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try, arising from loss to her colonies, and all of gain to the colonies, arising from or occasioning loss to Britain, especially where the gain was small, and the loss great, every abridgment of the power of the mother country, where that power was not prejudicial to the liberties of the colonists, and every diminution of the privileges of the colonists, where they were not prejudicial to the welfare of the mother country, I, in my own mind, condemned as improper, partial, unjust, and mischievous; tending to create dissensions, and weaken that union, on which the strength, solidity, and duration of the empire greatly depended; and I opposed, as far as my little powers went, all proceedings either here or in America, that in my opinion had such tendency. Hence it has often happened to me, that while I have been thought here too much of an American, I have in America been deemed too much of an Englishman.
From a thorough inquiry (on occasion of the stamp act) into the nature of the connection between Britain and the colonies, I became convinced, that the bond of their union is not the parliament but the king. That in removing to America, a country out of the realm, they did not carry with them the statutes then existing; for if they did, the Puritans must have been subject there to the same grievous act of conformity, tithes, spiritual courts, &c., which they meant to be free from by going thither; and in vain would they have left their native country, and all the conveniences and comforts of its improved state, to combat the hardships of a new settlement in a distant wilderness, if they had taken with them what they meant to fly from, or if they had left a power behind them capable of sending the same chains after them, to bind them in America. They took with them, however, by compact, their allegiance to the king, and a legislative power for the making a new body of laws with his assent, by which they were to be governed. Hence they became distinct states, under the same prince, united as Ireland is to the crown, but not to the realm of England, and governed each by its own laws, though with the same sovereign, and having each the right of granting its own money to that sovereign.
At the same time, I considered the king's supreme authority over all the colonies, as of the greatest importance to them, affording a dernier resort for settling all their disputes, a means of preserving peace among them with each other, and a centre in which their common force might be united against a common enemy: this authority, I therefore thought, when acting within its due limits, should be ever as carefully supported by the colonists as by the inhabitants of Britain.
act, and endeavoured to obtain its repeal, as an infringement of the rights of the colonists, of no real advantage to Britain, since she might ever be sure of greater aids from our voluntary grants, than she could expect from arbitrary taxes, as by losing our respect and affection, on which much of her commerce with us depended, she would lose more in that commerce than she could possibly gain by such taxes, and as it was detrimental to the harmony which had till then so happily subsisted, and which was so essential to the welfare of the whole. And to keep up as much as in me lay, a reverence for the king, and a respect for the British nation on that side of the water, and on this, some regard for the colonies (both tending to promote that harmony,) I industriously on all occasions, in my letters to America, represented the measures that were grievous to them, as being neither royal nor national measures, but the schemes of an administration, which wished to recommend itself for its ingenuity in finance, or to avail itself of new revenues in creating, by places and pensions, new dependencies; for that the king was a good and gracious prince, and the people of Britain their real friends. And on this side the water, I represented the people of America as fond of Britain, concerned for its interests and its glory, and without the least desire of a separation from it. In both cases, I thought and still think, I did not exceed the bounds of truth, and I have the heart-felt satisfaction attending good intentions, even when they are not successful.
With these sentiments I could not but see with concern the sending of troops to Boston; and their behaviour to the people there, gave me infinite uneasiness, as I apprehended from that measure the worst of consequences;—a breach between the two countries. And I was the more concerned when I found, that it was considered there as a national measure, (since none here opposed it,) and as a proof that Britain had no longer a parental regard for them. I myself in conversation sometimes spoke of it in this light, and I own with some resentment, (being myself a native of that country) till I was, to my great surprise, assured by a gentleman of character and distinction, (whom I am not permitted to name)* that not only the measure I particularly censured so warmly, but all the other grievances we complained of, took their rise, not from the government here, but were projected, proposed to administration, solicited, and obtained, by some of the most respectable among the Americans themselves; as necessary measures for the welfare of that country. As I could not readily assent to the probability of this, he undertook to convince me, and he * Dr. Williamson, of South Carolina, has avowed
In conformity with these principles, and as agent for the colonies, I opposed the stamp himself as the communicator. VOL. I.... M
hoped through me (as their agent here) my secret; that I had "shown the utmost solici-
I accepted those conditions, and under the same transmitted the original letters to the committee of correspondence at Boston, without taking or reserving any copy of them for myself. I agreed the more willingly to the restraint, from an apprehension that a publication might, considering the state of irritation in which the minds of the people there had long been kept, occasion some riot of mischievous consequence. I had no other scruple in sending them, for as they had been handed about here to injure that people, why not use them for their advantage? The writers, too, had taken the same liberty with the letters of others, transmitting hither those of Rosne and Auchmuty, in confirmation of their own calumnies against the Americans; copies of some of mine too, had been returned here by officers of government; why then should theirs be exempt from the same treatment? To whom they had been directed here I could only conjecture; for I was not informed, and there was no address upon them when I received them. My letter, in which I inclosed them, expressed more fully the motives abovementioned for sending them, and I shall presently give an extract of so much as related to them.
