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twenty-five votes. The Proprietary party were much elated at this result, but their joy was of very transient duration. It was found that the anti-Proprietary party were in a large majority in the Assembly, notwithstanding Franklin's defeat. One of their first acts was to choose him their agent to take charge of their petition to the king for a change of government. Great was the consternation of the Proprietary party on finding that, in excluding Franklin from the Assembly, they had placed him in a position where his powers of opposition were incalculably enlarged. They were greatly enraged at being “headed off” in this unexpected manner. They signed a solemn Protest, which they presented to the Assembly, against Franklin's appointment; but it was refused admission upon the minutes. The vindictive personal opposition raised on this occasion against him was hardly allayed during his whole protracted public career. Wherever slander was busiest, it might be traced to some old grievance connected with the movement against the Proprietary system. Before departing for England on this second mission, he wrote some remarks in reply to the Protest. The opposition to him had come from men with whom he had long been associated both in public and private life. He felt their estrangement deeply. They were men “the very ashes of whose former friendship,” he said, he “revered.” “I am now,” he remarked, in conclusion, “to take leave—perhaps a last leave — of the country I love, and in which I have spent the greatest part of my life. Esto perpetua / I wish every kind of prosperity to my friends, and I forgive my enemies.” On leaving Philadelphia to embark for England, he was escorted by a cavalcade of three hundred of his friends to Chester, where he was to go on board his vessel. He sailed the next day, but was detained a night in the Delaware. He arrived at Portsmouth, in England, after a voyage of thirty days. Proceeding at once to London, he established himself in his old quarters at Mrs. Stevenson's. This was in December, 1764.
IN opposition to the remonstrances of Franklin and the agents in England of Massachusetts and Connecticut, a bill for collecting a stamp tax was brought into Parliament early in the year 1765. In reply to a notification, in the winter of 1763–4, that a stamp duty was intended, it was urged by Franklin, in the Assembly of Pennsylvania, that the Colonies had always granted liberally to his majesty on the proper requisitions being made; that they had granted so liberally during the late war that the king had recommended it to Parliament to make them some compensation, and the Parliament accordingly returned them two hundred thousand pounds a year, to be divided among them; that the proposition of taxing them in Parliament was, therefore, both cruel and unjust; that, by the constitution of the Colonies, their business was with the king in matters of aid. So far from refusing to grant money, as had been asserted, the Pennsylvania Assembly passed a resolution to the effect that, as they always had, so they always should think it their duty, according to their abilities, to grant aid to the crown-whenever required of them in the usual constitutional manner. A copy of this resolution Franklin brought with him to England, and presented it to Mr. Grenville, before the Stamp Act was brought in. Similar resolutions had been passed by other colonies. “Had Mr. Grenville,” said Franklin, subsequently, “instead of that act, applied to the king in council for such requisitional letters to be circulated by the Secretary of State, I am sure he would have obtained more money from the Colonies by their voluntary grants than he himself expected from his stamps. But he chose compulsion rather than persuasion, and would not receive from their good-will what he thought he could obtain without it.”
The passage of the Stamp Act called forth one unanimous voice of reprobation and protest from the Colonies. The act had been most strenuously opposed by Franklin; but he was subjected, notwithstanding his efforts against it, to charges of having given it his approval. Tucker, Dean of Gloucester, in a book on the colonial troubles, spoke of “a certain American patriot” who had applied for the
appointment of stamp officer in America. It was understood that the allusion was to Franklin, and he thought it of sufficient importance to notice, which he did in a respectful letter to the dean, in which he says: “I beg leave to request that you would reconsider the grounds on which you have ventured to publish an accusation that, if believed, must prejudice me extremely in the opinion of good men, especially in my own country, whence I was sent expressly to oppose the imposition of that tax.” All the foundation for the charge appears to have been the simple circumstance that Franklin, in common with other American agents, was drawn in to nominate, at the request of the minister, suitable persons in the Colonies for the proposed new offices. Franklin, never imagining that his compliance with this request would be construed into a proof of his approbation of the Stamp Act, nominated Mr. Hughes for the province of Pennsylvania. In concluding his letter to Dean Tucker, Franklin says: “I desire you to believe that I take kindly, as I ought, your freely mentioning to me “that it has long appeared to you that I much exceeded the bounds of morality in the methods I pursued for the advancement of the supposed interests of America.’ I am sensible there is a good deal of truth in the adage that our sins and our debts are always more than we take them to be ; and though I cannot at present, on examination of my conscience, charge myself with any immorality of that kind, it becomes me to suspect that what has long appeared to you may have some foundation. You are so good as to add, that “if it can be proved you have unjustly suspected me, you shall have a satisfaction in acknowledging the error.’ It is often a thing hard to prove that suspicions are unjust, even when we know what they are ; and harder, when we are unacquainted with them. I must presume, therefore, that in mentioning them you had an intention of communicating the grounds of them to me, if I should request it ; which I now do, and, I assure you, with a sincere desire and
design of amending what you may show me to have been wrong in my conduct, and to thank you for the admonition.”
