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into any dispute with you on the subject, since it cannot be decided on this side the water; nor can I see what good end it can answer, as the proprietaries have positively enjoined me, not to pass any bill that is against their instruction. As his majesty's service, and the defence of this province, render it necessary to raise immediate supplies, I must earnestly recommend it to you to frame such a bill as it is in my power to pass, consistent with my honour and my engagements to the proprietaries, which, I am persuaded, you will not desire me to violate. I have some amendments to propose to particular parts of the bill now before me, which I shall communicate to you, as soon as I know whether you determine to prepare a new bill, free from the objection I have abovementioned." Upon this, the house of assembly came to a resolution which was digested in the form of a remonstrance, by Mr. Franklin, as the internal evidence of the language plainly demonstrates. It was as follows:

"The representatives of the freemen of Pennsylvania, in general assembly met, do hereby humbly remonstrate to your honour, that the proprietaries' professed willingness to be taxed, mentioned by your honour, in your message of Tuesday last, can be intended only to amuse and deceive their superiors; since they have in their instructions excepted all their quitrents, located unimproved lands, purchase-money at interest, and, in short, so much of their vast estate, as to reduce their tax, as far as appears to us, below that of a common farmer or tradesman.

"That though the proprietaries' instructions are by no means laws in this province, we have so far complied with them, as to confine the sum given to be raised in one year. And had we complied with them in the other particulars, the raising any thing near the sum required by the present exigencies of the province, would be absolutely impossible.

cious king for his service, and the defence of this colony from his majesty's enemies.

"That the proprietaries refusing to permit us to grant money to the crown in this time of war, and imminent danger to the province, unless we will consent thus to exempt their estates from the tax, we conceive to be injurious to the interests of the crown, and tyrannical with regard to the people.

"That we do further humbly conceive, neither the proprietaries, nor any other power on earth, ought to interfere between us and our sovereign, either to modify, or refuse our free gifts and grants for his majesty's service.

"That though the governor may be under obligations to the proprietaries, we conceive he is under greater to the crown, and to the people he is appointed to govern; to promote the service of the former, preserve the rights of the latter, and protect them from their cruel enemies.

"We do, therefore, in the name of our most gracious sovereign, and in behalf of the distressed people we represent, unanimously DEMAND it of the governor as our RIGHT, that he give his assent to the bill we now present him, for granting to his majesty one hundred thousand pounds for the defence of this province, (and as it is a money-bill, without alteration or amendment, any instructions whatsoever from the proprietaries notwithstanding,) as he will answer to the crown for all the consequences of his refusal at his peril.

"(Signed by order of the house)

"January 28, 1757."

This spirited remonstrance, in which it might be almost said that argument and satire are blended, failed to produce any other effect upon the governor than of confirming his refusal, and of drawing from him a laboured justification, grounded upon parliamentary usage in England, and the supposed hardship

"That the apparent necessity of so large a sum for his majesty's service, and the defence of this his province, founded upon the gover-of taxing the unimproved lands of the pronor's own estimate, has obliged us to an effort beyond our strength, being assured, that hundreds of families must be distressed to pay this tax.

"That we have, in the due exercise of our just rights, by the royal and provincial charters, and the laws of this province, and as an English representative body, framed this bill, consistent with those rights.

"That the bill is agreeable to justice and equity with regard to the proprietaries, and is not repugnant to the laws of our mother country, but as nearly agreeable thereto as our different circumstances will permit; nor is it contrary to any royal instruction whatever. That great as the sum is, and hard for this people to pay, we freely offer it to our gra

prietaries. His objections were replied to seriatim by the house, and at considerable length, but with that perspicuity for which Franklin was ever distinguished. At the conclusion it was "ordered, February 28, 1757, that Mr. Roberdeau and Mr. Yorke do wait upon the governor with the bill for granting one hundred thousand pounds for the defence of the province, and acquaint him, that upon receiving his honour's message of the 12th instant, sent down with our last supply bill, the committee to whom that message was referred, have reported fully upon all the objections against that bill, which, after mature deliberation, the house have approved, and find those objections are rather excuses for not passing the bill, than reasons against it:

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innumerable and weighty obstacles were thrown in his way, by the art and industry of those who had an interest in prejudicing the public mind against the force of his representations. For this purpose the newspapers were constantly supplied with paragraphs, under the form of Intelligence from Pennsylvania, but in reality manufactured in London, and conveying gross reflections upon the as

-That the bill itself is only a supplement to an act, which, after a full hearing before the lords of trade, has very lately received the royal assent; and we confined ourselves to that act, with as few alterations as possible, apprehending the bill would be free from all objections under the royal sanction so lately obtained :—That by the estimate the governor laid before us this session, he computes the sum of one hundred and twenty-seven thou-sembly and the inhabitants of the province, sand pounds as necessary to be raised for the defence of the province in the ensuing year; and yet upon the most exact computation we have been able to make, no more than thirty thousand pounds could be raised upon the province in one year by his restricted powers, and not one third of his proposed estimate, by the addition of all the other measures he has proposed, if the house were so insensible of the duty they owe to their constituents as to take their money laws from him only :-That therefore we desire to know his final result upon this bill, which we once more send up for his concurrence; and if he should, notwithstanding, continue to refuse his assent to it as it now stands, we must refer it to his honour to pay the forces by him raised, or to disband them, as he shall judge he can best answer for his conduct to his majesty, whose colony we apprehend to be in imminent danger, and for the defence whereof we have in vain endeavoured to make the necessary provision as far as lay in our power."

Great events it has been frequently observed spring from little causes, and though the contest between the governor and the assembly of Pennsylvania was far from being in itself of trivial import, considering the variety of interests which it involved, yet as being a local and private concern, no extensive consequences could reasonably have been expected to flow from it. To the philosophical historian, however, who watches the influence of casual occurrences upon the actions and opinions of eminent men, it will appear more than probable, that this struggle for an equalization of rights in one province, led the way, or at least incidentally prepared the people of America for a more general resist ance to arbitrary impositions. The refusal of the proprietaries to take their part of the public burdens, while they enjoyed all the increasing advantages resulting from the security thereby afforded, brought questions under discussion which might otherwise have lain dormant. Certain it is that these disputes, by calling the energetic mind of Benjamin Franklin into a new field of inquiry, and clothing him with the diplomatic character, enlarged the sphere of his observation, and fitted him for those extraordinary services in which he acquired the greatest glory by contributing to that of his country.

On his arrival in England he found, that


who were described as actuated by selfish
motives and a refractory spirit, because they
persisted in withstanding the claim of the
proprietaries to an exemption from that taxation
which was necessary to the defence of their
own estates. To increase the mortification
of the provincial agent, he saw that the
ple were so little acquainted with the internal
condition of the colonies, as almost to regard
with indifference any complaint of grievances
which issued thence. Besides this, the public
attention being fixed upon the progress of the
war in Germany, rendered it a still more
arduous task to remove the impressions pro-
duced by interested individuals, against the
equitable claims of the inhabitants of a settle-
ment in another part of the world. If to these
formidable impediments be added the natural
reluctance of government to interpose in local
disputes, arising from the ambiguity, or even
the abuse of royal grants, it will be seen that
the representative of the Pennsylvania assém-
bly had more to dishearten than to encourage
him in the mission which had been entrusted
to his zeal and management. Considering
the complexion of European politics at that
period, and the superior influence of those
with whom he had to negotiate or contend,
his situation was of a description that would
have depressed men of vigorous intellect and
of the most enlarged experience in the in-
trigues of public business. But it was well
perhaps for the immediate benefit of the par-
ticular province to which he stood related,
and also for the future advantage of the
American states, that these difficulties occur-
red, as they not only brought into exercise
the powers of him who was fitted to overcome
them, but laid the foundation of connexions
and improvements that in all probability would
not otherwise have taken place.

