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Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. IV Letters and Misc. Writings 1763-1768 [1904]

Edition used:

Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, including the Private as well as the Official and Scientific Correspondence, together with the Unmutilated and Correct Version of the Autobiography, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). The Federal Edition in 12 volumes. Vol. IV (Letters and Misc. Writings 1763-1768). http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2457

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About this Title:

Volume 4 of a 12 volume collection of the works of Franklin edited by the New York lawyer and politician John Bigelow. Vol. 4 contains a essays and letters written between 1763 and 1768.

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The text is in the public domain.

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This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [a]

FEDERAL EDITION

Limited to 1,000 signed and numbered sets.

The Connoisseur’s Federal Edition of the Writings of Benjamin Franklin is limited to four hundred signed and numbered sets, of which this is

Number_______________

We guarantee that no limited, numbered edition, other than the Federal, shall be printed from these plates.

The written number must correspond with the perforated number at top of this page.

Edition: current; Page: [b]
lf1438-04_figure_001.jpg
Edition: current; Page: [c]

Benjamin Franklin

From an engraving by A. H. Ritchie after the painting by Charles N. Cochin, the Younger, 1777.

Edition: current; Page: [d]

The Works of Benjamin Franklin in Twelve Volumes

Federal Edition

Edition: current; Page: [i]
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

“Strange that Ulysses does a thousand things so well.”

Iliad, B. 11, 335
Volume IV
G. P. Putnam’s Sons
New York and London
The Knickerbocker Press
1904
Edition: current; Page: [ii]

The Knickerbocker Press, New York

Edition: current; Page: [iii]

CONTENTS OF VOL. IV

  • 1763
  • CCXXXVI.—To William Greene, July 19th . page 3
  • CCXXXVII.—To Mrs. Catherine Greene, August 1st . . . . . . 4
  • CCXXXVIII.—To Mrs. Catherine Greene, September 5th . . . . . 5
  • CCXXXIX.—To William Strahan, September 22d 5
  • 1764
  • CCXL.—To Miss Stevenson, March 14th . 6
  • CCXLI.—To William Strahan, March 30th . 7
  • CCXLII.—To Mrs. Catherine Greene, April 15th . . . . . . 8
  • CCXLIII.—To William Strahan, May 1st . 9
  • CCXLIV.—To Jonathan Williams, May 24th . 11
  • CCXLV.—To George Whitefield, June 19th . 12
  • CCXLVI.—To William Strahan, June 25th . 13
  • CCXLVII.—To William Strahan, September 24th . . . . . . 15
  • CCXLVIII.—To Jonathan Williams, November 3d . . . . . . . 17

    Second mission to England.

  • CCXLIX.—To Sarah Franklin, November 8th . 18

    Paternal advice—Attendance at church—About leaving for England.

    Edition: current; Page: [iv]
  • CCL.—To Mrs. Deborah Franklin, December 9th . . . . . . 21

    Arrival in England.

  • CCLI.—A Narrative of the Late Massacres in Lancaster County of a Number of Indians, Friends of This Province, by Persons Unknown, with Some Observations on the Same . . . . . . 22
  • CCLII.—Cool Thoughts on the Present Situation of our Public Affairs . 49
  • CCLIII.—Petition to the King for Changing the Proprietary Government of Pennsylvania into a Royal Government . . . . 65
  • CCLIV.—Remarks on a Particular Militia Bill Rejected by the Proprietor’s Deputy, or Governor, September 28th . . . . . 66
  • CCLV.—Preface to the Speech of Joseph Galloway on the Subject of a Petition to the King for Changing the Proprietary Government of Pennsylvania to a Royal Government . . . . . 72
  • CCLVI.—Remarks on a Late Protest against the Appointment of Mr. Franklin as Agent for the Province of Pennsylvania . . . . 118
  • 1765
  • CCLVII.—To Mrs. Deborah Franklin, February 9th . . . . . 133 Edition: current; Page: [v]
  • CCLVIII.—From Joseph Galloway, February 27th . . . . . . 134

    Alarm produced by the news of the king’s rejection of the Assembly’s petition.

  • CCLIX.—From Mrs. Deborah Franklin, April 7th . . . . . 137

    Domestic news.

  • CCLX.—To the Editor of a Newspaper, May 20th . . . . . . 140

    Humorous account of “news writers” and “news.”

  • CCLXI.—To Lord Kames, June 2d . . . 143

    On the harmony and melody of old Scotch tunes.

  • CCLXII.—To Lord Kames, June 2d . . . 148

    Franklin’s voyage to England—Madeira—Affairs in America.

  • CCLXIII.—To Mrs. Deborah Franklin, June 4th . . . . . . 153

    Domestic affairs.

  • CCLXIV.—To Peter Franklin . . . . 155

    On the defects of modern music.

  • CCLXV.—To Hugh Roberts, July 7th . . 161

    Political adversaries—Hospital seal—Old Junto.

  • CCLXVI.—To Charles Thomson, July 11th . 162

    Proprietary government in Philadelphia—Stamp Act.

  • CCLXVII.—To Mrs. Deborah Franklin, July 13th . . . . . . 164
  • 1766
  • CCLXVIII.—Letter Concerning the Gratitude of America, and the Probability and Effects of a Union with Great Britain, and Concerning the Repeal or Suspension of the Stamp Act, January 6th . . 166 Edition: current; Page: [vi]
  • CCLXIX.—The Examination of Dr. Benjamin Franklin in the British House of Commons Relative to the Repeal of the Stamp Act . . . 171
  • CCLXX.—To Mrs. Deborah Franklin, February 22d . . . . . 219
  • CCLXXI.—To Mrs. Deborah Franklin, February 27th . . . . . 220
  • CCLXXII.—To Hugh Roberts, February 27th . 220

    Stamp Act—Change of ministry.

  • CCLXXIII.—To Charles Thomson, February 27th . . . . . . 222

    Expected repeal of the Stamp Act.

  • CCLXXIV.—To Mrs. Deborah Franklin, April 6th . . . . . . 223

    Repeal of the Stamp Act—Domestic affairs.

  • CCLXXV.—To Thomas Ronayne, April 20th . 225

    On the electricity of fogs in Ireland.

  • CCLXXVI.—To Jonathan Williams, April 28th . 228
  • CCLXXVII.—To Cadwallader Evans, May 9th . 229
  • CCLXXVIII.—Mode of Ascertaining whether the Power, Giving a Shock to those who Touch either the Surinam Eel or the Torpedo, be Electrical . . . . . 231
  • CCLXXIX.—To Mrs. Deborah Franklin, June 13th . . . . . . 233
  • CCLXXX.—From William Franklin . . . 237

    Indian murders—Land riots in New York—The “Firebrand” Otis—His triumph over the New Jersey Assembly—Death of Peter Franklin.

  • CCLXXXI.—To Mrs. Mary Franklin, August 26th . . . . . . 239

    The death of his brother—Provision for his sister.

    Edition: current; Page: [vii]
  • CCLXXXII.—To Charles Thomson, September 27th . . . . . . 240

    Repeal of the Stamp Act.

  • CCLXXXIII.—To Mrs. Deborah Franklin, October 11th . . . . . 241

    Descendants from his grandfather in England.

  • CCLXXXIV.—Remarks on a Plan for the Future Management of Indian Affairs . 243
  • CCLXXXV.—Hints for a Reply to the Protests of Certain Members of the House of Lords against the Repeal of the Stamp Act . . . . 248
  • CCLXXXVI.—Observations on Passages in “A Letter from a Merchant in London to His Nephew in North America” . . . . . 252
  • CCLXXXVII.—Observations on Passages in a Pamphlet Entitled “Good Humor, or Away with the Colonies” . . 256
  • CCLXXXVIII.—From William Franklin, November 13th . . . . . . 275

    Trouble with Hall, Franklin’s former partner—New printing establishment projected in Franklin’s interest.

  • 1767
  • CCLXXXIX.—To Lord Kames, April 11th . . 279

    Strained relations of the Colonies with the mother country—Injudicious legislation—Prospects of America.

  • CCXC.—To Cadwallader Evans, May 5th . 288

    Medical library at the hospital—Lord Chatham—Manufactures.

  • CCXCI.—To Joseph Galloway, June 13th . . 289

    Paper money—Mr. Grenville’s revenue scheme—Mr. Townshend—Prejudices against the colonies—Salt duty—Bill for suspending Legislatures of New York and Georgia.

    Edition: current; Page: [viii]
  • CCXCII.—To Miss Stevenson, June 17th . . 296

    Visited by a muse.

  • CCXCIII.—To Mrs. Deborah Franklin, June 22d 297

    Economies—The proposed marriage of their daughter.

  • CCXCIV.—Protective Duties on Imports and how they Work, July 7th . . 299
  • CCXCV.—To Samuel Franklin, July 17th . 300

    Kindred in England.

  • CCXCVI.—To Mrs. Deborah Franklin, August 5th . . . . . . . 301
  • CCXCVII.—To George Crogan, August 5th . 303

    Are elephants indigenous to America?

  • CCXCVIII.—To Joseph Galloway, August 8th . 304

    Taxing America a popular measure.

  • CCXCIX.—To William Franklin, August 28th . 309

    Lord Shelburne and General Conway on American affairs—Soame Jenyns—The French Ambassador in London.

  • CCC.—To Miss Stevenson, September 14th . 311

    Description of his journey to Paris—Versailles—The French.

  • CCCI.—Of Lightning and the Methods (now Used in America) of Securing Buildings and Persons from its Mischievous Effects, September . 319
  • CCCII.—On Smuggling and its Various Species, November 24th . . . 324
  • CCCIII.—To William Franklin, November 25th . . . . . . . 330

    Gov. Bernard—Lords Shelburne and Clare on American affairs—Dean Tucker—Abuse of ministers.

  • CCCIV.—To Joseph Galloway, December 1st . 334

    Paper money in Pennsylvania—Mr. Grenville—The Duke of Bedford.

    Edition: current; Page: [ix]
  • CCCV.—To John Ross, December 13th . . 336

    On admitting American representatives into Parliament.

  • CCCVI.—To William Franklin, December 19th 338

    Boston resolutions—Mr. Grenville and Mr. Onslow.

  • CCCVII.—From Thomas Pownall—Dr. Franklin’s Answer . . . . . 341

    On sharing the rights and privileges of Great Britain with America.

  • CCCVIII.—On the Price of Corn and the Management of the Poor . . . 343
  • CCCIX.—Remarks on Judge Foster’s Argument in Favor of the Rights of Impressing Seamen, December . . 349
  • CCCX.—Vindication of the Provincial Paper-Money System, December 358
  • 1768
  • CCCXI.—To William Franklin, January 9th . 374

    Change of ministers—The Boston resolutions.

  • CCCXII.—To Joseph Galloway, January 9th . 375
  • CCCXIII.—Causes of the American Discontents before 1768, January 7th . . 377
  • CCCXIV.—To M. Dalibard, January 31st . . 390
  • CCCXV.—To Mrs. Deborah Franklin, February 13th . . . . . . 392
  • CCCXVI.—To Joseph Galloway, February 17th 394

    Restraining legal-tender paper money—Lord Hillsborough—Change of government in Pennsylvania—Bribery in borough elections—Mr. Beckford—Mr. Thurlow.

    Edition: current; Page: [x]
  • CCCXVII.—To Cadwallader Evans, February 20th . . . . . . . 398

    The Colica Pictonum—Use of lead in distilleries.

  • CCCXVIII.—To Thomas Wharton, February 20th 400

    General Conway—Proceedings in Boston.

  • CCCXIX.—To Lord Kames, February 28th . 402

    On chimneys.

  • CCCXX.—From Joseph Galloway, March 10th . 406

    Affairs in Pennsylvania.

  • CCCXXI.—To William Franklin, March 13th . 408

    Lord Hillsborough’s plan for the defence of America—The Farmer’s Letters—Power of Parliament over Colonies—Manufactures in Colonies—Elections in England.

  • CCCXXII.—To the Committee of Correspondence in Pennsylvania, March 13th . 414
  • CCCXXIII.—Walpole’s Grant, March 13th . . 416
  • CCCXXIV.—To Joseph Galloway, March 13th . 425

    Lord Hillsborough—Dissolution of Parliament—Bribery in elections.

  • CCCXXV.—To the Committee of Correspondence in Pennsylvania, April 16th . 427

    Instructions from the Assembly—Suggestions for emitting paper money.

  • CCCXXVI.—To William Franklin, April 16th . 428

    Elections in the new Parliament—Wilkes—Riots, mobs, and illuminations.

  • CCCXXVII.—On the Laboring Poor, April . . 430
  • CCCXXVIII.—Some Good Whig Principles, April . 435
  • CCCXXIX.—Preface to the “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania,” May 8th . . . . . . . 437 Edition: current; Page: [xi]
  • CCCXXX.—To Sir John Pringle, May 10th . 439

    On the difference of navigation in shoal and deep water.

  • CCCXXXI.—To John Ross, May 14th . . . 442
  • CCCXXXII.—To Joseph Galloway, May 14th . 444
  • CCCXXXIII.—To Oliver Neave . . . . 446

    The art of swimming.

Edition: current; Page: [1]

The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Volume IV

CORRESPONDENCE AND MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS

Edition: current; Page: [2] Edition: current; Page: [3]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
19 July, 1763
Providence
William Greene
Greene, William
CCXXXVI

TO WILLIAM GREENE, WARWIC, RHODE ISLAND

Dear Sir:

From the very hospitable and kind treatment we met at your house, I must think it will be agreeable to you to hear, that your guests got well in before the rain. We hope that you and Mrs. Greene were likewise safe at home before night, and found all well. We all join in the most cordial thanks and best wishes, and shall be glad on every occasion to hear of the welfare of you and yours. I beg you will present our compliments to your good neighbour, Captain Fry, and tell him we shall always retain a grateful remembrance of his civilities.

The soreness in my breast seems to diminish hourly. To rest and temperance I ascribe it chiefly, though the bleeding had doubtless some share in the effect. We purpose setting out to go to Wrentham this afternoon, in order to make an easy day’s journey Edition: current; Page: [4] into Boston to-morrow. Present our respects to Mrs. Ray, and believe me, with much esteem, dear Sir, your obliged and most obedient, humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
1 August, 1763
Boston
Catherine Greene
Greene, Catherine
CCXXXVII

TO MRS. CATHERINE GREENE

Dear Friend:

I ought to acquaint you that I feel myself growing daily firmer and freer from the effects of my fall, and hope a few days more will make me quite forget it. I shall, however, never forget the kindness I met with at your house on that occasion.

Make my compliments acceptable to your Mr. Greene, and let him know that I acknowledge the receipt of his obliging letter, and thank him for it. It gave me great pleasure to hear you got home before the rain. My compliments, too, to Mr. Merchant and Miss Ward, if they are still with you; and kiss the ladies for me. Sally says, “And for me too.” She adds her best respects to Mr. Greene and you, and that she could have spent a week with you with great pleasure, if I had not hurried her away.

My brother is returned to Rhode Island. Sister Mecom thanks you for your kind remembrance of her, and presents her respects. With perfect esteem and regard I am, dear Katy (I can’t yet alter my style to “Madam”), your affectionate friend,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [5]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
5 September, 1763
Boston
Catherine Greene
Greene, Catherine
CCXXXVIII

TO MRS. CATHERINE GREENE

Dear Friend:

On my returning hither from Portsmouth, I find your obliging favor of the 18th past, for which I thank you. I am almost ashamed to tell you, that I have had another fall, and put my shoulder out. It is well reduced again, but is still affected with constant, though not very acute pain. I am not yet able to travel rough roads, and must lie by awhile, as I can neither hold reins nor whip with my right hand till it grows stronger.

Do you think, after this, that even your kindest invitations and Mr. Greene’s can prevail with me to venture myself again on such roads? And yet it would be a great pleasure to me to see you and yours once more. Sally and my sister Mecom thank you for your remembrance of them, and present their affectionate regards. My best respects to good Mr. Greene, Mrs. Ray, and love to your little ones. I am glad to hear they are well, and that your Celia goes alone. I am, dear friend, yours affectionately.

B. Franklin.1
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
22 September, 1763
Boston
William Strahan
Strahan, William
CCXXXIX

TO WILLIAM STRAHAN

Dear Friend:

I write in pain with an arm lately dislocated, so can only acknowledge the receipt of Edition: current; Page: [6] your favours of May 3 and 10, and thank you for the intelligence they contain concerning your publick affairs. I am now 400 miles from home, but hope to be there again in about three weeks. The Indian war upon our Western settlements was undoubtedly stirr’d up by the French on the Mississippi, before they had heard of the peace between the two nations; and will probably cease when we are in possession of what is there ceded to us. My respects to Mrs. Strahan, and love to your children. I am, dear friend, very affectionately yours,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
14 March, 1764
Philadelphia
Mary Stevenson
Stevenson, Mary
CCXL

TO MISS MARY STEVENSON

Dear Polly:

I have received your kind letters of August 30th and November 16th. Please to return my thanks, with those of my friend, to Mr. Stanley for his favor in the music, which gives great satisfaction. I am glad to hear of the welfare of the Blount family, and the addition it has lately received, and particularly that your Dolly’s health is mended. Present my best respects to them and to the good Dr. and Mrs. Hawkesworth when you see them.

I believe you were right in dissuading your good mother from coming hither. The proposal was a hasty thought of mine, in which I considered only some profit she might make by the adventure and Edition: current; Page: [7] the pleasure to me and my family from the visit, but forgot poor Polly and what her feelings must be on the occasion, and perhaps did not sufficiently reflect that the inconveniences of such a voyage to a person of her years and sex must be more than the advantages could compensate.

I am sincerely concerned to hear of Mrs. Rooke’s long-continued affliction with that cruel gout. My best wishes attend her and good Mrs. Tickell. Let me hear from you as often as you can afford it. You can scarce conceive the pleasure your letters give me. Blessings on his soul that first invented writing, without which I should at this distance be as effectually cut off from my friends in England as the dead are from the living. But I write so little that I can have no claim to much from you. Business, publick and private, devours all my time. I must return to England for repose. With such thoughts I flatter myself, and need some kind friend to put me often in mind that old trees cannot safely be transplanted.

Adieu, my amiable friend, and believe me ever yours most affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
30 March, 1764
Philadelphia
William Strahan
Strahan, William
CCXLI

TO WILLIAM STRAHAN

Dear Friend:

I begin to think it long since I had the pleasure of hearing from you.

Enclosed is one of our last Gazettes, in which you Edition: current; Page: [8] will see that our dissensions are broke out again, more violently than ever. Such a necklace of Resolves! and all nemine contradicente, I believe you have seldom seen. If you can find room for them and our messages in the Chronicle (but perhaps ’tis too much to ask), I should be glad to have them there; as it may prepare the minds of those in power for an application that I believe will shortly be made from this Province to the crown, to take the government into its own hands. They talk of sending me over with it, but it will be too soon for me. At least I think so at present. Adieu, my dear Friend, and believe me ever

yours affectionately,
B. Franklin.

P. S.—My love to my young Wife, and to Mrs. Strahan, Rachey, Billy, &c., &c. In your next tell me how you all do, and don’t oblige me to come and see before I am quite ready.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
15 April, 1764
Philadelphia
Catherine Greene
Greene, Catherine
CCXLII

TO MRS. CATHERINE GREENE

Dear Friend:

I have before me your most acceptable favor of December 24th. Publick business and our publick confusions have so taken up my attention that I suspect I did not answer it when I received it, but am really not certain; so, to make sure, I write this line to acknowledge the receiving of it, and to thank you for it. I condole with you on the death of the good old lady, your mother. Separations Edition: current; Page: [9] of this kind from those we love are grievous; but it is the will of God that such should be the nature of things in this world. All that ever were born are either dead or must die. It becomes us to submit and to comfort ourselves with the hope of a better life and more happy meeting hereafter.

Sally kept to her horse the greatest part of the journey, and was much pleased with the tour. She often remembers, with pleasure and gratitude, the kindnesses she met with and received from our friends everywhere, and particularly at your house. She talks of writing by this post, and my dame sends her love to you, and thanks for the care you took of her old man, but, having bad spectacles, cannot write at present.

Mr. Kent’s compliment is a very extraordinary one, as he was obliged to kill himself and two others in order to make it; but, being killed in imagination only, they and he are all yet alive and well, thanks to God, and I hope will continue so as long as, dear Katy, your affectionate friend,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—My best respects to Mrs. Greene, and love to “the little dear creatures.” I believe the instructions relating to the post-office have been sent to Mr. Rufus Greene.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
1 May, 1764
Philadelphia
William Strahan
Strahan, William
CCXLIII.

TO WILLIAM STRAHAN

Dear Straney:

I received your favour of December 20th. You cannot conceive the satisfaction Edition: current; Page: [10] and pleasure you give your friends here by your political letters. Your accounts are so clear, circumstantial, and complete, that tho’ there is nothing too much, nothing is wanting to give us, as I imagine, a more perfect knowledge of your publick affairs than most people have that live among you. The characters of your speakers and actors are so admirably sketch’d, and their views so plainly opened, that we see and know everybody; they all become of our acquaintance. So excellent a manner of writing seems to me a superfluous gift to a mere printer. If you do not commence author for the benefit of mankind, you will certainly be found guilty hereafter of burying your talent. It is true that it will puzzle the Devil himself to find any thing else to accuse you of, but remember he may make a great deal of that. If I were king (which may God in mercy to us all prevent) I should certainly make you the historiographer of my reign. There could be but one objection—I suspect you might be a little partial in my favour. But your other qualifications for an historian being duly considered, I believe we might get over that.

Our petty publick affairs here are in the greatest confusion, and will never, in my opinion, be composed, while the Proprietary Government subsists. I have wrote a little piece (which I send enclos’d) to persuade a change. People talk of sending me to England to negotiate it, but I grow very indolent. Bustling is for younger men.

Mrs. Franklin, Sally, and my son and daughter of the Jerseys, with whom I lately spent a week, all join Edition: current; Page: [11] in best wishes of prosperity to you and all yours, with, dear sir,

Your affectionate humble servant,
B. Franklin.

P. S.—I will do every thing in my power to recommend the work Mr. Griffith mentions, having the same sentiments of it that you express. But I conceive many more of them come to America than he imagines. Our booksellers, perhaps, write for but few, but the reason is that a multitude of our people trade more or less to London; and all that are bookishly dispos’d receive the reviews singly from their correspondents as they come out.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
24 May, 1764
Philadelphia
Jonathan Williams
Williams, Jonathan
CCXLIV

TO JONATHAN WILLIAMS

Dear Kinsman:

The bearer is the Rev. Mr. Rothenbuler, minister of a new Calvinist German Church lately erected in this city. The congregation is but poor at present, being many of them new comers, and (like other builders) deceived in their previous calculations, they have distressed themselves by the expense of their building; but, as they are an industrious, sober people, they will be able in time to afford that assistance to others, which they now humbly crave for themselves.

His business in Boston is to petition the generous and charitable among his Presbyterian brethren for Edition: current; Page: [12] their kind benefactions. As he will be a stranger in New England, and I know you are ready to do every good work, I take the freedom to recommend him and his business to you for your friendly advice and countenance. The civilities you show him shall be acknowledged as done to your affectionate uncle,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
19 June, 1764
Philadelphia
George Whitefield
Whitefield, George
CCXLV

TO GEORGE WHITEFIELD

Dear Friend:

I received your favors of the 21st past and of the 3d instant, and immediately sent the enclosed as directed.

Your frequently repeated wishes for my eternal as well as my temporal happiness are very obliging, and I can only thank you for them and offer you mine in return. I have myself no doubt, that I shall enjoy as much of both as is proper for me. That Being, who gave me existence, and through almost threescore years has been continually showering his favors upon me, whose very chastisements have been blessings to me; can I doubt that he loves me? And if he loves me, can I doubt that he will go on to take care of me, not only here but hereafter? This to some may seem presumption; to me it appears the best grounded hope; hope of the future built on experience of the past.

By the accounts I have of your late labors, I conclude your health is mended by your journey, which Edition: current; Page: [13] gives me pleasure. Mrs. Franklin presents her cordial respects, with, dear Sir, your affectionate humble servant,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—We hope you will not be deterred from visiting your friends here, by the bugbear Boston account of the unhealthiness of Philadelphia.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
25 June, 1764
Philadelphia
William Strahan
Strahan, William
CCXLVI

TO WILLIAM STRAHAN

Dear Sir:

I wrote a few lines to you via Liverpool; but they were too late for the ship, and now accompany this.

I gave Mr. Parker a power of attorney to act for you and myself with respect to Mecom’s affairs, who has under oath surrendered all he possessed into his hands, to be divided proportionately between us and his other creditors, which are chiefly Rivington and Fletcher and Hamilton and Balfour. The effects consist of a printing press, some tolerably good letter, and some books and stationery. He has rendered particular and exact accounts, but his all will fall vastly short of payment. I suppose it will scarce amount to four shillings in the pound. Parker thinks him honest, and has let him have a small printing house at New Haven, in Connecticut, where he is now at work; but having a wife and a number of small children, I doubt it will be long ere he gets any Edition: current; Page: [14] thing beforehand so as to lessen much of his old debt. I think it will be well for each of his creditors to take again what remains unsold of their respective goods, of which there are separate accounts, and join in impowering Mr. Parker to sell the remainder, to be divided among us. Tho’ on second thoughts, perhaps the fairest way is to sell and divide the whole. You can obtain their sentiments, and send me your own. As to what Parker1 owes you, it is very safe, and you must have interest.

I hope the bath will fully re-establish good Mrs. Strahan’s health. I enjoy the pleasure with which you speak of your children. God has been very good to you, from whence I think you may be assured that he loves you, and that he will take at least as good care of your future happiness as he has done of your present. What assurance of the future can be better founded than that which is built on experience of the past? Thank me for giving you this hint, by the help of which you may die as cheerfully as you live. If you had Christian faith, quantum suff. this might not be necessary; but as matters are it may be of use.

Your political letters are oracles here. I beseech you to continue them. With unfeigned esteem, I am, as ever, dear friend, yours affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [15]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
24 September, 1764
Philadelphia
William Strahan
Strahan, William
CCXLVII

TO WILLIAM STRAHAN

Dear Mr. Strahan:

I wrote to you of the first instant, and sent you a bill for £13, and a little list of books to be bought with it. But as Mr. Becket has since sent them to me, I hope this will come time enough to countermand that order. The money, if you have received it, may be paid to Mr. Stephenson, to whom we have wrote for sundry things.

I thank you for inserting the messages and resolutions entire. I believe it has had a good effect; for a friend writes me that it is astonishing with what success it was propagated in London by the Proprietaries; that the resolutions were the most indecent and undutiful to the Crown, &c., so that when he saw them, having before heard those reports, he could not believe they were the same.

I was always unwilling to give a copy of the chapter for fear it would be printed, and by that means I should be deprived of the pleasure I often had in amusing people with it. I could not, however, refuse it to two of the best men in the world, Lord Kames and Mr. Small, and should not to the third if he had not been a printer. But you have overpaid me for the loss of that pleasure by the kind things you have so handsomely said of your friend in the introduction.

You tell me that the value I set on your political letters is a strong proof that my judgment is on the decline. People seldom have friends kind enough to tell them that disagreeable truth, however useful it Edition: current; Page: [16] might be to know it; and indeed I learn more from what you say than you intended I should; for it convinces me that you had observed the decline for some time past in other instances, as ’t is very unlikely you should see it first in my good opinion of your writings; but you have kept the observation to yourself till you had an opportunity of hinting it to me kindly under the guise of modesty in regard to your own performances. I will confess to you another circumstance that must confirm your judgment of me, which is that I have of late fancy’d myself to write better than ever I did; and, farther, that when any thing of mine is abridged in the papers or magazines, I conceit that the abridger has left out the very best and brightest parts. These, my friend, are much stronger proofs, and put me in mind of Gil Blas’s patron, the homily-maker.

I rejoice to hear that Mrs. Strahan is recovering; that your family in general is well, and that my little woman in particular is so, and has not forgot our tender connection. The enlarging of your house and the coach-house and stables you mention make me think of living with you when I come; for I love ease more than ever, and by daily using your horses I can be of service to you and them by preventing their growing too fat and becoming restif.

Mrs. Franklin and Sally join in best wishes for you and all yours, with your affectionate

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
William Strahan
Strahan, William
Dear Sir:

I wrote a few lines to you by this opportunity, but omitted desiring you to call on Mr. Jackson of the Temple and pay him for the copying Edition: current; Page: [17] a manuscript he sent me which he paid the stationer for doing on my account. Yours affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
3 November, 1764
Philadelphia
Jonathan Williams
Williams, Jonathan
CCXLVIII

TO JONATHAN WILLIAMS

Loving Kinsman:

The case of the Armonica came home to-night, and the spindle, with all the rest of the work, seems well done. But on further consideration I think it is not worth while to take one of them to London, to be filled with glasses, as we intended. It will be better to send you one complete from thence, made under my direction, which I will take care shall be good. The glasses here will serve for these cases when I come back, if it please God that I live to return, and some friends will be glad of them.

Enclosed I send you that impostor’s letter. Perhaps he may be found by his handwriting.

We sail on Wednesday. The merchants here in two hours subscribed eleven hundred pounds, to be lent the publick for the charges of my voyage, &c. I shall take with me but part of it, five hundred pounds sterling. Any sum is to be had that I may want. My love to all. Adieu. Yours affectionately,

B. Franklin.1
Edition: current; Page: [18]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
8 November, 1764
Reedy Island
Sarah Franklin
Franklin, Sarah
CCXLIX

TO SARAH FRANKLIN

My Dear Sally:

We got down here at sunset, having taken in more live stock at Newcastle, with some other things we wanted. Our good friends, Mr. Galloway, Mr. Wharton and Mr. James, came with me in the ship from Chester to Newcastle, and went ashore there. It was kind to favor me with their good company as far as they could. The affectionate leave taken of me by so many friends at Chester was very endearing. God bless them and all Pennsylvania.

My dear child, the natural prudence and goodness of heart God has blessed you with makes it less necessary for me to be particular in giving you advice. I shall therefore only say that the more attentively dutiful and tender you are towards your good mamma, the more you will recommend yourself to me. But why should I mention me when you have a so much higher promise in the commandments that such conduct will recommend you to the favor of God. You know I have many enemies, all indeed on the publick account (for I cannot recollect that I have in a private capacity given just cause of offence to any Edition: current; Page: [19] one whatever), yet they are enemies, and very bitter ones, and you must expect their enmity will extend in some degree to you, so that your slightest indiscretions will be magnified into crimes in order the more sensibly to wound and afflict me. It is therefore the more necessary for you to be extremely circumspect in all your behaviour, that no advantage may be given to their malevolence.1

Edition: current; Page: [20]

Go constantly to church, whoever preaches. The act of devotion in the Common Prayer Book is your principal business there, and if properly attended to will do more toward amending the heart than sermons generally can do. For they were composed by men of much greater piety and wisdom than our common composers of sermons can pretend to be, and therefore I wish you would never miss the prayer days; yet I do not mean you should despise sermons, even of the preachers you dislike, for the discourse is often much better than a man, as sweet and clear waters come through very dirty earth. I am the more particular on this head, as you seemed to express a little before I came away some inclination to leave our church, which I would not have you do.

For the rest, I would only recommend to you in my absence to acquire those useful accomplishments, arithmetic and book-keeping. This you might do with ease if you would resolve not to see company on the hours you set apart for those studies.

We expect to be at sea to-morrow if this wind holds, after which I shall have no opportunity of Edition: current; Page: [21] writing to you till I arrive (if it please God I do arrive) in England. I pray that his blessing may attend you, which is worth more than a thousand of mine, though they are never wanting. Give my love to your brother and sister,1 as I cannot write to them, and remember me affectionately to the young ladies, your friends, and to our good neighbors. I am, my dear child, your affectionate father,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
9 December, 1764
Deborah Franklin
Franklin, Deborah
CCL

TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN

Saint Helen’s Road, Isle of Wight,
5 o’clock, p.m.,
My Dear Debby:

This line is just to let you know that we have this moment come to an anchor here, and that I am going ashore at Portsmouth, and hope to be in London on Tuesday morning. No father could have been tenderer to a child than Captain Robinson has been to me, for which I am greatly obliged to Messrs. James and Drinker; but we have had terrible weather, and I have often been thankful that our dear Sally was not with me. Tell our friends that dined with us on the turtle, that the kind prayer they then put up for thirty days’ fair wind to me was favorably heard and answered, we being just thirty days from land to land.

I am, thanks to God, very well and hearty. John Edition: current; Page: [22] has behaved well to me, and so has everybody on board. I thank all my friends for their favors, which contributed so much to the comfort of my voyage. I have not time to name names. You know whom I love and honor. Say all the proper things for me to everybody. Love to our children, and to my dear brother and sister. I am, dear Debby, your ever loving husband,

B. Franklin.1

CCLI: A NARRATIVE

of the late massacres, in lancaster county, of a number of indians, friends of this province, by persons unkown. with some observations on the same.

These Indians were the remains of a tribe of the Six Nations, settled at Conestogo, and thence called Conestogo Indians. On the first arrival of the English in Pennsylvania, messengers from this tribe came to welcome them, with presents of venison, corn, and skins; and the whole tribe entered into a treaty of friendship with the first proprietor, William Penn, which was to last “as long as the sun should shine, or the waters run in the rivers.”

This treaty has been since frequently renewed, and the chain brightened, as they express it, from time to time. It has never been violated, on their part or Edition: current; Page: [23] ours, till now. As their lands by degrees were mostly purchased, and the settlements of the white people began to surround them, the proprietor assigned them lands on the manor of Conestogo, which they might not part with; there they have lived many years in friendship with their white neighbours, who loved them for their peaceable inoffensive behaviour.

It has always been observed that Indians settled in the neighbourhood of white people do not increase, but diminish continually. This tribe accordingly went on diminishing, till there remained in their town on the manor but twenty persons, viz.: seven men, five women, and eight children, boys and girls.

Of these, Shehaes was a very old man, having assisted at the second treaty held with them, by Mr. Penn, in 1701, and ever since continued a faithful and affectionate friend to the English. He is said to have been an exceeding good man, considering his education, being naturally of a most kind, benevolent temper.

Peggy was Shehaes’s daughter; she worked for her aged father, continuing to live with him, though married, and attended him with filial duty and tenderness.

John was another good old man; his son Harry helped to support him.

George and Will Soc were two brothers, both young men.

John Smith, a valuable young man of the Cayuga nation, who became acquainted with Peggy, Shehaes’s daughter, some few years since, married, and Edition: current; Page: [24] settled in that family. They had one child, about three years old.

Betty, a harmless old woman; and her son Peter, a likely young lad.

Sally, whose Indian name was Wyanjoy, a woman much esteemed by all that knew her, for her prudent and good behaviour in some very trying situations of life. She was a truly good and amiable woman, had no children of her own; but, a distant relation dying, she had taken a child of that relation’s, to bring up as her own, and performed towards it all the duties of an affectionate parent.

The reader will observe that many of the names are English. It is common with the Indians, that have an affection for the English, to give themselves and their children the names of such English persons as they particularly esteem.

This little society continued the custom they had begun, when more numerous, of addressing every new governor, and every descendant of the first proprietor, welcoming him to the province, assuring him of their fidelity, and praying a continuance of that favor and protection they had hitherto experienced. They had accordingly sent up an address of this kind to our present governor, on his arrival; but the same was scarce delivered when the unfortunate catastrophe happened, which we are about to relate.

On Wednesday, the 14th of December, 1763, fifty-seven men from some of our frontier townships, who had projected the destruction of this little commonwealth, came, all well mounted, and armed with fire-locks, hangers, and hatchets, having travelled Edition: current; Page: [25] through the country in the night, to Conestogo manor. There they surrounded the small village of Indian huts, and just at break of day broke into them all at once. Only three men, two women, and a young boy were found at home, the rest being out among the neighbouring white people, some to sell the baskets, brooms, and bowls they manufactured, and others on other occasions. These poor defenceless creatures were immediately fired upon, stabbed, and hatcheted to death! The good Shehaes, among the rest, cut to pieces in his bed. All of them were scalped and otherwise horribly mangled. Then their huts were set on fire, and most of them burnt down. Then the troop, pleased with their own conduct and bravery, but enraged that any of the poor Indians had escaped the massacre, rode off, and in small parties, by different roads, went home.

The universal concern of the neighbouring white people, on hearing of this event, and the lamentations of the younger Indians, when they returned and saw the desolation, and the butchered, half-burnt bodies of their murdered parents and other relations, cannot well be expressed.

The magistrates of Lancaster sent out to collect the remaining Indians, brought them into the town for their better security against any farther attempt; and, it is said, condoled with them on the misfortune that had happened, took them by the hand, comforted, and promised them protection. They were all put into the workhouse, a strong building, as the place of greatest safety.

When the shocking news arrived in town, a Edition: current; Page: [26] proclamation was issued by the governor, in the following terms, viz.:

John Penn
Penn, John

Whereas I have received information that on Wednesday, the fourteenth day of this month, a number of people, armed and mounted on horseback, unlawfully assembled together, and went to the Indian town in the Conestogo manor, in Lancaster county, and without the least reason or provocation, in cool blood, barbarously killed six of the Indians settled there, and burnt and destroyed all their houses and effects; and whereas so cruel and inhuman an act, committed in the heart of this province on the said Indians, who have lived peaceably and inoffensively among us during all our late troubles, and for many years before, and were justly considered as under the protection of this government and its laws, calls loudly for the vigorous exertion of the civil authority, to detect the offenders, and bring them to condign punishment; I have, therefore, by and with the advice and consent of the council, thought fit to issue this proclamation, and do hereby strictly charge and enjoin all judges, justices, sheriffs, constables, officers, civil and military, and all other his Majesty’s liege subjects within this province, to make diligent search and inquiry after the authors and perpetrators of the said crime, their abettors and accomplices, and to use all possible means to apprehend and secure them in some of the public gaols of this province, that they may be brought to their trials, and be proceeded against according to law.

And whereas a number of other Indians, who Edition: current; Page: [27] lately lived on or near the frontiers of this province, being willing and desirous to preserve and continue the ancient friendship, which heretofore subsisted between them and the good people of this province, have, at their own earnest request, been removed from their habitations, and brought into the county of Philadelphia, and seated for the present, for their better security, on the Province Island, and in other places in the neighborhood of the city of Philadelphia, where provision is made for them at the public expense; I do, therefore, hereby strictly forbid all persons whatsoever, to molest or injure any of the said Indians, as they will answer the contrary at their peril.

Given under my hand, and the great seal of the said province, at Philadelphia, the twenty-second day of December, anno Domini, one thousand seven hundred and sixty-three, and in the fourth year of his Majesty’s reign.

John Penn.
By his Honor’s command,
Joseph Shippen, Jr., Secretary.
God save the King.”

Notwithstanding this proclamation, those cruel men again assembled themselves, and, hearing that the remaining fourteen Indians were in the workhouse at Lancaster, they suddenly appeared in that town, on the 27th of December. Fifty of them, armed as before, dismounting, went directly to the workhouse, and by violence broke open the door, and entered with the utmost fury in their countenances. When Edition: current; Page: [28] the poor wretches saw they had no protection nigh, nor could possibly escape, and being without the least weapon for defence, they divided into their little families, the children clinging to the parents; they fell on their knees, protested their innocence, declared their love to the English, and that in their whole lives they had never done them injury; and in this posture they all received the hatchet! Men, women, and little children were every one inhumanly murdered in cold blood!

The barbarous men who committed the atrocious fact, in defiance of government, of all laws human and divine, and to the eternal disgrace of their country and color, then mounted their horses, huzzaed in triumph, as if they had gained a victory, and rode off unmolested!

The bodies of the murdered were then brought out and exposed in the street, till a hole could be made in the earth to receive and cover them.

But the wickedness cannot be covered; the guilt will lie on the whole land, till justice is done on the murderers. The blood of the innocent will cry to Heaven for vengeance.

It is said that Shehaes being before told, that it was to be feared some English might come from the frontier into the country, and murder him and his people, he replied: “It is impossible; there are Indians, indeed, in the woods, who would kill me and mine, if they could get at us, for my friendship to the English; but the English will wrap me in their matchcoat, and secure me from all danger.” How unfortunately was he mistaken!

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Another proclamation has been issued, offering a great reward for apprehending the murderers, in the following terms, viz.:

John Penn
Penn, John

Whereas on the twenty-second day of December last, I issued a proclamation for the apprehending and bringing to justice a number of persons, who, in violation of the public faith, and in defiance of all law, had inhumanly killed six of the Indians, who had lived in Conestogo manor, for the course of many years, peaceably and inoffensively, under the protection of this government, on lands assigned to them for their habitation; notwithstanding which, I have received information, that on the twenty-seventh of the same month, a large party of armed men again assembled and met together in a riotous and tumultuous manner, in the county of Lancaster, and proceeded to the town of Lancaster, where they violently broke open the workhouse, and butchered and put to death fourteen of the said Conestogo Indians, men, women, and children, who had been taken under the immediate care and protection of the magistrates of the said county, and lodged for their better security in the said workhouse, till they should be more effectually provided for by order of the government; and whereas common justice loudly demands, and the laws of the land (upon the preservation of which not only the liberty and security of every individual, but the being of the government itself depends) require, that the above offenders should be brought to condign punishment: I have, therefore, by and with the advice of the council, published this proclamation, Edition: current; Page: [30] and do hereby strictly charge and command all judges, justices, sheriffs, constables, officers, civil and military, and all other his Majesty’s faithful and liege subjects within this province, to make diligent search and inquiries after the authors and perpetrators of the said last-mentioned offence, their abettors and accomplices, and that they use all possible means to apprehend and secure them in some of the public gaols of this province, to be dealt with according to law.

And I do hereby further promise and engage, that any person or persons who shall apprehend and secure, or cause to be apprehended and secured, any three of the ringleaders of the said party, and prosecute them to conviction, shall have and receive for each the public reward of two hundred pounds; and any accomplice, not concerned in the immediate shedding the blood of the said Indians, who shall make discovery of any or either of the said ringleaders, and apprehend and prosecute them to conviction, shall, over and above the said reward, have all the weight and influence of the government, for obtaining his Majesty’s pardon for his offence.

Given under my hand, and the great seal of the said province, at Philadelphia, the second day of January, in the fourth year of his Majesty’s reign, and in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixty-four.”

John Penn.
By his Honor’s command,
Joseph Shippen, Jr., Secretary.
God save the King.”
Edition: current; Page: [31]

These proclamations have as yet produced no discovery, the murderers having given out such threatenings against those that disapprove their proceedings, that the whole country seems to be in terror, and no one dare speak what he knows; even the letters from thence are unsigned in which any dislike is expressed of the rioters.

There are some (I am ashamed to hear it) who would extenuate the enormous wickedness of these actions by saying: “The inhabitants of the frontiers are exasperated with the murder of their relations by the enemy Indians in the present war.” It is possible; but though this might justify their going out into the woods to seek for those enemies and avenge upon them those murders, it can never justify their turning into the heart of the country to murder their friends.

If an Indian injures me, does it follow that I may revenge that injury on all Indians? It is well known that Indians are of different tribes, nations, and languages as well as the white people. In Europe, if the French, who are white people, should injure the Dutch, are they to revenge it on the English, because they too are white people? The only crime of these poor wretches seems to have been that they had a reddish-brown skin and black hair, and some people of that sort, it seems, had murdered some of our relations. If it be right to kill men for such a reason, then should any man with a freckled face and red hair kill a wife or child of mine, it would be right for me to revenge it by killing all the freckled, red-haired men, women, and children I could afterwards anywhere meet with.

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But it seems these people think they have a better justification; nothing less than the Word of God. With the Scriptures in their hand and mouths they can set at nought that express demand, Thou shalt do no murder, and justify their wickedness by the command given Joshua to destroy the heathen. Horrid perversion of Scripture and of religion! To father the worst of crimes on the God of peace and love! Even the Jews, to whom that particular commission was directed, spared the Gibeonites on account of their faith once given. The faith of this government has been frequently given to those Indians; but that did not avail them with people who despise government.

We pretend to be Christians, and from the superior light we enjoy ought to exceed heathens, Turks, Saracens, Moors, Negroes, and Indians in the knowledge and practice of what is right. I will endeavour to show, by a few examples from books and history, the sense those people have had of such actions.

Homer wrote his poem, called the Odyssey, some hundred years before the birth of Christ. He frequently speaks of what he calls not only the duties, but the sacred rites of hospitality, exercised towards strangers while in our house or territory, as including, besides all the common circumstances of entertainment, full safety and protection of person from all danger of life, from all injuries, and even insults. The rites of hospitality were called sacred, because the stranger, the poor, and the weak, when they applied for protection and relief, were from the religion of those times supposed to be sent by the Deity to Edition: current; Page: [33] try the goodness of men, and that he would avenge the injuries they might receive where they ought to have been protected. These sentiments, therefore, influenced the manners of all ranks of people, even the meanest; for we find that when Ulysses came as a poor stranger to the hut of Eumæus, the swineherd, and his great dogs ran out to tear the ragged man, Eumæus drave them away with stones, and

  • “ ‘Unhappy stranger!’ (thus the faithful swain
  • Began, with accent gracious and humane)
  • ‘What sorrow had been mine, if at my gate
  • Thy reverend age had met a shameful fate!
  • But enter this my lonely roof, and see
  • Our woods not void of hospitality.’
  • He said, and seconding the kind request,
  • With friendly step precedes the unknown guest,
  • A shaggy goat’s soft hide beneath him spread,
  • And with fresh rushes heaped an ample bed.
  • Joy touched the hero’s tender soul, to find
  • So just reception from a heart so kind;
  • And ‘O ye gods, with all your blessings grace’
  • (He thus broke forth) ‘this friend of human race!’
  • The swain replied: ‘It never was our guise
  • To slight the poor, or aught humane despise.
  • For Jove unfolds the hospitable door,
  • ’T is Jove that sends the stranger and the poor.’ ”

These heathen people thought that after a breach of the rights of hospitality a curse from Heaven would attend them in every thing they did, and even their honest industry in their callings would fail of success. Thus when Ulysses tells Eumæus, who doubted the truth of what he related: “If I deceive you in this I should deserve death, and I consent that you Edition: current; Page: [34] should put me to death”; Eumæus rejects the proposal as what would be attended with both infamy and misfortune, saying ironically:

  • “Doubtless, O guest, great laud and praise were mine,
  • If, after social rites and gifts bestowed,
  • I stained my hospitable hearth with blood.
  • How would the gods my righteous toils succeed,
  • And bless the hand that made a stranger bleed?
  • No more.”

Even an open enemy, in the heat of battle, throwing down his arms, submitting to his foe, and asking life and protection, was supposed to acquire an immediate right to that protection. Thus one describes his being saved when his party was defeated:

  • “We turned to flight; the gathering vengeance spread
  • On all parts round, and heaps on heaps lie dead.
  • The radiant helmet from my brows unlaced,
  • And lo, on earth my shield and javelin cast,
  • I meet the monarch with a suppliant’s face,
  • Approach his chariot, and his knees embrace.
  • He heard, he saved, he placed me at his side;
  • My state he pitied, and my tears he dried;
  • Restrained the rage the vengeful foe expressed,
  • And turned the deadly weapons from my breast.
  • Pious to guard the hospitable rite,
  • And fearing Jove, whom mercy’s works delight.”

The suitors of Penelope are, by the same ancient poet, described as a set of lawless men, who were regardless of the sacred rights of hospitality. And, therefore, when the Queen was informed they were slain, and that by Ulysses, she, not believing that Ulysses was returned, says:

Edition: current; Page: [35]
  • “Ah no! some god the suitors’ deaths decreed,
  • Some god descends, and by his hand they bleed;
  • Blind, to contemn the stranger’s righteous cause,
  • And violate all hospitable laws!
  • . . . The powers they defied;
  • But Heaven is just, and by a god they died.”

Thus much for the sentiments of the ancient heathens. As for the Turks, it is recorded in the Life of Mahomet, the founder of their religion, that Khaled, one of his captains, having divided a number of prisoners between himself and those that were with him, he commanded the hands of his own prisoners to be tied behind them, and then, in a most cruel and brutal manner, put them to the sword; but he could not prevail on his men to massacre their captives, because in fight they had laid down their arms, submitted, and demanded protection. Mahomet, when the account was brought to him, applauded the men for their humanity; but said to Khaled, with great indignation: “O Khaled, thou butcher, cease to molest me with thy wickedness. If thou possessedst a heap of gold as large as Mount Obod, and shouldst expend it all in God’s cause, thy merit would not efface the guilt incurred by the murder of the meanest of those poor captives.”

Among the Arabs or Saracens, though it was lawful to put to death a prisoner taken in battle, if he had made himself obnoxious by his former wickedness, yet this could not be done after he had once eaten bread, or drunk water, while in their hands. Hence we read in the history of the wars of the Holy Land, that when the Franks had suffered a great defeat Edition: current; Page: [36] from Saladin, and among the prisoners were the king of Jerusalem, and Arnold, a famous Christian captain, who had been very cruel to the Saracens; these two being brought before the Sultan, he placed the king on his right hand and Arnold on his left; and then presented the king with a cup of water, who immediately drank to Arnold; but when Arnold was about to receive the cup, the Sultan interrupted, saying: “I will not suffer this wicked man to drink, as that, according to the laudable and generous customs of the Arabs, would secure him his life.”

That the same laudable and generous custom still prevails among the Mahometans, appears from the account, but last year published, of his travels by Mr. Bell, of Antermony, who accompanied the Czar, Peter the Great, in his journey to Derbent through Daggestan. “The religion of the Daggestans,” says he, “is generally Mohammedan, some following the sect of Osman, others that of Haly. Their language for the most part is Turkish, or rather a dialect of the Arabic, though many of them speak also the Persian language. One article I cannot omit concerning their laws of hospitality, which is, if their greatest enemy comes under their roof for protection, the landlord, of what condition soever, is obliged to keep him safe, from all manner of harm or violence, during his abode with him, and even to conduct him safely through his territories to a place of security.”

From the Saracens this same custom obtained among the Moors of Africa; was by them brought into Spain, and there long sacredly observed. The Edition: current; Page: [37] Spanish historians record with applause one famous instance of it. While the Moors governed there, and the Spaniards were mixed with them, a Spanish cavalier in a sudden quarrel slew a young Moorish gentleman and fled. His pursuers soon lost sight of him; for he had, unperceived, thrown himself over a garden wall. The owner, a Moor, happening to be in his garden, was addressed by the Spaniard on his knees, who acquainted him with his case, and implored concealment. “Eat this,” said the Moor, giving him half a peach. “You now know that you may confide in my protection.” He then locked him up in his garden apartment, telling him that as soon as it was night he would provide for his escape to a place of more safety. The Moor then went into his house, where he had scarce seated himself when a great crowd, with loud lamentations, came to his gate, bringing the corpse of his son, that had just been killed by a Spaniard. When the first shock of surprise was a little over, he learnt from the description given that the fatal deed was done by the person then in his power. He mentioned this to no one; but as soon as it was dark retired to his garden apartment, as if to grieve alone, giving orders that none should follow him. There accosting the Spaniard he said: “Christian, the person you have killed is my son. His body is now in my house. You ought to suffer; but you have eaten with me, and I have given you my faith, which must not be broken. Follow me.” He then led the astonished Spaniard to his stables, mounted him on one of his fleetest horses, and said: “Fly far while the night can cover Edition: current; Page: [38] you. You will be safe in the morning. You are indeed guilty of my son’s blood; but God is just and good, and I thank him that I am innocent of yours, and that my faith given is preserved.”

The Spaniards caught from the Moors this punto of honor, the effects of which remain, in a degree, to this day. So that when there is fear of a war about to break out between England and Spain, an English merchant there, who apprehends the confiscation of his goods as the goods of an enemy, thinks them safe if he can get a Spaniard to take charge of them; for the Spaniard secures them as his own, and faithfully redelivers them, or pays the value, whenever the Englishman can safely demand it.

Justice to that nation, though lately our enemies, and hardly yet our cordial friends, obliges me on this occasion not to omit mentioning an instance of Spanish honor which cannot but be still fresh in the memory of many yet living. In 1746, when we were in a hot war with Spain, the Elizabeth, of London, Captain William Edwards, coming through the Gulf from Jamaica richly laden, met with a most violent storm, in which the ship sprung a leak, that obliged them, for the saving of their lives, to run her into the Havana. The captain went on shore, directly waited on the governor, told the occasion of his putting in, and that he surrendered his ship as a prize, and himself and his men as prisoners of war, only requesting good quarter. “No, sir,” replied the Spanish governor; “if we had taken you in fair war at sea, or approaching our coast with hostile intentions, your ship would then have been a prize, Edition: current; Page: [39] and your people prisoners. But when distressed by a tempest you come into our ports for the safety of your lives, we, though enemies, being men, are bound as such by the laws of humanity to afford relief to distressed men who ask it of us. We cannot, even against our enemies, take advantage of an act of God. You have leave, therefore, to unload the ship, if that be necessary, to stop the leak; you may refit here, and traffic so far as shall be necessary to pay the charges. You may then depart, and I will give you a pass, to be in force till you are beyond Bermuda. If after that you are taken, you will then be a prize; but now you are only a stranger, and have a stranger’s right to safety and protection.” The ship accordingly departed, and arrived safe in London.

Will it be permitted me to adduce, on this occasion, an instance of a like honor in a poor unenlightened African Negro? I find it in Captain Seagrave’s account of his Voyage of Guinea. He relates that a New England sloop, trading there in 1852, left their second mate, William Murray, sick on shore, and sailed without him. Murray was at the house of a black, named Cudjoe, with whom he had contracted an acquaintance during their trade. He recovered, and the sloop being gone, he continued with his black friend till some other opportunity should offer of his getting home. In the meanwhile, a Dutch ship came into the road, and some of the blacks going on board her, were treacherously seized, and carried off as slaves. Their relations and friends, transported with sudden rage, ran to the house of Cudjoe to take revenge by killing Murray. Cudjoe stopped them at Edition: current; Page: [40] the door, and demanded what they wanted. “The white men,” said they, “have carried away our brothers and sons, and we will kill all white men; give us the white man that you keep in your house, for we will kill him.” “Nay,” said Cudjoe, “the white men that carried away your brothers are bad men, kill them when you can catch them; but this white man is a good man, and you must not kill him.” “But he is a white man,” they cried; “the white men are all bad, and we will kill them all.” “Nay,” says he, “you must not kill a man, that has done no harm, only for being white. This man is my friend, my house is his fort, and I am his soldier. I must fight for him. You must kill me, before you can kill him. What good man will ever come again under my roof, if I let my floor be stained with a good man’s blood!” The Negroes, seeing his resolution, and being convinced by his discourse that they were wrong, went away ashamed. In a few days, Murray ventured abroad again with Cudjoe, when several of them took him by the hand, and told him they were glad they had not killed him; for, as he was a good (meaning an innocent) man, their God would have been angry, and would have spoiled their fishing. “I relate this,” says Captain Seagrave, “to show that some among these dark people have a strong sense of justice and honor, and that even the most brutal among them are capable of feeling the force of reason, and of being influenced by a fear of God (if the knowledge of the true God could be introduced among them), since even the fear of a false god, when their rage subsided, was not without its good effect.”

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Now I am about to mention something of Indians, I beg that I may not be understood as framing apologies for all Indians. I am far from desiring to lessen the laudable spirit of resentment in my countrymen against those now at war with us, so far as it is justified by their perfidy and inhumanity. I would only observe, that the Six Nations, as a body, have kept faith with the English ever since we knew them, now near a hundred years; and that the governing part of those people have had notions of honor, whatever may be the case with the rum-debauched, trader-corrupted vagabonds and thieves on the Susquehanna and Ohio, at present in arms against us. As a proof of that honor, I shall only mention one well-known recent fact. When six Catawba deputies, under the care of Colonel Bull, of Charlestown, went by permission into the Mohawk’s country, to sue for and treat of peace, for their nation, they soon found the Six Nations highly exasperated, and the peace at that time impracticable. They were therefore in fear of their own persons, and apprehended that they should be killed in their way back to New York; which being made known to the Mohawk chiefs by Colonel Bull, one of them, by order of the council, made this speech, to the Catawbas:

“Strangers and Enemies:

While you are in this country, blow away all fear out of your breasts; change the black streak of paint on your cheek for a red one, and let your faces shine with bear’s grease. You are safer here than if you were at home. The Six Nations will not defile their Edition: current; Page: [42] own land with the blood of men that come unarmed to ask for peace. We shall send a guard with you, to see you safe out of our territories. So far you shall have peace, but no farther. Get home to your own country, and take care of yourselves, for there we intend to come and kill you.”

The Catawbas came away unhurt accordingly.

It is also well known that just before the late war broke out, when our traders first went among the Piankeshaw Indians, a tribe of the Twigtwees, they found the principle of giving protection to strangers in full force; for, the French coming with their Indians to the Piankeshaw town, and demanding that those traders and their goods should be delivered up, the Piankeshaws replied the English were come there upon their invitation, and they could not do so base a thing. But the French insisting on it, the Piankeshaws took arms in defence of their guests, and a number of them, with their old chief, lost their lives in the cause, the French at last prevailing by superior force only.

I will not dissemble that numberless stories have been raised and spread abroad, against not only the poor wretches that are murdered, but also against the hundred and forty Christianized Indians, still threatened to be murdered; all of which stories are well known, by those who know the Indians best, to be pure inventions, contrived by bad people, either to excite each other to join in the murder, or since it was committed, to justify it, and believed only by the weak and credulous. I call thus publicly on the makers and venders of these accusations to produce Edition: current; Page: [43] their evidence. Let them satisfy the public that even Will Soc, the most obnoxious of all that tribe, was really guilty of those offenses against us which they lay to his charge. But, if he was, ought he not to have been fairly tried? He lived under our laws, and was subject to them; he was in our hands, and might easily have been prosecuted; was it English justice to condemn and execute him unheard? Conscious of his own innocence, he did not endeavour to hide himself when the door of the workhouse, his sanctuary, was breaking open. “I will meet them.” says he, “for they are my brothers.” These brothers of his shot him down at the door, while the word “brothers” was between his teeth.

But if Will Soc was a bad man, what had poor old Shehaes done? What could he or the other poor old men and women do? What had little boys and girls done? What could children of a year old, babes at the breast, what could they do, that they too must be shot and hatcheted? Horrid to relate! And in their parent’s arms! This is done by no civilized nation in Europe. Do we come to America to learn and practise the manners of barbarians? But this, barbarians as they are, they practise against their enemies only, not against their friends. These poor people have been always our friends. Their fathers received ours, when strangers here, with kindness and hospitality. Behold the return we have made them! When we grew more numerous and powerful, they put themselves under our protection. See, in the mangled corpses of the last remains of the tribe, how effectually we have afforded it to them!

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Unhappy people! to have lived in such times, and by such neighbours. We have seen that they would have been safer among the ancient heathens, with whom the rites of hospitality were sacred. They would have been considered as guests of the public, and the religion of the country would have operated in their favor. But our frontier people call themselves Christians! They would have been safer, if they had submitted to the Turks; for ever since Mahomet’s reproof to Khaled, even the cruel Turks never kill prisoners in cold blood. These were not even prisoners. But what is the example of Turks to Scripture Christians? They would have been safer, though they had been taken in actual war against the Saracens, if they had once drank water with them. These were not taken in war against us, and have drunk with us, and we with them, for fourscore years. But shall we compare Saracens to Christians?

They would have been safer among the Moors in Spain, though they had been murderers of sons; if faith had once been pledged to them, and a promise of protection given. But these have had the faith of the English given to them many times by the government, and, in reliance on that faith, they lived among us, and gave us the opportunity of murdering them. However, what was honorable in Moors, may not be a rule to us; for we are Christians! They would have been safer, it seems, among Popish Spaniards, even if enemies, and delivered into their hands by a tempest. These were not enemies; they were born among us, and yet we have killed them all. But shall we imitate idolatrous Papists, we that are enlightened Edition: current; Page: [45] Protestants? They would even have been safer among the Negroes of Africa, where at least one manly soul would have been found, with sense, spirit, and humanity enough, to stand in their defence. But shall white men and Christians act like a Pagan Negro? In short, it appears, that they would have been safe in any part of the known world, except in the neighborhood of the Christian white savages of Peckstang and Donegall!

O, ye unhappy perpetrators of this horrid wickedness! reflect a moment on the mischief ye have done, the disgrace ye have brought on your country, on your religion and your Bible, on your families and children. Think on the destruction of your captivated countryfolks (now among the wild Indians) which probably may follow, in resentment of your barbarity! Think on the wrath of the United Five Nations, hitherto our friends, but now, provoked by your murdering one of their tribes, in danger of becoming our bitter enemies. Think of the mild and good government you have so audaciously insulted; the laws of your king, your country, and your God, that you have broken; the infamous death that hangs over your heads; for justice, though slow, will come at last. All good people everywhere detest your actions. You have imbrued your hands in innocent blood; how will you make them clean? The dying shrieks and groans of the murdered will often sound in your ears. Their spectres will sometimes attend you, and affright even your innocent children. Fly where you will, your consciences will go with you. Talking in your sleep shall betray you; in the delirium Edition: current; Page: [46] of a fever you yourselves shall make your own wickedness known.

One hundred and forty peaceable Indians yet remain in this government. They have, by Christian missionaries, been brought over to a liking, at least, of our religion; some of them lately left their nation, which is now at war with us, because they did not choose to join with them in their depredations; and to show their confidence in us, and to give us an equal confidence in them, they have brought and put into our hands their wives and children. Others have lived long among us in Northampton county, and most of their children have been born there. These are all now trembling for their lives. They have been hurried from place to place for safety, now concealed in corners, then sent out of the province, refused a passage through a neighbouring colony, and returned, not unkindly, perhaps, but disgracefully, on our hands. O Pennsylvania! Once renowned for kindness to strangers, shall the clamors of a few mean niggards about the expense of this public hospitality, an expense that will not cost the noisy wretches sixpence a piece (and what is the expense of the poor maintenance we afford them, compared to the expense they might occasion if in arms against us?),—shall so senseless a clamor, I say, force you to turn out of your own doors these unhappy guests, who have offended their own country-folks by their affection for you, who, confiding in your goodness, have put themselves under your protection? Those whom you have disarmed to satisfy groundless suspicions, will you leave them exposed to the armed Edition: current; Page: [47] madmen of your country? Unmanly men! who are not ashamed to come with weapons against the unarmed, to use the sword against women, and the bayonet against young children; and who have already given such bloody proofs of their inhumanity and cruelty.

Let us rouse ourselves, for shame, and redeem the honor of our province from the contempt of its neighbours; let all good men join heartily and unanimously in support of the laws, and in strengthening the hands of government; that justice may be done, the wicked punished, and the innocent protected; otherwise we can, as a people, expect no blessing from Heaven; there will be no security for our persons or properties; anarchy and confusion will prevail over all; and violence without judgment dispose of every thing.

When I mention the baseness of the murderers, in the use they made of arms, I cannot, I ought not, to forget the very different behaviour of brave men and true soldiers, of which this melancholy occasion has afforded us fresh instances. The Royal Highlanders have, in the course of this war, suffered as much as any other corps, and have frequently had their ranks thinned by an Indian enemy, yet they did not for this retain a brutal undistinguishing resentment against all Indians, friends as well as foes. But a company of them, happening to be here, when the one hundred and forty poor Indians above mentioned were thought in too much danger to stay longer in the province, cheerfully undertook to protect and escort them to New York, which they executed (as far as that Edition: current; Page: [48] Government would permit the Indians to come) with fidelity and honor; and their captain, Robinson, is justly applauded and honored by all sensible and good people, for the care, tenderness, and humanity, with which he treated those unhappy fugitives, during their march in this severe season.

General Gage, too, has approved of his officer’s conduct, and, as I hear, ordered him to remain with the Indians at Amboy, and continue his protection to them, till another body of the King’s forces could be sent to relieve his company, and escort their charge back in safety to Philadelphia, where his Excellency has had the goodness to direct those forces to remain for some time, under the orders of our governor, for the security of the Indians; the troops of this province being at present necessarily posted on the frontier. Such just and generous actions endear the military to the civil power, and impress the minds of all the discerning with a still greater respect for our national government. I shall conclude with observing, that cowards can handle arms, can strike where they are sure to meet with no return, can wound, mangle, and murder; but it belongs to brave men to spare and to protect; for, as the poet says,

  • “Mercy still sways the brave.”
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CCLII: COOL THOUGHTS ON THE PRESENT SITUATION OF OUR PUBLIC AFFAIRS1

12 April, 1764
Philadelphia
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin

IN A LETTER TO A FRIEND IN THE COUNTRY

Sir:

Your apology was unnecessary. It will be no trouble, but a pleasure, if I can give you the satisfaction you desire. I shall therefore immediately communicate to you my motives for approving the proposal of endeavouring to obtain a Royal Government, in exchange for this of the Proprietaries; with such answers to the objections you mention as, in my opinion, fully obviate them.

I do not purpose entering into the merits of the disputes between the proprietaries and the people. I only observe it as a fact known to us all, that such disputes there are, and that they have long subsisted, greatly to the prejudice of the province, clogging and embarrassing all the wheels of government, and exceedingly obstructing the public defence, and the measures wisely concerted by our gracious Sovereign, for the common security of the colonies. I may add it as another fact, that we are all heartily tired of these disputes.

It is very remarkable, that disputes of the same Edition: current; Page: [50] kind have arisen in all proprietary governments, and subsisted till their dissolution. All were made unhappy by them, and found no relief but in recurring finally to the immediate government of the crown. Pennsylvania and Maryland are the only two of the kind remaining, and both at this instant agitated by the same contentions between proprietary interest and power, and popular liberty. Through these contentions the good people of that province are rendered equally unhappy with ourselves, and their proprietary, perhaps, more so than ours; for he has no Quakers in his assembly to saddle with the blame of those contentions, nor can he justify himself with the pretence, that turning to the church has made his people his enemies.

Pennsylvania had scarce been settled twenty years, when these disputes began between the first proprietor and the original settlers; they continued, with some intermissions, during his whole life; his widow took them up, and continued them after his death. Her sons resumed them very early,1 and they still subsist. Mischievous and distressing as they have been found to both proprietors and people, it does not appear that there is any prospect of their being extinguished, till either the proprietary purse is unable to support them, or the spirit of the people so broken, that they shall be willing to submit to any thing, rather than continue them. The first is not very likely to happen, as that immense estate goes on increasing.

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Considering all circumstances, I am at length inclined to think, that the cause of these miserable contentions is not to be sought for merely in the depravity and selfishness of human minds. For, though it is not unlikely that in these, as well as in other disputes, there are faults on both sides, every glowing coal being apt to inflame its opposite; yet I see no reason to suppose that all proprietary rulers are worse men than other rulers, nor that all people in proprietary governments are worse people than those in other governments. I suspect, therefore, that the cause is radical, interwoven in the constitution, and so become the very nature, of proprietary governments; and will therefore produce its effects, as long as such governments continue. And, as some physicians say, every animal body brings into the world among its original stamina the seeds of that disease that shall finally produce its dissolution; so the political body of a proprietary government contains those convulsive principles that will at length destroy it.

I may not be philosopher enough to develope those principles, nor would this letter afford me room, if I had abilities, for such a discussion. The fact seems sufficient for our purpose, and the fact is notorious, that such contentions have been in all proprietary governments, and have brought, or are now bringing, them all to a conclusion. I will only mention one particular common to them all. Proprietaries must have a multitude of private accounts and dealings with almost all the people of their provinces, either for purchase money or quit-rents. Dealings Edition: current; Page: [52] often occasion differences and differences produce mutual opinions of injustice. If proprietaries do not insist on small rights, they must on the whole lose large sums; and if they do insist on small rights, they seem to descend, their dignity suffers in the opinion of the people, and with it the respect necessary to keep up the authority of government. The people, who think themselves injured in point of property, are discontented with the government, and grow turbulent; and the proprietaries’ using their powers of government to procure for themselves what they think justice in their points of property, renders those powers odious. I suspect this has had no small share in producing the confusions incident to those governments. They appear, however, to be, of all others, the most unhappy.

