parliament repealed the act as inexpedient, but in another act asserted a right of taxing America, and in the following year laid duties on the manufactures of this country exported thither. On the repeal of the Stamp Act, the Americans had returned to their wonted good-humor and commerce with Britain, but this new act for laying duties renewed their uneasiness. They were long since forbidden by the Navigation Act to purchase manufactures of any other nation; and, supposing that act well enforced, they saw that by this indirect mode it was in the power of Britain to burthen them as much as by any direct tax, unless they could lay aside the use of such manufactures as they had been accustomed to purchase from Britain, or make the same themselves.
In this situation were affairs when my Lord —— entered on the American administration. Much was expected from his supposed abilities, application, and knowledge of business in that department. The newspapers were filled with his panegyrics, and our expectations raised perhaps inconveniently.
The Americans determined to petition their sovereign, praying his gracious interposition in their favor with his Parliament, that the imposition of these duties, which they considered as an infringement of their rights, might be repealed. The Assembly of the Massachusetts Bay had voted that it should be proposed to the other colonies to concur in that measure. This, for what reason I do not easily conceive, gave great offence to his Lordship; and one of his first steps was to prevent these concurring petitions. To this end he sent a mandate to that Assembly (the Parliament of that country), requiring them to rescind that vote, and desist from the measure, threatening them with dissolution in case of disobedience. The governor communicated to them the instructions he received to that purpose. They refused to obey, and were dissolved! Similar orders were sent at the same time to the governors of the other colonies, to dissolve their respective Parliaments if they presumed to accede to the Boston proposition of petitioning his Majesty, and several of them were accordingly dissolved.
Bad ministers have ever been averse to the right subjects claim of petitioning and remonstrating to their sovereign; for through that channel the prince may be apprised of the mal-administration of his servants; they may sometimes be thereby brought into danger; at least such petitions afford a handle to their adversaries, whereby to give them trouble. But, as the measure to be complained of was not his Lordship’s, it is rather extraordinary that he should thus set his face against the intended complaints. In his angry letters to America, he called the proposal of these petitions “a measure of most dangerous and factious tendency, calculated to inflame the minds of his Majesty’s subjects in the colonies, to promote an unwarrantable combination, and to excite and encourage an open opposition to, and denial of, the authority of the Parliament, and to subvert the true spirit of theconstitution”; and directed the governors, immediately on the receipt of these orders, to exert their utmost influence to defeat this flagitious attempt.
Without entering into the particular motives to this piece of his Lordship’s conduct, let us consider a little the wisdom of it. When subjects conceive themselves oppressed or injured, laying their complaints before the sovereign, or the governing powers, is a kind of vent to griefs, that gives some ease to their minds; the receiving with at least an appearance of regard their petitions, and taking them into consideration, gives present hope, and affords time for the cooling of resentment; so that even the refusal, when decently expressed and accompanied with reasons, is made less unpleasant by the manner, is half approved, and the rest submitted to with patience. But when this vent to popular discontents is denied, and the subjects are thereby driven to desperation, infinite mischiefs follow. Many princes have lost part, and some the whole of their dominions, and some their lives, by this very conduct of their servants. The Secretary for America, therefore, seems in this instance not to have judged rightly for the service of his excellent master.
But supposing the measure of discouraging and preventing petitions a right one, were the means of effecting this end judiciously chosen? I mean, the threatening with dissolution and the actual dissolving of the American Parliaments. His Lordship probably took up the idea from what he knows of the state of things in England and Ireland, where, to be re-chosen upon a dissolution, often gives a candidate great trouble, and sometimes costs him a great deal of money. A dissolution may therefore be both fine and punishment to the members, if they desire to be again returned. But, in most of the colonies, there is no such thing as standing candidate for election. There is neither treating nor bribing. No man ever expresses the least inclination to be chosen. Instead of humble advertisements, entreating votes and interest, you see, before every new election, requests of former members, acknowledging the honor done them by preceding elections, but setting forth their long service and attendance on the public business in that station, and praying that, in consideration thereof, some other person may be chosen in their room. Where this is the case, where the same representatives may be, and generally are, after a dissolution, chosen, without asking a vote or giving even a glass of cider to an elector, is it likely that such a threat could contribute in the least to answer the end proposed? The experience of former governors might have instructed his Lordship, that this was a vain expedient. Several of them, misled by their English ideas, had tried this practice to make Assemblies submissive to their measures, but never with success. By the influence of his power in granting offices, a governor naturally has a number of friends in an assembly; these, if suffered to continue, might, though a minority, frequently serve his purpose, by promoting what he wishes, or obstructing what he dislikes. But if, to punish the majority, he in a pet dissolves the House, and orders a new election, he is sure not to see a single friend in the new assembly. The people are put into an ill humor by the trouble given them, they resent the dissolution as an affront, and leave out every man suspected of having the least regard for the governor. This was the very effect of my Lord’s dissolutions in America, and the new assemblies were all found more untractable than the old ones.
But besides the imprudence of this measure, was it constitutional? The crown has doubtless the prerogative of dissolving parliaments, a prerogative lodged in its hands for the public good, which may in various instances require the use of it. But should a king of Great Britain demand of his Parliament the recision of any vote they had passed, or forbid them to petition the throne, on pain of dissolution, and actually dissolve them accordingly, I humbly conceive the minister who advised it would run some hazard—of censure at least,—for thus using the prerogative to the violation of common right, and breach of the constitution. The American Assemblies have no means of impeaching such a minister; but there is an Assembly, the Parliament of England, that have that power, and in a former instance exercised it well, by impeaching a great man, Lord Clarendon, for having, though in one instance only, endeavored to introduce arbitrary government into the colonies.
The effect this operation of the American Secretary had in America, was not a prevention of those petitions, as he intended, but a despair in the people of any success from them, since they could not pass to the throne but through the hands of one who showed himself so extremely averse to the existence of them. Thence arose the design of interesting the British merchants and manufacturers in the event of their petitions, by agreements not to import goods from Great Britain till their grievances were redressed. Universal resentment occasioned these agreements to be more generally entered into, and the sending of troops to Boston, who daily insulted the Assembly1 and townsmen, instead of terrifying into a compliance with his measures, served only to exasperate and sour the minds of the people throughout the continent, make frugality fashionable, when the consumption of British goods was the question, and determine the inhabitants to exert every nerve in establishing manufactures among themselves.
Boston having grievously offended his Lordship, by the refractory spirit they had shown in re-choosing those representatives whom he esteemed the leaders of the opposition there, he resolved to punish that town by removing the Assembly from thence to Cambridge, a country place about four miles distant. Here too his Lordship’s English and Irish ideas seem to have misled him. Removing a Parliament from London or Dublin, where so many of the inhabitants are supported by the expense of such a number of wealthy lords and commoners, and have a dependence on that support, may be a considerable prejudice to a city deprived of such advantage; but the removal of the Assembly, consisting of frugal, honest farmers, from Boston, could only effect the interest of a few poor widows, who keep lodging-houses there. Whatever manufactures the members might want, were still purchased at Boston. They themselves indeed suffered some inconvenience, in being perhaps less commodiously lodged, and being at a distance from the records; but this, and the keeping them before so long prorogued, when the public affairs required their meeting, could never reconcile them to ministerial measures; it could serve only to put them more out of humor with Britain and its government so wantonly exercised, and to so little purpose. Ignorance alone of the true state of that country can excuse (if it may be excused) these frivolous proceedings.
To have good ends in view, and to use proper means to obtain them, shows the minister to be both good and wise. To pursue good ends by improper means argues him, though good, to be but weak. To pursue bad ends, by artful means, shows him to be wicked, though able. But when his ends are bad, and the means he uses improper to obtain these ends, what shall we say of such a minister? Every step taken for some time past in our treatment of America, the suspending their legislative powers for not making laws by direction from hence; the countenancing their adversaries by rewards and pensions, paid out of the revenues extorted from them by laws to which they have not given their assent; the sending over a set of rash, indiscreet commissioners to collect that revenue, who by insolence of behavior, harassing commerce, and perpetually accusing the good people (out of whose substance they are supported) to government here, as rebels and traitors, have made themselves universally odious there, but here are caressed and encouraged; together with the arbitrary dissolution of Assemblies, and the quartering troops among the people, to menace and insult them; all these steps, if intended to provoke them to rebellion, that we might take their lives and confiscate their estates, are proper means to obtain a bad end. But if they are intended to conciliate the Americans to our government, restore our commerce with them, and secure the friendship and assistance which their growing strength, wealth, and power may, in a few years, render extremely valuable to us, can any thing be conceived more injudicious, more absurd! His Lordship may have in general a good understanding; his friends say he has; but in the political part of it, there must surely be some twist, some extreme obliquity.
A Well-wisher to the King and all his Dominions.
To the Printer of the Public Advertiser:
Your correspondent Britannicus inveighs violently against Dr. Franklin for his ingratitude to the ministry of this nation, who have conferred upon him so many favors. They gave him the post-office of America; they made his son a governor; and they offered him a post of five hundred a year in the salt-office, if he would relinquish the interests of his country; but he has had the wickedness to continue true to it, and is as much an American as ever. As it is a settled point of government here, that every man has his price, it is plain they are bunglers in their business, and have not given him enough. Their master has as much reason to be angry with them, as Rodrigue, in the play with his apothecary, for not effectually poisoning Pandolpho, and they must probably make use of the apothecary’s justification, viz.:
Rodrigue and Fell, the Apothecary.
You promised to have this Pandolpho upon his bier in less than a week; ’t is more than a month since, and he still walks and stares at me in the face.
True; and yet I have done my best endeavors. In various ways I have given the miscreant as much poison as would have killed an elephant. He has swallowed dose after dose; far from hurting him, he seems the better for it. He hath a wonderfully strong constitution. I find I cannot kill him but by cutting his throat, and that, as I take it, is not my business.
Then it must be mine.”
To the Printer of the Public Advertiser:
Nothing can equal the present rage of our ministerial writers against our brethren in America, who have the misfortune to be whigs in a reign when whiggism is out of fashion, who are besides Protestant dissenters and lovers of liberty. One may easily see from what quarter comes the abuse of those people in the papers; their struggle for their rights is called rebellion, and the people rebels; while those who really rebelled in Scotland (1745) for the expulsion of the present reigning family, and the establishment of Popery and arbitrary power, on the ruins of liberty and Protestantism, who entered England and trampled on its belly as far as Derby, to the astonishment of this great city, and shaking the public credit of the nation, have now all their sins forgiven on account of their modish principles, and are called, not rebels, but by the softer appellation of insurgents! These angry writers use their utmost efforts to persuade us that this war with the colonies (for a war it will be) is a national cause, when in fact it is a ministerial one. Administration wants an American revenue to dissipate in corruption. The quarrel is about a paltry three-penny duty on tea. There is no real clashing of interests between Britain and America. Their commerce is to their mutual advantage, or rather most to the advantage of Britain, which finds a vast market in America for its manufactures, and as good pay, I speak from knowledge, as in any country she trades to upon the face of the globe. But the fact needs not my testimony; it speaks for itself; for if we could elsewhere get better pay and better prices, we should not send our goods to America.
The gross calumniators of that people, who want us to imbrue our hands in brother’s blood, have the effrontery to tell the world that the Americans associated in resolutions not to pay us what they owe us, unless we repealed the Stamp Act. This is an infamous falsehood; they knew it to be such. I call upon the incendiaries, who have advanced it, to produce their proofs. Let them name any two that entered into such an association, or any one that made such a declaration. Absurdity marks the very face of this lie. Every one acquainted with trade knows that a credited merchant, daring to be concerned in such an association, could never expect to be trusted again. His character on the Exchange of London would be ruined forever. The great credit given them since that time, nay, the present debt due from them, is itself a proof of the confidence we have in their probity. Another villainous falsehood advanced against the Americans is that though we have been at such expense in protecting them, they refuse to contribute their part to the public general expense of the empire. The fact is that they never did refuse a requisition of that kind. A writer, who calls himself Sagittarius (I suppose from his flinging about, like Solomon’s fools, firebrands, arrows, and death), in the Ledger of March 9th, asserts that the “experiment has been tried, and that they did not think it expedient to return even an answer.” How does he prove this? Why, “the colony agents were told by Mr. Grenville that a revenue would be required from them to defray the expenses of their protection.” But was the requisition ever made? Were circulars ever sent, by his Majesty’s command, from the Secretary of State to the several colony governments, according to the established custom, stating the occasion and requiring such supplies as were suitable to their abilities and loyalty? And did they then refuse, not only compliance, but an answer? No such matter; agents are not the channel through which requisitions are made. If they were told by Mr. Grenville that “a revenue would be required, and yet the colonies made no offer, no grant, nor laid any tax,” does it follow that they would not have done it if they had been required? Probably they thought it time enough when the requisition should come, and in fact it never appeared there to this day. In the last war they all gave so liberally, that we thought ourselves bound in honor to return them a million. But we are disgusted with their free gifts; we want to have something that is obtained by force, like a mad landlord who should refuse the willing payment of his full rents, and choose to take less by way of robbery.
This shameless writer would cajole the people of England with the fancy of their being kings of America, and that their honor is at stake by the Americans disputing their government. He thrusts us into the throne cheek-by-jole with majesty, and would have us talk, as he writes, of our subjects in America, and our sovereignty over America; forgetting that the Americans are subjects of the king, not our subjects, but our fellow-subjects; and that they have Parliaments of their own, with the right of granting their own money by their own representatives, which we cannot deprive them of but by violence and injustice.
Having by a series of iniquitous and irritating measures provoked a loyal people almost to desperation, we now magnify every act of an American mob into rebellion, though the government there disapprove it and order prosecution, as is now the case with regard to the tea destroyed. And we talk of nothing but troops and fleets, and force, of blocking up ports, destroying fisheries, abolishing charters, etc., etc. Here mobs of English sawyers can burn sawmills; mobs of English laborers destroy or plunder magazines of corn; mobs of English coal-heavers attack houses with fire-arms; English smugglers can fight regularly the king’s cruising vessels, drive them ashore, and burn them, as lately on the coast of Wales and on the coast of Cornwall; but upon these accounts we hear no talk of England’s being in rebellion; no threats of taking away its Magna Charta, or repealing its Bill of Rights; for we all know that the operations of a mob are often unexpected, sudden, and soon over, so that the civil power can seldom prevent or suppress them, not being able to come in before they have dispersed themselves; and therefore it is not always accountable for their mischiefs.
Surely the great commerce of this nation with the Americans is of too much importance to be risked in a quarrel which has no foundation but ministerial pique and obstinacy.
To us in the way of trade comes now, and has long come, all the superlucration arising from their labors. But will our reviling them as cheats, hypocrites, scoundrels, traitors, cowards, tyrants, etc., etc., according to the present court mode in all our papers, make them more our friends, more fond of our merchandise. Did ever any tradesman succeed, who attempted to drub customers into his shop? And will honest John Bull, the farmer, be long satisfied with servants that before his face attempt to kill his plough-horses?
FROM SAMUEL YOUNG AND OTHERS, COMMITTEE OF THE LOWER HOUSE OF THE PROVINCE OF GEORGIA
Savannah, 14 March, 1774.