One of the first objects attended to by Dr. Franklin, was the current of public opinion on the concern in which he was peculiarly interested, and to observe the means adopted to give that opinion a bias unfavourable to the cause which he had to support. Finding that the press was employed for this purpose, he resolved to avail himself of the same source of information, and fully aware of his own strength, no less than of the justice of what he defended, he entertained the confident assurance of being able to refute calumny by facts, and to correct the errors arising from

misrepresentation by simple and conclusive invidiously mentioned in the pretended news, reasoning. it was shown that they were occasioned chiefly by new instructions or commands sent from England, forbidding the governors to sanction any laws imposing taxes for the defence of the country, unless the proprietary estate, or much the greatest part of it, was exempted from the burden. With respect to the Quakers, who had been represented as the instigators of the contention, the author of the letter satisfactorily proved, by the adduction of facts, that they constituted but a small part of the existing population of the province, and were no more active in the disputes than the rest of the inhabitants, who, with the exception of the proprietary officers and their dependants, had joined in opposing the instructions and contending for their rights. In farther vindication of the Quakers it was observed, that notwithstanding their scruple about bearing arms, they had contributed largely for the defence of the country; and that, to prevent any obstruction in the assembly from their peculiar opinions, they had for the most part declined sitting in the assembly. Having thus cleared unfounded objections, and illiberal aspersions, the letter proceeded to a statistical account of the province, and of the spirit of the people, from which the British public might see that every thing had been done there to secure the frontier and to protect the trade of the neighbouring governments, without any contributions, either from those colonies or the mother country.

An opportunity soon offered to bring the subject fairly before the public, in consequence of the insertion of an article in a paper called the "Citizen, or General Advertiser," stating that recent letters from Philadelphia brought dreadful accounts of the ravages committed by the Indians on the inhabitants of the back provinces; and that notwithstanding these cruelties the disputes between the governor and the assembly were carried on to as great a height as ever, the messages on both sides being expressed in terms which gave very little hopes of a reconciliation. The intelligence then went into particulars, by saying the bill to raise money was clogged, so as to prevent the governor from giving his consent to it; and that the obstinacy of the Quakers in the assembly was such, that they would in no shape alter it; so that while the enemy was in the heart of the country, cavils prevented any thing being done for its relief. The evident object of this paragraph was to create general indignation against the assembly, by making it appear that the members of it were of so factious a disposition as to sacrifice the welfare of their country for the gratification of private ends, and so dead to all the finer feelings of humanity as to abandon their helpless fellow-creatures to savage ferocity, rather than lay aside their particular differences. It did not require the sagacity of Benjamin Franklin to discover that this fabrication originated in a spirit of alarm occasioned by the circumstance that an accredited agent on the part of the province was in London; but reflecting that, as such, it did not become him on the one hand to enter upon the public discussion of the concern which he was employed to bring to an amicable conclusion, nor on the other to preserve an absolute silence, which might prove detrimental to the interests of those whom he represented; he therefore judiciously caused a reply, bearing the name of his son, to be inserted in the same journal; from which he had the satisfaction of seeing it transplanted into other papers of greater importance and more extensive circulation. In this letter, dated from the Pennsylvania coffee house, London, September 16, 1757, the author repels the insinuation thrown out against one province, as if it quiescently suffered more from the Indians than any other, by showing that the contrary was the fact, and that the rest of the colonies were as much exposed to savage depredation as Pennsylvania. In the next place he observes, that the inhabitants on the frontiers of that province were not Quakers, and that so far from entertaining the passive principles of this sect, they were supplied with arms, and had frequently repelled the enemy. On the subject of the disputes so

This paper was well adapted to draw the attention of thinking men to the real state of Pennsylvania, and the nature of the grievances complained of by the great body of its inhabitants, whose misfortune it was to have their cause little understood, where only they had to look for a remedy. To remove this obstacle more effectually, and to bring the subject so fully before the public as to render all the arts of misrepresentation no longer availing to the selfish purposes of an interested party, Mr. Franklin, while engaged in negotiation with the proprietaries, employed his leisure hours in drawing up a minute account of the province for general information. The necessity of such a publication was obvious from the insidious attempts made, through various journals, to blacken the inhabitants of Pennsylvania with the foul charges of ingratitude to the founder of that colony, injustice to its present proprietors, and even disaffection to the parent country. Mr. Franklin saw. with concern that this delusion prevailed to such a degree as to give him little chance of success in the object of his mission, until he could dispel the cloud of prejudice that craft had raised, and convince the British nation of the wrong which it countenanced, through ignorance and credulity. But knowing that

it is in the nature of discussion to elicit truth, | racter of the book is too strongly marked to mislead any one that is at all conversant with the style of Franklin; but when it originally appeared, his reputation as a writer was not sufficiently established to render the discovery easy by the simple test of literary composition. Such, however, were its attractions in this respect, that notwithstanding the peculiar aridity of the subject, the work gained public notice, and was distinguished by the approbation of those who were most competent to decide upon its merits.

