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as intentionally disrespectful to Parliament, and little short of rebellion; and the latter thought them ill timed and injudicious. They were generally condemned by all parties. To calm the excitement, and to draw public attention to the true grounds of the controversy, Dr. Franklin wrote a paper, entitled Causes of the American Discontents before 1768. This was pub
lished in the London Chronicle. But the editor took great liberties with the manuscript, omitting and altering to suit his humor. "He has drawn the teeth and pared the nails of my paper," said Franklin, "so that it can neither scratch nor bite; it seems only to paw and mumble."
It was, nevertheless, extremely well adapted to the occasion, being written with the author's peculiar felicity of style, and in a tone of moderation and fairness, which could not fail to win the favorable opinion even of those, who were resolved not to be convinced. The causes of all the late troubles in the colonies are traced from their origin, and stated with so much clearness and method, as to place the subject in its full force before the reader's mind. The Boston resolutions are not directly brought into view; yet the complaints of the colonists and the reasons for those complaints are so explained, as to make it evident, that the conduct of the Bostonians was a natural consequence of the aggressions of the British government, and such as ought to have been expected from a people jealous of their rights, and nurtured in the atmosphere of freedom. The example of Boston was speedily followed by the whole continent.
About this time, also, Dr. Franklin published his excellent pieces against Smuggling, and on the Laboring Poor, designed to correct practical abuses and errors of opinion then prevalent in England.
At the beginning of the year 1768, there was a change in the ministry. The American business had been in the charge of Lord Shelburne, but it was now transferred to Lord Hillsborough, as secretary of State for America, this being made a distinct department. He was likewise placed at the head of the Board of Trade. In these stations he had so large a control over the affairs of the colonies, that almost every thing depended on his dispositions towards them. He was accounted a man of integrity and honest purposes, but too fond of his own opinions, and obstinate in carrying out his schemes. It was not known that he had any special hostility to the colonies, yet the American agents regarded his appointment as by no means auspicious to the interests of their countrymen. His general character gave a countenance to this apprehension, and his conduct in his office proved it not to be groundless.
At first, however, he was courteous to the American agents, and seemed to listen to their representations with some degree of favor. To Dr. Franklin, in particular, he showed much civility, conversed with him often on American affairs, and professed to have great respect for his opinions. This circumstance, probably, gave rise to the report, that some office was to be offered to him in his Lordship's department. Alluding to this subject, Franklin writes; "I am told there has been a talk of getting me appointed undersecretary to Lord Hillsborough; but with little likelihood, as it is a settled point here, that I am too much an American." An indirect overture was made to him, nevertheless, at the instance of the Duke of Grafton, by which it would appear, that there was a project for taking away from him the place of postmaster
general of the colonies, and appointing him to some office under the government.
After speaking of this overture, in a letter to his son, he adds; "So great is my inclination to be at home and at rest, that I shall not be sorry, if this business falls through, and I am suffered to retire with my old post; nor, indeed, very sorry, if they take that from me too, on account of my zeal for America, in which some of my friends have hinted to me, that I have been too open. If Mr. Grenville comes into power again, in any department respecting America, I must refuse to accept any thing that may seem to put me in his power, because I apprehend a breach between the two countries; and that refusal might give offence." And he says further; "I am grown so old, as to feel much less than formerly the spur of ambition; and, if it were not for the flattering expectation, that, by being fixed here, I might more effectually serve my country, I should certainly determine for retirement, without a moment's hesitation." This is all that is known of the negotiation. There is no evidence that any office was directly proposed to him. The overture itself evinces a desire on the part of the government to profit by his talents, influence, and knowledge of American affairs.
The scheme was probably laid aside for the reason he suggested. His well known sentiments in regard to the American controversy, and the boldness and constancy with which he had maintained them by his writings and otherwise, left no ground for hope, that he would either support or approve the measures, which it was resolved to pursue. For the same reason he could not accept an appointment, knowing as he did the designs of the ministers, and their determination to carry them out at all hazards.
The rumor, which could scarcely fail to arise from the above transactions, found its way to America, and was industriously circulated to his disadvantage by his political adversaries in Pennsylvania. He was accused of seeking office under the ministers, and of thus betraying the confidence reposed in him by his country. Such a charge needs no refutation. His writings, and the whole tenor of his conduct during his residence in England, are proof alike of its falsehood and of the malicious intent with which it was propagated.
The popular party in Pennsylvania, who sought a change of government, looked to him as the most suitable candidate for governor under the new system, if it should ever go into operation. When his sister hinted this to him in a letter, he replied; "There is no danger of such a thing being offered to me, and I am sure I shall never ask it. But, even if it were offered, I certainly could not accept it, to act under such instructions, as I know must be given with it. So you may be quite easy on that head." The appointment would of course be made by the King, and the instructions must have been in conformity with the doctrines then in vogue respecting colonial subordination, which Franklin had opposed from the time they were first promulgated. Some of the principal people in Massachusetts also wished him to become the successor of Sir Francis Bernard, as governor of that province, believing he would be acceptable to all parties, and be able to conciliate the unhappy differences, which Bernard had contrived to stir up and foment. But, even if there had been any serious attempt to place him in this office, the same objections existed as in the former case.
Dr. Franklin is appointed Agent for Georgia.-Causes the "Farmer's Letters" to be republished in London. - His Opinion of them. - Chosen President of the American Philosophical Society. — Promotes the Culture of Silk in Pennsylvania. - Encourages his Countrymen to adhere to their Non-importation Agreements.-Journey to France. - Appointed Agent for New Jersey. - His Answers to Mr. Strahan's Queries. Repeal of some of the American Revenue Acts. Intimations that he would be removed from Office.— His Remarks on that Subject. -Chosen Agent for the Assembly of Massachusetts. - Singular Interview with Lord Hillsborough. Objectionable Footing on which the Colonial Agents were placed by his Lordship. - Dr. Franklin makes a Tour through the North of England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. His Reception by Lord Hillsborough in Ireland. - Irish Parliament. -Richard Bache.- Bishop of St. Asaph.
DURING the year 1768, Dr. Franklin was on the point of returning to America. In the present agitated condition of public affairs with respect to the colonies, he despaired of drawing the attention of the British rulers to the principal purpose of his mission, a change of government in Pennsylvania, although the Assembly had renewed their application every year with increased urgency, and the last time by a vote of every member except one. His private concerns, he said, required his presence at home, and the general business of the province could be transacted by his associate, Mr. Jackson, who resided in London.
At this juncture he received intelligence, in a letter from Governor Wright, of his having been appointed agent for Georgia. He then felt it his duty to wait for the papers and instructions of the Georgia Assembly, which would probably demand his special care. The appointment had been made without any previous intimation, and therefore he was under no obligation to accept it; yet he was unwilling to de