At present we are in a wretched situation. The government, that ought to keep all in order, is itself weak, and has scarce authority enough to keep the common peace. Mobs assemble and kill (we scarce dare say murder) numbers of innocent people in cold blood, who were under the protection of the government. Proclamations are issued to bring the rioters to justice. Those proclamations are treated with the utmost indignity and contempt. Not a magistrate dares wag a finger towards discovering or apprehending the delinquents (we must not call them murderers). They assemble again, and with arms in their hands approach the capital. The government truckles, condescends to cajole them, and drops all prosecution of their crimes; whilst honest citizens, threatened in their lives and fortunes, flee the province, Edition: current; Page: [53] as having no confidence in the public protection. We are daily threatened with more of these tumults; and the government, which in its distress called aloud on the sober inhabitants to come with arms to its assistance, now sees those who afforded that assistance daily libelled, abused, and menaced by its partisans for so doing; whence it has little reason to expect such assistance on another occasion.

In this situation, what is to be done? By what means is that harmony between the two branches of government to be obtained, without which the internal peace of the province cannot be well secured? One project is, to turn all Quakers out of the assembly; or, by obtaining more members for the back counties, to get a majority in who are not Quakers. This, perhaps, is not very difficult to do; and more members for those counties may, on other accounts, be proper; but I much question if it would answer this end, as I see among the members, that those who are not Quakers, and even those from the back counties, are as hearty and unanimous in opposing what they think proprietary injustice, as the Quakers themselves, if not more so. Religion has happily nothing to do with our present differences, though great pains is taken to lug it into the squabble. And even were the Quakers extirpated, I doubt whether the proprietaries, while they pursue the same measures, would be a whit more at their ease.

Another project is, to choose none for assemblymen but such as are friends to the proprietaries. The number of members is not so great, but that I believe the scheme may be practicable, if you look Edition: current; Page: [54] for representatives among proprietary officers and dependants. Undoubtedly it would produce great harmony between governor and assembly; but how would both of them agree with the people? Their principles and conduct must greatly change, if they would be elected a second year. But that might be needless. Six parts in seven agreeing with the governor, could make the House perpetual. This, however, would not probably establish peace in the province. The quarrel the people now have with the proprietaries, would then be with both the proprietaries and assembly. There seems to remain, then, but one remedy for our evils, a remedy approved by experience, and which has been tried with success by other provinces; I mean that of an immediate Royal Government, without the intervention of proprietary powers, which, like unnecessary springs and movements in a machine, are so apt to produce disorder.

It is not to be expected that the proposal of a change like this, should meet with no objections. Those you have mentioned to me, concerning liberty of conscience and the privileges of Dissenters, are, however, not difficult to answer; as they seem to arise merely from want of information or acquaintance with the state of other colonies, before and after such changes had been made in their government. Carolina and the Jerseys were formerly proprietary governments, but now immediately under the crown; and their cases had many circumstances similar to ours. Of the first we are told:

“There was a natural infirmity in the policy of Edition: current; Page: [55] their charter, which was the source of many of the misfortunes of the colony, without any imputation on the noble families concerned. For the grantees [the proprietors], being eight in number, and not incorporated, and no provision being made to conclude the whole number by the voices of the majority, there could not be timely measures always agreed on, which were proper or necessary for the good government of the plantation. In the meantime, the inhabitants grew unruly and quarrelled about religion and politics; and while there was a mere anarchy among them, they were exposed to the attacks and insults of their Spanish and Indian neighbours, whom they had impudently provoked and injured; and, as if they had conspired against the growth of the colony, they repealed their laws for liberty of conscience, though the majority of the people were Dissenters, and had resorted thither under the public faith for a complete indulgence, which they considered as part of their Magna Charta. Within these four years an end was put to their sorrows; for about that time, the lords proprietors and the planters (who had long been heartily tired of each other) were, by the interposition of the Legislature, fairly divorced for ever, and the property of the whole vested in the crown.”1 And the above-mentioned injudicious and unjust act against the privileges of Dissenters, was repealed by the King in council.

Another historian tells us: “Their intestine distractions, and their foreign wars kept the colony so Edition: current; Page: [56] low, that an act of Parliament, if possible to prevent the last ruinous consequences of these divisions, put the province under the immediate care and inspection of the crown.”1

And Governor Johnson, at his first meeting the assembly there, after the change, tells them:

“His Majesty, out of his great goodness and fatherly care of you, and at the earnest request and solicitation of yourselves, has been graciously pleased, at a great expense, to purchase seven eighths of the late lords proprietaries’ charter, whereby you are become under his immediate government, a blessing and security we have been long praying for, and solicitous of; the good effects of which we daily experience by the safety we enjoy, as well in our trade, the protection of his ships of war, as by land, by an independent company maintained purely for our safety and encouragement. The taking off the enumeration of rice is a peculiar favor,” &c.2

By these accounts we learn that the people of that province, far from losing by the change, obtained internal security and external protection both by sea and land; the Dissenters, a restoration and establishment of their privileges, which the proprietary government attempted to deprive them of; and the whole province, favors in point of trade with respect to their grand staple commodity, which from that time they were allowed to carry directly to foreign ports, without being obliged, as before, to enter in England.

With regard to the neighbouring province of New Edition: current; Page: [57] Jersey, we find, in a representation from the Board of Trade to the crown, dated “Whitehall, October 2d, 1701,” the following account of it, namely: “That the inhabitants, in a petition to his Majesty the last year, complained of several grievances they lay under, by the neglect or mismanagement of the proprietors of that province, or their agents; unto which they also added, that during the whole time the said proprietors have governed, or pretended to govern, that province, they have never taken care to preserve or defend the same from the Indians or other enemies, by sending or providing any arms, ammunition, or stores, as they ought to have done; and the said inhabitants thereupon humbly prayed his Majesty would be pleased to commissionate some fit person, to be governor over them. That it has been represented to us by several letters, memorials, and other papers, as well as from the inhabitants as proprietors, that they are at present in confusion and anarchy, and that it is much to be apprehended, lest by the heats of the parties that are amongst them, they should fall into such violences as may endanger the lives of many persons and destroy the colony.”1

In consequence of these disorders, and petitions from the people, the proprietors were obliged to surrender that government to the crown; Queen Anne then reigning, who, of all our crowned heads since the Revolution, was by far the least favorable to Dissenters; yet her instructions to Lord Cornbury, her first governor, were express and full in their favor, viz.:

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Instruction 51st. You are to permit a liberty of conscience to all persons (except Papists), so that they may be contented with a quiet and peaceable enjoyment of the same, not giving offence or scandal to the government.

Instruction 52d. And whereas we have been informed that divers of our good subjects inhabiting those parts, do make a religious scruple of swearing, and by reason of their refusing to take an oath in any court of justice and other places, are or may be liable to many inconveniences, our will and pleasure is, that, in order to their ease in what they conceive to be matter of conscience, so far as may be consistent with good order and government, you take care that an act be passed in the general assembly of our said province, to the like effect as that passed here in the seventh and eighth years of his late Majesty’s reign, entitled: ‘An Act, that the solemn affirmation and declaration of the people called Quakers, shall be accepted instead of an oath in the usual form’; and that the same be transmitted to us, and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, as before directed.

Instruction 53d. And whereas we have been farther informed, that in the settlement of the government of our said province it may so happen, that the number of inhabitants fitly qualified to serve in our council, in the general assembly, and in other places of trust and profit there, will be but small; it is therefore our will and pleasure, that such of the said people called Quakers, as shall be found capable of any of those places and employments, and accordingly Edition: current; Page: [59] be elected or appointed to serve therein, may, upon their taking and signing the declaration of allegiance to us, in the form used by the same people here in England, together with a solemn declaration for the true discharge of their respective trusts, be admitted by you into any of the said places or employments,” &c.1

And the same privileges have been, and still are, fully enjoyed in that province by Dissenters of all kinds; the council, assembly, and magistracy being filled with Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Quakers, promiscuously, without the least distinction or exclusion of any. We may farther remark, on the above report of the Board of Trade, that the defence of a proprietary province was originally looked upon as the duty of the proprietaries, who received the quitrents, and had the emoluments of government; whence it was that in former wars, when arms, ammunition, cannon, and military stores of all kinds have been sent by the crown to all the colonies under its immediate government, whose situation and circumstances required it, nothing of the kind has been sent to proprietary governments. And to this day, neither Pennsylvania nor Maryland have received any such assistance from the crown; nor did Carolina, till it became a King’s government.

Massachusetts Bay, in New England, lost its charter in the latter end of King Charles’ reign, when the charters of London and all the corporations in England were seized. At the Revolution the crown gave them a better constitution, which they enjoy to this Edition: current; Page: [60] day. No advantages were taken against the privileges of the people, though then universally Dissenters. The same privileges are enjoyed by the Dissenters in New Hampshire, which has been a royal government ever since 1679, when the freeholders and inhabitants petitioned to be taken under the immediate protection of the crown. Nor is there existing, in any of the American colonies, any test imposed by Great Britain, to exclude Dissenters from offices. In some colonies, indeed, where the Episcopalians, and in others the Dissenters, have been predominant, they have made partial laws in favor of their respective sects, and laid some difficulties on the others; but those laws have been generally, on complaint, repealed at home.

It is farther objected, you tell me, that “if we have a royal government, we must have with it a bishop and a spiritual court, and must pay tithes to support an Episcopal clergy.” A bishop for America has been long talked of in England, and probably, from the apparent necessity of the thing, will sooner or later be appointed; because a voyage to England for ordination is extremely inconvenient and expensive to the young clergy educated in America; and the Episcopal churches and clergy in these colonies cannot so conveniently be governed and regulated by a bishop residing in England, as by one residing among those committed to his care. But this event will happen neither sooner nor later for our being or not being under a royal government. And the spiritual court, if the bishop should hold one, can have authority only with his own people, if with them, since it is Edition: current; Page: [61] not likely that any law of this province will ever be made to submit the inhabitants to it, or oblige them to pay tithes; and without such law, tithes can no more be demanded here than they are in any other colony; and there is not a single instance of tithes demanded or paid in any part of America. A maintenance has, indeed, been established in some colonies for the Episcopal clergy; as in Virginia, a royal government, and in Maryland, a proprietary government. But this was done by acts of their own, which they were not obliged to make, if they did not choose it.

That “we shall have a standing army to maintain,” is another bugbear raised to terrify us from endeavouring to obtain a King’s government. It is very possible that the crown may think it necessary to keep troops in America henceforward, to maintain its conquests and defend the colonies, and that the Parliament may establish some revenue arising out of the American trade, to be applied towards supporting those troops. It is possible, too, that we may, after a few years’ experience, be generally very well satisfied with that measure, from the steady protection it will afford us against foreign enemies, and the security of internal peace among ourselves, without the expense or trouble of a militia. But assure yourself, my friend, that, whether we like it or not, our continuing under a proprietary government will not prevent it, nor our coming under a royal government promote and forward it, any more than they would prevent or procure rain or sunshine.

The other objections you have communicated to Edition: current; Page: [62] me are, that, “in case of a change of proprietary for royal government, our judges and other officers will be appointed and sent us from England; we must have a legislative council; our assembly will lose the right of sitting on their own adjournments; we shall lose the right of choosing sheriffs, and annual assemblies, and of voting by ballot.” I shall not enter into the question, whether judges from England would probably be of advantage or disadvantage to our law proceedings. It is needless, as the power of appointing them is given to the governor here, by a law that has received the royal assent, the “Act for establishing Courts.” The King’s governor only comes in place of a proprietary governor; he must (if the change is made) take the government as he finds it. He can alter nothing. The same answer serves for all the subsequent objections. A legislative council under proper regulations might perhaps be an amendment of our constitution, but it cannot take place without our consent, as our constitution is otherwise established; nor can our assembly lose the right of sitting on their own adjournments; nor the people that of choosing sheriffs, and annual assemblies, or of voting by ballot; these rights being all confirmed by acts of assembly assented to by the crown. I mean the acts entitled: “An Act to ascertain the Number of Members of Assembly and to regulate the Elections,” and “An Act for regulating the Elections of Sheriffs and Coroners”; both passed in the fourth of Queen Anne.

I know it has been asserted, to intimidate us, that those acts, so far from being approved by the crown, Edition: current; Page: [63] were never presented. But I can assure you, from good authority, that they, with forty-eight others (all passed at the same time by Governor Evans), were duly laid before the Queen in council; who, on the 28th of April, 1709, referred the same to the Board of Trade. The Board, on the 8th of September, 1709, reported upon the said fifty acts, that they had considered the same, and had taken the opinion of the attorney-general upon several of them in point of law, and they represented against six of them, as unfit to be continued in force; but as to the other forty-four, the titles of which are given at large, and among them the two material acts above-mentioned, they had no objection to the same. Whereupon there issued two orders of the Queen in council, both dated at the Court at Windsor, the 24th of October, 1709; one repealing the six laws objected to, and the other approving the remaining forty-four.

This is a fact that you may depend upon. There is therefore nothing now that can deprive us of those privileges, but an act of Parliament; and we may rely on the united justice of King, Lords, and Commons, that no such act will ever pass, while we continue loyal and dutiful subjects. An Act of assembly, indeed, may give them up; but I trust, urgent as they are for admission, we shall never see proprietary friends enough in the House to make that detestable sacrifice.

In fine, it does not appear to me that this change of government can possibly hurt us; and I see many advantages that may flow from it. The expression, change of government, seems, indeed, to be too Edition: current; Page: [64] extensive; and is apt to give the idea of a general and total change of our laws and constitution. It is rather and only a change of governor—that is, instead of self-interested proprietaries, a gracious King. His Majesty, who has no views but for the good of the people, will thenceforth appoint the governor, who, unshackled by proprietary instructions, will be at liberty to join with the assembly in enacting wholesome laws. At present, when the King requires supplies of his faithful subjects, and they are willing and desirous to grant them, the proprietaries intervene and say: “Unless our private interests in certain particulars are served, nothing shall be done.” This insolent tribunal veto has long encumbered our public affairs, and been productive of many mischiefs. By the measure proposed, not even the proprietaries can justly complain of any injury. The being obliged to fulfil a fair contract is no injury. The crown will be under no difficulty in completing the old contract made with their father, as there needs no application to Parliament for the necessary sum, since half the quit-rents of the lower counties belongs to the King, and the many years’ arrears in the proprietaries’ hands, who are the collectors, must vastly exceed what they have a right to demand, or any reason to expect.1

On the whole, I cannot but think, the more the proposal is considered, of an humble petition to the King to take this province under his Majesty’s immediate protection and government, the more unanimously Edition: current; Page: [65] we shall go into it. We are chiefly people of three countries. British spirits can no longer bear the treatment they have received, nor will they put on the chains prepared for them by a fellow subject. And the Irish and Germans have felt too severely the oppressions of hard-hearted landlords and arbitrary princes, to wish to see, in the proprietaries of Pennsylvania, both the one and the other united.

I am, with much respect, Sir,
Your most obedient, humble servant,
A. B.

CCLIII: PETITION TO THE KING
FOR CHANGING THE PROPRIETARY GOVERNMENT OF PENNSYLVANIA INTO A ROYAL GOVERNMENT

To the King’s most excellent Majesty, in Council,

The Petition of the Representatives of the Freemen of the Province of Pennsylvania, in General Assembly met,

Most humbly showeth:

That the government of this province by proprietaries has by long experience been found inconvenient, attended by many difficulties and obstructions to your Majesty’s service, arising from the intervention of proprietary private interests in public affairs and disputes concerning those interests.

That the said proprietary government is weak, unable to support its own authority, and maintain the common internal peace of the province; great riots Edition: current; Page: [66] have lately arisen therein, armed mobs marching from place to place, and committing violent outrages and insults on the government with impunity, to the great terror of your Majesty’s subjects. And these evils are not likely to receive any remedy here, the continual disputes between the proprietaries and people, and their mutual jealousies and dislikes preventing.

We do, therefore, most humbly pray, that your Majesty would be graciously pleased to resume the government of this province, making such compensation to the proprietaries for the same as to your Majesty’s wisdom and goodness shall appear just and equitable, and permitting your dutiful subjects therein to enjoy, under your Majesty’s more immediate care and protection, the privileges that have been granted to them by and under your royal predecessors.

By order of the House.

CCLIV: REMARKS
ON A PARTICULAR MILITIA BILL REJECTED BY THE PROPRIETOR’S DEPUTY, OR GOVERNOR

TO THE FREEMEN OF PENNSYLVANIA

Gentlemen:

Your desire of knowing how the militia bill came to fail, in the last assembly, shall immediately be complied with.

Edition: current; Page: [67]

As the governor pressed hard for a militia law, to secure the internal peace of the province, and the people of this country had not been accustomed to militia service, the House, to make it more generally agreeable to the freeholders, formed the bill so that they might have some share in the election of the officers; to secure them from having absolute strangers set over them, or persons generally disagreeable.

This was no more than that every person should choose, and recommend to the governor, three persons for each office of captain, lieutenant, and ensign; out of which three the governor was to commission one that he thought most proper, or which he pleased, to be the officer. And that the captains, lieutenants, and ensigns, so commissioned by the governor, should, in their respective regiments, choose and recommend three persons for each office of colonel, lieutenant-colonel, and major; out of which three the governor was to commission one, whichever he pleased, to each of the said offices.

The governor’s amendment to the bill in this particular was, to strike out wholly this privilege of the people, and to take to himself the sole appointment of all the officers.

The next amendment was, to aggravate and enhance all the fines. A fine that the Assembly had made one hundred pounds, and thought heavy enough, the governor required to be three hundred pounds. What they had made fifty pounds, he required to be one hundred and fifty. These were fines on the commissioned officers for disobedience to his commands; but the non-commissioned officers, or Edition: current; Page: [68] common soldiers, whom, for the same offence, the assembly proposed to fine at ten pounds, the governor insisted should be fined fifty pounds.

These fines, and some others to be mentioned hereafter, the assembly thought ruinously high. But when, in a subsequent amendment, the governor would, for offences among the militia, take away the trial by jury in the common courts; and required that the trial should be by a court-martial, composed of officers of his own sole appointing, who should have power of sentencing even to death; the House could by no means consent thus to give up their constituents’ liberty, estate, and life itself, into the absolute power of a proprietary governor; and so the bill failed.

That you may be assured I do not misrepresent this matter, I shall give you the last-mentioned amendment (so called) at full length: and for the truth and exactness of my copy, I dare appeal to Mr. Secretary Shippen.

The words of the bill, page 43, were: “Every such person so offending, being legally convicted thereof,” &c. By the words legally convicted was intended a conviction after legal trial, in the common course of the laws of the land. But the governor required this addition immediately to follow the words “convicted thereof,” namely, “by a court-martial, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as such court, by their sentence or decree, shall think proper to inflict and pronounce. And be it farther enacted by the authority aforesaid, that when and so often as it may be necessary, the governor and commander-in-chief for the time being shall appoint and Edition: current; Page: [69] commissionate, under the great seal of this province, sixteen commissioned officers in each regiment; with authority and power to them, or any thirteen of them, to hold courts-martial, of whom a field officer shall always be one, and president of said court; and such courts-martial shall and are hereby empowered to administer an oath to any witness, in order to the examination or trial of any of the offences which by this act are made cognizable in such courts, and shall come before them. Provided always, that, in all trials by a court-martial by virtue of this act, every officer present at such trial, before any proceedings be had therein, shall take an oath upon the holy Evangelists, before one justice of the peace in the county where such court is held; who are hereby authorized to administer the same, in the following words, that is to say: ‘I, A B, do swear that I will duly administer justice according to evidence, and to the directions of an act entitled, An Act for forming and regulating the militia of the province of Pennsylvania, without partiality, favor, or affection; and that I will not divulge the sentence of the court, until it shall be approved of by the governor or commander-in-chief of this province for the time being; neither will I, upon any account, at any time whatsoever, disclose or discover the vote or opinion of any particular member of the court-martial. So help me God.’ And no sentence of death, or other sentence, shall be given against any offender, but by the concurrence of nine of the officers so sworn. And no sentence passed against any offender by such court-martial shall be put in execution, until report be made of the whole proceedings Edition: current; Page: [70] to the governor or commander-in-chief of this province for the time being, and his directions signified thereupon.”

It is observable here, that, by the common course of justice, a man is to be tried by a jury of his neighbours and fellows, empanelled by a sheriff, in whose appointment the people have a choice. The prisoner too has a right to challenge twenty of the panel, without giving a reason, and as many more as he can give reasons for challenging; and before he can be convicted, the jury are to be unanimous; they are all to agree that he is guilty, and are therefore all accountable for the verdict. But, by this amendment, the jury (if they may be so called) are all officers of the governor’s sole appointing; and not one of them can be challenged; and, though a common militia-man is to be tried, no common militia-man shall be of that jury; and, so far from requiring all to agree, a bare majority shall be sufficient to condemn you. And, lest that majority should be under any check or restraint, from an apprehension of what the world might think or say of the severity or injustice of their sentence, an oath is to be taken, never to discover the vote or opinion of any particular member.

These are some of the chains attempted to be forged for you by the proprietary faction! Who advised the governor is not difficult to know. They are the very men who now clamor at the assembly for a proposal of bringing the trial of a particular murder to this county from another, where it was not thought safe for any man to be either juryman or witness, and call it disfranchising the people, who are now Edition: current; Page: [71] bawling about the constitution, and pretending vast concern for your liberties. In refusing you the least means of recommending, or expressing your regard for, persons to be placed over you as officers, and who were thus to be made your judges in life and estate, they have not regarded the example of the King, our wise as well as kind master; who, in all his requisitions made to the colonies, of raising troops for their defence, directed, that, “the better to facilitate the important service, the commissions should be given to such as, from their weight and credit with the people, may be best enabled to effectuate the levies.”1 In establishing a militia for the defence of the province, how could the “weight and credit” of men with the people be better discovered, than by the mode that bill directed, namely, by a majority of those that were to be commanded, nominating three for each office to the governor, of which three he might take the one he liked best?

However, the courts-martial being established, and all of us thus put into his Honor’s absolute power, the governor goes on to enhance the fines and penalties. Thus, in page 49 of the bill, where the assembly had proposed the fine to be ten shillings, the governor required it to be ten pounds. In page 50, where a fine of five pounds was mentioned, the governor’s amendment required it to be made fifty pounds. And, in page 44, where the assembly had said, “shall forfeit and pay any sum, not exceeding five pounds,” the governor’s amendment says, “shall suffer death, or such other punishment as shall, Edition: current; Page: [72] according to the nature of the offence, be inflicted by the sentence of a court-martial.”

The assembly’s refusing to admit of these amendments in that bill, is one of their offences against the lord proprietary, for which that faction are now abusing them in both the languages1 of the province, with all the virulence that reverend malice can dictate; enforced by numberless barefaced falsehoods, that only the most dishonest and base would dare to invent, and none but the most weak and credulous can possibly believe.

Veritas.

CCLV: PREFACE

to the speech of joseph galloway, on the subject of a petition to the king for changing the proprietary government of pennsylvania to a royal government2

It is not merely because Mr. Dickinson’s speech was ushered into the world by a preface, that one is made to this of Mr. Galloway. But, as in that preface Edition: current; Page: [73] a number of aspersions were thrown on our assemblies, and their proceedings grossly misrepresented, it was thought necessary to wipe those aspersions off by some proper animadversions, and, by a true state of facts, to rectify those misrepresentations.

The preface begins with saying, that “Governor Denny (whose administration will never be mentioned but with disgrace in the annals of this province) was induced by considerations, to which the world is now no stranger, to pass sundry acts,” &c., thus insinuating that by some unusual base bargain, secretly made but afterwards discovered, he was induced to pass them.

It is fit, therefore, without undertaking to justify all that governor’s administration, to show what those considerations were. Ever since the revenue of the quit-rents first, and after that the revenue of tavern-licenses, were settled irrevocably on our proprietors and governors, they have looked on those incomes as their proper estate, for which they were under no obligations to the people; and when they afterwards concurred in passing any useful laws, they considered them as so many jobs, for which they ought to be particularly paid. Hence arose the custom of presents twice a year to the governors, at the close of each session in which laws were passed, given at the time of passing; they usually amounted to a thousand pounds per annum. But when the governors and assemblies disagreed, so that laws were not passed, the presents were withheld. When a disposition to agree ensued, there sometimes still remained some diffidence. The governors would not pass the Edition: current; Page: [74] laws that were wanted, without being sure of the money, even all that they called their arrears; nor the assemblies give the money without being sure of the laws. Thence the necessity of some private conference, in which mutual assurances of good faith might be received and given, that the transactions should go hand in hand. What name the impartial reader will give to this kind of commerce, I cannot say. To me it appears an extortion of more money from the people, for that to which they had before an undoubted right, both by the constitution and by purchase; but there was no other shop they could go to for the commodity they wanted, and they were obliged to comply. Time established the custom, and made it seem honest; so that our governors, even those of the most undoubted honor, have practised it.

Governor Thomas, after a long misunderstanding with the assembly, went more openly to work with them in managing this commerce, and they with him. The fact is curious, as it stands recorded in the votes of 1742-3. Sundry bills sent up to the governor for his assent had lain long in his hands, without any answer. January 4th, the House “Ordered, That Thomas Leech and Edward Warner wait upon the governor, and acquaint him, that the House had long waited for his result on the bills that lie before him, and desire to know when they may expect it.” The gentlemen return and report, “That they waited upon the governor, and delivered the message of the House according to order; and that the governor was pleased to say, ‘He had had the bills long under consideration, Edition: current; Page: [75] and waited the result of the House.’ ” The House well understood this hint; and immediately resolved into a committee of the whole House, to take what was called the governor’s support into consideration, in which they made (the minutes say) some progress; and the next morning, it appears, that that progress, whatever it was, had been communicated to him, for he sent them down this message by his secretary: “Mr. Speaker, The governor commands me to acquaint you that, as he has received assurances of a good disposition in the House, he thinks it incumbent on him to show the like on his part; and therefore sends down the bills, which lay before him, without any amendment.”

As this message only showed a good disposition, but contained no promise to pass the bills, the House seem to have had their doubts; and, therefore, February 2d, when they came to resolve, on the report of the grand committee, to give the money, they guarded their resolves very cautiously, to wit: “Resolved, That, on the passage of such bills as now lie before the governor (the naturalization bill, and such other bills as may be presented to him during this sitting), there be paid him the sum of five hundred pounds. Resolved also, that, on the passage of such bills as now lie before the governor (the naturalization bill, and such other bills as may be presented to him this sitting), there be paid to the governor the further sum of one thousand pounds, for the current year’s support; and that orders be drawn on the treasurer and trustees of the loan-office, pursuant to these resolves.” The orders were accordingly drawn; with Edition: current; Page: [76] which being acquainted, he appointed a time to pass the bills; which was done with one hand, while he received the orders in the other; and then, with the utmost politeness he thanked the House for the fifteen hundred pounds, as if it had been a pure free gift, and a mere mark of their respect and affection. “I thank you, Gentlemen,” says he, “for this instance of your regard, which I am the more pleased with, as it gives an agreeable prospect of future harmony between me and the representatives of the people.”

This, reader, is an exact counterpart of the transaction with Governor Denny; except that Denny sent word to the House, that he would pass the bills before they voted the support. And yet here was no proprietary clamor about bribery, &c. And why so? Why, at that time, the proprietary family, by virtue of a secret bond they had obtained of the governor at his appointment, were to share with him the sums so obtained of the people.

This reservation of the proprietaries they were at that time a little ashamed of, and therefore such bonds were then to be secrets. But as in every kind of sinning frequent repetition lessens shame and increases boldness, we find the proprietaries ten years afterwards openly insisting on these advantages to themselves, over and above what was paid to their deputy; “Wherefore,” say they,1 “on this occasion it is necessary that we inform the people, through yourselves, their representatives, that, as by the constitution our consent is necessary to their laws, at the Edition: current; Page: [77] same time that they have an undoubted right to such as are necessary for the defence and real service of the country, so it will tend the better to facilitate the several matters, which must be transacted with us, for their representatives to show a regard to us and our interest.

This was in their answer to the representation of the assembly (Votes, December, 1754, p. 48) on the justice of their contributing to Indian expenses, which they had refused. And on this clause the committee make the following remark: “They tell us their consent is necessary to our laws, and that it will tend the better to facilitate the matters which must be transacted with them for the representatives to show a regard to their interest; that is (as we understand it), though the proprietaries have a deputy here, supported by the province, who is, or ought to be, fully empowered to pass all laws necessary for the service of the country, yet, before we can obtain such laws, we must facilitate their passage by paying money for the proprietaries, which they ought to pay, or in some shape make it their particular interest to pass them. We hope, however, that if this practice has ever been begun it will never be continued in this province, and that since, as this very paragraph allows, we have an undoubted right to such laws, we shall always be able to obtain them from the goodness of our sovereign without going to market for them to a subject.” Time has shown that those hopes were vain; they have been obliged to go to that market ever since, directly or indirectly, or go without their laws. The practice has continued, and will continue, Edition: current; Page: [78] as long as the proprietary government subsists, intervening between the crown and the people.

Do not, my courteous reader, take pet at our proprietary constitution for these our bargain and sale proceedings in legislation. It is a happy country where justice, and what was your own before, can be had for ready money. It is another addition to the value of money, and, of course, another spur to industry. Every land is not so blessed. There are countries where the princely proprietor claims to be lord of all property, where what is your own shall not only be wrested from you, but the money you give to have it restored shall be kept with it, and your offering so much, being a sign of your being too rich, you shall be plundered of every thing that remained. These times are not come here yet. Your present proprietors have never been more unreasonable hitherto than barely to insist on your fighting in defence of their property, and paying the expense yourselves; or if their estates must, ah! must, be taxed towards it, that the best of their lands shall be taxed no higher than the worst of yours.

Pardon this digression, and I return to Governor Denny. But first let me do Governor Hamilton the justice to observe that whether from the uprightness of his own disposition, or from the odious light the practice had been set in on Denny’s account, or from both, he did not attempt these bargains, but passed such laws as he thought fit to pass without any previous stipulation of pay for them. But then, when he saw the assembly tardy in the payment he expected, and yet calling upon him still to pass more laws, he Edition: current; Page: [79] openly put them in mind of the money as a debt due to him from custom. “In the course of the present year,” says he, in his message of July 8th, 1763, “a great deal of public business hath been transacted by me, and I believe as many useful laws enacted as by any of my predecessors in the same space of time; yet I have not understood that any allowance hath hitherto been made to me for my support, as hath been customary in this province.”

The House, having then some bills in hand, took the matter into immediate consideration, and voted him five hundred pounds, for which an order or certificate was accordingly drawn; and on the same day the Speaker, after the House had been with the governor, reported, “That his Honor had been pleased to give his assent to the bills, by enacting the same into laws. And Mr. Speaker farther reported, that he had then, in behalf of the House, presented their certificate of five hundred pounds to the Governor; who was pleased to say, he was obliged to the House for the same.” Thus we see the practice of purchasing and paying for laws is interwoven with our proprietary constitution, used in the best times, and under the best governors. And yet, alas, poor assembly! how will you steer your brittle bark between these rocks? If you pay ready money for your laws, and those laws are not liked by the proprietaries, you are charged with bribery and corruption; if you wait a while before you pay, you are accused of detaining the governor’s customary right, and dunned as a negligent or dishonest debtor, that refuses to discharge a just debt.

Edition: current; Page: [80]

But Governor Denny’s case, I shall be told, differs from all these; for the acts he was induced to pass were, as the Prefacer tells us, “contrary to his duty, and to every tie of honor and justice.” Such is the imperfection of our language, and perhaps of all other languages, that, notwithstanding we are furnished with dictionaries innumerable, we cannot precisely know the import of words, unless we know of what party the man is that uses them. In the mouth of an assemblyman, or true Pennsylvanian, “contrary to his duty and to every tie of honor and justice,” would mean, the governor’s long refusal to pass laws, however just and necessary, for taxing the proprietary estate; a refusal contrary to the trust reposed in the lieutenant-governor by the royal charter; to the rights of the people, whose welfare it was his duty to promote; and to the nature of the contract made between the governor and the governed, when the quit-rents and license fees were established, which confirmed what the proprietaries call our “undoubted right” to necessary laws. But, in the mouth of the proprietaries, or their creatures, “contrary to his duty, and to every tie of justice and honor,” means, his passing laws contrary to proprietary instructions and contrary to the bonds he had previously given to observe those instructions; instructions, however, that were unjust and unconstitutional; and bonds, that were illegal and void from the beginning.

Much has been said of the wickedness of Governor Denny in passing, and the assembly in prevailing with him to pass, those acts. By the Prefacer’s Edition: current; Page: [81] account of them, you would think that the laws so obtained were all bad; for he speaks of but seven, of which six, he says, were repealed, and the seventh reported to be “fundamentally wrong and unjust,” and “ought to be repealed, unless six certain amendments were made therein.”1 Whereas, in fact, there were nineteen of them; and several of those must have been good laws, for even the proprietaries did not object to them. Of the eleven that they opposed, only six were repealed; so that it seems these good gentlemen may themselves be sometimes as wrong in opposing, as the assembly in enacting, laws. But the words “fundamentally wrong and unjust” are the great fund of triumph to the proprietaries and their partisans. These their subsequent governors have unmercifully dinned in the ears of the assembly on all occasions ever since; for they make a part of near a dozen of their messages. They have rung the changes on those words, till they have worked them up to say that the law was fundamentally wrong and unjust in six several articles; (Governor’s Message, May 17th, 1764,) instead of “ought to be repealed, unless six alterations or amendments could be made therein.” A law unjust in six several articles must be an unjust law indeed. Let us therefore, once for all, examine this unjust law, article by article, in order to see whether our assemblies have been such villains as they have been represented.

The first particular in which their lordships proposed Edition: current; Page: [82] the act should be amended was, “That the real estates to be taxed be defined with precision; so as not to include the unsurveyed waste land belonging to the proprietaries.” This was, at most, but an obscurity to be cleared up; and, though the law might well appear to their lordships uncertain in that particular, with us, who better know our own customs, and that the proprietaries’ waste unsurveyed land was never here considered among estates real, subject to taxation; there was not the least doubt or supposition that such lands were included in the words “all estates real and personal.” The agents, therefore,1 knowing that the assembly had no intention to tax those lands, might well suppose that they would readily agree to remove the obscurity.

Before we go farther, let it be observed, that the main design of the proprietaries in opposing this act was, to prevent their estates being taxed at all. But, as they knew that the doctrine of the proprietary exemption, which they had endeavored to enforce here, could not be supported there, they bent their whole strength against the act on other principles to procure its repeal; pretending great willingness to submit to an equitable tax, but that the assembly (out of mere malice, because they had conscientiously quitted Quakerism for the church) were wickedly determined to ruin them, to tax all their unsurveyed wilderness lands, and at the highest rates; and by that means exempt themselves and the people, and Edition: current; Page: [83] throw the whole burden of the war on the proprietary family.

How foreign these charges were from the truth, need not be told to any man in Pennsylvania. And, as the proprietors knew, that the hundred thousand pounds of paper money, struck for the defence of their enormous estates, with others, was actually issued, spread through the country, and in the hands of thousands of poor people, who had given their labor for it, how base, cruel, and inhuman it was to endeavor, by a repeal of the act, to strike the money dead in those hands at one blow, and reduce it all to waste paper; to the utter confusion of all trade and dealings, and the ruin of multitudes, merely to avoid paying their own just tax;—words may be wanting to express, but minds will easily conceive, and never without abhorrence.

The second amendment proposed by their lordships was: “That the located uncultivated lands belonging to the proprietaries shall not be assessed higher than the lowest rate at which any located uncultivated lands belonging to the inhabitants shall be assessed.” Had there been any provision in the act, that the proprietaries’ lands and those of the people, of the same value, should be taxed differently, the one high and the other low, the act might well have been called in this particular “fundamentally wrong and unjust.” But, as there is no such clause, this cannot be one of the particulars on which the charge is founded; but, like the first, is merely a requisition to make the act clear; by express directions therein, that the proprietaries’ estate should not be, as they pretended to Edition: current; Page: [84] believe it would be, taxed higher in proportion to its value than the estates of others. As to their present claim, founded on that article, “that the best and most valuable of their lands should be taxed no higher than the worst and least valuable of the people’s,” it was not then thought of; they made no such demand; nor did any one dream that so iniquitous a claim would ever be made by men who had the least pretence to the characters of honorable and honest.

The third particular was: “That all lands, not granted by the proprietaries within boroughs and towns, be deemed located uncultivated lands, and rated accordingly, and not as lots.” The clause in the act that this relates to is: “And whereas many valuable lots of ground within the city of Philadelphia and the several boroughs and towns within this province remain unimproved; be it enacted, &c., that all such unimproved lots of ground within the city and boroughs aforesaid shall be rated and assessed according to their situation and value, for and towards raising the money hereby granted.” The reader will observe, that the word is, all unimproved lots; and that all comprehends the lots belonging to the people, as well as those of the proprietary. There were many of the former; and a number belonging even to members of the then assembly; and, considering the value, the tax must be proportionably as grievous to them, as the proprietary’s to him.

Is there among us a single man, even a proprietary relation, officer, or dependant, so insensible of the differences of right and wrong, and so confused in his notions of just and unjust, as to think and say, that Edition: current; Page: [85] the act in this particular was “fundamentally wrong and unjust”? I believe not one. What, then, could their lordships mean by the proposed amendment? Their meaning is easily explained. The proprietaries have considerable tracts of land within the bounds of boroughs and towns, that have not yet been divided into lots. They pretended to believe, that by virtue of this clause an imaginary division would be made of those lands into lots, and an extravagant value set on such imaginary lots, greatly to their prejudice. It was answered, that no such thing was intended by the act; and that by “lots” was meant only such ground as had been surveyed and divided into lots, and not the open undivided lands. If this only is intended, say their lordships, then let the act be amended, so as clearly to express what is intended. This is the full amount of the third particular. How the act was understood here, is well known by the execution of it, before the dispute came on in England, and therefore before their lordships’ opinion on the point could be given; of which full proof shall presently be made. In the meantime it appears, that the act was not on this account “fundamentally wrong and unjust.”

The fourth particular is: “That the governor’s consent and approbation be made necessary to every issue and application of the money, to be raised by virtue of such act.” The assembly intended this, and thought they had done it in the act. The words of the clause being: “That [the commissioners named], or the major part of them, or of the survivors of them, with the consent or approbation of the Edition: current; Page: [86] governor or commander-in-chief of this province for the time being, shall order and appoint the dispositions of the moneys arising by virtue of this act, for and towards paying and clothing two thousand seven hundred effective men,” &c. It was understood here, that as the power of disposing was expressly to be with the consent and approbation of the governor, the commissioners had no power to dispose of the money without that approbation. But their lordships, jealous (as their station requires) of this prerogative of the crown, and being better acquainted with the force and weakness of law expression, did not think the clause explicit enough, unless the words “and not otherwise” were added, or some other words equivalent. This particular, therefore, was no more than another requisition of greater clearness and precision, and by no means a foundation for the charge of “fundamentally wrong and unjust.”

The fifth particular was: “That provincial commissioners be named, to hear and determine appeals, brought on the part of the inhabitants, as well as the proprietaries.” There was already subsisting a provision for the appointment of county commissioners of appeal, by whom the act might be, and actually has been (as we shall presently show), justly and impartially executed with regard to the proprietaries; but provincial commissioners appointed in the act it was thought might be of use in regulating and equalizing the modes of assessment of different counties where they were unequal, and, by affording a second appeal, tend more to the satisfaction both of the proprietaries and the people. This particular was, Edition: current; Page: [87] therefore, a mere proposed improvement of the act; which could not be, and was not, in this respect, denominated “fundamentally wrong and unjust.”

We have now gone through five of the six proposed amendments, without discovering any thing on which that censure could be founded; but the sixth remains, which points at a part of the act wherein we must candidly acknowledge there is something that, in their lordships’ view of it, must justify their judgment. The words of the sixth article are: “That the payments by the tenants to the proprietaries of their rents shall be according to the term of their respective grants; as if such act had never been passed.” This relates to that clause of the act by which the paper money was made a legal tender in “discharge of all manner of debts, rents, sum and sums of money whatsoever, &c., at the rates ascertained in the act of Parliament made in the sixth of Queen Anne.”

From the great injustice frequently done to creditors, and complained of from the colonies, by the vast depreciation of paper bills, it was become a general fixed principle with the ministry, that such bills (whose value though fixed in the act, could not be kept fixed by the act) ought not to be made a legal tender in any colony at those rates. The Parliament had before passed an act to take that tender away in the four New England colonies, and have since made the act general. This was what their lordships would therefore have proposed for the amendment. But, it being represented that the chief support of the credit of the bills was the legal Edition: current; Page: [88] tender, and that without it they would become of no value, it was allowed generally to remain, with an exception to the proprietaries’ rents, where there was a special contract for payment in another coin. It cannot be denied but that this was doing justice to the proprietaries; and that had the requisition been in favor of all other creditors also, the justice had been equal, as being general. We do not therefore presume to impeach their lordship’s judgment, that the act, as it enforced the acceptance of bills for money at a value which they had only nominally, and not really, was in that respect “fundamentally wrong and unjust.”

And yet we believe the reader will not think the assembly so much to blame, when he considers that the making paper bills a legal tender had been the universal mode in America for more than threescore years; that there was scarce a colony that had not practised that mode more or less; that it had always been thought absolutely necessary, in order to give the bills a credit, and thereby obtain from them the uses of money; that the inconveniences were therefore submitted to, for the sake of the greater conveniences; that acts innumerable of the like kind had been approved by the crown; and that, if the assembly made the bills a legal tender at those rates to the proprietaries, they made them also a legal tender to themselves, and all their constituents, many of whom might suffer in their rents, &c., as much in proportion to their estates as the proprietaries.

But, if he cannot on these considerations quite excuse the assembly, what will he think of those honorable Edition: current; Page: [89] proprietaries, who, when paper money was issued in their colony for the common defence of their vast estates with those of the people, and who must therefore reap at least equal advantages from those bills with the people, could nevertheless wish to be exempted from their share of the unavoidable disadvantages. Is there upon earth a man besides, with any conception of what is honest, with any notion of honor, with the least tincture in his veins of the gentleman, but would have blushed at the thought, but would have rejected with disdain such undue preference, if it had been offered him? Much less would he have struggled for it, moved heaven and earth to obtain it, resolved to ruin thousands of his tenants by a repeal of the act, rather than miss of it,1 and enforce it afterwards by an audaciously wicked instruction; forbidding aids to his King, and exposing the province to destruction, unless it was complied with. And yet, these are honorable men.2

Here, then, we have had a full view of the assembly’s injustice, about which there has been so much Edition: current; Page: [90] insolent triumph. But let the proprietaries and their discreet deputies hereafter recollect and remember, that the same august tribunal, which censured some of the modes and circumstances of that act, did at the same time establish and confirm the grand principle of the act, namely: “That the proprietary estate ought, with other estates, to be taxed”; and thereby did, in effect, determine and pronounce, that the opposition so long made in various shapes to that just principle, by the proprietaries, was “fundamentally wrong and unjust.” An injustice they were not, like the assembly, under any necessity of committing for the public good; or any other necessity, but what was imposed on them by those base passions that act the tyrant in bad minds—their selfishness, their pride, and their avarice.

I have frequently mentioned the equitable intentions of the House in those parts of the act that were supposed obscure, and how they were understood here. A clear proof thereof is found, as I have already said, in the actual execution of the act; in the execution of it before the contest about it in England, and therefore before their lordships’ objections to it had a being. When the report came over, and was laid before the House, one year’s tax had been levied, and the assembly, conscious that no injustice had been intended to the proprietaries, and willing to rectify it if any should appear, appointed a committee of members from the several counties to examine into the state of the proprietaries’ taxes throughout the province, and nominated on that committee a gentleman of known attachment to the proprietaries, and Edition: current; Page: [91] their chief justice, Mr. Allen, to the end that the strictest inquiry might be made. Their report was as follows:

“We, the committee appointed to inquire into and consider the state of the proprietary taxation through the several counties, and report the same to the House, have, in pursuance of the said appointment, carefully examined the returns of property, and compared them with the respective assessments thereon made through the whole province, and find—

First, that no part of the unsurveyed waste lands belonging to the proprietaries, have, in any instance, been included in the estates taxed.

Secondly, that some of the located uncultivated lands belonging to the proprietaries, in several counties, remain unassessed; and are not in any county assessed higher than the lands under like circumstances belonging to the inhabitants.

Thirdly, that all lands not granted by the proprietaries, within boroughs and towns, remain untaxed, excepting in a few instances, and in those they are rated as low as the lands which are granted in the said boroughs and towns.

The whole of the proprietary tax of eighteen pence in the pound, amounts to £566 4s. 10d. And the sum of the tax on the inhabitants for the same year amounts, through the several counties, to £27,103 12s. 8d. And it is the opinion of your committee that there has not been any injustice done to the proprietaries, or attempts made to rate or assess any part of their estates higher than the estates of the Edition: current; Page: [92] like kind belonging to the inhabitants are rated and assessed; but, on the contrary, we find that their estates are rated, in many instances, below others.

Thomas Leech, George Ashbridge,
Joseph Fox, Emanuel Carpenter,
Samuel Rhoads, John Blackburn,
Abraham Chapman, William Allen.”

The House communicated this report to Governor Hamilton, when he afterwards pressed them to make the stipulated act of amendment; acquainting him, at the same time, that, as in the execution of the act no injustice had hitherto been done to the proprietary, so, by a yearly inspection of the assessments, they would take care that none should be done him; for that, if any should appear, or the governor could at any time point out to them any that had been done, they would immediately rectify it; and therefore, as the act was shortly to expire, they did not think the amendments necessary. Thus that matter ended during that administration.

And had his successor, Governor Penn, permitted it still to sleep, we are of opinion it had been more to the honor of the family, and of his own discretion. But he was pleased to found upon it a claim manifestly unjust, and which he was totally destitute of reason to support. A claim that the proprietaries’ best and most valuable located uncultivated lands should be taxed no higher than the worst and least valuable of those belonging to the inhabitants; to enforce which, as he thought the words of one of the stipulations seemed to give some countenance to it, Edition: current; Page: [93] he insisted on using those very words as sacred; from which he could, “neither in decency or in duty,” deviate; though he had agreed to deviate from words in the same report, and therefore equally sacred in every other instance. A conduct which will (as the Prefacer says in Governor Denny’s case) for ever disgrace the annals of his administration.1

Never did any administration open with a more promising prospect than this of Governor Penn. He assured the people in his first speeches of the proprietaries’ paternal regard for them, and their sincere dispositions to do every thing that might promote their happiness. As the proprietaries had been pleased to appoint a son of the family to the government, it was thought not unlikely that there might be something in these professions; for that they would probably choose to have his administration made easy and agreeable, and to that end might think it prudent to withdraw those harsh, disagreeable, and unjust instructions with which most of his predecessors had been hampered.

The assembly, therefore, believed fully, and rejoiced sincerely. They showed the new governor every mark of respect and regard that was in their power. They readily and cheerfully went into every thing he recommended to them. And when he and his authority were insulted and endangered by a lawless, murdering mob, they and their friends took arms at his call, and formed themselves round him for his defence and the support of his government.

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But when it was found that those mischievous instructions still subsisted, and were even farther extended; when the governor began, unprovoked, to send the House affronting messages, seizing every imaginable occasion of reflecting on their conduct; when every other symptom appeared of fixed, deep-rooted, family malice, which could but a little while bear the unnatural covering that had been thrown over it, what wonder is it if all the old wounds broke out and bled afresh; if all the old grievances, still unredressed, were recollected; if despair succeeded of seeing any peace with a family that could make such returns to all their overtures of kindness. And when, in the very proprietary council, composed of staunch friends of the family, and chosen for their attachment to it, it was observed that the old men (1 Kings, ch. xii.) withdrew themselves, finding their opinion slighted, and that all measures were taken by the advice of two or three young men (one of whom too denies his share in them); is it any wonder, since like causes produce like effects, if the assembly, notwithstanding all their veneration for the first proprietor, should say, with the children of Israel under the same circumstances: “What portion have we in David, or inheritance in the son of Jesse? To your tents, O Israel!”

Under these circumstances, and a conviction, that, while so many natural sources of difference subsisted between proprietaries and people, no harmony in government could long subsist (without which neither the commands of the crown could be executed, nor the public good promoted), the House resumed the consideration Edition: current; Page: [95] of a measure that had often been proposed in former assemblies; a measure that every proprietary province in America had, from the same causes, found themselves obliged to take, and had actually taken, or were about to take; and a measure that had happily succeeded wherever it was taken; I mean the recourse to an immediate royal government.

They, therefore, after a thorough debate, and making no less than twenty-five unanimous resolves, expressing the many grievances this province had long labored under, through the proprietary government, came to the following resolution, viz.: “Resolved, nemine contradicente, that this House will adjourn, in order to consult their constituents, whether an humble address should be drawn up and transmitted to his Majesty; praying that he would be graciously pleased to take the people of this province under his immediate protection and government; by completing the agreement heretofore made with the first proprietary for the sale of the government to the crown, or otherwise, as to his wisdom and goodness shall seem meet.”1

This they ordered to be made public, and it was published accordingly in all the newspapers. The House then adjourned for no less than seven weeks, to give their constituents time to consider the matter, Edition: current; Page: [96] and themselves an opportunity of taking their opinion and advice. Could any thing be more deliberate, more fair and open, or more respectful to the people that chose them? During this recess, the people in many places held little meetings with each other; the result of which was, that they would manifest their sentiments to their representatives, by petitioning the crown directly of themselves, and requesting the assembly to transmit and support those petitions. At the next meeting many of these petitions were delivered to the House with that request; they were signed by a very great number1 of the most substantial inhabitants; and not the least intimation was received by the assembly from any other of their Edition: current; Page: [97] constituents, that the method was disapproved; except in a petition from an obscure township in Lancaster county, to which there were about forty names indeed, but all evidently signed by three hands only.

What could the assembly infer from the expressed willingness of a part, and silence of the rest, but that the measure was universally agreeable? They accordingly resumed the consideration of it; and, though a small, very small opposition then appeared to it in the House, yet, as even that was founded, not on the impropriety of the thing, but on the supposed unsuitableness of the time or the manner, and a majority of nine tenths being still for it, a petition was drawn, agreeable to the former resolve, and ordered to be transmitted to his Majesty.

But the Prefacer tells us, that these petitioners for a change were a “number of rash, ignorant, and inconsiderate people,” and generally of a low rank. To be sure they were not of the proprietary officers, dependants, or expectants, and those are chiefly the people of high rank among us; but they were otherwise generally men of the best estates in the province, and men of reputation. The assembly, who come from all parts of the country, and therefore may be supposed to know them, at least as well as the Prefacer, have given that testimony of them. But what is the testimony of the assembly, who, in his opinion are equally rash, ignorant, and inconsiderate with the petitioners? And, if his judgment is right, how imprudently and contrary to their charter have his three hundred thousand souls acted in their elections Edition: current; Page: [98] of assembly men, these twenty years past; for the charter requires them to choose men of most note for virtue, wisdom, and ability.

But these are qualities engrossed it seems by the proprietary party. For, they say: “The wiser and better part of the province had far different notions of this measure; they considered that the moment they put their hands to these petitions they might be surrendering up their birthright.” I felicitate them on the honor they have thus bestowed upon themselves; on the sincere compliments thus given and accepted; and on their having with such noble freedom discarded the snivelling pretence to modesty, couched in that threadbare form of words, “Though we say it, that should not say it.” But is it not surprising that, during the seven weeks’ recess of the assembly, expressly to consult their constituents on the expediency of this measure, and during the fourteen days the House sat deliberating on it after they met again, these their wisdoms and betternesses should never be so kind as to communicate the least scrap of their prudence, their knowledge, or their consideration to their rash, ignorant, and inconsiderate representatives? Wisdom in the mind is not like money in the purse, diminished by communication to others; they might have lighted up our farthing candles for us, without lessening the blaze of their own flambeaux. But they suffered our representatives to go on in the dark till the fatal deed was done; and the petition sent to the King, praying him to take the government of this province into his immediate care; whereby, if it succeeds, “our glorious plan of public liberty Edition: current; Page: [99] and charter of privileges is to be bartered away,” and we are to be made slaves forever. Cruel parsimony! to refuse the charity of a little understanding, when God had given you so much, and the assembly begged it as an alms. O that you had but for once remembered and observed the counsel of that wise poet, Pope, where he says,

  • Be niggards of advice on no pretence;
  • For the worst avarice is that of sense.

In the constitution of our government and in that of one more, there still remains a particular thing that none of the other American governments have—to wit, the appointment of a governor by the proprietors, instead of an appointment by the crown. This particular in government has been found inconvenient, attended with contentions and confusions wherever it existed, and has therefore been gradually taken away from colony after colony, and everywhere greatly to the satisfaction and happiness of the people.

Our wise first proprietor and founder was fully sensible of this; and being desirous of leaving his people happy, and preventing the mischiefs that he foresaw must in time arise from that circumstance, if it was continued; he determined to take it away, if possible, during his own lifetime. They accordingly entered into a contract for the sale of the proprietary right of government to the crown, and annually received a sum in part of the consideration. As he found himself likely to die before that contract (and with it his plan for the happiness of his people) could be completed, he carefully made it part of his last will and Edition: current; Page: [100] testament, devising the right of the government to two noble lords, in trust, that they should release it to the crown. Unfortunately for us, this has never yet been done. And this is merely what the assembly now desire to have done.

Surely he that formed our constitution, must have understood it. If he had imagined, that all our privileges depended on the proprietary government, will any one suppose that he would himself have meditated the change; that he would have taken such effectual measures as he thought them, to bring it about speedily, whether he should live or die? Will any of those who now extol him so highly, charge him at the same time with the baseness of endeavouring thus to defraud his people of all the liberties and privileges he had promised them, and by the most solemn charters and grants assured to them, when he engaged them to assist him in the settlement of his province? Surely none can be so inconsistent. And yet this proprietary right of governing or appointing a governor has all of a sudden changed its nature; and the preservation of it become of so much importance to the welfare of the province, that the assembly’s only petitioning to have their venerable founder’s will executed, and the contract he entered into for the good of his people completed, is styled an “attempt to violate the constitution for which our fathers planted a wilderness; to barter away our glorious plan of public liberty and charter privileges; a risking of the whole constitution; an offering up our whole charter rights; a wanton sporting with things sacred,” &c.

Edition: current; Page: [101]

Pleasant surely it is to hear the proprietary partisans, of all men, brawling for the constitution, and affecting a terrible concern for our liberties and privileges. They, who have been these twenty years cursing our constitution, declaring that it was no constitution, or worse than none; and that things could never be well with us till it was new modelled, and made exactly conformable to the British constitution; they who have treated our distinguishing privileges as so many illegalities and absurdities; who have solemnly declared in print, that, though such privileges might be proper in the infancy of a colony to encourage its settlement, they became unfit for it in its grown state, and ought to be taken away; they who, by numberless falsehoods, propagated with infinite industry in the mother country, attempted to procure an act of Parliament for the actual depriving a very great part of the people of their privileges; they, too, who have already deprived the whole people of some of their most important rights, and are daily endeavouring to deprive them of the rest; are these become patriots and advocates of our constitution? Wonderful change! Astonishing conversion! Will the wolves then protect the sheep, if they can but persuade them to give up their dogs? Yes; the assembly would destroy all their own rights and those of the people, and the proprietary partisans are become the champions for liberty. Let those who have faith now make use of it; for, if it is rightly defined “the evidence of things not seen,” certainly never was there more occasion for such evidence, the case being totally destitute of all other.

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It has been long observed that men are, with that party, angels or demons, just as they happen to concur with or oppose their measures. And I mention it for the comfort of old sinners, that in politics, as well as in religion, repentance and amendment, though late, shall obtain forgiveness and procure favor. Witness the late Speaker, Mr. Norris; a steady and constant opposer of all the proprietary encroachments, and whom, for thirty years past, they have been therefore continually abusing, allowing him no one virtue or good quality whatsoever; but now, as he showed some unwillingness to engage in this present application to the crown, he is become all at once the “faithful servant.” But let me look at the text, to avoid mistakes; and, indeed, I was mistaken; I thought it had been “faithful servant of the public,” but I find it is only “of the House.” Well chosen, that expression, and prudently guarded. The former, from a proprietary pen, would have been praise too much; only for disapproving the time of the application. Could you, much respected Sir, go but a little farther, and disapprove the application itself; could you but say the proprietary government is a good one, and ought to be continued; then might all your political offences be done away, and your scarlet sins become as snow and wool; then might you end your course with (proprietary) honor. P—— should preach your funeral sermon, and S——, the poisoner of other characters, embalm your memory. But those honors you will never receive; for, with returning health and strength, you will be found in your old post, firm for your country.

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There is encouragement too for young sinners. Mr. Dickinson, whose speech our Prefacer has introduced to the world (though long hated by some, and disregarded by the rest, of the proprietary faction), is at once, for the same reason as in Mr. Norris’s case, become a sage in the law, and an oracle in matters relating to our constitution. I shall not endeavour to pluck so much as a leaf from these the young gentleman’s laurels. I would only advise him carefully to preserve the panegyrics with which they have adorned him; in time they may serve to console him, by balancing the calumny they shall load him with, when he does not go through with them in all their measures. He will not probably do the one, and they will then assuredly do the other. There are mouths that can blow hot as well as cold, and blast on your brows the bays their hands have placed there. Experto crede Roberto. Let but the proprietary favor withdraw its shine for a moment; and that “great number of the principal gentlemen of Philadelphia,” who applied to you for the copy of your speech, shall immediately despise and desert you.

“Those principal gentlemen!” what a pity it is that their names were not given us in the Preface, together with their admirable letter. We should then have known where to run for advice on all occasions. We should have known whom to choose for our future representatives; for undoubtedly these were they that are elsewhere called “the wiser and better part of the province.” None but wisdoms could have known beforehand that a speech which they never heard, and a copy of which they had never Edition: current; Page: [104] seen, but were then requesting to see, was “a spirited defence,” and “of our charter privileges”; and that “the publication of it would be of great utility, and give general satisfaction.” No inferior sagacity could discover, that the appointment of a governor by the proprietor was one of our “charter privileges”; and that those who opposed the application for a royal government were therefore patriot members appearing on the side of our privileges and our charter.

Utterly to confound the assembly, and show the excellence of proprietary government, the Prefacer has extracted from their own votes the praises they have from time to time bestowed on the first proprietor, in their addresses to his sons. And, though addresses are not generally the best repositories of historical truth, we must not in this instance deny their authority.1

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That these encomiums on the father, though sincere, have occurred so frequently, was owing, however, to two causes: first, a vain hope the assemblies entertained, that the father’s example, and the honors done his character, might influence the conduct of the sons; secondly, for that, in attempting to compliment the sons on their own merits, there was always found an extreme scarcity of matter. Hence, the father, the honored and honorable father, was so often repeated, that the sons themselves grew sick of it and have been heard to say to each other with disgust, when told that A, B, and C were come to wait upon them with addresses on some public occasion, “Then I suppose we shall hear more about our father.” So that, let me tell the Prefacer, who perhaps was unacquainted with this anecdote, that if he hoped to curry more favor with the family, by the inscription he has framed for that great man’s monument, he may find himself mistaken; for there is too much in it of our father.

If, therefore, he would erect a monument to the sons, the votes of the assembly, which are of such credit with him, will furnish him with ample materials for his inscription.

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To save him trouble I will essay a sketch for him, in the lapidary style, though mostly in the expressions, and everywhere in the sense and spirit, of the assembly’s resolves and messages.

Be this a Memorial

Of T——— and R——— P——,

P——— of P———,1

Who, with estates immense,

Almost beyond computation,

When their own province,

And the whole British empire,

Were engaged in a bloody and most expensive war,

Begun for the defence of those estates,

Could yet meanly desire

To have those very estates

Totally or partially

Exempted from taxation,

While their fellow-subjects all around them,

Groaned

Under the universal burden.

To gain this point,

They refused the necessary laws

For the defence of their people,

And suffered their colony to welter in its blood,

Rather than abate in the least

Of these their dishonest pretensions.

The privileges granted by their father,

Wisely and benevolently

To encourage the first settlers of the province,

They,

Foolishly and cruelly,

Taking advantage of public distress.

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Have extorted from the posterity of those settlers;

And are daily endeavouring to reduce them

To the most abject slavery;

Though to the virtue and industry of those people,

In improving their country,

They owe all that they possess and enjoy.

A striking instance

Of human depravity and ingratitude;

And an irrefragable proof,

That wisdom and goodness

Do not descend with an inheritance;

But that ineffable meanness

May be connected with unbounded fortune.1

What then avails it to the honor of the present proprietors that our founder and their father gave us privileges, if they, the sons, will not permit the use of them, or forcibly rend them from us? David may have been a man after God’s own heart, and Solomon, the wisest of the proprietors and governors, but if Rehoboam will be a tyrant and a ——, who can secure him the affections of the people? The virtue and merit of his ancestors may be very great; but his presumption in depending upon these alone may be much greater.

I lamented a few pages ago that we were not acquainted with the names of those “principal gentlemen, the wiser and better part of the province.” I now rejoice that we are likely some time or other to know them; for a copy of a “Petition to the King” is now before me, which, from its similarity with their Edition: current; Page: [108] letter, must be of their inditing, and will probably be recommended to the people by their leading up the signing.

On this petition I shall take the liberty of making a few remarks, as they will save me the necessity of following farther the Preface, the sentiments of this and that being nearly the same.

It begins with a formal quotation from the petition,1 which they own they have not seen, and of words that are not in it; and, after relating very imperfectly and unfairly the fact relating to their application for a copy of it, which is of no importance, proceeds to set forth: “That, as we and all your American subjects must be governed by persons authorized and approved by your Majesty, on the best recommendation that can be obtained of them, we cannot perceive our condition in this respect to be different from our fellow-subjects around us; or that we are thereby less under your Majesty’s particular care and protection than they are; since there can be no governors of this province without your Majesty’s immediate approbation and authority.”

Such a declaration from the wiser part of the province is really a little surprising. What! when disputes concerning matters of property are daily arising between you and your proprietaries, cannot your wisdoms perceive the least difference between having the judges of those disputes appointed by a royal governor who has no interest in the cause, and having them appointed by the proprietaries themselves, the Edition: current; Page: [109] principal parties against you, and during their pleasure too? When supplies are necessary to be raised for your defence, can you perceive no difference between having a royal governor, free to promote his Majesty’s service by a ready assent to your laws, and a proprietary governor, shackled by instructions forbidding him to give that assent unless some private advantage is obtained, some profit got, or unequal exemption gained for their estate, or some privilege wrested from you? When prerogative, that in other governments is only used for the good of the people, is here strained to the extreme, and used to their prejudice and the proprietaries’ benefit, can you perceive no difference? When the direct and immediate rays of Majesty benignly and mildly shine on all around us, but are transmitted and thrown upon us through the burning-glass of proprietary government, can your sensibilities feel no difference? Sheltered perhaps in proprietary offices, or benumbed with expectations, it may be you cannot. But surely you might have known better than to tell his Majesty, “that there can be no governors of this province without his immediate approbation.” Don’t you know, who know so much, that by our blessed constitution the proprietors themselves, whenever they please, may govern us in person, without such approbation?

The petition proceeds to tell his Majesty, “That the particular mode of government which we enjoy under your Majesty, is held in the highest estimation by good men of all denominations among us; and has brought multitudes of industrious people from Edition: current; Page: [110] various parts of the world,” &c. Really, can this be from proprietary partisans? That constitution, which they were forever censuring, as defective in a legislative council, defective in government powers, too popular in many of its modes; is it now become so excellent? Perhaps, as they have been tinkering it these twenty years, till they have stripped it of some of its most valuable privileges, and almost spoiled it, they now begin to like it. But then it is not surely this present constitution that brought hither those multitudes. They came before. At least it was not that particular in our constitution (the proprietary power of appointing a governor) which attracted them; that single particular, which alone is now in question; which our venerable founder first, and now the assembly, are endeavouring to change.

As to the remaining valuable part of our constitution, the assembly have been equally full and strong in expressing their regard for it, and perhaps stronger and fuller; for their petition in that respect is in the nature of a petition of right; it lays claim, though modestly and humbly, to those privileges on the foundation of royal rights, on laws confirmed by the crown and on justice and equity; as the grants were the considerations offered to induce them to settle, and which they have in a manner purchased and paid for, by executing that settlement without putting the crown to any expense.

Whoever would know what our constitution was, when it was so much admired, let him peruse that elegant farewell speech of Mr. Hamilton, father of our late governor, when, as Speaker, he took his leave of Edition: current; Page: [111] the House, and of public business, in 1739; and then let him compare that constitution with the present. The power of appointing public officers by the representatives of the people, which he so much extols; where is it now? Even the bare naming to the governor in a bill, a trivial officer to receive a light-house duty (which could be considered as no more than a mere recommendation), is, in a late message, styled “an encroachment on the prerogative of the crown.” The sole power of raising and disposing of public money, which he says was then lodged in the assembly; that inestimable privilege, what is become of it? Inch by inch they have been wrested from us in times of public distress; and the rest are going the same way. I remember to have seen, when Governor Hamilton was engaged in a dispute with the assembly on some of those points, a copy of that speech, which then was intended to be reprinted, with a dedication to that honorable gentleman, and this motto, from John Rogers’s verses in the Primer:

  • “We send you here a little book,
  • For you to look upon,
  • That you may see your father’s face,
  • Now he is dead and gone.”

Many such a little book has been sent by our assemblies to the present proprietaries; but they do not like to see their father’s face; it puts their own out of countenance.

The petition proceeds to say: “That such disagreements as have arisen in this province, we have beheld with sorrow; but, as others around us are not Edition: current; Page: [112] exempted from the like misfortunes, we can by no means conceive them incident to the nature of our government, which hath often been administered with remarkable harmony; and your Majesty, before whom our late disputes have been laid, can be at no loss, in your great wisdom to discover, whether they proceed from the above cause, or should be ascribed to some others.” The disagreements in question are proprietary disagreements in government, relating to proprietary private interests. And are not the royal governments around us exempt from these misfortunes? Can you really, Gentlemen, by no means conceive, that proprietary government disagreements are incident to the nature of proprietary governments? Can they in nature be incident to any other governments? If your wisdoms are hard to conceive, I am afraid they will never bring forth.

But then our government “hath often been administered with remarkable harmony.” Very true; as often as the assembly have been able and willing to purchase that harmony, and pay for it; the mode of which has already been shown. And yet that word often seems a little unluckily chosen; the flame that is often put out must be as often lit. If our government “hath often been administered with remarkable harmony,” it hath as often been administered with remarkable discord. One often is as numerous as the other. And his Majesty, if he should take the trouble of looking over our disputes (to which the petitioners, to save themselves a little pains, modestly and decently refer him), where will he, for twenty years past, find any but proprietary Edition: current; Page: [113] disputes concerning proprietary interests, or disputes that have been connected with and arose from them?

The petition proceeds to assure his Majesty, “that this province (except from the Indian ravages) enjoys the most perfect internal tranquillity.” Amazing! What! the most perfect tranquillity, when there have been three atrocious riots within a few months! When, in two of them, horrid murders were committed on twenty innocent persons; and, in the third, no less than one hundred and forty like murders were meditated, and declared to be intended, with as many more as should be occasioned by any opposition! When we know, that these rioters and murderers have none of them been punished, have never been prosecuted, have not even been apprehended; when we are frequently told that they intend still to execute their purposes as soon as the protection of the King’s forces is withdrawn! Is our tranquillity more perfect now than it was between the first riot and the second, or between the second and the third? And why “except the Indian ravages,” if a little intermission is to be denominated “the most perfect tranquillity”? for the Indians too have been quiet lately. Almost as well might ships in an engagement talk of the “most perfect tranquillity” between two broadsides. But “a spirit of riot and violence is foreign to the general temper of the inhabitants.” I hope and believe it is; the assembly have said nothing to the contrary. And yet is there not too much of it? Are there not pamphlets continually written, and daily sold in our streets, to justify and encourage it? Are not the mad armed mob in those writings instigated Edition: current; Page: [114] to embrue their hands in the blood of their fellow citizens, by first applauding their murder of the Indians, and then representing the assembly and their friends as worse than Indians, as having privately stirred up the Indians to murder the white people, and armed and rewarded them for that purpose? Lies, Gentlemen, villanous as ever the malice of hell invented, and which, to do you justice, not one of you believes, though you would have the mob believe them.