Truly sensible of your well experienced fidelity and merit, immediately on the meeting of the General Assembly, the Commons House passed an ordinance reappointing you as Agent, which was rejected by the Upper House for reasons best known to themselves. It was necessary, however, that something should appear to account for their mysterious conduct, and the enclosed is a copy of the minutes extracted from their journals by a committee of the Lower House appointed for that purpose.
Your conduct has been so generally approved that the representatives of the people could not suffer those measures to pass over unnoticed, and they therefore directly entered into such resolutions as they thought sufficient to do justice to a reputation which is of itself so sacred and well known as to require no foreign support, a copy of which you have also enclosed.
It sometimes happens in societies as in private life that small injuries are suffered and winked at until they increase and become too intolerable to be any longer borne; the Commons of Georgia, upon a presumption that any gentleman nominated by them would receive no opposition from either of the other legislative branches, from time to time have made it their practice to prepare an ordinance and send it to the Upper House for their concurrence. This has at length been misconstrued into a right, and they now suppose no agent for the people can be properly appointed unless they join in the nomination.
Perfectly convinced of their exclusive right, the Commons House have entered into a resolution (a copy of which you will also herewith receive) reappointing you their Agent, and we are directed to entreat that you will do just honor to their choice by your acceptance of the office, and upon such presumption we are instructed to acquaint you that the province has lately been much alarmed and terrified by the incursions of some discontented Creek Indians, who have perpetrated many murders, and otherwise committed great depredations on the persons and property of many settlers lately residing on our frontier, formed by the lands lately ceded to his Majesty.
Although the party of Indians which committed these outrages consists of about fifty of the lower Creeks only, and their treacherous and cruel behavior is disapproved of and condemned by their countrymen in the Upper Creek nation, yet, when satisfaction comes to be demanded, it is much to be feared that their incapacity to give such [sic] as should (and probably will) be insisted upon, may be the unavoidable means of bringing on a general war with that powerful nation, whose number of fighting men, we have every reason to believe, from the best authority, amounts to full four thousand.
As this province is very far from being able to carry on of itself so expensive and dangerous a war, the two branches of the legislative body have separately furnished his Excellency the Governor, with addresses to the king, which he has promised to cause to be presented by the earliest opportunity. The Commons House, for reasons which you will undoubtedly see through, thought administration the properest channel for their address to pass to his Majesty. They, however, directed us to furnish you with the enclosed copy, and desire that you will add another proof of your attachment to this province by exerting your utmost influence in support of our application to the crown for troops to reduce the savages to a proper sense of their conduct, and bring them to terms of peace and justice. We have nothing further to add but that we are with great esteem and respect,
Sir, your most obedient servants,
D. Zubley, Junr.
Benjamin Franklin, Esquire,
Indorsed “Queries relating to the colonies to be discussed with Lord C——m.”1
Q. What were the original ideas upon which the colonies were settled?
What was the state of their government during the first reign?
Were they established at the expense of government here?
Did the Parliament make any grants to defray or aid the first charge, or for protecting the settlers?
Was the Parliament advised with by the crown concerning the terms of settlement? Did it form any regulations thereupon? Did it understand itself to have any power over them?
Did not the colonists go over free from the laws of this country, with a right to adopt such of them as they should judge convenient to their circumstances and reject others? And did they not, in fact, do so?
Were they not first reduced to any submission to Parliament in the time of the great rebellion?
Has it not been by degrees since the Restoration that the Parliament has assumed a power of legislation for America?
What is the present state of power assumed by Parliament over the colonies?
What changes may be advantageously for both countries made therein?
What would be the best constitution for the colonies as connected with this country? And how is it to be obtained?
TO THE MARQUIS DE CONDORCET
London, 20 March, 1774.
I am ashamed that my late continued embarras in public affairs should have so long prevented my answering the letter you honored me with, of the 2d of December last.
I transmitted your queries to our society at Philadelphia, where they will be well considered, and full answers will be sent to you. On my return thither, which I am now preparing for, I shall take care, if not done, to urge the doing it as soon as possible.
In the meantime, I can inform you, as to question first, that, though there is in Pennsylvania abundance of limestone and marble, no flint has been found there by the English; yet it is supposed that flint is to be met with in some part of the country, since heads of arrows made of it by the ancient inhabitants are sometimes found in ploughing the fields. Thus, small sea-shells are found intermixed with the substance of rock-stone in some of our highest mountains, and such I think as are not now to be met with on our coasts. Several skeletons, supposed by their tusks to be of elephants, have been found near the Ohio, an account of which may be found in the English Philosophical Transactions.
As to question second, observations, have been made in America of the variation of the needle, and, as well as I can remember, it is found to differ a degree in about twenty years.
As to question third, the height of the barometer, by many years’ observation, is said to vary between 28.59 and 30.78. The conjectures from these changes are still uncertain.
As to question fourth, the negroes, who are free, live among the white people, but are generally improvident and poor. I think they are not deficient in natural understanding, but they have not the advantages of education. They make good musicians.
As to question fifth, I do not know that any marks of volcanoes, any lava, or pumice-stone, have been met with in North America. Pit-coal is found in many places, and very good, but little used, there being plenty of wood.
These answers are very short. I hope to procure you such as shall be more full and satisfactory.
With great respect, I have the honor to be, sir, etc.,
TO JOHN BAPTIST BECCARIA
London, 20 March, 1774.
Reverend and Dear Sir:—
I have received several of your favors lately, relating to the edition of your book in English, which I have put into the hands of the translator, who will observe your directions. The work is now in the press, and goes on pretty fast. I am much obliged by your kind assistance in procuring the impressions from the plates. They are not yet arrived here; but the money, which I find by a note from you to Dr. Priestly amounts to one hundred and forty-three livres of Piedmont, will be paid by the bookseller, Mr. Nourse, in my absence, to any person you may order to receive it.
Mr. Walsh, the same ingenious member of our society who went to France to make experiments on the torpedo, has lately hit on a new discovery in electricity which surprises us a little. You know that finding air, made rarer by the pump or by heat, gave less obstruction to the passage of electricity than when in its denser state, we were apt to think a perfect vacuum would give it no resistance at all. But he, having, by boiling the mercury, made a perfect vacuum in a long bent Torricellian tube, has found that vacuum absolutely to resist the passage of the electric fluid during two or three days, or till some quantity of air, the smallest imaginable, is admitted into it. This, if verified by future experiments, may afford some new light to the doctrine ——1
TO JOSEPH PRIESTLEY1
—— That the vegetable creation should restore the air which is spoiled by the animal part of it, looks like a rational system, and seems to be of a piece with the rest. Thus fire purifies water all the world over. It purifies it in distillation, when it raises it in vapors, and lets it fall in rain; and further still by filtration, when, keeping it fluid, it suffers that rain to percolate the earth. We knew before, that putrid animal substances were converted into sweet vegetables, when mixed with the earth and applied as manure; and now it seems that the same putrid substances, mixed with the air, have a similar effect. The strong, thriving state of your mint in putrid air seems to show that the air is mended by taking something from it, and not by adding to it. I hope this will give some check to the rage of destroying trees that grow near houses, which has accompanied our late improvements in gardening, from an opinion of their being unwholesome. I am certain, from long observation, that there is nothing unhealthy in the air of woods; for we Americans have everywhere our country habitations in the midst of woods, and no people on earth enjoy better health, or are more prolific. ——
TO THOMAS CUSHING
London, 22 March, 1774.
I received your favor of January 23d. I suppose we never had since we were a people so few friends in Britain. The violent destruction of the tea seems to have united all parties here against our province, so that the bill now brought into Parliament for shutting up Boston as a port till satisfaction is made, meets with no opposition. An alteration in our charter relating to the choice of the council is also talked of, but it is not certain that it will be proposed at present. I cannot but hope that the affair of the tea will have been considered in the Assembly before this time, and satisfaction proposed if not made; for such a step will remove much of the prejudice now entertained against us, and put us again on a fair footing in contending for our old privileges as occasion may require. I am not well enough to bustle or to write much, and can only add my best wishes for the prosperity of my country.
With great respect and esteem, I have the honor to be, sir,
Your most obedt. humble servt.,
P. S.—By the inquiries that I hear are made, I suspect there may be a design to seize some persons who are supposed to be ringleaders, and bring them here for trial.
It is talked here that authentic advices are received assuring government that Messrs. Hancock and Adams were seen at the head of the mob that destroyed the tea, openly encouraging them. I oppose this report by alleging the improbability that, when the lower actors thought it prudent to disguise themselves, any of the principal inhabitants should appear in the affair.
TO THOMAS CUSHING
London, 2 April, 1774.
My last was of the 22d past, since which I have received none of your favors. I mentioned that the bill brought into Parliament for punishing Boston met with no opposition. It did, however, meet with a little before it got through, some few of the members speaking against it in the House of Commons, and more in the House of Lords. It passed, however, by a very great majority in both, and received the royal assent on Thursday, the 31st past. You will have a copy of it from Mr. Lee.
In mine of February 2d, I informed you that, after the treatment I had received at the council board, it was not possible for me to act longer as your agent, apprehending I could as such be of no further use to the province. I have nevertheless given what assistance I could, as a private man, by speaking to members of both Houses, and by joining in the petitions of the natives of America now happening to be in London, which were ably drawn by Mr. Lee, to be presented separately to the several branches of the legislature. They serve, though without other effect, to show our sentiments, and that we did not look on and let the act pass without bearing our testimony against it. And, indeed, though called petitions (for under another name they would not have been received) they are rather remonstrances and protests.
By the enclosed extract of a letter from Wakefield in Yorkshire to a friend of mine, you will see that the manufacturers begin to take the alarm. Another general non-importation agreement is apprehended by them, which would complete their ruin. But great pains are taken to quiet them with the idea that Boston must immediately submit, and acknowledge the claims of Parliament, for that none of the other colonies will adhere to them. A number of the principal manufacturers from different parts of the kingdom are now in town, to oppose the new duty on foreign linens, which they fear may provoke the Germans to lay discouragements on British manufactures. They have desired me to meet and dine with them on Wednesday next, where I shall have an opportunity of learning their sentiments more fully, and communicating my own.
Some alterations of the constitution of Massachusetts are now hotly talked of; though what they are to be, seems hardly yet settled. One thing memtioned is the appointment of the council by mandamus. Another, giving power to the governor to appoint magistrates without consent of council. Another, the abolishing of town meetings, or making it unlawful to hold them, till the business to be proposed has been certified to the governor, and his permission obtained. A motion has also been made in the House of Commons, with a view to conciliate, as is said; that all the duty acts should be revised, and, in the revision and re-enacting, without formally or expressly repealing the tea duty (which would hurt the dignity of Parliament), sink or omit it, and add an equal value in some of the coasting port duties; and the tea duty, being thus taken out of the way, it is supposed will have the salutary effect of preventing the other colonies from making a common cause with ours. Some advantages in trade are at the same time to be given to America for the same purpose, such as carrying wine and fruit directly from Spain and Portugal, without touching in England.
I send enclosed the proceedings of the Lords on Wednesday, which show their zeal in the business, by appointing a committee to sit during the recess in the Easter holidays. With great esteem, I am, sir, etc.,
TO JOSEPH PRIESTLEY
10 April, 1774.
In compliance with your request, I have endeavored to recollect the circumstances of the American experiments I formerly mentioned to you, of raising a flame on the surface of some waters there.
When I passed through New Jersey, in 1764, I heard it several times mentioned, that, by applying a lighted candle near the surface of some of their rivers, a sudden flame would catch and spread on the water, continuing to burn for near half a minute. But the accounts I received were so imperfect that I could form no guess at the cause of such an effect, and rather doubted the truth of it. I had no opportunity of seeing the experiment; but, calling to see a friend who happened to be just returning home from making it himself, I learned from him the manner of it; which was to choose a shallow place, where the bottom could be reached by a walking-stick, and was muddy; the mud was first to be stirred with the stick, and, when a number of small bubbles began to arise from it, the candle was applied. The flame was so sudden and so strong that it catched his ruffle and spoiled it, as I saw. New Jersey having many pine trees in many parts of it, I then imagined that something like a volatile oil of turpentine might be mixed with the waters from a pine swamp, but this supposition did not quite satisfy me. I mentioned the fact to some philosophical friends on my return to England, but it was not much attended to. I suppose I was thought a little too credulous.
In 1765, the Reverend Dr. Chandler received a letter from Dr. Finley, president of the college in that province, relating the same experiment. It was read at the Royal Society, November 21st of that year, but not printed in the Transactions; perhaps because it was thought too strange to be true, and some ridicule might be apprehended, if any member should attempt to repeat it, in order to ascertain or refute it. The following is a copy of that account.
“A worthy gentleman, who lives a few miles’ distance, informed me that in a certain small cove of a mill-pond, near his house, he was surprised to see the surface of the water blaze like inflamed spirits. I soon after went to the place, and made the experiment with the same success. The bottom of the creek was mudded, and when stirred up, so as to cause a considerable curl on the surface, and a lighted candle held within two or three inches of it, the whole surface was in a blaze, as instantly as the vapor of warm inflammable spirits, and continued, when strongly agitated, for the space of several seconds. It was at first imagined to be peculiar to that place; but upon trial it was soon found that such a bottom in other places exhibited the same phenomenon. The discovery was accidentally made by one belonging to the mill.”
I have tried the experiment twice here in England, but without success. The first was in a slow running water with a muddy bottom. The second in a stagnant water at the bottom of a deep ditch. Being some time employed in stirring this water, I ascribed an intermitting fever, which seized me a few days after, to my breathing too much of that foul air, which I stirred up from the bottom, and which I could not avoid while I stooped, endeavoring to kindle it. The discoveries you have lately made, of the manner in which inflammable air is in some cases produced, may throw light on this experiment and explain its succeeding in some cases, and not in others.
With the highest esteem and respect, I am, dear sir, your most obedient, humble servant,
TO THOMAS CUSHING
London, 16 April, 1774.
The above are copies of my two last. The torrent is still violent against America. A bill is brought in to alter the charter appointing the council by the crown, giving power to the governors to nominate and commission magistrates without consent of council, and forbidding any town meeting to be held in the province (except the annual one for choosing town officers) without the permission of the governor, and for that business only for which such permission shall be requested. The manner of appointing jurors is likewise to be altered. And another bill is to provide for the security of persons who may be concerned in executing or enforcing acts of Parliaments there, by directing the trials for any thing done by them to be in some neighboring province or in Great Britain at the discretion of the governor. I hope to get the breviates of those bills in time to send by this ship. They will meet with opposition in both Houses; but there is little hope that they will not pass, we having very few friends in Parliament at present. The House will probably sit till some time in June, perhaps longer, and till they hear the effect of these measures in America. I think to stay here as long as they sit, Mr. Lee being about to go abroad for a few months. General Gage has been hastily commissioned and sent away to be your governor. It is given out that copies of several letters of mine to you are sent over here to the ministers, and that their contents are treasonable, for which I should be prosecuted if copies could be made evidence. I am not conscious of any treasonable intention, and I know that much violence must be used with my letters before they can be construed into treason, yet having lately seen two of my actions, one my endeavor to lessen the difference between the two countries, the other to stop a dangerous quarrel between individuals, and which I should have thought and still think to be good actions, condemned as bad ones by high authority, I am not to wonder if less than a small lump in my forehead is voted a horn. And you will not wonder if my future letters contain mere relations of facts, without any of my sentiments upon them, which perhaps I have been too forward in offering. With the greatest respect I have the honor to be, sir,
Your most obedient, humble servant,
TO THOMAS CUSHING
London, 28 April, 1774.