But as it has, on the contrary, been roundly asserted, that I did not, as agent, transmit those letters to the assembly's committee of correspondence; that I sent them to a junto, my peculiar correspondents; that fearing to be known as the person who sent them, I had insisted on the keeping that circumstance a
and particularly to two petitions sent to me
So much of the letter as relates to the
"On this occasion I think it fit to acquaint you, that there has lately fallen into my hands part of a correspondence that I have reason to believe laid the foundation of most, if not all our present grievances. I am not at liberty to tell through what channel I received it; and I have engaged that it shall not be printed, nor any copies taken of the whole, or any part of it; but I am allowed to let it be seen by some men of worth in the province,
"With the greatest esteem and respect, I have the honour to be, sir, your and the committee's most obedient humble servant,
My next letter is of January 5th, 1773, to the same gentleman, beginning with these words :-"I did myself the honour of writing to you on the 2d of December past, inclosing some original letters from persons at Boston, which I hope got safe to hand."—And then goes on with other business transacted by me as agent, and is signed with my name as usual. In truth, I never sent an anonymous letter to any person in America, since my residence in London, unless where two or more letters happened to be on the same paper, the first a copy of a preceding letter, and the subsequent referring to the preceding; in that case, I may possibly have omitted signing more than one of them as unnecessary.
for their satisfaction only. In confidence of | time-servers, seeking their own private emoyour preserving inviolably my engagement, lument, through any quantity of public misI send you inclosed the original letters, to chief; betrayers of the interest, not of their obviate every pretence of unfairness in copy-native country only, but of the government ing, interpolation, or omission. The hands they pretend to serve, and of the whole Engof the gentlemen will be well known. Possi-lish empire. bly they may not like such an exposal of their conduct, however tenderly and privately it may be managed. But if they are good men, or pretend to be such, and agree that all good men wish a good understanding and harmony to subsist between the colonies and their mother country, they ought the less to regret, that at the small expense of their reputation for sincerity and public spirit among their compatriots, so desirable an event may in some degree be forwarded. For my own part, I cannot but acknowledge, that my resentment against this country, for its arbitrary measures in governing us, conducted by the late minister, has, since my conviction by these papers, that those measures were projected, advised, and called for, by men of character among ourselves, and whose advice must therefore be attended with all the weight that was proper to mislead, and which could therefore scarce fail of misleading; my own resentment, I say, has by this means been exceedingly abated. I think they must have the same effect with you; but I am not, as I have said, at liberty to make the letters public. I can only allow them to be seen by yourself, by the other gentlemen of the committee of correspondence, by Messrs. Bowdoin and Pitts of the council, and doctors Chauncey, Cooper, and Winthrop, with a few such other gentlemen as you may think fit to show them to. After being some months in your possession, you are requested to return them to me.
The first letter, acknowledging the receipt of the papers, is dated Boston, March 24, 1773, and begins thus: "I have just received your favour of the 2d December last, with the several papers inclosed, for which I am much obliged to you. I have communicated them to some of the gentlemen you mentioned. They are of opinion, that though it might be inconvenient to publish them, yet it might be expedient to have copies taken and left on this side the water, as there may be a necessity to make some use of them hereafter: however, I read to them what you had wrote to me upon the occasion, and told them I could by no means consent copies of them or any part of them should be taken without your express leave; that I would write to you upon the subject, and should strictly conform to your directions."
"As to the writers, I can easily, as well as charitably, conceive it possible, that a man educated in prepossessions of the unbounded authority of parliament, &c., may think unjustifiable every opposition even to its unconstitutional exactions, and imagine it their duty to suppress, as much as in them lies, such opposition. But when I find them bartering The next letter, dated April 20th, 1773, beaway the liberties of their native country for gins thus:-"I wrote you in my last, that the posts, and negotiating for salaries and pen- gentlemen to whom I had communicated the sions extorted from the people; and conscious papers you sent me under cover of yours of of the odium these might be attended with, the 2d of December last, were of opinion that calling for troops to protect and secure the they ought to be retained on this side the enjoyment of them; when I see them excit- water, to be hereafter employed as the exiing jealousies in the crown, and provoking it gency of our affairs may require, or at least, to work against so great a part of its faithful that authenticated copies ought to be taken subjects; creating enmities between the dif- before they are returned: I shall have, I find, ferent countries of which the empire consists; a very difficult task properly to conduct this occasioning a great expense to the old coun- matter, unless you obtain leave for their betry, for suppressing or preventing imaginary ing retained or copied. I shall wait your direbellions in the new, and to the new coun-rections on this head, and hope they will be try, for the payment of needless gratifications such as will be agreeable to all the gentleto useless officers and enemies; I cannot but doubt their sincerity, even in the political principles they profess, and deem them mere
men, who unanimously are of opinion, that it can by no means answer any valuable purpose to send them here for the inspection of
a few persons, barely to satisfy their curiosity."