But your petition proceeds to say, “that where such disturbances have happened, they have been speedily quieted.” By whom were they quieted? The two first, if they can be said to be quieted, were quieted only by the rioters themselves going home quietly (that is, without any interruption), and remaining there till their next insurrection, without any pursuit or attempt to apprehend any of them. And the third, was it quieted, or was the mischief they intended prevented, or could it have been prevented, without the aid of the King’s troops, marched into the province for that purpose? “The civil powers have been supported,” in some sort. We all know how they were supported; but have they been fully supported? Has the government sufficient strength, even with all its supports, to venture on the apprehending and punishment of those notorious offenders? If it has not, why are you angry at those who would strengthen its hands by a more immediate royal authority? If it has, why is not the thing done? Why will the government, by its conduct, strengthen the suspicions (groundless no doubt), that Edition: current; Page: [115] it has come to a private understanding with those murderers, and that impunity for their past crimes is to be the reward of their future political services? Oh, but says the petition, “There are perhaps cases in all governments, where it may not be possible speedily to discover offenders.” Probably; is there any case in any government where it is not possible to endeavour such a discovery? There may be cases where it is not safe to do it. And perhaps the best thing our government can say for itself is, that that is our case. The only objection to such an apology must be, that it would justify that part of the assembly’s petition to the crown which relates to the weakness of our present government.1

Still, if there is any fault, it must be in the assembly. “For,” says the petition, “if the executive part of our government should seem in any case too weak, we conceive it is the duty of the assembly, and in their power, to strengthen it.” This weakness, however, you have just denied. “Disturbances,” you say, “have been speedily quieted, and the civil power supported”; and thereby you have deprived your insinuated charge against the assembly of its only support. But is it not a fact known to you all, that the assembly did endeavour to strengthen the hands of the government? That, at his Honor’s instance, they prepared and passed in a few hours a bill for Edition: current; Page: [116] extending hither the act of Parliament for dispersing rioters? That they also passed and presented to him a militia bill, which he refused, unless powers were thereby given him over the lives and properties of the inhabitants, which the public good did not require, and which their duty to their constituents would not permit them to trust in the hands of any proprietary governor? You know the points, Gentlemen; they have been made public. Would you have had your representatives give up those points? Do you intend to give them up, when at the next election you are made assembly-men? If so, tell it us honestly beforehand, that we may know what we are to expect, when we are about to choose you.

I come now to the last clause of your petition, where, with the same wonderful sagacity with which you in another case discovered the excellency of a speech you never heard, you undertake to characterize a petition you own you never saw; and venture to assure his Majesty, that it is “exceeding grievous in its nature; that it by no means contains a proper representation of the state of this province; and is repugnant to the general sense of his numerous and loyal subjects” in it. Are, then, his Majesty’s numerous and loyal subjects in this province all as great wizards as yourselves, and capable of knowing, without seeing it, that a petition is repugnant to their general sense?

But the inconsistence of your petition, Gentlemen, is not so much to be wondered at. The prayer of it is still more extraordinary: “We therefore most humbly pray, that your Majesty would be graciously Edition: current; Page: [117] pleased wholly to disregard the said petition of the assembly.” What! without inquiry! Without examination! without a hearing of what the assembly might say in support of it! “wholly disregard” the petition of your representatives in assembly; accompanied by other petitions signed by thousands of your fellow subjects, as loyal, if not as wise and as good as yourselves! Would you wish to see your great and amiable prince act a part that could not become a Dey of Algiers? Do you, who are Americans, pray for a precedent of such contempt in the treatment of an American assembly? Such “total disregard” of their humble applications to the throne? Surely your Wisdoms here have overshot yourselves. But as wisdom shows itself, not only in doing what is right, but in confessing and amending what is wrong, I recommend the latter particularly to your present attention, being persuaded of this consequence, that, though you have been mad enough to sign such a petition, you never will be fools enough to present it.

There is one thing mentioned in the Preface, which I find I omitted to take notice of as I came along, the refusal of the House to enter Mr. Dickinson’s protest on their minutes. This is mentioned in such a manner there and in the newspapers, as to insinuate a charge of some partiality and injustice in the assembly. But the reasons were merely these: that, though protesting may be a practice with the Lords of Parliament, there is no instance of it in the House of Commons, whose proceedings are the model followed by the assemblies of America; that there is no precedent of it in our votes, from the beginning of our Edition: current; Page: [118] present constitution; and that the introducing such a practice would be attended with inconveniences, as the representatives in assembly are not, like the Lords in Parliament, unaccountable to any constituents; and would therefore find it necessary for their own justification, if the reasons of the minority for being against a measure were admitted in the votes, to put there likewise the reasons that induced the majority to be for it; whereby the votes which were intended only as a register of propositions and determinations, would be filled with the disputes of members with members, and the public business be thereby greatly retarded, if ever brought to a period.

As that protest was a mere abstract of Mr. Dickinson’s speech, every particular of it will be found answered in the following speech of Mr. Galloway; from which it is fit that I should no longer detain the reader.

CCLVI: REMARKS
ON A LATE PROTEST AGAINST THE APPOINTMENT OF MR. FRANKLIN AS AGENT FOR THE PROVINCE OF PENNSYLVANIA

The zeal and perseverance with which Franklin had espoused the cause of the people against the proprietaries, raised up many enemies in the adverse party. At the election for a new Assembly, therefore, in the autumn of 1764, great efforts were made by his opponents to prevent his being chosen, in which they succeeded. By a small majority he lost his seat in the Assembly, which he Edition: current; Page: [119] had held for fourteen years, having been annually elected, even during his absence in England, as one of the delegates from the city of Philadelphia. But, notwithstanding his defeat, when the Assembly met it was found that his friends and the friends of his measures outnumbered the proprietary party, and he was again appointed to resume his agency in England, and to take charge of a petition to the king. Dissatisfied with this step, the minority in the House drew up a formal protest, and urged its being inserted in the minutes; but it was refused, on the ground of its being irregular and unprecedented. The protest was published, and gave occasion for the following reply, written at the moment the author was preparing to depart for Europe.—Editor.

I have generally passed over, with a silent disregard, the nameless abusive pieces that have been written against me; and, though this paper, called “A Protest,” is signed by some respectable names, I was, nevertheless, inclined to treat it with the same indifference; but as the assembly is therein reflected on upon my account, it is thought more my duty to make some remarks upon it.

I would first observe, then, that this mode of protesting by the minority, with a string of reasons against the proceedings of the majority of the House of Assembly, is quite new among us; the present is the second we have had of the kind, and both within a few months. It is unknown to the practice of the House of Commons, or of any House of Representatives in America that I have heard of; and seems an affected imitation of the Lords in Parliament, which can by no means become assembly-men of America. Edition: current; Page: [120] Hence appears the absurdity of the complaint, that the House refused the protest an entry on their minutes. The protestors know that they are not by any custom or usage entitled to such an entry; and that the practice here is not only useless in itself, but would be highly inconvenient to the House, since it would probably be thought necessary for the majority also to enter their reasons, to justify themselves to their constituents; whereby the minutes would be encumbered, and the public business obstructed. More especially will it be found inconvenient, if such protests are made use of as a new form of libelling, as the vehicles of personal malice, and as means of giving to private abuse the appearance of a sanction as public acts. Your protest, Gentlemen, was therefore properly refused; and, since it is no part of the proceedings of assembly, one may with the more freedom examine it.

Your first reason against my appointment is, that you “believe me to be the chief author of the measures pursued by the last assembly, which have occasioned such uneasiness and distraction among the good people of this province.” I shall not dispute my share in those measures; I hope they are such as will in time do honor to all that were concerned in them. But you seem mistaken in the order of time. It was the uneasiness and distraction among the good people of the province, that occasioned the measures; the province was in confusion before they were taken, and they were pursued in order to prevent such uneasiness and distraction for the future. Make one step farther back, and you will find proprietary injustice, Edition: current; Page: [121] supported by proprietary minions and creatures, the original cause of all our uneasiness and distractions.

Another of your reasons is “that I am, as you are informed, very unfavorably thought of by several of his Majesty’s ministers.” I apprehend, Gentlemen that your informer is mistaken. He indeed has taken great pains to give unfavorable impressions of me, and perhaps may flatter himself that it is impossible so much true industry should be totally without effect. His long success in maiming or murdering all the reputations that stand in his way (which has been the dear delight and constant employment of his life) may likewise have given him some just ground for confidence that he has, as they call it, done for me among the rest. But, as I said before, I believe he is mistaken. For what have I done that they should think unfavorably of me? It cannot be my constantly and uniformly promoting the measures of the crown ever since I had any influence in the province. It cannot, surely, be my promoting the change from a proprietary to a royal government.

If indeed I had, by speeches and writings, endeavoured to make his Majesty’s government universally odious in the province; if I had harangued by the week to all comers and goers on the pretended injustice and oppressions of royal government, and the slavery of the people under it; if I had written traitorous papers to this purpose, and got them translated into other languages to give his Majesty’s foreign subjects here those horrible ideas of it; if I had declared, written, and printed, that “the Edition: current; Page: [122] King’s little finger we should find heavier than the proprietor’s whole loins,” with regard to our liberties, then indeed might the ministers be supposed to think unfavorably of me. But these are not exploits for a man who holds a profitable office under the crown, and can expect to hold it no longer than he behaves with the fidelity and duty that become every good subject. They are only for officers of proprietary appointment, who hold their commissions during his and not the King’s pleasure, and who, by dividing among themselves and their relations offices of many thousands a year enjoyed by proprietary favor, feel where to place their loyalty. I wish they were as good subjects to his Majesty; and perhaps they may be so when the proprietary interferes no longer.

Another of your reasons is “that the proposal of me for an agent is extremely disagreeable to a very great number of the most serious and reputable inhabitants of the province, and the proof is my having been rejected at the last election, though I had represented the city in assembly for fourteen years.”

And do those of you, Gentlemen, reproach me with this, who, among near four thousand voters, had scarcely a score more than I had? It seems, then, that your elections were very near being rejections, and thereby furnishing the same proof in your case that you produce in mine, of your being likewise extremely disagreeable to a very great number of the most serious and reputable people. Do you, honorable Sir, reproach me with this who for almost twice fourteen years have been rejected (if not being chosen is to be rejected) by the same people, and (unable, Edition: current; Page: [123] with all your wealth and connexions, and the influence they give you, to obtain an election in the county where you reside, and the city where you were born, and are best known) have been obliged to accept a seat from one of the out counties, the remotest of the province! It is known, Sir, to the persons who proposed me that I was first chosen against my inclination, and against my entreaties that I might be suffered to remain a private man. In none of the fourteen elections you mention did I ever appear as a candidate. I never did, directly or indirectly, solicit any man’s votes. For six of the years in which I was annually chosen I was absent, residing in England, during all which time your secret and open attacks upon my character and reputation were incessant, and yet you gained no ground. And can you really, Gentlemen, find matter of triumph in this rejection as you call it? A moment’s reflection on the means by which it was obtained must make you ashamed of it.

Not only my duty to the crown, in carrying the post-office act more duly into execution, was made use of to exasperate the ignorant, as if I was increasing my own profits, by picking their pockets; but my very zeal in opposing the murderers, and supporting the authority of government, and even my humanity with regard to the innocent Indians under our protection, were mustered among my offences, to stir up against me those religious bigots, who are of all savages the most brutish. Add to this the numberless falsehoods propagated as truths; and the many perjuries procured among the wretched rabble brought Edition: current; Page: [124] to swear themselves entitled to a vote; and yet so poor a superiority obtained at all this expense of honor and conscience! Can this, Gentlemen, be matter of triumph? Enjoy it then. Your exultation, however, was short.

Your artifices did not prevail everywhere; nor your double tickets, and whole boxes of forged votes. A great majority of the new-chosen assembly were of the old members, and remain uncorrupted. They still stood firm for the people, and will obtain justice from the proprietaries. But what does that avail to you, who are in the proprietary interest? And what comfort can it afford you, when, by the assembly’s choice of an agent, it appears that the same, to you obnoxious, man (nothwithstanding all your venomous invectives against him) still retains so great a share of the public confidence?

But “this step,” you say, “gives you the more lively affliction, as it is taken at the very moment when you were informed by a member of the House that the governor had assured him of his having received instructions from the proprietaries to give his assent to the taxation of their estates, in the same manner that the estates of other persons are to be taxed; and also to confirm, for the public use, the several squares formerly claimed by the city.” O the force of friendship! the power of interest! What politeness they infuse into a writer, and what delicate expressions they produce!

The dispute between the proprietaries and us was about the quantum, the rate of their taxation; and not about the manner; but now, when all the world Edition: current; Page: [125] condemns them for requiring a partial exemption of their estates, and they are forced to submit to an honest equality, it is called “assenting to be taxed in the same manner with the people.” Their restitution of five public squares in the plan of the city, which they had near forty years unjustly and dishonorably seized and detained from us, (directing their surveyor to map streets over them, in order to turn them into lots, and their officers to sell a part of them,) this their disgorging is softly called confirming them for the public use; and instead of the plain words, “formerly given to the city by the first proprietary, their father,” we have the cautious, pretty expression of “formerly claimed by the city.” Yes; not only formerly, but always claimed, ever since they were promised and given to encourage the settlers; and ever will be claimed, till we are put in actual possession of them. It is pleasant, however, to see how lightly and tenderly you trip over these matters, as if you trod upon eggs.

But that “very moment,” that precious moment! Why was it so long delayed? Why were those healing instructions so long withheld and concealed from the people? They were, it seems, brought over by Mr. Allen.1 Intelligence was received by various Edition: current; Page: [126] hands from London, that orders were sent by the proprietaries, from which great hopes were entertained of an accommodation. Why was the bringing and the delivery of such orders so long denied? The reason is easily understood. Messieurs Barclay, friends to both proprietaries and people, wished for that gentleman’s happy arrival; hoping his influence, added to the power and commissions the proprietaries had vested him with, might prove effectual in restoring harmony and tranquillity among us. But he, it seems, hoped his influence might do the business without these additions.

There appeared, on his arrival, some prospect (from sundry circumstances) of a change to be made in the House by the approaching election. The proprietary friends and creatures knew the heart of their master, and how extremely disagreeable to him that equal taxation, that restitution, and the other concessions to be made for the sake of a reconciliation, must necessarily be. They hoped therefore to spare him all those mortifications, and thereby secure a greater portion of his favor. Hence the instructions were not produced to the last assembly; though they arrived before the September sitting, when the governor was in town, and actually did business with the House. Nor to the new assembly were they mentioned, till the “very moment,” the fatal moment, when the House were on the point of choosing that wicked adversary of the proprietary, to be an agent of the province in England.

But I have, you say, a “fixed enmity to the proprietaries,” and “you believe it will preclude all accommodation Edition: current; Page: [127] of our disputes with them, even on just and reasonable terms.” And why do you think I have a fixed enmity to the proprietaries? I have never had any personal difference with them. I am no land-jobber; and therefore have never had any thing to do with their land office or officers; if I had, probably, like others, I might have been obliged to truckle to their measures, or have had like causes of complaint. But our private interests never clashed; and all their resentment against me, and mine to them, has been on the public account. Let them do justice to the people of Pennsylvania, act honorably by the citizens of Philadelphia, and become honest men; my enmity, if that’s of any consequence, ceases from the “very moment,” and, as soon as I possibly can, I promise to love, honor, and respect them.

In the meantime, why do you “believe it will preclude all accommodation with them on just and reasonable terms”? Do you not boast that their gracious condescensions are in the hands of the governor; and that “if this had been the usual time for business, his Honor would have sent them down in a message to the House.” How then can my going to England prevent this accommodation? The governor can call the House when he pleases; and, one would think that, at least in your opinion, my being out of the way would be a favorable circumstance. For then, by “cultivating the disposition shown by the proprietaries, every reasonable demand that can be made on the part of the people might be obtained; in vigorously insisting on which, you promise to unite more earnestly with the rest of the House.” It seems Edition: current; Page: [128] then we have “reasonable demands” to make, and, as you call them a little higher, equitable demands. This is much for proprietary minions to own; but you are all growing better, in imitation of your master, which is indeed very commendable. And, if the accommodation here should fail, I hope that, though you dislike the person a majority of two to one in the House have thought fit to appoint an agent, you will nevertheless, in duty to your country, continue the noble resolution of uniting with the rest of the House in vigorously insisting on that equity and justice which such a union will undoubtedly obtain for us.

I pass over the trivial charge against the assembly, that they “acted with unnecessary haste in proceeding to this appointment, without making a small adjournment,” &c., and your affected apprehensions of danger from that haste. The necessity of expedition on this occasion is as obvious to every one out of doors, as it was to those within; and the fears you mention are not, I fancy, considerable enough to break your rest.

I come then to your high charge against me, “that I heretofore ventured, contrary to an act of assembly, to place the public money in the stocks; whereby this province suffered a loss of six thousand pounds, and that sum, added to the five thousand pounds granted for my expenses, makes the whole cost of my former voyage to England amount to eleven thousand pounds!” How wisely was that form in our laws contrived, which, when a man is arraigned for his life, requires the evidence to speak the truth, the whole truth, Edition: current; Page: [129] and nothing but the truth! The reason is manifest. A falsehood may destroy the innocent; so may part of a truth without the whole; and a mixture of truth and falsehood may be full as pernicious. You, Mr. Chief Justice, and the other justices among the protestors, and you, Sir, who are a Counsellor at Law, must all of you be well acquainted with this excellent form; and when you arraigned my reputation (dearer to me than life) before the assembly, and now at the respectable tribunal of the public, would it not have well become your honors to have had some small regard at least to the spirit of that form?

You might have mentioned that the direction of the act to lodge the money in the bank, subject to the drafts of the trustees of the loan office here, was impracticable; that the bank refused to receive it on those terms, it being contrary to their settled rules to take charge of money subject to the orders of unknown people living in distant countries. You might have mentioned that the House being informed of this, and having no immediate call for the money, did themselves adopt the measure of placing it in the stocks, which then were low; where it might on a peace produce a considerable profit, and in the meantime accumulate an interest. That they even passed a bill, directing the subsequent sums granted by Parliament to be placed with the former; that the measure was prudent and safe; and that the loss arose, not from placing the money in the stocks, but from the imprudent and unnecessary drawing it out at the very time when they were lowest, on some slight uncertain rumors of a peace concluded; that, Edition: current; Page: [130] if the assembly had let it remain another year, instead of losing, they would have gained six thousand pounds; and that, after all, since the exchange at which they sold their bills was near twenty per cent. higher when they drew than when the stocks were purchased, the loss was far from being so great as you represent it.

All these things you might have said; for they are, and you know them to be, part of the whole truth; but they would have spoiled your accusation. The late Speaker of your honorable House, Mr. Norris (who has, I suppose, all my letters to him, and copies of his own to me, relating to that transaction), can testify with how much integrity and clearness I managed the whole affair. All the House were sensible of it, being from time to time fully acquainted with the facts. If I had gone to gaming in the stocks with the public money, and through my fault a sum was lost, as your protest would insinuate, why was I not censured and punished for it when I returned? You, honorable Sir (my enemy of seven years’ standing), were then in the House. You were appointed on the committee for examining my accounts; you reported that you found them just, and signed that report.1

I never solicited the employ of agent; I made no bargain for my future service, when I was ordered to Edition: current; Page: [131] England by the assembly; nor did they vote me any salary. I lived there near six years at my own expense, and I made no charge or demand when I came home. You, Sir, of all others, were the very member that proposed (for the honor and justice of the House) a compensation to be made me of the five thousand pounds you mention. Was it with an Edition: current; Page: [132] intent to reproach me thus publicly for accepting it? I thanked the House for it then, and I thank you now for proposing it; though you, who have lived in England, can easily conceive that, besides the prejudice to my private affairs by my absence, a thousand pounds more would not have reimbursed me.

The money voted was immediately paid me. But if I had occasioned the loss of six thousand pounds to the province, here was a fair opportunity of securing easily the greatest part of it. Why was not the five thousand pounds deducted, and the remainder called for? The reason is this accusation was not then invented. Permit me to add that, supposing the whole eleven thousand pounds an expense occasioned by my voyage to England; yet the taxation of the proprietary estate now established, will, when valued by years’ purchase, be found in time an advantage to the public far exceeding that expense. And if the expense is at present a burden, the odium of it ought to lie on those who, by their injustice, made the voyage necessary, and not on me, who only submitted to the orders of the House in undertaking it.

I am now to take leave (perhaps a last leave) of the country I love, and in which I have spent the greatest part of my life. Esto perpetuo. I wish every kind of prosperity to my friends; and I forgive my enemies.

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [133]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
9 February, 1765
London
Deborah Franklin
Franklin, Deborah
CCLVII

TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN

My Dear Child:

I have been so hurried of late that I could not write much by this packet. One letter to the Speaker, and one to you, are all I shall be able to make out. Thanks to God, I am got perfectly well; my cough quite gone. My arms, too, continue mending, so that I can now put on and off my clothes, but do not practice it yet, as it still hurts me a little. John continues with me, behaves very well, and talks of returning with me. Mrs. Stevenson has bought the things you wrote for, and they will go by Captain Robinson. She presents her compliments, and wishes you would come over and bring Sally. I purpose sending in the chest some books for cousin Colbert, if the bookseller sends them soon enough.

I hope to be able to return about the end of summer. I will look out for a watch for Sally, as you desire, to bring with me. The reason I did not think of it before, was your suffering her to wear yours, which you seldom use yourself. Major Small arrived here about three weeks since very well, and gave me the pleasure of hearing that he left you and Sally and our other children well also. The news of Colonel Bouquet’s success gave great satisfaction here, but to none more than myself, upon his account as well as the country’s. I do not know whether I mentioned in any former letter, that I could wish you to send me what letters come to your hands directed to me Edition: current; Page: [134] in my absence. I particularly want those that went from the post-office here.

I am obliged to our landlord for his civility, and shall always remember it. I hope by this time your trouble of moving is over, and that you are completely settled. I went to see Mrs. West. She was then unwell, and I did not see her, and have since been too busy; but shall wait on them again very soon. My love to all. I am, my dear Debby, your affectionate husband,

B. Franklin.
Joseph Galloway
Galloway, Joseph
27 February, 1765
Philadelphia
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
CCLVIII

FROM JOSEPH GALLOWAY TO B. FRANKLIN

Dear Sir:

I wrote to you by the packet, including a copy of the extract of a letter from Thomas Penn to his nephew, the governor, which is enclosed in this letter.

This account of the petitions for a change of this government from proprietary to royal, has struck our friends with the utmost consternation, and, indeed, I am not a little alarmed at the consequences. For, you well know, the Assembly party are the only loyal part of the people here, and are those very persons, who have preserved the peace and good order of the province, not only against the Paxton rioters and murderers, but also in these times of general tumult and distraction, when all the powers of this government were asleep, and its officers were inactive in the Edition: current; Page: [135] opposition; and they conceive that this good demeanor and remarkable service to the crown justify their claim of some share of merit, and, at least, entitles them to a hearing of their complaints.

But they say, if this extract be true, that his Majesty’s Privy Council has rejected the humble petitions of their representatives without even a hearing; that they have not been permitted, when they approached the throne with the utmost duty and loyalty, to breathe forth their complaints against proprietary oppression and injustice, which has often wounded their own welfare, and obstructed their essential duties to the crown; and that they have nothing now left, but to groan, if they dare to groan at all, under the tyranny of a private subject, without the least hopes of redress, the royal ear being shut against a part of his liege subjects, the most dutiful and loyal.

They further say, what you well know, that the laws are not, nor have been for many years, duly executed; that no justice is to be obtained against the Proprietors, or their adherents; that the most flagitious offenders, even murderers and rebels, are travelling about the country with impunity; and that they have no protection of life nor safety of person or property. These, with many other complaints, are constantly issuing from the hearts of the people; the proprietary dependents excepted, who greatly rejoice and even insult the petitioners and their friends. Since the receipt of this incredible letter, extracts whereof have been industriously sent all over the province, in order to spirit up the temper Edition: current; Page: [136] and violent disposition of their party, I have left nothing in my power unessayed among our friends to oppose the torrent, and to prevail on them to discredit this account, and to believe that his Majesty will yet hear their petitions and redress their aggrievances. And I have been obliged to give many extracts of your letters to me, respecting the state of those petitions, to convince them of my assurances, which has, in some degree, prevented their despair, as they have been from thence induced to discredit the extract.

Our Assembly, anxious to know the result of the petitions, have adjourned to the 6th of May next; being inviolably attached to his Majesty, and firmly determined to become his immediate subjects, if there are any human means left to effect it. And since the assurances that have been received, that our liberties will be preserved on the change, all their constituents (the proprietary dependents and Presbyterians excepted) are determined to support them in the attempt. Should this account from the Proprietor prove true (which God forbid), that their petitions are rejected without a hearing, I fear their consternation and distress will be wrought still higher. For, while the present members are continued, I am convinced they will never cease entreating his Majesty to rescue them from the oppression of his private subjects; and that there is a great probability to presume their continuance, will appear from the accounts of the last election.

Wherefore I hope the petitions, as you have written, and I have confidently declared, are not rejected, Edition: current; Page: [137] or laid aside, but will be resumed when the more important American affairs are settled. Nothing less than a change, I think, will satisfy the people; certain I am, a dismission without a hearing never can, but, I fear, will throw this already too unhappy province into equal disorder and confusion with its neighbouring colonies.

You will therefore be pleased to inform me in what state the petitions are before his Majesty’s Council, by the earliest opportunity, that I may be enabled to satisfy the people, who rely upon us with certainty. In the meantime, be assured that nothing in my power shall be wanting to preserve the peace, and render them easy. Believe me, dear friend, ever yours most affectionately,

Joseph Galloway.
Deborah Franklin
Franklin, Deborah
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
CCLIX

FROM MRS. FRANKLIN TO HER HUSBAND

Aprill ye 7 this day is Compleet 5 munthes senes you lefte your one House I did reseve a letter from the Capes senes that not one line I due supose that you did write by the Jan packit but that is not arived as yit Mits wikeof came and told me that you was arived and was well that her Brother had wrote her he had seen you Mr. Neet has wrote that you was well and miss Graham has wrote all so that shee had the pleshuer of a visit from you and several have wrote that you was well all thes a Countes air as Edition: current; Page: [138] plesing as such things Can be but a letter wold tell me hough your poor armes was and hough you was on your voiag and hough you air and everey thing is with you which I wante verey much to know.

Mr. Foxcrafte came to toun this day weeke and is to retame a gen in a bought a week and as I had got sume [?] of our things in the new house and beads in the uper roomes he lodges in the room fasing the market-street and has his writeing thair all so yisterday sume of the saches was hung and if I wold a low my selef I cold find falt but I donte and so we go on but it has bin such bad wather this is freyday morning Aprill ye 12 yisterday I reseved yours of Desember 10 and 27 Jan. 12 all by the packit which was given over for loste but thank God is now safe arived.

As I have but a very littel time to write as the rodes is so very bad I shall only to Joyne with you in senser thanks to god for your presevevoashon and Safe a rivel o what reson have you and I to be thankful for maney meney [?] we have reseved.

Billey and his wife is in town they Came to the rases lodged at Mr. Galloway but Spente yisterday at our house and Mr. William’s Brother we was att diner I sed I had not aney thing but vitels for I cold not get aney thing for a deserte but who knows but I may treet you with sum thing from Ingland and as we was at tabel Mr. Sumain [?] Came and sed the poste had gone by with the letters that the packit had brought so I had the pleshuer of treeting quite grand indeed and our littel Company as Cherful and hapey as ony in the world none excepted o my dear hough hapey Edition: current; Page: [139] am I to hear that you air safe and well hough dus your armes doe was John of servis to you is your Cold quite gon o I long to know the partic [?] hear I must levef of Salley not up as she was at the Assembly last night with her Sister and I have spook to more than twenty sense I wrote the a bove, I saw Mr. Rhodes this morning he is well and has a Grandatter named Mary Franklin Brother and Sister is well Brother Read is gon to Pittsburg Debbey sends her Duty to you but is verey poorly indeed Cusin Devenporte is hear her Doty shee is will Hethcote desiers his I donte no that I shold say it but he ses his Duty I suppose moste of your friends wrote to you.

My love to good Mrs. Stephenson and Polley to our Cosines to Mr and Mrs Strahan [?] and their whole famely, to our good Mr. Collinson to Mr and Mrs Weste and to all who I am obligd to for thair kiness to you every one that I have seen desiers to be remember to you and everey one hinders me our one famely is well and sendes Duty I am told that my old naber Mrs Emson is to be in London my love to her and give her a kis from me adoe my Dear child and take caire of youre selef for maneys sake as well as your one.

I am your a feckshonet wife
D. Franklin.

Mrs Potts and Saell send their Love and Duty to you.

[On the back of the letter written across the page is the following.]

Laste night Capt. Car arived I supose you did not write by him. Mama had a letter from Susan Write they were all well a few days ago.

Edition: current; Page: [140]

CCLX: TO THE EDITOR OF A NEWSPAPER

Sir:

In your paper of Wednesday last, an ingenious correspondent who calls himself The Spectator, and dates from Pimlico, under the guise of good-will to news-writers, whom he calls a “useful body of men in this great city,” has, in my opinion, artfully attempted to turn them and their works into ridicule, wherein, if he could succeed, great injury might be done to the public as well as to these good people.

Supposing, Sir, that the “we hears” they give us of this or the other intended tour or voyage of this and the other great personage were mere inventions, yet they at least offer us an innocent amusement while we read, and useful matter for conversation when we are disposed to converse.

Englishmen, Sir, are apt to be silent when they have nothing to say, and too apt to be sullen when they are silent; and, when they are sullen, to hang themselves. But, by these we hears, we are supplied with abundant funds for discourse. We discuss the motives for such voyages, the probability of their being undertaken, and the practicability of their execution. Here we display our judgment in politics, our knowledge of the interests of princes, and our skill in geography, and (if we have it) show our dexterity in argumentation. In the meantime, the tedious hour is killed, we go home pleased with the applause we have received from others, or at least with those we give to ourselves; we sleep soundly, and live on, Edition: current; Page: [141] to the comfort of our families. But, Sir, I beg leave to say, that all the articles of news that seem improbable are not mere inventions. Some of them, I can assure you on the faith of a traveller, are serious truths. And here, quitting Mr. Spectator of Pimlico, give me leave to instance the various accounts the news-writers have given us, with so much honest zeal for the welfare of Poor Old England, of the establishing manufactures in the colonies to the prejudice of those of the kingdom. It is objected by superficial readers, who yet pretend to some knowledge of those countries, that such establishments are not only improbable, but impossible, for that their sheep have but little wool, not in the whole sufficient for a pair of stockings a year to each inhabitant; that, from the universal dearness of labor among them, the working of iron and other materials, except in a few coarse instances, is impracticable to any advantage.

Dear Sir, do not let us suffer ourselves to be amused with such groundless objections. The very tails of the American sheep are so laden with wool, that each has a little car or wagon on four little wheels to support and keep it from trailing on the ground. Would they caulk their ships; would they even litter their horses with wool, if it were not both plenty and cheap? And what signifies the dearness of labor, when an English shilling passes for five and twenty? Their engaging three hundred silk throwsters here in one week for New York was treated as a fable, because, forsooth, they have “no silk there to throw.” Those who make this Edition: current; Page: [142] objection perhaps do not know that at the same time the agents from the King of Spain were at Quebec to contract for one thousand pieces of cannon, to be made there for the fortification of Mexico, and at New York engaging the usual supply of woollen floor-carpets for their West India houses; other agents from the emperor of China were at Boston treating about an exchange of raw silk for wool, to be carried in Chinese junks through the Straits of Magellan.

And yet all this is as certainly true as the account, said to be from Quebec, in all the papers of last week, that the inhabitants of Canada are making preparations for a cod and whale fishery this “summer in the upper Lakes.” Ignorant people may object that the upper Lakes are fresh, and that cod and whales are salt water fish, but let them know, Sir, that cod, like other fish, when attacked by their enemies, fly into any water where they can be safest; that whales, when they have a mind to eat cod, pursue them wherever they fly, and that the grand leap of the whale in the chase up the Falls of Niagara is esteemed by all who have seen it as one of the finest spectacles in nature. Really, Sir, the world is grown too incredulous. It is like the pendulum ever swinging from one extreme to another. Formerly every thing printed was believed because it was in print. Now things seem to be disbelieved for just the very same reason. Wise men wonder at the present growth of infidelity. They should have considered when they taught people to doubt the authority of newspapers and the truth of predictions in the almanacs, that the next step might be a disbelief of the Edition: current; Page: [143] well-vouched accounts of ghosts and witches, and doubts even of the truths of the Creed.

Thus much I thought it necessary to say in favor of an honest set of writers whose comfortable living depends on collecting and supplying the printers with news at the small price of sixpence an article, and who always show their regard to truth by contradicting in a subsequent article such as are wrong for another sixpence, to the great satisfaction and improvement of us coffee-house students in history and politics, and all future Livys, Rapins, Robertsons, Humes, and Macaulays, who may be sincerely inclined to furnish the world with that rara avis, a true history. I am, Sir, your humble servant,

A Traveller.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
2 June, 1765
London
Lord Kames
Kames, Lord
CCLXI

TO LORD KAMES, AT EDINBURGH

In my passage to America I read your excellent work, the Elements of Criticism, in which I found great entertainment. I only wished you had examined more fully the subject of music, and demonstrated that the pleasure artists feel in hearing much of that composed in the modern taste, is not the natural pleasure arising from melody or harmony of sounds, but of the same kind with the pleasure we feel on seeing the surprising feats of tumblers and rope-dancers, who execute difficult things. For my part I take this to be really the case, and suppose it to be Edition: current; Page: [144] the reason why those who are unpractised in music, and therefore unacquainted with those difficulties, have little or no pleasure in hearing this music. Many pieces of it are mere compositions of tricks. I have sometimes, at a concert, attended by a common audience, placed myself so as to see all their faces, and observed no signs of pleasure in them during the performance of a great part that was admired by the performers themselves; while a plain old Scotch tune, which they disdained, and could scarcely be prevailed on to play, gave manifest and general delight.

Give me leave, on this occasion, to extend a little the sense of your position, that “melody and harmony are separately agreeable, and in union delightful,” and to give it as my opinion, that the reason why the Scotch tunes have lived so long, and will probably live forever (if they escape being stifled in modern affected ornament), is merely this, that they are really compositions of melody and harmony united, or rather that their melody is harmony. I mean the simple tunes sung by a single voice. As this will appear paradoxical, I must explain my meaning. In common acceptation, indeed, only an agreeable succession of sounds is called melody, and only the coexistence of agreeable sounds, harmony. But, since the memory is capable of retaining for some moments a perfect idea of the pitch of a past sound, so as to compare with it the pitch of a succeeding sound, and judge truly of their agreement or disagreement, there may and does arise from thence a sense of harmony between the present and past sounds, equally pleasing with that between two present sounds.

Edition: current; Page: [145]

Now the construction of the old Scotch tunes is this, that almost every succeeding emphatical note is a third, a fifth, an octave, or in short some note that is in concord with the preceding note. Thirds are chiefly used, which are very pleasing concords. I use the word emphatical to distinguish those notes which have a stress laid on them in singing the tune, from the lighter connecting notes, that serve merely, like grammar articles in common speech, to tack the whole together.

That we have a most perfect idea of a sound just past, I might appeal to all acquainted with music, who know how easy it is to repeat a sound in the same pitch with one just heard. In tuning an instrument, a good ear can as easily determine that two strings are in unison by sounding them separately, as by sounding them together; their disagreement is also as easily, I believe I may say more easily and better, distinguished, when sounded separately; for when sounded together, though you know by the beating that one is higher than the other, you cannot tell which it is. I have ascribed to memory the ability of comparing the pitch of a present tone with that of one past. But if there should be, as possibly there may be, something in the ear, similar to what we find in the eye, that ability would not be entirely owing to memory. Possibly the vibrations given to the auditory nerves by a particular sound may actually continue some time after the cause of those vibrations is past, and the agreement or disagreement of a subsequent sound become by comparison with them more discernible. For the impression made on the visual Edition: current; Page: [146] nerves by a luminous object will continue for twenty or thirty seconds. Sitting in a room, look earnestly at the middle of a window a little while when the day is bright, and then shut your eyes; the figure of the window will still remain in the eye, and so distinct that you may count the panes.

A remarkable circumstance attending this experiment is, that the impression of forms is better retained than that of colors; for after the eyes are shut, when you first discern the image of the window, the panes appear dark, and the cross bars of the sashes, with the window frames and walls, appear white or bright; but, if you still add to the darkness in the eyes by covering them with your hand, the reverse instantly takes place, the panes appear luminous and the cross-bars dark. And by removing the hand they are again reversed. This I know not how to account for. Nor for the following: that, after looking long through green spectacles, the white paper of a book will on first taking them off appear to have a blush of red; and, after long looking through red glasses, a greenish cast; this seems to intimate a relation between green and red not yet explained.

Farther, when we consider by whom these ancient tunes were composed, and how they were first performed, we shall see that such harmonical successions of sounds were natural and even necessary in their construction. They were composed by the minstrels of those days to be played on the harp accompanied by the voice. The harp was strung with wire, which gives a sound of long continuance, and had no contrivance like that in the modern harpsichord, by Edition: current; Page: [147] which the sound of the preceding could be stopped, the moment a succeeding note began. To avoid actual discord, it was therefore necessary that the succeeding emphatic note should be a chord with the preceding, as their sounds must exist at the same time. Hence arose that beauty in those tunes that has so long pleased, and will please for ever, though men scarce know why. That they were originally composed for the harp, and of the most simple kind, I mean a harp without any half notes but those in the natural scale, and with no more than two octaves of strings, from C to C, I conjecture from another circumstance, which is, that not one of those tunes, really ancient, has a single artificial half note in it, and that in tunes where it was most convenient for the voice to use the middle notes of the harp, and place the key in F, there the B, which if used should be a B flat, is always omitted, by passing over it with a third. The connoisseurs in modern music will say, I have no taste; but I cannot help adding, that I believe our ancestors, in hearing a good song, distinctly articulated, sung to one of those tunes, and accompanied by the harp, felt more real pleasure than is communicated by the generality of modern operas, exclusive of that arising from the scenery and dancing. Most tunes of late composition, not having this natural harmony united with their melody, have recourse to the artificial harmony of a bass, and other accompanying parts. This support, in my opinion, the old tunes do not need, and are rather confused than aided by it. Whoever has heard James Oswald play them on his violoncello, will be less inclined to Edition: current; Page: [148] dispute this with me. I have more than once seen tears of pleasure in the eyes of his auditors; and yet, I think, even his playing those tunes would please more, if he gave them less modern ornament.

I am, &c.,
B. Franklin.1
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
2 June, 1765
London
Lord Kames
Kames, Lord
CCLXII

TO LORD KAMES

My Dear Lord:

I received with great pleasure your friendly letter by Mr. Alexander, which I should have answered sooner by some other conveyance, Edition: current; Page: [149] if I had understood that his stay here was like to be so long. I value myself extremely on the continuance of your regard, which I hope hereafter better to deserve, by more punctual returns in the correspondence you honor me with.

You require my history from the time I set sail for America. I left England about the end of August, 1762, in company with ten sail of merchant ships, under a convoy of a man-of-war. We had a pleasant passage to Madeira, where we were kindly received and entertained; our nation being then in high honor with the Portuguese, on account of the protection we were then affording them against the united invasions of France and Spain. It is a fertile island, and the different heights and situations among its mountains afford such temperaments of air, that all the fruits of northern and southern countries are produced there; corn, grapes, apples, peaches, oranges, lemons, plantains, bananas, &c. Here we furnished ourselves with fresh provisions, and refreshments of all kinds; and, after a few days, proceeded on our voyage, running southward until we got into the trade winds, and then with them westward, till we drew near the coast of America. The weather was so favorable that there were few days in which we could not visit from ship to ship, dining with each other, and on board of the man-of-war; which made the time pass agreeably, much more so than when one goes in a single ship; for this was like travelling in a moving village, with all one’s neighbours about one.

On the 1st of November, I arrived safe and well at my own home, after an absence of near six years; Edition: current; Page: [150] found my wife and daughter well; the latter grown quite a woman, with many amiable accomplishments acquired in my absence; and my friends as hearty and affectionate as ever, with whom my house was filled for many days, to congratulate me on my return. I had been chosen yearly during my absence to represent the city of Philadelphia in our provincial Assembly; and, on my appearance in the House, they voted me three thousand pounds sterling for my services in England, and their thanks, delivered by the Speaker. In February following my son arrived with my new daughter; for, with my consent and approbation, he married soon after I left England a very agreeable West India lady, with whom he is very happy. I accompanied him to his government, where he met with the kindest reception from the people of all ranks, and has lived with them ever since in the greatest harmony. A river only parts that province and ours, and his residence is within seventeen miles of me, so that we frequently see each other.

In the spring of 1763, I set out on a tour through all the northern Colonies to inspect and regulate the post-offices in the several provinces. In this journey I spent the summer, travelled about sixteen hundred miles, and did not get home till the beginning of November. The Assembly sitting through the following winter, and warm disputes arising between them and the governor, I became wholly engaged in public affairs; for, besides my duty as an Assemblyman, I had another trust to execute, that of being one of the commissioners appointed by law to dispose of the Edition: current; Page: [151] public money appropriated to the raising and paying an army to act against the Indians, and defend the frontiers. And then, in December, we had two insurrections of the back inhabitants of our province, by whom twenty poor Indians were murdered, that had, from the first settlement of the province, lived among us, under the protection of our government. This gave me a good deal of employment; for as the rioters threatened further mischief, and their actions seemed to be approved by an ever-acting party, I wrote a pamphlet entitled A Narrative, &c. (which I think I sent to you), to strengthen the hands of our weak government, by rendering the proceedings of the rioters unpopular and odious. This had a good effect; and afterwards, when a great body of them with arms marched towards the capital, in defiance of the government, with an avowed resolution to put to death one hundred and forty Indian converts then under its protection, I formed an Association at the governor’s request, for his and their defence, we having no militia. Near one thousand of our citizens accordingly took arms; Governor Penn made my house for some time his head-quarters, and did every thing by my advice; so that for about forty-eight hours, I was a very great man; as I had been once some years before, in a time of public danger.

But the fighting face we put on, and the reasonings we used with the insurgents (for I went at the request of the governor and council, with three others, to meet and discourse with them), having turned them back and restored quiet to the city, I became a less man than ever; for I had, by this transaction, Edition: current; Page: [152] made myself many enemies among the populace; and the governor (with whose family our public disputes had long placed me in an unfriendly light, and the services I had lately rendered him not being of the kind that make a man acceptable) thinking it a favorable opportunity, joined the whole weight of the proprietary interest to get me out of the Assembly; which was accordingly effected at the last election, by a majority of about twenty-five in four thousand voters. The House, however, when they met in October, approved of the resolutions taken, while I was Speaker,1 of petitioning the crown for a change of government, and requested me to return to England, to prosecute that petition; which service, I accordingly undertook, and embarked at the beginning of November last, being accompanied to the ship, sixteen miles, by a cavalcade of three hundred of my friends, who filled our sails with their good wishes, and I arrived in thirty days at London.

Here I have been ever since, engaged in that and other public affairs relating to America, which are likely to continue some time longer upon my hands; but I promise you, that when I am quit of these, I will engage in no other; and that, as soon as I have recovered the ease and leisure I hope for, the task you require of me, of finishing my Art of Virtue, shall be performed. In the meantime, I must request you would excuse me on this consideration, that the powers of the mind are possessed by different men in Edition: current; Page: [153] different degrees, and that every one cannot, like Lord Kames, intermix literary pursuits and important business without prejudice to either.

I send you herewith two or three other pamphlets of my writing on our political affairs, during my short residence in America1; but I do not insist on your reading them; for I know you employ all your time to some useful purpose. I am, &c.,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—I promise myself the pleasure of seeing you and my other friends in Scotland before I return to America.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
4 June, 1765
London
Deborah Franklin
Franklin, Deborah
CCLXIII

TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN

My Dear Child:

I have now before me your favors; not so many letters as dates, some of them having two or three. As to the cause concerning the lot, I have never been in the least uneasy about it, desiring only, that justice might be done, which I do not doubt. I hope Robinson was not long missing after your letter, as I really have a great esteem for him. I could have wished to be present at the finishing of the kitchen, as it is a mere machine; and, being new to you, I think you will scarce know how to work it; the several contrivances to carry off steam, smell, and smoke not being fully explained to Edition: current; Page: [154] you. The oven I suppose was put up by the written directions in my former letter. You mention nothing of the furnace. If that iron one is not set, let it alone till my return, when I shall bring a more convenient copper one.

You wonder how I did to travel seventy-two miles in a short winter day, on my landing in England, and think I must have practised flying. But the roads here are so good, with post-chaises and fresh horses every ten or twelve miles, that it is no difficult matter. A lady, that I know, has come from Edinburgh to London, being four hundred miles, in three days and a half. You mention the payment of the £500 but do not say that you have got the deeds executed. I suppose, however, that it was done. I received the two post-office letters you sent me. It was not letters of that sort alone that I wanted, but all such as were sent to me from any one whomsoever.

I cannot but complain in my mind of Mr. Smith, that the house is so long unfit for you to get into, the fences not put up, nor the other necessary articles ready. The well I expected would have been dug in the winter, or early in the spring, but I hear nothing of it. You should have gardened long before the date of your last, but it seems the rubbish was not removed. I am much obliged to my good old friends, that did me the honor to remember me in the unfinished kitchen. I hope soon to drink with them in the parlour.

I am very thankful to the good ladies you mention for their friendly wishes. Present my best respects to Mrs. Grace, and dear, precious Mrs. Shewell, Mrs. Edition: current; Page: [155] Masters, Mrs. and Miss Galloway, Mrs. Redman, Mrs. Graeme, Mrs. Thomson, Mrs. Story, Mrs. Bartram, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Hilborne, and all the others you have named to me. My love also to our brothers and sisters, and cousins, as if particularly mentioned. I have delivered yours to Mrs. and Miss Stevenson, Mr. and Mrs. Strahan and their family, Mrs. Empson, Mrs. West, and our country cousins. Miss Graham has not come to town, as I have heard.

It rejoices me to learn, that you are more free than you used to be from the headache, and that pain in your side. I am likewise in perfect health. God is very good to us both in many respects. Let us enjoy his favors with a thankful and cheerful heart; and, as we can make no direct return to him, show our sense of his goodness to us by continuing to do good to our fellow creatures, without regarding the returns they make us, whether good or bad. For they are all his children, though they may sometimes be our enemies. The friendships of this world are changeable, uncertain, transitory things; but his favor, if we can secure it, is an inheritance for ever. I am, my dear Debby, your ever loving husband,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Peter Franklin
Franklin, Peter
CCLXIV

TO PETER FRANKLIN, AT NEWPORT

Dear Brother:

I like your ballad, and think it well adapted for your purpose of discountenancing expensive foppery, Edition: current; Page: [156] and encouraging industry and frugality. If you can get it generally sung in your country, it may probably have a good deal of the effect you hope and expect from it. But as you aimed at making it general, I wonder you chose so uncommon a measure in poetry, that none of the tunes in common use will suit it. Had you fitted it to an old one, well known, it must have spread much faster than I doubt it will do from the best new tune we can get composed for it. I think, too, that if you had given it to some country girl in the heart of the Massachusetts, who has never heard any other than psalm tunes, or Chevy Chace, the Children in the Wood, the Spanish Lady, and such old simple ditties, but has naturally a good ear, she might more probably have made a pleasing popular tune for you than any of our masters here, and more proper for your purpose, which would best be answered, if every word could as it is sung be understood by all that hear it, and if the emphasis you intend for particular words could be given by the singer as well as by the reader; much of the force and impression of the song depending on those circumstances. I will, however, get it as well done for you as I can.

Do not imagine that I mean to depreciate the skill of our composers of music here; they are admirable at pleasing practised ears, and know how to delight one another; but, in composing for songs, the reigning taste seems to be quite out of nature, or rather the reverse of nature, and yet, like a torrent, hurries them all away with it; one or two perhaps only excepted.

You, in the spirit of some ancient legislators, Edition: current; Page: [157] would influence the manners of your country by the united powers of poetry and music. By what I can learn of their songs, the music was simple, conformed itself to the usual pronunciation of words, as to measure, cadence, or emphasis, &c., never disguised and confounded the language by making a long syllable short, or a short one long, when sung; their singing was only a more pleasing, because a melodious manner of speaking; it was capable of all the graces of prose oratory, while it added the pleasure of harmony. A modern song, on the contrary, neglects all the proprieties and beauties of common speech, and in their place introduces its defects and absurdities as so many graces. I am afraid you will hardly take my word for this, and therefore I must endeavour to support it by proof. Here is the first song I lay my hand on. It happens to be a composition of one of our greatest masters, the ever-famous Handel. It is not one of his juvenile performances, before his taste could be improved and formed; it appeared when his reputation was at the highest, is greatly admired by all his admirers, and is really excellent in its kind. It is called, “The additional favorite Song in Judas Maccabeus.” Now I reckon among the defects and improprieties of common speech the following, viz.:

1. Wrong placing the accent or emphasis, by laying it on words of no importance, or on wrong syllables.

2. Drawling; or extending the sound of words or syllables beyond their natural length.

3. Stuttering; or making many syllables of one.

4. Unintelligibleness; the result of the three foregoing united.

Edition: current; Page: [158]

5. Tautology; and

6. Screaming without cause.

For the wrong placing of the accent, or emphasis, see it on the word their instead of being on the word vain.

lf1438-04_figure_002.jpg

And on the word from, and the wrong syllable like.

lf1438-04_figure_003.jpg

For the drawling, see the last syllable of the word wounded.

lf1438-04_figure_004.jpg

And in the syllable wis, and the word from, and syllable bove.

lf1438-04_figure_005.jpg

For the stuttering, see the words ne’er relieve, in Edition: current; Page: [159] Here are four syllables made of one, and eight of three; but this is moderate. I have seen in another song, that I cannot now find, seventeen syllables made of three, and sixteen of one. The latter I remember was the word charms; viz., cha, a, a, a, a, a, a, a, a, a, a, a, a, a, a, arms. Stammering with a witness!

lf1438-04_figure_006.jpg

For the unintelligibleness, give this whole song to any taught singer, and let her sing it to any company that have never heard it. You shall find they will not understand three words in ten. It is therefore that, at the oratorios and operas, one sees with books in their hands all those who desire to understand what they hear sung by even our best performers.

For the tautology, you have, with their vain mysterious art, twice repeated; magic charms can ne’er relieve you, three times. Nor can heal the wounded heart, three times. Godlike wisdom from above, twice; and this alone can ne’er deceive you, two or three times. But this is reasonable when compared with the Monster Polypheme, the Monster Polypheme, a hundred times over and over in his admired Acis and Galatea.

As to the screaming, perhaps I cannot find a fair instance in this song; but whoever has frequented our operas will remember many. And yet here methinks the words no and e’er, when sung to these notes, have a little of the air of screaming, and would actually be screamed by some singers.

lf1438-04_figure_007.jpg
Edition: current; Page: [160]

I send you enclosed the song with its music at length. Read the words without the repetitions. Observe how few they are, and what a shower of notes attend them; you will then perhaps be inclined to think with me that, though the words might be the principal part of an ancient song, they are of small importance in a modern one. They are, in short, only a pretence for singing.

I am, as ever,
Your affectionate brother,
B. Franklin.

P. S.—I might have mentioned inarticulation among the defects in common speech that are assumed as beauties in modern singing. But as that seems more the fault of the singer than of the composer, I omitted it in what related merely to the composition. The fine singer, in the present mode, stifles all the hard consonants, and polishes away all the rougher parts of words that serve to distinguish them one from another; so that you hear nothing but an admirable pipe, and understand no more of the song than you would from its tune played on any other instrument. If ever it was the ambition of musicians to make instruments that should imitate the human voice, that ambition seems now reversed, the voice aiming to be like an instrument. Thus wigs were first made to imitate a good natural head of hair; but when they became fashionable, though in unnatural forms, we have seen natural hair dressed to look like wigs.

Edition: current; Page: [161]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
7 July, 1765
London
Hugh Roberts
Roberts, Hugh
CCLXV

TO HUGH ROBERTS

Dear Friend:

Your kind favor of May 20th, by the hand of our good friend Mr. Neave, gave me great pleasure. I find, on those occasions, that expressions of steady, continued friendship, such as are contained in your letter, though but from one or a few honest and sensible men, who have long known us, afford a satisfaction that far outweighs the clamorous abuse of a thousand knaves and fools. While I enjoy the share I have so long had in the esteem of my old friends, the bird-and-beast people you mention may peck, and snarl, and bark at me as much as they think proper. There is only some danger, that I should grow too vain on their disapprobation.

I am pleased with your punning, not merely because I like punning in general, but because I learn from your using it, that you are in good health and spirits, which I pray may long continue. Our affairs are at a total stop here, by the present unsettled state of the ministry, but will go forward again as soon as that is fixed. Nothing yet appears that is discouraging.

I have not yet found an engraver that will do our seal well and reasonably. Kirk asked me twenty guineas, and some others a little less. I think we had better content ourselves with the old one; but shall inquire further.1 Remember me respectfully and Edition: current; Page: [162] affectionately to your good dame and children, and accept my thanks for your kind visits to my little family in my absence.

I wish you would continue to meet the Junto, notwithstanding that some effects of our public political misunderstandings may sometimes appear there. It is now perhaps one of the oldest clubs, as I think it was formerly one of the best, in the King’s dominions. It wants but about two years of forty since it was established. We loved and still love one another; we are grown gray together, and yet it is too early to part. Let us sit till the evening of life is spent. The last hours are always the most joyous. When we can stay no longer, it is time enough then to bid each other good night, separate, and go quietly to bed. Adieu, my dear friend, yours affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
11 July, 1765
London
Charles Thomson
Thomson, Charles
CCLXVI

TO CHARLES THOMSON

Dear Friend:

I am extremely obliged by your kind letters of April 12th and 14th, and thank you for the intelligence they contain. The outrages continually committed by those misguided people will doubtless tend to convince all the considerate on your side of the water of the weakness of our present government, and the necessity of a change. I am sure it Edition: current; Page: [163] will contribute towards hastening that change here, so that, upon the whole, good will be brought out of evil; and yet I grieve to hear of such horrid disorders. The letters and accounts boasted of from the Proprietor, of his being sure of his retaining the government, as well as those of the sums offered for it, which the people will be obliged to pay, &c., are all idle tales, fit only for knaves to propagate, and fools to believe. A little time will dissipate all the smoke they can raise to conceal the real state of things.

The unsettled state of the ministry, ever since the Parliament rose, has stopped all proceeding in public affairs, and ours amongst the rest; but, change being now made, we shall immediately proceed, and with a greater cheerfulness, as some we had reason to doubt of are removed, and some particular friends are put in place. What you mentioned of the Lower Counties is undoubtedly right. Had they ever sent their laws home,1 as they ought to have done, that iniquitous one of priority of payment to residents would undoubtedly have been repealed. But the end of all these things is nigh; at least it seems to be so.

The spiking of the guns was an audacious piece of villany, by whomsoever done. It shows the necessity of a regular enclosed place of defence, with a constant guard to take care of what belongs to it, which, when the country can afford it, will, I hope, be provided.

Depend upon it, my good neighbour, I took every step in my power to prevent the passing of the Stamp Edition: current; Page: [164] Act. Nobody could be more concerned and interested than myself, to oppose it sincerely and heartily. But the tide was too strong against us. The nation was provoked by American claims of independence,1 and all parties joined in resolving by this act to settle the point. We might as well have hindered the sun’s setting. That we could not do. But since it is down, my friend, and it may be long before it rises again, let us make as good a night of it as we can. We may still light candles. Frugality and industry will go a great way towards indemnifying us. Idleness and pride tax with a heavier hand than kings and parliaments. If we can get rid of the former, we may easily bear the latter.2

My best respects to Mrs. Thomson. Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me ever yours affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
13 July, 1765
London
Deborah Franklin
Franklin, Deborah
CCLXVII

TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN

My Dear Child:

I had the great pleasure of hearing from you and Sally last night by the packet. I Edition: current; Page: [165] cannot now answer every particular of your letters, having many to write that are to go by this day’s mail, but will by the next opportunity. Mrs. Stevenson bids me tell Sally, that the striped gown I sent her will wash, but it must be with a light hand. I am glad to hear of Captain Robinson’s arrival, and it gives me pleasure that so many of my friends honoured our new dining-room with their company. You tell me of a fault they found with the house, that it was too little, and not a word of any thing they liked in it, nor how the kitchen chimneys perform; so I suppose you spare me some mortification, which is kind. I wonder you put up the oven without Mr. Roberts’s advice, as I think you told me he had my old letter of directions; but I can add no more, only that I am very well and in good spirits. I wrote you largely by Captain Friend, and sent a case with a number of particulars. My love to all. Your affectionate husband,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [166]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
January 6, 1766
London
CCLXVIII

LETTER CONCERNING THE GRATITUDE OF AMERICA
AND THE PROBABILITY AND EFFECTS OF A UNION WITH GREAT BRITAIN; AND CONCERNING THE REPEAL OR SUSPENSION OF THE STAMP ACT

Sir:

I have attentively perused the paper you sent me, and am of opinion that the measure it proposes, of an union with the colonies, is a wise one; but I doubt it will hardly be thought so here, till it is too late to attempt it. The time has been, when the colonies would have esteemed it a great advantage, as well as honor, to be permitted to send members to Parliament; and would have asked for that privilege, if they could have had the least hopes of obtaining it. The time is now come when they are indifferent about it, and will probably not ask it, though they might accept it if offered them; and the time will come, when they will certainly refuse it. But if such an union were now established (which methinks it highly imports this country to establish) it would probably subsist as long as Britain shall continue a nation. This people, however, is too proud, and too much despises the Americans, to bear the thought of admitting them to such an equitable participation in the government of the whole.

Then the next best thing seems to be, leaving them in the quiet enjoyment of their respective constitutions; and when money is wanted for any public service, in which they ought to bear a part, calling Edition: current; Page: [167] upon them by requisitorial letters from the crown (according to the long-established custom) to grant such aids as their loyalty shall dictate, and their abilities permit. The very sensible and benevolent author of that paper seems not to have known, that such a constitutional custom subsists, and has always hitherto been practised in America; or he would not have expressed himself in this manner: “It is evident, beyond a doubt, to the intelligent and impartial, that after the very extraordinary efforts, which were effectually made by Great Britain in the late war to save the colonists from destruction, and attended of necessity with an enormous load of debts in consequence, that the same colonists, now firmly secured from foreign enemies, should be somehow induced to contribute some proportion towards the exigencies of state in future.” This looks as if he conceived the war had been carried on at the sole expense of Great Britain, and the colonies only reaped the benefit, without hitherto sharing the burden, and were therefore now indebted to Britain on that account. And this is the same kind of argument that is used by those who would fix on the colonies the heavy charge of unreasonableness and ingratitude, which I think your friend did not intend.

Please to acquaint him, then, that the fact is not so; that, every year during the war, requisitions were made by the crown on the colonies for raising money and men; that accordingly they made more extraordinary efforts, in proportion to their abilities, than Britain did; that they raised, paid, and clothed, for five or six years, near twenty-five thousand men, Edition: current; Page: [168] besides providing for other services, as building forts, equipping guard-ships, paying transports, &c. And that this was more than their fair proportion is not merely an opinion of mine, but was the judgment of government here, in full knowledge of all the facts; for the then ministry, to make the burden more equal, recommended the case to Parliament, and obtained a reimbursement to the Americans of about two hundred thousand pounds sterling every year; which amounted only to about two fifths of their expense; and great part of the rest lies still a load of debt upon them; heavy taxes on all their estates, real and personal, being laid by acts of their assemblies to discharge it, and yet will not discharge it in many years.

While, then, these burdens continue; while Britain restrains the colonies in every branch of commerce and manufactures that she thinks interferes with her own; while she drains the colonies, by her trade with them, of all the cash they can procure by every art and industry in any part of the world, and thus keeps them always in her debt (for they can make no law to discourage the importation of your to them ruinous superfluities, as you do the superfluities of France; since such a law would immediately be reported against by your Board of Trade, and repealed by the crown); I say while these circumstances continue, and while there subsists the established method of royal requisitions for raising money on them by their own assemblies on every proper occasion; can it be necessary or prudent to distress and vex them by taxes laid here, in a Parliament wherein they have no Edition: current; Page: [169] representative, and in a manner which they look upon to be unconstitutional and subversive of their most valuable rights? And are they to be thought unreasonable and ungrateful if they oppose such taxes?

Wherewith, they say, shall we show our loyalty to our gracious King, if our money is to be given by others, without asking our consent? And, if the Parliament has a right thus to take from us a penny in the pound, where is the line drawn that bounds that right, and what shall hinder their calling, whenever they please, for the other nineteen shillings and eleven pence? Have we then any thing that we can call our own? It is more than probable, that bringing representatives from the colonies to sit and act here as members of Parliament, thus uniting and consolidating your dominions, would in a little time remove these objections and difficulties, and make the future government of the colonies easy; but, till some such thing is done, I apprehend no taxes, laid there by Parliament here, will ever be collected, but such as must be stained with blood; and I am sure the profit of such taxes will never answer the expense of collecting them, and that the respect and affection of the Americans to this country will in the struggle be totally lost, perhaps never to be recovered; and therewith all the commercial and political advantages, that might have attended the continuance of this respect and this affection.

In my own private judgment, I think an immediate repeal of the Stamp Act would be the best measure for this country; but a suspension of it for three years the best for that. The repeal would fill them with Edition: current; Page: [170] joy and gratitude, reëstablish their respect and veneration for Parliament, restore at once their ancient and natural love for this country, and their regard for every thing that comes from it; hence the trade would be renewed in all its branches; they would again indulge in all the expensive superfluities you supply them with, and their new-assumed home industry would languish. But the suspension, though it might continue their fears and anxieties, would at the same time keep up their resolutions of industry and frugality; which in two or three years would grow into habits, to their lasting advantage. However, as the repeal will probably not be now agreed to,1 from what I think a mistaken opinion, that the honor and dignity of government is better supported by persisting in a wrong measure once entered into, than by rectifying an error as soon as it is discovered; we must allow the next best thing for the advantage of both countries is the suspension; for, as to executing the act by force, it is madness, and will be ruin to the whole.

The rest of your friend’s reasonings and propositions appear to me truly just and judicious. I will therefore only add, that I am as desirous of his acquaintance and intimacy as he was of my opinion.

I am, with much esteem,
Your obliged friend,
B. Franklin.2
Edition: current; Page: [171]

CCLXIX: THE EXAMINATION OF DR. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN IN THE BRITISH HOUSE OF COMMONS
RELATIVE TO THE REPEAL OF THE AMERICAN STAMP ACT, IN 17661

From the journal of the House of Commons, as given by Mr. Vaughan.

February 3, 1766. Benjamin Franklin and a number of other persons ordered to attend the committee of the whole House, to whom it was referred to consider farther the several papers, which were presented to the House by Mr. Secretary Conway.

February 13th. Benjamin Franklin, having passed Edition: current; Page: [172] through his examination, was excepted from farther attendance.

February 24th. The resolutions of the committee were reported by the chairman, Mr. Fuller; their seventh and last resolution, setting forth that it was their opinion that the House be moved that leave be given to bring in a bill to repeal the Stamp Act.”

The account of the examination was first published in 1767, without the name of printer or publisher. It was translated into French, and widely circulated in Europe. It has been frequently reprinted in both the English and French languages.—Editor.

Edition: current; Page: [173]
Q.

What is your name and place of abode?

A.

Franklin, of Philadelphia.

Q.

Do the Americans pay any considerable taxes among themselves?

A.

Certainly, many and very heavy taxes.

Q.

What are the present taxes in Pennsylvania, laid by the laws of the colony?

A.

There are taxes on all estates, real and personal; a poll tax; a tax on all offices, professions, trades, and businesses, according to their profits; an excise on all wine, rum, and other spirits; and a duty of ten pounds per head on all negroes imported, with some other duties.

Q.

For what purposes are those taxes laid?

A.

For the support of the civil and military establishments of the country, and to discharge the heavy debt contracted in the last war.

Q.

How long are those taxes to continue?

A.

Those for discharging the debt are to continue till 1772, and longer, if the debt should not be then all discharged. The others must always continue.

Q.

Was it not expected that the debt would have been sooner discharged?

A.

It was, when the peace was made with France and Spain. But a fresh war breaking out with the Indians, a fresh load of debt was incurred; and the taxes, of course, continued longer by a new law.

Q.

Are not all the people very able to pay those taxes?

A.

No. The frontier counties, all along the continent, having been frequently ravaged by the enemy and greatly impoverished, are able to pay very little Edition: current; Page: [174] tax. And therefore, in consideration of their distresses, our late tax laws do expressly favor those counties, excusing the sufferers; and I suppose the same is done in other governments.

Q.

Are not you concerned in the management of the post-office in America?

A.

Yes. I am deputy-postmaster-general of North America.

Q.

Don’t you think the distribution of stamps by post to all the inhabitants very practicable, if there was no opposition?

A.

The posts only go along the sea-coasts: they do not, except in a few instances, go back into the country; and, if they did, sending for stamps by post would occasion an expense of postage amounting in many cases to much more than that of the stamps themselves.

Q.

Are you acquainted with Newfoundland?

A.

I never was there.

Q.

Do you know whether there are any post-roads on that island?

A.

I have heard that there are no roads at all, but that the communication between one settlement and another is by sea only.

Q.

Can you disperse the stamps by post in Canada?

A.

There is only a post between Montreal and Quebec. The inhabitants live so scattered and remote from each other in that vast country, that posts cannot be supported among them, and therefore they cannot get stamps per post. The English colonies, too, along the frontiers are very thinly settled.

Edition: current; Page: [175]
Q.

From the thinness of the back settlements would not the Stamp Act be extremely inconvenient to the inhabitants, if executed?

A.

To be sure it would; as many of the inhabitants could not get stamps when they had occasion for them without taking long journeys, and spending perhaps three or four pounds, that the crown might get sixpence.

Q.

Are not the colonies, from their circumstances, very able to pay the stamp duty?

A.

In my opinion there is not gold and silver enough in the colonies to pay the stamp duty for one year.1

Q.

Don’t you know that the money arising from the stamps was all to be laid out in America?

A.

I know it is appropriated by the act to the American service; but it will be spent in the conquered colonies, where the soldiers are; not in the colonies that pay it.

Q.

Is there not a balance of trade due from the colonies where the troops are posted, that will bring back the money to the old colonies?

Edition: current; Page: [176]
A.

I think not. I believe very little would come back. I know of no trade likely to bring it back. I think it would come, from the colonies where it was spent, directly to England; for I have always observed, that in every colony the more plenty the means of remittance to England, the more goods are sent for, and the more trade with England carried on.

Q.

What number of white inhabitants do you think there are in Pennsylvania?

A.

I suppose there may be about one hundred and sixty thousand.

Q.

What number of them are Quakers?

A.

Perhaps a third.

Q.

What number of Germans?

A.

Perhaps another third; but I cannot speak with certainty.

Q.

Have any number of the Germans seen service, as soldiers, in Europe?

A.

Yes, many of them, both in Europe and America.

Q.

Are they as much dissatisfied with the stamp duty as the English?

A.

Yes, and more; and with reason, as their stamps are, in many cases, to be double.1

Q.

How many white men do you suppose there are in North America?

Edition: current; Page: [177]
A.

About three hundred thousand, from sixteen to sixty years of age.1

Q.

What may be the amount of one year’s imports into Pennsylvania from Britain?

A.

I have been informed that our merchants compute the imports from Britain to be above five hundred thousand pounds.

Q.

What may be the amount of the produce of your province exported to Britain?

A.

It must be small, as we produce little that is wanted in Britain. I suppose it cannot exceed forty thousand pounds.

Q.

How then do you pay the balance?

A.

The balance is paid by our produce carried to the West Indies, and sold in our own islands, or to the French, Spaniards, Danes, and Dutch; by the same produce carried to other colonies in North America, as to New England, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Carolina, and Georgia; by the same, carried to different parts of Europe, as Spain, Portugal, and Italy. In all which places we receive either money, bills of exchange, or commodities that suit for remittance to Britain; which, together with all the profits on the industry of our merchants and mariners, arising in those circuitous voyages, and the freights Edition: current; Page: [178] made by their ships, centre finally in Britain to discharge the balance, and pay for British manufactures continually used in the provinces, or sold to foreigners by our traders.

Q.

Have you heard of any difficulties lately laid on the Spanish trade?

A.

Yes; I have heard that it has been greatly obstructed by some new regulations, and by the English men-of-war and cutters stationed all along the coast in America.