I have written several letters to you lately by different conveyances, and sent you the bills passed and about to be passed relating to our province. I now send the reports of the committee of the Lords, which seems hard upon us, as every thing written by any officer of government is taken for undoubted truth. I can now only add that I am, as ever, with great respect to the House and yourself, sir,
Your most obedient and most humble servant,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
London, 28 April, 1774.
My Dear Love:—
I hoped to have been on the sea in my return by this time; but find I must stay a few weeks longer, perhaps for the summer ships. Thanks to God, I continue well and hearty; and I hope to find you so, when I have the happiness once more of seeing you.
Your goddaughter, Amelia Evans that was (now Mrs. Barry), is gone again with her husband and children to Tunis, where she is to live some time, while her husband, who is captain of a ship, trades in those seas. Enclosed I send the affectionate, sensible letter she wrote to me on taking leave.
My blessing to the children. Mrs. Hewson’s have lately had the small-pox; the eldest in the common way very full, the youngest by inoculation lightly, and both are now well. But Mr. Hewson is down with a terrible fever, and till yesterday his life was despaired of. We now begin to hope his recovery. I shall give you another line by the packet of next week, and am, as ever, dear Debby, your affectionate husband,
TO THOMAS CUSHING
London, 1 June, 1774.
I received your respected favor of March 31st, with another of the same date from the committee. The latest of my letters which had then come to your hands, was of January 7th, since which I have written several, containing a full account of the hearing on the petition, the intended acts against our province, the petition presented by the natives of America at this time residing here, and the appointment of General Gage as governor. And in the course of last month I sent you, by various conveyances, under covers, with only a line or two, copies of the acts themselves, and other public papers and pamphlets. With this I enclose a list of your new council, the Quebec bill, an abstract of the resolutions for laying duties on that province, and some papers containing the two protests of the Lords, and a list of those who have voted against the bills.
Lord Chatham, being ill at the time, could not be present, or he would probably have voted on the same side. He has since appeared in the House, and delivered his sentiments fully on the American measures, blamed us for destroying the tea, and our declarations of independence on the Parliament; but condemned strongly the measures taken here in consequence, and spoke honorably of our province and people, and of their conduct in the late war.1
Mr. Lee has gone to make the tour of France and Italy, and probably will be absent near a year. Just before his departure he drew up, at my instance, a kind of answer to the Lords’ committee’s report, for which I furnished him with most of the materials. I enclose a copy of it. I had resigned your agency to him, expecting to leave England about the end of this month; but on his departure he has returned me all the papers, and I feel myself now under a kind of necessity of continuing, till you can be acquainted with this circumstance, and have time to give further orders.
I shall apply to Lord Dartmouth, agreeably to the directions of the committee, and write to them fully, as soon as I have his Lordship’s answer.
Your friendly concern on my account, lest the project for a subscription post-office in America should prove prejudicial to me, is very obliging; but you must have learnt, before this time, that it was then superfluous, my place having been taken from me on the 31st of January. As the salary I received in that office is now ceased, and I have been lately at near two hundred pounds’ expense on the province’s account in various ways, I am obliged to request that some means may be fallen upon of making me a remittance here; for I have little expectation that the instruction will be recalled on my application. With great esteem, I have the honor to be, sir, etc.,
TO THOMAS CUSHING
London, 30 June, 1774.
I received your favor of April 30th. By the next Boston ship I shall send you all the perfected acts lately passed relating to our province, of which I sent you copies while in the state of bills. Till then I defer any remarks on them. At present, I only send copies of two more letters of Mr. Hutchinson’s. The Chancery suit goes on against me on account of the former. With great respect, I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient humble servant,
TO MR. COOMBE1
London, 22 July, 1774.
I received with great pleasure yours of May 15th, as it informed me of your health and happiness. I thank you for your sermon, which I read with satisfaction. I am glad that of my good bishop pleased you. I enclose a speech of his on the same subject. It is deemed here a masterpiece of eloquence. I send also the last edition of some lines of your friend Goldsmith, with the addition of my friend Whitefoord’s epitaph, whom you may remember. Also the “Heroic Postscript,” the author of which is yet unknown. He may be fond of fame as a poet; but, if he is, his prudence predominates at present, and prevails with him to shun it.
That which you are acquiring, as an orator, gives me pleasure as your friend; and it will give you the most solid satisfaction, if you find that by your eloquence you can turn many to righteousness. Without this effect, the preacher or the priest, in my opinion, is not merely sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal, which are innocent things; he is rather like the cunning man in the Old Bailey, who conjures and tells fools their fortunes to cheat them out of their money.
Mrs. Stevenson and Mrs. Hewson return your compliments, with their best wishes. We have lost Mr. Hewson, and a great loss it was. My respects to your good father. Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me, yours most affectionately,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
London, 22 July, 1774.
My Dear Child:—
I have had no line from you by several late opportunities. I flatter myself it is owing not to indisposition, but to the opinion of my having left England, which indeed I hope soon to do.
I enclose a letter I have just received from your goddaughter, Mrs. Barry. I wrote to you before that she had married the captain of a ship in the Levant trade. She is now again at Tunis, where you will see she has lately lain in of her third child. Her father, you know, was a geographer,1 and his daughter has some connection, I think, with the whole globe; being born herself in America, and having her first child in Asia, her second in Europe, and now her third in Africa.
Mrs. Stevenson presents her best respects. She too is very happy in her two grandsons. Her daughter, our poor Polly, who lately lost her good husband, has become rich by the death of her aunt. I am ever, my dear Debby, your affectionate husband,
TO THOMAS CUSHING
London, 27 July, 1774.
The last line I have been favored with from you is of the 30th of April. I have since written to you several times. I hope our correspondence is not intercepted.
This serves to cover a pamphlet or two just published here,1 of which I shall send you a number, as I think it may be of use in America to see what sentiments are entertained here; and believing they may be of use here, I have been at some expense in promoting the publication. With great respect, I am, etc.,
TO WILLIAM FRANKLIN
London, 7 September, 1774.
I am glad you have met with my friend Barrows. I wish you to cultivate his acquaintance, and that of Mrs. Barrows, who is an amiable woman. I am much obliged to Mr. Panton for his information relating to Mr. Parker’s affairs. Cousin Jonathan Williams is now with me, and engaged in posting and settling my accounts, which will be done before the next packet, when I shall send what concerns Parker.
You mention that my presence is wished for at the Congress, but no person besides in America has given me the least intimation of such a desire, and it is thought by the great friends of the colonies here, that I ought to stay till the result of the Congress arrives, when my presence here may be useful. All depends on the Americans themselves. If they make, and keep firmly, resolutions not to consume British manufactures till their grievances are redressed, this ministry must fall, and the laws be repealed. This is the opinion of all the wise men here.
I hear nothing of the proposal you have made for a congress of governors. I do not wonder so much as you do, that the Massachusetts have not offered payment for the tea. First, because of the uncertainty of the act, which gives them no security that the port shall be opened on their making that payment. Secondly, no precise sum is demanded. Thirdly, no one knows what will satisfy the custom-house officers, nor who the others are that must be satisfied, nor what will satisfy them. And fourthly, they are in the king’s power, after all, as to how much of the port shall be opened. As to “doing justice before they ask it,” that should have been thought of by the legislature here before they demanded it of the Bostonians. They have extorted many thousand pounds from America unconstitutionally, under color of acts of Parliament, and with an armed force. Of this money they ought to make restitution. They might first have taken out payment for the tea, and returned the rest. But you, who are a thorough courtier, see every thing with government eyes.
I am sorry for the loss of Sir William Johnson, especially at this time of danger from an Indian war.1 I see by the papers that you were with him at the time. A Spanish war is now seriously apprehended, and the stocks of course are falling. The August packet is hourly expected, when I hope to hear of your safe return and health.
Your affectionate father,
TO PETER TIMOTHY, CHARLESTON, S. C.
London, 7 September, 1774.
I received your favor of May 26th, and am much obliged by your kind invitation to your house, which I should certainly accept with pleasure if I should ever go to Carolina.
You wish me to correspond with you on public affairs. Those relating to America have been, and still continue, in so disagreeable a situation that I cannot write to you upon them with pleasure. Much depends on yourselves. If at the intended Congress your deputies are nearly unanimous in declaring your rights, and in resolving firmly against all importations from hence till those rights are acknowledged here, you cannot well fail of carrying your point. This ministry must go out, and give place to men of juster and more generous principles. If you divide, you are lost.
I believe I shall stay here another winter, and shall be glad to hear of the welfare of you and yours. My love and blessing to my little namesake. If you send me any of your papers by the packet, I shall receive them free of expense; for, though I now pay for my letters, they do not charge me for newspapers.
I am ever, dear sir, etc.,
FROM SAMUEL COOPER
Boston, 9 September, 1774.
My last was on the 15th of August, in which I gave you some account of the state of our affairs. About twenty of the council appointed by the king took the oath; since which, one half, not being able to stand the public odium, have resigned. All who now hold the commissions, not living in Boston, have retired here, under the protection of the army. Our superior court of justice met here, with the chief-justice at their head; but the juries, to a man, refused to serve. The courts through the province are at an end. Sheriffs, justices, and clerks have either made their peace with the people, by solemnly promising not to act upon the new laws, or have fled to this poor proscribed town as an asylum. The lieutenant-governor, who was obliged to resign his commission as counsellor, at his house in Cambridge, being surrounded with four thousand people; and his neighbors, Sewall, the attorney-general, sheriff Phips, and Borland, live in Boston. Town meetings are held all over the provinces; even at Salem and in Danvers, while General Gage resided there with a regiment and two additional companies. He, indeed, ordered a warrant to be made out against the committee of correspondence in Salem, who called the meeting. Two gave bonds for their appearance, three refused and were let alone. The justice, I am told, who issued the warrant has since acknowledged his error, and asked pardon of the people.
These things have been effected chiefly by county meetings, composed from delegates of the several towns. A provincial congress of delegates from all the counties is soon to be held at Concord. The people say their all is at stake; they act only on the defensive; should they allow the new regulations to take place, property and life are at the mercy of men incensed against them, and they should soon be incapable of making any opposition, even a commercial one. The people assembled at Cambridge were landholders, led by captains of the towns, representatives, and committeemen. The selectmen and committee of correspondence for this town went from hence to confer with them, and prevent things from coming to extremities; for a rumor had been propagated that the whole country, incensed at the governor’s taking the provincial powder by a party of soldiers from Charlestown, and inflamed by false reports, were coming to Boston to demand the restitution of the powder, in the face of the army. Happily this did not prove true; and, if there were any misapprehensions in the body, they were removed by the representations of the gentlemen from Boston, who observed to them that the governor had a right to dispose of the provincial military stores, though not those that belonged to the towns, which he had not as yet touched.
This movement of the governor occasioned, however, an extensive alarm. Reports flew through the country that he was disarming the inhabitants of Boston, and seizing all the ammunition through the province; and that the fleet and army had attacked the town. These false reports being credited for awhile, many thousands of people, especially in the western parts of the province, were immediately in arms, and in full march for this place, to relieve their brethren or share their fate. Thousands were in motion from Connecticut; for the New England provinces are one in sentiment and spirit upon these matters; but, being informed of facts, they quietly returned home, sending their messengers from all quarters, signifying their determination to act unitedly upon any warrantable occasion.
I forgot to mention that Commissioner Hallowell passed through Cambridge while the body was there. He had gone by some time when it was stated by somebody that it might be proper to have a conference with him. A number of men on horseback instantly set out to bring him back, but were stopped immediately by some gentlemen from Boston, and dissuaded from their purpose. A single horseman of his own head went on, and, coming up to him in a chaise with a companion and a servant on horseback, told him he must stop and go back. Hallowell snapped his pistol twice at him, got upon his servant’s horse, rode with the utmost speed to town, followed by the horseman, till he came within call of the guard at the entrance of the town.
An apprehension was soon spread through the camp that the country was coming in against them in armed multitudes. The guards were doubled, cannon were placed on the Neck, and the army lay on their arms through the night. The entrance into this town is now fortifying by the soldiery. The selectmen have remonstrated to the governor that, if he goes on, the inhabitants are so uneasy they must abandon the town; which they declare they had rather do, and see it in flames, than be totally enslaved in it. Transports are despatched to New York and Quebec for more troops, though we have already five regiments, with a large train; one more at the castle, and another coming from Salem. At that place about thirty chests of tea lately arrived from London, which the inhabitants will not permit to be landed. What, my dear sir, will be the end of these things? The country seems determined to run all hazards in defence of their rights.
I send this by Mr. Quincy, a gentleman bred to the law, highly esteemed for his parts and learning, a warm friend to the rights of America. He has published a pamphlet on the Port Bill, and been encouraged by some of the most respectable gentlemen among us to make a visit to England, as he is capable of giving the best account of our affairs. To him I must refer you for further particulars. I have written facts to the best of my knowledge, and, leaving you to reason or conjecture from them, I am, etc.,
TO THOMAS CUSHING
London, 15 September, 1774.
I received last week only your favor of June 27th, and I have received no other from you since that of April 30th. You complain of hearing seldom from me, and yet I have written oftener this year than ever before. I apprehend our letters are intercepted. I hope you have received mine of June 1st, for in that you will find the dates of many of the letters I had written before that time; and I wish that for the future you would be so good as to mention the dates of those you receive, as I shall always do for your satisfaction of those I receive from you.
I rejoice to find that the whole continent have so justly, wisely, and unanimously taken up our cause as their own. This is an unexpected blow to the ministry, who relied on our being neglected by every other colony; this they depended on as another circumstance that must force our immediate submission, of which they were likewise perfectly sure. They are now a little disconcerted, but I hear yet from that quarter no talk of retreating or changing of measures. The language of those about the court rather is that the king must now go on, whatever may be the consequence. On the other hand, our friends are increasing and endeavoring to unite. I have been taking pains among them, to show the mischief that must arise to the whole from a dismembering of the empire, which all the measures of the present mad administration have a tendency to accomplish, and which can only be prevented by such a union of the friends of liberty in both Houses as will compel a change of that administration and those measures. I must not now relate to you with whom I have conferred, nor the conversation I have had on this subject, lest my letter fall into wrong hands; but I may say I have reason to think a strong push will be made at the very beginning of the session to have all the late acts reversed, and a solemn assurance given America that no future attempts shall be made to tax us without our consent. Much depends on the proceedings of the Congress. All sides are inquiring when an account of them may be expected. And I am advised by no means to leave England till they arrive. Their unanimity and firmness will have great weight here, and probably unhorse the present wild riders.