On the 9th of March, I wrote to the same person, not having then received the preceding letters, and mentioned my having written to him on the 2d of December and 5th of January; and knowing what use was made against the people there, of every trifling mob; and fearing lest if the letters should, contrary to my directions, be made public, something more serious of the kind might happen, I concluded that letter thus: "I must hope that great care will be taken to keep our people quiet, since nothing is more wished for by our enemies, than that by insurrections, we should give a good pretence for increasing the military among us, and putting us under more severe restraints. And it must be evident to all, that by our rapidly increasing strength, we shall soon become of so much importance, that none of our just claims or privileges will be, as heretofore, unattended to, nor any security we can wish for our rights be denied us."
read to whom and as many as you think proper."
The same person wrote to me, June 14th, 1773, in these terms: "I have endeavoured inviolably to keep to your injunctions with respect to the papers you sent me; I have shown them only to such persons as you directed; no one person, except Dr. Cooper, and one of the committee, knows from whom they came, or to whom they were sent. I have constantly avoided mentioning your name upon the occasion, so that it never need be known (if you incline to keep it a secret) who they came from, and to whom they were sent; and I desire, so far as I am concerned, my name may not be mentioned; for it may be a damage to me. I thought it, however, my duty to communicate them as permitted, as they contained matters of importance that very nearly affected the government; and notwithstanding all my care and precaution, it is now publicly known that such letters are here. Considering the number of persons who were to see them, (not less than ten or fifteen) it is astonishing they did not get air before." Then he goes on to relate how the assembly having heard of them, obliged him to produce them, but engaged not to print them; and that they afterwards did nevertheless print them, having got over that engagement by the appearance of copies in the house, produced by a member who it was reported had just received them from England. This letter concludes, “I have done all in my power strictly to conform to your restrictions, but from the circumIn mine of June 2d, 1773, I acknowledge stances above related, you must be sensible it the receipt of his letter of March 24th, and was impossible to prevent the letters being not being able to answer immediately, his re-made public, and therefore hope I shall be quest of leave to copy the letters, I said nothing of them then, postponing that subject to an opportunity which was expected two days after, viz: June 4th, when my letter of that date concludes thus:-" As to the letters I communicated to you, though I have not been able to obtain leave to take copies or publish them, I have permission to let the originals remain with you, as long as you may think it of any use to have the originals in possession."
Mine of May 6th, begins thus:-"I have received none of your favours since that of Nov. 28th. I have since written to you of the following dates, Dec. 2d, Jan. 5th, March 9th, and April 3d, which I hope got safe to hand." Thus in two, out of three letters subsequent to that of Dec. 2d, which inclosed the governor's letters, I mentioned my writing that letter, which shows I could have no intention of concealing my having written it: and that therefore the assertion of my sending it anonymously is without probability.
free from all blame respecting this matter."