Q.

Do you think it right that America should be protected by this country and pay no part of the expense?

A.

That is not the case. The colonies raised, clothed, and paid, during the last war, near twenty-five thousand men, and spent many millions.

Q.

Were you not reimbursed by Parliament?

A.

We were only reimbursed what, in your opinion, we had advanced beyond our proportion, or beyond what might reasonably be expected from us; and it was a very small part of what we spent. Pennsylvania, in particular, disbursed about five hundred thousand pounds, and the reimbursements, in the whole, did not exceed sixty thousand pounds.

Q.

You have said that you pay heavy taxes in Pennsylvania; what do they amount to in the pound?

A.

The tax on all estates, real and personal, is eighteen pence in the pound, fully rated; and the tax on the profits of trades and professions, with other taxes, do, I suppose, make full half a crown in the pound.

Edition: current; Page: [179]
Q.

Do you know any thing of the rate of exchange in Pennsylvania, and whether it has fallen lately?

A.

It is commonly from one hundred and seventy to one hundred and seventy-five. I have heard that it has fallen lately from one hundred and seventy-five to one hundred and sixty-two and a half; owing, I suppose, to their lessening their orders for goods; and when their debts to this country are paid, I think the exchange will probably be at par.

Q.

Do you not think the people of America would submit to pay the stamp duty, if it was moderated?

A.

No, never, unless compelled by force of arms.

Q.

Are not the taxes in Pennsylvania laid on unequally, in order to burden the English trade; particularly the tax on professions and business?

A.

It is not more burdensome in proportion than the tax on lands. It is intended and supposed to take an equal proportion of profits.

Q.

How is the assembly composed? Of what kinds of people are the members; landholders or traders?

A.

It is composed of landholders, merchants, and artificers.

Q.

Are not the majority landholders?

A.

I believe they are.

Q.

Do not they, as much as possible, shift the tax off from the land, to ease that, and lay the burden heavier on trade?

A.

I have never understood it so. I never heard such a thing suggested. And indeed an attempt of that kind could answer no purpose. The merchant or trader is always skilled in figures, and ready with Edition: current; Page: [180] his pen and ink. If unequal burdens are laid on his trade, he puts an additional price on his goods; and the consumers, who are chiefly landholders, finally pay the greatest part, if not the whole.

Q.

What was the temper of America towards Great Britain before the year 1763?1

A.

The best in the world. They submitted willingly to the government of the crown, and paid, in their courts, obedience to the acts of Parliament. Numerous as the people are in the several old provinces, they cost you nothing in forts, citadels, garrisons, or armies to keep them in subjection. They Edition: current; Page: [181] were governed by this country at the expense only of a little pen, ink, and paper; they were led by a thread. They had not only a respect, but an affection for Great Britain; for its laws, its customs and manners, and even a fondness for its fashions, that greatly increased the commerce. Natives of Britain were always treated with particular regard. To be an Old-England man was, of itself, a character of some respect, and gave a kind of rank among us.

Q.

And what is their temper now?

A.

O, very much altered.

Q.

Did you ever hear the authority of Parliament to make laws for America questioned till lately?

A.

The authority of Parliament was allowed to be valid in all laws, except such as should lay internal taxes. It was never disputed in laying duties to regulate commerce.

Q.

In what proportion hath population increased in America?

A.

I think the inhabitants of all the provinces together, taken at a medium, double in about twenty-five years. But their demand for British manufactures increases much faster, as the consumption is not merely in proportion to their numbers, but grows with the growing abilities of the same numbers to pay for them. In 1723 the whole importation from Britain to Pennsylvania was about fifteen thousand pounds sterling. It is now near half a million.

Q.

In what light did the people of America use to consider the Parliament of Great Britain?

A.

They considered the Parliament as the great bulwark and security of their liberties and privileges, Edition: current; Page: [182] and always spoke of it with the utmost respect and veneration. Arbitrary ministers, they thought, might possibly at times attempt to oppress them; but they relied on it that the Parliament, on application, would always give redress. They remembered, with gratitude, a strong instance of this when a bill was brought into Parliament with a clause to make royal instructions laws in the colonies, which the House of Commons would not pass, and it was thrown out.

Q.

And have they not still the same respect for Parliament?

A.

No, it is greatly lessened.

Q.

To what cause is that owing?

A.

To a concurrence of causes; the restraints lately laid on their trade, by which the bringing of foreign gold and silver into the colonies was prevented; the prohibition of making paper money among themselves, and then demanding a new and heavy tax by stamps, taking away at the same time trials by juries, and refusing to receive and hear their humble petitions.

Q.

Don’t you think they would submit to the Stamp Act, if it was modified, the obnoxious parts taken out, and the duty reduced to some particulars of small moment?

A.

No, they will never submit to it.

Q.

What do you think is the reason the people in America increase faster than in England?

A.

Because they marry younger, and more generally.

Q.

Why so?

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A.

Because any young couple that are industrious, may easily obtain land of their own, on which they can raise a family.

Q.

Are not the lower ranks of people more at their ease in America than in England?

A.

They may be so, if they are sober and diligent, as they are better paid for their labor.

Q.

What is your opinion of a future tax, imposed on the same principle with that of the Stamp Act? How would the Americans receive it?

A.

Just as they do this. They would not pay it.

Q.

Have not you heard of the resolutions of this House, and of the House of Lords, asserting the right of Parliament relating to America, including a power to tax the people there?

A.

Yes, I have heard of such resolutions.

Q.

What will be the opinion of the Americans on those resolutions?

A.

They will think them unconstitutional and unjust.

Q.

Was it an opinion in America before 1763, that the Parliament had no right to lay taxes and duties there?

A.

I never heard any objection to the right of laying duties to regulate commerce; but the right to lay internal taxes was never supposed to be in Parliament, as we are not represented there.

Q.

On what do you found your opinion, that the people in America made any such distinction?

A.

I know that whenever the subject has occurred in conversation where I have been present, it has appeared to be the opinion of every one, that we Edition: current; Page: [184] could not be taxed by a Parliament wherein we were not represented. But the payment of duties laid by an act of Parliament, as regulations of commerce, was never disputed.

Q.

But can you name any act of assembly, or public act of any of your governments, that made such distinction?

A.

I do not know that there was any; I think there was never an occasion to make any such act, till now that you have attempted to tax us; that has occasioned resolutions of assembly, declaring the distinction, in which I think every assembly on the continent, and every member in every assembly, have been unanimous.

Q.

What, then, could occasion conversations on that subject before that time?

A.

There was in 1754 a proposition made, (I think it came from hence,) that in case of a war, which was then apprehended, the governors of the colonies should meet, and order the levying of troops, building of forts, and taking every other measure for the general defence; and should draw on the treasury here for the sums expended, which were afterwards to be raised in the colonies by a general tax, to be laid on them by act of Parliament. This occasioned a good deal of conversation on the subject; and the general opinion was, that the Parliament neither would nor could lay any tax on us, till we were duly represented in Parliament; because it was not just, nor agreeable to the nature of an English constitution.

Q.

Don’t you know there was a time in New York, Edition: current; Page: [185] when it was under consideration to make an application to Parliament to lay taxes on that colony, upon a deficiency arising from the assembly’s refusing or neglecting to raise the necessary supplies for the support of the civil government?

A.

I never heard of it.

Q.

There was such an application under consideration in New York; and do you apprehend they could suppose the right of Parliament to lay a tax in America was only local, and confined to the case of a deficiency in a particular colony, by a refusal of its assembly to raise the necessary supplies?

A.

They could not suppose such a case, as that the assembly would not raise the necessary supplies to support its own government. An assembly that would refuse it must want common sense; which cannot be supposed. I think there was never any such case at New York, and that it must be a misrepresentation, or the fact must be misunderstood. I know there have been some attempts, by ministerial instructions from hence, to oblige the assemblies to settle permanent salaries on governors, which they wisely refused to do; but I believe no assembly of New York, or any other colony, ever refused duly to support government by proper allowances, from time to time, to public officers.

Q.

But, in case a governor, acting by instruction, should call on an assembly to raise the necessary supplies, and the assembly should refuse to do it, do you not think it would then be for the good of the people of the colony, as well as necessary to government, that the Parliament should tax them?

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A.

I do not think it would be necessary. If an assembly could possibly be so absurd, as to refuse raising the supplies requisite for the maintenance of government among them, they could not long remain in such a situation; the disorders and confusion occasioned by it must soon bring them to reason.

Q.

If it should not, ought not the right to be in Great Britain of applying a remedy?

A.

A right, only to be used in such a case, I should have no objection to; supposing it to be used merely for the good of the people of the colony.

Q.

But who is to judge of that, Britain or the colony?

A.

Those that feel can best judge.

Q.

You say the colonies have always submitted to external taxes, and object to the right of Parliament only in laying internal taxes; now can you show that there is any kind of difference between the two taxes to the colony on which they may be laid?

A.

I think the difference is very great. An external tax is a duty laid on commodities imported; that duty is added to the first cost and other charges on the commodity, and, when it is offered to sale, makes a part of the price. If the people do not like it at that price, they refuse it; they are not obliged to pay it. But an internal tax is forced from the people without their consent, if not laid by their own representatives. The Stamp Act says, we shall have no commerce, make no exchange of property with each other, neither purchase, nor grant, nor recover debts; we shall neither marry nor make our wills, unless we Edition: current; Page: [187] pay such and such sums; and thus it is intended to extort our money from us, or ruin us by the consequences of refusing to pay it.

Q.

But supposing the external tax or duty to be laid on the necessaries of life imported into your colony, will not that be the same thing in its effects as an internal tax?

A.

I do not know a single article imported into the northern colonies, but what they can either do without, or make themselves.

Q.

Don’t you think cloth from England absolutely necessary to them.

A.

No, by no means absolutely necessary; with industry and good management they may very well supply themselves with all they want.

Q.

Will it not take a long time to establish that manufacture among them; and must they not in the meanwhile suffer greatly?

A.

I think not. They have made a surprising progress already. And I am of opinion that before their old clothes are worn out they will have new ones of their own making.

Q.

Can they possibly find wool enough in North America.

A.

They have taken steps to increase the wool. They entered into general combinations to eat no more lamb; and very few lambs were killed last year. This course, persisted in, will soon make a prodigious difference in the quantity of wool. And the establishing of great manufactories, like those in the clothing towns here, is not necessary, as it is where the business is to be carried on for the purposes of Edition: current; Page: [188] trade. The people will all spin and work for themselves in their own houses.

Q.

Can there be wool and manufacture enough in one or two years?

A.

In three years, I think there may.

Q.

Does not the severity of the winter, in the northern colonies, occasion the wool to be of bad quality?

A.

No; the wool is very fine and good.

Q.

In the more southern colonies, as in Virginia, don’t you know that the wool is coarse and only a kind of hair?

A.

I don’t know it. I never heard it. Yet I have been sometimes in Virginia. I cannot say I ever took particular notice of the wool there, but I believe it is good, though I cannot speak positively of it; but Virginia and the colonies south of it have less occasion for wool; their winters are short, and not very severe; and they can very well clothe themselves with linen and cotton of their own raising for the rest of the year.

Q.

Are not the people in the more northern colonies obliged to fodder their sheep all the winter?

A.

In some of the most northern colonies they may be obliged to do it some part of the winter.

Q.

Considering the resolutions of Parliament,1 as to the right, do you think, if the Stamp Act is repealed, that the North Americans will be satisfied?

A.

I believe they will.

Q.

Why do you think so?

A.

I think the resolutions of right will give them Edition: current; Page: [189] very little concern, if they are never attempted to be carried into practice. The colonies will probably consider themselves in the same situation, in that respect, with Ireland; they know you claim the same right with regard to Ireland; but you never exercise it, and they may believe you never will exercise it in the colonies, any more than in Ireland, unless on some very extraordinary occasion.

Q.

But who are to be the judges of that extraordinary occasion? Is not the Parliament?

A.

Though the Parliament may judge of the occasion, the people will think it can never exercise such right, till representatives from the colonies are admitted into Parliament; and that, whenever the occasion arises, representatives will be ordered.

Q.

Did you ever hear that Maryland, during the last war, had refused to furnish a quota towards the common defence?

A.

Maryland has been much misrepresented in this matter. Maryland, to my knowledge, never refused to contribute or grant aids to the crown. The assemblies, every year during the war, voted considerable sums, and formed bills to raise them. The bills were, according to the constitution of that province, sent up to the Council, or Upper House, for concurrence, that they might be represented to the governor, in order to be enacted into laws. Unhappy disputes between the two Houses, arising from the defects of that constitution principally, rendered all the bills but one or two abortive. The proprietary’s council rejected them. It is true, Maryland did not then contribute its proportion; Edition: current; Page: [190] but it was, in my opinion, the fault of the government, not of the people.

Q.

Was it not talked of in the other provinces, as a proper measure, to apply to Parliament to compel them?

A.

I have heard such discourse; but, as it was well known that the people were not to blame, no such application was ever made, nor any step taken towards it.

Q.

Was it not proposed at a public meeting?

A.

Not that I know of.

Q.

Do you remember the abolishing of the paper currency in New England, by act of assembly?

A.

I do remember its being abolished in the Massachusetts Bay.

Q.

Was not Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson principally concerned in that transaction?

A.

I have heard so.

Q.

Was it not at that time a very unpopular law?

A.

I believe it might, though I can say little about it, as I lived at a distance from that province.

Q.

Was not the scarcity of gold and silver an argument used against abolishing the paper?

A.

I suppose it was.1

Q.

What is the present opinion there of that law? Is it as unpopular as it was at first?

A.

I think it is not.

Q.

Have not instructions from hence been sometimes sent over to governors, highly oppressive and unpolitical?

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A.

Yes.

Q.

Have not some governors dispensed with them for that reason?

A.

Yes, I have heard so.

Q.

Did the Americans ever dispute the controlling power of Parliament to regulate the commerce?

A.

No.

Q.

Can any thing less than a military force carry the Stamp Act into execution?

A.

I do not see how a military force can be applied to that purpose.

Q.

Why may it not?

A.

Suppose a military force sent into America, they will find nobody in arms; what are they then to do? They cannot force a man to take stamps who chooses to do without them. They will not find a rebellion; they may indeed make one.

Q.

If the act is not repealed, what do you think will be the consequences?

A.

A total loss of the respect and affection the people of America bear to this country, and of all the commerce that depends on that respect and affection.

Q.

How can the commerce be affected?

A.

You will find that, if the act is not repealed, they will take a very little of your manufactures in a short time.

Q.

Is it in their power to do without them?

A.

The goods they take from Britain are either necessaries, mere conveniences, or superfluities. The first, as cloth, &c., with a little industry they can make at home; the second they can do without, till Edition: current; Page: [192] they are able to provide them among themselves; and the last, which are much the greatest part, they will strike off immediately. They are mere articles of fashion, purchased and consumed because the fashion in a respected country; but will now be detested and rejected. The people have already struck off, by general agreement, the use of all goods fashionable in mournings, and many thousand pounds’ worth are sent back as unsalable.

Q.

Is it their interest to make cloth at home?

A.

I think they may at present get it cheaper from Britain; I mean of the same fineness and workmanship; but, when one considers other circumstances, the restraints on their trade, and the difficulty of making remittances, it is their interest to make every thing.

Q.

Suppose an act of internal regulations connected with a tax; how would they receive it?

A.

I think it would be objected to.

Q.

Then no regulation with a tax would be submitted to?

A.

Their opinion is, that, when aids to the crown are wanted, they are to be asked of the several assemblies, according to the old established usage; who will, as they always have done, grant them freely. And that their money ought not to be given away, without their consent, by persons at a distance, unacquainted with their circumstances and abilities. The granting aids to the crown is the only means they have of recommending themselves to their sovereign; and they think it extremely hard and unjust, that a body of men, in which they have no representatives, Edition: current; Page: [193] should make a merit to itself of giving and granting what is not its own, but theirs; and deprive them of a right they esteem of the utmost value and importance, as it is the security of all their other rights.

Q.

But is not the post-office, which they have long received, a tax as well as a regulation?

A.

No; the money paid for the postage of a letter is not of the nature of a tax; it is merely a quantum meruit for a service done; no person is compellable to pay the money if he does not choose to receive the service. A man may still, as before the act, send his letter by a servant, a special messenger, or a friend, if he thinks it cheaper and safer.

Q.

But do they not consider the regulations of the post-office, by the act of last year, as a tax?

A.

By the regulations of last year the rate of postage was generally abated near thirty per cent. through all America; they certainly cannot consider such abatement as a tax.

Q.

If an excise was laid by Parliament, which they might likewise avoid paying, by not consuming the articles excised, would they then not object to it?

A.

They would certainly object to it, as an excise is unconnected with any service done, and is merely an aid, which they think ought to be asked of them, and granted by them, if they are to pay it; and can be granted to them by no others whatsoever, whom they have not empowered for that purpose.

Q.

You say they do not object to the right of Parliament, in laying duties on goods to be paid on their importation; now, is there any kind of difference Edition: current; Page: [194] between a duty on the importation of goods, and an excise on their consumption?

A.

Yes, a very material one; an excise, for the reasons I have just mentioned, they think you can have no right to lay within their country. But the sea is yours; you maintain, by your fleets, the safety of navigation in it, and keep it clear of pirates; you may have, therefore, a natural and equitable right to some toll or duty on merchandises carried through that part of your dominions, towards defraying the expense you are at in ships to maintain the safety of that carriage.

Q.

Does this reasoning hold in the case of a duty laid on the produce of their lands exported? And would they not then object to such a duty?

A.

If it tended to make the produce so much dearer abroad, as to lessen the demand for it, to be sure they would object to such a duty; not to your right of laying it, but they would complain of it as a burden, and petition you to lighten it.

Q.

Is not the duty paid on the tobacco exported, a duty of that kind?

A.

That, I think, is only on tobacco carried coastwise, from one colony to another, and appropriated as a fund for supporting the college at Williamsburg in Virginia.

Q.

Have not the assemblies in the West Indies the same natural rights with those in North America?

A.

Undoubtedly.

Q.

And is there not a tax laid there on their sugars exported?

A.

I am not much acquainted with the West Edition: current; Page: [195] Indies; but the duty of four and a half per cent. on sugars exported was, I believe, granted by their own assemblies.

Q.

How much is the poll-tax in your province laid on unmarried men?

A.

It is, I think, fifteen shillings, to be paid by every single freeman upwards of twenty-one years old.

Q.

What is the annual amount of all the taxes in Pennsylvania?

A.

I suppose about twenty thousand pounds sterling.

Q.

Supposing the Stamp Act continued and enforced, do you imagine that ill-humor will induce the Americans to give as much for worse manufactures of their own, and use them, preferable to better of ours?

A.

Yes, I think so. People will pay as freely to gratify one passion as another, their resentment as their pride.

Q.

Would the people at Boston discontinue their trade?

A.

The merchants are a very small number compared with the body of the people, and must discontinue their trade if nobody will buy their goods.

Q.

What are the body of the people in the colonies?

A.

They are farmers, husbandmen, or planters.

Q.

Would they suffer the produce of their lands to rot?

A.

No; but they would not raise so much. They would manufacture more and plough less.

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Q.

Would they live without the administration of justice in civil matters, and suffer all the inconveniences of such a situation for any considerable time, rather than take the stamps, supposing the stamps were protected by a sufficient force, where every one might have them?

A.

I think the supposition impracticable, that the stamps should be so protected as that every one might have them. The act requires sub-distributors to be appointed in every county town, district, and village, and they would be necessary. But the principal distributors, who were to have had a considerable profit on the whole, have not thought it worth while to continue in the office; and I think it impossible to find sub-distributors fit to be trusted, who, for the trifling profit that must come to their share, would incur the odium and run the hazard that would attend it; and, if they could be found, I think it impracticable to protect the stamps in so many distant and remote places.

Q.

But in places where they could be protected, would not the people use them rather than remain in such a situation, unable to obtain any right, or recover by law any debt?

A.

It is hard to say what they would do. I can only judge what other people will think, and how they will act by what I feel within myself. I have a great many debts due to me in America, and I had rather they should remain unrecoverable by any law than submit to the Stamp Act. They will be debts of honor. It is my opinion the people will either continue in that situation, or find some way to extricate Edition: current; Page: [197] themselves; perhaps by generally agreeing to proceed in the courts without stamps.

Q.

What do you think a sufficient military force to protect the distribution of the stamps in every part of America?

A.

A very great force, I can’t say what, if the disposition of America is for a general resistance.

Q.

What is the number of men in America able to bear arms, or of disciplined militia?

A.

There are, I suppose, at least . . .

[Question objected to. He withdrew. Called in again.]

Q.

Is the American Stamp Act an equal tax on the country?

A.

I think not.

Q.

Why so?

A.

The greatest part of the money must arise from lawsuits for the recovery of debts, and be paid by the lower sort of people, who were too poor easily to pay their debts. It is, therefore, a heavy tax on the poor, and a tax upon them for being poor.

Q.

But will not this increase of expense be a means of lessening the number of lawsuits?

A.

I think not; for as the costs all fall upon the debtor, and are to be paid by him, they would be no discouragement to the creditor to bring his action.

Q.

Would it not have the effect of excessive usury?

A.

Yes; as an oppression of the debtor.

Q.

How many ships are there laden annually in North America with flax-seed for Ireland?

A.

I cannot speak to the number of ships; but I Edition: current; Page: [198] know that in 1752 ten thousand hogsheads of flaxseed, each containing seven bushels, were exported from Philadelphia to Ireland. I suppose the quantity is greatly increased since that time, and it is understood that the exportation from New York is equal to that from Philadelphia.

Q.

What becomes of the flax that grows with that flax-seed?

A.

They manufacture some into coarse, and some into middling kind of linen.

Q.

Are there any slitting-mills in America?

A.

I think there are three; but I believe only one at present employed. I suppose they will all be set to work if the interruption of the trade continues.

Q.

Are there any fulling-mills there?

A.

A great many.

Q.

Did you ever hear that a great quantity of stockings were contracted for, for the army, during the war, and manufactured in Philadelphia?

A.

I have heard so.

Q.

If the Stamp Act should be repealed, would not the Americans think they could oblige the Parliament to repeal every external tax law now in force?

A.

It is hard to answer questions of what people at such a distance will think.

Q.

But what do you imagine they will think were the motives of repealing the act?

A.

I suppose they will think that it was repealed from a conviction of its inexpediency; and they will rely upon it, that, while the same inexpediency subsists, you will never attempt to make such another.

Q.

What do you mean by its inexpediency?

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A.

I mean its inexpediency on several accounts; the poverty and inability of those who were to pay the tax, the general discontent it has occasioned, and the impracticability of enforcing it.

Q.

If the act should be repealed, and the legislature should show its resentment to the opposers of the Stamp Act, would the colonies acquiesce in the authority of the legislature? What is your opinion they would do?

A.

I don’t doubt at all that if the legislature repeal the Stamp Act, the colonies will acquiesce in the authority.

Q.

But if the legislature should think fit to ascertain its rights to lay taxes, by any act laying a small tax, contrary to their opinion, would they submit to pay the tax?

A.

The proceedings of the people in America have been considered too much together. The proceedings of the assemblies have been very different from those of the mobs, and should be distinguished as having no connection with each other. The assemblies have only peaceably resolved what they take to be their rights; they have taken no measures for opposition by force, they have not built a fort, raised a man, or provided a grain of ammunition, in order to such opposition. The ringleaders of riots, they think ought to be punished; they would punish them themselves, if they could. Every sober, sensible man, would wish to see rioters punished, as, otherwise, peaceable people have no security of person or estate; but as to an internal tax, how small soever, laid by the legislature here on the people there, while they Edition: current; Page: [200] have no representatives in this legislature, I think it will never be submitted to; they will oppose it to the last; they do not consider it as at all necessary for you to raise money on them by your taxes; because they are, and always have been, ready to raise money by taxes among themselves, and to grant large sums, equal to their abilities, upon requisition from the crown.

They have not only granted equal to their abilities, but, during all the last war, they granted far beyond their abilities, and beyond their proportion with this country (you yourselves being judges), to the amount of many hundred thousand pounds; and this they did freely and readily, only on a sort of promise, from the Secretary of State, that it should be recommended to Parliament to make them compensation. It was accordingly recommended to Parliament, in the most honorable manner for them. America has been greatly misrepresented and abused here, in papers, and pamphlets, and speeches, as ungrateful, and unreasonable, and unjust; in having put this nation to an immense expense for their defence, and refusing to bear any part of that expense. The colonies raised, paid, and clothed near twenty-five thousand men during the last war; a number equal to those sent from Britain, and far beyond their proportion; they went deeply into debt in doing this, and all their taxes and estates are mortgaged for many years to come, for discharging that debt.

Government here was at the same time very sensible of this. The colonies were recommended to Parliament. Every year the King sent down to the Edition: current; Page: [201] House a written message to this purpose: “that his Majesty, being highly sensible of the zeal and vigor with which his faithful subjects in North America had exerted themselves, in defence of his Majesty’s just rights and possessions, recommend it to the House to take the same into consideration, and enable him to give them a proper compensation.” You will find those messages on your own journals every year of the war to the very last; and you did accordingly give two hundred thousand pounds annually to the crown, to be distributed in such compensation to the colonies.

This is the strongest of all proofs, that the colonies, far from being unwilling to bear a share of the burden, did exceed their proportion; for if they had done less, or had only equalled their proportion, there would have been no room or reason for compensation. Indeed, the sums reimbursed them were by no means adequate to the expense they incurred beyond their proportion; but they never murmured at that. They esteemed their sovereign’s approbation of their zeal and fidelity, and the approbation of this House, far beyond any other kind of compensation; therefore there was no occasion for this act, to force money from a willing people. They had not refused giving money for the purposes of the act; no requisition had been made; they were always willing and ready to do what could reasonably be expected from them, and in this light they wish to be considered.

Q.

But suppose Great Britain should be engaged in a war in Europe, would North America contribute to the support of it?

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A.

I do think they would as far as their circumstances would permit. They consider themselves as a part of the British empire, and as having one common interest with it; they may be looked on here as foreigners, but they do not consider themselves as such. They are zealous for the honor and prosperity of this nation; and, while they are well used, will always be ready to support it, as far as their little power goes. In 1739 they were called upon to assist in the expedition against Carthagena, and they sent three thousand men to join your army. It is true, Carthagena is in America, but as remote from the northern colonies as if it had been in Europe. They make no distinction of wars, as to their duty of assisting in them.

I know the last war is commonly spoken of here, as entered into for the defence, or for the sake, of the people in America. I think it is quite misunderstood. It began about the limits between Canada and Nova Scotia; about territories to which the crown indeed laid claim, but which were not claimed by any British colony; none of the lands had been granted to any colonist; we had therefore no particular concern or interest in that dispute. As to the Ohio, the contest there began about your right of trading in the Indian country, a right you had by the treaty of Utrecht, which the French infringed; they seized the traders and their goods, which were your manufactures; they took a fort which a company of your merchants, and their factors and correspondents, had erected there to secure that trade. Braddock was sent with an army to retake that fort (which was looked on here Edition: current; Page: [203] as another encroachment on the King’s territory,) and to protect your trade. It was not till after his defeat, that the colonies were attacked.1 They were before in perfect peace with both French and Indians; the troops were not, therefore, sent for their defence.

The trade with the Indians, though carried on in America, is not an American interest. The people of America are chiefly farmers and planters; scarce any thing that they raise or produce is an article of commerce with the Indians. The Indian trade is a British interest; it is carried on with British manufacturers, for the profit of British merchants and manufacturers; therefore the war, as it commenced for the defence of territories of the crown (the property of no American), and for the defence of a trade purely British, was really a British war, and yet the people of America made no scruple of contributing their utmost towards carrying it on, and bringing it to a happy conclusion.

Q.

Do you think, then, that the taking possession of the King’s territorial rights, and strengthening the frontiers, is not an American interest?

A.

Not particularly, but conjointly a British and an American interest.

Q.

You will not deny, that the preceding war, the Edition: current; Page: [204] war with Spain, was entered into for the sake of America; was it not occasioned by captures made in the American seas?

A.

Yes; captures of ships carrying on the British trade there with British manufactures.

Q.

Was not the late war with the Indians, since the peace with France, a war for America only?

A.

Yes; it was more particularly for America than the former; but was rather a consequence or remains of the former war, the Indians not having been thoroughly pacified; and the Americans bore by much the greatest share of the expense. It was put an end to by the army under General Bouquet: there were not above three hundred regulars in that army, and above one thousand Pennsylvanians.

Q.

Is it not necessary to send troops to America, to defend the Americans against the Indians?

A.

No, by no means; it never was necessary. They defended themselves when they were but a handful, and the Indians much more numerous. They continually gained ground, and have driven the Indians over the mountains, without any troops sent to their assistance from this country. And can it be thought necessary now to send troops for their defence from those diminished Indians tribes, when the colonies have become so populous and so strong? There is not the least occasion for it; they are very able to defend themselves.

Q.

Do you say that there were not more than three hundred regular troops employed in the late Indian war?

A.

Not on the Ohio, or the frontiers of Pennsylvania, Edition: current; Page: [205] which was the chief part of the war that affected the colonies. There were garrisons at Niagara, Fort Detroit, and those remote posts kept for the sake of your trade; I did not reckon them; but I believe, that on the whole the number of Americans, or provincial troops, employed in the war was greater than that of the regulars. I am not certain, but I think so.

Q.

Do you think the assemblies have a right to levy money on the subject there, to grant to the crown?

A.

I certainly think so; they have always done it.

Q.

Are they acquainted with the declaration of rights? And do they know, that, by that statute, money is not to be raised on the subject but by consent of Parliament?

A.

They are very well acquainted with it.

Q.

How then can they think they have a right to levy money for the crown, or for any other than local purposes?

A.

They understand that clause to relate to subjects only within the realm; that no money can be levied on them for the crown but by consent of Parliament. The colonies are not supposed to be within the realm; they have assemblies of their own, which are their parliaments, and they are, in that respect, in the same situation with Ireland. When money is to be raised for the crown upon the subject in Ireland, or in the colonies, the consent is given in the Parliament of Ireland, or in the assemblies of the colonies. They think the Parliament of Great Britain cannot properly give that consent, till it has Edition: current; Page: [206] representatives from America; for the petition of right expressly says, it is to be by common consent in Parliament; and the people of America have no representatives in Parliament, to make a part of that common consent.

Q.

If the Stamp Act should be repealed, and an act should pass, ordering the assemblies of the colonies to indemnify the sufferers by the riots, would they obey it?

A.

That is a question I cannot answer.

Q.

Supposing the King should require the colonies to grant a revenue, and the Parliament should be against their doing it, do they think they can grant a revenue to the King without the consent of the Parliament of Great Britain?

A.

That is a deep question. As to my own opinion, I should think myself at liberty to do it, and should do it, if I liked the occasion.

Q.

When money has been raised in the colonies, upon requisitions, has it not been granted to the King?

A.

Yes, always; but the requisitions have generally been for some service expressed, as to raise, clothe, and pay troops, and not for money only.

Q.

If the act should pass requiring the American assemblies to make compensation to the sufferers, and they should disobey it, and then the Parliament should, by another act, lay an internal tax, would they then obey it?

A.

The people will pay no internal tax; and, I think, an act to oblige the assemblies to make compensation is unnecessary; for I am of opinion, that, as soon as the present heats are abated, they will Edition: current; Page: [207] take the matter into consideration, and if it is right to be done, they will do it of themselves.

Q.

Do not letters often come into the post-offices in America, directed to some inland town where no post goes?

A.

Yes.

Q.

Can any private person take up those letters and carry them as directed?

A.

Yes; any friend of the person may do it, paying the postage that has accrued.

Q.

But must not he pay an additional postage for the distance to such inland town?

A.

No.

Q.

Can the post-master answer delivering the letter, without being paid such additional postage?

A.

Certainly he can demand nothing where he does no service.

Q.

Suppose a person, being far from home, finds a letter in a post-office directed to him, and he lives in a place to which the post generally goes, and the letter is directed to that place; will the post-master deliver him the letter, without his paying the postage receivable at the place to which the letter is directed?

A.

Yes; the office cannot demand postage for a letter that it does not carry, or farther than it does carry it.

Q.

Are not ferry-men in America obliged, by act of Parliament, to carry over the posts without pay?

A.

Yes.

Q.

Is not this a tax on the ferry-men?

A.

They do not consider it as such, as they have Edition: current; Page: [208] an advantage from persons travelling with the post.

Q.

If the Stamp Act should be repealed, and the crown should make a requisition to the colonies for a sum of money, would they grant it?

A.

I believe they would.

Q.

Why do you think so?

A.

I can speak for the colony I live in; I had it in instruction from the assembly to assure the ministry that, as they had always done, so they should always think it their duty, to grant such aids to the crown as were suitable to their circumstances and abilities, whenever called upon for that purpose, in the usual constitutional manner; and I had the honor of communicating this instruction to that honorable gentleman then minister.1

Edition: current; Page: [209]
Q.

Would they do this for a British concern, as suppose a war in some part of Europe, that did not affect them?

A.

Yes, for any thing that concerned the general interest. They consider themselves a part of the whole.

Q.

What is the usual constitutional manner of calling on the colonies for aids?

A.

A letter from the Secretary of State?

Q.

Is this all you mean; a letter from the Secretary of State?

A.

I mean the usual way of requisition, in a circular letter from the Secretary of State, by his Majesty’s command, reciting the occasion, and recomending it to the colonies to grant such aids as became their loyalty, and were suitable to their abilities.

Q.

Did the Secretary of State ever write for money for the crown?

A.

The requisitions have been to raise, clothe, and pay men, which cannot be done without money.

Q.

Would they grant money alone, if called on?

A.

In my opinion they would, money as well as men, when they have money, or can make it.

Q.

If the Parliament should repeal the Stamp Act, will the assembly of Pennsylvania rescind their resolutions?

A.

I think not.

Q.

Before there was any thought of the Stamp Act, did they wish for a representation in Parliament?

A.

No.

Edition: current; Page: [210]
Q.

Don’t you know that there is in the Pennsylvania charter an express reservation of the right of Parliament to lay taxes there?

A.

I know there is a clause in the charter by which the King grants that he will levy no taxes on the inhabitants, unless it be with the consent of the assembly or by act of Parliament.

Q.

How, then, could the assembly of Pennsylvania assert that laying a tax on them by the Stamp Act was an infringement of their rights?

A.

They understand it thus: by the same charter, and otherwise, they are entitled to all privileges and liberties of Englishmen. They find in the Great Charters and the Petition and Declaration of Rights that one of the privileges of English subjects is, that they are not to be taxed but by their common consent. They have, therefore, relied upon it from the first settlement of the province, that the Parliament never would, nor could, by color of that clause in the charter assume a right of taxing them till it had qualified itself to exercise such right by admitting representatives from the people to be taxed, who ought to make a part of that common consent.

Q.

Are there any words in the charter that justify that construction?

A.

“The common rights of Englishmen,” as declared by Magna Charta, and the Petition of Right, all justify it.

Q.

Does the distinction between internal and external taxes exist in the words of the charter?

A.

No, I believe not.

Q.

Then, may they not, by the same interpretation, Edition: current; Page: [211] object to the Parliament’s right of external taxation?

A.

They never have hitherto. Many arguments have been lately used here to show them that there is no difference, and that if you have no right to tax them internally, you have none to tax them externally or make any other law to bind them. At present they do not reason so; but in time they may possibly be convinced by these arguments.

Q.

Do not the resolutions of the Pennsylvania assembly say “all taxes?”

A.

If they do, they mean only internal taxes. The same words have not always the same meaning here and in the colonies. By taxes they mean internal taxes; by duties they mean customs. These are their ideas of the language.

Q.

Have you not seen the resolutions of the Massachusetts Bay assembly?

A.

I have.

Q.

Do they not say that neither external nor internal taxes can be laid on them by Parliament?

A.

I don’t know that they do; I believe not.

Q.

If the same colony should say neither tax nor imposition could be laid, does not that province hold the power of Parliament can lay neither?

A.

I suppose that by the word imposition they do not intend to express duties to be laid on goods imported as regulations of commerce.

Q.

What can the colonies mean, then, by imposition as distinct from taxes?

A.

They may mean many things, as impressing of men or of carriages, quartering troops on private Edition: current; Page: [212] houses, and the like; there may be great impositions that are not properly taxed.

Q.

Is not the post-office rate an internal tax laid by act of Parliament?

A.

I have answered that.

Q.

Are all parts of the colonies equally able to pay taxes?

A.

No, certainly; the frontier parts, which have been ravaged by the enemy, are greatly disabled by that means; and therefore, in such cases, are usually favored in our tax laws.

Q.

Can we, at this distance, be competent judges of what favors are necessary?

A.

The Parliament have supposed it, by claiming a right to make tax laws for America; I think it impossible.

Q.

Would the repeal of the Stamp Act be any discouragement of your manufactures? Will the people that have begun to manufacture decline it?

A.

Yes, I think they will; especially if, at the same time, the trade is opened again, so that remittances can be easily made. I have known several instances that make it probable. In the war before last, tobacco being low, and making little remittance, the people of Virginia went generally into family manufactures. Afterwards, when tobacco bore a better price, they returned to the use of British manufactures. So fulling-mills were very much disused in the last war in Pennsylvania, because bills were then plenty, and remittances could easily be made to Britain for English cloth and other goods.

Q.

If the Stamp Act should be repealed, would it Edition: current; Page: [213] induce the assemblies of America to acknowledge the right of Parliament to tax them, and would they erase their resolutions?

A.

No, never.

Q.

Are there no means of obliging them to erase those resolutions?

A.

None that I know of; they will never do it, unless compelled by force of arms.

Q.

Is there a power on earth that can force them to erase them?

A.

No power, how great soever, can force men to change their opinions.

Q.

Do they consider the post-office as a tax, or as a regulation?

A.

Not as a tax, but as a regulation and conveniency; every assembly encouraged it and supported it in its infancy by grants of money, which they would not otherwise have done; and the people have always paid the postage.

Q.

When did you receive the instructions you mentioned?

A.

I brought them with me, when I came to England about fifteen months since.

Q.

When did you communicate that instruction to the minister?

A.

Soon after my arrival, while the stamping of America was under consideration, and before the bill was brought in.

Q.

Would it be most for the interest of Great Britain to employ the hands of Virginia in tobacco, or in manufactures?

A.

In tobacco, to be sure.

Edition: current; Page: [214]
Q.

What used to be the pride of the Americans?

A.

To indulge in the fashions and manufactures of Great Britain.

Q.

What is now their pride?

A.

To wear their old clothes over again, till they can make new ones.

[Withdrew.]

This examination was published in 1767, without the name of printer or of publisher, and the following remarks upon it are contained in the Gentleman’s Magazine for July of that year:

“From this examination of Dr. Franklin, the reader may form a clearer and more comprehensive idea of the state and disposition in America, of the expediency or inexpediency of the measure in question, and of the character and conduct of the minister who proposed it, than from all that has been written upon the subject in newspapers and pamphlets, under the titles of essays, letters, speeches, and considerations, from the first moment of its becoming the subject of public attention till now. The questions in general are put with great subtlety and judgment, and they are answered with such deep and familiar knowledge of the subject, such precision and perspicuity, such temper and yet such spirit, as do the greatest honor to Dr. Franklin, and justify the general opinion of his character and abilities.”

Mr. Sparks very justly says that there was no event in Franklin’s life more creditable to his talents and character, or which gave him so much celebrity, as this examination before the House of Commons. His further statement, however, that Franklin’s answers were given without premeditation and without knowing beforehand Edition: current; Page: [215] the nature or form of the question that was to be put, is a little too sweeping. In a memorandum which Franklin gave to a friend who wished to know by whom the several questions were put, he admitted that many were put by friends to draw out in answer the substance of what he had before said upon the subject. This statement of Franklin concerning the preceding examination belongs to the history of the examination. For the further elucidation of the matter this statement of Franklin himself is reprinted in full. These curious remarks first appeared in Walsh’s “Life of Franklin,” which was published in Delaplaine’s Repository. They were transcribed from a manuscript which purports to have been written by Dr. Franklin in reply to a friend who desired to know by whom the several questions were put. These remarks are as follows:

“I have numbered the questions,” says Dr. Franklin, “for the sake of making reference to them.

Qu. 1, is a question of form, asked of every one that is examined.—Qu. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, were asked by Mr. Hewitt, a member for Coventry, a friend of ours, and were designed to draw out the answers that follow; being the substance of what I had before said to him on the subject, to remove a common prejudice, that the Colonies paid no taxes, and that their governments were supported by burdening the people here; Qu. 7, was particularly intended to show by the answer that Parliament could not properly and equally lay taxes in America, as they could not, by reason of their distance, be acquainted with such circumstances as might make it necessary to spare particular parts.—Qu. 8 to 13, asked by Mr. Huske, another friend, to show the impracticability of distributing the Stamps in America.—Qu. 14, 15, 16, by one of the late administration, an adversary.—Qu. 17 to 26, by Mr. Huske again. His questions about the Germans, and about Edition: current; Page: [216] the number of people, were intended to make the opposition to the Stamp Act in America appear more formidable. He asked some others here that the clerk has omitted, particularly one, that I remember.

There had been a considerable party in the House for saving the honor and right of Parliament, by retaining the Act, and yet making it tolerable to America, by reducing it to a stamp on commissions for profitable offices, and on cards and dice. I had, in conversation with many of them, objected to this, as it would require an establishment for the distributors, which would be a great expense, as the stamps would not be sufficient to pay them, and so the odium and contention would be kept up for nothing. The notion of amending, however, still continued, and one of the most active of the members for promoting it told me, he was sure I could, if I would, assist them to amend the Act in such a manner, that America should have little or no objection to it. ‘I must confess,’ says I, ‘I have thought of one amendment; if you will make it, the Act may remain, and yet the Americans will be quieted. It is a very small amendment, too; it is only the change of a single word.’ ‘Ay,’ says he, ‘what is that?’ ‘It is in that clause where it is said, “that from and after the first day of November, one thousand seven hundred and sixty-five, there shall be paid,” &c. The amendment I would propose is, for one read two, and then all the rest of the Act may stand as it does. I believe it will give nobody in America any uneasiness.’ Mr. Huske had heard of this, and, desiring to bring out the same answer in the House, asked me whether I could not propose a small amendment, that would make the Act palatable. But, as I thought the answer he wanted too light and ludicrous for the House, I evaded the question.

Qu. 27, 28, 29, I think these were by Mr. Grenville, but I am not certain.—Qu. 30, 31, I know not who asked them.—Qu. 32 to 35, asked by Mr. Nugent, who was against us. His drift was to establish a notion he had entertained, that the people in America had a crafty mode of discouraging the Edition: current; Page: [217] English trade by heavy taxes on merchants.—Qu. 36 to 42, most of these by Mr. Cooper and other friends, with whom I had discoursed, and were intended to bring out such answers as they desired and expected from me.—Qu. 43, uncertain by whom.—Qu. 44, 45, 46, by Mr. Nugent again, who I suppose intended to infer that the poor people in America were better able to pay taxes than the poor in England.—Qu. 47, 48, 49, by Mr. Prescott, an adversary.

Qu. 50 to 58, by different members, I cannot recollect who.—Qu. 59 to 78, chiefly by the former ministry.—Qu. 79 to 82, by friends.—Qu. 83, by one of the late ministry.—Qu. 84, by Mr. Cooper.—Qu. 85 to 90, by some of the late ministry.—Qu. 91, 92, by Mr. Grenville.—Qu. 93 to 98, by some of the late ministry.—Qu. 99, 100, by some friend, I think Sir George Saville.—Qu. 101 to 106, by several of the late ministry.—Qu. 107 to 114, by friends.—Qu. 115 to 117, by Mr. A. Bacon.—Qu. 118 to 120, by some of the late ministry.—Qu. 121, by an adversary.—Qu. 122, by a friend.—Qu. 123, 124, by Mr. Charles Townshend.—Qu. 125, by Mr. Nugent.—Qu. 126, by Mr. Grenville.—Qu. 127, by one of the late ministry.—Qu. 128, by Mr. G. Grenville.—Qu. 129, 130, 131, by Mr. Wellbore Ellis, late Secretary of War.—Qu. 132 to 135, uncertain.—Qu. 136 to 142, by some of the late ministry, intending to prove that it operated where no service was done, and therefore it was a tax.—Qu. 143, by a friend, I forget who.—Qu. 144, 145, by C. Townshend.—Qu. 146 to 151, by some of the late ministry.—Qu. 152 to 157, by Mr. Prescott, and others of the same side.—Qu. 158 to 162, by Charles Townshend.—Qu. 163, 164, by a friend, I think Sir George Saville.—Qu. 165, by some friend.—Qu. 166, 167, by an adversary.—Qu. 168 to 174, by friends.

Mr. Nugent made a violent speech next day upon this examination, in which he said: ‘We have often experienced Austrian ingratitude, and yet we assisted Portugal; we experienced Portuguese ingratitude, and yet we assisted America. But what is Austrian ingratitude, what is the ingratitude of Portugal compared to this of America? We have fought, Edition: current; Page: [218] bled, and ruined ourselves, to conquer for them; and now they come and tell us to our noses, even at the bar of this House, that they are not obliged to us,’ &c. But his clamor was very little minded.”

A few years since the editor stumbled upon an original edition of this Examination, in a pamphlet form, and bearing the following title:

THE EXAMINATION OF DOCTOR BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

relative to the repeal of the american stamp act in mdcclxvi.

mdcclxvii.

Price One Shilling.

No publisher’s imprint is given. In the margin, however, and in a chirography which seems more recent than the printed text, are written what purport to be the “names of the interrogators.” When or by whom, or upon what authority, this list was made, there are no indications; but the fact that the list differs so widely from that given in Delaplaine’s, and the further fact that Franklin so frequently confesses his inability to recall the names of some of his interrogators, seem to justify me in giving this anonymous list here for what it is worth.

As Grenville is always spelt Greenwille, and Burke Bourke, the presumption is that all the names were written by a foreigner, who had taken them from the lips of his informant.

By the Speaker Nos. 1, 2, inclusive.
By Mr. Huske Nos. 3 to 42, inclusive.
By Lord Clare Nos. 43 to 49, 98 to 103, inclusive.
By Mr. Townshend Nos. 50 to 77, inclusive.
By Mr. Bourke Nos. 78 to 89, 106, 107, inclusive.
By Mr. Greenwille Nos. 90 to 97, 122 to 148, inclusive.
By Marquis of Granby Nos. 104, 105, inclusive.
By Lord North Nos. 108 to 121, 149 to 156, inclusive.
By Mr. Thurloe, King’s counsel-at-law 157 to 162, inclusive.
By Mr. Cooper, Secretary of the Treasury, 163 to 173, inclusive.

In this list we do not find the names of Nugent, Ellis, Bacon, Saville, or Prescott, while in the other list we do not find the names of Lord Clare, Burke, Marquis of Granby, Lord North, or Thurlow.—Editor.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
22 February, 1766
London
Deborah Franklin
Franklin, Deborah
CCLXX

TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN

My Dear Child:

I am excessively hurried, being, every hour that I am awake, either abroad to speak with members of Parliament, or taken up with people coming to me at home concerning our American affairs, so that I am much behindhand in answering my friends’ letters. But though I cannot by this opportunity write to others, I must not omit a line to you, who kindly write me so many. I am well. It is all I can say at present, except that I am just made very happy by a vote of the Commons for the repeal of the Stamp Act. Your ever loving husband,

B. Franklin.1
Edition: current; Page: [220]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
27 February, 1766
London
Deborah Franklin
Franklin, Deborah
CCLXXI

TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN

My Dear Child:

I wrote you a few days ago by Mr. Penrose, by way of Maryland, when I wrote also to the Speaker, to Mr. Galloway, Mr. Hughes, and Mr. Hall. I have now as little time as then to enlarge, having wrote besides to-day so much, that I am almost blind. But, by the March packet, I shall freely answer your late letters. Let the vaults alone till my return. As you have a woodyard, perhaps they may not be necessary. I send you some curious beans for your garden. Love to Sally, and all relations, and to all the ladies that do me the honor to inquire after me. I congratulate you on the soon expected repeal of the Stamp Act, and on the great share of health we both enjoy, though now going in fourscore, that is, in the fourth score. Mr. Whitefield called to-day, and tells me a surprising piece of news. Mr. Dunlap is come here from Barbadoes, was ordained deacon on Saturday last, and priest on Sunday. In haste, but very well. I am, my dear girl, your ever loving husband,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
27 February, 1766
London
Hugh Roberts
Roberts, Hugh
CCLXXII

TO HUGH ROBERTS

Dear Friend:

I received your kind letter of November 27th. You cannot conceive how much Edition: current; Page: [221] good the cordial salutations of an old friend do the heart of a man so far from home, and hearing frequently of the abuses thrown on him in his absence by the enemies that party has raised against him. In the meantime, I hope I have done even those enemies some service in our late struggle for America. It has been a hard one, and we have been often between hope and despair; but now the day begins to clear. The ministry are fixed for us, and we have obtained a majority in the House of Commons for repealing the Stamp Act, and giving us ease in every commercial grievance. God grant that no bad news of farther excesses in America may arrive to strengthen our adversaries, and weaken the hands of our friends, before this good work is quite completed.

The partisans of the late ministry have been strongly crying out rebellion, and calling for force to be sent against America. The consequence might have been terrible; but milder measures have prevailed. I hope, nay, I am confident, America will show itself grateful to Britain on the occasion, and behave prudently and decently.

I have got a seal done for four guineas, which I shall send by a friend. My respects to good Mrs. Roberts and to your valuable son. Remember me affectionately to the Junto, and to all inquiring friends. Adieu, my dear friend. Your integrity will always make you happy. Believe me ever yours affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [222]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
27 February, 1766
London
Charles Thomson
Thomson, Charles
CCLXXIII

TO CHARLES THOMSON

My Good Friend and Neighbour:

I forgot whether I before acknowledged the receipt of your kind letter of September 24th. I gave an extract from it to a friend, with an extract from mine to which it was an answer, and he printed both in the London Chronicle, with an introduction of his own; and I have reprinted every thing from America that I thought might help our common cause.

We at length, after a long and hard struggle, have gained so much ground, that there is now little doubt the Stamp Act will be repealed, and reasonable relief given us besides, in our commercial grievances, and those relating to our currency. I trust the behaviour of the Americans on the occasion will be so prudent, decent, and grateful, as that their friends here will have no reason to be ashamed, and that our enemies, who predict that the indulgence of Parliament will only make us more insolent and ungovernable, may find themselves, and be found, false prophets.

My respects to Mrs. Thomson. I have not had the pleasure of hearing from you by any of the late opportunities, but am so bad a correspondent myself that I have no right to take exceptions, and am, nevertheless, your affectionate friend and very humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [223]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
6 April, 1766
London
Deborah Franklin
Franklin, Deborah
CCLXXIV

TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN

My Dear Child:

As the Stamp Act is at length repealed, I am willing you should have a new gown, which you may suppose I did not send sooner, as I knew you would not like to be finer than your neighbors, unless in a gown of your own spinning. Had the trade between the two countries totally ceased, it was a comfort to me to recollect, that I had once been clothed from head to foot in woollen and linen of my wife’s manufacture, that I never was prouder of any dress in my life, and that she and her daughter might do it again if it was necessary. I told the Parliament that it was my opinion, before the old clothes of the Americans were worn out, they might have new ones of their own making. I have sent you a fine piece of Pompadour satin, fourteen yards, cost eleven shillings a yard; a silk negligée and petticoat of brocaded lutestring for my dear Sally, with two dozen gloves, four bottles of lavender water, and two little reels. The reels are to screw on the edge of the table, when she would wind silk or thread. The skein is to be put over them, and winds better than if held in two hands. There is also a gimcrack corkscrew, which you must get some brother gimcrack to show you the use of. In the chest is a parcel of books for my friend Mr. Coleman, and another for cousin Colbert. Pray did he receive those I sent him before? I send you also a box with three fine cheeses. Perhaps a bit of them may be left when I Edition: current; Page: [224] come home. Mrs. Stevenson has been very diligent and serviceable in getting these things together for you, and presents her best respects, as does her daughter, to both you and Sally. There are two boxes included in your bill of lading for Billy.

I received your kind letter of February 20th. It gives me great pleasure to hear, that our good old friend Mrs. Smith is on the recovery. I hope she has yet many happy years to live. My love to her. I fear, from the account you give of brother Peter, that he cannot hold out long. If it should please God that he leaves us before my return, I would have the post-office remain under the management of their son, till Mr. Foxcroft and I agree how to settle it.1

There are some droll prints in the box, which were given me by the painter, and, being sent when I was not at home, were packed up without my knowledge. I think he was wrong to put in Lord Bute, who had nothing to do with the Stamp Act. But it is the fashion to abuse that nobleman, as the author of all mischief. Love to Sally and all friends. I am, my dear Debby, your affectionate husband,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [225]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
20 April, 1766
London
Thomas Ronayne
Ronayne, Thomas
CCLXXV

TO THOMAS RONAYNE, AT CORK1

Sir:

I have received your very obliging and very ingenious letter by Captain Kearney. Your observations upon the electricity of fogs and the air in Ireland, and upon different circumstances of storms, appear to me very curious, and I thank you for them. There is not, in my opinion, any part of the earth whatever which is, or can be, naturally in a state of negative electricity; and, though different circumstances may occasion an inequality in the distribution of the fluid, the equilibrium is immediately restored by means of its extreme subtilty, and of the excellent conductors with which the humid earth is amply provided. I am of opinion, however, that when a cloud, well charged positively, passes near the earth, it repels and forces down into the earth that natural portion of electricity which exists near its surface and in buildings, trees, &c., so as actually to reduce them to a negative state before it strikes them. I am of opinion, too, that the negative state in which you have frequently found the balls which are suspended from your apparatus, is not always occasioned by clouds in a negative state; but more commonly by clouds positively electrified, which have passed over them, and which in their passage have repelled and driven off a part of the electrical matter which naturally existed in the apparatus; so that, what remained after the passing of the clouds diffusing itself Edition: current; Page: [226] uniformly through the apparatus, the whole became reduced to a negative state.

If you have read my experiments made in continuation of those of Mr. Canton, you will readily understand this; but you may easily make a few experiments, which will clearly demonstrate it. Let a common glass be warmed before the fire, that it may continue very dry for some time; set it upon a table, and place upon it the small box made use of by Mr. Canton, so that the balls may hang a little beyond the edge of the table. Rub another glass, which has previously been warmed in a similar manner, with a piece of black silk, or a silk handkerchief, in order to electrify it. Hold then the glass above the little box, at about the distance of three or four inches from that part which is most distant from the balls, and you will see the balls separate from each other; being positively electrified by the natural portion of electricity which was in the box, and which is driven to the farther part of it by the repulsive power of the atmosphere in the excited glass. Touch the box near the little balls (the excited glass continuing in the same state), and the balls will again unite; the quantity of electricity which had been driven to this part being drawn off by your finger. Withdraw then both your finger and the glass, at the same instant, and the quantity of electricity which had remained in the box, uniformly diffusing itself, the balls will again be separated, being now in a negative state. While things are in this situation, begin once more to excite your glass, and hold it above the box, but not too near, and you will find that, when it is brought within a Edition: current; Page: [227] certain distance, the balls will at first approach each other, being then in a natural state. In proportion as the glass is brought nearer, they will again separate, being positive. When the glass is moved beyond them, and at some little farther distance, they will unite again, being in a natural state. When it is entirely removed, they will separate again, being then negative. The excited glass in this experiment may represent a cloud positively charged, which you see is capable of producing in this manner all the different changes in the apparatus, without the least necessity for supposing any negative cloud.

I am nevertheless fully convinced, that there are negative clouds; because they sometimes absorb, through the medium of the apparatus, the positive electricity of a large jar, the hundreth part of which the apparatus itself would have not been able to receive or contain at once. In fact, it is not difficult to conceive that a large cloud, highly charged positively, may reduce smaller clouds to a negative state, when it passes above or near them, by forcing a part of their natural portion of the fluid either to their inferior surfaces, whence it may strike into the earth, or to the opposite side, whence it may strike into the adjacent clouds; so that, when the large cloud has passed off to a distance, the small clouds shall remain in a negative state, exactly like the apparatus; the former (like the latter) being frequently insulated bodies, having communication neither with the earth nor with other clouds. Upon the same principle it may easily be conceived in what manner a large negative cloud may render others positive.

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The experiment which you mention, of filing your glass, is analogous to one which I made in 1751, or 1752. I had supposed in my preceding letters, that the pores of glass were smaller in the interior parts than near the surface, and that on this account they prevented the passage of the electrical fluid. To prove whether this was actually the case or not, I ground one of my phials in a part where it was extremely thin, grinding it considerably beyond the middle, and very near to the opposite superficies, as I found, upon breaking it after the experiment. It was charged nevertheless after being ground, equally well as before, which convinced me that my hypothesis on this subject was erroneous. It is difficult to conceive where the immense superfluous quantity of electricity on the charged side of a glass is deposited.

I send you my paper concerning Meteors, which was lately published here in the Philosophical Transactions, immediately after a paper by Mr. Hamilton on the same subject. I am, Sir, &c.,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
28 April, 1766
London
Jonathan Williams
Williams, Jonathan
CCLXXVI

TO JONATHAN WILLIAMS

Dear Cousin:

I have received several of your kind favors since my arrival in England, the last by your good brother, the subject not in the least disagreeable, as you apprehend, but in truth it has not been at all in my power to do what you desired; Edition: current; Page: [229] if for no other reason, yet for this, that there has been no vacancy.

I congratulate you on the repeal of that mother of mischiefs, the Stamp Act, and on the ease we are likely to obtain in our commerce. My time has been extremely taken up, as you may imagine, in these general affairs of America, as well as in the particular one of our province. Yet I did not forget the Armonica for cousin Josiah; but, with all my endeavours, I have not been yet able to procure one. Here is only one man that makes them well; his price no less than thirty-four guineas, and he asks forty. I bid him one hundred guineas for three; he refused it. I then agreed to give him the thirty-four guineas for one. He promised to make it, now a twelve-month since. I have called on him often, till I am tired, and do not find that he has yet done a glass of it. If I could have got this, Josiah should have had it, or mine. But I fear it will not be got at all. . . .

Yours affectionately,
B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
9 May, 1766
London
Cadwallader Evans
Evans, Cadwallader
CCLXXVII

TO CADWALLADER EVANS

Dear Sir:

I received your kind letter of March 3d, and thank you for the intelligence and hints it contained. I wonder at the complaint you mention. I always considered writing to the Speaker as writing Edition: current; Page: [230] to the Committee. But if it is more to their satisfaction that I should write to them jointly, it shall be done in the future.

My private opinion concerning a union in Parliament between the two countries is, that it would be best for the whole. But I think it will never be done. For though I believe that, if we had no more representatives than Scotland has, we should be sufficiently strong in the House to prevent, as they do for Scotland, any thing ever passing to our disadvantage, yet we are not able at present to furnish and maintain such a number, and, when we are more able, we shall be less willing than we are now. The Parliament here do at present think too highly of themselves to admit representatives from us, if we should ask it; and, when they will be desirous of granting it, we shall think too highly of ourselves to accept of it. It would certainly contribute to the strength of the whole, if Ireland and all the dominions were united and consolidated under one common council for general purposes, each retaining its particular council or parliament for its domestic concerns. But this should have been early provided for. In the infancy of our foreign establishments it was neglected, or was not thought of. And now the affair is nearly in the situation of Friar Bacon’s project of making a brazen wall round England for its eternal security. His servant, Friar Bungey, slept while the brazen head, which was to dictate how it might be done, said Time is, and Time was. He only waked to hear it say, Time is past. An explosion followed, that tumbled their house about the conjuror’s ears.

Edition: current; Page: [231]

I hope, with you, that my being here at this juncture has been of some service to the colonies. I am sure I have spared no pains. And as to our particular affair, I am not in the least doubtful of obtaining what we so justly desire, if we continue to desire it; though the late confused state of affairs on both sides of the water has delayed our proceeding. With great esteem, I am, dear friend, yours affectionately,

B. Franklin.

CCLXXVIII: Mode of ascertaining whether the Power, giving a Shock to those who touch either the Surinam Eel or the Torpedo, be Electrical.

1. Touch the fish with a dry stick of sealing-wax, or a glass rod, and observe if the shock be communicated by means of those bodies.

Touch the same fish with an iron, or other metal-line rod.

If the shock be communicated by the latter body, and not by the others, it is probably not the mechanical effects, as has been supposed, of some muscular action in the fish, but of a subtile fluid, in this respect analogous at least to the electric fluid.

2. Observe farther, whether the shock can be conveyed without the metal being actually in contact with the fish, and, if it can, whether, in the space between, any light appear, and a slight noise or crackling be heard.

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If so, these also are properties common to the electric fluid.

3. Lastly, touch the fish with the wire of a small Leyden bottle, and, if the shock can be received across, observe whether the wire will attract and repel light bodies, and you feel a shock, while holding the bottle in one hand, and touching the wire with the other.

If so, the fluid, capable of producing such effects, seems to have all the known properties of the electric fluid.

addition, 12 august, 1772

In Consequence of the Experiments and Discoveries made in France by Mr. Walsh, and communicated by him to Dr. Franklin.

Let several persons, standing on the floor, hold hands, and let one of them touch the fish, so as to receive a shock. If the shock be felt by all, place the fish flat on a plate of metal, and let one of the persons holding hands touch this plate, while the person farthest from the plate touches the upper part of the fish with a metal rod; then observe, if the force of the shock be the same as to all the persons forming the circle, or is stronger than before.

Repeat this experiment with this difference; let two or three of the persons forming the circle, instead of holding by the hand, hold each an uncharged electrical bottle, so that the little balls and the end of the wires may touch, and observe, after the shock, if these wires will attract and repel light bodies, and if a Edition: current; Page: [233] ball of cork, suspended by a long silk string between the wires, a little distance from the bottles, will be alternately attracted and repelled by them.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
13 June, 1766
London
Deborah Franklin
Franklin, Deborah
CCLXXIX

TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN

My Dear Child:

Mrs. Stevenson has made up a parcel of haberdashery for you, which will go by Captain Robinson. She will also send you another cloak, in the room of that we suppose is lost. I wrote to you that I had been very ill lately. I am now nearly well again, but feeble. To-morrow I set out with my friend Dr. Pringle (now Sir John), on a journey to Pyrmont, where he goes to drink the waters; but I hope more from the air and exercise, having been used, as you know, to have a journey once a year, the want of which last year has, I believe, hurt me, so that, though I was not quite to say sick, I was often ailing last winter and through the spring. We must be back at farthest in eight weeks, as my fellow traveller is the Queen’s physician, and has leave for no longer, as her Majesty will then be near her time. I purpose to leave him at Pyrmont, and visit some of the principal cities nearest to it, and call for him again when the time for our return draws nigh. I am, my dear Debby, your ever loving husband,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [234]

[It is much to be deplored that we have no journal or any satisfactory account of Dr. Franklin’s visit to the Continent this summer. He seems to have made no notes, and to have written no letters during his absence, which are calculated in the least to satisfy our curiosity. We have, however, a glimpse of him and of his companion while at Göttingen, which illustrates the very distinct and durable impression Franklin always made in whatever society he appeared. In the Biography of Joh. D. Michaelis, p. 102, occurs the following statement, which was translated from the fly-leaf of a volume in the Huntington Collection of Frankliniana in the Metropolitan Museum.

“In the summer of 1766 I had the opportunity of making two agreeable acquaintances. Pringle and Franklin came to Göttingen, and were presented to me by Student Münchausen, I once had a curious conversation with Franklin at the table. When he dined with me, we talked much about America, about the savages, the rapid growth of the English colonies, the growth of the population, its duplication in 25 years, etc., and I said: ‘that when I was in London in 1741 I might have learned more about the condition of the colonies by English books and pamphlets, had I then thought seriously of what I had even then expressed to others: that they would one day release themselves from England. People laughed at me; still I believed it.’ He answered me with his earnest, expressive, and intelligent face: ‘Then you were mistaken. The Americans have too much love for their mother country.’ I said: ‘I believe it; but almighty interest would soon outweigh that love or even extinguish it altogether.’ He could not deny that this was possible, but secession was impossible, for all the American towns of importance, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, were exposed to the English navy. Boston could be destroyed by bombardment. This was unanswerable; I did not then suspect that I was speaking to the man Edition: current; Page: [235] who, a few years later, outraged in England, would take such an active part in the accomplishment of my contradicted prophecy.

Meanwhile when the disturbances broke out, I always expected that the commencement would be the bombardment of Boston, but things took quite another turn.”

To this was appended the following note, presumedly by Student Münchausen.

“At that time I was studying in Göttingen and had the opportunity of knowing both men. I remember well that Franklin, and I know not wherefor, was much more interesting to me than Pringle. Just in that summer Lessing also came to Göttingen, and Student Diety presented him to me in the library. He our otherwise great countryman was far from pleasing me as well as both those Englishmen. These Britons, decried for their pride, were very sociable and well informed. The German on the contrary was very haughty and controversial in his conversation, which placed good-hearted Diety in constant embarrassment. Yet I may be mistaken. I never saw the man again, nor spoke to him, and in a single interview may have been deceived.”

Sir John Pringle, who accompanied Franklin on this trip, and who had been his companion the preceding year on a tour through France, was a man of considerable repute as a man of science in his day, and in 1772, was chosen President of the Royal Society, which he surrendered for an odd reason, which as it happens connects with Franklin, and is thus described by the Messrs Hale in their captivating monograph on Franklin in France.

“George III., in the heat of his animosity against the Americans, had determined that the lightning-conductors on Kew Palace should have blunt knobs instead of sharp points. Franklin, the inventor of conductors, had directed that the Edition: current; Page: [236] points should be sharp, so that an overcharge of electricity might be dispersed silently and without explosion. As we shall have occasion to see, the question of blunt and sharp conductors became a court question, the courtiers siding with the King, and their opponents with Franklin. The King asked Sir John Pringle to take his side, and give him an opinion in favor of the knobs. To which Pringle replied by hinting that the laws of nature were not changeable at royal pleasure. It was then intimated to him by the King’s authority that a President of the Royal Society entertaining such an opinion ought to resign, and he resigned accordingly.”

It was this controversy that gave rise to the following well-known epigram:

  • “While you, great George, for safety hunt,
  • And sharp conductors change for blunt,
  • The nation’s out of joint.
  • Franklin a wiser course pursues,
  • And all your thunder fearless views,
  • By keeping to the point.”

Pringle was not only the physician of the King, but of Lord Bute, and to this clinical influence it has been usual to attribute William Franklin’s appointment as Governor of New Jersey. Nothing is more likely than that Pringle recommended it; but the appointment was, no doubt, made on public, not on private, grounds, and to place the father under obligations, not to oblige the son or any subject or sovereign’s family physician.

Only three days before the above letter to his wife was written, Dr. Franklin wrote a letter, asking the leave of the House of Assembly of Pennsylvania to return. The only notice the Assembly appears to have taken of his application was on the first day of the succeeding session to renew his appointment.—Ed.]

Edition: current; Page: [237]
William Franklin
Franklin, William
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
CCLXXX

FROM WILLIAM FRANKLIN

Honed Father:

I have just retd from Amboy, & have recd your letter & the Packet of May 10. Mr. Wharton’s Clerk has this Moment call’d on me to let me know he is going Express to N. Y. in hopes of overtaking the Pacquet. I have stopt him that I might send you an extract of Sr Wm’s last Letter relative to the Colony.

I before sent you an Answer to the Enquiry made by S. Alexr Dick. Mr. Pennington informs me that he has sent Mr. Penn an Acct of the Land he enquird about in N. Jersey, nor can I obtain any other Acct of it but the same Mr. Pennington has recd. He is afraid of young Penn’s selling the Manor to the proprs for much less than it could be sold for here, & wishes you wd caution him against it.

There has been lately several Murders of Indians in the different Provinces. Those committed in this Province will be duely enquired into, & the Murderers executed as soon as found guilty. They are all apprehended & secured in Gaol.

I congratulate you on the Resolutions of Parlt relative to Commerce. They are in general much approved, & I am in hopes that the people of the Colonies, particularly Persons of Property, will conduct themselves so as to give great satisfaction to the present Ministry. In New York there has been some Riots on Acct of Lands on the Great Manors; but they are now quelled, & their Chief, one Pendergrass, taken Prisoner.