I enclose a copy of mine mentioned above. Since that date I have written several short letters to you, including the Bishop of St. Asaph’s speech (which is admired here as a masterpiece of eloquence and wisdom), an address to Protestant Dissenters, and sundry other pieces and papers that I have been instrumental in writing, printing, or publishing here. It would encourage me, if you could find time to acknowledge the receipt of such things, and let me know how they were approved. Nothing material has passed here in public affairs since the rising of Parliament. Great preparations are now making for the election of a new one; and a war with Spain is apprehended, but will be avoided if possible.
I am, sir, with great esteem and respect, your most obedient, humble servant,
P. S.—The bishop’s speech has had four editions, the last of 5,000 in number.
TO MRS. JANE MECOM
London, 26 September, 1774.
I hope you continue in health, as I do, thanks to God. But I wish to know how you fare in the present distress of our dear country. I am apprehensive, that the letters between us, though very innocent ones, are intercepted. They might restore to me yours at least, after reading them; especially as I never complain of broken, patched-up seals (of late very common), because I know not on whom to fix the fact.
I see in a Boston paper of August 18th, an article expressing, “that it is generally believed Dr. Franklin has received a promise of being restored to the royal favor, and promoted to an office superior to that which he resigned.” I have made no public answer to any of the abuses I have received in any of the papers here, nor shall I to this. But as I am anxious to preserve your good opinion, and as I know your sentiments, and that you must be much afflicted yourself, and even despise me, if you thought me capable of accepting any office from this government, while it is acting with so much hostility towards my native country, I cannot miss this first opportunity of assuring you, that there is not the least foundation for such a report; that, so far from having any promise of royal favor, I hear of nothing but royal and ministerial displeasure; which, indeed, as things at present stand, I consider as an honor. I have seen no minister since January, nor had the least communication with them. The generous and noble friends of America in both Houses do indeed favor me with their notice and regard; but they are in disgrace at court, as well as myself. Be satisfied, that I shall do nothing to lessen me in your esteem, or my own. I shall not, by the least concurrence with the present measures, merit any court favor, nor accept of any, if it were offered me, which, however, is not at all likely to happen.
As those here who most interest themselves in behalf of America conceive that my being present at the arrival of the proceedings of the Congress and the meeting of Parliament may be of use, I submit to their judgment, and think it now likely that I shall not return till spring. I am ever, etc.
TO THOMAS CUSHING
London, 27 September, 1774.
I wrote to you lately by the Boston packet, Capt. Shepherd, and by several preceding conveyances. I should be glad to hear from you what letters of mine came to your hands, as I suspect they are often intercepted.
The ministers have for some time been out of town, as well as those of both Houses who are friends of America. But the latter have frequent communications, for the purpose of dropping their private misunderstandings, and uniting in the public cause, which at present needs all their joint assistance, since a breach with America, hazarded by the late harsh measures, may be ruinous to the general welfare of the British empire. In forwarding this good work among them, as far as my little endeavors may amount to, I have been for some time industriously engaged. I see some letters in your newspapers, said to be written from hence, which represent Lord Chatham as having deserted your cause. I can of my own certain knowledge assure you of the contrary, and that his sentiments are such as you could wish. It was thought the Parliament would meet in November; but the talk now is, that it will be further prorogued till January, that government may be in full possession of the proceedings of the Congress, and the views of the Americans. With great respect, I am, sir, your most obedient humble servant,
TO RICHARD BACHE
London, 30 September, 1774.
The bearer, Mr. Thomas Paine, is very well recommended to me, as an ingenious, worthy young man. He goes to Pennsylvania with a view of settling there. I request you to give him your best advice and countenance, as he is quite a stranger there. If you can put him in a way of obtaining employment as a clerk, or assistant tutor in a school, or assistant surveyor (of all which I think him very capable), so that he may procure subsistence at least, till he can make acquaintance and obtain a knowledge of the country, you will do well, and much oblige your affectionate father. My love to Sally and the boys.1
TO JOSEPH GALLOWAY
London, 12 October, 1774.
I wrote to you on the 1st instant by Captain Cook, acquainting you with the disposition of Parliament, since which the elections are going on briskly everywhere for a new one. The electors of London, Westminster, the borough of Southwark and the county of Middlesex, have obliged their candidates to sign a written engagement, that they will endeavor to obtain a repeal of the late oppressive and unconstitutional American laws, and promote a reconciliation between the two countries. Their example will be followed in some other places, and it is thought would have been pretty general in the trading and manufacturing towns, if the suddenness of the dissolution had not hurried things too much.
It being objected to one of the candidates set up for Westminster, Lord Percy, that he is absent on the wicked business of cutting the throats of our American brethren, his friends have thought necessary this morning to publish a letter of his, expressing that he is on good terms with the people of Boston, and much respected by them. These circumstances show that the American cause begins to be more popular here. Yet the court talk boldly of persisting in their measures, and three ships of the line are fitting out for America, which are to be over-manned, to have a double number of marines, and several armed tenders. It is rumored they are to stop all the ports of America.
Many think the new Parliament will be for reversing the late proceedings; but that depends on the court, on which every Parliament seems to be dependent; so much so, that I begin to think the Parliament here of little use to the people; for since a parliament is always to do as a ministry would have it, why should we not be governed by the ministry in the first instance? They could afford to govern us much cheaper, the Parliament being a very expensive machine, that requires a great deal of oiling and greasing at the people’s charge; for they finally pay all the enormous salaries of places, the pensions, and the bribes, now by custom become necessary to induce the members to vote according to their consciences.
My situation here is thought by many to be a little hazardous; for if, by some accident, the troops and people of New England should come to blows, I should probably be taken up; the ministerial people affecting everywhere to represent me as the cause of all the misunderstanding; and I have been frequently cautioned to secure my papers, and by some advised to withdraw. But I venture to stay, in compliance with the wish of others, till the result of the Congress arrives, since they suppose my being here might on that occasion be of use; and I confide on my innocence, that the worst which can happen to me will be an imprisonment upon suspicion, though that is a thing I should much desire to avoid, as it may be expensive and vexatious, as well as dangerous to my health. With great respect and esteem, I am ever, dear sir, etc.,
A PARABLE ON PERSECUTION
1. And it came to pass after these things, that Abraham sat in the door of his tent, about the going down of the sun.
2. And behold a man, bowed with age, came from the way of the wilderness, leaning on a staff.
3. And Abraham arose and met him, and said unto him: “Turn in, I pray thee, and wash thy feet, and tarry all night, and thou shalt arise early on the morrow, and go on thy way.”
4. But the man said: “Nay, for I will abide under this tree.”
5. And Abraham pressed him greatly; so he turned and they went into the tent, and Abraham baked unleavened bread, and they did eat.
6. And when Abraham saw that the man blessed not God, he said unto him: “Wherefore dost thou not worship the most high God, Creator of heaven and earth?”
7. And the man answered and said: “I do not worship the God thou speakest of, neither do I call upon his name; for I have made to myself a god, which abideth alway in mine house, and provideth me with all things.”
8. And Abraham’s zeal was kindled against the man, and he arose and fell upon him, and drove him forth with blows into the wilderness.
9. And at midnight God called unto Abraham, saying: “Abraham, where is the stranger?”
10. And Abraham answered and said: “Lord, he would not worship thee, neither would he call upon thy name; therefore have I driven him out from before my face into the wilderness.”
11. And God said: “Have I borne with him these hundred and ninety and eight years, and nourished him, and clothed him, notwithstanding his rebellion against me; and couldst not thou, that art thyself a sinner, bear with him one night?”
12. And Abraham said: “Let not the anger of the Lord wax hot against his servant; lo, I have sinned; lo, I have sinned; forgive me, I pray thee.”
13. And Abraham arose, and went forth into the wilderness, and sought diligently for the man, and found him, and returned with him to the tent; and when he had entreated him kindly, he sent him away on the morrow with gifts.
14. And God spake again unto Abraham, saying: “For this thy sin shall thy seed be afflicted four hundred years in a strange land.
15. “But for thy repentance will I deliver them; and they shall come forth with power, and with gladness of heart, and with much substance.”
In the year 1774 Lord Kames, in the second volume of his Sketches of the History of Man, introduced the substance of the foregoing parable with these words: “The following parable against persecution was communicated to me by Dr. Franklin of Philadelphia, a man who makes a great figure in the learned world, and who would still make a greater figure for benevolence and candor, were virtue as much regarded in this declining age as knowledge.”1
From the manner in which it was here presented to the public, it was naturally inferred and taken for granted that Franklin was its author. Some surprise, therefore, was manifested when it was discovered not long after that a parable of substantially the same import was found in Jeremy Taylor’s Liberty of Prophesying, published in 1657, and which he professed to have found “in the Jews’ books.” Curiosity was now provoked to find whence or from what Jews’ books the parable was taken. At length it was discovered in the Latin dedication to the Senate of Hamburg of a rabbinical work entitled The Rod of Judah. The translator, Genz, gives the story substantially as it is given by Jeremy Taylor. The only important difference is the answer made to Abraham, which in Genz’s preface reads as follows: “I am a fire-worshipper, and ignorant of manners of this kind, for our ancestors have taught us no such observance.” Perceiving with horror from his speech that he had to do with a profane fire-worshipper, and a person alien to the worship of his God, Abraham drove him from his table and his abode, as one whose intercourse was contagious, and as a foe to his religion.2
Genz attributed the authorship of the parable to the nobilisimus Autor Sadus. Following up this trail, the parable was traced to the Bostan, or Flower Garden, of the celebrated Persian poet Saadi. An English translation of it from this ancient poem was published in the Asiatic Miscellany, at Calcutta, in 1789, and is quoted from that work by Bishop Heber in his Life of Jeremy Taylor.1 Saadi also gives the parable as “something that he had heard once,” and not an invention of his own. But here the trail is lost. Whence Saadi derived it is a matter of pure speculation. In his Gulistan there is an allusion to an incident in his life which may throw some light upon the remoter history of the parable. The poet says that while he was a prisoner to the Crusaders, he was set to work “with some Jews” on the trenches before Tripoli. This being a period of high culture among the Jews of Western Asia, it is not unlikely that among the prisoners of that race that fell into the hands of the Christians, some of them may have been men of refinement and learning, like Saadi himself, and may have imparted this parable to him, either as of their own invention or as a tradition. So far as we know, like “Topsy,” it had no parents—it grew.
When the parable was found among the writings of Jeremy Taylor, Franklin, who was then residing in England, was charged with plagiarism. To this the succeeding number of the Repository, in which the charge had appeared, contained a reply from Franklin’s fast and most respected friend, Benjamin Vaughan, disclaiming any pretension on Franklin’s part to have been the author of the parable in question. He said: “This great man, who at the same time that he was desirous of disseminating an amiable sentiment, was an extreme lover of pleasantry, often endeavored to put off the parable in question upon his acquaintance as a portion of Scripture, and probably thought this one of the most successful modes of circulating its moral. This object would certainly have been defeated, had he prefixed to the printed copies of the parable, which he was fond of dispersing, an intimation of its author. He therefore gave no name whatever to it, much less his own. And often as I have heard of his amusing himself on this occasion, I never could learn that he ascribed to himself the merit of the invention. His good humor constantly led him into a train of amusing stories concerning the persons who had mistaken it for Scripture (for he had bound it up as a leaf in his Bible, the better to impose upon them), which, perhaps, made the point of authorship be forgotten.”
In a letter to Vaughan, dated November 2, 1789, Franklin says that he never published it, “nor claimed any other credit from it, than what related to the style and the addition of the concluding threatening and promise.”
Whoever was the original author of this parable, it is very clear that it was Franklin that put the royal image and superscription upon it that gave it its currency throughout the world.—Editor.
A PARABLE ON BROTHERLY LOVE
1. In those days there was no worker of iron in all the land. And the merchants of Midian passed by with their camels, bearing spices, and myrrh, and balm, and wares of iron.
2. And Reuben bought an axe of the Ishmaelite merchants, which he prized highly, for there was none in his father’s house.
3. And Simeon said unto Reuben his brother, “Lend me, I pray thee, thine axe.” But he refused, and would not.
4. And Levi also said unto him: “My brother, lend me, I pray thee, thine axe”; and he refused him also.
5. Then came Judah unto Reuben, and entreated him, saying: “Lo, thou lovest me, and I have always loved thee; do not refuse me the use of thine axe.”
6. But Reuben turned from him, and refused him likewise.
7. Now it came to pass, that Reuben hewed timber on the bank of the river, and his axe fell therein, and he could by no means find it.
8. But Simeon, Levi, and Judah had sent a messenger after the Ishmaelites, with money, and had bought for themselves each an axe.
9. Then came Reuben unto Simeon, and said: “Lo I have lost mine axe, and my work is unfinished; lend me thine, I pray thee.”
10. And Simeon answered him, saying: “Thou wouldest not lend me thine axe, therefore will I not lend thee mine.”
11. Then went he unto Levi, and said unto him: “My brother, thou knowest my loss and my necessity; lend me, I pray thee, thine axe.”
12. And Levi reproached him, saying: “Thou wouldest not lend me thine axe when I desired it, but I will be better than thou, and will lend thee mine.”
13. And Reuben was grieved at the rebuke of Levi, and being ashamed, turned from him, and took not the axe, but sought his brother Judah.
14. And as he drew near, Judah beheld his countenance as it were covered with grief and shame; and he prevented him, saying: “My brother, I know thy loss; but why should it trouble thee? Lo, have I not an axe that will serve both thee and me? Take it, I pray thee, and use it as thine own.”
15. And Reuben fell on his neck, and kissed him, with tears, saying: “Thy kindness is great, but thy goodness in forgiving me is greater. Thou art indeed my brother, and whilst I live, will I surely love thee.”
16. And Judah said: “Let us also love our other brethren; behold, are we not all of one blood?”
17. And Joseph saw these things, and reported them to his father Jacob.
18. And Jacob said: “Reuben did wrong, but he repented. Simeon also did wrong; and Levi was not altogether blameless.
19. “But the heart of Judah is princely. Judah hath the soul of a king. His father’s children shall bow down before him, and he shall rule over his brethren.”
AN ACCOUNT OF THE TRANSACTIONS RELATING TO GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S LETTERS
Having been from my youth more or less engaged in public affairs, it has often happened to me in the course of my life to be censured sharply for the part I took in them. Such censures I have generally passed over in silence, conceiving, when they were just, that I ought rather to amend than defend; and, when they were undeserved, that a little time would justify me. Much experience has confirmed my opinion of the propriety of this conduct; for, notwithstanding the frequent, and sometimes the virulent attacks which the jostlings of party interests have drawn upon me, I have had the felicity of bringing down to a good old age as fair a reputation (may I be permitted to say it?) as most public men that I have known, and have never had reason to repent my neglecting to defend it.