This letter accounts for its being unexpectedly to me, made a secret in Boston that I had sent the letters. The gentleman, to whom I sent them, had his reasons for desiring not to be known as the person who received and communicated them; but as this would have been suspected, if it were known that I sent them, that circumstance was to be kept a secret. Accordingly, they were given to another, to be by him produced by the committee.*
In mine of July 1773, I answer the above of April 20, as follows:-"The letters communicated to you were not merely to satisfy the curiosity of any, but it was thought there might be a use in showing them to some friends of the province, and even to some of the governor's party, for their more certain information concerning his conduct and politics, though the letters were not made quite public. I believe I have since written to you, that there was no occasion to return them speedily; and though I cannot obtain leave as yet to suffer copies to be taken of them, I am allowed to say, that they may be shown and done this conscientiously; and so completely, that the
in Chancery, which had been filed against him in the * When Dr. Franklin put in his answer to the bill name of Mr. Whately, he demurred to two of the interrogatories which it contained, and by which he was he had received the letters in question, and also the required to name the person in England from whom person in America to whom they had by him been their names. This demurrer was however overruled; transmitted; and declined making any disclosure of and he was ordered to answer these interrogatories: but feeling that his doing so would be a violation of his engagement to the person from whom he had received the letters, and probably injurious to the person to whom they had been sent, he thought it incumbent on him to return to America, and thereby avoid the breach of his engagement, and he appears to have
My answer to this was of July 25th, 1773, | ed the communication of them so far as I as follows: "I am favoured with yours of could. I was sensible I should make enemies June 14th, containing some copies of the re- there, and perhaps might offend government solves of the committee upon the letters. I here; but these apprehensions I disregarded. see by your account of the transaction, that I did not expect, and hardly still expect, that you could not well prevent what was done. my sending them could be kept a secret. But As to the report of other copies being come since it is such hitherto, I now wish it may from England, I think that could not be. It continue so, because the publication of the was an expedient to disengage the house.* I letters, contrary to my engagement, has hope the possession of the originals, and the changed the circumstances."-His reply to proceedings upon them, will be attended with this of the 10th of November, is, "After all salutary effects to the province, and then I the solicitous inquiries of the governor and shall be well pleased.-I observe what you his friends respecting his letters, it still remention, that no person besides Dr. Cooper, mains a secret from and to whom they were and one of the committee, knew they came sent here. This is known among us, to two from me. I did not accompany them with only besides myself; and will remain undisany request of being myself concealed, for be- covered, unless further intelligence should lieving what I did, to be in the way of my come from your side the water, than I have duty as agent, though I had no doubt of its reason to think has yet been obtained. I cangiving offence, not only to the parties ex- not, however, but admire your honest openposed, but to administration here, I was re- ness in this affair, and noble negligence of gardless of the consequences. However, any inconveniencies that might arise to yoursince the letters themselves are now copied self in this essential service to our injured and printed, contrary to the promise I made, country.” I am glad my name has not been heard on the occasion; and as I do not see it could be of any use to the public, I now wish it may continue unknown, though I hardly expect it. As to yours, you may rely on my never mentioning it, except that I may be obliged to show your letter in my own vindication, to the person only who might otherwise think he had reason to blame ME for breach of engagement."
With the abovementioned letter of the 14th of June, I received one from another of the gentlemen to whom the papers had been communicated, which says, "By whom and to whom they were sent, is still a secret, known only to three persons here, and may still remain so if you desire it." My answer to him of July 25th, was, "I accompanied them with no restriction relating to myself; my duty to the province as their agent, I thought requir
To another friend I wrote of the same date, July 25th, what will show the apprehensions I was constantly under, of the mischiefs that might attend a breach from the exasperated state of things, and the arguments I used to prevent it, viz. "I am glad to see that you are elected into the council, and are about to take part in our public affairs. Your abilities, integrity, and sober attachment to the liberties of our country, will be of great use at this tempestuous time, in conducting our little bark into a safe harbour. By the Boston newspapers, there seem to be among us some violent spirits who are for an immediate rupture. But I trust the general prudence of our countrymen will see, that by our growing strength we advance fast to a situation in which our claims must be allowed; that by a premature struggle we may be crippled and kept down another age; that as between friends every affront is not worth a duel, and between nations every injury is not worth a ascertained, till declared by Dr. W. himself; nor were war; so between the governed and the goany of the conjectures respecting that person founded verning, every mistake in government, every upon, or suggested by, any infidelity or indiscretion on the part of Dr. Franklin. He was not however under encroachment on rights, is not worth a rebelan equal obligation to secrecy, in regard to the person lion: it is, in my opinion, sufficient for the to whom the letters were immediately transmitted; and he therefore confidentially informed a friend of his, (Dr. present, that we hold them forth on all occaBancroft,) that they had been sent to Mr. Cushing, sions, not giving up any of them, using at then speaker of the house of representatives of the the same time every means to make them Massachusetts' Bay; with whom it was Dr. Franklin's duty, as agent for the assembly of that province, to generally understood and valued by the peocorrespond :—a fact now ascertained in his PRIVATE ple; cultivating a harmony among the coloCORRESPONDENCE, Part II., and which there is no long-nies, that their union in the same sentiments er any motive for concealing. * Men sometimes think it allowable to act improper may give them greater weight; rememberly for what they consider as good purposes. This was done at Boston, in regard to the letters under considering, withal, that this Protestant country (our ation:-a publication of these letters was deemed of mother, though of late an unkind one,) is the highest importance, by the leading members of the worth preserving, and that her weight in the house of representatives; and copies of them were therefore made unwarrantably; and these, the late scale of Europe, her safety in a great degree, Mr. Hancock was induced to bring forward in that may depend on our union with her. Thus they had been sent to him from England; a declara conducting, I am confident, we may within a few years, obtain every allowance of, and
person from whom the letters were received, was never
house, of which he was a member, and to declare that
tion which could not have been true.