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\jy the solicitor-general, Wedderburne, who was engaged as council for Oliver and Hutchinson.— The petition was declared to be scandalous and vexatious, and the prayer of it refused.
Although the parliament of Great Britain had repealed the stamp-act, it was only upon the principle of expediency. They still insisted upon their right to tax the colonies; and, at the same time that the stamp-act was repealed, an act was passed, declaring the right of parliament to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever. This language was used even. by the most strenuous opposers of the stampact; and, amongst others, by Mr. Pitt. This right was never recognized by the colonists ; but, as they flattered themselves it would not be exercised, they were not very active in remonstrating against it. Had this pretended right been suffered to remain dormant, the colonists would cheerfully have furnished their quota of supplies, in the mode to which they had been accustomed; that is, by acts of their own assemblies, in consequence of requisitions from the secretary of state. If this practice had been pursued, such was the disposition of the colonies towards the mother country, that, notwithstanding the disadvantages under'which ihey labored, from restraints upon their trade, calculated solely for the benefit of the commercial and manufacturing interests of Great Britain, a separation of the tvv& countries might have been a far distant event. The Americans, from their earliest infancy, were taught to venerate the people from whom they were descended; whose language, laws, and. manners, were the same as their own. They looked up to them as models of perfection; and, m their prejudiced mindi), the most enlighcent.d nations of Kurope were considered as almost barbarians, in comparison with Englishmen. The name of an £n£» Jishman conveyed to an American the idea of every tiling good and great. Such sentiments instilled intct them in early life, what but a repetition of unjust treatment could have induced them to entertain the most distant thought of separation? The duties on glass, paper, leather, painter's colors, tea, 8tc the disfranchisement of some of the colonies; the obstruction to the measures of the legislature in others, by the king's governors; the contemptuous treatment of their humble remonstrances, stat» ing their grievances and praying a redress of them, and other violent and oppressive measures, at length excited an ardent spirit of oppooition. Instead o£ endeavoring to allay this by a more lenient conduct, the ministry seemed resolutely bent upon reducing the colonies to the most slavish obedience to theii decrees. But this tended only to aggravate. Vain were all the efforts made use of to prevail upon them to lay aside their designs, to convince them of the impossibility of carrying them into effect,, and of the mischievous consequences which must ensue from a continuance of the attempt. They persevered with a degree of inflexibility scarcely paralleled.
The advantages which Great Britain derived from her colonies were so great, that nothing but a degree of infatuation, little short of madness, could have produced a continuance of measures calculated to keep up a spirit of uneasines, which might occasion the slightest wish for a separation. "When we consider the great improvements in the science of government, ihe general diffusion of the principles of liberty amongst the people of Europe, the effects which these have already produced in I''ranee, and the probable consequences which will result from the m elsewhere, all of whic h are the offspring ol die Aiaericau revolution, it cauaot appear
strange, that events of so great moment to the happiness of mankind, should have been ultimately Ocj tasioned by the wickedness or ignorance of a British ministry.
Dr. Franklin left nothing untried to prevail upor* the minis'.ry to consent to a change of measures. ltf private conversations, and in letters to persons in government, he continually expatiated upon ihr impolicy and injustice of their conduct towards America; and stated, that, notwithstanding the attachment of the colonists to the mother country, a repetition of ill treatment must ultimately alienate their affections. Thev listened not to his advice. They blindly persevered in their own schemes, and left to the colonists no alternative, but opposition or unconditional submission. The latter accorded not with the principles of freedom, which they had been taught to n vere. To the former, they were compelled, though reluctantly, to h:tve recourse.
Dr. Franklin, finding all efforts to restore harmony between Great Britain and her colonies useless, returned to America in the year 1775; just after the commencement of hostilities. The day after his return, he was elected by the legislature of Pennsylvania a member of congress. Not long after his election a committee was appointed, consisting of Mr. L)nch, Mr. Harrison, and himself, to visit thf camp at Cambridge, and, in conjunction with the commander in chief, to endeavor to convince the troops, whose term.of enlistment was about to expire, of the necessity of their continuing in the field, and persevering in the cause of their country.
In.the fall of the same year he visited Canada, to endeavor to unite them in the common cause of liberty; but they could not be prevailed upon toopposo the measures of the British government.
M. Le Roy, in a ktter annexed to Abbe Fauchet'a «ulogium of Dr. Franklin; states that the ill success of this negociation was occasioned, in a great degree, by religious animosities, which subsisted between the Canadians and their neighbors, some of whom had at different times burnt their chapels.
When Lord Howe came to America, in 1776, vested with power to treat with the colonists, a correspondence took place between him and Franklin, on the subject of a reconciliation. Dr. Franklin was afterwards appointed, together with John Adams and Edward Rutledge, to wait upon the commissioners, in order to learn the extent of their powers. These were found to be enly to grant pardons upon submission. These were terms which would not be accepted; and the object of the commissioners could not be obtained.
The momentous question of independence was shortly after brought into view, at a time when ihe fleets and armies, which were sent to enforce obedience, were trul) formidable. With an arnw, numerous indeed, but ignorant of discipline, and entirely unskilled in the art of war, without money,, without a fleet, without allies, and with nothing but the love of liberty to support them, the colonists determined to separate from a country, from which they had experienced a repetition of injury and insult. In this question, Dr. Franklin was decidedly m favor of the measure proposed, and had great influence in brmging over others to his sentiments.
The public mind had been pretty fully prepared for this event, by Mr. Paine's celebrated pamphlet. Common Sense. There is good reason to believe that Dr. Franklin tnd no inconsiderable share, at least, in furnishing materials for this work.
In the convention which assembled at Philadelv
phia in 1/76, for the purpose of establishing a new form of government for the state of Pennsylvania, Dr. Franklin was chosen president. The late constitution of this state, which was ehe result of their deliberations, may be considered as a digest of his principles of government. The single legislature, and the plural executive, seem to have been his favorite tenets.
In the latter end of 1776, Dr. Franklin was appointed to assist in the negociations which had been set on foot by Silas Deane at the court of France. A.conviction of the advantages of a commercial intercourse with America, and a desire of weakening the British empire by dismembering it, first induced th- French court to listen to proposals of an alliance. But they shewed rather a reluctance ia the measure, which, by Dr. Franklin's address?. and particularlv by the success of the American' aims against general B'trgoyne, was at length overcome; and in February 1778, a treaty of alliance, offensive a.id defensive, was concluded; in cotsequcn^e of which France became involved in the War with Great Britain.
Perhaps no person could have been found, more. capable of rendering essemial services to the United States at the court of France, than Dr Franklin, He was well known as a philosopher, and hts charact-r was heH in the highest estimation. He was received with the greatest marks of respect bv all the literar" characters; and this respect'was ex.. tended among ill classes of men. His personal infl tence was hence v. rv considerable. To the e£» fects of this were added those of various performances whii.h he publish..d, tending to establish the credit and character of the United S:ates. To his exertions in this way, mav, m no small degree, be