I should therefore (persisting, as old men ought to do, in old habits) have taken no notice of the late invective of the solicitor-general, nor of the abundant abuse in the papers, were I not urged to it by my friends, who say, that the first, being delivered by a public officer of government before a high and most respectable court, the Privy Council, and countenanced by its report, and the latter having that for its foundation, it behooves me, more especially as I am about leaving this country, to furnish them with the knowledge of such facts as may enable them to justify to others their good opinion of me. This compels me to the present undertaking; for otherwise, having for some time past been gradually losing all public connections, declining my agencies, determined on retiring to my little family, that I might enjoy the remainder of life in private repose, indifferent to the opinion of courtiers, as having nothing to seek or wish among them, and being secure that time would soon lay the dust which prejudice and party have so lately raised, I should not think of giving myself the trouble of writing, and my friends of reading, an apology for my political conduct.
That this conduct may be better understood, and its consistency more apparent, it seems necessary that I should first explain the principles on which I have acted. It has long appeared to me that the only true British policy was that which aimed at the good of the whole British empire, not that which sought the advantage of one part in the disadvantage of the others; therefore all measures of procuring gain to the mother country arising from loss to her colonies, and all of gain to the colonies arising from or occasioning loss to Britain, especially where the gain was small and the loss great, every abridgment of the power of the mother country, where that power was not prejudicial to the liberties of the colonists, and every diminution of the privileges of the colonists, where they were not prejudicial to the welfare of the mother country, I, in my own mind, condemned as improper, partial, unjust, and mischievous, tending to create dissensions, and weaken that union on which the strength, solidity, and duration of the empire greatly depended; and I opposed, as far as my little powers went, all proceedings, either here or in America, that in my opinion had such tendency. Hence it has often happened to me that while I have been thought here too much of an American, I have in America been deemed too much of an Englishman.
From a thorough inquiry (on occasion of the Stamp Act) into the nature of the connection between Britain and the colonies, I became convinced that the bond of their union is not the Parliament, but the king. That, in removing to America, a country out of the realm, they did not carry with them the statutes then existing; for, if they did, the Puritans must have been subject there to the same grievous act of conformity, tithes, spiritual courts, etc., which they meant to be free from by going thither; and in vain would they have left their native country, and all the conveniences and comforts of its improved state, to combat the hardships of a new settlement in a distant wilderness, if they had taken with them what they meant to fly from, or if they had left a power behind them, capable of sending the same chains after them to bind them in America. They took with them, however, by compact, their allegiance to the king, and a legislative power for the making a new body of laws with his assent, by which they were to be governed. Hence they became distinct states, under the same prince, united as Ireland is to the crown, but not to the realm of England, and governed each by its own laws, though with the same sovereign, and having each the right of granting its own money to that sovereign.
At the same time I considered the king’s supreme authority over all the colonies as of the greatest importance to them, affording a dernier ressort for settling all their disputes, a means of preserving peace among them with each other, and a centre in which their common force might be united against a common enemy. This authority I therefore thought, when acting within its due limits, should be ever as carefully supported by the colonists as by the inhabitants of Britain.
In conformity with these principles, and as agent for the colonies, I opposed the Stamp Act, and endeavored to obtain its repeal, as an infringement of the rights of the colonists, of no real advantage to Britain, since she might ever be sure of greater aids from our voluntary grants than she could expect from arbitrary taxes, as by losing our respect and affection, on which much of her commerce with us depended, she would lose more in that commerce than she could possibly gain by such taxes, and as it was detrimental to the harmony which had till then so happily subsisted, and which was so essential to the welfare of the whole. And to keep up, as much as in me lay, a reverence for the king and a respect for the British nation on that side the water, and, on this, some regard for the colonies (both tending to promote that harmony), I industriously, on all occasions, in my letters to America, represented the measures that were grievous to them as being neither royal nor national measures, but the schemes of an administration, which wished to recommend itself for its ingenuity in finance, or to avail itself of new revenues in creating, by places and pensions, new dependencies; for that the king was a good and gracious prince, and the people of Britain their real friends. And on this side the water, I represented the people of America as fond of Britain, concerned for its interest and its glory, and without the least desire of a separation from it. In both cases I thought, and still think, I did not exceed the bounds of truth, and I have the heartfelt satisfaction attending good intentions, even when they are not successful.
With these sentiments I could not but see with concern the sending of troops to Boston; and their behavior to the people there gave me infinite uneasiness, as I apprehended from that measure the worst of consequences, a breach between the two countries. And I was the more concerned when I found that it was considered there as a national measure (since none here opposed it), and as a proof that Britain had no longer a paternal regard for them. I myself in conversation sometimes spoke of it in this light, and I own with some resentment (being myself a native of that country), till I was, to my great surprise, assured by a gentleman of character and distinction (whom I am not at present permitted to name), that not only the measure I particularly censured so warmly, but all the other grievances we complained of, took their rise, not from the government here, but were projected, proposed to administration, solicited, and obtained, by some of the most respectable among the Americans themselves, as necessary measures for the welfare of that country. As I could not readily assent to the probability of this, he undertook to convince me, and he hoped, through me (as their agent here), my countrymen. Accordingly, he called on me some days after, and produced to me these very letters from Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson, Secretary Oliver, and others, which have since been the subject of so much discussion.
Though astonished, I could not but confess myself convinced, and I was ready, as he desired, to convince my countrymen; for I saw, I felt indeed by its effect upon myself, the tendency it must have toward a reconciliation, which for the common good I earnestly wished. It appeared, moreover, my duty to give my constituents intelligence of such importance to their affairs; but there was some difficulty, as this gentleman would not permit copies to be taken of the letters; and, if that could have been done, the authenticity of those copies might have been doubted and disputed. My simple account of them, as papers I had seen, would have been still less certain. I therefore wished to have the use of the originals for that purpose, which I at length obtained, on these express conditions: that they should not be printed; that no copies should be taken of them; that they should be shown only to a few of the leading people of the government; and that they should be carefully returned.
I accepted those conditions, and under the same transmitted the original letters to the Committee of Correspondence at Boston, without taking or reserving any copy of them for myself. I agreed the more willingly to the restraint, from an apprehension that a publication might, considering the state of irritation in which the minds of the people there had long been kept, occasion some riot of mischievous consequence. I had no other scruple in sending them, for, as they had been handed about here to injure that people, why not use them for their advantage? The writers, too, had taken the same liberty with the letters of others, transmitting hither those of Rosne and Auchmuty in confirmation of their own calumnies against the Americans; copies of some of mine, too, had been returned here by officers of government. Why, then, should theirs be exempt from the same treatment? To whom they had been directed here I could only conjecture; for I was not informed, and there was no address upon them when I received them. My letter, in which I enclosed them, expressed more fully the motives above mentioned for sending them, and I shall presently give an extract of so much of it as related to them.
But as it has, on the contrary, been roundly asserted that I did not, as agent, transmit those letters to the Assembly’s Committee of Correspondence; that I sent them to a junto, my peculiar correspondents; that, fearing to be known as the person who sent them, I had insisted on the keeping that circumstance a secret; that I had “shown the utmost solicitude to have that secret kept”; and as this has been urged as a demonstrative proof that I was conscious of guilt in the manner of obtaining them, and therefore feared a discovery so much as to have been afraid of putting my name to the letter in which I enclosed them, and which only appeared to be mine by my well-known handwriting, I would here, previous to that extract, observe, that on the same paper was first written the copy of a preceding letter, which had been first signed by me as usual; and accordingly, the letter now in question began with these words, “The above is a copy of my last”; and all the first part of it was on business transacted by me relating to the affairs of the province, and particularly to two petitions sent to me as agent by the Assembly, to be presented to the king. These circumstances must to every person there have as clearly shown me to be the writer of that letter, as my well-known hand must have done to those peculiar correspondents of my own, to whom it is said I sent it. If then I hoped to be concealed by not signing my name to such a letter, I must have been as silly as that bird, which is supposed to think itself unseen when it has hid only its head. And if I could depend on my correspondents keeping secret a letter and a transaction which they must needs know were mine, I might as well have trusted them with my name, and could have had no motive for omitting it. In truth, all I insisted on was (in pursuance of my engagement), that the letters should not be printed or copied; but I had not at the time the least thought or desire of keeping my part in that transaction a secret; and, therefore, so far from requesting it, I did not so much as give the smallest intimation even that it would be agreeable to me not to be mentioned on the occasion. And if I had had that inclination, I must have been very weak indeed to fancy that the person I wrote to, all the rest of the Committee of Correspondence, five other persons named, and “such others as the committee might think fit to show them to,” with three gentlemen here to whom I had communicated the matter, should all keep as a secret on my account what I did not state as a secret, or request should be concealed.
So much of the letters as relates to the governor’s letters is as follows.
“On this occasion I think it fit to acquaint you, that there has lately fallen into my hands part of a correspondence that I have reason to believe laid the foundation of most, if not all our present grievances. I am not at liberty to tell through what channel I received it; and I have engaged that it shall not be printed, nor copies taken of the whole, or any part of it; but I am allowed to let it be seen by some men of worth in the province, for their satisfaction only. In confidence of your preserving inviolably my engagement, I send you enclosed the original letters, to obviate every pretence of unfairness in copying, interpolation, or omission. The hands of the gentlemen will be well known. Possibly they may not like such an exposal of their conduct, however tenderly and privately it may be managed. But, if they are good men, or pretend to be such, and agree that all good men wish a good understanding and harmony to subsist between the colonies and their mother country, they ought the less to regret that, at the small expense of their reputation for sincerity and public spirit among their compatriots, so desirable an event may in some degree be forwarded. For my own part, I cannot but acknowledge that my resentment against this country, for its arbitrary measures in governing us, conducted by the late minister, has, since my conviction by these papers that those measures were projected, advised, and called for by men of character among ourselves, and whose advice must therefore be attended with all the weight that was proper to mislead, and which could therefore scarce fail of misleading; my own resentment, I say, has by this means been exceedingly abated. I think they must have the same effect with you; but I am not, as I have said, at liberty to make the letters public. I can only allow them to be seen by yourself, by the other gentlemen of the Committee of Correspondence, by Messrs. Bowdoin and Pitts of the Council, and Drs. Chauncey, Cooper, and Winthrop, with a few such other gentlemen as you may think fit to show them to. After being some months in your possession, you are requested to return them to me.
As to the writers, I can easily as well as charitably conceive it possible, that men educated in prepossessions of the unbounded authority of Parliament, etc., may think unjustifiable every opposition, even to its unconstitutional exactions, and imagine it their duty to suppress, as much as in them lies, such opposition. But, when I find them bartering away the liberties of their native country for posts, and negotiating for salaries and pensions extorted from the people; and, conscious of the odium these might be attended with, calling for troops to protect and secure the enjoyment of them; when I see them exciting jealousies in the crown, and provoking it to work against so great a part of its most faithful subjects; creating enmities between the different countries of which the empire consists; occasioning a great expense to the old country for suppressing or preventing imaginary rebellions in the new, and to the new country for the payment of needless gratifications to useless officers and enemies, I cannot but doubt their sincerity even in the political principle they profess, and deem them mere time-servers, seeking their own private emolument, through any quantity of public mischief; betrayers of the interest, not of their native country only, but of the government they pretend to serve, and of the whole English empire.
With the greatest esteem and respect, I have the honor to be, sir, your and the committee’s most obedient humble servant,
My next letter is of January 5, 1773, to the same gentleman,1 beginning with these words. “I did myself the honor of writing to you on the 2d of December past, enclosing some original letters from persons at Boston, which I hope got safe to hand”; and then it goes on with other business transacted by me as agent, and is signed with my name as usual. In truth I never sent an anonymous letter to any person in America, since my residence in London, unless where two or more letters happened to be on the same paper, the first a copy of a preceding letter, and the subsequent referring to the preceding; in that case, I may possibly have omitted signing more than one of them, as unnecessary.
The first letter acknowledging the receipt of the papers, is dated “Boston, March 24, 1773,” and begins thus: “I have just received your favor of the 2d December last, with the several papers enclosed, for which I am much obliged to you. I have communicated them to some of the gentlemen you mentioned. They are of opinion that, though it might be inconvenient to publish them, yet it might be expedient to have copies taken and left on this side the water, as there may be a necessity to make some use of them hereafter; however, I read to them what you wrote to me upon the occasion, and told them I could by no means consent copies of them or any part of them should be taken without your express leave; that I would write to you upon the subject, and strictly conform to your directions.”
The next letter, dated April 20, 1773, begins thus: “I wrote you in my last, that the gentlemen to whom I had communicated the papers you sent me under cover of yours of the 2d of December last were of opinion that they ought to be retained on this side the water, to be hereafter employed as the exigency of our affairs may require, or at least that authenticated copies ought to be taken before they are returned. I shall have, I find, a very difficult task properly to conduct this matter, unless you obtain leave for their being retained or copied. I shall wait your directions on this head, and hope they will be such as will be agreeable to all the gentlemen, who unanimously are of opinion that it can by no means answer any valuable purpose to send them here for the inspection of a few persons, barely to satisfy their curiosity.”
On the 9th of March, I wrote to the same person, not having then received the preceding letters, and mentioned my having written to him on the 2d of December and 5th of January; and, knowing what use was made against the people there, of every trifling mob, and fearing lest, if the letters should, contrary to my directions, be made public, something more serious of the kind might happen, I concluded that letter thus: “I must hope that great care will be taken to keep our people quiet, since nothing is more wished for by our enemies, than that by insurrections we should give a good pretence for increasing the military among us, and putting us under more severe restraints. And it must be evident to all, that by our rapidly increasing strength we shall soon become of so much importance, that none of our just claims and privileges will be, as heretofore, unattended to, nor any security we can wish for our rights be denied us.”
Mine of May 6th begins thus: “I have received none of your favors, since that of November 28th. I have since written to you of the following dates, December 2d, January 5th, March 9th, and April 3d, which I hope got safe to hand.” Thus in two out of three letters, subsequent to that of December 2d, which enclosed the governor’s letters, I mentioned my writing that letter, which showed I could have no intention of concealing my having written it; and that therefore the assertion of my sending it anonymously is without probability.
In mine of June 2, 1773, I acknowledge the receipt of his letter of March 24th, and, not being able to answer immediately his request of leave to copy the letters, I said nothing of them then, postponing that subject to an opportunity which was expected two days after, viz., June 4th, when my letter of that date concludes thus: “As to the letters I communicated to you, though I have not been able to obtain leave to take copies or publish them, I have permission to let the originals remain with you, as long as you may think it of any use to have the originals in possession.”
In mine of July 7th, 1773, I answer the above of April 20th as follows; “The letters communicated to you were not merely to satisfy the curiosity of any, but it was thought there might be a use in showing them to some friends of the province, and even to some of the governor’s party, for their more certain information concerning his conduct and politics, though the letters were not made quite public. I believe I have since written to you, that there was no occasion to return them speedily; and though I cannot obtain leave as yet to suffer copies to be taken of them, I am allowed to say that they may be shown and read to whom and as many as you think proper.”