Edition: current; Page: [238]

All the Provinces seem in quiet, except Virga & Massachusett’s Bay. The Govr of the first won’t let his Assy meet, as he understands they are disposed to pass a Bill of Rights & act otherwise in such a Manner as to keep up the Spirit which they kindled before. In the latter, the Assy, by the Influence of that Firebrand Otis, has imprudently turned out all the Crown & other officers out of the Council.

I have come off with flying Colours in the Brush I had with the Assembly. In order to get the better in the Dispute, they asserted a Number of downright Falsehoods, & finding themselves embarras’d by this means, & that they had given me great Advantage, they fairly yielded & desired me to proceed no further in the affair. I had them, to be sure, prodigiously in my Power, but, however, like a generous Enemy, upon their crying out, They had got enough, I withheld my hand. For the future I believe they will be more cautious. I have just heard that Lord Hope is coming here Tomorrow on a Visit to me.

Before this reaches you, you will probably hear of Uncle Peter’s Death. We are very much concern’d at it, particularly as it happen’d so unxpectedly, he having lately been better to all Appearances than for many Months before. I have not heard how the Post-Office is dispos’d of, but I wish Coz. Davenport had it.

The Propry Party give out that Col. Wm Skinner (Bror to our Attorney Genl) is coming over Govr of the Province. He has an Interest with Col. Fitzroy, the D. of Grafton’s Brother, who married his relation Miss Warren. The Govr of Barbadoes has Leave to Edition: current; Page: [239] return Home for a 12month, when he expects to resign. In Haste. Your dutiful Son,

W. F.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
26 August, 1766
London
Mary Franklin
Franklin, Mary
CCLXXXI

TO MRS. MARY FRANKLIN

Dear Sister:

It has pleased God at length to to take from us my only remaining brother, and your affectionate husband, with whom you have lived in uninterrupted harmony and love near half a century.

Considering the many dangers and hardships his way of life led him into, and the weakness of his constitution, it is wonderful that he lasted so long. It was God’s goodness that spared him to us. Let us, instead of repining at what we have lost, be thankful for what we have enjoyed.

Before this can reach you, every thing that can be said to you by way of consolation, will have been said to you by your friends, or will have occurred to your own good understanding. It is therefore needless for me to enlarge on that head. But as you may be under some apprehensions for your future subsistence, I am desirous of making you as easy and comfortable in that respect as I can. Your adopted son, Mr. Brown, has wrote to me, very properly, “that he shall always think it his duty to stand by and assist you to the utmost of his power.” He is yet young; but I hope he has solidity enough to Edition: current; Page: [240] conduct a printing-house with prudence and to advantage. I shall, therefore, put one into his hands, to be carried on in partnership with you; and if he manages well, I shall hereafter farther encourage him. I have not time to write to him now, but shall by the packet. I have, however, desired my wife to deliver to you and him the press and letters that were B. Mecom’s, which Mr. Parker used at Burlington; and to let you go into the house where I suppose they are, as the rent of that you are now in is heavy. I can now only add that I am, as ever,

Your affectionate brother,
B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
27 September, 1766
London
Charles Thomson
Thomson, Charles
CCLXXXII

TO CHARLES THOMSON

Dear Friend and Neighbour:

I received your very kind letter of May 20th, which came here while I was absent in Germany. The favorable sentiments you express of my conduct, with regard to the repeal of the Stamp Act, give me real pleasure; and I hope, in every other matter of public concern, so to behave myself as to stand fair in the opinion of the wise and good, and what the rest think and say of me will then give me less concern.

That part of your letter which relates to the situation of people’s minds in America before and after the repeal, was so well expressed, and in my opinion so proper to be generally read and understood here, Edition: current; Page: [241] that I had it printed in the London Chronicle. I had the pleasure to find, that it did good in several instances within my knowledge.

There are claimers enough of merit in obtaining the repeal. But, if I live to see you, I will let you know what an escape we had in the beginning of the affair, and how much we were obliged to what the profane would call luck, and the pious, Providence.

You will give an old man leave to say, “My love to Mrs. Thomson.” With sincere regard, I am your affectionate friend,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
11 October, 1766
London
Deborah Franklin
Franklin, Deborah
CCLXXXIII

TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN

My Dear Child:

I received your kind little letter of August 26th, by the packet. Scarce any one else wrote to me by that opportunity. I suppose they imagined I should not be returned from Germany. Pray did you ever get the letters and cambric I sent you by Mr. Yates? You told me he had lost them, but hoped to find them again. You do not say in any of your subsequent letters whether he found them, or whether our generous adversaries have got them, and keep them for their own amusement, as you know they did some of my former letters. I wish you would always mention the dates of the letters you receive from me; for then, as I generally keep copies, I should know what get to hand, and what miscarry.

Edition: current; Page: [242]

I grieve for the loss of dear Miss Ross. She was indeed an amiable girl. It must be a great affliction to her parents and friends. In my last I desired you to get Mr. Rhoads to send me a little sketch of the lot and wall; but I have since found one he sent me before; so it is not necessary; only tell me whether it takes in part of the late controverted lot, and how high it comes on both sides, and whereabouts the wall is. By the way, you never have told me what the award was. I wish I could see a copy of it.

There are but two Franklins remaining in England, descended from my grandfather; to wit, my uncle John’s grandson, Thomas Franklin, who is a dyer at Lutterworth, in Leicestershire, and has a daughter about thirteen years of age, named Sally. He brought her to town to see me in the spring, and Mrs. Stevenson persuaded him to leave the child under her care for a little schooling and improvement while I went abroad. When I returned, I found her indeed much improved, and grown a fine girl. She is sensible, and of a sweet, obliging temper, but is now ill of a violent fever, and I doubt we shall lose her, which particularly afflicts Mrs. Stevenson, not only as she has contracted a great affection for the child, but as it was she that persuaded her father to leave her here. Mrs. Stevenson presents her best respects. Polly is gone home to her aunt’s at Kensington. My love to our children and all inquiring friends. I am your ever loving husband,

B. Franklin.
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CCLXXXIV: REMARKS ON A PLAN FOR THE FUTURE MANAGEMENT OF INDIAN AFFAIRS1

The regulations in this Plan seem to me to be in general very good; but some few appear to want explanation, or farther consideration.

Clause 3. Is it intended by this clause to prevent the trade that Indians, living near the frontiers, may choose to carry on with the inhabitants, by bringing their skins into the settlements? This prevention is hardly practicable; as such trade may be carried on in many places out of the observation of government, the frontier being of great extent, and the inhabitants thinly settled in the woods, and remote from each other. The Indians, too, do not everywhere live in towns sufficiently numerous to encourage traders to reside among them; but in scattered families, here and there, often shifting their situation for the sake of better hunting; and if they are near the English settlements, it would seem to them very hard Edition: current; Page: [244] to be obliged to carry their skins for sale to remote towns or posts, when they could dispose of them to their neighbours, with less trouble and to greater advantage; as the goods they want for them, are and must be dearer at such remote posts.

4. The colony “laws for regulating Indian affairs or commerce” are the result of long experience, made by people on the spot, interested to make them good; and it would be well to consider the matter thoroughly, before they are repealed, to make way for new and untried schemes.

By whom are they to be repealed? By the colony assemblies, or by Parliament? Some difficulty will arise here.

13. The districts seem too large for this. The Indians under the care of the northern superintendent, by this plan, border on the colonies of Nova Scotia, Quebec, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia; the superintendent’s situation, remote from many of these, may occasion great inconvenience, if his consent is always to be necessary in such cases.

14. This seems too much to be done when the vastness of the district is considered. If there were more districts and smaller, it might be more practicable.

15 and 16. Are these agents or commissaries to try causes where life is concerned? Would it not be better to send the criminals into some civil, well-settled government or colony, for trial, where good juries can be had?

18. “Chief for the whole tribe; who shall constantly Edition: current; Page: [245] reside with the commissary,” &c. Provision must then be made for his maintenance, as particular Indians have no estates, but live by hunting; and their public has no funds or revenues. Being used to rambling, it would perhaps not be easy to find one, who would be obliged to this constant residence; but it may be tried.

22. If the agent and his deputies, and the commissaries, are not to trade, should it not be a part of their oath, that they will have no concern in such trade, directly or indirectly? Private agreements between them and the traders, for share of profits, should be guarded against; and the same care taken to prevent, if possible, private agreements between them and the purchasers of Indian lands.

31. —— “or trading at any other post,” &c. This should be so expressed as to make the master liable for the offence of the servant; otherwise it will have no effect.

33. I doubt the settling of tariffs will be a matter of difficulty. There may be differences of fineness, goodness, and value, in the goods of different traders, that cannot be properly allowed for by general tariffs. And it seems contrary to the nature of commerce, for government to interfere in the prices of commodities. Trade is a voluntary thing between buyer and seller; in every article of which each exercises his own judgment, and is to please himself. Suppose either Indian or trader is dissatisfied with the tariff, and refuses barter on those terms; are the refusers to be compelled? If not, why should an Indian be forbidden to take more goods for his skins than your Edition: current; Page: [246] tariff allows, if the trader is willing to give them; or a trader more skins for his goods, if the Indian is willing to give them? Where there are a number of traders, the separate desire of each to get more custom will operate in bringing down their goods to a reasonable price. It therefore seems to me, that trade will best find and make its own rates; and that government cannot well interfere, unless it will take the whole trade into its own hands (as in some colonies it does), and manage it by its own servants, at its own risk.

38. I apprehend that if the Indians cannot get rum of fair traders, it will be a great means of defeating all these regulations that direct the trade to be carried on at certain posts. The countries and forests are so very large, it is scarce possible to guard every part, so as to prevent unlicensed traders drawing the Indians and the trade to themselves, by rum and other spirituous liquors, which all savage people are so fond of. I think they will generally trade where they can get rum, preferably to where it is refused them; and the proposed prohibition will therefore be a great encouragement to unlicensed traders, and promote such trade. If the commissaries, or officers at the posts, can prevent the selling of rum during the barter for other goods, and until the Indians are about going away, it is perhaps all that is practicable or necessary. The missionaries will, among other things, endeavour to prevail with them to live soberly and avoid drunkenness.

39. The Indian trade, so far as credit is concerned, has hitherto been carried on wholly upon honor. Edition: current; Page: [247] They have among themselves no such thing as prisons or confinement for debt. This article seems to imply, that an Indian may be compelled by law to pay a debt of fifty shillings or under. Our legal method of compulsion is by imprisonment. The Indians cannot and will not imprison one another; and, if we attempt to imprison them, I apprehend it would be generally disliked by the nations, and occasion breaches. They have such high ideas of the value of personal liberty, and such slight ones of the value of personal property, that they would think the disproportion monstrous between the liberty of a man and a debt of a few shillings; and that it would be excessively inequitable and unjust, to take away the one for a default in payment of the other. It seems to me, therefore, best to leave that matter on its present footing; the debts under fifty shillings as irrecoverable by law, as this article proposes for the debts above fifty shillings. Debts of honor are generally as well paid as other debts. Where no compulsion can be used, it is more disgraceful to be dishonest. If the trader thinks his risk greater in trusting any particular Indian, he will either not do it, or proportion his price to his risk.

44. As the goods for the Indian trade all come from England, and the peltry is chiefly brought to England, perhaps it will be best to lay the duty here on the exportation of the one and the importation of the other, to avoid meddling with the question of the right to lay duties in America by Parliament here.

If it is thought proper to carry the trading part of Edition: current; Page: [248] this plan into execution, would it not be well to try it first in a few posts, to which the present colony laws for regulating the Indian trade do not reach; that by experience its utility may be ascertained, or its defects discovered and amended before it is made general, and those laws repealed to make way for it? If the Indians find by experience that they are better used in their trade at the posts under these regulations than at other places, may it not make them desirous of having the regulations extended to other places, and when extended better satisfied with them upon reflection and comparison?

CCLXXXV: HINTS FOR A REPLY TO THE PROTESTS OF CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS AGAINST THE REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT.

The following “Hints” were found in the margin of Dr. Franklin’s printed copy of the protests written at the time (1766), from which it would appear that it was his intention to make a formal answer to these Protests. This purpose does not yet appear to have been executed.—Editor.

First Protest

We have submitted to your laws; no proof of our acknowledgment of your power to make them; rather an acknowledgment of their reasonableness, or of our own weakness. Post-office came as a matter of utility; was aided by the legislature. Mean to Edition: current; Page: [249] take advantage of our ignorance. Children should not be imposed on; are not, even by honest shopkeepers. A great and magnanimous nation should disdain to govern by tricks and traps, that would disgrace a pettifogging attorney.

Settlement of the colonies stated. Parliament not consulted; not till after the Restoration, except by rebel Parliament. Anxious about preserving the sovereignty of this country? Rather be so about preserving the liberty. We shall be so about the liberty of America, that your posterity may have a free country to come to, where they will be received with open arms.

King, the sovereign, cannot take in his Parliament; at least, can give no greater power than he had himself.

Compliment the Lords. Not a wiser or better body of men on earth. The deep respect impressed on me by the instance I have been witness to of their justice. They have been misled by misinformation. Proof of my opinion of their goodness, in the freedom with which I propose to examine their Protests.

The trust of taxing America was never reposed by the people of America in the legislature of Great Britain. They had one kind of confidence, indeed, in that legislature; that it would never attempt to tax them without their consent. The law was destructive of that confidence among them.

Other advantages of colonies besides commerce. Selfishness of commercial views.

The sovereignty of the crown I understand. The sovereignty of the British legislature out of Britain I do not understand.

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The fear of being thought weak is a timidity and weakness of the worst sort, as it betrays into a persisting in errors that may be much more mischievous than the appearance of weakness. A great and powerful state like this has no cause for such timidity.

Acknowledging and correcting an error shows great magnanimity. Small states and small republics cannot afford to do so.

America not in the realm of England or Great Britain? No man in America thinks himself exempt from the jurisdiction of the crown, and of the assemblies, or has any such private judgment.

The agitation of the question of rights makes it now necessary to settle a constitution for the colonies. Restrictions should be only for the general good. Endeavour to convince reasonable creatures by reason. Try your hands with me.

Never think of it. They are reasonable creatures. Reasonable laws will not require force.

I observe two or three Scotch Lords protest. Many more voted against the repeal. Colonies settled before the union. Query: If the Parliament had a jurisdiction over the colonies by the first settlement, had they a right to introduce new legislators? Could they sell or commute the right with other nations? Can they introduce the Peers of Ireland and Commons, and the States of Holland, and make them legislators of the colonies? How could Scotland acquire a right to legislation over English colonies, but by consent of the colonies themselves?

I am a subject of the crown of Great Britain; have ever been a loyal one; have partaken of its favors. Edition: current; Page: [251] I write here with freedom, relying on the magnanimity of the Parliament. I say nothing to your Lordships, that I have not been indulged to say to the Commons. Your Lordships’ names are to your Protest, therefore I think I ought to put mine to the answer. Desire what I have said may not be imputed to the colonies. I am a private person and do not write by their direction. I am over here to solicit, in behalf of my colony, a closer communication with the crown.

Second Protest

Talk with Bollan on this head. Query: Courts of common law? Particular colonies drained; all drained, as it would all come home. Those that would pay most of the tax would have least of it spent at home. It must go to the conquered colonies. The view of maps deceives.

All breach of the constitution. Juries better to be trusted. Have rather an interest in suppressing smugglers. Nature of smuggling. It is picking of pockets. All oppressions take their rise from some plea of utility; often in appearance only.

The clamor of multitudes. It is good to attend to it. It is wiser to foresee and avoid it. It is wise, when neither foreseen nor avoided, to correct the measures that give occasion to it. Glad the majority have that wisdom.

Wish your Lordships had attended to that other great article of the palladium: “Taxes shall not be laid but by common consent in Parliament.” We Americans were not here to give our consent.

Edition: current; Page: [252]

My duty to the King, and justice to my country, will, I hope, justify me if I likewise protest which I now do with all humility in behalf of myself and of every American, and of our posterity, against your declaratory bill, that the Parliament of Great Britain has not, never had, and of right never can have, without consent given either before or after, power to make laws of sufficient force to bind the subjects in America in any case whatever, and particularly in taxation.

I can only judge of others by myself. I have some little property in America. I will freely spend nineteen shillings in the pound to defend my right of giving or refusing the other shilling, and, after all, if I cannot defend that right, I can retire cheerfully with my little family into the boundless woods of America, which are sure to afford freedom and subsistence to any man who can bait a hook or pull a trigger.

CCLXXXVI: OBSERVATIONS
ON PASSAGES IN “A LETTER FROM A MERCHANT IN LONDON TO HIS NEPHEW IN NORTH AMERICA”

Extract. “The honest indignation you express against those artifices and frauds, those robberies and insults, which lost us the hearts and affections of the Indians, is particularly to be commended; for these Edition: current; Page: [253] were the things, as you justly observed, which involved us in the most bloody and expensive war that ever was known.”

Observation. This is wickedly intended by the author, Dean Tucker, to represent the North Americans as the cause of the war. Whereas it was in fact begun by the French, who seized the goods and persons of the English traders on the Ohio who encroached on the King’s land in Nova Scotia, and took a fort from the Ohio Company by force of arms, which induced England to make reprisals at sea, and to send Braddock to recover the fort on the Ohio, whence came on the war.

“By the spirit of Magna Charta all taxes laid on by Parliament are constitutional, legal taxes.”

“But then it is to be further observed that this same method of arguing is equally favorable to governors as governed, and to the mother country as the colonies.”

Here is the old mistake of all these writers. The people of the mother country are subjects, not governors. The King only is sovereign in both countries.

“The colonies will no longer think it equitable to insist upon immunities which the people of Great Britain do not enjoy.”

Why not, if they have a right to them?

“To claim a right of being taxed by their assemblies only, appears to have too much the air of independence, and though they are not represented here, would give them an immunity beyond the inhabitants of this island.”

Edition: current; Page: [254]

It is a right, however; what signifies what air it has? The inhabitants being freeholders ought to have the same. If they have it not, they are injured. Then rectify what is amiss among yourselves; and do not make it a justification of more wrong.

“Or could they hope to procure any advantages from one hundred representatives? Common sense answers all this in the negative.”

Why not, as well as Scotland from forty-five, or rather sixty-one? Common sense, on the contrary, says, that a body of one hundred votes in Parliament, will always be worth the attention of any ministry; and the fear of offending them will make every minister cautions of injuring the rights of their country, lest they join with his opposers in Parliament.

“Therefore the interest of Great Britain and that of the colonies is the same.”

All this argument of the interest of Britain and the colonies being the same is fallacious and unsatisfactory. Partners in trade have a common interest, which is the same, the flourishing of the partnership business; but they may, moreover, have each a separate interest, and, in pursuit of that separate interest, one of them may endeavour to impose on the other, may cheat him in the accounts, may draw to himself more than his share of the profits, may put upon the other more than an equal share of the expense and burden. Their having a common interest is no security against such injustice. The landholders of Great Britain have a common interest, and yet they injure one another in the inequality of the land tax. The majority in Parliament, being favored Edition: current; Page: [255] in the proportions, will never consent to do justice to the minority by a more equal assessment.

“But what reasonable ground of apprehension can there be, that the British Parliament should be ignorant of so plain a matter, as that the interests of Britain and the colonies are the same?”

If the Parliament is so knowing and so just, how comes it to restrain Ireland in its manufactures, America in its trade? Why may not an Irishman or an American make the same manufactures, and carry them to the same ports, as an Englishman? In many instances Britain shows a selfish regard to her own interest, in prejudice to the colonies. America, therefore, has no confidence in her equity.

“But I can conceive no earthly security better, none indeed so good, as that which depends upon the wisdom and integrity of a British King and Parliament.”

Suppose seats in your House of Commons hereditary, as those of the House of Lords; or suppose the Commons to be nominated by the King, or chosen by the Lords; could you then rely upon them? If your members were to be chosen by the people of Ireland, could you then rely upon them? Could you depend upon their wisdom and integrity as a security, the best possible, for your rights? And wherein is our case different, if the people of England choose legislators for the people of America?

“If they have a spark of virtue left, they will blush to be found in a posture of hostility against Great Britain.”

There was no posture of hostility in America, but Edition: current; Page: [256] Britain put herself in a posture of hostility against America. Witness the landing of the troops in Boston, 1768.

CCLXXXVII: OBSERVATIONS
ON PASSAGES IN A PAMPHLET ENTITLED “GOOD HUMOR, OR AWAY WITH THE COLONIES”1

Extract. “The reply of the governor of Massachusetts to the assembly’s answer is in the same consistent style; and affords still a stronger proof, as well of his own ingenuity, honor, and integrity, as of the furious and enthusiastic spirit of the province.”

Observation. They knew the governor to be, as it afterwards turned out, their enemy and calumniator in private letters to government here.

“It had been more becoming the state of the colonies, always dear to Britain, and ever cherished and defended by it, to have remonstrated in terms of filial duty and obedience.”

How ignorant is this writer of facts! How many of their remonstrances were rejected!

“They must give us leave, in our turn, to except against their demonstration of legal exemption.”

There never was any occasion of legal exemption from what they never had been subject to.

There is no doubt but taxes laid by Parliament, Edition: current; Page: [257] where the Parliament has jurisdiction, are legal taxes; but does it follow that taxes laid by the Parliament of England on Scotland before the union, on Guernsey, Jersey, Ireland, Hanover, or any other dominions of the crown not within the realm, are therefore legal? These writers against the colonies all bewilder themselves by supposing the colonies within the realm, which is not the case, nor ever was. This then is the spirit of the constitution, that taxes shall not be laid without the consent of those to be taxed. The colonies were not then in being, and therefore nothing relating to them could be literally expressed. As the Americans are now without the realm, and not of the jurisdiction of Parliament, the spirit of the British constitution dictates that they should be taxed only by their own representatives, as the English are by theirs.

“Now the first emigrants who settled in America were certainly English subjects, subject to the laws and jurisdiction of Parliament, and consequently to parliamentary taxes, before the emigration, and therefore subject afterwards, unless some legal constitutional exemption can be produced.”

This position supposes that Englishmen can never be out of the jurisdiction of Parliament. It may as well be said that wherever an Englishman resides, that country is England. While an Englishman resides in England, he is undoubtedly subject to its laws. If he goes into a foreign country, he is subject to the laws and government he finds there. If he finds no government or laws there, he is subject there to none, till he and his companions, if he has any, Edition: current; Page: [258] make laws for themselves; and this was the case of the first settlers in America. Otherwise, and if they carried the English laws and power of Parliament with them, what advantage could the Puritans propose to themselves by going, since they would have been as subject to bishops, spiritual courts, tithes, and statutes relating to the church, in America as in England? Can the Dean, on his principles, tell how it happens that those laws, the game acts, the statutes for laborers, and an infinity of others, made before and since the emigration, are not in force in America, nor ever were?

“Now, upon the first settling of an English colony, and before ever you Americans could have chosen any representatives, and therefore before any assembly of such representatives could have possibly met, to whose laws and to what legislative power were you then subject? To the English, most undoubtedly; for you could have been subject to no other.”

The author here appears quite ignorant of the fact. The colonies carried no law with them; they carried only a power of making laws, or adopting such parts of the English law, or of any other law, as they should think suitable to their circumstances. The first settlers of Connecticut, for instance, at their first meeting in that country, finding themselves out of all jurisdiction of other governments, resolved and enacted, that, till a code of laws should be prepared and agreed to, they would be governed by the law of Moses, as contained in the Old Testament.

If the first settlers had no right to expect a better constitution than the English, what fools were they Edition: current; Page: [259] for going over, to encounter all the hardships and perils of new settlements in a wilderness! For these were so many additions to what they suffered at home, from tyrannical and oppressive institutions in church and state; with a subtraction of all their old enjoyments of the conveniences and comforts of an old-settled country, friends, neighbours, relations, and homes.

“Suppose, therefore, that the crown had been so ill advised as to have granted a charter to any city or county here in England, pretending to exempt them from the power and jurisdiction of an English Parliament. Is it possible for you to believe an absurdity so gross and glaring?”

The American settlers needed no exemption from the power of Parliament; they were necessarily exempted, as soon as they landed out of its jurisdiction. Therefore, all this rhetorical paragraph is founded on a mistake of the author, and the absurdity he talks of is of his own making.

“Good heavens! What a sudden alteration is this! An American pleading for the extension of the prerogative of the crown! Yes, if it could make for his cause; and for extending it, too, beyond all the bounds of law, of reason, and of common sense!”

What stuff! Why may not an American plead for the just prerogatives of the crown? And is it not a just prerogative of the crown to give the subjects leave to settle in a foreign country, if they think it necessary to ask such leave? Was the Parliament at all considered, or consulted, in making those first settlements? Or did any lawyer then think it necessary?

Edition: current; Page: [260]

“Now this clause, which is nothing more than the renunciation of absolute prerogative, is quoted in our newspapers as if it was a renunciation of the rights of Parliament to raise taxes.”

It was not a renunciation of the rights of Parliament. There was no need of such a renunciation, for Parliament had not even pretended to such a right. But since the royal faith was pledged by the King for himself and his successors, how can any succeeding King, without violating that faith, ever give his assent to an act of Parliament for such taxation?

“Nay, many of your colony charters assert quite the contrary, by containing the express reservations of parliamentary rights, particularly that great one of levying taxes.”

A fib, Mr. Dean. In one charter only, and that a late one, is the Parliament mentioned; and the right reserved is only that of laying duties on commodities imported into England from the colony, or exported to it.

“And those charters, which do not make such provisions in express terms, must be supposed virtually to imply them; because the law and constitution will not allow that the King can do more, either at home or abroad, by the prerogative royal, than the law and constitution authorize him to do.”

Suppositions and implications will not weigh in these important cases. No law or constitution forbade the King’s doing what he did in granting those charters.

“Confuted, most undoubtedly, you are beyond the Edition: current; Page: [261] possibility of a reply, as far as the law and constitution of the realm are concerned in this question.”

This is hallooing before you are out of the wood.

“Strange, that though the British Parliament has been, from the beginning, thus unreasonable, thus unjust and cruel towards you, by levying taxes on many commodities outwards and inwards”—

False! Never before the Restoration. The Parliament, it is acknowledged, have made many oppressive laws relating to America, which have passed without opposition, partly through the weakness of the colonies, partly through the inattention to the full extent of their rights, while employed in labor to procure the necessaries of life. But that is a wicked guardian, and a shameless one, who first takes advantage of the weakness incident to minority, cheats and imposes on his pupil, and, when the pupil comes of age, urges those very impositions as precedents to justify continuing them and adding others.

“But surely you will not dare to say that we refuse your votes when you come hither to offer them, and choose to poll. You cannot have the face to assert, on an election-day any difference is put between the vote of a man born in America and of one born here in England.”

This is all banter and insult, when you know the impossibility of a million of freeholders coming over sea to vote here. If their freeholds in America are within the realm, why have they not, in virtue of these freeholds, a right to vote in your elections, as well as an English freeholder? Sometimes we are told, that our estates are by our charters all in the Edition: current; Page: [262] manor of East Greenwich, and therefore all in England; and yet have we any right to vote among the voters of East Greenwich? Can we trade to the same ports? In this very paragraph, you suppose that we cannot vote in England, if we come hither, till we have by purchase acquired a right; therefore neither we nor our estates are represented in England.

“The cause of your complaint is this; that you live at too great a distance from the mother country to be present at our English elections; and that, in consequence of this distance, the freedom of our towns, or the freeholds in our counties, as far as voting is concerned, are not worth attending to. It may be so; but pray consider, if you yourselves choose to make it inconvenient for you to come and vote, by retiring into distant countries, what is that to us?”

This is all beside the mark. The Americans are by their constitutions provided with a representation, and therefore neither need nor desire any in the British Parliament. They have never asked any such thing. They only say: Since we have a right to grant our own money to the King, since we have assemblies where we are represented for such purposes, why will you meddle, out of your sphere, take the money that is ours, and give us yours, without our consent?

“Yes, it is, and you demand it too with a loud voice, full of anger, of defiance, and denunciation.”

An absolute falsehood! We never demanded in any manner, much less in the manner you mention, that the mother country should change her constitution.

Edition: current; Page: [263]

“In the great metropolis, and in many other cities, landed property itself hath no representative in Parliament. Copy-holds and lease-holds of various kinds have none likewise, though of ever so great a value.”

Copy-holds and lease-holds are supposed to be represented in the original landlord of whom they are held. Thus all the land in England is in fact represented, notwithstanding what he here says. As to those who have no landed property in a county, the allowing them to vote for legislators is an impropriety. They are transient inhabitants, and not so connected with the welfare of the state, which they may quit when they please, as to qualify them properly for such privilege.

“And, besides all this, it is well known that the East India Company, which have such vast settlements, and which dispose of the fate of kings and kingdoms abroad, have not so much as a single member, or even a single vote, quatenus a company, to watch over their interests at home. And may not their property, perhaps a little short of one hundred millions sterling, as much deserve to be represented in Parliament, as the scattered townships or straggling houses of some of your provinces in America?”

By this argument it may be proved, that no man in England has a vote. The clergy have none as clergymen; the lawyers, none as lawyers; the physicians, none as physicians; and so on. But if they have votes as freeholders, that is sufficient; and that, no freeholder in America has for a representative in the British Parliament. The stockholders are many of Edition: current; Page: [264] them foreigners, and all may be so when they please, as nothing is more easy than the transferring of stock and conveying property beyond sea by bills of exchange. Such uncertain subjects are, therefore, not properly vested with rights relating to government.

“Yet we raise no commotions; we neither ring the alarm-bell, nor sound the trumpet, and submit to be taxed without being represented; and taxed, let me tell you, for your sakes. All was granted when you cried for help.”

This is wickedly false. While the colonies were weak and poor, not a penny or a single soldier was ever spared by Britain for their defence. But as soon as the trade with them became an object, and a fear arose, that the French would seize that trade and deprive her of it, she sent troops to America unasked. And she now brings this account of the expense against us, which should be rather carried to her own merchants and manufacturers. We joined our troops and treasure with hers to help her in this war. Of this no notice is taken. To refuse to pay a just debt is knavish; not to return an obligation is ingratitude; but to demand payment of a debt where none has been contracted, to forge a bond or an obligation in order to demand what was never due, is villany. Every year both King and Parliament, during the war, acknowledged that we had done more than our part, and made us some return, which is equivalent to a receipt in full, and entirely sets aside this monstrous claim.

By all means redress your own grievances. If you are not just to your own people, how can we trust Edition: current; Page: [265] you? We ask no representation among you; but, if you have any thing wrong among yourselves, rectify it, and do not make one injustice a precedent and plea for doing another. That would be increasing evil in the world instead of diminishing it.

You need not be concerned about the number to be added from America. We do not desire to come among you; but you may make some room for your own additional members, by removing those that are sent by the rotten boroughs.

“I must now tell you, that every member of Parliament represents you and me, and our interests in all essential points, just as much as if we had voted for him. For, although one place or one set of men may elect and send him up to Parliament, yet, when once he becomes a member, he is the equal guardian of all.”

In the same manner, Mr. Dean, are the Pope and Cardinals representatives of the whole Christian church. Why don’t you obey them?

“This, then, being the case, it therefore follows, that our Birminghams, Manchesters, Leedses, Halifaxes, &c., and your Bostons, New Yorks, and Philadelphias, are as really, though not so nominally, represented, as any part whatsoever of the British empire; and that each of these places has in fact, instead of one or two, not less than five hundred and fifty-eight guardians in the British Senate.”

What occasion is there then, my dear Sir, of being at the trouble of election? The Peers alone would do as well for our guardians, though chosen by the King, or born such. If their present number is too Edition: current; Page: [266] small, his Majesty may be good enough to add five hundred and fifty-eight, or make the present House of Commons and their heirs-male Peers for ever. If having a vote in elections would be of no use to us, how is it of any to you? Elections are the cause of much tumult, riot, contention, and mischief. Get rid of them at once and for ever.

“It proves that no man ought to pay any tax, but that only to which the member of his own town, city, or county hath particularly assented.”

You seem to take your nephew for a simpleton, Mr. Dean. Every one who votes for a representative knows and intends that the majority is to govern, and that the consent of the majority is to be understood as the consent of the whole; that being ever the case in all deliberative assemblies.

“The doctrine of implication is the very thing to which you object, and against which you have raised so many batteries of popular noise and clamor.”

How far, my dear Sir, would you yourself carry the doctrine of implication? If important positions are to be implied when not expressed, I suppose you can have no objection to their being implied where some expression countenances the implication. If you should say to a friend, “I am your humble servant, Sir,” ought he to imply from thence, that you will clean his shoes?

“And consequently you must maintain, that all those in your several provinces, who have no votes,” &c.

No freeholder in North America is without a vote. Many, who have no freeholds, have nevertheless a Edition: current; Page: [267] vote; which, indeed, I don’t think was necessary to be allowed.

“You have your choice, whether you will accept of my price for your tobacco; or, after bringing it here, whether you will carry it away, and try your fortune at another market.”

A great kindness this, to oblige me first to bring it here, that the expense of another voyage and freight may deter me from carrying it away, and oblige me to take the price you are pleased to offer.

“But I have no alternative allowed, being obliged to buy yours at your own price, or else to pay such a duty for the tobacco of other countries as must amount to a prohibition. Nay, in order to favor your plantations, I am not permitted to plant this herb on my own estate, though the soil should be ever so proper for it.”

You lay a duty on the tobacco of other countries, because you must pay money for that, but get ours in exchange for your manufactures.

Tobacco is not permitted to be planted in England, lest it should interfere with corn necessary for your subsistence. Rice you cannot raise. It requires eleven months. Your summer is too short. Nature, not the laws, denies you this product.

“And what will you say in relation to hemp? The Parliament now gives you a bounty of eight pounds per ton for exporting your hemp from North America, but will allow me nothing for growing it here in England.”

Did ever any North-American bring his hemp to England for this bounty? We have not yet enough Edition: current; Page: [268] for our own consumption. We begin to make our own cordage. You want to suppress that manufacture, and would do it by getting the raw material from us. You want to be supplied with hemp for your manufactures and Russia demands money. These were the motives for giving what you are pleased to call a bounty to us. We thank you for your bounties. We love you, and therefore must be obliged to you for being good to yourselves. You do not encourage raising hemp in England, because you know it impoverishes the richest grounds; your landholders are all against it. What you call bounties given by Parliament and the Society, are nothing more than inducements offered us, to persuade us to leave employments that are more profitable, and engage in such as would be less so without your bounty; to quit a business profitable to ourselves, and engage in one that shall be profitable to you. This is the true spirit of all your bounties.

Your duties on foreign articles are from the same motives. Pitch, tar, and turpentine used to cost you five pounds a barrel, when you had them from foreigners, who used you ill into the bargain, thinking you could not do without them. You gave a bounty of five shillings a barrel to the colonies, and they have brought you such plenty as to reduce the price to ten shillings a barrel. Take back your bounties, when you please, since you upbraid us with them. Buy your indigo, pitch, silk, tobacco where you please, and let us buy our manufactures where we please. I fancy we shall be gainers. As to the great kindness of these five hundred and fifty-eight parliamentary Edition: current; Page: [269] guardians of American privileges, who can forbear smiling, that has seen the Navigation Act, the Hatters’ Act, the Steel-Hammer and Slit-Iron Act, and numberless others, restraining our trade, obstructing our manufactures, and forbidding us the use of the gifts of God and nature. Hopeful guardians, truly! Can it be imagined that, if we had a reasonable share in electing them from time to time, they would thus have used us?

“And must have seen abundant reason before this time, to have altered your former hasty and rash opinion.”

We see in you abundance of self-conceit, but no convincing argument.

“Have you no concerts or assemblies, no playhouses or gaming-houses, now subsisting? Have you put down your horse-races and other such like sports and diversions? And is the luxury of your tables, and the variety and profusion of your wines and liquors, quite banished from among you?”

This should be a caution to Americans how they indulge for the future in British luxuries. See here British generosity! The people, who have made you poor by their worthless, I mean useless, commodities, would now make you poorer by taxing you; and from the very inability you have brought on yourselves, by a partiality for their fashions and modes of living, of which they have had the whole profit, would now urge your ability to pay the taxes they are pleased to impose. Reject, then, their commerce, as well as their pretended power of taxing. Be frugal and industrious, and you will be free. The luxury of your Edition: current; Page: [270] tables, which could be known to the English only by your hospitably entertaining them, is by these grateful guests now made a charge against you, and given as a reason for taxing you.

“Be it also allowed, as it is commonly asserted, that the public debt of the several provinces amounts to eight hundred thousand pounds sterling.”

I have heard, Mr. Dean, that you have studied political arithmetic more than divinity, but from this sample of it I fear to very little purpose. If personal service were the matter in question, out of so many millions of souls so many men might be expected, whether here or in America. But when raising money is the question, it is not the number of souls, but the wealth in possession that shows the ability. If we were twice as numerous as the people of England, it would not follow that we are half as able. There are numbers of single estates in England, each worth a hundred of the best of ours in North America. The city of London alone is worth all the provinces of North America.

“When each of us pays, one with another, twenty shillings per head, we expect that each of you should pay the sum of one shilling! Blush, blush, for shame at your perverse and scandalous behaviour!”

Blush for shame at your own ignorance, Mr. Dean, who do not know that the colonies have taxes, and heavy ones, of their own to pay, to support their own civil and military establishments, and that the shillings should not be reckoned upon heads, but upon pounds. There never was a sillier argument.

“Witness our county taxes, militia taxes, poor Edition: current; Page: [271] taxes, vagrant taxes, bridge taxes, high-road and turnpike taxes, watch taxes, lamp and scavenger taxes, &c., &c., &c.”

And have we not all these taxes, too, as well as you, and our provincial or public taxes besides? And over and above, have we not new roads to make, new bridges to build, churches and colleges to found, and a number of other things to do that your fathers have done for you, and which you inherit from them, but which we are obliged to pay for out of our present labor?

“We require of you to contribute only one shilling to every twenty from each of us. Yes, and this shilling, too, to be spent in your own country for the support of your own civil and military establishments.”

How fond he is of this one shilling and twenty. Who has desired this of you, and who can trust you to lay it out? If you are thus to provide for our civil and military establishments, what use will there afterwards be for our assemblies?

“And yet, small and inconsiderable as this share is, you will not pay it. No, you will not! and it is at your peril if we demand it.”

No! we will pay nothing on compulsion.

“For how, and in what manner, do you prove your allegations? Why, truly, by breaking forth into riots and insurrections, and by committing every kind of violence that can cause trade to stagnate, and industry to cease.”

The Americans never brought riots as arguments. It is unjust to charge two or three riots in particular Edition: current; Page: [272] places upon all America. Look for arguments in the petitions and remonstrances of the assemblies, who detest riots, of which there are ten in England for one in America.

“Perhaps you meant to insinuate (though it was prudence in you not to speak out) that the late act was ill-contrived and ill-timed, because it was made at a juncture when neither the French were in your rear to frighten, nor the English fleets and armies on your front to force, you to a compliance.”

It seems a prevailing opinion in England, that fear of their French neighbours would have kept the colonies in obedience to the Parliament, and that, if the French power had not been subdued, no opposition would have been made to the Stamp Act. A very groundless notion. On the contrary, had the French power continued, to which the Americans might have had recourse in the case of oppression from Parliament, Parliament would not have dared to oppress them. It was the employment of fifty thousand men by land, and a fleet on the coast, for five years, to subdue the French only. Half the land army was provincial. Suppose the British twenty-five thousand had acted by themselves, with all the colonies against them, what time would it have taken to subdue the whole?

“Or shall we give you entirely up, unless you will submit to be governed by the same laws as we are, and pay something towards maintaining yourselves?”

The impudence of this language to colonies who have ever maintained themselves, is astonishing! Except the late attempted colonies of Nova Scotia Edition: current; Page: [273] and Georgia, no colony ever received maintenance in any shape from Britain; and the grants to those colonies were mere jobs for the benefit of ministerial favorites, English or Scotchmen.

“Whether we are to give you entirely up, and, after having obliged you to pay your debts, whether we are to have no further connexion with you as a dependent state or colony”—

Throughout all America English debts are more easily recovered than in England, the process being shorter and less expensive, and land subject to execution for the payment of debts. Evidence, taken ex parte in England, to prove a debt, is allowed in their courts, and during the whole dispute there was not one single instance of any English merchant’s meeting with the least obstruction in any process or suit commenced there for that purpose.

“Externally, by being severed from the British empire, you will be excluded from cutting logwood in the Bays of Campeachy and Honduras, from fishing on the banks of Newfoundland, on the coast of Labrador, or in the bay of St. Lawrence, &c.”

We have no use for logwood, but to remit it for your refineries. We joined in conquering the Bay of St. Lawrence and its dependencies. As to the Sugar Islands, if you won’t allow us to trade with them, perhaps you will allow them to trade with us; or do you intend to starve them? Pray keep your bounties, and let us hear no more of them; and your troops, who never protected us against the savages, nor are fit for such a service; and the three hundred thousand pounds, which you seem to think so much Edition: current; Page: [274] clear profit to us, when, in fact, they never spend a penny among us, but they have for it from us a penny’s worth. The manufactures they buy are bought from you; the provisions we could, as we always did, sell elsewhere for as much money. Holland, France, and Spain would all be glad of our custom, and pleased to see the separation.

“And, after all, and in spite of any thing you can do, we in Britain shall still retain the greatest part of your European trade, because we shall give a better price for many of your commodities than you can have anywhere else, and we shall sell to you several of our manufactures, especially in the woollen-stuff and metal way, on cheaper terms.”

Oho! Then you will still trade with us! But can that be without our trading with you? And how can you buy our oil, if we catch no whales?

“The leaders of your party will then be setting all their engines to work, to make fools become the dupes of fools.”

Just as they do in England.

“And instead of having troops to defend them, and those troops paid by Great Britain, they must defend themselves, and pay themselves.”

To defend them! To oppress, insult, and murder them, as at Boston?

“Not to mention that the expenses of your civil governments will be necessarily increased; and that a fleet more or less must belong to each province for guarding their coasts, ensuring the payment of duties, and the like.”

These evils are all imaginations of the author. The Edition: current; Page: [275] same were predicted to the Netherlands, but have never yet happened. But suppose all of them together, and many more, it would be better to bear them than submit to parliamentary taxation. We might still have something we could call our own. But, under the power claimed by Parliament, we have not a single sixpence.

The author of this pamphlet, Dean Tucker, has always been haunted with the fear of the seat of government being soon to be removed to America. He has, in his Tracts on Commerce, some just notions in matters of trade and police, mixed with many wild and chimerical fancies totally impracticable. He once proposed, as a defence of the colonies, to clear the woods for the width of a mile all along behind them, that the Indians might not be able to cross the cleared part without being seen; forgetting that there is a night in every twenty-four hours.

CCLXXXVIII: FROM WILLIAM FRANKLIN

* * * * * * * * * *

It is now generally said to be Debert, & not Ray, who wrote that scandalous Aspersion of the Agents, presented in the New York & other Papers.

I really think it not at all unlikely that Mr. Allen is in some Degree out of his Senses. Upon finding that Williamson’s Essay, published in Bradford’s Supplement, did not take with the People, he cried Edition: current; Page: [276] out against it in the House as much as any Body. And yet at the last Session, when the Assembly were about appointing their Agents, he made that Piece the Foundation of a great deal of Abuse he threw out against you, & spoke from it as if it had been his Brief.

I have heard nothing further about Mr. Skinner, but perhaps I may now the Duke of Grafton is again in the Ministry.

I long to have your copy of the Examination.

Our friends have been a considerable Time greatly distressed with Mr. Hall,1 but his late conduct to Mr. Galloway has determined them to throw him off entirely. I have been above a year fully convinced that he had a greater Attachment to Mr. Allen than to you; and he treated me very insolently in a Letter he wrote to me on a supposition that I was the Author of Jack Retor. I have ever since dropt all kind of Intercourse with him. I wrote you a Letter at the Time, with a full Account of the whole Affair, but as I thought it would not be long before you return’d I did not send it, thinking it best not to trouble you till your Return, when you would have an opportunity of hearing both sides & enquiring into the Truth of the accusations against him. I really had a Friendship for Mr. Hall and have frequently endeavor’d to remove the Prejudices our Friends had conceived against him, but I am now quite satisfied that he has no Friendship for you, & is as great an Enemy to your side of the Question as ever Smith was. All the Difference is that Smith is so openly, Edition: current; Page: [277] & the other covertly—a mere Snake in the Grass. The Consequence is that your Friends (who would have set up a Press above a year ago, but that they did not know but you might chuse to be concerned in the Printing Business on your Return) have at length engaged Goddard, who served his Apprenticeship with Mr. Parker, to get up a Printing Office in Philada & publish a Newspaper. Mr. Galloway, & Mr. Thos. Wharton, for his encouragement have entered into Partnership with him & have agreed to advance what Money may be necessary. But as their Motive for doing this is not merely for the Sake of Profit, but principally to have a Press henceforth as open & safe to them, as Hall’s & Bradford’s are to the other Party, they have put it into their Agreement as I understand, that when you return you shall have it in your power to be concern’d, if you chuse it, in the place of one of them. The young man has brought several good Founts of Letters with him, but his Press he was obliged to leave with his Mother, who carries on the Business at Providence. They therefore desired me to ask my Mother to lend them the old Press which Parker used here, & they would either buy it of you, or pay you what you thought reasonable for the Hire. My Mother told me she had no objection to my letting them have it, but she did not chuse to do it of herself, lest Mr. Hall might be displeased with her for it. At the same Time she said she should be glad that the Printer would take the old House in which it was, as it stood empty & had not brought in any Rent for a great while. I accordingly let them have the Press, & they Edition: current; Page: [278] have agreed with my Mother to take your old House in Market Street. There is a new Mahogany Press there, which they seem Desirous to purchase if you incline to part with it, but I suppose they will write to you on the subject. What I have done is for the best, & I hope it will prove agreeable to you. There is, indeed, really a Necessity for their having a Press of their own, while their publick Affairs continue in their present critical situation, for it is with great difficulty they can get Hall or Bradford to consent to print any thing for them, & when they do, some of the Propry Party are sure to have it communicated to them before it is published. Hugh Roberts, and many more of your old Friends, have determined to encourage the new Printer all in their Power, & to go about the several Wards to get subscriptions to the Newspaper. The Members of Assembly will do the same in their respective Counties, & let him have all the Publick Work. So that I am in hopes that by the time you return they will lay the Foundation of a very valuable Business, worth your while to be concerned in, if you should think it proper or convenient. But I am likewise in hopes that when you do return you will have something far better worth your Acceptance than that can possibly be made. However, as all Things in this Life are uncertain, it may not perhaps be amiss for you to have it in your Power to engage in this affair.

I am, Honrd Sir,
Wm. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [279]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
11 April, 1767
London
Lord Kames
Kames, Lord
CCLXXXIX

TO LORD KAMES

My Dear Lord:

I received your obliging favor of January the 19th. You have kindly relieved me from the pain I had long been under. You are goodness itself. I ought to have answered yours of December 25th, 1765. I never received a letter that contained sentiments more suitable to my own. It found me under much agitation of mind on the very important subject it treated. It fortified me greatly in the judgment I was inclined to form, though contrary to the general vogue, on the then delicate and critical situation of affairs between Great Britain and the colonies, and on that weighty point, their union. You guessed aright in supposing that I would not be a mute in that play. I was extremely busy, attending members of both Houses, informing, explaining, consulting, disputing, in a continual hurry from morning till night, till the affair was happily ended. During the course of its being called before the House of Commons, I spoke my mind pretty freely. Enclosed I send you the imperfect account that was taken of that examination.1 You will there see how entirely we agree, except in a point of fact, of which you could not but be misinformed; the papers at that time being full of mistaken assertions, that the colonies had been the cause of the war, and had ungratefully refused to bear any part of the expenses of it.

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I send it you now, because I apprehend some late accidents are likely to revive the contest between the two countries. I fear it will be a mischievous one. It becomes a matter of great importance, that clear idea, should be formed on solid principles, both in Britain and America, of the true political relation between them, and the mutual duties belonging to that relation. Till this is done, they will be often jarring. I know none whose knowledge, sagacity, and impartiality qualify him so thoroughly for such a service as yours do you. I wish, therefore, you would consider it. You may thereby be the happy instrument of great good to the nation, and of preventing much mischief and bloodshed. I am fully persuaded with you, that a consolidating union, by a fair and equal representation of all the parts of this empire in Parliament, is the only firm basis on which its political grandeur and prosperity can be founded. Ireland once wished it, but now rejects it. The time has been, when the colonies might have been pleased with it; they are now indifferent about it; and, if it is much longer delayed, they too will refuse it. But the pride of this people cannot bear the thought of it, and therefore it will be delayed. Every man in England seems to consider himself as a piece of a sovereign over America; seems to jostle himself into the throne with the King, and talks of our subjects in the colonies. The Parliament cannot well and wisely make laws suited to the colonies, without being properly and truly informed of their circumstances, abilities, temper, &c. This it cannot be without representatives from thence; and yet it is fond of this Edition: current; Page: [281] power, and averse to the only means of acquiring the necessary knowledge for exercising it; which is desiring to be omnipotent, without being omniscient.1

Edition: current; Page: [282]

I have mentioned that the contest is likely to be revived. It is on this occasion. In the same session with the Stamp Act, an act was passed to regulate the quartering of soldiers in America; when the bill was first brought in, it contained a clause, empowering the officers to quarter their soldiers in private houses; this we warmly opposed, and got it omitted. The bill passed, however, with a clause that empty houses, barns, &c., should be hired for them; and that the respective provinces, where they were, should pay the expense and furnish firing, bedding, drink, and some other articles to the soldiers, gratis. There is no way for any province to do this but by the Assembly’s making a law to raise the money. The Pennsylvania Assembly has made such a law; the New York Assembly has refused to do it; and now all the talk here is of sending a force to compel them.

The reasons given by the Assembly to the governor for the refusal are, that they understand the act to mean the furnishing such things to soldiers, only while on their march through the country, and not to great bodies of soldiers, to be fixed, as at present, in the province, the burden in the latter case being greater than the inhabitants can bear; that it would put it in the power of the captain-general to oppress the province at pleasure, &c. But there is supposed to be another reason at bottom, which they intimate, though they do not plainly express it; to wit, that it is of the nature of an internal tax laid on them by Parliament, which has no right so to do. Their refusal is here called rebellion, and punishment is thought of.

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Now waiving that point of right, and supposing the legislatures in America subordinate to the legislature of Great Britain, one might conceive, I think, a power in the superior legislature to forbid the inferior legislatures making particular laws; but to enjoin it to make a particular law, contrary to its own judgment, seems improper; an Assembly or Parliament not being an executive officer of government, whose duty it is, in law-making, to obey orders, but a deliberative body, who are to consider what comes before them, its propriety, practicability, or possibility, and to determine accordingly. The very nature of a Parliament seems to be destroyed by supposing it may be bounded and compelled, by a law of a superior Parliament, to make a law contrary to its own judgment.

Indeed, the act of Parliament in question has not, as in other acts when a duty is enjoined, directed a penalty on neglect or refusal, and a mode of recovering that penalty. It seems, therefore, to the people in America, as a mere requisition, which they are at liberty to comply with or not, as it may suit or not suit the different circumstances of the different provinces. Pennsylvania has therefore voluntarily complied. New York, as I said before, has refused. The ministry that made the act, and all their adherents, call for vengeance. The present ministry are perplexed, and the measures they will finally take on the occasion are yet unknown. But sure I am, that, if force is used, great mischief will ensue; the affections of the people of America to this country will be alienated; your commerce will be diminished; and a total separation of interests will be the final consequence.

Edition: current; Page: [284]

It is a common but mistaken notion here, that the colonies were planted at the expense of Parliament, and that therefore the Parliament has a right to tax them, &c. The truth is, they were planted at the expense of private adventurers, who went over there to settle, with leave of the King, given by charter. On receiving this leave, and those charters, the adventurers voluntarily engaged to remain the King’s subjects, though in a foreign country; a country which had not been conquered by either King or Parliament, but was possessed by a free people.

When our planters arrived, they purchased the lands of the natives, without putting King or Parliament to any expense. Parliament had no hand in their settlement, was never so much as consulted about their constitution, and took no kind of notice of them till many years after they were established. I except only the two modern colonies, or rather attempts to make colonies (for they succeed but poorly, and as yet hardly deserve the name of colonies), I mean Georgia and Nova Scotia, which have hitherto been little better than Parliamentary jobs. Thus all the colonies acknowledge the King as their sovereign; his governors there represent his person; laws are made by their Assemblies or little parliaments, with the governor’s assent, subject still to the King’s pleasure to affirm or annul them. Suits arising in the colonies, and between colony and colony, are determined by the King in Council. In this view, they seem so many little states, subject to the same prince. The sovereignty of the King is therefore easily understood. But nothing is more common Edition: current; Page: [285] here than to talk of the sovereignty of parliament, and the sovereignty of this nation over the colonies; a kind of sovereignty, the idea of which is not so clear, nor does it clearly appear on what foundation it is established. On the other hand, it seems necessary for the common good of the empire, that a power be lodged somewhere, to regulate its general commerce; this can be placed nowhere so properly as in the Parliament of Great Britain; and therefore, though that power has in some instances been executed with great partiality to Britain and prejudice to the colonies, they have nevertheless always submitted to it. Custom-houses are established in all of them, by virtue of laws made here, and the duties instantly paid, except by a few smugglers, such as, are here and in all countries; but internal taxes laid on them by Parliament are still and ever will be objected to, for the reason that you will see in the mentioned examination.

Upon the whole, I have lived so great a part of my life in Britain, and have formed so many friendships in it, that I love it, and sincerely wish it prosperity; and therefore wish to see that union, on which alone I think it can be secured and established. As to America, the advantages of such a union to her are not so apparent. She may suffer at present under the arbitrary power of this country; she may suffer for a while in a separation from it; but these are temporary evils which she will outgrow. Scotland and Ireland are differently circumstanced. Confined by the sea, they can scarcely increase in numbers, wealth, and strength, so as to overbalance England. Edition: current; Page: [286] But America, an immense territory, favored by nature with all advantages of climate, soils, great navigable rivers, lakes, &c., must become a great country, populous and mighty; and will, in less time than is generally conceived, be able to shake off any shackles that may be imposed upon her, and perhaps place them on the imposers. In the meantime every act of oppression will sour their tempers, lessen greatly, if not annihilate, the profits of your commerce with them, and hasten their final revolt; for the seeds of liberty are universally found there, and nothing can eradicate them. And yet there remains among that people so much respect, veneration, and affection for Britain, that, if cultivated prudently, with a kind usage and tenderness for their privileges, they might be easily governed still for ages, without force or any considerable expense. But I do not see here a sufficient quantity of the wisdom that is necessary to produce such a conduct, and I lament the want of it.1

Edition: current; Page: [287]

I borrowed at Millar’s the new edition of your Principles of Equity, and have read with great pleasure the preliminary discourse on the principles of morality. I have never before met with any thing so satisfactory on the subject. While reading it, I made a few remarks as I went along. They are not of much importance, but I send you the paper.

I know the lady you mention (Mrs. Montague); having, when in England before, met her once or twice at Lord Bath’s. I remember I then entertained the same opinion of her that you express. On the strength of your recommendation, I purpose soon to wait on her.

This is unexpectedly grown a long letter. The visit to Scotland, and the Art of Virtue, we will talk of hereafter. It is now time to say that I am, with increasing esteem and affection, my dear friend, yours ever,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [288]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
5 May, 1767
London
Cadwallader Evans
Evans, Cadwallader
CCXC

TO CADWALLADER EVANS

Dear Doctor:

I received your obliging favor of May 16th. I am always glad to hear from you, when you have leisure to write, and I expect no apologies for your not writing. I wish all correspondence was on the foot of writing and answering when one can, or when one is disposed to it, without the compulsions of ceremony. I am pleased with your scheme of a Medical Library at the Hospital; and I fancy I can procure you some donations among my medical friends here, if you will send me a catalogue of what books you already have. Enclosed I send you the only book of the kind in my possession here, having just received it as a present from the author. It is not yet published to be sold, and will not be for some time, till the second part is ready to accompany it.

I thank you for your remarks on the gout. They may be useful to me, who have already had some touches of that distemper. As to Lord Chatham, it is said that his constitution is totally destroyed and gone, partly through the violence of the disease, and partly by his own continual quacking with it. There is at present no access to him. He is said to be not capable of receiving, any more than of giving, advice. But still there is such a deference paid to him, that much business is delayed on his account, that so when entered on it may have the strength of his concurrence, or not be liable to his reprehension, if he should recover his ability and activity. The ministry Edition: current; Page: [289] we at present have has not been looked upon, either by itself or others, as settled, which is another cause of postponing every thing not immediately necessary to be considered. New men, and perhaps new measures, are often expected and apprehended, whence arise continual cabals, factions, and intrigues among the outs and ins, that keep every thing in confusion. And when affairs will mend is very uncertain. With great esteem I am, dear friend, yours affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
13 June, 1767
London
Joseph Galloway
Galloway, Joseph
CCXCI

TO JOSEPH GALLOWAY1

Dear Sir:

In my last of May 20th, I mentioned my hopes that we should at length get over all obstructions to the repeal of the act restraining the legal tender of paper money; but those hopes are now greatly lessened.

The ministry had agreed to the repeal, and the notion that had possessed them, that they might make a revenue from paper money in appropriating the interest by Parliament, was pretty well removed by my assuring them that it was my opinion no colony would make money on those terms, and that the benefits arising to the commerce of this country in America from a plentiful currency would therefore be Edition: current; Page: [290] lost, and the repeal answer no end, if the Assemblies were not allowed to appropriate the interest themselves; that the crown might get a great share upon occasional requisitions, I made no doubt, by voluntary appropriations of the Assemblies; but they would never establish such funds as to make themselves unnecessary to government. Those and other reasons, that were urged, seemed to satisfy them, so that we began to think all would go on smoothly, and the merchants prepared their petition, on which the repeal was to be founded. But in the House, when the chancellor of the exchequer had gone through his proposed American revenue, viz.: by duties on glass, china ware, paper, pasteboard, colors, tea, &c., Grenville stood up and undervalued them all as trifles; and, says he, “I will tell the honorable gentleman of a revenue that will produce something valuable in America: make paper money for the colonies, issue it upon loan there, take the interest, and apply it as you think proper.” Mr. Townshend, finding the House listened to this and seemed to like it, stood up again, and said that was a proposition of his own, which he had intended to make with the rest, but it had slipped his memory, and the gentleman, who must have heard it, now unfairly would take advantage of that slip and make a merit to himself of a proposition that was another’s, and as a proof of it, assured the House a bill was prepared for the purpose, and would be laid before them.

This startled all our friends; and the merchants concluded to keep back their petition for a while, till things appeared a little clearer, lest their friends in Edition: current; Page: [291] America should blame them, as having furnished foundation for an act that must have been disagreeable to the colonies. I found the rest of the ministry did not like this proceeding of the chancellor’s, but there was no going on with our scheme against his declaration, and as he daily talked of resigning, there being no good agreement between him and the rest, and as we found the general prejudice against the colonies so strong in the House, that any thing in the shape of a favor to them all was like to meet with opposition, whether he was out or in, I proposed to Mr. Jackson the putting our colony foremost, as we stood in a pretty good light, and asking the favor for us alone. This he agreed might be proper in case the chancellor should go out, and undertook to bring in a bill for that purpose, provided the Philadelphia merchants would petition for it; and he wished to have such a petition ready to present, if an opening for it should offer. Accordingly I applied to them, and prepared a draft of a petition for them to sign, a copy of which I send you enclosed. They seemed generally for the measure; but, apprehending the merchants of the other colonies, who had hitherto gone hand in hand with us in all American affairs, might take umbrage if we separated from them, it was thought right to call a meeting of the whole to consult upon this proposal.

At this meeting I represented to them, as the ground of this measure, that, the colonies being generally out of favor at present, any hard clause relating to paper money in the repealing bill, will be more easily received in Parliament, if the bill related Edition: current; Page: [292] to all the colonies; that Pennsylvania being in some degree of favor, might possibly alone obtain a better act than the whole could do, as it might by government be thought as good policy to show favor where there had been the reverse; that a good act obtained by Pennsylvania might another year, when the resentment against the colonies should be abated, be made use of as a precedent, &c., &c. But after a good deal of debate it was finally concluded not to precipitate matters, it being very dangerous by any kind of petition to furnish the chancellor with a horse on which he could put what saddle he thought fit. The other merchants seemed rather averse to the Pennsylvania merchants proceeding alone, but said they were certainly at liberty to do as they thought proper. The conclusion of the Pennsylvanian merchants was to wait awhile, holding the separate petition ready to sign and present, if a proper opening should appear this session, but otherwise to reserve it to the next, when the complexion of ministers and measures may probably be changed. And, as this session now draws to a conclusion, I begin to think nothing will be farther done in it this year.

Mentioning the merchants puts me in mind of some discourse I heard among them, that was by no means agreeable. It was said that, in the opposition they gave the Stamp Act, and their endeavours to obtain the repeal, they had spent at their meetings, and in expresses to all parts of the country, and for a vessel to carry the joyful news to North America, and in the entertainments given our friends of both Houses, &c., near fifteen hundred pounds; that for all this, Edition: current; Page: [293] except from the little colony of Rhode Island, they had not received as much as a thank ye; that, on the contrary, the circular-letters they had written with the best intentions to the merchants of the several colonies, containing their best and most friendly advice, were either answered with unkind reflections, or contemptuously left without answer; and that the captain of the vessel, whom they sent express with the news, having met with misfortunes that obliged him to travel by land through all the colonies from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania, was everywhere treated with neglect and contempt, instead of civility and hospitality; and nowhere more than at Philadelphia, where, though he delivered letters to the merchants, that must make him and his errand known to them, no one took the least notice of him. I own I was ashamed to hear all this, but hope there is some mistake in it. I should not have troubled you with this account, but that I think we stand in truth greatly obliged to the merchants, who are a very respectable body, and whose friendship is worth preserving, as it may greatly help us on future occasions; and therefore I wish some decent acknowledgments or thanks were sent from the Assemblies of the colonies, since their correspondents have omitted it.

I have said the less of late in my letters concerning the petitions, because I hoped this summer to have an opportunity of communicating every thing vivâ voce, and there are particulars that cannnot safely be trusted to paper. Perhaps I may be more determined as to returning or staying another winter, Edition: current; Page: [294] when I receive my next letters from you and my other friends in Philadelphia.

We got the chancellor to drop his salt duty. And the merchants trading to Portugal and Spain, he says, have made such a clamor about the intention of suffering ships to go directly with wine, fruit, and oil, from those countries to America, that he has dropped that scheme, and we are, it seems, to labor a little longer under the inconveniences of the restraint.

It is said the bill to suspend the legislatures of New York and Georgia, till they comply with the act of Parliament for quartering soldiers, will pass this session. I fear that imprudencies on both sides may, step by step, bring on the most mischievous consequences. It is imagined here, that this act will enforce immediate compliance; and, if the people should be quiet, content themselves with the laws they have, and let the matter rest, till in some future war the King, wanting aids from them, and finding himself restrained in his legislation by the act as much as the people, shall think fit by his ministers to propose the repeal, the Parliament will be greatly disappointed; and perhaps it may take this turn. I wish nothing worse may happen.1

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The present ministry will probably continue through this session. But their disagreement, with the total inability of Lord Chatham, through sickness, to do any business, must bring on some change before next winter. I wish it may be for the better, but fear the contrary.

Please to present my dutiful respects to the Assembly, and believe me ever, dear Sir, your and the Committee’s most obedient and faithful humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [296]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
17 June, 1767
Mary Stevenson
Stevenson, Mary
CCXCII

TO MISS MARY STEVENSON

Craven Street,

We were greatly disappointed yesterday that we had not the pleasure promised us of our dear Polly’s company. Your good mother would have me write a line in answer to your letter. A muse, you must know, visited me this morning! I see you are surprised, as I was. I never saw one before, and shall never see another, so I took the opportunity of her help to put the answer into verse, because I was some verse in your debt ever since you sent me the last pair of garters.

This muse appeared to be no housewife. I suppose few of them are. She was dressed (if the expression is allowable) in an undress, a kind of slatternly negligée, neither neat nor clean, nor well made, and she has given the same sort of dress to my piece. On reviewing it I would have reformed the lines, and made them all of a length, as I am told lines ought to be; but I find I cannot lengthen the short ones without stretching them on the rack, and I think it would be equally cruel to cut off any part of the long ones. Besides, the superfluity of these makes up for the deficiency of those, and so, from a principle of justice, I leave them at full length, that I may give you, at least in one sense of the word, good measure. Adieu, my dear good girl, and believe me ever your affectionate, faithful friend,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [297]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
22 June, 1767
London
Deborah Franklin
Franklin, Deborah
CCXCIII

TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN

My Dear Child:

Captain Falconer is arrived, and came yesterday to see me and bring my letters. I was extremely glad of yours, because I had none by the packet. It seems now as if I should stay here another winter, and therefore I must leave it to your judgment to act in the affair of our daughter’s match as shall seem best. If you think it a suitable one, I suppose the sooner it is completed the better. In that case I would advise that you do not make an expensive feasting wedding, but conduct every thing with frugality and economy, which our circumstances now require to be observed in all our expenses. For since my partnership with Mr. Hall is expired, a great source of our income is cut off, and if I should lose the post-office, which, among the many changes here is far from being unlikely, we should be reduced to our rents and interest of money for a subsistence, which will by no means afford the chargeable housekeeping and entertainments we have been used to.

For my own part, I live here as frugally as possible not to be destitute of the comforts of life, making no dinners for anybody, and contenting myself with a single dish when I dine at home, and yet such is the dearness of living here, in every article, that my expenses amaze me. I see, too, by the sums you have received in my absence, that yours are very great, and I am very sensible that your situation naturally brings you a great many visitors, which occasions an Edition: current; Page: [298] expense not easily to be avoided, especially when one has been long in the practice and habit of it. But when people’s incomes are lessened, if they cannot proportionately lessen their outgoings, they must come to poverty. If we were young enough to begin business again, it might be another matter; but I doubt we are past it, and business not well managed ruins one faster than no business. In short, with frugality and prudent care we may subsist decently on what we have, and leave it entire to our children; but without such care we shall not be able to keep it together; it will melt away like butter in the sunshine, and we may live long enough to feel the miserable consequences of our indiscretion.

I know very little of the gentleman or his character, nor can I at this distance. I hope his expectations are not great of any fortune to be had with our daughter before our death. I can only say that if he proves a good husband to her and a good son to me, he shall find me as good a father as I can be; but at present I suppose you would agree with me that we cannot do more than fit her out handsomely in clothes and furniture, not exceeding in the whole five hundred pounds of value. For the rest, they must depend, as you and I did, on their own industry and care, as what remains in our hands will be barely sufficient for our support, and not enough for them, when it comes to be divided at our decease.

Sally Franklin is well. Her father, who had not seen her for a twelvemonth, came lately and took her home with him for a few weeks to see her friends. He is very desirous I should take her with me to America.

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I suppose the blue room is too blue, the wood being of the same color with the paper, and so looks too dark. I would have you finish it as soon as you can, thus: paint the wainscot a dead white; paper the walls blue, and tack the gilt border round just above the surbase and under the cornice. If the paper is not equally colored when pasted on, let it be brushed over again with the same color, and let the papier maché musical figures be tacked to the middle of the ceiling. When this is done, I think it will look very well.

I am glad to hear that Sally keeps up and increases the number of her friends. The best wishes of a fond father for her happiness always attend her. I am, my dear Debby, your affectionate husband,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
7 July, 1767
London
CCXCIV

PROTECTIVE DUTIES ON IMPORTS AND HOW THEY WORK

Suppose a country, X, with three manufactures, as cloth, silk, iron, supplying three other countries, A, B, C, but is desirous of increasing the vent, and raising the price of cloth in favor of her own clothiers.

In order to this, she forbids the importation of foreign cloth from A.

A, in return, forbids silks from X.

Then the silk-workers complain of a decay of trade.

And X, to content them, forbids silks from B.

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B, in return, forbids iron ware from X.

Then the iron-workers complain of decay.

And X forbids the importation of iron from C.

C, in return, forbids cloth from X.

What is got by all these prohibitions?

Answer.—All four find their common stock of the enjoyments and conveniences of life diminished.

