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great wrath here; but how that will vent itself is not yet known, except that some part of it has fallen upon me, perhaps from a suspicion that I instigated the opposition to its importation. This, however, is not the given reason. My returning Hutchinson's and Oliver's letters to Boston is held out to the public, as the great offence for which I am deprived of my office. I will explain to you my conduct in that matter.
Those letters, which had, at the time, been shown about here to several persons, fell into the hands of a gentleman, who produced them to me, to convince me of the truth of a fact, the possibility of which I had in conversation denied, namely, that the sending troops to Boston, and other measures so offensive to the people of New England, did not arise from any inimical disposition in this country towards them, but were projected, proposed, and solicited, by some of the principal and best esteemed of their own people. I was convinced, accordingly, by perusing those letters, and thought it might have a good effect, if I could convince the leaders there of the same truth, since it would remove much of their resentment against Britain as a harsh, unkind
pieces of eight, though of the full weight of seventeen pennyweights and a half, shall be accounted, received, taken, or paid, within any of our said colonies or plantations, as well those under Proprietors and Charters, as under our immediate commission and government, at above the rate of six shillings per piece, current money, for the discharge of any contracts or bargains, to be made after the said first day of January next.”
This proclamation not proving effectual to the extent desired, an act of Parliament was passed three years afterwards, inflicting a penalty of ten pounds, and six months' imprisonment, upon offenders after the first day of May, 1709, but not compelling any person to take the coins at the prescribed rates.
Hence the currency, in which a dollar was estimated at six shillings, was called Proclamation Money, and sometimes Lawful Money. Both these names continued in use till the Revolution, and the latter till the United States currency became established. But the proclamation did not wholly effect its object; for in several of the colonies the dollar continued to be reckoned at more than six shillings, owing to the fluctuation in the value of the paper currency and exchange. See, on this subject, Vol. II. p. 351 ; and SPARKS's Life of Gouverneur Morrisi Vol. I. pp. 273-280.
TO SAMUEL COOPER. Treatment of Dr. Franklin in Consequence of sending Hutchinson's Letters. - French Edition of his Writ
London, 25 February, 1774. DEAR SIR, I have written a pretty full account to the Speaker of the treatment their petition and their agent have received here. My letter went to Symes, and probably you may have seen it before this can reach you; therefore, and because I have a little disorder in my eyes at present, I do not repeat any part of it to you, nor can I well send a copy to him.
You can have no conception of the rage the ministerial people have been in with me, on account of my transmitting those letters.f It is quite incomprehensible. If they had been wise, they might have made a good use of the discovery, by agreeing to lay the blame of our differences on those, from whom, by those letters, it appeared to have arisen, and by a change of measures, which would then have appeared natural, and restored the harmony between the two countries.
I send directed to you a set of the late French edition of my Philosophical Papers.I
Papers. There are in it several pieces not in the English. When you have looked them over, please to give them to Mr. Winthrop for the College Library. I am ever, dear Sir, yours most affectionately,
* The remainder of the letter is lost. + Hutchinson's Letters.
| Dubourg's edition, in two quarto volumes, published in 1773. To his wife he wrote, September 1st, 1773; “There is a new translation of my book at Paris, and printed there, being the third edition in French. A fifth edition is now printing here. To the French edition they have prefixed a print of your old husband, which, though a copy of that by Chamberlin, has got so French a countenance, that you would take him for one of that lively nation.”
TO THOMAS CUSHING.
Petitions to Parliament from Americans in London.
Alarm of the Manufacturers. —New Measures hostile to the Colonies expected.
London, 2 April, 1774.
My last was of the 22d past, since which I have received none of your favors. I mentioned that the bill brought into Parliament for punishing Boston met with no opposition. It did, however, meet with a little before it got through, some few of the members speaking against it in the House of Commons, and more in the House of Lords. It passed, however, by a very great majority in both, and received the royal assent on Thursday the 31st past. You will have a copy of it from Mr. Lee.
The portrait by Chamberlin, which is here mentioned, is one of the best that was ever taken of Dr. Franklin. It was painted during his first mission to England, and beautifully engraved in mezzotinto by Fisher. He is represented in a sitting posture, nearly full length, and engaged in experiments with his electrical bells, which hang in the room in which he is sitting. Through an open window the lightning is seen, in the distance, descending upon an edifice and rending it asunder. In size the engraved print is thirteen inches by ten. It is much reduced in the copies, which have been made from it, and in some of them the upper part of the figure only is retained, by which the spirit and general effect of the whole are lost.
In mine of February 2d, I informed you, that, after the treatment I had received at the Council Board, it was not possible for me to act longer as your agent, apprehending I could as such be of no further use to the province. I have nevertheless given what assistance I could, as a private man, by speaking to members of both Houses, and by joining in the petitions of the natives of America now happening to be in London, which were ably drawn by Mr. Lee, to be presented separately to the several branches of the legislature. They serve, though without other effect, to show our sentiments, and that we did not look on and let the act pass without bearing our testimony against it. And, indeed, though called petitions (for under another name they would not have been received) they are rather remonstrances and protests.
By the enclosed extract of a letter from Wakefield in Yorkshire to a friend of mine, you will see that the manufacturers begin to take the alarm. Another general non-importation agreement is apprehended by them, which would complete their ruin. pains are taken to quiet them with the idea, that Boston must immediately submit, and acknowledge the claims of Parliament, for that none of the other colonies will adhere to them. A number of the principal manufacturers from different parts of the kingdom are now in town, to oppose the new duty on foreign linens, which they fear may provoke the Germans to lay discouragements on British manufactures. They have desired me to meet and dine with them on Wednesday next, where I shall have an opportunity of learning their sentiments more fully, and communicating my own.
But great Some alterations of the constitution of the Massachusetts are now hotly talked of; though what they are to be, seems hardly yet settled. One thing mentioned is the appointment of the Council by mandamus. Another, giving power to the governor to appoint magistrates without consent of Council. Another, the abolishing of town meetings, or making it unlawful to hold them, till the business to be proposed has been certified to the governor, and his permission obtained. A motion has also been made in the House of Commons, with a view to conciliate, as is said ; that all the duty acts should be revised, and, in the revision and reënacting, without formally or expressly repealing the tea duty (which would hurt the dignity of Parliament), sink or omit it, and add an equal value in some of the coasting port duties; and the tea duty, being thus taken out of the way, it is supposed will have the salutary effect of preventing the other colonies from making a common cause with ours. Some advantages in trade are at the same time to be given to America for the same purpose, such as carrying wine and fruit directly from Spain and Portugal, without touching in England.