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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 expense of Great Britain, and the colonies only reaped the benefit, without hitherto sharing the burden, 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 twenty-five thousand 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

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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 two hundred thousand pounds sterling every year; which amounted only to about two fifths of their expense; 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 burdens 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 expense 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, reëstablish 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 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 honor 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, Your obliged friend,

B. FRANKlin.

* It was however agreed to in the same year, viz. in 1766. — B. V.

† The name of the person, to whom this letter is addressed, is not known. The letter, to which it is a reply, appears to have contained the letter of some third person equally unknown.-B. V.

THE

EXAMINATION

OF

DR. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN,

IN THE

BRITISH HOUSE OF COMMONS,

RELATIVE TO THE

REPEAL OF THE AMERICAN STAMP ACT,

IN 1766.

No previous event in the life of Dr. Franklin gave him so much celebrity, as his examination before the House of Commons, while the repeal of the Stamp Act was under discussion in Parliament. The promptness and pertinency with which he replied to every question, the perfect knowledge of the subject manifested in his answers, his enlarged and sound views of political and commercial affairs, and the boldness and candor with which he expressed his sentiments, excited the surprise of his auditors, and were received with admiration by the public, when the results of the examination appeared in print. The dates are fixed by the following extracts from the journal of the House of Commons, as given by Mr. Vaughan.

February 3d, 1766. Benjamin Franklin and a number of other persons ordered to attend the committee of the whole House, to whom it was referred to consider farther the several papers, which were presented to the House by Mr. Secretary Conway.

February 13th. Benjamin Franklin, having passed through his examination, was excepted from farther attendance.

February 24th. The resolutions of the committee were reported by the chairman, Mr. Fuller; their seventh and last resoVOL. IV.

21

n*

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