B. F.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
17 July, 1767
London
Samuel Franklin
Franklin, Samuel
CCXCV

TO SAMUEL FRANKLIN, BOSTON1

Dear Cousin:

I should sooner have answered your kind letter of last year, but postponed it from time to time, having mislaid the print I intended to send you, which I have now found and send herewith. I am glad to hear of the welfare of yourself and your family, which I hope will long continue. My love to them all.

It gives me great pleasure whenever I find that my endeavours to serve America are acceptable to my friends there. Your kind notices of them are very obliging.

I find here but two of our relations remaining, that bear the name of Franklin, viz.: Thomas Franklin of Lutterworth in Leicestershire, a dyer; and his daughter, Sally Franklin, about fourteen years of age, who has been with me in London about a year, and sends her duty to you. Thomas Franklin is the grandson Edition: current; Page: [301] of John Franklin, your grandfather’s brother. There are, besides, still living, Eleanor Morris, an old maiden lady, daughter of your grandfather’s sister Hannah; and also Hannah Walker, granddaughter of his brother John. Mrs. Walker has three sons. She lives at Westbury, in Buckinghamshire, and Mrs. Morris with her. And these are the whole. It is thought best by my friends that I should continue here another winter. My best wishes attend you, being your affectionate kinsman,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
5 August, 1767
London
Deborah Franklin
Franklin, Deborah
CCXCVI

TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN

My Dear Child:

I have now before me all your letters, and shall answer them article by article.

Captain Ourry dined here a few days since, and thanks you for remembering him, desiring his respects to you and Sally. Mr. Strahan and family, the same. I received the bill sent by Mr. Potts, and suppose it will be duly paid. You will return him the overplus. I wish I could take my passage this time with Captain Falconer. I was on board the other day with Mr.1 and Mrs. West, Mrs. Stevenson, and Mrs. Hopkinson, to drink tea. It is a fine ship, and I think it not unlikely that I may go with him next time, as he is a very kind, good friend, whom I much respect.

I am very glad you go sometimes to Burlington. Edition: current; Page: [302] The harmony you mention in our family and among our children gives me great pleasure. I am sorry to hear of the death of our good old friend Debby Norris. She was a worthy good woman and will be missed. If I can in any shape be of service to Mr. Francis, you may depend I shall do it, being much concerned for his misfortune. I am told the affair is like to turn out better for him than was expected. Sally Franklin is now in the country with her father. She is an only child, and a very good girl.

I received the watch chain, which you say you send to be put to rights. I do not see what it wants. Mrs. Stevenson says it is too old-fashioned for Sally, and advised sending the watch also to be changed away for a new watch and chain.

In your last letters you say nothing concerning Mr. Bache. The misfortune that has lately happened to his affairs, though it may not lessen his character as an honest or prudent man, will probably induce him to forbear entering hastily into a state that must require a great addition to his expense, when he will be less able to supply it. If you think that, in the meantime, it will be some amusement to Sally to visit her friends here, and return with me, I should have no objection to her coming over with Captain Falconer, provided Mrs. Falconer comes at the same time, as is talked of. I think too it might be some improvement to her.1 I am at present meditating a journey somewhere, Edition: current; Page: [303] perhaps to Bath or Bristol, as I begin to find a little giddiness in my head, a token that I want the exercise I have yearly been accustomed to. I long to see you, and be with you, being as ever, my dear Debby, your affectionate husband,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
5 August, 1767
London
George Crogan
Crogan, George
CCXCVII

TO GEORGE CROGAN

Sir:

I return you many thanks for the box of elephants’ tusks and grinders. They are extremely curious on many accounts; no living elephants having been seen in any part of America by any of the Europeans settled there, or remembered in any tradition of the Indians. It is also puzzling to conceive what should have brought so many of them to die on the same spot; and that no such remains should be found in any other part of the continent, except in that very distant country, Peru, from whence some grinders of the same kind, formerly brought, are now in the museum of the Royal Society. The tusks agree with those of the African and Asiatic elephant in being nearly of the same form and texture, and some of them, notwithstanding the length of time they must have lain, being still good ivory. But the grinders differ, being full of knobs, like the grinders of a carnivorous animal; when those of the elephant, who eats only vegetables, are almost smooth. But then we know of no other animal with tusks like an elephant, to whom such grinders might belong.

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It is remarkable, that elephants now inhabit naturally only hot countries where there is no winter, and yet these remains are found in a winter country; and it is no uncommon thing to find elephants’ tusks in Siberia, in great quantities, when their rivers overflow, and wash away the earth, though Siberia is still more a wintry country than that on the Ohio; which looks as if the earth had anciently been in another position, and the climates differently placed from what they are at present.

With great regard, I am, Sir,
Your most obedient humble servant,
B. Franklin.1
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
8 August, 1767
London
Joseph Galloway
Galloway, Joseph
CCXCVIII

TO JOSEPH GALLOWAY

Dear Sir:

I have before me your favors of April 23d, May 21st and 26th. The confusion among our great men still continues as much as ever, and a melancholy thing it is to consider that, instead of employing the present leisure of peace in such measures as might extend our commerce, pay off our debts, secure allies, and increase the strength and ability of the nation to support a future war, the whole seems to be wasted in party contentions about places of power and profit, in court intrigues and cabals, and in abusing one another.

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There has been lately an attempt to make a kind of coalition of parties in a new ministry; but it fell through, and the present set is like to continue for some time longer, which I am rather pleased with, as some of those who were proposed to be introduced are professed adversaries to America, which is now made one of the distinctions of party here; those who have in the last two sessions shown a disposition to favor us, being called, by way of reproach, Americans, while the others, adherents to Grenville and Bedford, value themselves on being true to the interests of Britain, and zealous for maintaining its dignity and sovereignty over the colonies.

This distinction will, it is apprehended, be carried much higher in the next session, for the political purpose of influencing the ensuing election. It is already given out that the compliance of New York in providing for the quarters, without taking notice of its being done in obedience to the act of Parliament, is evasive and unsatisfactory; that it is high time to put the right and power of this country to tax the colonies out of dispute, by an act of taxation effectually carried into execution, and that all the colonies should be obliged explicitly to acknowledge that right. Every step is taking to render the taxing of America a popular measure here by continually insisting on the topics of our wealth and flourishing circumstances, while this country is loaded with debt, great part of it incurred on our account, the distress of the poor here by the multitude and weight of taxes, &c., &c.; and though the traders and manufacturers may possibly be kept in our interest, the Edition: current; Page: [306] idea of an American tax is very pleasing to the landed men, who therefore readily receive and propagate these sentiments wherever they have influence.

If such a bill should be brought in, it is hard to say what would be the event of it, or what would be the effects. Those who oppose it, though they should be strong enough to throw it out, would be stigmatized as Americans, betrayers of Old England, &c., and perhaps, our friends by this means being excluded, a majority of our adversaries may get in, and then the act infallibly passes the following session. To avoid the danger of such exclusion, perhaps little opposition will be given, and then it passes immediately. I know not what to advise on this occasion, but that we should all do our endeavours on both sides of the water to lessen the present unpopularity of the American cause, conciliate the affections of the people here towards us, increase by all possible means the number of our friends, and be careful not to weaken their hands and strengthen those of our enemies by rash proceedings on our side, the mischiefs of which are inconceivable. Some of our friends have thought that a publication of my Examination here might answer some of the above purposes by removing prejudices, refuting falsehoods, and demonstrating our merits with regard to this country. It is accordingly printed, and has a great run. I have another piece in hand, which I intend to put out about the time of the meeting of Parliament, if those I consult with shall judge that it may be of service.1

Edition: current; Page: [307]

The next session of Parliament will probably be a short one, on account of the following election, and I am now advised by some of our great friends here to see that out, not returning to America till the spring. My presence indeed is necessary there to settle some private affairs. Unforeseen and unavoidable difficulties have hitherto obstructed our proceedings in the main intent of my coming over, and perhaps (though I think my being here has not been altogether unserviceable) our friends in the Assembly may begin to be discouraged and tired of the expense. If that should be the case I would not have you propose to continue me as agent at the meeting of the new Assembly. My endeavours to serve the province, in what I may while I remain here, shall not be lessened by that omission.

I am glad you have made a trial of paper money, not a legal tender. The quantity being small may perhaps be kept in full credit notwithstanding; and if that can be avoided, I am not for applying here again very soon for a repeal of the restraining act. I am afraid an ill use will be made of it. The plan of our adversaries is to render Assemblies in America useless, and to have a revenue, independent of their grants, for all the purposes of their defence and supporting governments among them. It is our interest to prevent this. And, that they may not lay hold of our necessities for paper money, to draw a revenue from that article whenever they grant us the liberty we want, of making it a legal tender, I wish some other method may be fallen upon of supporting its credit. What think you of getting all the merchants, Edition: current; Page: [308] traders, and principal people of all sorts, to join in petitions to the Assembly for a moderate emission, the petition being accompanied with a mutual engagement to take it in all dealings at the rates fixed by law? Such an engagement had a great effect in fixing the value and rates of our gold and silver. Or, perhaps, a bank might be established that would answer all purposes. Indeed I think with you, that those merchants here, who have made difficulties on the subject of the legal tender, have not understood their own interest. For there can be no doubt that, should a scarcity of money continue among us, we shall take off less of their merchandise, and attend more to manufacturing, and raising the necessities and superfluities of life among ourselves, which we now receive from them. And perhaps this consequence would attend our making no paper money at all of any sort, that, being thus by want of cash driven to industry and frugality, we should gradually become more rich without their trade than we can possibly be with it, and, by keeping in the country the real cash that comes into it, have in time a quantity sufficient for all our occasions. But I suppose our people will scarce have patience to wait for this.

I have received the printed votes, but not the laws. I hear nothing yet of any objection made by the Proprietaries to any of them at the Board of Trade.

Please to present my duty to the Assembly, with thanks for their care of me, and assure them of my most faithful services. With sincerest esteem and respect, I am, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [309]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
28 August, 1767
London
William Franklin
Franklin, William
CCXCIX

TO WILLIAM FRANKLIN, GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY

Dear Son:

I have no letters of yours since my last, in which I answered all preceding ones.

Last week I dined at Lord Shelburne’s, and had a long conversation with him and Mr. Conway (there being no other company) on the subject of reducing American expense. They have it in contemplation to return the management of Indian affairs into the hands of the several provinces on which the nations border, that the colonies may bear the charge of treaties, &c., which they think will then be managed more frugally, the treasury being tired with the immense drafts of the superintendents. I took the opportunity of urging it as one means of saving expense in supporting the outposts, that a settlement should be made in the Illinois country; expatiated on the various advantages, viz.: furnishing provisions cheaper to the garrisons, securing the country, retaining the trade, raising a strength there, which on occasion of a future war might easily be poured down the Mississippi upon the lower country, and into the Bay of Mexico, to be used against Cuba or Mexico itself. I mentioned your plan, its being approved by Sir William Johnson, the readiness and ability of the gentlemen concerned to carry the settlement into execution, with very little expense to the crown, &c. The secretaries appeared finally to be fully convinced, and there remained no obstacle but the Board of Trade, which was to be brought over Edition: current; Page: [310] privately before the matter should be referred to them officially. In case of laying aside the superintendents, a provision was thought of for Sir William Johnson.1

We had a good deal of farther discourse on American affairs, particularly on paper money. Lord Shelburne declared himself fully convinced of the utility of taking off the restraint, by my answer to the Report of the Board of Trade. General Conway had not seen it, and desired me to send it to him, which I did next morning. They gave me expectation of a repeal next session, Lord Clair being come over; but they said there was some difficulty with others at the Board, who had signed that Report; for there was a good deal in what Soame Jenyns had laughingly said, when asked to concur in some measure: I have no kind of objection to it, provided we have heretofore signed nothing to the contrary.

In this conversation I did not forget our main Pennsylvania business, and I think made some farther progress, though but little. The two secretaries seemed intent upon preparing business for next Parliament, which makes me think, that the late projects of changes are now quite over, and that they expect to continue in place. But whether they will do much or little, I cannot say.

Du Guerchy, the French ambassador, is gone home, and Monsieur Durand is left minister plenipotentiary. He is extremely curious to inform himself in the affairs Edition: current; Page: [311] of America; pretends to have a great esteem for me, on account of the abilities shown in my examination; has desired to have all my political writings, invited me to dine with him, was very inquisitive, treated me with great civility, makes me visits, &c. I fancy that intriguing nation would like very well to meddle on occasion, and blow up the coals between Britain and her colonies; but I hope we shall give them no opportunity.

I write this in a great hurry, being setting out in an hour on another journey with my steady, good friend, Sir John Pringle. We propose to visit Paris. Durand has given me letters of recommendation to the Lord knows who. I am told I shall meet with great respect there; but winds change, and perhaps it will be full as well if I do not. We shall be gone six weeks. I have a little private commission to transact, of which more another time.

Communicate nothing of this letter but privately to our friend Galloway. I am your affectionate father,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
14 September, 1767
Paris
Mary Stevenson
Stevenson, Mary
CCC

TO MISS STEVENSON

Dear Polly:

I am always pleased with a letter from you, and I flatter myself you may be sometimes pleased in receiving one from me, though it should be of little importance, such as this, which is to Edition: current; Page: [312] consist of a few occasional remarks made here, and in my journey hither.

Soon after I left you in that agreeable society at Bromley, I took the resolution of making a trip with Sir John Pringle into France. We set out on the 28th past. All the way to Dover we were furnished with post-chaises, hung so as to lean forward, the top coming down over one’s eyes, like a hood, as if to prevent one’s seeing the country, which being one of my great pleasures, I was engaged in perpetual disputes with the innkeepers, ostlers, and postilions, about getting the straps taken up a hole or two before, and let down as much behind, they insisting that the chaise leaning forward was an ease to the horses, and that the contrary would kill them. I suppose the chaise leaning forward looks to them like a willingness to go forward, and that its hanging back shows reluctance. They added other reasons, that were no reasons at all, and made me, as upon a hundred other occasions, almost wish that mankind had never been endowed with a reasoning faculty, since they know so little how to make use of it, and so often mislead themselves by it, and that they had been furnished with a good sensible instinct instead of it.1

At Dover the next morning we embarked for Calais with a number of passengers who had never before Edition: current; Page: [313] been at sea. They would previously make a hearty breakfast, because if the wind should fail we might not get over till supper time. Doubtless they thought that when they had paid for their breakfast they had a right to it, and that when they had swallowed it they were sure of it. But they had scarce been out half an hour before the sea laid claim to it, and they were obliged to deliver it up. So that it seems there are uncertainties, even beyond those between the cup and the lip. If ever you go to sea, take my advice, and live sparingly a day or two beforehand. The sickness, if any, will be lighter and sooner over. We got to Calais that evening.

Various impositions we suffered from boatmen, porters, and the like on both sides of the water. I know not which are most rapacious, the English or French; but the latter have, with their knavery, most politeness.

The roads we found equally good with ours in England, in some places paved with smooth stones, like our new streets, for many miles together, and rows of trees on each side, and yet there are no turnpikes. But then the poor peasants complained to us grievously that they were obliged to work upon the roads full two months in the year without being paid for their labor. Whether this is truth, or whether, like Englishmen, they grumble, cause or no cause, I have not yet been able fully to inform myself.

The women we saw at Calais, on the road, at Boulogne, and in the inns and villages, were generally of dark complexions; but arriving at Abbeville we found a sudden change, a multitude of both women Edition: current; Page: [314] and men in that place appearing remarkably fair. Whether this is owing to a small colony of spinners, wool-combers, and weavers, brought hither from Holland with the woollen manufactory about sixty years ago, or to their being less exposed to the sun than in other places, their business keeping them much within doors, I know not. Perhaps, as in some other cases, different causes may club in producing the effect; but the effect itself is certain. Never was I in a place of greater industry, wheels and looms going in every house.

As soon as we left Abbeville the swarthiness returned. I speak generally; for here are some fair women at Paris, who, I think, are not whitened by art. As to rouge, they don’t pretend to imitate nature in laying it on. There is no gradual diminution of the color from the full bloom in the middle of the cheek to the faint tint near the sides; nor does it show itself differently in different faces. I have not had the honor of being at any lady’s toilette to see how it is laid on; but I fancy I can tell you how it is or may be done. Cut a hole of three inches diameter in a piece of paper; place it on the side of your face in such a manner as that the top of the hole may be just under the eye; then, with a brush dipped in the color, paint face and paper together; so when the paper is taken off there will remain a round patch of red exactly the form of the hole. This is the mode, from the actresses on the stage upwards through all ranks of ladies to the princesses of the blood; but it stops there, the Queen not using it, having in the serenity, complacence, and benignity that shine so Edition: current; Page: [315] eminently in, or rather through, her countenance, sufficient beauty, though now an old woman, to do extremely well without it.

You see, I speak of the Queen as if I had seen her; and so I have, for you must know I have been at court. We went to Versailles last Sunday, and had the honor of being presented to the King. He spoke to both of us very graciously and very cheerfully, is a handsome man, has a very lively look, and appears younger than he is. In the evening we were at the Grand Couvert, where the family sup in public. The table was half a hollow square, the service gold. When either made a sign for drink the word was given by one of the waiters: A boire pour le Roi, or, A boire pour la Reine. Then two persons came from within, the one with wine and the other with water in carafes. Each drank a little glass of what he brought, and then put both the carafes with a glass on a salver, and then presented it. Their distance from each other was such as that other chairs might have been placed between any two of them. An officer of the court brought us up through the crowd of spectators, and placed Sir John so as to stand between the Queen and Madame Victoire. The King talked a good deal to Sir John, asking many questions about our royal family, and did me, too, the honor of taking some notice of me; that is saying enough; for I would not have you think me so much pleased with this King and Queen as to have a whit less regard than I used to have for ours. No Frenchman shall go beyond me in thinking my own King and Queen the very best in the world, and the most amiable.

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Versailles has had infinite sums laid out in building it and supplying it with water. Some say the expenses exceeded eighty millions sterling. The range of buildings is immense; the garden-front most magnificent, all of hewn stone; the number of statues, figures, urns, &c., in marble and bronze of exquisite workmanship, is beyond conception. But the waterworks are out of repair, and so is great part of the front next the town, looking with its shabby, half-brick walls, and broken windows, not much better than the houses in Durham Yard. There is, in short, both at Versailles and Paris, a prodigious mixture of magnificence and negligence, with every kind of elegance except that of cleanliness, and what we call tidiness. Though I must do Paris the justice to say, that in two points of cleanliness they exceed us. The water they drink, though from the river, they render as pure as that of the best spring, by filtering it through cisterns filled with sand; and the streets with constant sweeping are fit to walk in, though there is no paved footpath. Accordingly, many well-dressed people are constantly seen walking in them. The crowd of coaches and chairs for this reason is not so great. Men, as well as women, carry umbrellas in their hands, which they extend in case of rain or too much sun; and, a man with an umbrella not taking up more than three foot square, or nine square feet of the street, when, if in a coach, he would take up two hundred and forty square feet, you can easily conceive that, though the streets here are narrow, they may be much less encumbered. They are extremely well paved, and the stones, being generally Edition: current; Page: [317] cubes, when worn on one side, may be turned and become new.

The civilities we everywhere receive give us the strongest impressions of the French politeness. It seems to be a point settled here universally, that strangers are to be treated with respect; and one has just the same deference shown one here by being a stranger, as in England by being a lady. The custom-house officers at Port St. Denis, as we entered Paris, were about to seize two dozen of excellent Bordeaux wine given us at Boulogne, and which we brought with us; but as soon as they found we were strangers, it was immediately remitted on that account. At the Church of Notre Dame, where we went to see a magnificent illumination, with figures, &c., for the deceased Dauphiness, we found an immense crowd, who were kept out by guards; but the officer being told that we were strangers from England, he immediately admitted us, accompanied and showed us every thing. Why don’t we practise this urbanity to Frenchmen? Why should they be allowed to outdo us in any thing?

Here is an exhibition of painting, like ours in London, to which multitudes flock daily. I am not connoisseur enough to judge which has most merit. Every night, Sundays not excepted, here are plays or operas; and, though the weather has been hot, and the houses full, one is not incommoded by the heat so much as with us in winter. They must have some way of changing the air, that we are not acquainted with. I shall inquire into it.

Travelling is one way of lengthening life, at least Edition: current; Page: [318] in appearance. It is but about a fortnight since we left London, but the variety of scenes we have gone through makes it seem equal to six months living in one place. Perhaps I have suffered a greater change, too, in my own person, than I could have done in six years at home. I had not been here six days, before my tailor and perruquier had transformed me into a Frenchman. Only think what a figure I make in a little bag-wig and with naked ears! They told me I was become twenty years younger, and looked very gallant.

This letter shall cost you a shilling, and you may consider it cheap, when you reflect that it has cost me at least fifty guineas to get into the situation that enables me to write it. Besides, I might, if I had stayed at home, have won perhaps two shillings of you at cribbage. By the way, now I mention cards, let me tell you that quadrille is now out of fashion here, and English whist all the mode at Paris and the court.

And pray look upon it as no small matter, that, surrounded as I am by the glories of the world, and amusements of all sorts, I remember you, and Dolly, and all the dear good folks at Bromley. It is true, I cannot help it, but must and ever shall remember you all with pleasure.

Need I add that I am particularly, my dear good friend, yours most affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [319]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
September, 1767
Paris
CCCI

OF LIGHTNING AND THE METHODS (NOW USED IN AMERICA) OF SECURING BUILDINGS AND PERSONS FROM ITS MISCHIEVOUS EFFECTS.

Experiments made in electricity first gave philosophers a suspicion, that the matter of lightning was the same with the electric matter. Experiments afterwards made on lightning obtained from the clouds by pointed rods, received into bottles, and subjected to every trial, have since proved this suspicion to be perfectly well founded; and that whatever properties we find in electricity, are also the properties of lightning.

This matter of lightning, or of electricity, is an extreme subtile fluid, penetrating other bodies, and subsisting in them, equally diffused.

When, by any operation of art or nature, there happens to be a greater proportion of this fluid in onebody than in another, the body which has most will communicate to that which has least, till the proportion becomes equal; provided the distance between them be not too great; or, if it is too great, till there be proper conductors to convey it from one to the other.

If the communication be through the air without any conductor, a bright light is seen between the bodies, and a sound is heard. In our small experiments, we call this light and sound the electric spark and snap; but, in the great operations of nature, the light is what we call lightning, and the sound (produced at the same time, though generally arriving Edition: current; Page: [320] later at our ears than the light does to our eyes) is, with its echoes, called thunder.

If the communication of this fluid is by a conductor, it may be without either light or sound, the subtile fluid passing in the substance of the conductor.

If the conductor be good and of sufficient bigness, the fluid passes through it without hurting it. If otherwise, it is damaged or destroyed.

All metals and water are good conductors. Other bodies may become conductors by having some quantity of water in them, as wood, and other materials used in building; but, not having much water in them, they are not good conductors, and therefore are often damaged in the operation.

Glass, wax, silk, wool, hair, feathers, and even wood, perfectly dry, are non-conductors; that is, they resist instead of facilitating the passage of this subtile fluid.

When this fluid has an opportunity of passing through two conductors, one good and sufficient, as of metal, the other not so good, it passes in the best, and will follow it in any direction.

The distance at which a body charged with this fluid will discharge itself suddenly, striking through the air into another body that is not charged, or not so highly charged, is different according to the quantity of the fluid, the dimensions and form of the bodies themselves, and the state of the air between them. This distance, whatever happens to be between any two bodies, is called their striking distance, as, till they come within that distance of each other, no stroke will be made.

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The clouds have often more of this fluid in proportion than the earth; in which case, as soon as they come near enough (that is, within the striking distance) or meet with a conductor, the fluid quits them and strikes into the earth. A cloud fully charged with this fluid, if so high as to be beyond the striking distance from the earth, passes quietly without making noise or giving light, unless it meets with other clouds that have less.

Tall trees, and lofty buildings, as the towers and spires of churches, become sometimes conductors between the clouds and the earth; but, not being good ones, that is, not conveying the fluid freely, they are often damaged.

Buildings that have their roofs covered with lead, or other metal, and spouts of metal continued from the roof into the ground to carry off the water, are never hurt by lightning, as, whenever it falls on such a building, it passes in the metals and not in the walls.

When other buildings happen to be within the striking distance from such clouds, the fluid passes in the walls, whether of wood, brick, or stone, quitting the walls only when it can find better conductors near them, as metal rods, bolts, and hinges of windows or doors, gilding on wainscot, or frames of pictures, the silvering on the backs of looking-glasses, the wires for bells, and the bodies of animals, as containing watery fluids. And in passing through the house it follows the direction of these conductors, taking as many in its way as can assist it in its passage, whether in a straight or crooked line, leaping from one to the Edition: current; Page: [322] other, if not far distant from each other, only rending the wall in the spaces where these partial good conductors are too distant from each other.

An iron rod being placed on the outside of a building, from the highest part continued down into the moist earth, in any direction, straight or crooked, following the form of the roof or other parts of the building, will receive the lightning at its upper end, attracting it so as to prevent its striking any other part; and, affording it a good conveyance into the earth, will prevent its damaging any part of the building.

A small quantity of metal is found able to conduct a great quantity of this fluid. A wire no bigger than a goose-quill has been known to conduct (with safety to the building as far as the wire was continued) a quantity of lightning that did prodigious damage both above and below it; and probably larger rods are not necessary, though it is common in America to make them of half an inch, some of three quarters, or an inch diameter.

The rod may be fastened to the wall, chimney, &c., with staples of iron. The lightning will not leave the rod (a good conductor) to pass into the wall (a bad conductor) through those staples. It would rather, if any were in the wall, pass out of it into the rod to get more readily by that conductor into the earth.

If the building be very large and extensive, two or more rods may be placed at different parts for greater security.

Small ragged parts of clouds, suspended in the air between the great body of clouds and the earth (like Edition: current; Page: [323] leaf gold in electrical experiments) often serve as partial conductors for the lightning, which proceeds from one of them to another, and by their help comes within the striking distance to the earth or a building. It therefore strikes through those conductors a building that would otherwise be out of the striking distance.

Long, sharp points communicating with the earth, and presented to such parts of clouds, drawing silently from them the fluid they are charged with, they are then attracted to the cloud, and may leave the distance so great as to be beyond the reach of striking.

It is therefore that we elevate the upper end of the rod six or eight feet above the highest part of the building, tapering it gradually to a fine sharp point, which is gilt to prevent its rusting.

Thus the pointed rod either prevents a stroke from the cloud, or, if a stroke is made, conducts it to the earth with safety to the building.

The lower end of the rod should enter the earth so deep as to come at the moist part, perhaps two or three feet, and if bent when under the surface so as to go in a horizontal line six or eight feet from the wall, and then bent again downwards three or four feet, it will prevent damage to any of the stones of the foundation.

A person apprehensive of danger from lightning, happening during the time of thunder to be in a house not so secured, will do well to avoid sitting near the chimney, near a looking-glass, or any gilt pictures, or wainscot. The safest place is in the middle of the room (so it be not under a metal lustre suspended by Edition: current; Page: [324] a chain), sitting in one chair and laying the feet up in another. It is still safer to bring two or three mattresses or beds into the middle of the room, and, folding them up double, place the chair upon them; for they not being so good conductors as the walls, the lightning will not choose an interrupted course through the air of the room and the bedding, when it can go through a continued better conductor, the walls. But where it can be had, a hammock or swinging bed, suspended by silk cords equally distant from the walls on every side, and from the ceiling and floor above and below, affords the safest situation a person can have in any room whatever, and what indeed may be deemed quite free from danger of any stroke by lightning.

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
CCCII

ON SMUGGLING AND ITS VARIOUS SPECIES1

Sir:

There are many people that would be thought, and even think themselves, honest men, who fail nevertheless in particular points of honesty; deviating from that character some times by the prevalence of mode or custom, and sometimes through mere inattention; so that their honesty is partial only, and not general or universal. Thus one, who would scorn to overreach you in a bargain, shall make no scruple of tricking you a little now and then at cards; another, that plays with the utmost fairness, shall Edition: current; Page: [325] with great freedom cheat you in the sale of a horse. But there is no kind of dishonesty, into which otherwise good people more easily and frequently fall, than that of defrauding government of its revenues by smuggling when they have an opportunity, or encouraging smugglers by buying their goods.

I fell into these reflections the other day, on hearing two gentlemen of reputation discoursing about a small estate, which one of them was inclined to sell and the other to buy; when the seller, in recomending the place, remarked, that its situation was very advantageous on this account, that, being on the sea-coast in a smuggling country, one had frequent opportunities of buying many of the expensive articles used in a family (such as tea, coffee, chocolate, brandy, wines, cambrics, Brussels laces, French silks, and all kinds of India goods), twenty, thirty, and in some articles fifty per cent. cheaper than they could be had in the more interior parts, of traders that paid duty. The other honest gentleman allowed this to be an advantage, but insisted that the seller, in the advanced price he demanded on that account, rated the advantage much above its value. And neither of them seemed to think dealing with smugglers a practice that an honest man (provided he got his goods cheap) had the least reason to be ashamed of.

At a time when the load of our public debt, and the heavy expense of maintaining our fleets and armies to be ready for defence on occasion, make it necessary, not only to continue old taxes, but often to look out for new ones, perhaps it may not be Edition: current; Page: [326] unuseful to state this matter in a light that few seem to have considered it in.

The people of Great Britain, under the happy constitution of this country, have a privilege few other countries enjoy, that of choosing a third branch of the legislature, which branch has alone the power of regulating their taxes. Now, whenever the government finds it necessary for the common benefit, advantage, and safety of the nation, for the security of our liberties, property, religion, and every thing that is dear to us, that certain sums shall be yearly raised by taxes, duties, &c., and paid into the public treasury, thence to be dispensed by government for those purposes; ought not every honest man freely and willingly to pay his just proportion of this necessary expense? Can he possibly preserve a right to that character, if, by fraud, stratagem, or contrivance, he avoids that payment in whole or in part?

What should we think of a companion who, having supped with his friends at a tavern, and partaken equally of the joys of the evening with the rest of us, would nevertheless contrive by some artifice to shift his share of the reckoning upon others, in order to go off scot-free? If a man who practised this would, when detected, be deemed and called a scoundrel, what ought he to be called who can enjoy all the inestimable benefits of public society, and yet by smuggling, or dealing with smugglers, contrive to evade paying his just share of the expense, as settled by his own representatives in Parliament, and wrongfully throw it upon his honester and perhaps much poorer neighbours? He will perhaps be ready to tell Edition: current; Page: [327] me that he does not wrong his neighbours; he scorns the imputation; he only cheats the King a little, who is very able to bear it. This, however, is a mistake. The public treasure is the treasure of the nation, to be applied to national purposes. And when a duty is laid for a particular public and necessary purpose, if, through smuggling, that duty falls short of raising the sum required, and other duties must therefore be laid to make up the deficiency, all the additional sum laid by the new duties and paid by other people, though it should amount to no more than a half-penny or a farthing per head, is so much actually picked out of the pockets of those other people by the smugglers and their abettors and encouragers. Are they then any better or other than pickpockets? And what mean, low, rascally pickpockets must those be, that can pick pockets for half-pence and for farthings!

I would not, however, be supposed to allow, in what I have just said, that cheating the King is a less offence against honesty, than cheating the public. The King and the public, in this case, are different names for the same thing; but, if we consider the King distinctly, it will not lessen the crime; it is no justification of a robbery, that the person robbed was rich and able to bear it. The King has as much right to justice as the meanest of his subjects; and, as he is truly the common father of his people, those that rob him fall under the Scripture woe, pronounced against the son that robbeth his father, and saith it is no sin.

Mean as this practice is, do we not daily see people Edition: current; Page: [328] of character and fortune engaged in it for trifling advantages to themselves? Is any lady ashamed to request of a gentleman of her acquaintance, that when he returns from abroad he would smuggle her home a piece of silk or lace from France or Flanders? Is any gentleman ashamed to undertake and execute the commission? Not in the least. They will talk of it freely, even before others whose pockets they are thus contriving to pick by this piece of knavery.

Among other branches of the revenue, that of the post-office is, by the late law, appropriated to the discharge of our public debt, to defray the expenses of the state. None but members of Parliament, and a few public officers, have now a right to avoid, by a frank, the payment of postage. When any letter, not written by them or on their business, is franked by any of them, it is a hurt to the revenue, an injury which they must now take the pains to conceal by writing the whole superscription themselves. And yet such is our insensibility to justice in this particular, that nothing is more common than to see, even in reputable company, a very honest gentleman or lady declare his or her intention to cheat the nation of three pence by a frank, and without blushing apply to one of the very legislators themselves, with a modest request, that he would be pleased to become an accomplice in the crime, and assist in the perpetration.

There are those who by these practices take a great deal in a year out of the public purse, and put the money into their own private pockets. If, passing through a room where public treasure is deposited, a Edition: current; Page: [329] man takes the opportunity of clandestinely pocketing and carrying off a guinea, is he not truly and properly a thief? And if another evades paying into the treasury a guinea he ought to pay in, and applies it to his own use, when he know it belongs to the public as much as that which has been paid in, what difference is there in the nature of the crime, or the baseness of committing it?

Some laws make the receiving of stolen goods equally penal with stealing, and upon this principle, that if there were no receivers there would be few thieves. Our proverb too says truly, that the receiver is as bad as the thief. By the same reasoning, as there would be few smugglers if there were none who knowingly encouraged them by buying their goods, we may say that the encouragers of smuggling are as bad as the smugglers; and that, as smugglers are a kind of thieves, both equally deserve the punishment of thievery.

In this view of wronging the revenue, what must we think of those who can evade paying for their wheels1 and their plate, in defiance of law and justice, and yet declaim against corruption and peculation, as if their own hands and hearts were pure and unsullied? The Americans offend us grievously, when, contrary to our laws, they smuggle goods into their own country; and yet they had no hand in making those laws. I do not however pretend from thence to justify them. But I think the offence much greater in those who either directly or Edition: current; Page: [330] indirectly have been concerned in making the very laws they break. And when I hear them exclaiming against the Americans, and for every little infringement on the acts of trade, or obstruction given by a petty mob to an officer of our customs in that country, calling for vengeance against the whole people as rebels and traitors, I cannot help thinking there are still those in the world who can see a mote in their brother’s eye, while they do not discern a beam in their own; and that the old saying is as true now as ever it was, One man may better steal a horse, than another look over the hedge.

B. F.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
25 November, 1767
London
William Franklin
Franklin, William
CCCIII

TO WILLIAM FRANKLIN

Dear Son:

I think the New Yorkers have been very discreet in forbearing to write and publish against the late act of Parliament. I wish the Boston people had been as quiet, since Governor Bernard has sent over all their violent papers to the ministry, and wrote them word that he daily expected a rebellion. He did indeed afterwards correct this extravagance, by writing again, that he now understood those papers were approved but by few, and disliked by all the sober, sensible people of the province. A certain noble Lord expressed himself to me with some disgust and contempt of Bernard on this occasion, saying he ought to have known his people better than to impute to the whole country sentiments that perhaps Edition: current; Page: [331] are only scribbled by some madman in a garret; that he appeared to be too fond of contention, and mistook the matter greatly, in supposing such letters as he wrote were acceptable to the ministry. I have heard nothing of the appointment of General Clark to New York; but I know he is a friend of Lord Shelburne’s, and the same that recommended Mr. Maclean to be his secretary. Perhaps it might be talked of in my absence.

The commissioners for the American Board went hence while I was in France. You know before this time who they are, and how they are received, which I want to hear.1 Mr. Williams, who is gone in some office with them, is brother to our cousin Williams of Boston; but I assure you I had not the least share in his appointment, having, as I told you before, carefully kept out of the way of that whole affair.2

As soon as I received Mr. Galloway’s, Mr. Samuel Wharton’s, and Mr. Croghan’s letters on the subject of the boundary, I communicated them immediately to Lord Shelburne. He invited me the next day to dine with him. Lord Clare was to have been there, but did not come. There was nobody but Mr. Maclean. My Lord knew nothing of the boundary’s having ever been agreed on by Sir William, had sent the letters to the Board of Trade, desiring search to be Edition: current; Page: [332] made there for Sir William’s letters, and ordered Mr. Maclean to search the secretary’s office, who found nothing. We had much discourse about it, and I pressed the importance of despatching orders immediately to Sir William to complete the affair. His Lordship asked who was to make the purchase, that is, be at the expense. I said that if the line included any lands within the grants of the charter colonies, they should pay the purchase money of such proportion; if any within the proprietary grants, they should pay their proportion; but that what was within royal governments, where the King granted the lands, the crown should pay for that proportion. His Lordship was pleased to say he thought this reasonable. He finally desired me to go to Lord Clare, as from him, and urge the business there, which I undertook to do.

Among other things at this conversation, we talked of the new settlement. His Lordship told me he had himself drawn up a paper of reasons for those settlements, which he laid before the King in Council, acquainting them that he did not offer them merely as his own sentiments; they were what he had collected from General Amherst, Dr. Franklin, and Mr. Jackson, three gentlemen that were allowed to be the best authorities for any thing that related to America. I think he added that the Council seemed to approve of the design. I know it was referred to the Board of Trade, who I believe have not yet reported on it, and I doubt will report against it. My Lord told me one pleasant circumstance, viz., that he had shown his paper to the Dean of Gloucester (Tucker), to hear Edition: current; Page: [333] his opinion of the matter; who very sagaciously remarked that he was sure that paper was drawn up by Dr. Franklin; he saw him in every paragraph; adding that Dr. Franklin wanted to remove the seat of government to America; that, says he, is his constant plan.1

I waited next morning upon Lord Clare, and pressed the matter of the boundary closely upon him. He said they could not find they had ever received any letters from Sir William concerning this boundary, but were searching farther; agreed to the necessity of settling it; but thought there would be some difficulty about who should pay the purchase money; for that this country was already so loaded, it could bear no more. We then talked of the new colonies. I found he was inclined to think one near the mouth of the Ohio might be of use in securing the country, but did not much approve that at Detroit. And, as to the trade, he imagined it would be of little consequence, if we had all the peltry to be purchased there, but supposed our traders would sell it chiefly to the French and Spaniards at New Orleans, as he heard they had hitherto done.

At the same time that we Americans wish not to be judged of, in the gross, by particular papers written by anonymous scribblers and published in the colonies, it would be well if we could avoid falling into the same mistake in America, in judging of ministers here by the libels printed against them. The Edition: current; Page: [334] enclosed is a very abusive one, in which if there is any foundation of truth, it can only be in the insinuation contained in the words “after eleven adjournments,” that they are too apt to postpone business; but, if they have given any occasion for this reflection, there are reasons and circumstances that may be urged in their excuse.

It gives me pleasure to hear that the people of the other colonies are not insensible of the zeal with which I occasionally espouse their respective interests, as well as the interests of the whole. I shall continue to do so as long as I reside here and am able.

The present ministry seem now likely to continue through this session of Parliament; and perhaps, if the new Parliament should not differ greatly in complexion from this, they may be fixed for a number of years, which I earnestly wish, as we have no chance for a better.

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
1 December, 1767
London
Joseph Galloway
Galloway, Joseph
CCCIV

TO JOSEPH GALLOWAY

Dear Sir:

I duly received your favors of August 22d, September 20th, and October 8th, and within these few days one of February 14th, recommending Mr. Morgan Edwards and his affair of the Rhode Island College, which I shall endeavour to promote, deeming the institution one of the most catholic and generous of the kind.

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I am inclined to think with you, that the small sum you have issued to discharge the public debts only will not be materially affected in its credit for want of the legal tender, considering especially the present extreme want of money in the province. You appear to me to point out the true cause of the general distress, viz., the late luxurious mode of living introduced by a too great plenty of cash. It is indeed amazing to consider, that we had a quantity sufficient before the war began, and that the war added immensely to that quantity, by the sums spent among us by the crown, and the paper struck and issued in the province; and now in so few years all the money spent by the crown is gone away, and has carried with it all the gold and silver we had before, leaving us bare and empty, and at the same time more in debt to England than ever we were. But I am inclined to think that the mere making more money will not mend our circumstances, if we do not return to that industry and frugality which were the fundamental causes of our former prosperity. I shall nevertheless do my utmost this winter to obtain the repeal of the act restraining the legal tender, if our friends the merchants think it practicable, and will heartily espouse the cause; and, in truth, they have full as much interest in the event as we have.

The present ministry, it is now thought, are likely to continue at least till a new Parliament; so that our apprehensions of a change, and that Mr. Grenville would come in again, seem over for the present. He behaves as if a little out of his head on the article of America, which he brings into every debate Edition: current; Page: [336] without rhyme or reason, when the matter has not the least connexion with it. Thus, at the beginning of this session, on the debate upon the King’s speech, he tired everybody, even his friends, with a long harangue about and against America, of which there was not a word in the speech. Last Friday he produced in the House a late Boston Gazette, which he said denied the legislative authority of Parliament, was treasonable, rebellious, &c., and moved it might be read, and that the House would take cognizance of it; but it being moved, on the other hand, that Mr. Grenville’s motion should be postponed to that day six months, it was carried without a division, and as it is known that this Parliament will expire before that time, it was equivalent to a total rejection of the motion. The Duke of Bedford, too, it seems, moved in vain for a consideration of this paper in the House of Lords. These are favorable symptoms of the present disposition of Parliament towards America, which I hope no conduct of the Americans will give just cause of altering.

Be so good as to present my best respects to the House, and believe me, with sincere esteem and regard, dear Sir, your affectionate friend and most obedient servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
13 December, 1767
London
John Ross
Ross, John
CCCV

TO JOHN ROSS

Dear Sir:

I received your kind letter of October 18th. I had before seen, with great pleasure, your Edition: current; Page: [337] name in the papers as chosen for the city of Philadelphia.

The instruction you mention, as proposed by a certain great man, was really a wild one. The reasons you made use of against it were clear and strong, and could not prevail. It will be time enough to show a dislike to the coalition when it is proposed to us. Meanwhile we have all the advantage in the argument of taxation, which our not being represented will continue to give us. I think, indeed, that such an event is very remote. This nation is indeed too proud to propose admitting American representatives into their Parliament,1 and America is not so humble or so fond of the honor as to petition for it. In matrimonial matches, it is said, when one party is willing the match is half made; but where neither party is willing there is no great danger of their coming together. And, to be sure, such an important business would never be treated of by agents unempowered and uninstructed; nor would government here act upon the private opinion of agents, which might be disowned by their constituents.

The present ministry seem now likely to continue through this session; and this, as a new election approaches, gives them the advantage of getting so many of their friends chosen as may give a stability to their administration. I heartily wish it, because they are all well-disposed towards America.

With sincere esteem, I am, dear Sir, your affectionate friend and most obedient servant,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [338]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
19 December, 1767
London
William Franklin
Franklin, William
CCCVI

TO WILLIAM FRANKLIN

Dear Son:

The resolutions of the Boston people concerning trade make a great noise here.1 Parliament has not yet taken notice of them, but the newspapers are in full cry against America. Colonel Onslow told me in court last Sunday, that I could not conceive how much the friends of America were run upon and hurt by them, and how much the Grenvillians triumphed. I have just written a paper for next Tuesday’s Chronicle to extenuate matters a little.2

Mentioning Colonel Onslow reminds me of something that passed at the beginning of this session in the House between him and Mr. Grenville. The latter had been raving against America, as traitorous, rebellious, &c., when the former, who has always been its firm friend, stood up and gravely said that in reading the Roman history he found it was a custom among that wise and magnanimous people, whenever the senate was informed of any discontent in the provinces, to send two or three of their body into the discontented provinces, to inquire into the grievances complained of, and report to the senate, that mild measures might be used to remedy what was Edition: current; Page: [339] amiss, before any severe steps were taken to enforce obedience; that this example he thought worthy of our imitation in the present state of our colonies, for he did so far agree with the honorable gentleman that spoke just before him, as to allow there were great discontents among them. He should therefore beg leave to move, that two or three members of Parliament be appointed to go over to New England on this service. And that it might not be supposed he was for imposing burdens on others which he would not be willing to bear himself, he did at the same time declare his own willingness, if the House should think fit to appoint them, to go over thither with that honorable gentleman. Upon this there was a great laugh, which continued some time, and was rather increased by Mr. Grenville’s asking, “Will the gentleman engage that I shall be safe there? Can I be assured that I shall be allowed to come back again to make the report?” As soon as the laugh was so far subsided, as that Mr. Onslow could be heard again, he added, “I cannot absolutely engage for the honorable gentleman’s safe return; but if he goes thither upon this service I am strongly of opinion the event will contribute greatly to the future quiet of both countries.” On which the laugh was renewed and redoubled.

If our people should follow the Boston example in entering into resolutions of frugality and industry, full as necessary for us as for them, I hope they will among other things give this reason, that it is to enable them more speedily and effectually to discharge their debts to Great Britain. This will soften a little, Edition: current; Page: [340] and at the same time appear honorable and like ourselves. We have had an ugly affair at the Royal Society lately. One Dacosta, a Jew, who, as our clerk, was intrusted with collecting our moneys, has been so unfaithful as to embezzle near thirteen hundred pounds in four years. Being one of the Council this year, as well as the last, I have been employed all the last week in attending the inquiry into, and unravelling his accounts, in order to come at a full knowledge of his frauds. His securities are bound in one thousand pounds to the Society, which they will pay, but we shall probably lose the rest. He had this year received twenty-six admission payments of twenty-five guineas each, which he did not bring to account.

While attending to this affair, I had an opportunity of looking over the old council-books and journals of the Society, and, having a curiosity to see how I came in, of which I had never been informed, I looked back for the minutes relating to it. You must know it is not usual to admit persons that have not requested to be admitted; and a recommendatory certificate in favor of the candidate, signed by at least three of the members, is by our rule to be presented to the Society, expressing that he is desirous of that honor, and is so and so qualified. As I never had asked or expected the honor, I was, as I said before, curious to see how the business was managed. I found that the certificate, worded very advantageously for me, was signed by Lord Macclesfield, then President, Lord Parker, and Lord Willoughby; that the election was by a unanimous vote; and, the honor being voluntarily conferred by the Society, unsolicited Edition: current; Page: [341] by me, it was thought wrong to demand or receive the usual fees or composition; so that my name was entered on the list with a vote of Council, that I was not to pay any thing. And accordingly nothing has ever been demanded of me. Those who are admitted in the common way, pay five guineas admission fees, and two guineas and a half yearly contribution, or twenty-five guineas down, in lieu of it. In my case a substantial favor accompanied the honor. Yours, &c.,

B. Franklin.
Thomas Pownall
Pownall, Thomas
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
CCCVII

FROM THOMAS POWNALL TO B. FRANKLIN

Dear Sir:

The following objection against communicating to the colonies the rights, privileges, and powers of the realm, as to parts of the realm, has been made. I have been endeavouring to obviate it, and I communicate it to you, in hopes of your promised assistance.

“If,” say the objectors, “we communicate to the colonies the power of sending representatives, and in consequence expect them to participate in an equal share and proportion of all our taxes, we must grant to them all the powers of trade and manufacturing, which any other parts of the realm within the Isle of Great Britain enjoy. If so, perchance the profits of the Atlantic commerce may converge to some centre in America; to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, or to some of the isles. If so, then the natural and Edition: current; Page: [342] aritficial produce of the colonies, and in course of consequences the landed interest of the colonies, will be promoted; while the natural and artificial produce and landed interest of Great Britain will be depressed to its utter ruin and destruction; and, consequently, the balance of the power of government, although still within the realm, will be locally transferred from Great Britain to the colonies. Which consequence, however it may suit a citizen of the world, must be folly and madness to a Briton.

My fit has gone off; and though weak, both from the gout and a concomitant and very ugly fever, I am much better. Would be glad to see you. Your friend,

T. Pownall.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Thomas Pownall
Pownall, Thomas

DR. FRANKLIN’S ANSWER

This objection goes upon the supposition that whatever the colonies gain Britain must lose, and that if the colonies can be kept from gaining an advantage, Britain will gain it.

If the colonies are fitter for a particular trade than Britain, they should have it, and Britain apply to what it is more fit for. The whole empire is a gainer. And if Britain is not so fit or so well situated for a particular advantage, other countries will get it, if the colonies do not. Thus Ireland was forbid the woollen manufacture, and remains poor; but this has given to the French the trade and wealth Ireland might have gained for the British Empire.

The government cannot long be retained without Edition: current; Page: [343] the union. Which is best (supposing your case)—to have a total separation, or a change of the seat of government? It by no means follows that promoting and advancing the landed interest in America will depress that of Great Britain; the contrary has always been the fact. Advantageous situations and circumstances will always secure and fix manufactures. Sheffield against all Europe these three hundred years past.

CCCVIII: ON THE PRICE OF CORN, AND MANAGEMENT OF THE POOR

In A Select Collection of Scarce and Valuable Economical Tracts, edited by J. R. McCulloch and printed by Lord Overstone in 1859, this from Franklin’s pen figures as one of fifteen papers on economical subjects in the collection. It first appeared in the London Chronicle, in 1766, and was written in behalf of the farmers who at that time had to contend against a violent popular prejudice.

TO THE PUBLIC

I am one of that class of people that feeds you all, and at present is abused by you all; in short, I am a farmer.

By your newspapers we are told that God had sent a very short harvest to some other countries of Europe. I thought this might be in favor of Old England; and that now we should get a good price for our grain, which would bring millions among us, Edition: current; Page: [344] and make us flow in money; that to be sure is scarce enough.

But the wisdom of government forbade the exportation.1

“Well,” says I, “then we must be content with the market price at home.”

“No,” say my lords the mob, “you sha’n’t have that. Bring your corn to market if you dare; we ’ll sell it for you for less money, or take it for nothing.”

Being thus attacked by both ends of the constitution, the head and tail of government, what am I to do?

Must I keep my corn in the barn, to feed and increase the breed of rats? Be it so; they cannot be less thankful than those I have been used to feed.

Are we farmers the only people to be grudged the profits of our honest labor? And why? One of the late scribblers against us gives a bill of fare of the provisions at my daughter’s wedding, and proclaims to all the world that we had the insolence to eat beef and pudding! Has he not read the precept in the good Book, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn; or does he think us less worthy of good living than our oxen?

“O, but the manufacturers! the manufacturers! they are to be favored, and they must have bread at a cheap rate!”

Hark ye, Mr. Oaf; the farmers live splendidly, you Edition: current; Page: [345] say. And pray, would you have them hoard the money they get? Their fine clothes and furniture, do they make them themselves, or for one another, and so keep the money among them? Or do they employ these your darling manufacturers, and so scatter it again all over the nation?

The wool would produce me a better price if it were suffered to go to foreign markets; but that, Messieurs the Public, your laws will not permit. It must be kept all at home that our dear manufacturers may have it the cheaper. And then, having yourselves thus lessened our encouragement for raising sheep, you curse us for the scarcity of mutton!

I have heard my grandfather say that the farmers submitted to the prohibition on the exportation of wool, being made to expect and believe that when the manufacturer bought his wool cheaper they should also have their cloth cheaper. But the deuce a bit. It has been growing dearer and dearer from that day to this. How so? Why, truly, the cloth is exported; and that keeps up the price.

Now, if it be a good principle that the exportation of a commodity is to be restrained, that so our people at home may have it cheaper, stick to that principle, and go thorough-stitch with it. Prohibit the exportation of your cloth, your leather, and shoes, your iron ware, and your manufactures of all sorts, to make them all cheaper at home. And cheap enough they will be, I will warrant you, till people leave off making them.

Some folks seem to think they ought never to be easy till England becomes another Lubberland, Edition: current; Page: [346] where it is fancied that streets are paved with penny-rolls, the houses tiled with pancakes, and chickens, ready roasted, cry: “Come eat me.”

I say, when you are sure you have got a good principle, stick to it, and carry it through. I hear it is said that though it was necessary and right for the ministry to advise a prohibition of the exportation of corn, yet it was contrary to law; and also that it was contrary to law for the mob to obstruct wagons; yet it was necessary and right. Just the same thing to a tittle. Now they tell me an act of indemnity ought to pass in favor of the ministry to secure them from the consequences of having acted illegally. If so, pass another in favor of the mob. Others say some of the mob ought to be hanged by way of example. If so,—but I say no more than I have said before, when you are sure that you have a good principle, go through with it.

You say poor laborers cannot afford to buy bread at a high price unless they had higher wages. Possibly. But how shall we farmers be able to afford our laborers higher wages if you will not allow us to get, when we might have it, a higher price for our corn?

By all that I can learn, we should, at least, have had a guinea a quarter more if the exportation had been allowed. And this money England would have got from foreigners.

But it seems we farmers must take so much less, that the poor may have it so much cheaper.

This operates, then, as a tax for the maintenance of the poor. A very good thing you will say. But I Edition: current; Page: [347] ask: Why a partial tax? why laid on us farmers only? If it be a good thing, pray, Messieurs the Public, take your share of it by indemnifying us a little out of your public treasury. In doing a good thing there is both honor and pleasure; your are welcome to your share of both.

For my own part, I am not so well satisfied of the goodness of this thing. I am for doing good to the poor; but I differ in opinion about the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor is, not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and, of course, became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer. There is no country in the world where so many provisions are established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many almshouses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the support of the poor. Under all these obligations are our poor modest, humble, and thankful? And do they use their best endeavours to maintain themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burthen? On the contrary, I affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent. The day you passed that act you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all Edition: current; Page: [348] inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health for support in age or sickness.

In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder, that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty. Repeal that law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. Saint Monday and Saint Tuesday will soon cease to be holidays. Six days shalt thou labor, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them.

Excuse me, Messieurs the Public, if, upon this interesting subject, I put you to the trouble of reading a little of my nonsense. I am sure I have lately read a great deal of yours, and therefore from you (at least from those of you who are writers) I deserve a little indulgence.

I am yours, &c.,
Arator.1
Edition: current; Page: [349]

CCCIX: THE RIGHT OF IMPRESSING SEAMEN
REMARKS ON JUDGE FOSTER’S ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF THE RIGHT.1

Page 157. “The only question at present is, whether mariners, persons who have freely chosen a seafaring life, persons whose education and employment have fitted them for the service, and inured them to it, whether such persons may not be legally pressed into the service of the crown, whenever the public safety requireth it; ne quid detrimenti respublica capiat.

“For my part, I think they may. I think the crown hath a right to command the service of these people whenever the public safety calleth for it. The same right that it hath to require the personal service of every man able to bear arms in case of a sudden invasion or formidable insurrection. The right in both cases is founded on one and the same principle, the necessity of the case in order to the preservation of the whole.”

The conclusion here, from the whole to a part, does not seem to be good logic. When the personal service of every man is called for, there the burthen is equal. Not so, when the service of part is called for, and others excused. If the alphabet should say, Let us all fight for the defence of the whole; that is equal, and may therefore be just. But if they should say, Let A, B, C, and D go and fight for us, while we stay at home and sleep in whole skins; that is not equal, and therefore cannot be just.

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Page 158. “It would be time very ill spent to go about to prove that this nation can never be long in a state of safety, our coast defended, and our trade protected, without a naval force equal to all the emergencies that may happen. And how can we be secure of such a force? The keeping up the same naval force in time of peace, which will be absolutely necessary for our security in time of war, would be an absurd, a fruitless, and a ruinous expense. The only course then left, is for the crown to employ, upon emergent occasions, the mariners bred up in the merchant’s service.”

Employ—if you please. The word signifies engaging a man to work for me by offering him such wages as are sufficient to induce him to prefer my service. This is very different from compelling him to work for me on such terms as I think proper.

“And as for the mariner himself, he, when taken into the service of the crown, only changeth masters for a time; his service and employment continue the very same, with this advantage, that the dangers of the sea and enemy are not so great in the service of the crown as in that of the merchant.”

These are false facts. His service and employment are not the same. Under the merchant, he goes in an unarmed vessel not obliged to fight, but only to transport merchandise. In the king’s service, he is obliged to fight, and to hazard all the dangers of battle. Sickness on board the king’s ships is also more common and more mortal. The merchant’s service too he can quit at the end of a voyage, not the king’s. Also the merchant’s wages are much higher.

“I am very sensible of the hardship the sailor suffereth Edition: current; Page: [351] from an impress in some particular cases, especially if pressed homeward-bound after a long voyage. But the merchants who hear me know that an impress on outward-bound vessels would be attended with much greater inconveniences to the trade of the kingdom; and yet that too is sometimes necessary.”

Here are two things put in comparison that are not comparable, viz.: injury to seamen and inconvenience to trade. Inconvenience to the whole trade of a nation will not justify injustice to a single seaman. If the trade would suffer without his service, it is able and ought to be willing to offer him such wages as may induce him to afford his services voluntarily.

“But where two evils present, a wise administration, if there be room for an option, will choose the least.

The least evil, in case seamen are wanted, is to give them such wages as will induce them to enlist voluntarily. Let this evil be divided among the whole nation, by an equal tax to pay such wages.

Page 159. “War itself is a great evil, but it is chosen to avoid a greater. The practice of pressing is one of the mischiefs war bringeth with it. But it is a maxim in law, and good policy too, that private mischiefs must be borne with patience for preventing a national calamity.

Where is this maxim in law and good policy to be found? And how came that to be a maxim, which is not consistent with common sense? If the maxim had been, that private mischiefs which prevent a national calamity ought to be generously compensated by that nation, one might have understood it. Edition: current; Page: [352] But that such private mischiefs are only to be borne with patience is absurd.

“And as no greater calamity can befall us than to be weak and defenceless at sea in a time of war, so I do not know that the wisdom of the nation hath hitherto found out any method of manning our navy less inconvenient than pressing, and, at the same time, equally sure and effectual.”

Less inconvenient to whom? To the rich, indeed, who ought to be taxed. No mischief more inconvenient to poor seamen could possibly be contrived.

“The expedient of a voluntary register, which was attempted in King William’s time, had no effect. And some late schemes I have seen, appear to me more inconvenient to the mariner, and more inconsistent with the principles of liberty, than the practice of pressing; and, what is still worse, they are in my opinion totally impracticable.”

Twenty ineffectual or inconvenient schemes will not justify one that is unjust.

“The crown’s right of impressing seaman is grounded upon common law.”

If impressing seamen is of right by common law in Britain, slavery is then of right by common law there; there being no slavery worse than that sailors are subjected to.

“The result of evident necessity.”

Pressing not so, if the end might be answered by giving higher wages.

Edition: current; Page: [353]

Page 160. “There are many precedents of writs for pressing. Some are for pressing ships; others for pressing mariners; and others for pressing ships and mariners. This general view will be sufficient to let us into the nature of these precedents. And though the affair of pressing ships is not now before me, yet I could not well avoid mentioning it, because many of the precedents I have met with and must cite, go as well to that, as to the business of pressing mariners. And, taken together, they serve to show the power the crown hath constantly exercised over the whole naval force of the kingdom, as well shipping as mariners, whenever the public service required it. This however must be observed, that no man served the crown in either case at his own expense. Masters and mariners received full wages, and owners were constantly paid a full freight.”

Full wages. Probably the same they received in the merchant’s service. Full wages to a seaman in time of war, are wages he has in the merchant’s service in war time. But half such wages is not given in the king’s ship to impressed seamen.

Page 173. “Do not these things incontestably presuppose the expediency, the necessity, and the legality of an impress in general? If they do not, one must entertain an opinion of the legislature acting and speaking in this manner, which it will not be decent for me to mention in this place.”

I will risk that indecency, and mention it. They were not honest men; they acted unjustly by the seamen (who have no vote in elections, or being abroad cannot use them if they have them), to save their own purses and those of their constituents. Former Edition: current; Page: [354] Parliaments acted the same injustice towards the laboring people, who had not forty shillings a year in lands; after depriving them wickedly of their right to vote in elections, they limited their wages, and compelled them to work at such limited rates, on penalty of being sent to houses of correction. Sec. 8, H. vi., Chaps. 7 and 8.

Page 174. “I readily admit that an impress is a restraint upon the natural liberty of those who are liable to it. But it must likewise be admitted, on the other hand, that every restraint upon natural liberty is not eo nomine illegal, or at all inconsistent with the principles of civil liberty. And if the restraint, be it to what degree soever, appeareth to be necessary to the good and welfare of the whole, and to be warranted by statute law, as well as immemorial usage, it cannot be complained of otherwise than as a private mischief; which, as I said at the beginning, must under all governments whatsoever be submitted to for avoiding a public inconvenience.”

I do not see the propriety of this must. The private mischief is the loss of liberty and the hazard of life, with only half wages, to a great number of honest men. The public inconvenience is merely a higher rate of seamen’s wages. He who thinks such private injustice must be done to avoid public inconvenience, may understand law, but seems imperfect in his knowledge of equity. Let us apply this author’s doctrine to his own case. It is for the public service that courts should be had and judges appointed to administer the laws. The judges should be bred to the law and skilled in it, but their great salaries Edition: current; Page: [355] are a public inconvenience. To remove the inconvenience, let press-warrants issue to arrest and apprehend the best lawyers, and compel them to serve as judges for half the money they would have made at the bar. Then tell them that, though this is to them a private mischief, it must be submitted to for avoiding a public inconvenience. Would the learned judge approve such use of his doctrine?

When the author speaks of impressing, page 158, he diminishes the horror of the practice as much as possible, by presenting to the mind one sailor only suffering a hardship as he tenderly calls it, in some particular cases only; and he places against this private mischief the inconvenience to the trade of the kingdom. But if, as I suppose is often the case, the sailor who is pressed and obliged to serve for the defence of this trade at the rate of 25s. a month, could have £3 15s. in the merchant’s service, you take from him 50s. a month; and if you have 100,000 in your service, you rob that honest part of society and their poor families of £250,000 per month, or three millions a year, and at the same time oblige them to hazard their lives in fighting for the defence of your trade; to the defence of which all ought indeed to contribute (and sailors among the rest) in proportion to their profits by it; but this three millions is more than their share, if they did not pay with their persons; and, when you force that, methinks you should excuse the other.

But it may be said, to give the king’s seamen merchant’s wages would cost the nation too much, and call for more taxes. The question then will amount Edition: current; Page: [356] to this: whether it be just in a community that the richer part should compel the poorer to fight for them and their properties, for such wages as they think fit to allow, and punish them if they refuse? Our author tells us it is legal. I have not law enough to dispute his authority, but I cannot persuade myself it is equitable. I will however own for the present, that pressing may be lawful when necessary; but then I contend that it may be used so as to produce the same good effect, the public security, without doing so much horrible injustice as attends the impressing common seamen. In order to be better understood, I would premise two things. First, that voluntary seamen might be had for the service, if they were sufficiently paid. The proof of this is, that to serve in the same ships, and incur the same dangers, you have no occasion to impress captains, lieutenants, second lieutenants, midshipmen, pursers, nor any other officers. Why, but that the profit of their places, or the emoluments expected, are sufficient inducements? The business then is by impressing to find money sufficient to make the sailors all volunteers, as well as their officers; and this without any fresh burthen upon trade. The second of my premises is, that 25s. a month, with his share of the salt beef, pork, and pease-pudding, being found sufficient for the subsistence of a hard-working seaman, it will certainly be so for a sedentary scholar or gentleman. I would then propose to form a treasury, out of which encouragement to seamen should be paid. To fill this treasury I would impress a number of civil officers who at present have great salaries, Edition: current; Page: [357] oblige them to serve in their respective offices for 25s. per month, with their share of the mess provisions, and throw the rest of their salaries into the seaman’s treasury. If such a press-warrant was given me to execute, the first person I would press should be a recorder of Bristol, or a Mr. Justice Foster, because I might have need of his edifying example, to show how such impressing ought to be borne with; for he would certainly find that, though to be reduced to 25s. per month might be a private mischief, yet that, agreeably to his maxim of law and good policy, it ought to be borne with patience for preventing a national calamity. Then I would press the rest of the judges; and, opening the Red Book, I would press every civil officer of government from £50 a year up to £50,000, which would throw an immense sum into our treasury; and these gentlemen could not well complain, since they would receive their 25s. a month and their rations, and that too without being obliged to fight. Lastly, I think I would impress the king, and confiscate his salary; but, from an ancient prejudice I have in favor of that title, I would allow him the gentleman merchant’s pay. I could not go farther in his favor; for, to say the truth, I am not quite satisfied of the necessity or utility of that office in Great Britain, as I see many flourishing states in the world governed well and happy without it.

Page 177. “For I freely declare that ancient precedents alone, unless supported by modern practice, weigh very little with me in questions of this nature.”

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The modern practice, supported by ancient precedents, weigh as little with me. Both the one and the other only show that the constitution is yet imperfect, since in so general a case it doth not secure liberty, but destroys it; and the parliaments are unjust, conniving at oppression of the poor, where the rich are to be gainers or savers by such oppression.

Page 179. “I make no apology for the length of my argument, because I hope the importance of the question will be thought a sufficient excuse for me in this respect.”

The author could not well have made his argument shorter. It required a long discourse to throw dust in the eyes of common sense, confound all our ideas of right and wrong, make black seem white, and the worse appear the better opinion.

CCCX: VINDICATION OF THE PROVINCIAL PAPER-MONEY SYSTEM.1

In the Report of the Board of Trade, dated February 9, 1764, the following reasons are given for Edition: current; Page: [359] restraining the emission of paper bills of credit in America as a legal tender.

1. “That it carries the gold and silver out of the province, and so ruins the country; as experience has shown in every colony where it has been practised in any great degree.

2. “That the merchants trading to America have suffered and lost by it.

3. “That the restriction has had a beneficial effect in New England.

4. “That every medium of trade should have an intrinsic value, which paper money has not. Gold and silver are therefore the fittest for this medium, as they are an equivalent, which paper never can be.

5. “That debtors, in the Assemblies, make paper money with fraudulent views.

6. “That in the middle colonies, where the credit of the paper money has been best supported, the Edition: current; Page: [360] bills have never kept to their nominal value in circulation, but have constantly depreciated to a certain degree, whenever the quantity has been increased.”

To consider these reasons in their order, the first is:

First. “That paper money carries the gold and silver out of the province, and so ruins the country; as experience has shown in every colony where it has been practised in any great degree.” This opinion of its ruining the country seems to be merely speculative, or not otherwise founded than upon misinformation in the matter of fact. The truth is, that the balance of their trade with Britain being greatly against them, the gold and silver is drawn out to pay that balance; and then the necessity of some medium of trade has induced the making of paper money, which could not be carried away. Thus, if carrying out all the gold and silver ruins a country, every colony was ruined before it made paper money. But, far from being ruined by it, the colonies that have made use of paper money have been, and are, all in a thriving condition. The debt indeed to Britain has increased, because their members, and of course their trade, have increased; for, all trade having always a proportion of debt outstanding, which is paid in its turn, while fresh debt is contracted, the proportion of debt naturally increases as the trade increases; but the improvement and increase of estates in the colonies has been in a greater proportion than their debt.

New England, particularly, in 1696 (about the time they began the use of paper money), had, in all its four provinces, but one hundred and thirty Edition: current; Page: [361] churches or congregations; in 1760 they were five hundred and thirty. The number of farms and buildings there is increased in proportion to the numbers of people; and the goods exported to them from England in 1750, before the restraint took place, were near five time as much as before they had paper money. Pennsylvania, before it made any paper money, was totally stript of its gold and silver; though they had, from time to time, like the neighbouring colonies, agreed to take gold and silver coin at higher and higher nominal values, in hopes of drawing money into, and retaining it for the internal uses of, the province. During that weak practice, silver got up by degrees to 8s. 9d. per ounce, and English crowns were called six, seven, and eight shilling pieces, long before paper money was made. But this practice of increasing the denomination was found not to answer the end. The balance of trade carried out the gold and silver as fast as it was brought in, the merchants raising the price of their goods in proportion to the increased denomination of the money. The difficulties for want of cash were accordingly very great, the chief part of the trade being carried on by the extremely inconvenient method of barter; when, in 1723, paper money was first made there, which gave new life to business, promoted greatly the settlement of new lands (by lending small sums to beginners on easy interest, to be repaid by instalments), whereby the province has so greatly increased in inhabitants, that the export from hence thither is now more than tenfold what it then was; and, by their trade with foreign Edition: current; Page: [362] colonies, they have been able to obtain great quantities of gold and silver, to remit hither in return for the manufactures of this country. New York and New Jersey have also increased greatly during the same period, with the use of paper money; so that it does not appear to be of the ruinous nature ascribed to it. And if the inhabitants of those countries are glad to have the use of paper among themselves, that they may thereby be enabled to spare, for remittances hither, the gold and silver they obtain by their commerce with foreigners, one would expect that no objection against their parting with it could arise here, in the country that receives it.

