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not yet been done; and, though the larger colonies submitted to this temporary inequality of representation, expecting it would much sooner have been rectified, it never was understood, that, by the resolution above cited, a power was given to the smaller States to fix that inequality upon them for ever, as those small States have now attempted to do by combining to vote for this seventeenth article, and thereby to deprive the larger States of their just right, acknowledged in the same resolution. Smaller States having given us, in advance, this striking instance of the injustice they are capable of, and of the possible effects of their combination, is of itself a sufficient reason for our determining not to put ourselves in their power by agreeing to this article, as it stands connected with those concerning the quotas of each State; since, being a majority of States in Congress, they may, by the same means, at any time, deprive the larger States of any share in the disposition of our strength and wealth, and the management of our common interests.
But, as the smaller colonies may object, that, if the larger are allowed a number of votes in proportion to their importance, the smaller will then be equally in danger of being overpowered and governed by them, we, not having the least desire of any influence or power that is unjust, or unequal, or disproportioned to the burdens we are to bear, do hereby offer our consent to the said seventeenth article as it now stands, provided the quotas to be contributed by the larger provinces shall be reduced to an equality with the smallest, in which case all, by contributing equally, will have a right to equal votes. Not that we mean thereby to avoid granting additional aids, when the exigence of our common interests shall appear to us to make them proper and necessary; but, leaving to the Congress, with regard to such additional aids, the right of making requisitions as enjoyed by our late kings, we would reserve to ourselves the right of judging of the propriety of these requisitions, or of refusing or complying with them in part, or in the whole, as to us shall seem best, and of modifying our grants with such conditions as we shall judge necessary, in like manner as our Assemblies might formerly do with regard to requisitions from the crown; for it appears to us just and reasonable, that we should retain the disposition of what strength we have, above the equal proportion contributed as aforesaid by our State to the common service, with every power necessary to apply the same, as occasions may arise, for our particular security; this we mean to do from this time forward, unless we are allowed votes in Congress proportioned to the importance of our State, as was originally intended.
PROPOSITIONS FOR A PEACE.
On the 26th of September, 1776, Dr. Franklin was appointe one of the Commissioners from Congress to the Court of France. Before his departure he sketched a brief outline of the terms upon which he supposed a peace might be made with Great Britain, in case an opportunity for a negotiation should offer. His propositions were submitted to the secret committee of Congress, but no occasion presented itself for using them. – EDITOR.
THERE shall be a perpetual peace between Great Britain and the United States of America, on the following conditions.
Great Britain shall renounce and disclaim all pretence of right or authority to govern in any of the United States of America.
To prevent those occasions of misunderstanding, which are apt to arise where the territories of different powers border on each other, through the bad conduct of frontier inhabitants on both sides, Britain shall cede to the United States the provinces or colonies of Quebec, St. John's, Nova Scotia, Bermuda, East and West Florida, and the Bahama Islands, with all their adjoining and intermediate territories now claimed by her. In return for this cession, the United States shall pay
to Great Britain the sum of
sterling, in an nual payments; that is to say,
per annum, for and during the term of years.
And shall, moreover, grant a free trade to all British subjects throughout the United States and the ceded colonies, and shall guaranty to Great Britain the possession of her islands in the West Indies.
MOTIVES FOR PROPOSING A PEACE AT THIS TIME.
1. The having such propositions in charge will, by the law of nations, be some protection to the commissioners or ambassadors, if they should be taken.
2. As the news of our declared independence will tend to unite in Britain all parties against us, so our offering peace, with commerce and payments of money, will tend to divide them again. For peace is as necessary to them as to us; our commerce is wanted by their merchants and manufacturers, who will therefore incline to the accommodation, even though the monopoly is not continued, since it can be easily made to appear their share of our growing trade will soon be greater than the whole has been heretofore. Then, for the landed interest, who wish an alleviation of taxes, it is demonstrable by figures, that, if we should agree to pay, suppose ten millions in one hundred years, viz. one hundred thousand pounds per annum for that term, it would, being faithfully employed as a sinking fund, more than pay off all their present national debt. It is, besides, a prevailing opinion in England, that they must in the nature of things sooner or later lose the colonies, and many think they had better be without the government of them; so that the proposition will, on that account, have more supporters and fewer opposers.
3. As the having such propositions to make, or any powers to treat of peace, will furnish a pretence for B. F.'s going to England, where he has many friends and acquaintance, particularly among the best writers and ablest speakers in both Houses of Parliament, he thinks he shall be able when there, if the terms are not accepted, to work up such a division of sentiments in the nation, as greatly to weaken its exertions against the United States, and lessen its credit in foreign countries.
4. The knowledge of there being powers given to the commissioners to treat with England, may have some effect in facilitating and expediting the proposed treaty with France.
5. It is worth our while to offer such a sum for the countries to be ceded, since the vacant lands will in time sell for a great part of what we shall give, if not more; and, if we are to obtain them by conquest, after perhaps a long war, they will probably cost us more than that sum.
It is absolutely necessary for us to have them for our own security; and, though the sum may seem large to the present generation, in less than half the term it will be to the whole United States a mere trifle.