To this reasonable request Franklin never received any reply.
o was a change of ministry in July, 1765, and Mr. Grenville was succeeded in office, as First Lord of the Treasury, by the Marquis of Rockingham. The subject of a repeal of the Stamp Act was the agitating topic before Parliament. Mr. Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham, took high ground against the right of the kingdom to lay a tax upon the Colonies. Taxation, he contended, was no part
EXAMINATION BEFORE THE HOUSE OF COMMONS. 43
of the governing or legislative power. The taxes were the voluntary gift and grant of the Commons alone. The Commoners of America, represented in their several Assemblies, alone had the constitutional right of giving and granting their own money. Mr. Grenville was one of the principal speakers in reply. His argument was, that protection and obedience being reciprocal, since Great Britain protected America, America was bound to yield obedience. On the third of February, 1766, Franklin was summoned before the House of Commons, and subjected to an examination upon facts relative to the repeal of the Stamp Act. He was plied with questions by Grenville and his friends and Charles Townshend. Without preparation, he submitted to a series of very close inquiries, various in their character, and demanding very extensive information in the respondent. The promptitude, sagacity and independence of his replies, with the simple and expressive diction in which they were conveyed, and his self-poised but unassuming deportment, commanded the respect of all parties. In answer to the interrogatories addressed to him, he said that there was not gold and silver enough in the Colonies to pay the stamp duty for one year; that it was not true that America was protected by Great Britain, and paid no part of the expense; that the Colonies raised, clothed and paid, during the last war, near twenty-five thousand men, and spent many millions; that the temper of America towards Great Britain, before the year 1763, was the best in the world, and to be an old England man was of itself a character of some respect, and gave a kind of rank among Americans; but that their temper now was very much altered. To the inquiry whether he thought the Americans would submit to pay the stamp duty if it were lessened, he replied, “No, never ! unless compelled by force of arms.” “May not a military force carry the Stamp Act into execution ?” asked one of his interrogators. Franklin replied: “Suppose a military force sent into America; they will find nobody in arms; what are they, then, to do They cannot force a man to take stamps who chooses to do without them. They will not find a rebellion; they may, indeed, make one.” “Supposing the Stamp Act continued and enforced, do you imagine that ill-humor will induce the Americans to give as much for worse manufactures of their own, and use them in preference to better of ours?” “Yes, I think so. People will pay as freely to gratify one passion as another, their resentment as their pride.” “Would the people at Boston discontinue their trade 3' “The merchants are a very small number, compared with the body of the people; and must discontinue their trade, if nobody will buy their goods.” “What are the body of the people in the Colonies?” “They are farmers, husbandmen, or planters.” “Would they suffer the produce of their lands to rot ?” “No ; but they would not raise so much. They would manufacture more, and plough less.” “I do not know a single article,” he subsequently affirmed, “imported into the northern Colonies, that they cannot either do without or make themselves.” In less than three weeks after Franklin's examination, a motion for leave to bring in a bill for the repeal of the American Stamp Act was introduced into the House of Commons. It was vehemently opposed by Grenville. “Do not die,” he said, “from the fear of dying. With a little firmness, it will be easy to compel the colonists to obedience.” In the course of this debate, Burke made his first speech in the House of Commons. It was in behalf of the colonists, and drew from Mr. Pitt a warm encomium. In spite of much influential opposition, a bill to repeal the Stamp Act was introduced on the 26th of February. It received the royal assent on the 18th of March. But the tranquillizing effect of this repeal among the colonists was marred by the simultaneous passage of a declaratory act, as it was called, by which it was asserted that the king, with the consent of the Lords and Commons in Parliament assembled, had undoubted power and authority to make laws of sufficient force “to bind the Colonies and people of America in all cases whatsoever.” This declaration was as absurd and supererogatory as it was offensive; and it only added fuel to the flames of resentment which the passage of the Stamp Act had kindled, and which its repeal, in consequence of this ungracious asseveration, did not suffice to extinguish. Franklin had been instructed by the Pennsylvania Assembly to solicit the repeal of the restraints laid upon the