Abbildungen der Seite

factures, to their own great advantage. How much that may tend to the prejudice of Britain, I cannot say ; perhaps not so much as some apprehend, since she may in time find new markets.* But I think, if the union of the two countries continues to subsist, it will not hurt the general interest; for whatever wealth Britain loses by the failing of its trade with the colonies, America will gain ; and the crown will receive equal aids from its subjects upon the whole, if not greater.

And now I have answered your questions as to what may be, in my opinion, the consequences of this or that. supposed measure, I will go a little farther, and tell you what I fear is more likely to come to pass in reality. I apprehend that the ministry, at least the American part of it, being fully persuaded of the right of Parliament, think it ought to be enforced, whatever may be the consequences; and at the same time do not believe, there is even now any abatement of the trade between the two countries on account of these disputes; or that, if there is, it is small, and cannot long continue.

They are assured by the crown officers in America, that manufactures are impossible there; that the discontented are few, and persons of little consequence; that almost all the people of property and importance are satisfied, and disposed to submit quietly to the taxing power of Parliament; and that, if the revenue acts are continued, and those duties only that are called anti-commercial be repealed, and others perhaps laid in stead; the power ere long will be patiently submitted to, and the agreements not to import be broken, when they are found to produce no change of measures here.

• Here is another mark of the author's candor and foresight. — B. V.

From these and similar misinformations, which seem to be credited, I think it likely that no thorough redress of grievances will be afforded to America this session. This may inflame matters still more in that country; farther rash measures there may create more resentment here, that may produce not merely illadvised dissolutions of their Assemblies, as last year, but attempts to dissolve their constitution ; * more troops may be sent over, which will create more uneasiness; to justify the measures of government, your writers will revile the Americans in your newspapers, as they have already begun to do; treating them as miscreants, rogues, dastards, rebels, &c., to alienate the minds of the people here from them, and which will tend farther to diminish their affections to this country. Possibly, too, some of their warm patriots may be distracted enough to expose themselves by some mad action to be sent for hither; and government here be indiscreet enough to hang them, on the act of Henry the Eighth.†

Mutual provocations will thus go on to complete the separation ; and instead of that cordial affection that once and so long existed, and that harmony, so suitable to the circumstances, and so necessary to the happiness, strength, safety, and welfare of both countries; an implacable malice and mutual hatred, such as we now see subsisting between the Spaniards and Portuguese, the Genoese and Corsicans, from the same original misconduct in the superior governments, will take place; the sameness of nation, the similarity of religion,

* This was afterwards attempted by the British legislature, in the case of the Massachusetts Bay province.- B. V.

† The Lords and Commons very prudently concurred in an address for this purpose ; and the King graciously assured them of his compliance with their wishes. – B. V.

manners, and language not in the least preventing in our case, more than it did in theirs.

I hope, however, that this may all prove false prophecy, and that you and I may live to see as sincere and perfect a friendship established between our respective countries, as has so many years subsisted between Mr. Strahan and his truly affectionate old friend,








This State of the Constitution of the Colonies was printed at the close of 1769, and communicated to various persons, with a view to prevent mischief from the misunderstandings between the government of Great Britain and the people of America. I have taken the liberty of ascribing it to Governor Pownall, as his name could have been no secret at the time. Dr. Franklin's Remarks (which from their early date are the more curious) are in manuscript; and, from an observation in reply, signed T. P., appear to have been communicated to Governor Pownall. — B. V. The paragraphs within quotation marks are by Governor Pownall, and the remarks immediately following each paragraph are by Dr. Franklin. — Editor.

“1. WHEREVER any Englishmen go forth without the realm, and make settlements in partibus exteris, • These settlements as English settlements, and these inhabitants as English subjects, (carrying with them the laws of the land wherever they form colonies, and receiving his Majesty's protection by virtue of his royal charter'* or commissions of government,) have and enjoy all liberties and immunities of free and natural subjects, to all intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever; as if they and every of them were born within the realm;'t and are bound by the like allegiance as every other subject of the realm.”

6 * Pratt and York."

“+ General words in all charters."

Remark. The settlers of colonies in America did not carry with them the laws of the land, as being bound by them wherever they should settle. They left the realm to avoid the inconveniences and hardships they were under, where some of those laws were in force; particularly ecclesiastical laws, those for payment of tithes, and others. Had it been understood that they were to carry these laws with them, they had better have stayed at home among their friends, unexposed to the risk and toils of a new settlement. They carried with them a right to such parts of laws of the land, as they should judge advantageous or useful to them ; a right to be free from those they thought hurtful; and a right to make such others, as they should think necessary, not infringing the general rights of Englishmen; and such new laws they were to form as agreeable as might be to the laws of England.

“2. Therefore, the common law of England, and all such statutes as were enacted and in force at the time in which such settlers went forth, and such colonies and plantations were established, (except as hereafter excepted,) together with all such alterations and amendments as the said common law may have received ; is from time to time, and at all times, the law of those colonies and plantations.”

Rem. So far as they have adopted it; by express laws or by practice.

“3. Therefore all statutes touching the right of the succession, and settlement of the crown, with the statutes of treason relating thereto; * all statutes regulating

4. That

all statutes respecting the general relation between the crown and the subject; not such as respect any particular or peculiar establishment of the realm of England. As, for instance; by 13th and 14th of Car. II. ch. 2, the supreme military power is declared to be in general, without limitation, in his Majesty, and to have always been of right

« ZurückWeiter »