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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 expence of Great Britain, and the colonies only reaped the benefit, without hitherto sharing the burthen, 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 25,000 men, 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 burthen more equal, recommended the case to parliament, and obtained a reimbursement to the Americans of about 200,000l. sterling every year; which amounted only to about two fifths of their expence; 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 burthens 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 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 expence 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 joy and gratitude, re-establish 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 own 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
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,* from what I think a mistaken opinion, that the honour 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,
Letter from Governor Pownall to Dr. Franklin, concerning an equal communication of rights, privileges, &c. to America by Great Britain.†
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.
* It was however agreed to in the same year, viz. in 1766. B. V. This letter bears no date. It was written possibly about the time that governor Pownall was engaged in publishing his book on the administration of the colonies. B. V.
If, say the objectors, we communicate to the colonies the power of sending representatives, and in conse quence 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 artificial 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 is 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.
On the back of the foregoing letter of Governor Pownall, are the following minutes, by Dr. Franklin.
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 :