The same person wrote to me June 14, 1773, in these terms: “I have endeavored inviolably to keep to your injunctions with respect to the papers you sent me; I have shown them only to such persons as you directed; no one person, except Dr. Cooper and one of the committee, knows from whom they came or to whom they were sent. I have constantly avoided mentioning your name upon the occasion, so that it need never be known (if you incline to keep it a secret) whom they came from, and to whom they were sent; and I desire, so far as I am concerned, my name may not be mentioned; for it may be a damage to me. I thought it, however, my duty to communicate them as permitted, as they contained matters of importance that very nearly affected the government. And, notwithstanding all my care and precaution, it is now publicly known that all such letters are here. Considering the number of persons who were to see them (not less than ten or fifteen), it is astonishing they did not get air before.” Then he goes on to relate how the Assembly, having heard of them, obliged him to produce them, but engaged not to print them; and that they afterwards did nevertheless print them, having got over that engagement by the appearance of copies in the House, produced by a member, who it was reported had just received them from England. This letter concludes: “I have done all in my power strictly to conform to your restrictions; but, from the circumstances above related, you must be sensible it was impossible to prevent the letters being made public, and therefore hope I shall be free from all blame respecting this matter.”
This letter accounts for its being, unexpectedly to me, made a secret in Boston, that I had sent the letters. The gentleman to whom I sent them had his reasons for desiring not to be known as the person who received and communicated them; but as this would have been suspected, if it were known that I sent them, that circumstance was to be kept a secret. Accordingly they were given to another, to be by him produced by the committee.
My answer to this was of July 25, 1773, as follows: “I am favored with yours of June 14th, containing some copies of the resolves of the committee upon the letters. I see by your account of the transaction, that you could not well prevent what was done. As to the report of other copies being come from England, I think that could not be. It was an expedient to disengage the House. I hope the possession of the originals, and the proceedings upon them, will be attended with salutary effects to the province, and then I shall be well pleased. I observe what you mention, that no person besides Dr. Cooper and one of the committee knew they came from me. I did not accompany them with any request of being myself concealed; for, believing what I did to be in the way of my duty as agent, though I had no doubt of its giving offence, not only to the parties exposed, but to administration here, I was regardless of the consequences. However, since the letters themselves are now copied and printed, contrary to the promise I made, I am glad my name has not been heard on the occasion; and, as I do not see it could be of any use to the public, I now wish it may continue unknown, though I hardly expect it. As to yours, you may rely on my never mentioning it, except that I may be obliged to show your letter in my own vindication to the person only who might otherwise think he had reason to blame me for breach of engagement.”
With the above-mentioned letter of the 14th of June I received one from another of the gentlemen1 to whom the papers had been communicated, which says: “By whom and to whom they were sent is still a secret, known only to three persons here, and may still remain so, if you desire it.” My answer to him of July 25th was: “I accompanied them with no restriction relating to myself; my duty to the province as their agent, I thought, required the communication of them so far as I could. I was sensible I should make enemies there, and perhaps might offend government here; but these apprehensions I disregarded. I did not expect, and hardly still expect, that my sending them could be kept a secret. But since it is such hitherto, I now wish it may continue so, because the publication of the letters, contrary to my engagement, has changed the circumstances.” His reply to this, of the 10th of November, is: “After all the solicitous inquiries of the governor and his friends respecting his letters, it still remains a secret from and to whom they were sent here. This is known, among us, to two only besides myself, and will remain undiscovered, unless further intelligence should come from your side the water than I have reason to think has yet been obtained. I cannot, however, but admire your honest openness in this affair, and noble negligence of any inconveniences that might arise to yourself in this essential service to our injured country.”
To another friend1 I wrote of the same date, July 25th, what will show the apprehensions I was constantly under, of the mischiefs that would attend a breach from the exasperated state of things, and the arguments I used to prevent it, viz.: “I am glad to see that you are elected into the council, and are about to take part in our public affairs. Your abilities, integrity, and sober attachment to the liberties of our country will be of great use, at this tempestuous time, in conducting our little bark into a safe harbor. By the Boston newspapers there seem to be among us some violent spirits, who are for an immediate rupture. But I trust the general prudence of our countrymen will see that by our growing strength we advance fast to a situation in which our claims must be allowed; that by a premature struggle we may be crippled and kept down another age; that, as between friends every affront is not worth a duel, and between nations every injury is not worth a war, so between the governed and the governing, every mistake in government, every encroachment on rights, is not worth a rebellion. It is, in my opinion, sufficient for the present that we hold them forth on all occasions, not giving up any of them; using, at the same time, every means to make them generally understood and valued by the people; cultivating a harmony among the colonies, that their union in the same sentiments may give them greater weight; remembering withal that this Protestant country (our mother, though of late an unkind one) is worth preserving; and that her weight in the scale of Europe, her safety, in a great degree, may depend on our union with her. Thus conducting, I am confident we may within a few years obtain every allowance of, and every security for, our inestimable privileges that we can wish or desire.”
His answer, of December 31st, is: “I concur perfectly with you in the sentiments expressed in your last. No considerate person, I should think, can approve of your desperate remedies, except in desperate cases. The people of America are extremely agitated by the repeated efforts of administration to subject them to absolute power. They have been amused with accounts of the pacific disposition of the ministry, and flattered with assurances that upon their humble petitions all their grievances would be redressed. They have petitioned from time to time; but their petitions have had no other effect than to make them feel more sensibly their own slavery. Instead of redress, every year has produced some new manœuvre, which could have no tendency but to irritate them more and more. The last measure of the East India Company’s sending their tea here, subject to a duty, seems to have given the finishing stroke to their patience. You will have heard of the steps taken at Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, to prevent the payment of this duty, by sending the tea back to its owners. But as this was found impossible at Boston, the destruction of the tea was the consequence. What the event of these commotions will be, God only knows. The people through the colonies appear immovably fixed in their resolution that the tea duty shall never be paid; and, if the ministry are determined to enforce these measures, I dread the consequences; I verily fear they will turn America into a field of blood. But I will hope for the best.”
I am told that administration is possessed of most of my letters sent or received on public affairs for some years past; copies of them having been obtained from the files of the several Assemblies, or as they passed through the post-office. I do not condemn their ministerial industry or complain of it. The foregoing extracts may be compared with those copies, and I can appeal to them with confidence that, upon such comparison, these extracts will be found faithfully made, and that the whole tenor of my letters has been to persuade patience and a careful guarding against all violence, under the grievances complained of; and this from various considerations, such as that the welfare of the empire depended upon the union of its parts; that the sovereign was well disposed towards us, and the body of his nation our friends and well-wishers; that it was the ministry only who were prejudiced against us; that the sentiments of minsters might in time be changed, or the ministers themselves be changed; or that, if those chances failed, at least time would infallibly bring redress, since the strength, weight, and importance of America were continually and rapidly increasing, and its friendship, of course, daily becoming more valuable, and more likely to be cultivated by an attention to its rights. The newspapers have announced that treason is found in some of my letters. It must then be of some new species. The invention of court lawyers has always been fruitful in the discovery of new treasons, and perhaps it is now become treason to censure the conduct of ministers. None of any other kind, I am sure, can be found in my correspondence.
The effect of the governor’s letters on the minds of the people in New England, when they came to be read there, was precisely what had been expected and proposed by sending them over. It was now seen that the grievances which had been so deeply resented as measures of the mother country, were in fact the measures of two or three of their own people. Of course, all that resentment was withdrawn from her, and fell where it was proper it should fall, on the heads of those caitiffs who were the authors of the mischief. Both Houses1 took up the matter in this light, and the House of Representatives agreed to the following resolves, reported by the committee appointed to consider the letters, viz.:
The Committee appointed to consider certain Letters laid before the House of Representatives, reported the following Resolves:
Tuesday, June 15, 1773.
Resolved, That the letters signed Tho. Hutchinson and Andw. Oliver, now under the consideration of this House, appear to be the genuine letters of the present governor and lieutenant-governor of this province, whose handwriting and signatures are well known to many of the members of this House; and that they contain aggravated accounts of facts and misrepresentations, and that one manifest design of them was to represent the matters they treat of in a light highly injurious to this province, and the persons against whom they were written.
Resolved, That though the letters aforesaid, signed Tho. Hutchinson, are said by the governor in his message to this House of June 9th to be “private letters written to a gentleman in London since deceased,” and “that all except the last were written many months before he came to the chair,” yet that they were written by the present governor when he was lieutenant-governor and chief-justice of this province, who has been represented abroad as eminent for his abilities as for his exalted station, and was under no official obligation to transmit private intelligence, and that they therefore must be considered by the person to whom they were sent as documents of solid intelligence; and that this gentleman in London to whom they were written, was then a member of the British Parliament, and one who was very active in American affairs, and therefore that these letters, however secretly written, must naturally be supposed to have, and really had, a public operation.
Resolved, That these “private letters” being written “with express confidence of secrecy” was only to prevent the contents of them being known here, as appears by said letters; and this rendered them the more injurious in their tendency, and really insidious.
Resolved, That the letters signed Tho. Hutchinson, considering the person by whom they were written, the matters they expressly contain, the express reference in some of them for “full intelligence” to Mr. Hallowell, a person deeply interested in the measures so much complained of, and recommendatory notices of divers other persons, whose emoluments arising from our public burdens must excite them to unfavorable representations of us, the measures they suggest, the temper in which they were written, the manner in which they were sent, and the person to whom they were addressed, had a natural and efficacious tendency to interrupt and alienate the affections of our most gracious sovereign King George the Third, from this his loyal and affectionate province; to destroy that harmony and good-will between Great Britain and this colony, which every friend to either would wish to establish; to excite the resentment of the British administration against this province; to defeat the endeavors of our agents and friends to serve us by a fair representation of our state of grievances; to prevent our humble and repeated petitions from reaching the royal ear of our common sovereign; and to produce the severe and destructive measures which have been taken against this province, and others still more so, which have been threatened.
Resolved, As the opinion of this House, that it clearly appears from the letters aforesaid, signed, Tho. Hutchinson and Andw. Oliver, that it was the desire and endeavor of the writers of them that certain acts of the British Parliament for raising a revenue in America might be carried into effect by military force; and, by introducing a fleet and army into this his Majesty’s loyal province to intimidate the minds of his subjects here, and prevent every constitutional measure to obtain the repeal of those acts so justly esteemed a grievance to us, and to suppress the very spirit of freedom.
Resolved, That it is the opinion of this House that, as the salaries lately appointed for the governor, lieutenant governor, and judges of this province, directly repugnant to the charter and subversive of justice, are founded on this revenue; and as these letters were written with a design, and had a tendency to promote and support that revenue, therefore there is great reason to suppose the writers of those letters were well knowing to, suggested, and promoted the enacting said revenue acts, and the establishments founded on the same.
Resolved, That, while the writer of these letters, signed Tho. Hutchinson has been thus exerting himself, by his “secret confidential correspondence,” to introduce measures destructive of our constitutional liberty, he has been practising every method among the people of this province to fix in their mind an exalted opinion of his warmest affection for them, and his unremitted endeavors to promote their best interests at the court of Great Britain.
Resolved, as the opinion of this House, That, by comparing these letters signed Tho. Hutchinson, with those signed Andw. Oliver, Cha. Paxton, and Nath. Rogers, and considering what has since in fact taken place conformable thereto, there have been for many years past measures contemplated, and a plan formed, by a set of men born and educated among us, to raise their own fortunes, and advance themselves to posts of honor and profit, not only to the destruction of the charter and constitution of this province, but at the expense of the rights and liberties of the American colonies. And it is further the opinion of this House, that the said persons have been some of the chief instruments in the introduction of a military force into the province, to carry their plans into execution; and, therefore, they have been not only greatly instrumental in disturbing the peace and harmony of the government, and causing and promoting great discord and animosities, but are justly chargeable with the great corruption of morals, and all that confusion, misery, and bloodshed, which have been the natural effects of the introduction of troops.
Whereas, for many years past, measures have been taken by the British administration very grievous to the good people of this province, which this House have now reason to suppose were promoted, if not originally suggested, by the writers of these letters; and many efforts have been made by the people to obtain the redress of their grievances;
Resolved, That it appears to this House that the writers of these letters have availed themselves of disorders that naturally arise in a free government under such oppressions, as arguments to prove that it was originally necessary such measures should have been taken, and that they should now be continued and increased.
Whereas, in the letter signed Cha. Paxton, dated Boston Harbor, June 20, 1768, it is expressly declared that, “unless we have immediately two or three regiments, it is the opinion of all the friends of government that Boston will be in open rebellion”;
Resolved, That this is a most wicked and injurious representation, designed to inflame the minds of his Majesty’s ministers and the nation; and to excite in the breast of our sovereign a jealousy of his loyal subjects of said town, without the least grounds therefor, as enemies of his Majesty’s person and government.
Whereas, certain letters by two private persons, signed T. Moffat and G. Rome, have been laid before the House, which letters contain many matters highly injurious to government and to the national peace;
Resolved, That it has been the misfortune of their government, from the earliest period of it, from time to time, to be secretly traduced and maliciously represented to the British ministry, by persons who were neither friendly to this colony nor to the English Constitution.
Resolved, That this House have just reason to complain of it as a very great grievance, that the humble petitions and remonstrances of the commons of this province are not allowed to reach the hands of our most gracious sovereign, merely because they are presented by an agent, to whose appointment the governor, with whom our chief dispute may subsist, doth not consent; while the partial and inflammatory letters of individuals, who are greatly interested in the revenue acts, and the measures taken to carry them into execution, have been laid before administration, attended to, and determined upon, not only to the injury of the reputation of the people, but to the depriving them of their invaluable rights and liberties.
Whereas, this House are humbly of opinion that his Majesty will judge it to be incompatible with the interest of his crown, and the peace and safety of the good people of this his loyal province, that persons should be continued in places of high trust and authority in it, who are known to have with great industry, though secretly, endeavored to undermine, alter, and overthrow the constitution of the province; therefore,
Resolved, That this House are bound, in duty to the king and their constituents, humbly to remonstrate to his Majesty the conduct of his Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, Esquire, Governor, and the Honorable Andrew Oliver, Esquire, Lieutenant-Governor, of this province; and to pray that his Majesty would be pleased to remove them for ever from the government thereof.1
Upon these Resolutions was founded the following petition, transmitted to me to be presented to his Majesty:
TO THE KING’S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY
Most Gracious Sovereign:
We, your Majesty’s loyal subjects, the representatives of your ancient colony of Massachusetts Bay, in general court legally assembled, by virtue of your Majesty’s writ under the hand and seal of the governor, beg leave to lay this our humble petition before your Majesty.
Nothing but the sense of duty we owe to our sovereign, and the obligation we are under to consult the peace and safety of the province, could induce us to remonstrate to your Majesty concerning the mal-conduct of persons who have heretofore had the confidence and esteem of this people, and whom your Majesty has been pleased, from the purest motives of rendering your subjects happy, to advance to the highest places of trust and authority in the province.
Your Majesty’s humble petitioners, with the deepest concern and anxiety, have seen the discords and animosities which have too long subsisted between your subjects of the parent state and those of the American colonies. And we have trembled with apprehensions that the consequences naturally arising therefrom would at length prove fatal to both countries.
Permit us humbly to suggest to your Majesty, that your subjects here have been inclined to believe that the grievances which they have suffered, and still continue to suffer, have been occasioned by your Majesty’s ministers and principal servants being, unfortunately for us, misinformed in certain facts of very interesting importance to us. It is for this reason that former assemblies have, from time to time, prepared a true state of facts to be laid before your Majesty; but their humble remonstrances and petitions, it is presumed, have by some means been prevented from reaching your royal hand.
