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CHA PTE R II.
No Taxation without Representation—Franklin Appointed Agent for Massachusetts Bay—False Rumors of his Resigning the Post-Office—Bad Political Surgery—Conference and Scene with Lord Hillsborough.
1770–1771. To M. Du- I SEE with pleasure, that we think pretty bourg,” dated :h alik | bi f English A L.m. o... much alike on the subject of English America. 2, 1770. We of the colonies have never insisted, that
we ought to be exempt from contributing to the common expenses necessary to support the prosperity of the empire. We only assert, that, having Parliaments of our own, and not having representatives in that of Great Britain, our Parliaments are the only judges of what we can and what we ought to contribute in this case; and that the English Parliament has no right to take our money without our con
* A friend of Buffon's, under whose auspices he had, some twenty years previous to the writing of this letter, translated Collinson's collection of Franklin's letters on electricity, into French. He was a warm and useful friend to Franklin and to the colonies. Silas Deane was ordered to consult with him when he came to France; and he presented Deane to the French minister of foreign affairs. He subsequently translated an edition of the American constitutions, state and federal, into French. In John Adams's opinion, he kept one of the most agreeable houses in Paris.-E.D.
sent. In fact, the British empire is not a single state; it comprehends many; and, though the Parliament of Great Britain has arrogated to itself the power of taxing the colonies, it has no more right to do so, than it has to tax Hanover. We have the same King, but not the same legislatures.
The dispute between the two countries has already lost England many millions sterling, which it has lost in its commerce, and America has in this respect been a proportionable gainer. This commerce consisted principally of superfluities; objects of luxury and fashion, which we can well do without ; and the resolution we have formed of importing no more, till our grievances are redressed, has enabled many of our infant manufactures to take root; and it will not be easy to make our people abandon them in future, even should a connexion more cordial than ever succeed the present troubles. I have, indeed, no doubt that the Parliament of England will finally abandon its present pretensions, and leave us to the peaceable enjoyment of our rights and privileges.
To his wife, I am glad your little grandson recovered so o, 5. soon of his illness, as I see you are quite in 1770. love with him, and that your happiness is wrapped up in his ; since your whole long letter is made up of the history of his pretty actions. It was very prudently done of you not to interfere, when his mother thought fit to correct him ; which pleased me the more, as I feared, from your fondness of him, that he would be too much humored, and perhaps spoiled. There is a story of two little boys in the street; one was crying bitterly; the other came to him to ask what was the matter; “I have been,” says he, “for
a pennyworth of vinegar, and I have broke the glass, and spilled the vinegar, and my mother will whip me.” “No she won't whip you,” says the other. “Indeed, she will,” says he. “What,” says the other, “have you then got ne'er a grandmother?”
to thomas Your favor of October 31st came to hand a o: few days since, with the vote of the House of 24 Dec. 1770. Representatives, appointing me their agent here, which as it was unsolicited on my part, I esteem the greater honor; and shall be very happy, if I can, in that
capacity, render my country any acceptable service.f * * *
* Speaker of the Massachusetts Assembly, and as such, the Doctor's correspondent on behalf of the colony during his agency in England.—Ed.
f “In the spring of 1768, while the Duke of Grafton was luring him (Franklin) with the prospect of a place, and while he was preparing for the third time to return to America, came news that the young colony of Georgia had appointed him its London agent. He had not an acquaintance in that colony. It is not improbable that he owed this unexpected honor to his early friendship with Whitefield, who had great influence in Georgia, and would naturally have spoken much there of his Pennsylvanian friend and publisher. * * *
“Next year New Jersey selected him for her agent, and the year following, his native province of Massachusetts. These appointments, together with the threatening aspect of colonial affairs, and the urgent entreaties of liberal men in England and patriotic men in America, detained him still at his post in London. For ten years he was always on the point of returning; for ten years events were continually frustrating his design. His new appointments had the effect of placing him at ease in his circumstances. Pennsylvania paid her agent Assoo a year, Massachusetts, A400; Georgia, A 200; New Jersey, A roo. His election for the important province of Massachusetts was not unanimous. * * *
“After considerable debate, Franklin received the vote of two-thirds of the House, and Arthur Lee, of Virginia, the candidate of the opposition, was elected his substitute, to take the place of agent in case of Dr. Franklin's return to America or absence, from London.”—Parton's Life of Franklin, vol. i. p. 499.
I have the pleasure to acquaint you, from good authority, that the project formed by the enemies of the province, for bringing into Parliament a bill to abridge our charter rights, though at first it received some countenance, and great pains were taken to recommend it, is now laid aside. I do not presume to suppose, that the opposition I gave to it, (by showing the imprudence of the measure, and declaring openly my opinion on all occasions, that, the charter being a compact between the King and the people of the colony who were out of the rea/m of Great Britain, there existed nowhere on earth a power to alter it, while its terms were complied with, without the consent of Both the contracting Aarties,) had any weight on the occasion. I rather think, that a disposition prevails of late to be on good terms with the colonies, especially as we seem to be on the eve of a war with Spain; and that, in consequence of that disposition, which I hope we shall cultivate, more attention has been paid to the sober advice of our friends, and less to the virulent instigations of our enemies. * * *
To Mrs. Jane As to the rumor you mention, (which was, :"... as Josiah tells me, that I had been deprived 30 Dec., 1770. of my place in the postoffice on account of a letter I wrote to Philadelphia,) it might have this foundation, that some of the ministry had been displeased on my writing such letters, and there were really some thoughts among them of showing that displeasure in that manner. But I had some friends, too, who, unrequested by me, advised the contrary. And my enemies were forced to content themselves with abusing me plentifully in the newspapers, and endeavouring to provoke me to resign. In this
they are not likely to succeed, I being deficient in that
Christian virtue of resignation. If they would have my office, they must take it. I have heard of some great man, whose rule it was, with regard to offices, never to ask for them, and never to refuse them; to which I have always added, in my own practice, never to resign them. As I told my friends, I rose to that office through a long course of service in the inferior degrees of it. Before my time, through bad management, it never produced the salary annexed to it; and, when I received it, no salary was to be allowed, if the office did not produce it. During the first four years it was so far from defraying itself, that it became nine hundred and fifty pounds sterling in debt to me and my colleague. I had been chiefly instrumental in bringing it to its present flourishing state, and therefore thought I had some kind of right to it. I had hitherto executed the duties of it faithfully, and to the perfect satisfaction of my superiors, which I thought was all that should be expected of me on that account. As to the letters complained of, it was true I did write them, and they were written in compliance with another duty, that to my country; a duty quite distinct from that of postmaster. My conduct in this respect was exactly similar to that I held on a similar occasion but a few years ago, when the then ministry were ready to hug me for the assistance I afforded them in repealing a former revenue act. My sentiments were still the same, that no such acts should be made here for America; or, if made, should as soon as possible be repealed ; and I thought it.should not be expected of me to change my political opinions every time his Majesty thought fit to change his ministers. This was my language on the occasion; and I have lately heard, that, though I