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Q. Do you think it right that America should be protected by this country and pay no part of the expense?
A. That is not the case. The colonies raised, clothed, and paid, during the last war, near twenty-five thousand men, and spent many millions.
Q. Were you not reimbursed by Parliament?
A. We were only reimbursed what, in your opinion, we had advanced beyond our proportion, or beyond what might reasonably be expected from us; and it was a very small part of what we spent. Pennsylvania, in particular, disbursed about five hundred thousand pounds, and the reimbursements, in the whole, did not exceed sixty thousand pounds.
Q. You have said that you pay heavy taxes in Pennsylvania; what do they amount to in the pound?
A. The tax on all estates, real and personal, is eighteen pence in the pound, fully rated; and the tax on the profits of trades and professions, with other taxes, do, I suppose, make full half a crown in the pound.
Q. Do you know any thing of the rate of exchange in Pennsylvania, and whether it has fallen lately?
A. It is commonly from one hundred and seventy to one hundred and seventy-five. I have heard, that it has fallen lately from one hundred and seventy-five to one hundred and sixty-two and a half; owing, I suppose, to their lessening their orders for goods; and, when their debts to this country are paid, I think the exchange will probably be at par.
Q. Do you not think the people of America would NÉ submit to pay the stamp duty, if it was moderated ?
A. No, never, unless compelled by force of arms.
R. Are not the taxes in Pennsylvania laid on unequally, in order to burden the English trade; particularly the tax on professions and business?
A. It is not more burdensome in proportion than the tax on lands. It is intended and supposed to take an equal proportion of profits.
Q. How is the assembly composed ? Of what kinds of people are the members ; landholders traders ?
A. It is composed of landholders, merchants, and artificers.
Q. Are not the majority landholders?
Q. Do not they, as much as possible, shift the tax off from the land, to ease that, and lay the burden heavier on trade ?
A. I have never understood it so. I never heard such a thing suggested. And indeed an attempt of that kind could answer no purpose. The merchant or trader is always skilled in figures, and ready with his pen and ink. If unequal burdens are laid on his trade, he puts an additional price on his goods; and the consumers, who are chiefly landholders, finally pay the greatest part, if not the whole.
Q. What was the temper of America towards Great Britain before the year 1763 ?*
* In the year 1733, " for the welfare and prosperity of our sugar colonies in America,” and “for remedying discouragements of planters,” duties were "given and granted” to George the Second, upon all rum, spirits, molasses, syrups, sugar, and paneles of foreign growth, produce, and manufacture, imported into the colonies. This regulation of trade, for the benefit of the general empire was acquiesced in, notwithstanding the introduction of the novel terms “give and grant.” But the act, which was made only for the term of five years, and had been several times renewed in the reign of George the Second, and once in the reign of George the Third, was renewed again in the year 1763, in the reign
A. The best in the world. They submitted willingly to the government of the crown, and paid, in their courts, obedience to the acts of Parliament. Numerous as the people are in the several old provinces, they cost you nothing in forts, citadels, garrisons, or armies, to keep them in subjection. They were governed by this country at the expense only of a little pen, ink, and paper; they were led by a thread. They had not only a respect, but an affection for Great Britain ; for its laws, its customs and manners, and even a fondness for its fashions, that greatly increased the commerce. Natives of Britain were always treated with particular regard; to be an Old-England man was, of itself, a character of some respect, and gave a kind of rank among us.
Q. And what is their temper now?
Q. Did you ever hear the authority of Parliament to make laws for America questioned till lately?
A. The authority of Parliament was allowed to be valid in all laws, except such as should lay internal *
of George the Third, and extended to other articles upon new and altered
The question proposed to Dr. Franklin alludes to this sugar act in 1763.
taxes. It was never disputed in laying duties to regulate commerce.
Q.In what proportion hath population increased in America ?
A. I think the inhabitants of all the provinces together, taken at a medium, double in about twenty-five years. But their demand for British manufactures increases much faster; as the consumption is not merely in proportion to their numbers, but grows with the growing abilities of the same numbers to pay for them. In 1723, the whole importation from Britain to Pennsylvania was about fifteen thousand pounds sterling ; it is now near half a million.
Q. In what light did the people of America use to consider the Parliament. of Great Britain ?
A. They considered the Parliament as the great bulwark and security of their liberties and privileges, and always spoke of it with the utmost respect and veneration. Arbitrary ministers, they thought, might possibly, at times, attempt to oppress them; but they relied on it, that the Parliament, on application, would always give redress. They remembered, with gratitude, a strong instance of this, when a bill was brought into Parliament, with a clause to make royal instructions laws in the colonies, which the House of Commons would not pass, and it was thrown out.
Q. And have they not still the same respect for Parliament?
A. No, it is greatly lessened.
Q. To what cause is that owing ? 7. A. To a concurrence of causes; the restraints lately
laid on their trade, by which the bringing of foreign gold and silver into the colonies was prevented; the prohibition of making paper money among themselves, and then demanding a new and heavy tax by stamps,
taking away, at the same time, trials by juries, and refusing to receive and hear their humble petitions.
Q. Don't you think they would submit to the Stamp Act, if it was modified, the obnoxious parts taken out, and the duty reduced to some particulars of small moment?
A. No, they will never submit to it.
Q. What do you think is the reason that the people in America increase faster than in England ?
A. Because they marry younger, and more generally.
Q. Why so?
A. Because any young couple, that are industrious, may easily obtain land of their own, on which they can raise a family.
Q. Are not the lower ranks of people more at their ease in America than in England ? A. They may be so, if they are sober and diligent,
Q. What is your opinion of a future tax, imposed
A. Yes, I have heard of such resolutions.
Q. What will be the opinion of the Americans on those resolutions ?
A. They will think them unconstitutional and unjust.
Q. Was it an opinion in America before 1763, that the Parliament had no right to lay taxes and duties there?