The dedication to Arthur Onslow, the venerable speaker of the house of commons, would alone be sufficient to ascertain the hand whence the review proceeded; for, independent of its epigrammatic turns and general terseness, it breathes the language of a person acting by the authority of the provincialists, whose cause he so powerfully pleaded.

That introduction, and a sprightly dedication, will be found in pages vii. viii, of Vol. II. This review abounds with original and vigorous ideas. "Power like water is ever working its way; and whereever it can find or make an opening, is altogether as prone to overflow whatever is subject to it; and though matter of right overlooked may be reclaimed and restored at any time, it cannot be too soon reclaimed and restored."

and of perseverance to defeat falsehood, he resolved to publish a volume that should attract notice by the manner of its composition, and produce effect by the importance of the matter which it contained. With this view he began to trace the history of the province from its primary settlement, and to exhibit the various changes which it had progressively undergone in the form of its government. Having sketched his design, he found that it grew upon his hands, as it not only obliged him to enter minutely into the detail of facts and the adduction of records, but to illustrate them by explanations and to apply them by reflections. This performance appeared at the beginning of 1759, with the title of "An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania from its origin; so far as regards the several points of controversy which have from time to time arisen between the several governors of Pennsylvania and their several assemblies. Founded on authentic documents." To which was prefixed this motto: "Those who give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." "This work was necessarily anonymous; and the strictest circumspection appears to have been observed in regard to the author, who being at that time employed in negotiating with the proprietaries, as well as in bringing the business before the privy council, could not well publish any statement of the matters under discussion in his own name. The "REVIEW," therefore, long passed as the production of James Ralph, the historian, who having long resided in Philadelphia, and being generally known as a political writer, was the more easily believed to have taken this deep interest in the concerns of a province with which he was well acquainted. There is little doubt indeed that this ascription of the book to Ralph, was a matter perfectly agreeable to the real author, if not actually concerted by him, for the pur- The publication, though anonymous, un pose of diverting the attention of those per-doubtedly produced a considerable effect; and sons who, from interested motives and resent- by bringing the grievances of the colonists ment, might have been disposed to represent closely under the consideration of the British his appeal to the public as an injury to in- public, tended materially to facilitate the ob dividuals, and an insult offered to government. ject of the author, and even to enlarge his Mr. Franklin was aware, that his mission ex-views with regard to the inconvenience of the cited jealousy, and that his conduct would therefore be closely watched, in order to take the advantage of any inadvertencies which he might commit. While, therefore, he saw the expediency of setting the nation right on the subject in dispute, in order to justify the colonists on the one hand, and to reduce the extravagant claims of those who lorded it over them on the other; he was careful to do this in such a manner as should not give offence to any party. At present the internal cha* This historical review is in Vol. II. of this edition.

A writer who was a contemporary, speaking of this "Review," says, "Pennsylvania had in our author a most zealous and able advocate. His sentiments are manly, liberal, and spirited. His style close, nervous, and rhetorical. By a forcible display of the oppression of his clients, he inclines the reader to pity their condition, and by an enumeration of their virtues he endeavours to remove the idea, which may be entertained of their unimportance; and that, abstracted from their consideration in a political light, they claim, our regard by reason of their own personal merits."

proprietary government. Finding that the
family of the founder would not relax in their
demands, and that the publication of this ex-
plicit statement had exasperated them in no
ordinary degree, the agent for the province
brought the cause of his clients in the shape
of a petition before the privy council.
indeed was his activity, and so confident were
the provincialists of the success of their cause
in his hands, that during his residence in
England, the assembly passed a law for the
imposition of a tax, in which no exemption