The second reason is: “That the merchants trading to America have suffered and lost by the paper money.” This may have been the case in particular instances, at particular times and places; as in South Carolina about fifty-eight years since, when the colony was thought in danger of being destroyed by the Indians and Spaniards; and the British merchants, in fear of losing their whole effects there, called precipitately for remittances; and the inhabitants, to get something lodged in safe countries, gave any price in paper money for bills of exchange; where by the paper, as compared with bills, or with produce, or other effects fit for exportation, was suddenly and greatly depreciated.

The unsettled state of government for a long time in that province had also its share in depreciating its bills. But since that danger blew over, and the colony has been in the hands of the crown, their currency became fixed, and has so remained to this day. Edition: current; Page: [363] Also in New England, when much greater quantities were issued than were necessary for a medium of trade, to defray the expedition against Louisburg; and during the last war in Virginia and North Carolina, when great sums were issued to pay the colony troops, and the war made tobacco a poorer remittance, from the higher price of freight and insurance; in these cases, the merchants trading to those colonies may sometimes have suffered by the sudden and unforeseen rise of exchange. By slow and gradual rises they seldom suffer; the goods being sold at proportionable prices. But war is a common calamity in all countries, and the merchants that deal with them cannot expect to avoid a share of the losses it sometimes occasions, by affecting public credit. It is hoped, however, that the profits of their subsequent commerce with those colonies may have made them some reparation. And the merchants trading to the middle colonies (New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) have never suffered by any rise of exchange; it having ever been a constant rule there to consider British debts as payable in Britain, and not to be discharged but by as much paper (whatever might be the rate of exchange) as would purchase a bill for the full sterling sum. On the contrary, the merchants have been great gainers by the use of paper money in those colonies; as it enabled them to send much greater quantities of goods, and the purchasers to pay more punctually for them. And the people there make no complaint of any injury done them by paper money, with a legal tender; they are sensible of its benefits, and petition to have it so allowed.

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The third reason is: “That the restriction has had a beneficial effect in New England.” Particular circumstances in the New England colonies made paper money less necessary and less convenient to them. They have great and valuable fisheries of whale and cod, by which large remittances can be made. They are four distinct governments; but having much mutual intercourse of dealings, the money of each used to pass current in all. But the whole of this common currency, not being under one common direction, was not so easily kept within due bounds; the prudent reserve of one colony in its emissions being rendered useless by excess in another. The Massachusetts therefore were not dissatisfied with the restraint, as it restrained their neighbours as well as themselves; and perhaps they do not desire to have the act repealed. They have not yet felt much inconvenience from it; as they were enabled to abolish their paper currency by a large sum in silver from Britain, to reimburse their expenses in taking Louisburg; which, with the gold brought from Portugal, by means of their fish, kept them supplied with a currency, till the late war furnished them and all America with bills of exchange, so that little cash was needed for remittance. Their fisheries, too, furnish them with remittances through Spain and Portugal to England; which enables them the more easily to retain gold and silver in their country. The middle colonies have not this advantage; nor have they tobacco, which, in Virginia and Maryland, answers the same purpose. When colonies are so different in their circumstances, a regulation, that is not inconvenient to Edition: current; Page: [365] one or a few, may be very much so to the rest. But the pay is now become so indifferent in New England, at least in some of its provinces, through the want of currency, that the trade thither is at present under great discouragement.

The fourth reason is: “That every medium of trade should have an intrinsic value, which paper money has not. Gold and silver are therefore the fittest for this medium, as they are an equivalent which paper never can be.” However fit a particular thing may be for a particular purpose, wherever that thing is not to be had in sufficient quantity, it becomes necessary to use something else, the fittest that can be got in lieu of it. Gold and silver are not the produce of North America, which has no mines; and that which is brought thither cannot be kept there in sufficient quantity for currency. Britain, an independent, great state, when its inhabitants grow too fond of the expensive luxuries of foreign countries, that draw away its money, can, and frequently does, make laws to prohibit or discourage such importations; and, by that means, can retain its cash.

The colonies are dependent governments; and their people, having naturally great respect for the sovereign country, and being thence immoderately fond of its modes, manufactures, and superfluities, cannot be restrained from purchasing them by any province law; because such law, if made, would immediately be repealed here, as prejudicial to the trade and interest of Britain. It seems hard, therefore, to draw all their real money from them, and then refuse them the poor privilege of using paper instead of it. Edition: current; Page: [366] Bank bills and bankers’ notes are daily used here as a medium of trade, and in large dealings perhaps the greater part is transacted by their means; and yet they have no intrinsic value, but rest on the credit of those that issue them, as paper bills in the colonies do on the credit of the respective governments there. Their being payable in cash, upon sight, by the drawer, is indeed a circumstance that cannot attend the colony bills, for the reasons just above mentioned, their cash being drawn from them by the British trade. But the legal tender, being substituted in its place, is rather a greater advantage to the possessor; since he need not be at the trouble of going to a particular bank or banker to demand the money, finding (wherever he has occasion to lay out money in the province) a person that is obliged to take the bills. So that, even out of the province, the knowledge that every man within that province is obliged to take its money, gives the bills a credit among its neighbours, nearly equal to what they have at home. And, were it not for the laws here [in England], that restrain or prohibit as much as possible all losing trades, the cash of this country would soon be exported. Every merchant who had occasion to remit it would run to the bank with all its bills that came into his hands, and take out his part of its treasure for that purpose; so that, in a short time, it would be no more able to pay bills in money upon sight, than it is now in the power of a colony treasury so to do. And if government afterwards should have occasion for the credit of the bank, it must of necessity make its bills a legal tender; funding them however on taxes, by Edition: current; Page: [367] which they may in time be paid off; as has been the general practice in the colonies.

At this very time even the silver money in England is obliged to the legal tender for part of its value; that part which is the difference between its real weight and its denomination. Great part of the shillings and sixpences now current are, by wearing, become five, ten, twenty, and some of the sixpences even fifty per cent. too light. For this difference between the real and the nominal, you have no intrinsic value; you have not so much as paper, you have nothing. It is the legal tender, with the knowledge that it can easily be repassed for the same value, that makes three-pennyworth of silver pass for sixpence. Gold and silver have undoubtedly some properties that give them a fitness above paper as a medium of exchange; particularly their universal estimation; especially in cases where a country has occasion to carry its money abroad, either as a stock to trade with, or to purchase allies and foreign succours; otherwise that very universal estimation is an inconvenience which paper money is free from; since it tends to deprive a country of even the quantity of currency that should be retained as a necessary instrument of its internal commerce, and obliges it to be continually on its guard in making and executing, at great expense, the laws that are to prevent the trade which exports it.

Paper money well funded has another great advantage over gold and silver—its lightness of carriage and the little room that is occupied by a great sum; whereby it is capable of being more easily and more Edition: current; Page: [368] safely, because more privately, conveyed from place to place. Gold and silver are not intrinsically of equal value with iron, a metal in itself capable of many more beneficial uses to mankind. Their value rests chiefly in the estimation they happen to be in among the generality of nations, and the credit given to the opinion that that estimation will continue. Otherwise a pound of gold would not be a real equivalent for even a bushel of wheat. Any other well-founded credit is as much an equivalent as gold and silver, and in some cases more so, or it would not be preferred by commercial people in different countries. Not to mention again our own bank bills, Holland, which understands the value of cash as well as any people in the world, would never part with gold and silver for credit (as they do when they put it in their bank, from whence little of it is ever afterwards drawn out)1 if they did not think and find the credit a full equivalent.

The fifth reason is: “That debtors, in the Assemblies, make paper money with fraudulent views.” This is often said by the adversaries of paper money, and if it has been the case in any particular colony, that colony should, on proof of the fact, be duly punished. This, however, would be no reason for punishing other colonies, who have not so abused their legislative powers. To deprive all the colonies of the convenience of paper money, because it has been charged on some of them that they have made it an instrument of fraud, is as if all the India, bank, and Edition: current; Page: [369] other stocks and trading companies were to be abolished, because there have been, once in an age, Mississippi and South Sea schemes and bubbles.

The sixth and last reason is: “That in the middle colonies, where the credit of the paper money has been best supported, the bills have never kept to their nominal value in circulation, but have constantly depreciated to a certain degree, whenever the quantity has been increased.” If the rising of the value of any particular commodity wanted for exportation is to be considered as a depreciation of the values of whatever remains in the country, then the rising of silver above paper to that height of additional value, which its capability of exportation only gave, it may be called a depreciation of the paper. Even here, as bullion has been wanted or not wanted for exportation, its price has varied from 5s. 2d. to 5s. 8d. per ounce. This is near ten per cent. But was it ever said or thought on such an occasion that all the bank bills, and all the coined silver, and all the gold in the kingdom, were depreciated ten per cent.? Coined silver is now wanted here for change, and one per cent. is given for it by some bankers; are gold and bank notes therefore depreciated one per cent.?

The fact in the middle colonies is really this: On the emission of the first paper money a difference soon arose between that and silver; the latter having a property the former had not, a property always in demand in the colonies, to wit, its being fit for a remittance. This property having soon found its value by the merchants bidding on one another for it, and a dollar thereby coming to be rated at eight shillings Edition: current; Page: [370] in paper money of New York, and 7s. 6d. in paper of Pennsylvania, it has continued uniformly at those rates in both provinces now near forty years without any variation upon new emissions, though in Pennsylvania the paper currency has at times increased from £15,000, the first sum, to £600,000, or near it. Nor has any alteration been occasioned by the paper money in the price of the necessaries of life when compared with silver. They have been for the greatest part of the time no higher than before it was emitted, varying only by plenty and scarcity, according to the seasons, or by a less or greater foreign demand. It has indeed been usual with the adversaries of a paper currency to call every rise of exchange with London a depreciation of the paper; but this notion appears to be by no means just; for if the paper purchases every thing but bills of exchange at the former rate, and these bills are not above one tenth of what is employed in purchases, then it may be more properly and truly said that the exchange has risen than that the paper has depreciated. And as a proof of this, it is a certain fact that whenever in those colonies bills of exchange have been dearer, the purchaser has been constantly obliged to give more in silver, as well as in paper, for them, the silver having gone hand in hand with the paper at the rate above mentioned; and therefore it might as well have been said that the silver was depreciated.

There have been several different schemes for furnishing the colonies with paper money, that should not be a legal tender, viz.:

1. To form a bank, in imitation of the Bank of England, Edition: current; Page: [371] with a sufficient stock of cash to pay the bills on sight.

This has been often proposed, but appears impracticable, under the present circumstances of the colony trade; which, as is said above, draws all the cash to Britian, and would soon strip the bank.

2. To raise a fund by some yearly tax, securely lodged in the bank of England as it arises, which should (during the term of years for which the paper bills are to be current) accumulate to a sum sufficient to discharge them all at their original value.

This has been tried in Maryland; and the bills so funded were issued without being made a general legal tender. The event was that, as notes payable in time are naturally subject to a discount proportioned to the time, so these bills fell at the beginning of the term so low, as that twenty pounds of them became worth no more than twelve pounds in Pennsylvania, the next neighbouring province; though both had been struck near the same time, at the same nominal value, but the latter was supported by the general legal tender. The Maryland bills, however, began to rise as the term shortened, and towards the end recovered their full value. But, as a depreciating currency injures creditors, this injured debtors; and, by its continually changing value, appears unfit for the purpose of money, which should be as fixed as possible in its own value; because it is to be the measure of the value of other things.

3. To make the bills carry an interest sufficient to support their value.

This too has been tried in some of the New England Edition: current; Page: [372] colonies; but great inconvenience was found to attend it. The bills, to fit them for a currency, are made of various denominations; and some very low, for the sake of change; there are of them from £10 down to 3d. When they first come abroad, they pass easily, and answer the purpose well enough for a few months; but as soon as the interest becomes worth computing, the calculation of it on every little bill, in a sum between the dealer and his customers in shops, warehouses, and markets, takes up much time, to the great hindrance of business. This evil, however, soon gave place to a worse; for the bills were in a short time gathered up and hoarded; it being a very tempting advantage to have money bearing interest, and the principal all the while in a man’s power, ready for bargains that may offer; which money out on mortgage is not. By this means numbers of people became usurers with small sums, who could not have found persons to take such sums of them upon interest, giving good security; and would therefore not have thought of it; but would rather have employed the money in some business, if it had been money of the common kind. Thus trade, instead of being increased by such bills, is diminished; and by their being shut up in chests, the very end of making them (viz., to furnish a medium of commerce) is in a great measure, if not totally, defeated.1

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On the whole, no method has hitherto been formed to establish a medium of trade, in lieu of money, equal, in all its advantages, to bills of credit, funded on sufficient taxes for discharging it, or on land security of double the value for repaying it at the end of the term, and in the meantime made a general legal tender. The experience of now near half a century in the middle colonies has convinced them of it among themselves, by the great increase of their settlements, numbers, buildings, improvements, agriculture, shipping, and commerce, And the same experience has satisfied the British merchants, who Edition: current; Page: [374] trade thither, that it has been greatly useful to them, and not in a single instance prejudicial.

It is therefore hoped that, securing the full discharge of British debts, which are payable here, and in all justice and reason ought to be fully discharged here, in sterling money, the restraint on the legal tender within the colonies will be taken off; at least for those colonies that desire it, and where the merchants trading to them make no objection to it.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
9 January, 1768
London
William Franklin
Franklin, William
CCCXI

TO WILLIAM FRANKLIN

Dear Son:

We have had so many alarms of changes which did not take place, that just when I wrote it was thought the ministry would stand their ground. However, immediately after, the talk was renewed, and it soon appeared that the Sunday changes were actually settled. Mr. Conway resigns and Lord Weymouth takes his place. Lord Gower is made President of the Council in the room of Lord Northington. Lord Shelburne is stripped of the American business, which is given to Lord Hillsborough, as secretary of state for America, a new distinct department. Lord Sandwich, it is said, comes into the post-office in his place. Several of the Bedford party are now to come in.

How these changes may effect us, a little time will show. Little at present is thought of but elections, which gives me hope that nothing will be done Edition: current; Page: [375] against America this session, though the Boston Gazette had occasioned some heats, and the Boston Resolutions a prodigious clamor. I have endeavoured to palliate matters for them as well as I can. I send you my manuscript of one paper, though I think you take the Chronicle. The editor of that paper, one Jones, seems a Grenvillian, or is very cautious, as you will see by his corrections and omissions. He has drawn the teeth and pared the nails of my paper, so that it can neither scratch nor bite. It seems only to paw and mumble. I send you also two other late pieces of mine. There is another which I cannot find.

I am told there has been a talk of getting me appointed under-secretary to Lord Hillsborough; but with little likelihood, as it is a settled point here that I am too much of an American.1 I am in very good health, thanks to God. Your affectionate father,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
9 January, 1768
London
Joseph Galloway
Galloway, Joseph
CCCXII

TO JOSEPH GALLOWAY

Dear Sir:

I wrote to you by way of Boston, and have little to add, except to acquaint you that some changes have taken place since my last, which have not the most promising aspect for America, several of the Bedford party being come into employment Edition: current; Page: [376] again; a party that has distinguished itself by exclaiming against us on all late occasions. Mr. Conway, one of our friends, has resigned, and Lord Weymouth takes his place. Lord Shelburne, another friend, is stripped of the American part of the business of his office, which now makes a distinct department, in which Lord Hillsborough is placed. I do not think this nobleman in general an enemy to America, but in the affair of paper money he was last winter strongly against us.

I did hope I had removed some of his prejudices on that head, but am not certain. We have, however, increased the cry for it here, and I believe shall attempt to obtain the repeal of the act, though the Boston Gazette and their resolutions about manufactures have hurt us much, having occasioned an immense clamor here. I have endeavoured to palliate matters for them as well as I can, and hope with some success. For having, in a large company in which were some members of Parliament, given satisfaction to all, by what I alleged in explanation of the conduct of the Americans, and to show that they were not quite so unreasonable as they appeared to be, I was advised by several present to make my sentiments public, not only for the sake of America, but as it would be some ease to our friends here, who are triumphed over a good deal by our adversaries on the occasion. I have accordingly done it in the enclosed paper.

I shall write you fully on other subjects very soon. At present, I can only add my respects to the Committee, and that I am, dear Sir, your faithful humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [377]
Sarah Franklin
Franklin, Sarah
CCCXIII

CAUSES OF THE AMERICAN DISCONTENTS BEFORE 1768.1

The waves never rise but when the winds blow.

Prov.
Sir:

As the cause of the present ill-humor in America, and of the resolutions taken there to purchase less of our manufactures, does not seem to be generally understood, it may afford some satisfaction to your readers, if you give them the following short historical state of facts.

From the time that the colonies were first considered as capable of granting aids to the crown, down to the end of the last war, it is said that the constant mode of obtaining those aids was by requisition made from the crown, through its governors, to the several assemblies, in circular-letters from the Secretary of State, in his Majesty’s name: setting forth the occasion, requiring them to take the matter into consideration, and expressing a reliance on their prudence, duty, and affection to his Majesty’s government, that they would grant such sums, or raise such numbers of men, as were suitable to their respective circumstances.

The colonies being accustomed to this method, have from time to time granted money to the crown, Edition: current; Page: [378] or raised troops for its service, in proportion to their abilities; and during all the last war beyond their abilities, so that considerable sums were returned them yearly by Parliament, as they had exceeded their proportion.

Had this happy method of requisition been continued (a method that left the King’s subjects in those remote countries the pleasure of showing their zeal and loyalty, and of imagining that they recommended themselves to their sovereign by the liberality of their voluntary grants), there is no doubt but all the money that could reasonably be expected to be raised from them in any manner might have been obtained, without the least heart-burning, offence, or breach of the harmony of affections and interests that so long subsisted between the two countries.

It has been thought wisdom in a government exercising sovereignty over different kinds of people, to have some regard to prevailing and established opinions among the people to be governed, wherever such opinions might, in their effects, obstruct or promote public measures. If they tend to obstruct public service, they are to be changed, if possible, before we attempt to act against them; and they can only be changed by reason and persuasion. But if public business can be carried on without thwarting those opinions; if they can be, on the contrary, made subservient to it; they are not unnecessarily to be thwarted, however absurd such popular opinions may be in their nature.

This had been the wisdom of our government with respect to raising money in the colonies. It was well Edition: current; Page: [379] known that the colonists universally were of opinion that no money could be levied from English subjects but by their own consent, given by themselves or their chosen representatives; that, therefore, whatever money was to be raised from the people in the colonies, must first be granted by their assemblies, as the money raised in Britain is first to be granted by the House of Commons; that this right of granting their own money was essential to English liberty; and that, if any man, or body of men, in which they had no representative of their choosing, could tax them at pleasure, they could not be said to have any property, any thing they could call their own. But as these opinions did not hinder their granting money voluntarily and amply, whenever the crown by its servants came into their assemblies (as it does into its parliaments of Britain and Ireland) and demanded aids, therefore that method was chosen, rather than the hateful one of arbitrary taxes.

I do not undertake here to support these opinions of the Americans; they have been refuted by a late act of Parliament, declaring its own power; which very Parliament, however, showed wisely so much tender regard to those inveterate prejudices, as to repeal a tax that had militated against them. And those prejudices are still so fixed and rooted in the Americans, that it has been supposed not a single man among them has been convinced of his error, even by that act of Parliament.

The person, then, who first projected to lay aside the accustomed method of requisition, and to raise money on America by stamps, seems not to have Edition: current; Page: [380] acted wisely, in deviating from that method (which the colonists looked upon as constitutional), and thwarting unnecessarily the fixed prejudices of so great a number of the King’s subjects. It was not, however, for want of knowledge that what he was about to do would give them offence; he appears to have been very sensible of this, and apprehensive that it might occasion some disorders; to prevent or suppress which, he projected another bill that was brought in the same session with the Stamp Act, whereby it was to be made lawful for military officers in the colonies to quarter their soldiers in private houses.

This seemed intended to awe the people into a compliance with the other act. Great opposition, however, being raised here against the bill, by the agents from the colonies and the merchants trading thither (the colonists declaring that under such a power in the army no one could look on his house as his own, or think he had a home, when soldiers might be thrust into it and mixed with his family at the pleasure of an officer), that part of the bill was dropt; but there still remained a clause, when it passed into a law, to oblige the several assemblies to provide quarters for the soldiers, furnishing them with firing, bedding, candles, small beer or rum, and sundry other articles, at the expense of the several provinces. And this act continued in force when the Stamp Act was repealed; though, if obligatory on the assemblies, it equally militated against the American principle above mentioned, that money is not to be raised on English subjects without their consent.

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The colonies nevertheless, being put into high good-humor by the repeal of the Stamp Act, chose to avoid a fresh dispute upon the other, it being temporary and soon to expire, never, as they hoped, to revive again; and in the meantime they, by various ways, in different colonies, provided for the quartering of the troops; either by acts of their own assemblies, without taking notice of the act of Parliament, or by some variety or small diminution, as of salt and vinegar, in the supplies required by the act; that what they did might appear a voluntary act of their own, and not done in due obedience to an act of Parliament, which, according to their ideas of their rights, they thought hard to obey.

It might have been well if the matter had then passed without notice; but, a governor having written home an angry and aggravating letter upon this conduct in the Assembly of his province, the outed proposer1 of the Stamp Act and his adherents, then in the opposition, raised such a clamor against America, as being in rebellion, and against those who had been for the repeal of the Stamp Act, as having thereby been encouragers of this supposed rebellion, that it was thought necessary to enforce the quartering act by another act of Parliament, taking away from the province of New York, which had been the most explicit in its refusal, all the powers of legislation, till it should have complied with that act. The news of which greatly alarmed the people everywhere in America, as (it had been said) the language of such an act seemed to them to be: Obey implicitly laws Edition: current; Page: [382] made by the Parliament of Great Britain to raise money on you without your consent, or you shall enjoy no rights or privileges at all.

At the same time, a person lately in high office1 projected the levying more money from America, by new duties on various articles of our own manufacture, as glass, paper, painters’ colors, &c., appointing a new board of customs, and sending over a set of commissioners, with large salaries, to be established at Boston, who were to have the care of collecting those duties; which were by the act expressly mentioned to be intended for the payment of the salaries of governors, judges, and other officers of the crown in America; it being a pretty general opinion here, that those officers ought not to depend on the people there for any part of their support.

It is not my intention to combat this opinion. But perhaps it may be some satisfaction to your readers, to know what ideas the Americans have on the subject. They say then, as to governors, that they are not like princes, whose posterity have an inheritance in the government of a nation, and therefore an interest in its prosperity; they are generally strangers to the provinces they are sent to govern; have no estate, natural connexion or relation there, to give them an affection for the country; that they come only to make money as fast as they can; are sometimes men of vicious characters and broken fortunes, sent by a minister merely to get them out of the way; that as they intend staying in the country no longer than their government continues, and purpose to Edition: current; Page: [383] leave no family behind them, they are apt to be regardless of the good-will of the people, and care not what is said or thought of them after they are gone.

Their situation, at the same time, gives them many opportunities of being vexatious, and they are often so, notwithstanding their dependence on the assemblies for all that part of their support that does not arise from fees established by law; but would probably be much more so, if they were to be supported by money drawn from the people without their consent or good-will, which is the professed design of the new act. That, if by means of these forced duties government is to be supported in America, without the intervention of the assemblies, their assemblies will soon be looked upon as useless; and a governor will not call them, as having nothing to hope from their meeting, and perhaps something to fear from their inquiries into, and remonstrances against, his maladministration. That thus the people will be deprived of their most essential rights. That it being, as at present, a governor’s interest to cultivate the good-will, by promoting the welfare, of the people he governs, can be attended with no prejudice to the mother country; since all the laws he may be prevailed on to give his assent to are subject to revision here, and, if reported against by the Board of Trade, are immediately repealed by the crown; nor dare he pass any law contrary to his instructions, as he holds his office during the pleasure of the crown, and his securities are liable for the penalties of their bonds if he contravenes those instructions. This is what they say as to governors.

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As to judges, they allege that, being appointed from this country, and holding their commissions, not during good behaviour, as in Britain, but during pleasure, all the weight of interest or influence would be thrown into one of the scales (which ought to be held even), if the salaries are to be paid out of duties raised upon the people without their consent, and independent of their assemblies’ approbation or disapprobation of the judge’s behaviour. That it is true, judges should be free from all influence; and, therefore, whenever government here will grant commissions to able and honest judges during good behaviour, the assemblies will settle permanent and ample salaries on them during their commissions; but, at present, they have no other means of getting rid of an ignorant or an unjust judge (and some of scandalous characters have, they say, been sometimes sent them) left, but by starving them out.

I do not suppose these reasonings of theirs will appear here to have much weight. I do not produce them with an expectation of convincing your readers. I relate them merely in pursuance of the task I have imposed on myself, to be an impartial historian of American facts and opinions.

The colonists being thus greatly alarmed, as I said before, by the news of the act for abolishing the legislature of New York, and the imposition of these new duties, professedly for such disagreeable purposes, (accompanied by a new set of revenue officers, with large appointments, which gave strong suspicions that more business of the same kind was soon to be provided for them, that they might earn their Edition: current; Page: [385] salaries,) began seriously to consider their situation; and to revolve afresh in their minds grievances which, from their respect and love for this country, they had long borne, and seemed almost willing to forget.

They reflected how lightly the interest of all America had been estimated here, when the interests of a few of the inhabitants of Great Britain happened to have the smallest competition with it. That the whole American people was forbidden the advantage of a direct importation of wine, oil, and fruit, from Portugal, but must take them loaded with all the expense of a voyage one thousand leagues round about, being to be landed first in England, to be re-shipped for America; expenses amounting, in war time at least, to thirty pounds per cent. more than otherwise they would have been charged with; and all this, merely that a few Portugal merchants in London may gain a commission on those goods passing through their hands (Portugal merchants, by the by, that can complain loudly of the smallest hardships laid on their trade by foreigners, and yet, even in the last year, could oppose, with all their influence, the giving ease to their fellow subjects laboring under so heavy an oppression!). That, on a slight complaint of a few Virginia merchants, nine colonies had been restrained from making paper money, become absolutely necessary to their internal commerce, from the constant remittance of their gold and silver to Britain.

But not only the interest of a particular body of merchants, but the interest of any small body of Edition: current; Page: [386] British tradesmen or artificers, has been found, they say, to outweigh that of all the King’s subjects in the colonies. There cannot be a stronger natural right than that of a man’s making the best profit he can of the natural produce of his lands, provided he does not thereby hurt the state in general. Iron is to be found everywhere in America, and the beaver furs are the natural produce of that country. Hats, and nails, and steel are wanted there as well as here. It is of no importance to the common welfare of the empire, whether a subject of the King’s obtains his living by making hats on this or that side of the water. Yet the hatters of England have prevailed to obtain an act in their own favor, restraining that manufacture in America; in order to oblige the Americans to send their beaver to England to be manufactured, and purchase back the hats, loaded with the charges of a double transportation. In the same manner have a few nail-makers, and a still smaller body of steel-makers (perhaps there are not half a dozen of these in England), prevailed totally to forbid by an act of Parliament the erecting of slitting-mills, or steel-furnaces, in America; that the Americans may be obliged to take all their nails for their buildings, and steel for their tools, from these artificers, under the same disadvantages.1

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Added to these, the Americans remembered the act authorizing the most cruel insult that perhaps was ever offered by one people to another, that of emptying our gaols into their settlements; Scotland too having within these two years obtained the privilege it had not before, of sending its rogues and villains also to the plantations. I say, reflecting on these things, they said one to another (their newspapers are full of such discourses):

“These people are not content with making a monopoly of us, forbidding us to trade with any other country of Europe, and compelling us to buy every thing of them, though in many articles we could furnish ourselves ten, twenty, and even to fifty per cent. cheaper elsewhere; but now they have as good as declared they have a right to tax us ad libitum internally and externally; and that our Edition: current; Page: [388] constitutions and liberties shall all be taken away if we do not submit to that claim.

They are not content with the high prices at which they sell us their goods, but have now begun to enhance those prices by new duties; and, by the expensive apparatus of a new set of officers, appear to intend an augmentation and multiplication of those burdens that shall still be more grievous to us. Our people have been foolishly fond of their superfluous modes and manufactures, to the impoverishing our own country, carrying off all our cash, and loading us with debt; they will not suffer us to restrain the luxury of our inhabitants, as they do that of their own, by laws; they can make laws to discourage or prohibit the importation of French superfluities; but though those of England are as ruinous to us as the French ones are to them, if we make a law of that kind, they immediately repeal it.

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Thus they get all our money from us by trade; and every profit we can anywhere make by our fisheries, our produce, or our commerce, centres finally with them; but this does not signify. It is time, then, to take care of ourselves by the best means in our power. Let us unite in solemn resolution and engagements with and to each other, that we will give these new officers as little trouble as possible, by not consuming the British manufactures on which they are to levy the duties. Let us agree to consume no more of their expensive gewgaws. Let us live frugally, and let us industriously manufacture what we can for ourselves; thus we shall be able honorably to discharge the debts we already owe them; and after that, we may be able to keep some money in our country, not only for the uses of our internal commerce, but for the service of our gracious sovereign, whenever he shall have occasion for it, and think proper to require it of us in the old constitutional manner. For, notwithstanding the reproaches thrown out against us in their public papers and pamphlets, notwithstanding we have been reviled in their senate as rebels and traitors, we are truly a loyal people. Scotland has had its rebellions, and England its plots against the present royal family; but America is untainted with those crimes; there is in it scarce a man, there is not a single native of our country, who is not firmly attached to his King by principle and by affection.

But a new kind of loyalty seems to be required of us, a loyalty to Parliament; a loyalty that is to extend, it is said to a surrender of all our properties, Edition: current; Page: [390] whenever a House of Commons, in which there is not a single member of our choosing, shall think fit to grant them away without our consent; and to a patient suffering the loss of our privileges as Englishmen, if we cannot submit to make such surrender. We were separated too far from Britain by the ocean, but we were united to it by respect and love; so that we could at any time freely have spent our lives and little fortunes in its cause; but this unhappy new system of politics tends to dissolve those bands of union, and to sever us for ever.”

These are the wild ravings of the, at present, half-distracted Americans. To be sure, no reasonable man in England can approve of such sentiments, and, as I said before, I do not pretend to support or justify them; but I sincerely wish, for the sake of the manufactures and commerce of Great Britain, and for the sake of the strength which a firm union with our growing colonies would give us, that these people had never been thus needlessly driven out of their senses. I am yours, &c.,

F. S.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
31 January, 1768
London
M. Dalibard
Dalibard, M.
CCCXIV

TO M. DALIBARD

Dear Sir:

I sent you some time since, Priestley’s History of Electricity, under the care of Mr. Molini, bookseller on the Quay des Augustins. I hope it got safe to Paris, and that you have reviewed it. I Edition: current; Page: [391] wish the reading of it may renew your taste for that branch of philosophy, which is already indebted to you as being the first of mankind that had the courage to attempt drawing lightning from the clouds to be subjected to your experiments.

In our return home, we were detained a week at Calais by contrary winds and stormy weather which was the more mortifying to me, when I reflected that I might have enjoyed Paris and my friends there all this time, and yet have been as soon at London.

As I became in arrear with my business by so long an absence, I have been necessarily much occupied since my return, and have therefore postponed from time to time (and so long that I am now ashamed of it) the purpose I had of writing soon to you, to express the sense I have of your kindness to me when a stranger at Paris, and of the many civilities I received from you there and from Mrs. Dalibard, which I assure you have made a lasting impression on my memory. I beg you will both of you accept my sincerest thanks and acknowledgments. The time I spent in Paris, and in the improving conversation and agreeable society of so many ingenious and learned men, seems now to me like a pleasing dream, from which I was only to be awakened by finding myself at London.

With the greatest esteem and best wishes for your health and happiness, I have the honor to be,

Dear Sir, &c.,
B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [392]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
13 February, 1768
London
Deborah Franklin
Franklin, Deborah
CCCXV

TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN

My Dear Child:

I received your kind letter by Captain Story, of November 19th, and a subsequent one by Captain Falconer without date. I have received also the Indian and buckwheat meal, that they brought from you, with the apples, cranberries, and nuts, for all which I thank you. They all prove good, and the apples were particularly welcome to me and my friends, as there happens to be scarce any of any kind in England this year. We are much obliged to the captains, who are so good as to bring these things for us, without charging any thing for their trouble.

I am much concerned for my dear sister’s loss of her daughter. It was kind in you to write a letter of condolence. I have also written to her on the occasion. I am not determined about bringing Sally over with me, but am obliged to you for the kind manner in which you speak of it, and possibly I may conclude to do it.1 I am sorry you had so much trouble with Edition: current; Page: [393] that Nelson. By what is now said of her here, she did not deserve the notice you took of her, or that any credit should be given to her stories. I am afraid she has made mischief in my family by her falsehoods. I think your advice good, not to help any one to servants. I shall never be concerned in such business again; I never was lucky in it.

My love to all our relations and friends, and to Mr. and Mrs. Duffield, and to Mrs. Redman. I am much pleased with her daughter’s writing, particularly for its correctness. I am now, and have been all this winter, in very good health, thanks to God. I only once felt a little admonition, as if a fit of the gout would attack me, but it did not. Whether sick or well, I am ever, my dear Debby, your affectionate husband,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—I forgot to tell you that a certain very great lady, the best woman in England, was graciously pleased to accept some of your nuts, and to say they were excellent. This is to yourself only.1

Edition: current; Page: [394]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
17 February, 1768
London
Joseph Galloway
Galloway, Joseph
CCCXVI

TO JOSEPH GALLOWAY

Dear Sir:

In mine of January 9th, I wrote to you that I believed, notwithstanding the clamor against America had been greatly increased by the Boston proceedings, we should attempt this session to obtain the repeal of the restraining act relating to paper money. The change of the administration, with regard to American affairs, which was agreed on some time before the new secretary kissed hands and entered upon business, made it impossible to go forward with that affair, as the minister quitting that department would not, and his successor could not, engage in it; but now our friends the merchants have been moving in it, and some of them have conceived hopes, from the manner in which Lord Hillsborough attended to their representations. It had been previously concluded among us, that if the repeal was to be obtained at all, it must be proposed in the light of a favor to the merchants of this country, and asked for by them, not by the agents as a favor to America. But, as my Lord had, at sundry times before he came into his present station, discoursed with me on the subject, and got from me a copy of my answer to his report when at the head of the Board of Trade, which some time since he thanked me for, and said he would read again and consider carefully, I waited upon him this morning, partly with intent to learn if he had changed his sentiments.

We entered into the subject, and had a long conversation Edition: current; Page: [395] upon it, in which all the arguments he used, against the legal tender of paper money, were intended to demonstrate, that it was for the benefit of the people themselves to have no such money current among them; and it was strongly his opinion, that, after the experience of being without it a few years, we should all be convinced of this truth, as he said the New England colonies now were; they having lately, on the rumor of an intended application for taking off the restraint, petitioned here, that it might be continued as to them. However, his Lordship was pleased to say, that, if such application was made for the three colonies of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, as I proposed, it should have fair play, he would himself give it no sort of opposition; but he was sure it would meet with a great deal, and he thought it could not succeed. He was pleased to make me compliments upon my paper, assuring me he had read it with a great deal of attention, that I had said much more in favor of such a currency than he thought could be said, and all he believed that the subject would admit of; but that it had not on the whole changed his opinion, any further than to induce him to leave the matter now to the judgment of others, and let it take its course, without opposing it, as last year he had determined to have done.

I go into the city to-morrow to confer with the merchants again upon it; that, if they see any hopes, we may at least try the event. But I own my expectations are now very slender, knowing as I do, that nothing is to be done in Parliament, that is not a measure adopted by ministry and supported by their Edition: current; Page: [396] strength, much less any thing they are adverse to or indifferent about.

I took the opportunity of discoursing with his Lordship concerning our particular affair of the change of government, gave him a detail of all proceedings hitherto, the delays it had met with, and its present situation. He was pleased to say, he would inquire into the matter, and would talk with me further upon it. He expressed great satisfaction in the good disposition that, he said, appeared now to be general in America, with regard to government here, according to the latest advices; and informed me that he had by his Majesty’s order wrote the most healing letters to the several governors, which, if shown to the assemblies, as he supposed they would be, could not but confirm that good disposition. As to the permission we want to bring wine, fruit, and oil directly from Spain and Portugal, and to carry iron direct to foreign markets, it is agreed on all hands that this is an unfavorable time to move in those matters; George Grenville and those in the opposition, on every hint of the kind, making a great noise about the Act of Navigation, that palladium of England, as they call it, to be given up to rebellious America, &c., &c., so that the ministry would not venture to propose it, if they approved. I am to wait on the secretary again next Wednesday, and shall write you further what passes, that is material.

The Parliament have of late been acting an egregious farce, calling before them the mayor and aldermen of Oxford, for proposing a sum to be paid by their old members on being re-chosen at the next Edition: current; Page: [397] election; and sundry printers and brokers, for advertising and dealing in boroughs, &c. The Oxford people were sent to Newgate, and discharged, after some days, on humble petition, and receiving the Speaker’s reprimand upon their knees. The House could scarcely keep countenances, knowing as they all do, that the practice is general. People say, they mean nothing more than to beat down the price by a little discouragement of borough jobbing, now that their own elections are all coming on. The price indeed is grown exorbitant, no less than four thousand pounds for a member.

Mr. Beckford has brought in a bill for preventing bribery and corruption in elections, wherein was a clause to oblige every member to swear, on his admission into the House, that he had not directly or indirectly given any bribe to any elector; but this was so universally exclaimed against, as answering no end but perjuring the members, that he has been obliged to withdraw that clause. It was indeed a cruel contrivance of his, worse than the gunpowder plot; for that was only to blow the Parliament up to heaven, this to sink them all down to ——. Mr. Thurlow opposed his bill by a long speech. Beckford, in reply, gave a dry hit to the House, that is repeated everywhere. “The honorable gentleman,” says he, “in his learned discourse, gave us first one definition of corruption, then he gave us another definition of corruption, and I think he was about to give us a third. Pray does that gentleman imagine there is any member of this House that does not know what corruption is?” which occasioned only a roar of Edition: current; Page: [398] laughter, for they are so hardened in the practice, that they are very little ashamed of it. This between ourselves. I am with sincerest esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
20 February, 1768
London
Cadwallader Evans
Evans, Cadwallader
CCCXVII

TO CADWALLADER EVANS1

Dear Sir:

I wrote you a few lines by Captain Falconer, and sent you Dr. Watson’s new piece of Experiments in Inoculation, which I hope will be agreeable to you.

In yours of November 20th, you mention the lead in the worms of stills as a probable cause of the dry belly-ache among punch-drinkers in our West Indies. I had before acquainted Dr. Baker with a fact of that kind, the general mischief done in the use of leaden worms, when rum-distilling was first practised in New England, which occasioned a severe law there against them; and he has mentioned it in the second part of his piece not yet published. I have long been of opinion that that distemper proceeds always from a metallic cause only; observing that it affects, among tradesmen, those that use lead, however different their trades,—as glaziers, letter-founders, plumbers, potters, white-lead makers and painters; (from the latter, it has been conjectured, it took its name colica Edition: current; Page: [399] Pictonum, by the mistake of a letter, and not from its being the disease of Poictou;) and, although the worms of stills ought to be of pure tin, they are often made of pewter, which has a great mixture in it of lead.

The Boston people, pretending to interfere with the manufactures of this country, make a great clamor here against America in general. I have therefore endeavoured to palliate matters a little in several public papers. It would, as you justly observe, give less umbrage if we meddled only with such manufactures as England does not attend to. That of linen might be carried on more or less in every family (perhaps it can only do it in a family way), and silk, I think, in most of the colonies. But there are many manufactures that we cannot carry on to advantage, though we were at entire liberty. And, after all, this country is fond of manufactures beyond their real value, for the true source of riches is husbandry. Agriculture is truly productive of new wealth; manufacturers only change forms, and, whatever value they give to the materials they work upon, they in the meantime consume an equal value in provisions, &c. So that riches are not increased by manufacturing; the only advantage is, that provisions in the shape of manufactures are more easily carried for sale to foreign markets. And where the provisions cannot be easily carried to market, it is well to transform them for our own use as well as foreign sale. In families also, where the children and servants of families have some spare time, it is well to employ it in making something, and in spinning or knitting, &c., to gather Edition: current; Page: [400] up the fragments (of time) that nothing may be lost, for those fragments, though small in themselves, amount to something great in the year, and the family must eat, whether they work or are idle.

But this nation seems to have increased the number of its manufactures beyond reasonable bounds (for there are bounds to every thing), whereby provisions are now risen to an exorbitant price by the demand for supplying home mouths; so that there may be an importation from foreign countries; but the expense of bringing provisions from abroad to feed manufacturers here will so enhance the price of the manufactures, that they may be made cheaper where the provisions grow, and the mouths will go to the meat.

I am, with thanks for your good wishes, dear Sir, yours, &c.,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
20 February, 1768
London
Thomas Wharton
Wharton, Thomas
CCCXVIII

TO THOMAS WHARTON

Dear Friend:

I received your favors of November 17th and 18th, with another dozen of excellent wine, the manufacture of our friend Livezey. I thank you for the care you have taken in forwarding them, and for your kind good wishes that accompany them.1

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The story you mention of secretary Conway’s wondering what I could be doing in England, and that he had not seen me for a considerable time, savours strongly of the channel through which it came, and deserves no notice. But, since his name is mentioned, it gives me occasion to relate what passed between us the last time I had the honor of conversing with him. It was at court, when the late changes were first rumored, and it was reported he was to resign the secretary’s office. Talking of America, I said I was sorry to find that our friends were one after another quitting the administration, that I was apprehensive of the consequences, and hoped what I heard of his going out was not true. He said it was really true, the employment had not been of his choice, he had never any taste for it, but had submitted to engage in it for a time, at the instance of his friends, and he believed his removal could not be attended with any ill consequences to America; that he was a sincere wellwisher to the prosperity of that country as well as this, and hoped the imprudences of either side would never be carried to such a height as to create a breach of the union, so essentially necessary to the welfare of both; that, as long as his Majesty continued to honor him with a share in his counsels, America should always find in him a friend, Edition: current; Page: [402] &c. This I write, as it was agreeable to me to hear, and I suppose will be so to you to read. For his character has more in it of the frank honesty of the soldier, than of the plausible insincerity of the courtier; and therefore what he says is more to be depended on.

The Proprietor’s dislike to my continuing in England, to be sure, is very natural; as well as to the repeated choice of Assembly men, not his friends; and probably he would, as they so little answer his purposes, wish to see elections as well as agencies abolished. They make him very unhappy, but it cannot be helped.

The proceedings in Boston, as the news came just upon the meeting of Parliament, and occasioned great clamor here, gave me much concern. And as every offensive thing done in America is charged upon all, and every province, though unconcerned in it, suffers in its interests through the general disgust given, and the little distinction here made, it became necessary, I thought, to palliate the matter a little for our own sakes; and therefore I wrote the paper, which probably you have seen printed in the Chronicle of January 7th, and signed F. S. Yours affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
28 February, 1768
London
Lord Kames
Kames, Lord
CCCXIX

TO LORD KAMES

Dear Sir:

It gave me great pleasure to see my dear good friend’s name at the foot of a letter I received Edition: current; Page: [403] the other day, having been often uneasy at his long silence, blaming myself as the cause by my own previous backwardness and want of punctuality as a correspondent. I now suppose (as in this he mentions nothing of it) that a long letter I wrote him about this time twelvemonth, on the subject of the disputes with America, did miscarry, or that his answer to that letter miscarried, as I have never heard from him since I wrote that letter.

I have long been of an opinion similar to that you express, and think happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life. Thus I reckon it among my felicities, that I can set my own razor, and shave myself perfectly well; in which I have a daily pleasure, and avoid the uneasiness one is sometimes obliged to suffer from the dirty fingers or bad breath of a slovenly barber.

I congratulate you on the purchase of a new house so much to your mind, and wish that you may long inhabit it with comfort. The inconvenience you mention of neighbouring smoke coming down the vents, is not owing to any bad construction of the vent down which it comes, and therefore not to be remedied by any change of form. It is merely the effect of a law of nature, whereby, whenever the outward air is warmer than the walls of the vent, the air included, being by those walls made colder, and of course denser and heavier than an equal column of the outward air, descends into the room, and in descending draws other air into the vent above to Edition: current; Page: [404] supply its place; which, being in its turn cooled and condensed by the cooler walls of the vent, descends also, and so a current downward is continued during the continuance of such difference in temperament between the outward air and the walls of the vent.

When this difference is destroyed, by the outward air growing cooler, and the walls growing warmer, the current downward ceases; and when the outward air becomes still colder than the walls, the current changes and moves from below upward, the warmer walls rarefying the air they include, and thereby making it so much lighter than a column of the outward air of equal height, that it is obliged to give way to the other’s superior weight and rise, is succeeded by colder air, which being warmed and rarefied in its turn, rises also, and so the upward current is continued. In summer, when fires are not made in the chimneys, the current generally sets downward from nine or ten in the morning during all the heat of the day, till five or six in the afternoon, then begins to hesitate, and afterwards to set upward during the night, continuing till about nine in the morning, then hesitating for some time before it again sets downward for the day. This is the general course, with some occasional variation of hours, according to the length of days or changes of weather.

Now when the air of any vent is in this descending state, if the smoke issuing from a neighbouring vent happens to be carried over it by the wind, part will be drawn in and brought down into the room. The proper remedy then is to close the opening of the chimney in the room by a board so fitted that little Edition: current; Page: [405] or no air can pass, whereby the currents above-mentioned will be prevented; this board to remain during the summer, and when fires are not made in the chimney. Chimneys that have fires in them daily are not subject to this inconvenience, the walls of their vents being kept too warm to occasion any downward current during the hours between the going out of one fire and the kindling of another. And indeed, in summer, those vents that happen to go up close joined with the kitchen vent, are generally kept so warm by that as to be free from the downward current, and therefore free from what you call neighbour smoke.

The Philadelphia grate which you mention is a very good thing, if you could get one that is rightly made, and a workman skilful in putting them up. Those generally made and used here are much hurt by fancied improvements in their construction, and I cannot recommend them. As fuel with you is cheap and plenty, a saving in it is scarce an object. The sliding plates (of which I sent a model to Sir Alexander Dick) are, in my opinion, the most convenient for your purpose, as they keep a room sufficiently warm, are simple machines, easily fixed, and their management easily conceived and understood by servants.

I shall leave Europe with much greater regret, if I cannot first visit you and my other friends in Scotland. I promise myself this happiness, but am not yet clear that I shall have time for it. Your kind invitation is extremely obliging.

With sincere esteem, I am, my dear friend,
Yours most affectionately,
B. Franklin.
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Joseph Galloway
Galloway, Joseph
10 March, 1768
Philadelphia
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
CCCXX

FROM JOSEPH GALLOWAY TO B. FRANKLIN

Dear Sir:

I enclose this in a packet sent by the Committee of Correspondence, containing the messages which passed between the two Houses of legislature at their last sitting. By them you will be able to form a proper judgment of the affairs of this province, which, in the opinion of all good men here, are at length reduced to the most desperate circumstances. All the mischiefs we have long expected, if not come to pass, are now in full prospect. We have long seen that the powers of government, united in the same hands, with immense property, would necessarily be attended with many inconveniences both to the crown and the subject; and that those powers, vested in the feeble hands of private subjects, would prove too weak to support his Majesty’s authority, or to give safety to his people. The first will ever naturally lead to acts of injustice, ambition, and oppression; and these things, in private men, will more especially beget disrespect, and that disrespect soon ripen into contempt; the consequence whereof in this province is, we have the name of a government, but no safety or protection under it. We have laws without being executed, or even feared or respected. We have offenders, but no punishment. We have a magistracy, but no justice; and a governor, but no government. And, you well know, we possess the warmest allegiance to our sovereign and Edition: current; Page: [407] our mother country; and yet our persons and estates are every hour liable to the ravages of the licentious and lawless, without any hope of defence against them.

The impunity with which offenders escape is a perpetual encouragement to the licentious and wicked to commit new offences. This day an account arrived from Lancaster that two soldiers, sent with despatches from the commanding officer at Fort Pitt, were attacked in Paxton township, their letters taken from them, one of which was immediately destroyed after being opened and read; the rest opened, but re-delivered. I have seen the opened letters which were not destroyed. What was the nature or consequence of the letter destroyed, none can tell. Take a view, dear Sir, of these facts, with what you know has heretofore passed in the government, and add to them the declaration of our governor, that he can do no more in his station towards bringing offenders to justice than issuing a proclamation and writing a few mild letters to his magistracy, and tell me whether you think we can believe ourselves, or our estates, safe under the present government. I do most candidly assure you, could I convert my estate into personality, without great loss, I should immediately remove it with my family into a government where I could reasonably expect they would be safe from violation. In this, it is the opinion of all who are active in supporting the honor of the government and the authority of the crown, that their lives and property are in great jeopardy and danger.

Under these circumstances, the Assembly think it Edition: current; Page: [408] their indispensable duty to acquaint his Majesty and ministry of the state of the province. For which purpose the papers are sent to the agents, and they are ordered to prosecute the petitions for a change; in hopes, that our distracted and distressed situation will draw his Majesty’s attention and compassion so far towards us, as to take the government under his immediate direction.

It gives me pleasure to find a new establishment is made for American affairs only. May we not hope for more attention to our unhappy circumstances, and especially under the nobleman who is at its head? I am, &c.,

Joseph Galloway.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
13 March, 1768
London
William Franklin
Franklin, William
CCCXXI

TO WILLIAM FRANKLIN

Dear Son:

I have received, all together, your letters of January 6th, 21st, and 22d. It had been a great while that I had not heard from you. The purpose of settling the new colonies seems at present to be dropped, the change of American administration not appearing favorable to it. There seems rather to be an inclination to abandon the posts in the back country as more expensive than useful; but counsels are so continually fluctuating here that nothing can be depended on. The new secretary, my Lord Hillsborough, is, I find, of opinion that the troops should be placed, the chief part of them, in Edition: current; Page: [409] Canada and Florida, only three battalions to be quartered in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania; and that Forts Pitt, Oswego, Niagara, &c., should be left to the colonies to garrison and keep up, if they think it necessary, for the protection of their trade. Probably his opinion may be followed, if the new changes do not produce other ideas.

As to my own sentiments, I am weary of suggesting them to so many different inattentive heads, though I must continue to do it while I stay among them. The letters from Sir William Johnson, relating to the boundary, were at last found, and orders were sent over about Christmas for completing the purchase and settlement of it. My Lord Hillsborough has promised me to send duplicates by this packet, and urge the speedy execution, as we represented to him the danger, that these dissatisfactions of the Indians might produce a war. But I can tell you there are many here to whom the news of such a war would give pleasure; who speak of it as a thing to be wished; partly as a chastisement to the colonies, and partly to let them feel the want of protection from this country, and pray for it. For it is imagined that we could not possibly defend ourselves against the Indians without such assistance; so little is the state of America understood here.

My Lord Hillsborough mentioned the Farmer’s Letters to me, said he had read them, that they were well written, and he believed he could guess who was the author, looking in my face at the same time as if he thought it was me. He censured the doctrines as extremely wild. I have read them as far as No. 8. Edition: current; Page: [410] I know not if any more have been published. I should have thought they had been written by Mr. Delancey, not having heard any mention of the others you point out as joint authors. I am not yet master of the idea these and the New England writers have of the relation between Britain and her colonies. I know not what the Boston people mean by the “subordination” they acknowledged in their Assembly to Parliament, while they deny its powers to make laws for them, nor what bounds the Farmer sets to the power he acknowledges in Parliament to “regulate the trade of the colonies,” it being difficult to draw lines between duties for regulation and those for revenue; and if the Parliament is to be the judge, it seems to me that establishing such principles of distinction will amount to little.

The more I have thought and read on the subject, the more I find myself confirmed in opinion that no middle doctrine can be well maintained, I mean not clearly with intelligible arguments. Something might be made of either of the extremes: that Parliament has a power to make all laws for us, or that it has a power to make no laws for us; and I think the arguments for the latter more numerous and weighty, than those of the former. Supposing that doctrine established, the colonies would then be so many separate states, only subject to the same king, as England and Scotland were before the union. And then the question would be, whether a union like that with Scotland would or would not be advantageous to the whole. I should have no doubt of the affirmative, being fully persuaded that it would be best for the Edition: current; Page: [411] whole, and that though particular parts might find particular disadvantages in it, they would find greater advantages in the security arising to every part from the increased strength of the whole. But such union is not likely to take place, while the nature of our present relation is so little understood on both sides of the water, and sentiments concerning it remain so widely different.

As to the farmers combating, as you say they intend to do, my opinion, that the Parliament might lay duties though not impose internal taxes, I shall not give myself the trouble to defend it. Only to you I may say that not only the Parliament of Britain, but every state in Europe, claims and exercises a right of laying duties on the exportation of its own commodities to foreign countries. A duty is paid here on coals exported to Holland, and yet England has no right to lay an internal tax on Holland. All goods brought out of France to England, or any other country, are charged with a small duty in France, which the consumers pay, and yet France has no right to tax other countries. And in my opinion the grievance is not that Britain puts duties upon her own manufactures exported to us, but that she forbids us to buy the like manufactures from any other country. This she does, however, in virtue of her allowed right to regulate the commerce of the whole empire, allowed I mean by the Farmer, though I think whoever would dispute that right might stand upon firmer ground, and make much more of the argument; but my reasons are too many and too long for a letter.

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Mr. Grenville complained in the House that the governors of New Jersey, New Hampshire, East and West Florida had none of them obeyed the orders sent them to give an account of the manufactures carried on in their respective provinces. Upon hearing this, I went after the House was up, and got a sight of the reports made by the other governors. They are all much in the same strain, that there are no manufactures of any consequence; in Massachusetts a little coarse woollen only, made in families for their own wear; glass and linen have been tried and failed. Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York much the same. Pennsylvania has tried a linen manufactory, but it is dropped, it being imported cheaper; there is a glasshouse in Lancaster county, but it makes only a little coarse ware for the country neighbours. Maryland is clothed all with English manufactures. Virginia the same, except that in their families they spin a little cotton of their own growing. South Carolina and Georgia none. All speak of the dearness of labor, that makes manufactures impracticable. Only the governor of North Carolina parades with a large manufacture in his country, that may be useful to Britain, of pine boards; they having fifty sawmills on one river.

These accounts are very satisfactory here and induce the Parliament to despise and take no notice of the Boston resolutions. I wish you would send your account before the meeting of next Parliament. You have only to report a glasshouse for coarse window-glass and bottles, and some domestic manufactures of linen and woollen for family use, that do not half Edition: current; Page: [413] clothe the inhabitants, all the finer goods coming from England and the like. I believe you will be puzzled to find any other, though I see great puffs in the papers.

The Parliament is up, and the nation in a ferment with the new elections. Great complaints are made that the natural interests of country gentlemen in their neighbouring boroughs is overborne by the moneyed interests of the new people, who have got sudden fortunes in the Indies, or as contractors. Four thousand pounds is now the market price for a borough. In short, this whole venal nation is now at market, will be sold for about two millions, and might be bought out of the hands of the present bidders (if he would offer half a million more) by the very Devil himself.

I shall wait on Lord Hillsborough again next Wednesday, on behalf of the sufferers by Indian and French depredations, to have an allowance of lands out of any new grant made by the Indians, so long solicited, and perhaps still to be solicited, in vain. I am your affectionate father,

B. Franklin.

P. S.—I dined yesterday with General Monckton, Major Gates, Colonel Lee,1 and other officers, who have served in and are friends of America. Monckton inquired kindly after your welfare.

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Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
13 March, 1768
London
CCCXXII

TO THE COMMITTEE OF CORRESPONDENCE IN PENNSYLVANIA

Gentlemen:

On receipt of your letter of January 20th, Mr. Jackson and myself waited on Lord Hillsborough, the new Secretary of State for American affairs, and communicated to him the contents, pressing the necessity of enforcing the orders already sent to Sir William Johnson, for immediately settling the affair of the boundary line with the Indians. His Lordship was pleased to assure us that he would cause duplicates of the orders to be forwarded by this packet, and urge the completion of them.

We communicated also the copy of General Gage’s letter, and the messages that had passed between the governor and the House thereupon. His Lordship acquainted us that a letter from Governor Penn had been shown him by the Proprietor, importing that a horrid murder had lately been committed on the Indians, upon which the governor had issued a proclamation for apprehending the murderer; and that a bill was under his and the Council’s consideration to prevent further settlements on Indian lands. But his Lordship remarked that these messages had not been communicated to him by the Proprietor.

Government here begins to grow tired of the enormous expense of Indian affairs, and of maintaining posts in the Indian country; and it is now talked of, as a proper measure, to abandon these posts, demolishing all but such as the colonies may think fit to Edition: current; Page: [415] keep up at their own expense; and also to return the management of their own Indian affairs into the hands of the respective provinces as formerly. What the result will be is uncertain, counsels here being so continually fluctuating. But I have urged often that, after taking those affairs out of our hands, it seems highly incumbent on the ministry not to neglect them, but to see that they are well managed, and the Indians kept in peace. I think, however, that we should not too much depend on their doing this, but look to the matter a little ourselves, taking every opportunity of conciliating the affections of the Indians, by seeing that they always have justice done them, and sometimes kindness. For I can assure you, that here are not wanting people who, though not now in the ministry, no one knows how soon they may be; and, if they were ministers, would take no step to prevent an Indian war in the colonies; being of opinion, which they express openly, that it would be a very good thing, in the first place, to chastise the colonists for their undutifulness, and then to make them sensible of the necessity of protection by the troops of this country.

Mr. Jackson, being now taken up with his election business, will hardly have time to write by this opportunity. But he joins with me in respects to you and the Assembly, and assurances of our most faithful services. I am, Gentlemen, your most obedient and most humble servant,

B. Franklin.
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CCCXXIII: WALPOLE’S GRANT

Some time after Dr. Franklin went to England on his second mission, as agent for Pennsylvania, a project was formed in America, originating with Sir William Johnson, Governor Franklin, and others, for settling a new colony in the Ohio country. They wrote to Dr. Franklin, requesting him to use his influence to procure a grant from the crown for this purpose. A company was formed, at the head of which was Mr. Thomas Walpole, a banker in London, from whom the tract of land took its name.

From letters written by Dr. Franklin to his son on this subject, the following extracts were found among Sir William Johnson’s papers. The grant was to be divided into seventy-two shares. The petitions were addressed to the Board of Trade, and to the King in Council, by Mr. Walpole and his associates. The project encountered much opposition, and met with delay; but was finally approved, and the grant ratified in 1772. The revolutionary troubles which followed, however, defeated the plan. Pending its consideration, Lord Hillsborough wrote for the Board of Trade a report against it. Franklin’s masterly answer to this report is entitled Settlement on the Ohio River, see infra.

May 10, 1766.—I like the project of a colony in the Illinois country, and will forward it to my utmost here.

Aug. 25, 1766.—I can now only add that I will endeavour to accomplish all that you and our friends desire relating to the settlement westward.

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Sept. 12, 1766.—I have just received Sir William’s open letter to Secretary Conway, recommending your plan for a colony in the Illinois, which I am glad of. I have closed and sent it to him. He is not now in that department; but it will of course go to Lord Shelburne, whose good opinion of it I have reason to hope for; and I think Mr. Conway was rather against distant posts and settlements in America. We have, however, suffered a loss in Lord Dartmouth, who, I know, was inclined to a grant there in favor of the soldiery, and Lord Hillsborough is said to be terribly afraid of dispeopling Ireland. General Lyman has been long here soliciting such a grant, and will readily join the interest he has made with ours, and I should wish for a body of Connecticut settlers, rather than all from our frontiers. I purpose waiting on Lord Shelburne on Tuesday, and hope to be able to send you his sentiments by Falconer, who is to sail about the 20th.

A good deal, I imagine, will depend on the account, when it arrives, of Mr. Croghan’s negotiation in that country. This is an affair I shall seriously set about; but there are such continual changes here, that it is very discouraging to all applications to be made to the ministry. I thought the last set well established, but they are broken and gone. The present set are hardly thought to stand very firm, and God only knows whom we are to have next.

The plan is, I think, well drawn, and I imagine Sir William’s approbation will go a great way in recommending it, as he is much relied on in all affairs that may have any relation to the Indians. Lord Adam Edition: current; Page: [418] Gordon is not in town, but I shall take the first opportunity of conferring with him. I thank the Company for their willingness to take me in, and one or two others that I may nominate. I have not yet concluded whom to propose it to; but I suppose our friend Sargent should be one. I wish you had allowed me to name more, as there will be in the proposed country, by my reckoning, near sixty-three millions of acres, and therefore enough to content a great number of reasonable people, and by numbers we might increase the weight of interest here. But perhaps we shall do without.

Sept. 27, 1766.—I have mentioned the Illinois affair to Lord Shelburne. His Lordship had read your plan for establishing a colony there, recommended by Sir William Johnson, and said it appeared to him a reasonable scheme, but he found it did not quadrate with the sentiments of people here1; that their objections to it were, the distance, which would make it of little use to this country, as the expense on the carriage of goods would oblige the people to manufacture for themselves; that it would for the same reason be difficult both to defend it and to govern it; that it might lay the foundation of a power in the heart of America, which in time might be troublesome to the other colonies, and prejudicial to our government over them; and that people were wanted both here and in the already settled colonies, so that none could be spared for a new colony. These arguments, he said, did not appear of much weight, and I Edition: current; Page: [419] endeavoured by others to invalidate them entirely. But his Lordship did not declare whether he would or would not promote the undertaking; and we are to talk further upon it.

I communicated to him two letters of Mr. Croghan’s, with his journal, and one or two of yours on that subject, which he said he would read and consider; and I left with him one of Evans’s maps of the middle colonies, in the small-scale part of which I had marked with a wash of red ink the whole country included in your boundaries. His Lordship remarked that this would coincide with General Lyman’s project, and that they might be united.

Sept. 30, 1766.—I have just had a visit from General Lyman, and a good deal of conversation on the Illinois scheme. He tells me that Mr. Morgan, who is under-secretary of the Southern department, is much pleased with it; and we are to go together to talk to him concerning it.

Oct. 11, 1766.—I was again with Lord Shelburne a few days since, and said a good deal to him on the affair of the Illinois settlement. He was pleased to say he really approved of it; but intimated that every new proposed expense for America would meet with great difficulty here, the treasury being alarmed and astonished at the growing charges there, and the heavy accounts and drafts continually brought in from thence. That Major Farmer, for instance, had lately drawn for no less than thirty thousand pounds extraordinary charges, on his going to take possession of the Illinois; and that the superintendents, particularly the southern one, began also to draw Edition: current; Page: [420] very largely. He spoke, however, very handsomely of Sir William on many accounts.

Nov. 8, 1766.—Mr. Jackson is now come to town. The ministry have asked his opinion and advice on your plan of a colony in the Illinois, and he has just sent me to peruse his answer in writing, in which he warmly recommends it, and enforces it by strong reasons; which gives me great pleasure, as it corroborates what I have been saying on the same topic, and from him appears less to be suspected of some American bias.

Feb. 14, 1767.—Great changes being expected keeps men’s minds in suspense, and obstructs public affairs of every kind. It is therefore not to be wondered at that so little progress is made in our American schemes of the Illinois grant and retribution for Indian losses.

June 13, 1767.—The Illinois affair goes forward but slowly. Lord Shelburne told me again last week that he highly approved of it, but others were not of his sentiments, particularly the Board of Trade. Lyman is almost out of patience, and now talks of carrying out his settlers without leave.

Aug. 28, 1767.—Last week I dined at Lord Shelburne’s, and had a long conversation with him and Mr. Conway (there being no other company) on the subject of reducing the American expenses. They have it in contemplation to return the management of Indian affairs into the hands of the several provinces on which the nations border, that the colonies may bear the charge of treaties, and the like, which they think will then be managed more frugally, the Edition: current; Page: [421] treasury being tired with the immense drafts of the superintendents.

I took the opportunity of urging it as one mode of saving expense in supporting the out-posts, that a settlement should be made in the Illinois country, expatiated on the various advantages, namely, furnishing provisions cheaper to the garrisons, securing the country, retaining the trade, raising a strength there which, on occasions of a future war, might easily be poured down the Mississippi upon the lower country, and into the Bay of Mexico, to be used against Cuba, the French Islands, or Mexico itself. I mentioned your plan, its being approved by Sir William Johnson, and the readiness and ability of the gentlemen concerned to carry the settlement into execution, with very little expense to government. The secretaries appeared finally to be fully convinced, and there remained no obstacle but the Board of Trade, which was to be brought over privately before the matter should be referred to them officially. In case of laying aside the superintendents, a provision was thought of for Sir William Johnson. He will be made governor of the new colony.

Oct. 9, 1767.—I returned last night from Paris, and just now hear that the Illinois settlement is approved of in the Cabinet Council, so far as to be referred to the Board of Trade for their opinion, who are to consider it next week.

Nov. 13, 1767.—Since my return, the affair of the Illinois settlement has been renewed. The King in Council referred the proposal to the Board of Trade, who called for the opinion of the merchants on two Edition: current; Page: [422] points, namely: whether the settlement of colonies in the Illinois country and at Detroit might not contribute to promote and extend the commerce of Great Britain; and whether the regulation of Indian trade might not best be left to the several colonies that carry on such trade; both which questions they considered at a meeting where Mr. Jackson and I were present, and answered in the affirmative unanimously, delivering their report accordingly to the Board. We shall know in a few days what report the Board will make to the King in Council. Enclosed I send you the notice I received from the Board to attend the first call with the merchants. You must know, government here is quite tired of having the management of Indian affairs, the superintendents drawing for such immense sums to be given in presents to the Indians; who, nevertheless, they say, are not kept in so good temper as when every colony managed the neighbouring Indians, and put the crown to no expense. It seems, therefore, the present inclination to drop the superintendencies and provide for Sir William in some other way; but whether they will finally resolve on this is rather uncertain; for they seem afraid of changing any thing in settled measures, lest something should go wrong, and the opposition make an advantage of it against them. The merchants, to a man, disliked the plan of regulating the trade under the superintendents, and speak strongly against it. The plan I think I have seen in your hands, as proposed by the Board of Trade.

Nov. 25, 1767.—As soon as I received Mr. Galloway’s, Mr. Samuel Wharton’s, and Mr. Croghan’s Edition: current; Page: [423] letters on the subject of the boundary, I communicate them to Lord Shelburne. He invited me the next day to dine with him. Lord Clare was to have been there, but did not come. There was nobody but Mr. Maclean. My Lord knew nothing of the boundary’s having been agreed on by Sir William; had sent the letters to the Board of Trade, directing search to be made there for Sir William’s letters; and ordered Mr. Maclean to search the secretary’s office, who found nothing. We had much discourse about it, and I pressed the importance of despatching orders immediately to Sir William to complete the affair. His Lordship asked who was to make the purchase, that is, who should be at the expense. I said that if the line included any lands within the grants of the charter colonies, they should pay the purchase money of such proportion. If any within the proprietary grants, they should pay their proportion. But what was within royal governments, where the King granted the lands, the crown should pay for that proportion. His Lordship was pleased to say he thought this reasonable. He finally desired me to go to Lord Clare as from him, and urge the business there, which I undertook to do.

Among other things at this conversation, we talked of the new settlements. His Lordship told me he had himself drawn up a paper of reasons for those settlements which he laid before the King in Council; acquainting them that he did not offer them merely as his own sentiments; they were what he had collected from General Amherst, Dr. Franklin, and Mr. Jackson, three gentlemen that were allowed to be the best Edition: current; Page: [424] authorities for any thing that related to America. I think he added that the Council seemed to approve of the design; I know it was referred to the Board of Trade, who, I believe, have not yet reported on it, and I doubt will report against it.

I waited next morning on Lord Clare, and pressed the matter of the boundary closely upon him. He said they could not find that they had ever received any letters from Sir William concerning it, but were searching farther; agreed to the necessity of settling it, but thought there would be some difficulty about who should pay the purchase money; for that this country was already so loaded, it would bear no more. We then talked of the new colonies. I found he was inclined to think one near the mouth of the Ohio might be of use in securing the country, but did not much approve that at Detroit. And, as to the trade, he imagined it would be of little consequence if we had it all, but supposed our traders would sell the peltry chiefly to the French and Spaniards at New Orleans, as he heard they had hitherto done. Pray tell me, if you know, whether that has been the case with regard to the skins belonging to our friends B. W. & M.