Your Majesty’s petitioners have very lately had before them certain papers, from which they humbly conceive it is most reasonable to suppose that there has been long a conspiracy of evil men in this province, who have contemplated measures and formed a plan to advance themselves to power and raise their own fortunes by means destructive of the charter of the province, at the expense of the quiet of the nation, and to the annihilating of the rights and liberties of the American colonies.
And we do, with all due submission to your Majesty, beg leave particularly to complain of the conduct of his Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, Esquire, Governor, and the Honorable Andrew Oliver, Esquire, Lieutenant-Governor of this your Majesty’s province, as having a natural and efficacious tendency to interrupt and alienate the affections of your Majesty, our rightful sovereign, from this your royal province; to destroy that harmony and good-will between Great Britain and this colony, which every honest subject should strive to establish; to excite the resentment of the British administration against this province; to defeat the endeavors of our agents and friends to serve us by a fair representation of our state of facts; to prevent our humble and repeated petitions from reaching the ear of your Majesty, or having their desired effect. And, finally, that the said Thomas Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver have been among the chief instruments in introducing a fleet and army into this province, to establish and perpetuate their plans, whereby they have been not only greatly instrumental in disturbing the peace and harmony of the government and causing unnatural and hateful discords and animosities between the several parts of your Majesty’s extensive dominions, but are justly chargeable with all that corruption of morals, and all that confusion, misery, and bloodshed, which have been the natural effects of posting an army in a populous town.
Wherefore we most humbly pray that your Majesty would be pleased to remove from their posts in this government the said Thomas Hutchinson, Esquire, and Andrew Oliver, Esquire; who have, by their above-mentioned conduct, and otherwise, rendered themselves justly obnoxious to your loving subjects, and entirely lost their confidence; and place such good and faithful men in their stead, as your Majesty in your wisdom shall think fit.
In the name and by order of the House of Representatives.
Lord Dartmouth, Secretary of State for the colonies, being in the country when I received this petition, I transmitted it to his Lordship, enclosed in a letter, of which the following is a copy, as also of his answer.
TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE THE EARL OF DARTMOUTH
London, 21 August, 1773.
I have just received, from the House of Representatives of the Massachusetts Bay, their address to the king, which I now enclose, and send to your Lordship, with my humble request, in their behalf, that you would be pleased to present it to his Majesty the first convenient opportunity.
I have the pleasure of hearing from that province by my late letters, that a sincere disposition prevails in the people there to be on good terms with the mother country; that the Assembly have declared their desire only to be put into the situation they were in before the Stamp Act. They aim at no novelties. And it is said that, having lately discovered, as they think, the authors of their grievances to be some of their own people, their resentment against Britain is thence much abated.
This good disposition of theirs (will your Lordship permit me to say) may be cultivated by a favorable answer to this address, which I therefore hope your goodness will endeavor to obtain. With the greatest respect, I have the honor to be, my Lord, etc.,
LORD DARTMOUTH’S ANSWER
Sandwell, 25 August, 1773.
I have received your letter of the 21st instant, together with an address of the House of Representatives of the Massachusetts Bay, which I shall not fail to lay before the king the next time I shall have the honor of being admitted into his presence. I cannot help expressing to you the pleasure it gives me to hear that a sincere disposition prevails in the people of that province to be on good terms with the mother country, and my earnest hope that the time is at no great distance when every ground of uneasiness will cease, and the most perfect tranquillity and happiness be restored to the breasts of that people.
I am, sir, your most obedient humble servant,
Benjamin Franklin, Esq.
No one, who knows Lord Dartmouth, can doubt the sincerity of the good wishes expressed in his letter to me; and if his Majesty’s other servants had fortunately been possessed of the same benevolent dispositions, with as much of that attention to the public interest, and dexterity in managing it, as statesmen of this country generally show in obtaining and securing their places, here was a fine opportunity put into their hands of “reestablishing the union and harmony that formerly subsisted between Great Britain and her colonies,” so necessary to the welfare of both, and upon the easy condition of only “restoring things to the state they were in at the conclusion of the late war.” This was a solemn declaration sent over from the province most aggrieved, in which they acquitted Britain of their grievances, and charged them all upon a few individuals of their own country. Upon the heads of these very mischievous men they imprecated no vengeance, though that of the whole nation was justly merited; they considered it as a hard thing for an administration to punish a governor who had acted from orders, though the orders had been procured by his misrepresentations and calumnies; they therefore only petitioned, “that his Majesty would be pleased to remove Thomas Hutchinson, Esquire, and Andrew Oliver, Esquire, from their posts in that government, and place good and faithful men in their stead.” These men might have been placed or pensioned elsewhere, as others have been; or, like the scape-goats of old, they might have carried away into the wilderness all the offences which have arisen between the two countries, with the burdens of which they, having been the authors of these mischiefs, were most justly chargeable.
But this opportunity ministers had not the wisdom to embrace; they chose rather to reject it, and abuse and punish me for giving it. A court clamor was raised against me as an incendiary; and the very action upon which I valued myself, as it appeared to me a means of lessening our differences, I was unlucky enough to find charged upon me, as a wicked attempt to increase them. Strange perversion!
I was, it seems, equally unlucky in another action, which I also intended for a good one, and which brought on the above-mentioned clamor. The news being arrived here of the publication of those letters in America, great inquiry was made who had transmitted them. Mr. Temple, a gentleman of the customs, was accused of it in the papers. He vindicated himself. A public altercation ensued upon it between him and a Mr. Whately, brother and executor to the person to whom it was supposed the letters had been originally written, and who was suspected by some of communicating them; on the supposition that by his brother’s death they might have fallen into his hands. As the gentleman to whom I sent them had, in his letter to me above recited, given an important reason for his desiring it should be concealed that he was the person who received them, and had for the same reason chosen not to let it be known I sent them, I suffered that altercation to go on without interfering, supposing it would end, as other newspaper controversies usually do, when the parties and the public should be tired of them. But this dispute unexpectedly and suddenly produced a duel. The gentlemen were parted; Mr. Whately was wounded, but not dangerously. This, however, alarmed me, and made me wish I had prevented it; but, imagining all now over between them, I still kept silence till I heard that the duel was understood to be unfinished (as having been interrupted by persons accidentally near), and that it would probably be repeated as soon as Mr. Whately, who was mending daily, had recovered his strength. I then thought it high time to interpose; and, as the quarrel was for the public opinion, I took what I thought the shortest way to settle that opinion, with regard to the parties, by publishing what follows.
To the Printer of the Public Advertiser:
Finding that two gentlemen have been unfortunately engaged in a duel about a transaction and its circumstance, of which both of them are totally ignorant and innocent, I think it incumbent upon me to declare (for the prevention of further mischief, as far as such a declaration may contribute to prevent it), that I alone am the person who obtained and transmitted to Boston the letters in question. Mr. W. could not communicate them, because they were never in his possession; and, for the same reason, they could not be taken from him by Mr. T. They were not of the nature of private letters between friends. They were written by public officers to persons in public stations, on public affairs, and intended to procure public measures; they were therefore handed to other public persons, who might be influenced by them to produce those measures. Their tendency was to incense the mother country against her colonies, and, by the steps recommended, to widen the breach, which they effected. The chief caution expressed with regard to privacy was, to keep their contents from the colony agents, who, the writers apprehended, might return them, or copies of them, to America. That apprehension was, it seems, well founded, for the first agent who laid his hands on them thought it his duty1 to transmit them to his constituents.
December 25, 1773.
This declaration of mine was at first generally approved, except that some blamed me for not having made it sooner, so as to prevent the duel, but I had not the gift of prophecy; I could not foresee that the gentlemen would fight; I did not even foresee that either of them could possibly take it ill of me. I imagined I was doing them a good office in clearing both of them from suspicion, and removing the cause of their difference. I should have thought it natural for them both to have thanked me, but I was mistaken as to one of them. His wound perhaps at first prevented him, and afterwards he was tutored probably to another kind of behavior by his court connections.
My only acquaintance with this gentleman, Mr. William Whately, was from an application he made to me to do him the favor of inquiring after some land in Pennsylvania, supposed to have been purchased anciently from the first proprietor, by a Major Thomson, his grandfather, of which they had some imperfect memorandums in the family, but knew not whether it might not have been sold or conveyed away by him in his lifetime, as there was no mention of it in his will. I took the trouble of writing, accordingly, to a friend of mine, an eminent lawyer there, well acquainted with such business, desiring him to make the inquiry. He took some pains in it at my request, and succeeded; and in a letter informed me that he had found the land, that the proprietary claimed it, but he thought the title was clear to the heir of Thomson; that he could easily recover it for him, and would undertake it if Mr. Whately should think fit to employ him; or, if he should rather choose to sell it, my friend empowered me to make him an offer of five thousand pounds sterling for it. With this letter I waited upon him about a month before the duel, at his house in Lombard Street, the first time I had ever been in it. He was pleased with the intelligence, and called upon me once or twice afterwards to concert the means of making out his title.
I mention some of these circumstances to show that it was not through any previous acquaintance with him that I came to the knowledge of the famous letters; for they had been in America near a year before I so much as knew where he lived; and the others I mention to show his gratitude. I could have excused his not thanking me for sparing him a second hazard of his life; for, though he might feel himself served, he might also apprehend that to seem pleased would look as if he was afraid of fighting again; or perhaps he did not value his life at any thing; but the addition to his fortune one would think of some value to a banker, and yet the return this worthy gentleman made me for both favors was, without the smallest previous notice, warning, complaint, or request to me, directly or indirectly, to clap upon my back a Chancery suit. His bill set forth: “That he was administrator of the goods and chattels of his late brother Thomas Whately; that some letters had been written to his said brother by the Governors Hutchinson and Oliver, that those letters had been in the custody of his said brother at the time of his death, or had been by him delivered to some other person for perusal, and to be by such person safely kept and returned to said Thomas Whately; that the same had by some means come into my hands; that, to prevent a discovery, I, or some person by my order, had erased the address of the letters to the said Thomas Whately; that, carrying on the trade of a printer. I had, by my agents or confederates, printed and published the same letters in America, and disposed of great numbers; that I threatened to print and sell the same in England; and that he had applied to me to deliver up to him the said letters, and all copies thereof, and desist from printing and publishing the same, and account with him for the profits thereof; and he was in hopes I would have complied with such request, but so it was that I had refused, etc., contrary to equity and good conscience, and to the manifest injury and oppression of him, the complainant; and praying my Lord Chancellor that I might be obliged to discover how I came by the letters, what number of copies I had printed and sold, and to account with him for the profits,” etc., etc. The gentleman himself must have known that every circumstance of this was totally false; that of his brother’s having delivered the letters to some other person for perusal excepted. Those as little acquainted with law as I was (who, indeed, never before had a lawsuit of any kind), may wonder at this as much as I did; but I have now learned that in Chancery, though the defendant must swear the truth of every point in his answer, the plaintiff is not put to his oath, or obliged to have the least regard to truth in his bill, but is allowed to lie as much as he pleases. I do not understand this, unless it be for the encouragement of business.
My answer upon oath was: “That the letters in question were given to me, and came into my hands, as agent for the House of Representatives of the provinceof Massachusetts Bay; that, when given to me, I did not know to whom they had been addressed, no address appearing upon them; nor did I know before that any such letters existed; that I had not been for many years concerned in printing; that I did not cause the letters to be printed, nor direct the doing it; that I did not erase any address that might have been on the letters, nor did I know that any other person had made such erasure; that I did, as agent to the province, transmit (as I apprehended it my duty to do) the said letters to one of the committee, with whom I had been directed to correspond, inasmuch as in my judgment they related to matters of great public importance to that province, and were put into my hands for that purpose; that I had never been applied to by the complainant, as asserted in his bill, and had made no profits of the letters, nor intended to make any,” etc.
It was about this time become evident that all thoughts of reconciliation with the colony of Massachusetts Bay, by attention to their petitions, and a redress of their grievances, was laid aside; that severity was resolved; and that the decrying and vilifying the people of that country, and me their agent, among the rest, was quite a court measure. It was the ton with all the ministerial folks to abuse them and me, in every company, and in every newspaper; and it was intimated to me, as a thing settled, long before it happened, that the petition for the removal of the governors was to be rejected, the Assembly censured, and myself, who had presented it, was to be punished by the loss of my place in the post-office.1 For all this I was therefore prepared; but the attack from Mr. Whately was, I own, a surprise to me. Under the above-mentioned circumstances of obligation, and without the slightest provocation, I could not have imagined any man base enough to commence, of his own motion, such a vexatious suit against me. But a little accidental information served to throw some light upon the business. An acquaintance2 calling on me, after having just been at the treasury, showed me what he styled a pretty thing, for a friend of his; it was an order for one hundred and fifty pounds, payable to Dr. Samuel Johnson, said to be one half of his yearly pension, and drawn by the secretary of the treasury on this same Mr. Whately. I then considered him as a banker to the treasury for the pension money, and thence as having an interested connection with the administration, that might induce him to act by direction of others in harassing me with this suit; which gave me if possible a still meaner opinion of him than if he had done it of his own accord.
What further steps he or his confederates, the ministers, will take in this cause, I know not. I do not indeed believe the banker himself, finding there are no profits to be shared, would willingly lay out a sixpence more upon the suit; but then my finances are not sufficient to cope at law with the treasury here: especially when the administration has taken care to prevent my constituents of New England from paying me any salary, or reimbursing me any expenses, by a special instruction to the governor, not to sign any warrant for that purpose on the treasury there.
The injustice of thus depriving the people there of the use of their own money, to pay an agent acting in their defence, while the governor, with a large salary out of the money extorted from them by act of Parliament, was enabled to pay plentifully Mauduit and Wedderburn to abuse and defame them and their agent, is so evident as to need no comment. But this they call government!
THE RESULT OF ENGLAND’S PERSISTENCE IN HER POLICY TOWARDS THE COLONIES ILLUSTRATED1
Great Britain is supposed to have been placed upon the globe; but the colonies (that is, her limbs), being severed from her, she is seen lifting her eyes and mangled stumps to Heaven; her shield, which she is unable to wield, lies useless by her side; her lance has pierced New England; the laurel branch has fallen from the hand of Pennsylvania; the English oak has lost its head, and stands a bare trunk, with a few withered branches; briers and thorns are on the ground beneath it; the British ships have brooms at their topmost heads, denoting their being on sale; and Britannia herself is seen sliding off the world (no longer able to hold its balance), her fragments overspread with the label, Date obolum Belisario.
History affords us many instances of the ruin of states by the prosecution of measures ill suited to the temper and genius of their people. The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy, it being a matter of no moment to the state whether a subject grows rich and flourishing on the Thames or the Ohio, in Edinburgh or Dublin. These measures never fail to create great and violent jealousies and animosities between the people favored and the people oppressed; whence a total separation of affections, interests, political obligations, and all manner of connections necessarily ensue, by which the whole state is weakened, and perhaps ruined forever.
