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If thé 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 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 Britain : the contrary has always been the fact. Advantageous situations and circumstances will always secure and fix manufactures : Sheffield against all Europe for these 300 years past.
Danger of innovation. o * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Eramination of Dr. Benjamin Franklin before the English
* 1766. Feb. 3. Benjamin Franklin, Esq. and a number of other persons were “ ordered to attend the committee of the whole house (of commons] to whom it was referred, to consider farther the several papers
Q. Do the Americans ‘pay any considerable taxes among themselves ?
A. Certainly many, and very heavy taxes.
Q. What are the present taxes in Pensylvania, 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 ?
[relative to America] which were presented to the bouse by Mr. Secretary Conway, &c.”
Feb. 13. Benjamin Franklin, Esq. having passed through his examination, was exempted froin farther attendance.
Feb. 24. 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.” A proposal for re-committing this resolution was negatived by 940 votes to 133. (See the Journals of the House of Commons.)
This examination of Dr. Franklin was printed in the year 1767, under the forın ot'a shilting pamphlet. It is prior in point of date to some of the furegoing pieces; but I readily submitted to this derangement, thinking by this means to provide the reader with a knowledge of the proceedings on which the examination was grounded. B. V.
· 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 tax. And therefore, in consideration of their distresses, our late tax laws do expressly favour 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 post-inaster 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 expence of postage, amounting, in many cases, to much more than that of the stamps themselves.
Q. Are you acquainted with Newfoundland ?
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.
Q. From the thinness of the back settlements, would not the stanıp 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. *
Q. Don't you know that the money arising from the stamps was all to be laid out in America ?
* « The stamp act says, 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, if I recollect well, was estimated by its proposer in the house of commons at the committee for supplies, at 100,0001, 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 Britain's manufactures; there were doubts where could remain the specie sufficient to answer the tax. B. V.
A. I know
5. A. I know it is appropriated by the act to the Ame: rican service; but it will be spent in the conquered colonies, where the soldiers are; not in the colonies that
Q. Is there not a balance of trade due from the colonies where the troops are posted, that will bring back the mouey to the old colonies :
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 Pensylvania?
A. I suppose there may be about one hundred and sixty thousand.
Q. What number of them are Quakers ?
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,
* The stamp act provides that a double duty should be laid “where the instrument, proceedings, &c. shall be engrossed, written, or printed,