Here the biographer, in his zeal to defend the founder of Pennsylvania, has committed the very fault which he has endeavoured to fasten as an error upon Franklin; for it certainly is not true that the latter wrote his book to effect a change in the government, which design there is every reason to believe had not been even conceived at the time, however it may have been long after. The work was drawn up for no other purpose than to exhibit the state of the province, and to make the nation clearly acquainted with the progressive grievances of which the inhabitants complained. Undoubtedly these grievances were, in a great measure, traced by the author to the manner in which William Penn had secured his property originally, and provided for an increase of it in the event of the prosperous advance of the colony.

was made in favour of the proprietary estates | Review, published by Franklin, and the spirit This bill received the assent of governor in which it was composed. Mr. Clarkson Denny, which plainly evinced, that the go- observes, that this book was the production vernor felt not only the reasonableness of the of Franklin, "though it was attributed to one measure itself, but the certainty that his em- Ralph, to prejudice the people against the ployers must soon yield to the persevering proprietary family, in order to effect a change efforts of their opponents. The proprietaries, of government from proprietary to royal; on receiving the intelligence of this advance which was afterwards attempted, but which, in the cause of independence, exerted them to his great chagrin, failed. This failure laid selves to prevent the royal sanction from be- the foundation of his animosity to Great Briing given to the money-bill, which their own tain, which was so conspicuous afterwards."* governor had passed, but which they represented as subversive of their chartered rights, and tending to ruin themselves and their posterity, by bringing upon them all the expenses necessary for the defence and support of the province. The cause, however, proceeded before the lords of the council, and though the Penn family did not want powerful support, and very able advocates, such was the force of simple truth and the evidence of plain facts, that the agent of the colony soon perceived the advantage which had been gained by his prudent management and seasonable publication. After some delay and much tedious discussion, a proposal of accommodation was made on the part of the proprietaries, that Mr. Franklin should engage for his employers not to assess the estates in question beyond their due proportion. To this proposition no objection could be offered; for it, in fact, conceded the very ground of litigation, and established, by consent of the contending parties, and under the authority of government, all the rights to which the inhabitants of Pennsylvania laid claim, and of which they had been so long deprived. This termination of the controversy, brought the abilities of Franklin into full exercise, and the engagement into which he entered was so scrupulously fulfilled, as to raise him in the estimation of those persons who had for a considerable time looked upon him with jealousy, and considered him as inimical to their interests. The conspicuous light in which this business placed his talents and integrity, sufficiently appeared, indeed, by the circumstance, that when the conclusion of the dispute became known in America, the colonies of Massachusetts, Maryland, and Georgia, were anxious to have him for their agent in England; which appointment suiting his views and connexions was readily accepted, and as honourably discharged.

His conduct, however, in the Pennsylvanian differences, though so unequivocally marked by the public approbation of those who were the most competent to judge of its merits, has not passed without censure; and the late biographer of William Penn, finding it necessary to vindicate that extraordinary character from the various charges and surmises brought against him by various writers, among the rest took notice of the Historical VOL. I....K


The historian of Pennsylvania could not avoid noticing the double part which this celebrated legislator had played, as proprietary and governor; for the people of his own persuasion, who had embarked with him in this concern, had heavily and repeatedly complained of his conduct towards them, and their charges against him upon record, are infinitely more severe than the slight touches of sarcastic reflection scattered here and there in the REVIEW. Nor is it true, that the disappointment experienced in the failure of the projected alteration in the government from proprietary to royal, laid the foundation of any animosity in the mind of Franklin against Great Britain; for it is a well-known fact, that the differences between the parent country and the colonies, were the source of great uneasiness to him; and he endeavoured all that lay in his power to prevent the rupture which ensued. This will clearly appear in the sequel of these memoirs.

Mr. Clarkson very properly enters into a justification of Penn's moral character, and he has succeeded in a great degree in clearing up many doubtful points, which tended, on the authority of respectable writers, to bring the principles of that eminent man into suspicion; but the same love of justice ought to have prevented the biographer and panegyrist of Penn, from throwing illiberal reflections, and alleging unfounded accusations,

* Memoirs of the private and public life of William Penn. By Thomas Clarkson, M. A. Vol. II. p. 386.

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