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11th. All duties arising on the acts for regulating trade with the colonies, to be for the public use of the respective colonies, and paid into their treasuries, and an officer of the crown to see it done.
12th. The admiralty courts to be reduced to the same powers as they have in England.
13th. All judges in the king's colony governments, to be appointed during good behaviour, and to be paid by the province, agreeable to article 7th.
N. B. If the king chuses to add to their salaries, the same to be sent from England.
14th. The governors to be supported in the same manner.
Our conversation turned chiefly upon the first article. It was said that the ministry only wanted some opening to be given them, some ground on which to found the commencement of conciliating measures, that a petition containing such an engagement as mentioned in this article, would answer that purpose. That preparations were making to send over more troops and ships; that such a petition might prevent their going, especially if a commissioner were proposed; I was therefore urged to engage the colony agents to join with me in such a petition. My answer was, that no agent had any thing to do with the tea business but those for / Massachusetts Bay, who were Mr. Bollan for the council, myself for the assembly, and Mr. Lee appointed to succeed me when I should leave England; that the latter, therefore, could hardly yet be considered as an agent; and that the former was a cautious exact man, and not easily persuaded to take steps of such importance without instructions or authority; that therefore if such a step were to be taken, it would lie chiefly on me to take it; that indeed, if there were, as they supposed, a clear probability of good to be done by it, I should make no scruple of hazarding myself in it; but I thought the empowering a commissioner to suspend the Boston port act, was a method too dilatory, and a mere suspension would not be satisfactory; that if such an engagement were entered into, all the Massachusetts acts should be immediately repealed.
They laid hold of the readiness I had expressed to petition on a probability of doing good, applauded it, and urged me to draw up a petition immediately. I said it was a matter of importance, and with their leave I would take home the paper, consider the propositions as they now stood, and give them my opinion to-morrow evening. This was agreed to, and for that time we parted.
Weighing now the present dangerous situation of affairs in America, and the daily hazard of widening the breach there irreparably, I embraced the idea proposed in the paper, of sending over a commissioner, as it might be a means of suspending military operations, and bring on a treaty, whereby mischief would be prevented, and an agreement by degrees be formed and established; I also concluded to do what had been desired of me as to the engagement, and essayed a draft of a memorial to Lord Dartmouth, for that purpose, simply; to be signed only by myself. As to the sending of a commissioner, a measure which I was desired likewise to propose, and express my sentiments of its utility, I apprehended my colleagues in the agency might be justly displeased if I took a step of such importance without consulting them, and therefore I sketched a joint petition to that purpose for them to sign with me if they pleased; but apprehending that would meet with difficulty, I drew up a letter to Lord Dartmouth, containing the same proposition, with the reasons for it, to be sent from me only. I made also upon paper some remarks on the propositions; with some hints on a separate paper of further remarks to be made in conversation, when we should meet in the evening of the 17th. Copies of these papers, (except the first, which I do not find with me on shipboard,) are here placed as follows, viz.
To the King's most excellent Majesty. The Petition and Memorial of W. Bollan, B. Franklin, and Arthur Lee, Most humbly showeth,
That your petitioners, being agents for several colonies, and deeply affected with the apprehension of impending calamities that now threaten your Majesty's subjects in America, beg leave to approach your throne, and to suggest with all humility, their opinion, formed on much attentive consideration, that if it should please your Majesty to permit and authorise a meeting of delegates from the different provinces, and appoint some person or persons of dignity and wisdom from this country, to preside in that meeting, or to confer w ith the said delegates, acquaint themselves fully with the true grievances of the colonies, and settle the means of composing all dissentions, such means to be afterwards ratified by your Majesty, if found just and suitable; your petitioners are persuaded, from their thorough knowledge of that country and people, that such a measure might be attended with the most salutary effects, prevent much mischief, and restore the harmony which so long subsisted, and is so necessary to the prosperity and happiness of all your Majesty's subjects in every part of your extensive dominions; which that heaven may preserve entire to your Majesty and your descendants, is the sincere prayer of
your Majesty's most dutiful subjects and servants.
To The Right Hon. Lord Dartmouth, &c.
Being deeply apprehensive of the impending calamities that threaten the nation and its colonies through the present unhappy dissentions, I have attentively considered by what possible means those calamities may be prevented. The great importance of a business which concerns us all, will, I hope, in some degree excuse me to your lordship, if I presume unasked to offer my humble opinion, that should his Majesty think fit to authorise delegates from the several provinces to meet at such convenient time and place, as in his wisdom shall seem meet, then and there to confer with a commissioner or commissioners to be appointed and empowered by his Majesty, on the means of establishing a firm and lasting union between Britain and the American provinces, such a measure might be effectual for that purpose. I cannot, therefore, but wish it may be adopted, as no one can more ardently and sincerely desire the general prosperity of the British dominions, than, my lord, your lordship's most obedient, &c, B. Franklin.
Remarks on the Propositions.
Art. 1. In consequence of that engagement all the Boston and Massachusetts acts to be suspended, and in compliance with that engagement to be totally repealed.
By this amendment, article 4th will become unnecessary.
Art. 4. and 5. The numerous petitions heretofore sent home by the colony assemblies, and either refused to be received, or received and neglected, or answered harshly, and the petitioners rebuked for making them, have, I conceive, totally discouraged that method of application, and if even their friends were now to propose to them the recurring again to petitioning, such friends would be thought to trifle with them. Besides, all they desire is now before government in the petition of the congress, and the whole or parts may be granted or refused at pleasure. The sense of the colonies cannot be better obtained by petition from different colonies, than it is by that general petition.
Art. 7. Read, such as they may think necessary.
Art. 11. As it stands, of little importance. The first proposition was, that they should be repealed as unjust But they may remain, for they will probably not be executed.
Even with the amendment proposed above to article 1. I cannot think it stands as it should do. If the object be merely the preventing present bloodshed, and the other mischiefs to fall on that country in war, it may possibly answer that end; but if a thorough hearty reconciliation is wished for, all cause of heart-burning should be removed, and strict justice be done on both sides. Thus the tea should not only be paid for on the side of Boston, but the damage done to Boston by the port act should be repaired, because it was done contrary to the custom of all nations, savage as well as civilized, of first demanding satisfaction.
Article 14. The judges should receive nothing from the king.
As to the other two acts. The Massachusetts must suffer all the hazards and mischiefs of war, rather than admit the alteration of their charters and laws by parliament. "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." B. Franklin.
I doubt the regulating duties will not be accepted, without enacting them, and having the power of appointing the collectors in the colonies.
If we mean a hearty reconciliation, we must deal candidly, and use no tricks.
The assemblies are many of them in a state of dissolution. It will require time to make new elections; then to meet and chuse delegates, supposing all could meet. But the assembly of the Massachusetts Bay cannot act under the new constitution, nor meet the new council for that purpose, without acknowledging the power of parliament to alter their charter, which they never will do. The language of the proposal is, Try on your letters first, and then if you don't like them, petition and we will consider.
Establishing salaries for judges may be a general law. For governors not so, the constitution of colonies differing. It is possible troops may be sent to particular provinces, to burthen them when they are out of favor.
Canada.—We cannot endure despotism over any of our fellow-subjects. We must all be free, or none.