March 13, 1768.—The purpose of settling the new colonies seems at present to be dropt, the change of American administration not appearing favorable to it. There seems rather an inclination to abandon the posts in the back country, as more expensive than useful. But counsels are so continually fluctuating here, that nothing can be depended on. The new secretary, Lord H., is, I find, of opinion that the Edition: current; Page: [425] troops should be placed, the chief part of them, in Canada and Florida, only three battalions to be quartered in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania; and that Forts Pitt, Niagara, Oswego, &c., should be left to the colonies to garrison and keep up, if they think it necessary for the protection of their trade. Probably his opinion may be followed, if new changes do not produce other ideas. The letters from Sir William Johnson, relating to the boundary, were at last found, and orders were sent over, about Christmas, for completing the purchase and settlement of the difference about it. My Lord H. has promised me to send duplicates by this packet, and urge the speedy execution, as I represented to him the danger that these dissatisfactions of the Indians might produce a war.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
13 March, 1768
London
Joseph Galloway
Galloway, Joseph
CCCXXIV

TO JOSEPH GALLOWAY

Dear Sir:

I wrote to you very fully by Falconer, of February 17th, and have since received yours of January 21st, together with one from the Committee, and the messages which, as you will see by my answer to the Committee, I communicated to Lord Hillsborough. His Lordship read them deliberately, and took notice that the message of the Assembly seemed to insinuate that the governor had been tardy in bringing the former murderers to justice, which Edition: current; Page: [426] gave me an opportunity of explaining that matter to him; whereby he might also understand why the Proprietor had not shown him the messages when he communicated the governor’s letter concerning the Indian uneasinesses, the law under his consideration for removing them, the late murder, and his proclamation. I shall wait on his Lordship again next Wednesday on our affairs, and show him, moreover, your letter with some other papers.

The old Parliament is gone, and its enemies now find themselves at liberty to abuse it. I enclose you a pamphlet published the very hour of its prorogation. All the members are now in their counties and boroughs among their drunken electors; much confusion and disorder in many places, and such profusion of money as never was known before on any similar occasion. The first instance of bribery to be chosen a member, taken notice of on the journals, is no longer ago than Queen Elizabeth’s time, when the being sent to Parliament was looked upon as a troublesome service, and therefore not sought after. It is said that such a one, “being a simple man and conceiving it might be of some advantage to him, had given four pounds to the mayor and corporation that they might choose him to serve them in Parliament.”

The price is monstrously risen since that time, for it is now no less than four thousand pounds! It is thought that near two millions will be spent this election; but those who understand figures and act by computation say the crown has two millions a year in places and pensions to dispose of, and it is well worth while to engage in such a seven years’ lottery, though Edition: current; Page: [427] all that have tickets should not get prizes. I am, my dear friend, yours affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
16 April, 1768
London
CCCXXV

TO THE COMMITTEE OF CORRESPONDENCE IN PENNSYLVANIA

Gentlemen:

I have just received your favor of February 20th, directed to Mr. Jackson and myself, containing intructions for our conduct relating to the application for a repeal of the duty act, to the change of government, and to the legal tender of paper money; which instructions we shall observe to the best of our abilities. Mr. Jackson has read your letter, and is now reading the messages and other papers transmitted to us, which we shall lay before the secretaries of state on Monday, and thereupon press the necessity of a change in the administration of our province.

The Parliament will have a short session, it is said, in May, when, if any application is made for the repeal of that act by the agents of the other colonies, we shall join them heartily, and do what we can likewise in the affair of paper money. In the meantime, should an Indian war make it necessary to emit paper money with a legal tender, it may be considered how far the fourth clause in the act of the 24 Geo. II. might give countenance to your providing in that way for the emergency. That act not being altered or Edition: current; Page: [428] repealed by any later, it seems as if the Parliament thought that clause not improper, though they have not expressly made the same provision for the other colonies. The mail being to go this evening, I can only add that I am with the utmost respect for you and the Assembly, Gentlemen, your most obedient and most humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
16 April, 1768
London
William Franklin
Franklin, William
CCCXXVI

TO WILLIAM FRANKLIN

Dear Son:

Since my last, a long one, of March 13th, nothing has been talked or thought of here but elections. There have been amazing contests all over the kingdom, twenty or thirty thousand pounds of a side spent in several places, and inconceivable mischief done by debauching the people and making them idle, besides the immediate actual mischief done by drunken mad mobs to houses, windows, &c. The scenes have been horrible. London was illuminated two nights running, at the command of the mob, for the success of Wilkes, in the Middlesex election. The second night exceeded any thing of the kind ever seen here on the greatest occasions of rejoicing, as even the small cross-streets, lanes, courts, and other out-of-the-way places were all in a blaze with lights, and the principal streets all night long, as the mobs went round again after two o’clock, and obliged people who had extinguished their candles to light them Edition: current; Page: [429] again. Those who refused had all their windows destroyed. The damage done, and expense of candles, have been computed at fifty thousand pounds. It must have been great, though probably not so much.

The ferment is not yet over, for he has promised to surrender himself to the court next Wednesday, and another tumult is then expected; and what the upshot will be no one can yet foresee. It is really an extraordinary event, to see an outlaw and an exile, of bad personal character, not worth a farthing, come over from France, set himself up as candidate for the capital of the kingdom, miss his election only by being too late in his application, and immediately carrying it for the principal county; the mob (spirited up by numbers of different ballads sung or roared in every street) requiring gentlemen and ladies of all ranks, as they passed in their carriages, to shout for Wilkes and liberty, marking the same words on all their coaches with chalk, and No. 451 on every door; which extends a vast way along the roads into the country. I went last week to Winchester, and observed that for fifteen miles out of town there was scarce a door or window-shutter next the road unmarked; and this continued, here and there, quite to Winchester, which is sixty-four miles.

B. Franklin.
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CCCXXVII: ON THE LABORING POOR

Sir:

I have met with much invective in the papers, for these two years past, against the hard-heartedness of the rich, and much complaint of the great oppressions suffered in this country by the laboring poor. Will you admit a word or two on the other side of the question? I do not propose to be an advocate for oppression or oppressors. But when I see that the poor are, by such writings, exasperated against the rich, and excited to insurrections, by which much mischief is done, and some forfeit their lives, I could wish the true state of things were better understood, the poor not made by these busy writers more uneasy and unhappy than their situation subjects them to be, and the nation not brought into disrepute among foreigners by public groundless accusations of ourselves, as if the rich in England had no compassion for the poor, and Englishmen wanted common humanity.

In justice, then, to this country, give me leave to remark that the condition of the poor here is, by far, the best in Europe; for that, except in England and her American colonies, there is not in any country of the known world, not even in Scotland or Ireland, a provision by law to enforce a support of the poor. Everywhere else necessity reduces to beggary. This law was not made by the poor. The legislators were men of fortune. By that act they voluntarily subjected their own estates, and the estates of all others, to the payment of a tax for the maintenance of the Edition: current; Page: [431] poor, encumbering those estates with a kind of rent-charge for that purpose, whereby the poor are vested with an inheritance, as it were, in all the estates of the rich. I wish they were benefited by this generous provision in any degree equal to the good intention with which it was made, and is continued. But I fear the giving mankind a dependence on any thing for support, in age or sickness, besides industry and frugality during youth and health, tends to flatter our natural indolence, to encourage idleness and prodigality, and thereby to promote and increase poverty, the very evil it was intended to cure; thus multiplying beggars instead of diminishing them.

Besides this tax, which the rich in England have subjected themselves to in behalf of the poor, amounting in some places to five or six shillings in the pound, of the annual income, they have, by donations and subscriptions, erected numerous schools in various parts of the kingdom, for educating, gratis, the children of the poor in reading and writing; and in many of those schools the children are also fed and clothed. They have erected hospitals at an immense expense for the reception and cure of the sick, the lame, the wounded, and the insane poor, for lying-in women, and deserted children. They are also continually contributing towards making up losses occasioned by fire, by storms, or by floods, and to relieve the poor in severe seasons of frost, in times of scarcity, &c., in which benevolent and charitable contributions no nation exceeds us. Surely, there is some gratitude due for so many instances of goodness.

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Add to this all the laws made to discourage foreign manufactures, by laying heavy duties on them, whereby the rich are obliged to pay much higher prices for what they wear and consume, than if the trade was open. These are so many laws for the support of our laboring poor, made by the rich, and continued at their expense; all the difference of price between our own and foreign commodities, being so much given by our rich to our poor, who would indeed be enabled by it to get by degrees above poverty, if they did not, as too generally they do, consider every increase of wages only as something that enables them to drink more and work less; so that their distress in sickness, age, or times of scarcity, continues to be the same as if such laws had never been made in their favor.

Much malignant censure have some writers bestowed upon the rich for their luxury and expensive living, while the poor are starving, &c.; not considering that what the rich expend, the laboring poor receive in payment for their labor. It may seem a paradox if I should assert that our laboring poor do in every year receive the whole revenue of the nation; I mean not only the public revenue, but also the revenue or clear income of all private estates, or a sum equivalent to the whole.

In support of this position I reason thus. The rich do not work for one another. Their habitations, furniture, clothing carriages, food, ornaments, and every thing in short, that they or their families use and consume, is the work or produce of the laboring poor, who are, and must be continually, paid for Edition: current; Page: [433] their labor in producing the same. In these payments the revenues of private estates are expended, for most people live up to their incomes. In clothing or provisions for troops, in arms, ammunition, ships, tents, carriages, &c., &c., (every particular the produce of labor,) much of the public revenue is expended. The pay of officers, civil and military, and of the private soldiers and sailors, requires the rest; and they spend that also in paying for what is produced by the laboring poor.

I allow that some estates may increase by the owners spending less than their income; but then I conceive that other estates do at the same time diminish by the owners spending more than their income, so that when the enriched want to buy more land, they easily find lands in the hands of the impoverished, whose necessities oblige them to sell; and thus this difference is equalled. I allow also, that part of the expense of the rich is in foreign produce or manufactures, for producing which the laboring poor of other nations must be paid; but then I say, we must first pay our own laboring poor for an equal quantity of our manufactures or produce, to exchange for those foreign productions, or we must pay for them in money, which money, not being the natural produce of our country, must first be purchased from abroad, by sending out its value in the produce or manufactures of this country, for which manufactures our laboring poor are to be paid. And indeed, if we did not export more than we import, we could have no money at all. I allow farther, that there are middle men, who make a profit, and Edition: current; Page: [434] even get estates, by purchasing the labor of the poor, and selling it at advanced prices to the rich; but then they cannot enjoy that profit, or the incomes of estates, but by spending them in employing and paying our laboring poor, in some shape or other, for the products of industry. Even beggars, pensioners, hospitals, and all that are supported by charity spend their incomes in the same manner. So that finally, as I said at first, our laboring poor receive annually the whole of the clear revenues of the nation, and from us they can have no more.

If it be said that their wages are too low, and that they ought to be better paid for their labor, I heartily wish that any means could be fallen upon to do it, consistent with their interest and happiness; but, as the cheapness of other things is owing to the plenty of those things, so the cheapness of labor is in most cases owing to the multitude of laborers, and to their underworking one another in order to obtain employment. How is this to be remedied? A law might be made to raise their wages; but if our manufactures are too dear they will not vend abroad, and all that part of employment will fail, unless by fighting and conquering we compel other nations to buy our goods, whether they will or no, which some have been mad enough at times to propose.

Among ourselves, unless we give our working people less employment, how can we, for what they do, pay them higher than we do? Out of what fund is the additional price of labor to be paid, when all our present incomes are, as it were, mortgaged to them? Should they get higher wages, would that make them Edition: current; Page: [435] less poor, if, in consequence, they worked fewer days of the week proportionably? I have said, a law might be made to raise their wages; but I doubt much whether it could be executed to any purpose, unless another law, now indeed almost obsolete, could at the same time be revived and enforced; a law, I mean, that many have often heard and repeated, but few have ever duly considered. Six days shalt thou labor. This is as positive a part of the commandment, as that which says, The seventh day thou shalt rest. But we remember well to observe the indulgent part, and never think of the other. Saint Monday is generally as duly kept by our working people as Sunday; the only difference is, that, instead of employing their time cheaply at church, they are wasting it expensively at the alehouse.

I am, Sir, yours, &c.,
Medius.

CCCXXVIII: SOME GOOD WHIG PRINCIPLES.1

Declaration of those rights of the Commonalty of Great Britain, without which they cannot be free.

It is declared:

First. That the government of this realm, and the making of laws for the same, ought to be lodged in the hands of King, Lords of Parliament, and representatives of the whole body of the freemen of this realm.

Edition: current; Page: [436]

Secondly. That every man of the commonalty (excepting infants, insane persons, and criminals) is, of common right, and by the laws of God, a freeman, and entitled to the free enjoyment of liberty.

Thirdly. That liberty, or freedom, consists in having an actual share in the appointment of those who frame the laws, and who are to be the guardians of every man’s life, property, and peace; for the all of one man is as dear to him as the all of another; and the poor man has an equal right, but more need, to have representatives in the legislature than the rich one.

Fourthly. That they who have no voice nor vote in the electing of representatives, do not enjoy liberty; but are absolutely enslaved to those who have votes, and to their representatives; for to be enslaved is to have governors whom other men have set over us, and be subject to laws made by the representatives of others, without having had representatives of our own to give consent in our behalf.

Fifthly. That a very great majority of the community of this realm are denied the privilege of voting for representatives in Parliament; and, consequently they are enslaved to a small number, who do now enjoy the privilege exclusively to themselves; but who, it may be presumed, are far from wishing to continue in the exclusive possession of a privilege by which their fellow-subjects are deprived of common right, of justice, of liberty; and which, if not communicated to all, must speedily cause the certain overthrow of our happy constitution, and enslave us all.

And, sixthly and lastly. We also say and do assert, Edition: current; Page: [437] that it is the right of the commonalty of this realm to elect a new House of Commons once in every year according to the ancient and sacred laws of the land; because, whenever a Parliament continues in being for a longer term, very great numbers of the commonalty, who have arrived at years of manhood since the last election, and therefore have a right to be actually represented in the House of Commons, are then unjustly deprived of that right.

John Dickinson
Dickinson, John
May 8th, 1768
London
CCCXXIX

PREFACE TO THE “LETTERS FROM A FARMER IN PENNSYLVANIA.”1

When I consider our fellow subjects in America as rational creatures, I cannot but wonder that, during the present wide difference of sentiments in the two countries, concerning the power of Parliament in laying taxes and duties on America, no application has been made to their understandings, no able and learned pen among us has been employed in convincing them that they are in the wrong; proving clearly that, by the established law of nations, or by the terms of their original constitution, they are taxable by our Parliament though they have no representative in it.

On the contrary, whenever there is any news of discontent in America, the cry is, “Send over an army or a fleet, and reduce the dogs to reason.

Edition: current; Page: [438]

It is said of choleric people, that with them there is but a word and a blow.

I hope Britain is not so choleric, and will never be so angry with her colonies as to strike them. But that if she should ever think it may be necessary, she will at least let the word go before the blow, and reason with them.

To do this clearly, and with the most probability of success, by removing their prejudices and rectifying their misapprehensions (if they are such), it will be necessary to learn what those prejudices and misapprehensions are; and before we can either refute or admit their reasons or arguments, we should certainly know them.

It is to that end I have handed the following Letters (lately published in America) to the press here. They were occasioned by the act made (since the repeal of the Stamp Act) for raising a revenue in America by duties on glass, paper, &c.

The author is a gentleman of repute in that country for his knowledge of its affairs, and, it is said, speaks the general sentiments of the inhabitants. How far those sentiments are right or wrong, I do not pretend at present to judge. I wish to see first what can be said on the other side of the question. I hope this publication will produce a full answer, if we can make one. If it does, this publication will have had its use. No offence to government is intended by it; and it is hoped none will be taken.

N. N.
Edition: current; Page: [439]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
10 May, 1768
John Pringle
Pringle, John
CCCXXX

TO SIR JOHN PRINGLE

Craven Street,
Sir:

You may remember that when we were travelling together in Holland, you remarked that the trackschuit in one of the stages went slower than usual, and inquired of the boatman what might be the reason; who answered that it had been a dry season and the water in the canal was low. On being again asked if it was so low that the boat touched the muddy bottom, he said no, not so low as that, but so low as to make it harder for the horse to draw the boat. We neither of us at first could conceive that if there was enough water for the boat to swim clear of the bottom, its being deeper would make any difference. But, as the man affirmed it seriously as a thing well known among them, and as the punctuality required in their stages was likely to make such difference, if any there were, more readily observed by them than by other watermen who did not pass so regularly and constantly backwards and forwards in the same track, I began to apprehend there might be something in it, and attempted to account for it from this consideration, that the boat, in proceeding along the canal, must, in every boat’s length of her course, move out of her way a body of water equal in bulk to the room her bottom took up in the water; that the water so moved must pass on each side of her and under her bottom to get behind her; that if the passage under her bottom was straitened by the shallows, more of that water must pass by her sides, and Edition: current; Page: [440] with a swifter motion, which would retard her, as moving the contrary way; or that the water becoming lower behind the boat than before, she was pressed back by the weight of its difference in height, and her motion retarded by having that weight constantly to overcome. But as it is often lost time to attempt accounting for uncertain facts, I determined to make an experiment of this when I should have convenient time and opportunity.

After our return to England, as often as I happened to be on the Thames, I enquired of our watermen whether they were sensible of any difference in rowing over shallow or deep water. I found them all agreeing in the fact that there was a very great difference, but they differed widely in expressing the quantity of the difference; some supposing it was equal to a mile in six, others to a mile in three, &c. As I did not recollect to have met with any mention of this matter in our philosophical books, and conceiving that if the difference should really be great it might be an object of consideration in the many projects now on foot for digging new navigable canals in this island, I lately put my design of making the experiment in execution, in the following manner.

I provided a trough of plain boards fourteen feet long, six inches wide, and six inches deep, in the clear, filled with water within half an inch of the edge, to represent a canal. I had a loose board of nearly the same length and breadth, that, being put into the water, might be sunk to any depth, and fixed by little wedges where I would choose to have it stay, in order to make different depths of water, leaving the surface Edition: current; Page: [441] at the same height with regard to the sides of the trough. I had a little boat in form of a lighter or boat of burthen, six inches long, two inches and a quarter wide, and one inch and a quarter deep. When swimming it drew one inch water. To give motion to the boat I fixed one end of a long silk thread to its bow, just even with the water’s edge, the other end passed over a well-made brass pulley of about an inch diameter, turning freely on a small axis; and a shilling was the weight. Then placing the boat at one end of the trough, the weight would draw it through the water to the other.

Not having a watch that shows seconds, in order to measure the time taken up by the boat in passing from end to end, I counted as fast as I could count to ten repeatedly, keeping an account of the number of tens on my fingers. And, as much as possible to correct any little inequalities in my counting, I repeated the experiment a number of times at each depth of water, that I might take the medium. And the following are the results:

Water 11/2 inches deep. 2 inches. 41/2 inches.
1st exp. 100 94 79
2 104 93 78
3 104 91 77
4 106 87 79
5 100 88 79
6 99 86 80
7 100 90 79
8 100 88 81
813 717 632
Medium 101 Medium 89 Medium 79
Edition: current; Page: [442]

I made many other experiments, but the above are those in which I was most exact; and they serve sufficiently to show that the difference is considerable. Between the deepest and shallowest it appears to be somewhat more than one fifth. So that, supposing large canals and boats and depths of water to bear the same proportions, and that four men or horses would draw a boat in deep water four leagues in four hours, it would require five to draw the same boat in the same time as far in shallow water; or four would require five hours.

Whether this difference is of consequence enough to justify a greater expense in deepening canals, is a matter of calculation, which our ingenious engineers in that way will readily determine. I am, &c.,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
14 May, 1768
London
John Ross
Ross, John
CCCXXXI

TO JOHN ROSS

Dear Sir:

I received your favor of March 13th, and am extremely concerned at the disorders on our frontiers, and at the debility or wicked connivance of our government and magistrates, which must make property and even life more and more insecure among us, if some effectual remedy is not speedily applied. I have laid all the accounts before the ministry here. I wish I could procure more attention to them. I have urged over and over the necessity of the change we desire; but this country itself being at present in Edition: current; Page: [443] a situation very little better, weakens our argument that a royal government would be better managed, and safer to live under, than that of a proprietary. Even this capital, the residence of the King, is now a daily scene of lawless riot and confusion. Mobs patrolling the streets at noonday, some knocking all down that will not roar for Wilkes and liberty; courts of justice afraid to give judgment against him; coal-heavers and porters pulling down the houses of coal merchants that refuse to give them more wages; sawyers destroying sawmills; sailors unrigging all the outward-bound ships, and suffering none to sail till merchants agree to raise their pay; watermen destroying private boats and threatening bridges; soldiers firing among the mobs and killing men, women, and children, which seems only to have produced a universal sullenness, that looks like a great black cloud coming on, ready to burst in a general tempest.

What the event will be, God only knows. But some punishment seems preparing for a people who are ungratefully abusing the best constitution and the best King any nation was ever blessed with, intent on nothing but luxury, licentiousness, power, places, pensions, and plunder; while the ministry, divided in their counsels, with little regard for each other, worried by perpetual oppositions, in continual apprehension of changes, intent on securing popularity in case they should lose favor, have for some years past had little time or inclination to attend to our small affairs, whose remoteness makes them appear still smaller.

The bishops here are very desirous of securing the Edition: current; Page: [444] Church of England in America, and promoting its interests and enlargement by sending one of their order thither; but though they have long solicited this point with government here, they have not as yet been able to obtain it, so apprehensive are ministers of engaging in any novel measure.

I hope soon to have an opportunity of conferring with you, and therefore say no more at present on this subject. I am, my dear friend, yours affectionately,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
14 May, 1768
London
Joseph Galloway
Galloway, Joseph
CCCXXXII

TO JOSEPH GALLOWAY

Dear Sir:

I received your favor of March 31st. It is now, with the messages, in the hands of the minister, so that I cannot be more particular at present in answering it than to say I should have a melancholy prospect in going home to such public confusion, if I did not leave greater confusion behind me. The newspapers, and my letter of this day to Mr. Ross, will inform you of the miserable situation this country is in. While I am writing, a great mob of coal porters fills the street, carrying a wretch of their business upon poles, to be ducked and otherwise punished at their pleasure for working at the old wages. All respect to law and government seems to be lost among the common people, who are moreover Edition: current; Page: [445] continually inflamed by seditious scribblers, to trample on authority and every thing that used to keep them in order.

The Parliament is now sitting, but will not continue long together, nor undertake any material business. The court of King’s Bench postponed giving sentence against Wilkes on his outlawry till the next term, intimidated, as some say, by his popularity, and willing to get rid of the affair for a time, till it should be seen what the Parliament would conclude as to his membership. The Commons, at least some of them, resent that conduct, which has thrown a burthen on them it might have eased them of, by pillorying or punishing him in some infamous manner, that would have given better ground for expelling him the House. His friends complain of it as a delay of justice, say the court knew the outlawry to be defective, and that they must finally pronounce it void, but would punish him by long confinement. Great mobs of his adherents have assembled before the prison, the guards have fired on them; it is said five or six are killed, and sixteen or seventeen wounded; and some circumstances have attended this military execution, such as its being done by the Scotch regiment, the pursuing a lad, and killing him at his father’s house, &c., &c., that exasperate people exceedingly, and more mischief seems brewing. Several of the soldiers are imprisoned. If they are not hanged, it is feared there will be more and greater mobs; and, if they are, that no soldier will assist in suppressing any mob hereafter. The prospect either way is gloomy. It is said the English soldiers cannot be confided in to act against Edition: current; Page: [446] these mobs, being suspected as rather inclined to favor and join them.

I am preparing for my return, and hope for the pleasure of finding you well, when I shall have an opportunity of communicating to you more particularly the state of things here relating to our American affairs, which I cannot so well do by letter. I enclose you a report of Sir M—— L——, counsel to the Board of Trade, on one of your late acts. I suppose it has had its effect, so that the repeal will be of little consequence. In the meantime, I am with sincere esteem and affection, Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,

B. Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Oliver Neave
Neave, Oliver
CCCXXXIII

TO OLIVER NEAVE

Dear Sir:

I cannot be of opinion with you that it is too late in life for you to learn to swim. The river near the bottom of your garden affords a most convenient place for the purpose. And as your new employment requires your being often on the water, of which you have such a dread, I think you would do well to make the trial; nothing being so likely to remove those apprehensions as the consciousness of an ability to swim to the shore, in case of an accident, or of supporting yourself in the water till a boat could come to take you up.

I do not know how far corks or bladders may be Edition: current; Page: [447] useful in learning to swim, having never seen much trial of them. Possibly they may be of service in supporting the body while you are learning what is called the stroke, or that manner of drawing in and striking out the hands and feet that is necessary to produce progressive motion. But you will be no swimmer till you can place some confidence in the power of the water to support you; I would therefore advise the acquiring of that confidence in the first place; especially as I have known several who, by a little of the practice necessary for that purpose, have insensibly acquired the stroke, taught as it were by nature.

The practice I mean is this: Choosing a place where the water deepens gradually, walk coolly into it till it is up to your breast, then turn round, your face to the shore, and throw an egg into the water between you and the shore. It will sink to the bottom, and be easily seen there, as your water is clear. It must lie in water so deep as that you cannot reach it to take it up but by diving for it. To encourage yourself in order to do this, reflect that your progress will be from deeper to shallower water, and that at any time you may, by bringing your legs under you and standing on the bottom, raise your head far above the water. Then plunge under it with your eyes open, throwing yourself towards the egg, and endeavouring by the action of your hands and feet against the water to get forward till within reach of it. In this attempt you will find that the water buoys you up against your inclination; that it is not so easy a thing to sink as you imagined; that you cannot but by active Edition: current; Page: [448] force get down to the egg. Thus you feel the power of the water to support you, and learn to confide in that power; while your endeavours to overcome it, and to reach the egg, teach you the manner of acting on the water with your feet and hands, which action is afterwards used in swimming to support your head higher above water, or to go forward through it.

I would the more earnestly press you to the trial of this method, because, though I think I satisfied you that your body is lighter than water, and that you might float in it a long time with your mouth free for breathing, if you would put yourself in a proper posture, and would be still and forbear struggling; yet till you have obtained this experimental confidence in the water, I cannot depend on your having the necessary presence of mind to recollect that posture and the directions I gave you relating to it. The surprise may put all out of your mind. For though we value ourselves on being reasonable, knowing creatures, reason and knowledge seem on such occasions to be of little use to us; and the brutes, to whom we allow scarce a glimmering of either, appear to have the advantage of us.

I will, however, take this opportunity of repeating those particulars to you which I mentioned in our last conversation, as, by perusing them at your leisure, you may possibly imprint them so in your memory as on occasion to be of some use to you.

1. That though the legs, arms, and head of a human body, being solid parts, are specifically something heavier than fresh water, yet the trunk, particularly Edition: current; Page: [449] the upper part, from its hollowness, is so much lighter than water, as that the whole of the body taken together is too light to sink wholly under water, but some part will remain above, until the lungs become filled with water, which happens from drawing water into them instead of air, when a person in the fright attempts breathing while the mouth and nostrils are under water.

2. That the legs and arms are specifically lighter than salt water, and will be supported by it, so that a human body would not sink in salt water, though the lungs were filled as above, but from the greater specific gravity of the head.

3. That therefore a person throwing himself on his back in salt water, and extending his arms, may easily lie so as to keep his mouth and nostrils free for breathing; and by a small motion of his hands may prevent turning, if he should perceive any tendency to it.

4. That in fresh water, if a man throws himself on his back, near the surface, he cannot long continue in that situation but by proper action of his hands on the water. If he uses no such action, the legs and lower part of the body will gradually sink till he comes into an upright position, in which he will continue suspended, the hollow of the breast keeping the head uppermost.

5. But if, in this erect position, the head is kept upright above the shoulders, as when we stand on the ground, the immersion will, by the weight of that part of the head that is out of water, reach above the mouth and nostrils, perhaps a little above the eyes, Edition: current; Page: [450] so that a man cannot long remain suspended in water with his head in that position.

6. The body continuing suspended as before, and upright, if the head be leaned quite back, so that the face looks upwards, all the back part of the head being then under water, and its weight consequently in a great measure supported by it, the face will remain above water quite free for breathing, will rise an inch higher every inspiration, and sink as much every expiration, but never so low as that the water may come over the mouth.

7. If therefore a person unacquainted with swimming and falling accidentally into the water, could have presence of mind sufficient to avoid struggling and plunging, and to let the body take this natural position, he might continue long safe from drowning till perhaps help would come. For as to the clothes, their additional weight while immersed is very inconsiderable, the water supporting it, though when he comes out of the water he would find them very heavy indeed.

But, as I said before, I would not advise you or any one to depend on having this presence of mind on such an occasion, but learn firmly to swim; as I wish all men were taught to do in their youth. They would, on many occurrences, be the safer for having that skill, and on many more the happier, as freer from painful apprehensions of danger, to say nothing of the enjoyment in so delightful and wholesome an exercise. Soldiers particularly should, methinks, all be taught to swim; it might be of frequent use either in surprising an enemy, or saving themselves. And Edition: current; Page: [451] if I had now boys to educate, I should prefer those schools (other things being equal) where an opportunity was offered for acquiring so advantageous an art, which, once learned, is never forgotten.

I am, Sir, &c.,
B. Franklin.
end of volume iv.
1

He returned to Philadelphia, with his daughter, from this tour to New England, on the 5th of November.

1

This Parker in New York and Franklin in Philadelphia, were, at the date of this letter, the only two printers of much account in the colonies. Cortland Parker, Esq., the eminent jurist of New Jersey, inherits the blood of both.

1

Dr. Franklin was appointed to this second mission to England by the Assembly of Pennsylvania, October 26, 1764. As the Assembly had not then in the treasury any money that could be appropriated for this purpose, they passed a resolve that the expense attending his voyage and the execution of the trust reposed in him should be provided for in the next bill prepared by the House for raising money to defray the public debts. On the strength of this pledge, the money was loaned by the merchants, although a party had made a considerable opposition to the appointment of an agent who was known to be hostile to the Proprietaries, and had been active in promoting petitions for a change of the Pennsylvania government.

1

The fury of partisanship was at its height in Pennsylvania at this time. And no one felt the effects of it more than Franklin. For an intelligent apprehension of the questions which divided the people see the Doctor’s tract entitled Cool Thoughts; and also his Preface to Galloway’s Speech, and Remarks on a Late Protest. John Dickinson, in the Assembly, denounced his selection as agent of the province as the most obnoxious to his country that could have been made. “The gentleman proposed,” he said, “has been called ‘a great luminary of the learned world.’ I acknowledge his abilities. Far be it from me to detract from the merit I admire. Let him still shine; but without wrapping his country in flames.”

Even the aid of the muses was invoked by the opposition. The following lines, which owe their existence to the dissensions between the popular and the proprietary portion, are believed to have been written by Hannah Griffiths, of Philadelphia:

Inscription on a curious Stove in the form of an Urn, contrived in such a Manner as to make the Flame descend instead of rising from the Fire. Invented by Dr. Franklin.

    • Like a Newton sublimely he soared
    • To a summit before unattained,
    • New regions of science explored,
    • And the palm of philosophy gained.
    • With a spark which he caught from the skies,
    • He displayed an unparalleled wonder,
    • For we saw with delight and surprise
    • That his rod could defend us from thunder.
    • Oh! had he been wise to pursue
    • The track for his talent designed,
    • What a tribute of praise had been due
    • To the teacher and friend of mankind.
    • But to covet political fame
    • Was in him a degrading ambition,
    • For a spark which from Lucifer came,
    • Had kindled the blaze of sedition.
    • Let candor then write on his urn:
    • ‘Here lies the renowned inventor,
    • Whose flame to the skies ought to burn,
    • But inverted descends to the centre.’ ”

The following note is appended to this poem in the Franklin collection:

“Dr. Benjamin Franklin invented the Empyreal Stove for inverting or turning the smoke downwards. When they were first offered to the public, it is said, a gentleman wrote the above lines, and attached them to one of these inverted stoves.”

1

William Franklin, Governor of New Jersey, and his wife.

1

Franklin reached London in the evening of the 10th of December, and went immediately to his old lodgings in Craven Street.

1

Franklin’s first mission to England was successful in its purpose to have the proprietary estates in Pennsylvania pay their due share of the taxes for the defence of the country, but not in producing harmony between the proprietary and the popular party. The governor, acting in the interest of the proprietaries, resisted the wishes of the Assembly, and there was great discontent. The best remedy for this state of things, in Franklin’s judgment, was to have the king take the government of the colony into his own hands, indemnifying the proprietaries. This paper was written to enforce that view.—Editor.

1

See their message to the Assembly, in which the right of sitting on their own adjournments is denied.

1

New and Accurate Account of Carolina, p. 14; printed at London, 1733.

1

An Account of the British Settlements in America, p. 233, concerning Carolina.

2

Historical Register, No. 63, for 1731.

1

Grants and Concessions, and Original Constitutions of New Jersey, printed at Philadelphia by W. Bradford, p. 606.

1

Grants and Concessions, &c., p. 633.

1

In 1722, the arrears then in their hands were computed at £18,000 sterling.

1

See Secretary of State’s Letters in the printed Votes.

1

That is, the English and German languages, both of which were used in Pennsylvania.—Editor.

2

While the petition to the king for a royal government in Pennsylvania was under discussion in the Assembly, Mr. John Dickinson made a speech against it, which was printed in a pamphlet, with a long preface by another hand. Mr. Galloway published a reply, entitled, The Speech of Joseph Galloway, One of the Members for Philadelphia County, in answer to the Speech of John Dickinson, delivered in the House of Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania, May 24th, 1764.” To this reply was prefixed this Preface, written by Dr. Franklin.—Editor.

1

That is, to the assembly.—B. V.

1

The act is entitled, “An Act for granting to his Majesty the sum of one hundred thousand pounds; striking the same in bills of credit, and sinking the bills by a tax on all estates real and personal.”

1

The agents in England, whither the laws were sent to receive the king’s assent. Franklin was one of the agents in that country at the time the laws in question were sent out for approval.—Editor.

1

This would have been done, and the money all sunk in the hands of the people, if the agents, Benjamin Franklin and Robert Charles, had not interposed, and voluntarily, without authority from the Assembly so to do, but at their own risk, undertaken that those amendments should be made, or that they themselves would indemnify the proprietaries from any damages they might sustain for want thereof. An action which, as the Prefacer says in another case, “posterity perhaps may find a name for.”

2

It is not easy to guess from what source our proprietaries have drawn their principles. Those who study law and justice, as a science, have established it a maxim in equity, “Qui sentit commodum, sentire debet et onus.” And so consistent is this with the common sense of mankind, that even our lowest untaught cobblers and porters feel the force of it in their own maxim (which they are honest enough never to dispute), “Touch pot, touch penny.”

1

For a fuller account of this dispute the reader is referred to the newspapers, and votes of assembly.

1

These words, “by completing the agreement,” &c., are omitted by the honest Prefacer, in his account of the resolve, that they might not interfere with his insinuation of the measure’s being impracticable; “Have the proprietors, by any act of theirs, forfeited the least title of what was granted them by his Majesty’s royal ancestors? Or can they be deprived of their charter rights without their consent,” &c., sensible that these questions are impertinent, if those rights are already sold?

1

The Prefacer, with great art, endeavours to represent this number as insignificant. He says the petitioners were but three thousand five hundred, and that the province contains near three hundred thousand souls. His reader is to imagine that two hundred and ninety-six thousand five hundred of them were applied to, and refused to sign it. The truth is, that his number of souls is vastly exaggerated. The dwelling-houses in the province, in 1752, did not exceed twenty thousand. Political arithmeticians reckon generally but five souls to a house, one house with another; and, therefore, allowing for houses since built, there are not probably more than a hundred and ten thousand souls in the province; that of these, scarce twenty-two thousand could with any propriety be petitioners. And, considering the scattered settlement of the province, the general inattention of mankind, especially in new countries, to public affairs, and the indefatigable pains taken by proprietaries’ new allies, the Presbyterian clergy of Philadelphia (who wrote circular letters to every congregation in the county, to deter them from petitioning, by dutiful intimations, that if we were reduced to a royal government, it would be the “ruin of the province”), it is a wonder the number (near a sixth part) was so great as it was. But if there had been no such petitions, it would not have been material to the point. The assembly went upon another foundation. They had adjourned to consult their constituents; they returned satisfied that the measure was agreeable to them, and nothing appeared to the contrary.

1

In the preface to Dickinson’s speech, the following character of William Penn was inserted, every phrase in which was taken, as the writer said, from the minutes of the assembly.—Editor.

William Penn,

A man of principles truly humane,

An advocate for

Religion and Liberty,

Possessing a noble spirit,

That exerted itself

For the good of mankind,

Was

The great and worthy founder

Of

Pennsylvania.

To its inhabitants, by Charter,

He granted and confirmed

Many singular Privileges and Immunities,

Civil and religious;

Which he continually studied

To preserve and defend for them,

Nobly declaring,

That they had not followed him so far

To lose a single title

Of the Great Charter

To which all Englishmen were born!

For these services,

Great have been the acknowledgments,

Deservedly paid to his merit;

And his memory

Is dear to his people,

Who have repeatedly confessed,

That,

Next to Divine Providence,

Their happiness, prosperity, and increase

Are owing

To his wise conduct and singular goodness,

Which deserve ever to be remembered,

With

Gratitude and Affection.

By Pennsylvanians.”

1

That is, Thomas and Richard Penn, Proprietors of Pennsylvania.—Editor.

1

Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives, 1754, passim; 1755, 1756, 1757, passim; 1758, 1759, 1760, 1761, 1762, 1763, 1764, passim.

1

The petition of the assembly to the King for a royal government.—Editor.

1

The Assembly, being called upon by the Governor for their advice on that occasion, did, in a message, advise his sending for and examining the magistrates of Lancaster county and borough, where the murders were committed, in order to discover the actors; but neither that, nor any of the other measures recommended, were ever taken. Proclamations indeed were published, but soon discontinued.

1

Extract of a letter, dated London, August 6, 1764, from David Barclay & Sons to Messieurs James and Drinker.

“We very much wish for William Allen’s happy arrival on your side; when we hope his influence, added to the power and commissions the proprietaries have invested him with, may prove effectual in restoring harmony and tranquillity among you, so much to be desired by every wellwisher to your province. Pray be assured of our sincerest and best wishes for the success of this salutary work, and that nothing in our power to contribute thereto will ever be wanting.”

1

Report of the Committee on Benjamin Franklin’s Accounts.

“February 19, 1763. In obedience to the order of the House, we have examined the account of Benjamin Franklin, Esquire, with the vouchers to us produced in support thereof, and do find the same account to be just; and that he has expended, in the immediate service of this province, the sum of seven hundred and fourteen pounds, ten shillings, and seven pence, out of the sum of fifteen hundred pounds sterling, to him remitted and paid, exclusive of any allowance or charge for his support and services for the province.

John Morton,
William Allen,
John Ross,
John Moor,
Joseph Fox,
John Hughes,
Samuel Rhoads,
John Wilkinson,
Isaac Pearson.

The House, taking the foregoing report of the committee of accounts into consideration, and having spent some time therein,

Resolved, That the sum of five hundred pounds sterling, per annum, be allowed and given to Benjamin Franklin, Esquire, late agent for the province of Pennsylvania at the court of Great Britain, during his absence of six years from his business and connexions, in the service of the public; and that the thanks of this House be also given to the said gentleman by Mr. Speaker, from the chair, as well for the faithful discharge of his duty to this province in particular, as for the many and important services done America in general, during his residence in Great Britain.”

“Thursday, March 31, 1763. Pursuant to a resolve of the 19th of last month, that the thanks of this House be given to Benjamin Franklin, Esquire, for his many services, not only to the province of Pennsylvania, but to America in general, during his late agency at the court of Great Britain, the same were this day accordingly given in form from the chair. To which Mr. Franklin, respectfully addressing himself to the Speaker, made answer. ‘That he was thankful to the House for the very handsome and generous allowance they had been pleased to make him for his services; but that the approbation of this house was, in his estimation, far above every other kind of recompense.’ ”—Votes, 1763.

1

Mr. Tytler, in his Life of Lord Kames (vol. ii., p. 31, 2d ed.) makes the following remarks on the above letter: “This notion of Dr. Franklin’s, respecting what he called the Ideal Harmony of the Scottish melodies, is extremely acute, and is marked by that ingenious simplicity in the thought which is characteristic of a truly philosophic mind. In supplement to his observation, that the past sound, being retained by the memory, forms a concord with the present sound, it may perhaps be added, that, the tympanum of the ear continuing to vibrate for some little time after it is struck by any musical note, the succeeding note will be either agreeable or disagreeable, as it accords, or is in discordance, with the existing vibration. Now a succession of notes by thirds and fifths will always find the tympanum in concord, and the last vibration harmonizing with the succeeding. This notion accounts completely for the effect of the Scottish melodies, in giving pleasure alike to an intelligent judge of music, and to a person of uncultivated taste, provided he have a good musical ear; for the pleasure arising from a succession of sounds, in the regular interval of thirds and fifths, and likewise that arising from their concord, is founded in nature, and in the mechanical structure of the organs of hearing, and is altogether independent of custom or acquired taste. A Scottish air will therefore be grateful alike to the ear of a Greenlander, a Japanese, and a native of Italy; if possessed of the musical sense, they will all equally understand and relish it, for it speaks an universal language.”—Sparks.

1

Mr. Isaac Norris, who had long acted as Speaker of the Assembly of Pennsylvania, resigned that office on account of ill health, May 26, 1764, and Dr. Franklin was appointed as his successor. He continued Speaker till the Assembly was dissolved in September following.

1

These were A Narrative of the Late Massacres; Cool Thoughts; and the Preface to Galloway’s Speech. See supra.

1

On the 20th of August he wrote: “I informed you lately, that twenty guineas were demanded by Kirk for engraving the Hospital seal. I have since found a man that will do it for ten, but I suppose will hardly do it so well. Let me know your sentiments of this expense.”

1

By home here is meant England, a common use of the word before the Revolution.

1

Claims to an independence of Parliament, in regard to the power of taxing the colonists without their consent.

2

In the Sparks’ editions of Franklin’s works this sentence reads: “If we can get rid of the former, we may easily get rid of the latter.” Referring to this sentence, Mr. Bancroft, at p. 306 of the fifth volume of the first edition of his History of the United States, says:

“For the opportunity of printing the above paragraph correctly in Franklin’s own words, I am indebted to Mrs. Chamberlain, of Newark, Delaware, who has the original in her possession. The copy was made for me with the utmost exactness, by Mr. A. H. Grimshaw of Wilmington, and carefully compared with the original by Mr. Grimshaw and one of his friends. There is another version in circulation which makes Franklin say: ‘Idleness and pride tax us with a heavier hand than kings and parliaments. If we can get rid of the former, we can get rid of the latter.’

“This is not what Franklin wrote. To ‘bear’ with kings and parliaments and to ‘get rid of’ kings and parliaments are very different things. Franklin was long-suffering and waited some years yet before he advised to get rid of kings. He himself printed a part of this letter, but with amplifications, in the London Chronicle of Nov. 14 to 16, 1765, from which it was copied into Weyman’s New York Gazette of February 3, and other papers. In all of them, as well as the letter itself, the words are, ‘bear the latter’ and ‘get rid’ of the former.”

1

It was, however, agreed to in the same year, viz., in 1766.—B. V.

2

The name of the person to whom this letter is addressed is not known. The letter, to which it is a reply, appears to have contained the letter of some third person equally unknown.—B. V.

1

As soon as the Stamp Act was promulgated in the colonies, a cloud of petitions from their various assemblies was showered upon the Parliament for its repeal. The stamped paper was rejected as if it were poisoned; vessels were forbidden to land it; the distributors were compelled to resign their commissions; Hughes dared not show himself on the streets, nor did Franklin entirely escape. A caricature of the period represents the Devil whispering in his ear: “Ben, you shall be my agent throughout my dominions.” His house and family even were supposed at one time to be in peril from the mob, as appears by the following extract from a letter written him by his wife on the 22d September:

“You will see by the papers what work has happened in other places, and something has been said relative to raising a mob in this place. I was for nine days kept in a continual hurry by people to remove; and Sally was persuaded to go to Burlington [the residence of her brother, the governor] for safety; but, on Monday last, we had very great rejoicing on account of the change in the ministry, and a preparation for bonfires at night, and several houses threatened to be pulled down.

Cousin Davenport came and told me that more than twenty people had told him it was his duty to be with us. I said I was pleased to receive civility from any body, so he staid with me some time. Towards night I said he should fetch a gun or two, as we had none. I sent to ask my brother to come, and bring his gun also, so we [turned] one room into a magazine; I ordered some sort of defence up-stairs, such as I could manage myself. I said when I was advised to remove, that I was very sure you had done nothing to anybody, nor had I given any offence to any person at all, nor would I be uneasy by anybody, nor would I stir or show the least uneasiness, but if any one came to disturb me, I should show a proper resentment, and I should be very much affronted with anybody.

Sally was gone with Miss Rose to see Captain Real’s daughter, and heard the report there, and came home to be with me; but I had sent her word not to come. I was told there were eight hundred men ready to assist any one that should be molested.

Billy [the Governor of New Jersey] came down to ask us up to Burlington. I consented to Sally’s going, but I will not stir, as I really don’t think it would be right for me to show the least uneasiness at all.

It is Mr. Samuel Smith that is setting the people mad by telling them it was you that had planned the Stamp Act, and that you are endeavoring to get the Test Act brought over here.”

Such was the state of affairs in America when the subject was again brought before Parliament in the beginning of ’66, the Marquis of Rockingham having displaced Mr. Grenville.

The new ministers resolved to recommend a repeal of the Stamp Act. While the question was under debate in Parliament, a motion which probably originated with the ministers who were not striving to effect a repeal of the act, was adopted, that Franklin be called before the House, and examined respecting the state of affairs in America. This is the report of his examination.—Editor.

1

The Stamp Act said: “that the Americans shall have no commerce, make no exchange of property with each other, neither purchase, nor grant, nor recover debts; they shall neither marry nor make their wills, unless they pay such and such sums” in specie for the stamps which must give validity to the proceedings. The operation of such a tax, had it obtained the consent of the people, appeared inevitable; and its annual productiveness, on its introduction, was estimated, by its proposer in the House of Commons at the committee for supplies, at one hundred thousand pounds sterling. The colonies being already reduced to the necessity of having paper money, by sending to Britain the specie they collected in foreign trade, in order to make up for the deficiency of their other returns for British manufactures, there were doubts whether there could remain specie sufficient to answer the tax.—B. V.

1

The Stamp Act provided that a double duty should be laid “where the instrument, proceedings, &c., shall be engrossed, written, or printed within the said colonies and plantations, in any other than the English language.” This measure, it is presumed, appeared to be suggested by motives of convenience, and the policy of assimilating persons of foreign to those of British descent, and preventing their interference in the conduct of law business till this change should be affected. It seems, however, to have been deemed too precipitate, immediately to extend this clause to newly conquered countries. An exemption therefore was granted, in this particular, with respect to Canada and Grenada, for the space of five years, to be reckoned from the commencement of the duty. See the Stamp Act.—B. V.

1

Strangers excluded, some parts of the northern colonies doubled their numbers in fifteen or sixteen years; to the southward they were longer; but, taking one with another, they had doubled, by natural generation only, once in twenty-five years. Pennsylvania, including strangers, had doubled in about sixteen years.—B. V.

1

In the year 1733, “for the welfare and prosperity of our sugar colonies in America,” and “for remedying discouragement of planters,” duties were “given and granted” to George the Second upon all rum, spirits, molasses, syrups, sugar, and paneles of foreign growth, produce, and manufacture, imported into the colonies. This regulation of trade, for the benefit of the general empire was acquiesced in, notwithstanding the introduction of the novel terms “give and grant.” But the act, which was made only for the term of five years, and had been several times renewed in the reign of George the Second, and once in the reign of George the Third, was renewed again in the year 1763, in the reign of George the Third, and extended to other articles upon new and altered grounds. It was stated in the preamble to this act, “that it was expedient that new provisions and regulations should be established for improving the revenue of this kingdom”; that it “was just and necessary that a revenue should be raised in America for defending, protecting, and securing the same”; and that the Commons of Great Britain, desirous of making some provision towards raising the said revenue in America, have resolved to give and grant to his Majesty the several rates and duties,” &c. Mr. Mauduit, agent for Massachusetts Bay, tells us, that he was instructed in the following terms to oppose Mr. Grenville’s taxing system. “You are to remonstrate against these measures, and, if possible, to obtain a repeal of the Sugar Act, and prevent the imposition of any further duties or taxes on the colonies. Measures will be taken that you may be joined by all the other agents. Boston, June 14th, 1764.

The question proposed to Dr. Franklin alludes to this sugar act in 1763. Dr. Franklin’s answer particularly merits the attention of the historian and politician.—B. V.

1

Afterwards expressed in the Declaratory Act.—B. V.

1

See “Remarks and Facts Relative to the American Paper Money,” in Spark’s Works of Franklin, vol. ii., p. 340.

1

When this army was in the utmost distress, from the want of wagons, &c., our author and his son voluntarily traversed the country, in order to collect a sufficient quantity; and they had zeal and address enough to effect their purpose, upon pledging themselves, to the amount of many thousand pounds, for payment. It was just before Dr. Franklin’s last return from England to America, that the accounts in this transaction were passed at the British treasury.—B. V.

1

I take the following to be the history of this transaction. Until 1763, and the years following, whenever Great Britain wanted supplies directly from the colonies, the Secretary of State, in his Majesty’s name, sent them a letter of requisition, in which the occasion for supplies was expressed; and the colonies returned a free gift, the mode of levying which they wholly prescribed. At this period, a chancellor of the exchequer (Mr. George Grenville) steps forth, and says to the House of Commons: “We must call for money from the colonies in the way of a tax”; and to the colony agents: “Write to your several colonies, and tell them if they dislike a duty upon stamps, and prefer any other method of raising the money themselves, I shall be content, provided the amount be but raised.” “That is,” observed the colonies, when commenting upon his terms, “if we do not tax ourselves, as we may be directed, the Parliament will tax us.” Dr. Franklin’s instructions, spoken of above, related to this gracious option. As the colonies could not choose “another tax,” while they disclaimed every tax, the Parliament passed the Stamp Act.

It seems that the only part of the offer which bore a show of favor, was the grant of the mode of levying; and this was the only circumstance which was not new.

See Mr. Mauduit’s account of Mr. Grenville’s conference with the agents, confirmed by the agents for Georgia and Virginia; and Mr. Burke’s Speech, in 1774, p. 55.—B. V.

1

Dr. Franklin’s examination before Parliament, concerning the Stamp Act, was closed on the 13th of February, and contributed essentially towards effecting the repeal. The bill for the repeal of the Stamp Act received the royal assent on the 8th of March.

1

Peter Franklin, the last surviving brother of Dr. Franklin, died July 1, 1766, in the seventy-fourth year of his age. He had formerly resided at Newport, Rhode Island; but at the time of his death he was deputy postmaster in Philadelphia.

1

Translated from M. Dubourg’s French edition of the author’s work (Tome I., p. 265).—Sparks.

1

The Plan remarked upon was under the consideration of the ministry before the close of the year 1766, and, as I am inclined to think, after the commencement of 1765. I can go no nearer as to its date. It is needless to enter into the particulars of it, as the Remarks explain themselves; except perhaps as to the following points:

The trade was to be open; there were to be two superintendents to it; in the northern district, the trade was to be carried on at fixed posts; in the southern, within the Indian towns; the military were to have no power over the superintendents or the Indian trade, even in war times, unless with the superintendents’ assent, or in great exigencies; the superintendents, by themselves or deputies, were to make annual visitations among the Indians, and their proceedings were to be very summary; and no credit was to be given to the Indians beyond fifty shillings, for no higher debt was to be made recoverable.—B. V.

1

Marginal notes in Franklin’s pamphlets.

1

The passages included within quotation marks are extracts from the pamphlet, and the sentence following each contains Dr. Franklin’s observations, which were copied from Franklin’s pamphlets.

1

Franklin’s old partner in the printing business.

1

Examination of Dr. Franklin in the British House of Commons. See vol. iv., p. 171.

1

Among Dr. Franklin’s manuscripts is a paper, entitled “A Plan of Union by Admitting Representatives from the American Colonies and from Ireland into the British Parliament.” It is not in his handwriting, and it appears to have been communicated to him by some other person. The following is an outline of the scheme:

America.

For the House of Commons.
Massachusetts Bay, Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina, Jamaica, each four 20
New York, Maryland, Canada, each three 9
Connecticut, New Jersey, each two 4
New Hampshire, Nova Scotia, Rhode Island, Lower Counties of Pennsylvania, Georgia, West Florida, East Florida, North Carolina, each one 8
Barbadoes, Antigua, St. Christopher’s, Bahamas, each one 4
Bermuda, Montserrat, Nevis, each to choose in rotation for the whole 1
Grenada 2
Newfoundland and St. John’s 1
Dominica, St. Vincent’s, and Tobago 1
50

Ireland.

For the House of Commons.
Each Province, four members 16
Dublin 2
Cork, Kinsale, Waterford, Limerick, Kilkenny, Wicklow, Wexford, one each 7
Dundalk, Drogheda, Younghale 2
Galway, Belfast, Londonderry, one each 3
30
Lords for the principal Provinces and Islands, as soon as found convenient, to be created by the royal prerogative 10
A proportionate number of Lords, to be elected by the Irish Lords from among themselves 10
Making in the whole 100

The mode of election in the colonies was to be left to the Assemblies. Provision was to be made, also, that neither the colonies nor Ireland should be taxed for protection and defence separately or apart from England; and that the revenue arising from the regulations of colonial trade should be exclusively appropriated to the particular uses of the colonies, for the purpose of defraying the expenses of civil government and other colonial charges.—See infra, Letter to John Ross, Dec. 13th.

1

Mr. Tytler, in a note on this letter, after stating the views of Lord Kames on the controversy between Great Britain and the colonies, says: “But, if such were the sentiments of Lord Kames on the question of right between Britain and her colonies, it appears that, on viewing the matter in the light of expediency, he had very early formed an opinion that, in the relative situation of the two countries, and looking to the probable chance of increasing animosities, and matters being driven to extremity, either by the erring policy or factious views of some of the leaders in both, it would be a wise measure in the British government to waive the question of strict right, and to consent freely to a consolidating union with America, by giving that country a full representation in Parliament. On this subject he had written to Dr. Franklin as early as the end of the year 1765, at the time when the first intelligence arrived in this country of the disorders occasioned by the attempts to carry the Stamp Act into execution; and he had written a second letter to him on the same subject, in the beginning of 1767. Dr. Franklin’s answer to these letters is extremely interesting, and affords a striking specimen of the profound sagacity and foresight of that extraordinary man.”

Mr. Tytler adds: “This excellent letter, as appears by a subsequent one, from the same hand, was in all probability intercepted, as it was not received by Lord Kames in the regular course of communication. Dr. Franklin, however, having preserved a copy, transmitted it two years afterwards to his correspondent. The opinions it conveyed were thus probably well known to the persons at the head of administration. It had been happy, if they had paid them that attention which the wisdom of the counsels they contained deserved.”—Tytler’s Life of Lord Kames, vol. ii., 2d ed., pp. 99, 112.

1

In the month of October, 1766, Mr. Galloway was chosen Speaker of the Assembly, in which office he continued till the beginning of the Revolution.

1

Besides the offence given to the government by the legislature of New York, in refusing to provide for quartering soldiers, the merchants of the city of New York petitioned for the repeal of the acts of Parliament restraining the trade of the colonies. The petition was presented to Parliament and read, but was then ordered to lie on the table, and no further notice was taken of it. The conduct of the New Yorkers, on both these accounts, raised against them a great outcry in England; and Franklin, according to his custom in such cases, endeavored to quiet the clamor and vindicate his countrymen, by an accurate representation of the circumstances in the public papers. Among his manuscripts has been found a fragment of an article, which seems to relate to this occasion, signed “A Friend to Both Parties.” The closing part only remains, and is as follows.

“—— or refuses to comply with an act of Parliament, is a rebel, I am afraid we have many more rebels among us than we are aware of; among others, they that have not registered the weights of their plate, and paid the duty, are all rebels; and these, I think, are not a few; to whom may be added the acting rebels that wear French silks and cambrics.

As to the petition mentioned above, I have been informed it is from a number of private persons, merchants of New York, stating their opinion, that several restraints in the acts of trade, laid on the commerce of the colonies, are not only prejudicial to the colonies, but to the mother country. They give their reasons for this opinion. These reasons are to be judged of here. If they are found to be good, and supported by facts, one would think that, instead of censure, those merchants might deserve thanks. If otherwise, the petition may be laid aside. Petitioning is not rebellion. The very nature of a petition acknowledges the power it petitions to, and the subjection of the petitioner.

But, in party views, molehills are often magnified to mountains; and when the wolf is determined on a quarrel with the lamb, up stream or down stream is all one. Pretences are easily found or made. Reason and justice are out of the question.”

1

Samuel Franklin was the grandson of Benjamin Franklin, who was Dr. Franklin’s uncle, and after whom he was named.

1

Mr. Benjamin West, the painter.

1

Sally did not go to England, as is here proposed, but was married to Mr. Richard Bache on the 29th of October following. She was then twenty-three years old, having been born September 11, 1744. She was Dr. Franklin’s only daughter. Among her descendants have been several representative men and women.

1

The bones referred to in this letter were presented by Dr. Franklin to the Royal Society. See the Philosophical Transactions (vol. lvii., p. 464).

1

Probably the piece entitled Causes of the American Discontent before 1768. See infra.

1

The subject here introduced and frequently mentioned in letters to his son, relates to an application by a company to the crown for the grant of a tract of land, called Walpole’s Grant, west of the Alleghanies, with the design of establishing a colony there. See infra.

1

Franklin visited Paris twice before he went there in an official character, once in 1767 and again in 1769. He wrote but little about either trip, save what we find in this letter. He was no exception to the rule that a man is never so ready to pronounce definite judgments upon a country, or so confident of their soundness, as during the first week after his arrival in it.

1

This letter was found in the London Chronicle, for November 24th, 1767, and is addressed to the printer of that newspaper.

1

Alluding to the British taxes on carriage-wheels and on plate.—Duane.

1

This was the new Board of Commissioners of Customs established by a late act of Parliament for the colonies. The board was fixed at Boston, and was particularly odious to the colonists, as it seemed to be a part of the system of parliamentary taxation. The commissioners were Charles Paxton, Henry Hutton, William Burch, John Temple, and John Robinson. The three first arrived in Boston in the beginning of November; the two last were already there.

2

John Williams was inspector-general of the customs.

1

This charge, with others, was made against Dr. Franklin by Dean Tucker in his publications, particularly in his Four Tracts.—See vol. vi., Feb. 12, 1774.

1

See letter to Lord Kames, April 11, 1767.

1

These resolutions were passed on the 28th of Oct., and recommended that all prudent and legal measures should be taken to encourage the produce and manufactures of the province, to lessen the use of superfluities, and refrain from purchasing a great number of imported articles.

2

This piece was published January 7, 1768.—See Infra.

1

It is not necessary to repeat in what degree Dr. Franklin respected the ministers to whom he alludes. The embargo upon corn was but a single measure, which, it is enough to say, a host of politicians thought well advised, but ill defended. Of the great and honorable services of the Earl of Chatham to his country, Dr. Franklin has borne the amplest testimony.—B. V.

1

It should be borne in mind that this paper was published nine years before Dr. Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, and eight years before Smith visited Paris and made the acquaintance of the economists of the French capital, by whose writings and conversation it is generally supposed that his attention was first specially directed to those studies and reflections which finally gave birth to the Wealth of Nations.Editor.

1

These remarks were written in pencil on the margin of Judge Foster’s Report, in which was contained his argument respecting the impressment of seamen. The references are to the edition of 1762.

1

Mr. Vaughan says, in his edition of the author’s writings: “The best account I can give of the occasion of the Report, to which this paper is a reply, is as follows: During the war there had been a considerable and unusual trade to America, in consequence of the great fleets and armies on foot there, and the clandestine dealings with the enemy, who were cut off from their own supplies. This made great debts. The briskness of the trade ceasing with the war, the merchants were anxious for payment; which occasioned some confusion in the colonies, and stirred up a clamor here against paper money. The Board of Trade, of which Lord Hillsborough was the chief, joined in this opposition to paper money, as appears by the Report. Dr. Franklin, being asked to draw up an answer to their report, wrote the following paper.”

“It is to be observed that he vindicates the system on the ground of its absolute necessity, as the means of a supply of a circulating medium. The existence of such necessity is then the main question. The suppression of the paper currency in Massachusetts, in 1747, in pursuance of Hutchinson’s proposal, and its suppression in the other New England provinces, afford very strong grounds of argument against the existence of any such necessity, notwithstanding the difference in the circumstances of the middle provinces, from those of the New England provinces, pointed out by Franklin in this paper; since, after all, the cause imagined for this necessity, namely, the excessive importations, the constantly outstanding balance due to the British merchants, and the consequent remittances of specie, existed no less in New England than in the middle provinces. It may be gravely doubted whether the operation of these causes was so different in the different provinces as Franklin supposes.”—W. Phillips.

1

Perhaps Dr. Franklin had not at that time read what Sir James Stewart says of the Amsterdam bank re-issuing its money.—B. V.

1

I understand that Dr. Franklin is the friend who assisted Governor Pownall in drawing up a plan for a general paper currency for America, to be established by the British government. See Pownall’s Administration of the Colonies, 5th edition, pp. 199, 208.—B. V.

The paper money first issued by the colonial Assemblies was made a legal tender. The excessive issues in some of the colonies caused a great depreciation in the value of the bills, and thus produced mischievous consequences. To remedy the evil, an act of Parliament was passed, prohibiting the colonies from issuing any more paper money, which should be a legal tender. At the same time that this act removed one difficulty, it raised up another. In the fluctuating state of things in the colonies, the credit of the bills could not be sustained in any degree, unless the people were required to take them at their actual value. It then became a matter of importance, that Parliament should provide some means for giving stability to a paper currency in the colonies. Governor Pownall, in conjunction with Dr. Franklin, proposed a plan for this object. Speaking of this proposal, Governor Pownall says: “So far am I from assuming any merit in the invention or framing of it, that I desire it may be considered as founded on what hath been actually practised in Pennsylvania, by the good sense and good policy of the Assembly of that province, with success and with benefit to the public; that the particular proposal as it is now formed, and applied to the present exigencies of America and Great Britain, was drawn up some years ago, in conjunction with a friend of mine and of the colonies. It was, by us, jointly proposed to government, under successive administrations, in the years 1764, 1765, 1766, during which time the publication was suspended.”

The principal outlines of this plan were, that bills of credit to a certain amount should be printed in England, for the use of the colonies; that a loan-office should be erected in each colony to issue bills, take securities, and receive the payments; that the bills should be issued for ten years, bearing interest at five per cent., one tenth part of the sum borrowed to be paid annually, with the interest; and that they should be a legal tender.

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Had the position been offered to Franklin, and had he accepted it, all our current histories of the United States, should they have been written, would now read like the sheerest romances.

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This paper appeared in the London Chronicle of Jan. 7, 1768, and was reprinted the same year as a postscript to a pamphlet entitled Sentiments of America. For the circumstances which led to its publication see Franklin’s letters to his son, dated Dec. 19, 1767, and January 9, 1768, and his letter to T. Wharton, Feb. 20, 1768. In the latter letter to his son he complains that the editor of the Chronicle, “one Jones,” “has drawn the teeth and pared the nails of my paper, so that it can neither scratch nor bite. It seems only to paw and mumble.”

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Mr. George Grenville.

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Mr. Charles Townshend.

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I shall here give the reader the note at the end of the fourth paragraph of the Farmer’s Seventh Letter, written by Mr. Dickinson.—B. V.

“Many remarkable instances might be produced of the extraordinary inattention with which bills of great importance, concerning these colonies, have passed in Parliament; which is owing, as it is supposed, to the bills being brought in, by the persons who have points to carry, so artfully framed, that it is not easy for the members in general, in the haste of business, to discover their tendency.

The following instances show the truth of this remark.

When Mr. Grenville, in the violence of reformation and innovation, formed the 4th George III. ch. 15th, for regulating the American trade, the word ‘Ireland’ was dropped in the clause relating to our iron and lumber, so that we could send these articles to no other part of Europe, but to Great Britain. This was so unreasonable a restriction, and so contrary to the sentiments of the legislature, for many years before, that it is surprising it should not have been taken notice of in the House. However, the bill passed into a law. But when the matter was explained, this restriction was taken off in a subsequent act.

I cannot say how long after the taking off this restriction, as I have not the acts, but I think in less than eighteen months, another act of Parliament passed, in which the word ‘Ireland’ was left out, as it had been before. The matter, being a second time explained, was a second time regulated.

Now, if it be considered, that the omission mentioned, struck off, with one word, so very great a part of our trade, it must appear remarkable; and equally so is the method by which rice became an enumerated commodity, and therefore could be carried to Great Britain only.

‘The enumeration was obtained’ (says Mr. Gee, on Trade, p. 32,) ‘by one Cole, a captain of a ship employed by a company then trading to Carolina; for several ships going from England thither, and purchasing rice for Portugal, prevented the aforesaid captain of a loading. Upon his coming home, he possessed one Mr. Lowndes, a member of Parliament (who was frequently employed to prepare bills), with an opinion, that carrying rice directly to Portugal was a prejudice to the trade of England, and privately got a clause into an act to make it an enumerated commodity; by which means he secured a freight to himself. But the consequence proved a vast loss to the nation.’

I find that this clause, ‘privately got into an act, for the benefit of Captain Cole, to the vast loss of the nation,’ is foisted into the 3d Anne, ch. 5th, entitled, ‘An Act for granting to her Majesty a further subsidy on wines and merchandises imported’; with which it has no more connexion, than with 34th Edward I., 34th and 35th of Henry VIII., or the 25th Charles II., which provide that no person shall be taxed but by himself or his representatives.”

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This was Sally Franklin, often mentioned, the daughter of Thomas Franklin, a remote family connection. As this Thomas Franklin was in narrow circumstances, Dr. Franklin took the charge of his daughter for several years. In a letter to his sister, dated July 17th, 1771, he says: “Sally Franklin has lived with me these five years, a very good girl, now sixteen. She is great-granddaughter of our father’s brother John, who was a dyer at Banbury in Oxfordshire, where our father learned that trade of him, and where our grandfather Thomas lies buried. I saw his grave-stone. Sally’s father, John’s grandson, is now living at Lutterworth, in Leicestershire, where he follows the same business, his father too being bred a dyer, as was our uncle Benjamin. He is a widower, and Sally his only child. These two are the only descendants of our grandfather Thomas now remaining in England, that retain the name of Franklin.” She was married in England, and did not go to America as was proposed.—Sparks.

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The following note to Lord and Lady Bathurst will explain the playful allusion in this postscript:

“Dr. Franklin presents his respectful compliments to Lord Bathurst, with some American nuts; and to Lady Bathurst, with some American apples; which he prays they will accept as a tribute from that country, small indeed but voluntary.

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A physician in Philadelphia and member of the American Philosophical Society.

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He wrote the same day to Mr. Livezey, as follows: “I received your kind letter of November 18th, with a very welcome present of another dozen of your wine. The former had been found excellent by many good judges; my wine merchant in particular was very desirous of knowing what quantity of it might be had, and at what price, to which I could give him no satisfaction. I only said that the grapes, being uncultivated, were not very juicy; I apprehended, so many of them must be required, and so much labor in gathering and pressing them, to produce a little wine, that the price could not be very low. I shall apply this parcel as I did the last, towards warming the hearts of the friends of our country and well-wishers to the change of its government.”

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Afterwards General Gates, and General Charles Lee, of the American Continental Army.

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I fancy, but am not certain, that his Lordship meant Lord Hillsborough, who, I am told, is not favorable to new settlements.

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Wilkes was prosecuted for publishing a libel against the government in a paper, called the North Briton. Parliament ordered “No. 45” of that paper, in which the libel was contained, to be burnt by the hands of the common hangman, which of course created a great demand for copies of it.

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A printed paper, of which the following is a copy, was found among Dr. Franklin’s papers, endorsed by him as above.—W. T. F.

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Written by John Dickinson and introduced to the English public by Dr. Franklin with this preface.