ON A PROPOSED ACT OF PARLIAMENT FOR PREVENTING EMIGRATION
To the Printer of the Public Advertiser:
You give us in your paper of Tuesday, the 16th of November, what is called “The Plan of an Act to be Proposed at the Next Meeting of Parliament to Prevent the Emigration of Our People.” I know not from what authority it comes, but as it is very circumstantial, I suppose some such plan may be really under consideration, and that this is thrown out to feel the pulse of the public. I shall, therefore, with your leave give my sentiments of it in your paper.
During a century and a half that Englishmen have been at liberty to remove if they pleased to America, we have heard of no law to restrain that liberty, and confine them as prisoners in this island. Nor do we perceive any ill effects produced by their emigration. Our estates, far from diminishing in value through a want of tenants, have been in that period more than doubled; the lands in general are better cultivated; their increased produce finds a ready sale at an advanced price, and the complaint has for some time been, not that we want mouths to consume our meat, but that we want meat for our number of mouths.
Why then is such a restraining law now thought necessary? A paragraph in the same paper from the Edinburgh Courant, may perhaps throw some light upon this question. We are there told, “that one thousand five hundred people have emigrated to America from the shire of Sutherland within these two years, and carried with them seven thousand five hundred pounds sterling, which exceeds a year’s rent of the whole county; that the single consideration of the misery which most of these people must suffer in America, independent of the loss of men and money to the mother country, should engage the attention, not only of the landed interest, but of administration.” The humane writer of this paragraph may, I fancy, console himself with the reflection that perhaps the apprehended future sufferings of those emigrants will never exist; for that it was probable the authentic accounts they had received from friends already settled there, of the felicity to be enjoyed in that country, with a thorough knowledge of their own misery at home, which induced their removal. And, as a politician, he may be comforted by assuring himself that if they really meet with greater misery in America, their future letters lamenting it will be more credited than the Edinburgh Courant, and effectually, without a law, put a stop to the emigration. It seems some of the Scottish chiefs, who delight no longer to live upon their estates in the honorable independence they were born to, among their respecting tenants, but choose rather a life of luxury, though among the dependants of a court, have lately raised their rents most grievously to support the expense. The consuming of those rents in London, though equally prejudicial to the poor county of Sutherland, no Edinburgh newspaper complains of; but now that the oppressed tenants take flight and carry with them what might have supported the landlord’s London magnificence, he begins to feel for the mother country, and its enormous loss of seven thousand five hundred pounds carried to her colonies! Administration is called upon to remedy the evil by another abridgment of English liberty. And surely administration should do something for these gentry, as they do any thing for administration.
But is there not an easier remedy? Let them return to their family seats, live among their people, and, instead of fleecing and skinning, patronize and cherish them, promote their interest, encourage their industry, and make their situation comfortable. If the poor folks are happier at home than they can be abroad, they will not lightly be prevailed with to cross the ocean. But can their lord blame them for leaving home in search of better living, when he first set them the example?
I would consider the proposed law—
Pray spare me room for a few words on each of these heads.
As to the Necessity of it
If any country has more people than can be comfortably subsisted in it, some of those who are incommoded may be induced to emigrate. As long as the new situation shall be far preferable to the old, the emigration may possibly continue. But when many of those who at home interfered with others of the same rank (in the competition for farms, shops, business, offices, and other means of subsistence) are gradually withdrawn, the inconvenience of that competition ceases; the number remaining no longer half starve each other; they find they can now subsist comfortably, and though perhaps not quite so well as those who have left them, yet the inbred attachment to a native country is sufficient to overbalance a moderate difference; and thus the emigration ceases naturally. The waters of the ocean may move in currents from one quarter of the globe to another, as they happen in some places to be accumulated and in others diminished; but no law, beyond the law of gravity, is necessary to prevent their abandoning any coast entirely. Thus the different degrees of happiness of different countries and situations find, or rather make, their level by the flowing of people from one to another; and where that level is once found the removals cease. Add to this that even a real deficiency of people in any country, occasioned by a wasting war or pestilence, is speedily supplied by earlier and more prolific marriages, encouraged by the greater facility of obtaining the means of subsistence. So that a country half depopulated would soon be repeopled, till the means of subsistence were equalled by the population. All increase beyond that point must perish, or flow off into more favorable situations. Such overflowings there have been of mankind in all ages, or we should not now have had so many nations. But to apprehend absolute depopulation from that cause, and call for a law to prevent it, is calling for a law to stop the Thames, lest its waters, by what leave it daily at Gravesend, should be quite exhausted. Such a law, therefore, I do not conceive to be necessary.
As to the Practicability
When I consider the attempts of this kind that have been made, first in the time of Archbishop Laud, by orders of council, to stop the Puritans, who were flying from his persecutions into New England, and next by Louis the Fourteenth, to retain in his kingdom the persecuted Huguenots; and how ineffectual all the power of our crown, with which the archbishop armed himself, and all the more absolute power of that great French monarch, were, to obtain the end for which they were exerted; and when I consider, too, the extent of coast to be guarded, and the multitude of cruisers necessary effectually to make a prison of the island for this confinement of free Englishmen, who naturally love liberty, and would probably by the very restraint be more stimulated to break through it, I cannot but think such a law impracticable. The offices would not be applied to for licenses, the ports would not be used for embarkation. And yet the people disposed to leave us would, as the Puritans did, get away by shipsfull.
As to the Policy of the Law
Since I have shown there was no danger of depopulating Britain, but that the place of those that depart will soon be filled up equal to the means of obtaining a livelihood, let us see whether there are not some general advantages to be expected from the present emigration. The new settlers in America, finding plenty of subsistence, and land easily acquired whereon to seat their children, seldom postpone marriage through fear of poverty. Their natural increase is therefore in proportion far beyond what it would have been if they had remained here. New farms are daily everywhere forming in those immense forests; new towns and villages rising; hence a growing demand for our merchandise, to the greater employment of our manufacturers, and the enriching of our merchants. By this natural increase of people, the strength of the empire is increased; men are multiplied, out of whom new armies may be formed on occasion, or the old recruited. The long-extended sea-coast, too, of that vast country, the great maritime commerce of its ports with each other, its many navigable rivers and lakes, and its plentiful fisheries, breed multitudes of seamen, besides those created and supported by its voyages to Europe; a thriving nursery this, for the manning of our fleets in time of war, and maintaining our importance among foreign nations by that navy, which is also our best security against invasions from our enemies. An extension of empire by conquest of inhabited countries is not so easily obtained; it is not so easily secured; it alarms more the neighboring states; it is more subject to revolts, and more apt to occasion new wars.
The increase of dominion by colonies proceeding from yourselves, and by the natural growth of your own people cannot be complained of by your neighbors as an injury; none have a right to be offended with it. Your new possessions are therefore more secure, they are more cheaply gained, they are attached to your nation by natural alliance and affection; and thus they afford an additional strength more certainly to be depended on than any that can be acquired by a conquering power, though at an immense expense of blood and treasure. These, methinks, are national advantages that more than equiponderate with the inconveniences suffered by a few Scotch or Irish landlords, who perhaps may find it necessary to abate a little of their present luxury, or of those advanced rents they now so unfeelingly demand. From these considerations, I think I may conclude, that the restraining law proposed would, if practicable, be impolitic.
As to the Justice of it
I apprehend that every Briton who is made unhappy at home, has a right to remove from any part of his king’s dominions into those of any other prince, where he can be happier. If this should be denied me, at least it will be allowed that he has a right to remove into any other part of the same dominions. For by this right so many Scotchmen remove into England, easing its own country of its supernumeraries, and benefiting ours by their industry. And this is the case with those who go to America. Will not these Scottish lairds be satisfied unless a law passes to pin down all tenants to the estate they are born on (adscripti glebæ), to be bought and sold with it? God has given to the beasts of the forest, and to the birds of the air, a right, when their subsistence fails in one country, to migrate to another, where they can get a more comfortable living; and shall man be denied a privilege enjoyed by brutes, merely to gratify a few avaricious landlords? Must misery be made permanent, and suffered by many for the emolument of one; while the increase of human beings is prevented, and thousands of their offspring stifled, as it were, in the birth, that this petty Pharaoh may enjoy an excess of opulence? God commands to increase and replenish the earth; the proposed law would forbid increasing, and confine Britons to their present number, keeping half that number, too, in wretchedness. The common people of Britain and of Ireland contributed by the taxes they paid, and by the blood they lost, to the success of that war which brought into our hands the vast unpeopled territories of North America,—a country favored by Heaven with all the advantages of climate and soil. Germans are now pouring into it, to take possession of it, and fill it with their posterity; and shall Britons and Irelanders, who have a much better right to it, be forbidden a share of it, and, instead of enjoying there the plenty and happiness that might reward their industry, be compelled to remain here in poverty and misery? Considerations such as these persuade me that the proposed law would be both unjust and inhuman.
If then it is unnecessary, impracticable, impolitic, and unjust, I hope our Parliament will never receive the bill, but leave landlords to their own remedy,—an abatement of rents, and frugality of living; and leave the liberties of Britons and Irishmen at least as extensive as it found them. I am, sir, yours, etc.,
A Friend to the Poor.
[1 ]The writer of this letter was Dean of Gloucester and a man of learning and talents, though somewhat freaky. He was prone to occupy his thoughts and pen with political and commercial questions, which furnished Warburton, who was his Bishop, with a pretext for saying that his Dean’s trade was religion and religion his trade. He published an humble address and earnest appeal, in which he advised the government to “let the wayward sisters—the colonies—go,” thinking that, like the sheep in charge of little Bo-peep, they would soon come back with their tails behind them.
[1 ]In a future edition of his work, Dean Tucker omitted the offensive passages, but with so ill a grace as to still further impair his character for fairness and magnanimity.
[1 ]For other particulars relating to this affair, see infra, pp. 370-411.
[1 ]That is, fur, or thief.
[2 ]Bigelow’s Life of Franklin.
[3 ]Addresses and Speeches by Robert C. Winthrop between 1878 and 1886, Boston.
[1 ]The acts of the Pennsylvania Assembly, sent over to be approved by the king.
[1 ]The remainder of the letter is lost.
[1 ]Dubourg’s edition, in two quarto volumes, published in 1773.
[1 ]The following papers, first printed in the Public Advertiser in London, are supposed by William Temple Franklin to have been written about the time of the author’s departure for America.—Editor.
[1 ]They mounted a numerous guard daily round the Parliament House, with drums beating and fifes playing, while the members were in their debates, and had cannon planted and pointed at the building.
[1 ]Lord Chatham.
[1 ]The remainder of the letter is lost.—Editor.
[1 ]This extract, taken from Priestley’s Experiments on Air, is introduced with the following remark. “Dr. Franklin, who, as I have already observed, saw some of my plants in a very flourishing state, in noxious air, was pleased to express very great satisfaction with the result of the experiments. In answer to the letter in which I informed him of it, he says,” etc.—Editor.
[1 ]Lord Chatham said, in the speech here alluded to: “If we take a transient view of those motives which induced the ancestors of our fellow-subjects in America to leave their native country to encounter the innumerable difficulties of the unexplored regions of the western world, our astonishment at the present conduct of their descendants will naturally subside. There was no corner of the world into which men of their free and enterprising spirit would not fly with alacrity, rather than submit to the slavish and tyrannical principles which prevailed at that period in their native country. And shall we wonder, if the descendants of such illustrious characters spurn with contempt the hand of unconstitutional power, that would snatch from them such dear-bought privileges as they now contend for?”—Debrett’s Parliamentary Debates, Vol. VII., p. 10.
[1 ]In a letter to his son, dated London, February 3, 1772, Dr. Franklin says: “This will be delivered to you by the Rev. Mr. Coombe, whom I recommend to your friendship as a young gentleman of great merit, integrity, and abilities. He has acquired the esteem of all that knew him here, not as an excellent preacher only, but as practising the morality he preached. I wish him a good settlement in his native country, but I think he would better have found his interest in remaining here.”
[1 ]Lewis Evans, of Philadelphia, the author of maps and geographical writings on some parts of America.—Sparks.
[1 ]Probably A True State of the Proceedings in the Parliament of Great Britain, etc., and On the Rise and Progress of the Differences between Great Britain and her American Colonies. See supra, p. 312.
[1 ]Sir William Johnson died at the place of his residence, near the Mohawk River, on the 11th of July, 1774.
[1 ]In the first letter which Paine wrote to Dr. Franklin from Philadelphia, he said: “Your countenancing me has obtained for me many friends and much reputation, for which please to accept my most sincere thanks. I have been applied to by several gentlemen to instruct their sons, on very advantageous terms to myself; and a printer and bookseller here, a man of reputation and property, Robert Aitkin, has lately attempted a magazine, but, having little or no turn that way himself, he has applied to me for assistance. He had not above six hundred subscribers when I first assisted him. We have now upwards of fifteen hundred, and daily increasing. I have not entered into terms with him. This is only the second number. The first I was not concerned in.”—March 4th, 1775.
[1 ]It is a noteworthy circumstance that in the third edition of his Sketches the words in italics are omitted. His Lordship, in spite of his admiration for Franklin, had to incline before the prevailing breeze.
[2 ]“Ad quæ senex: ‘Ego ignicola sum, istiusmodi morum ignarus; nostri enim majores nullam talem me docuere pietatem.’ Ad quam vocem horrescens Abrahamus rem sibi cum ignicolâ profano et à sui Numinis cultu alieno esse, eum è vestigio et à cœnâ remotum, ut sui consortii pestem et religionis hostem, domo ejicit.”
[1 ]For an account of Saadi, see Everett’s Mt. Vernon Papers, and Saadi’s life by Harrington.
[1 ]This gentleman was Thomas Cushing, Speaker of the House of Representatives in Massachusetts.—Editor.
[1 ]The Reverend Dr. Cooper, of Boston.—Editor.
[1 ]Professor Winthrop, of Harvard College, a member of his Majesty’s Council in Massachusetts.—Editor.
[1 ]That is, the Council and House of Representatives of Massachusetts.—Editor.
[1 ]The House of Representatives adopted these Resolves, as here reported, by a large majority. The Council almost unanimously passed a series of Resolves, on the 25th of June, embodying similar sentiments.—Editor.
[1 ]In remarking on this word as here used, Dr. Franklin said, in a note found in his handwriting: “Governor Hutchinson, as appears by his letters, since found and published in New England, had the same idea of duty when he procured copies of Dr. Franklin’s letters to the Assembly, and sent them to the ministry of England.”
[1 ]For several years Dr. Franklin had held the office of Deputy Postmaster-General of the Colonies.—Editor.
[2 ]William Strahan, Member of Parliament, and king’s printer.—W. T. F.
[1 ]W. T. Franklin gives the following account of this device, and the use made of it by its author: “During the disputes between the two countries, Dr. Franklin invented a little emblematical design, intended to represent the supposed state of Great Britain and her colonies, should the former persist in her oppressive measures, restraining the latter’s trade, and taxing their people by laws made by a legislature in which they were not represented. It was engraved on a copper plate. Dr. Franklin had many of them struck off on cards, on the back of which he occasionally wrote his notes. It was also printed on a half-sheet of paper, with the explanation and moral.”—Editor.