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discharge his duty and present it to the King. Prompted by the most friendly feelings towards the province, however, he could not but repeat the wish, that it might be delayed, till these considerations could be stated to the petitioners and new instructions received. In reply Dr. Franklin said, that, considering the large majority with which the resolves and petition had been carried through the House, after long and mature deliberation, he could not hope for any change upon a revision of the subject; that the refusing to receive petitions from the colonies had occasioned the loss of the respect for Parliament, which formerly existed; "that his Lordship might observe, that petitions came no more to Parliament, but to the King only; that the King appeared now to be the only connexion between the two countries; that, as a continued union was necessary to the wellbeing of the whole empire, he should be sorry to see that link weakened as the other had been; and that he thought it a dangerous thing for any government to refuse receiving petitions, and thereby prevent the subjects from giving vent to their griefs." Lord Dartmouth interrupted him by saying, that he did not refuse to present the petition, that he should never stand in the way of the complaints, which should be made to the King by any of his subjects, and that, in the present instance, he had no other motive for advising delay, than the purest good will to the province, and an ardent desire for harmony between the two countries.
Dr. Franklin finally concluded to comply with the minister's request, and to wait till he could communicate the substance of the conversation, and obtain further orders.
Not long after the adjournment of the Assembly, by which this petition had been sent to the King, news
arrived in Boston, that the salaries of the judges, as well as that of the Governor, were to be paid by the crown. The inhabitants immediately assembled in town meeting, and passed resolutions strongly remonstrating against the measure, as tending to complete the system of bondage, which had been preparing for the colonies ever since the passage of the Stamp Act. These resolutions were clothed in bold and energetic language, and they embraced an enumeration of the late acts of the British government, which were deemed oppressive and hostile to American liberty. It was voted also, that a copy of them should be transmitted to the other towns in the province, with a circular letter, recommending that the people should everywhere assemble in town meetings, and express their sentiments in a similar manner.
Governor Hutchinson took umbrage at these proceedings, and used his endeavours to counteract them. He denounced the meetings as unlawful, and the Boston resolutions as encouraging such principles, as would justify the colonies in a revolt, and in setting up an independent state. He moreover charged them mainly to the influence of Franklin. "The claims of the colonies," he afterwards said, "were prepared in England, in a more full manner than ever before, with a manifest design and tendency to revive a flame, which was near expiring. These, it seems to have been intended, should be first publicly avowed in Massachusetts Bay, and that the example should be followed by all the other colonies." And again, speaking of the Statement of Rights, which was reported by a committee appointed for the purpose at the town meeting of Boston, he adds; Although, at its first appearance, it was considered as their own work, yet they had little more to do than to make the necessary al
terations in the arrangement of materials prepared for them by their great director in England, whose counsels they obeyed, and in whose wisdom and dexterity they had an implicit faith."*
The individual here alluded to, as the "great director," was Dr. Franklin; but the charge is utterly unfounded. The guiding spirits in Massachusetts well understood their rights, and needed no aid from England to teach them in what manner to declare those rights to the world. Franklin's correspondence, containing the advice he actually gave, affords a complete vindication of his conduct in reference to this charge. In fact, his friends in America thought him too lukewarm, while those in England were concerned at his boldness. He had all along avowed his opinions without reserve, in his letters and published writings, and advised the colonists to hold fast their rights, to protest against every encroachment upon them, and to reiterate petitions for redress; but at the same time. he recommended moderation in the measures of resistance, because he feared, that any rashness or precipitancy in this respect would be seized upon by the ministry as a pretext for more severe acts of Parliament, and for filling the country with troops to crush the spirit of liberty before the people were in a condition to maintain it; and because the growing strength and importance of the colonies would in due time cause them to be respected and their claims to be acknowledged.
When the pamphlet, containing the votes and resolutions of the town of Boston, came to his hands, he had it republished in London, with a Preface written by himself. In this performance he again took
* HUTCHINSON's History of Massachusetts, Vol. III. p. 364. VOL. I.
occasion to describe the condition of the colonists, and to explain the nature and reasons of their complaints, representing their late transactions as the natural consequences of the unwise policy of the government, in driving them to extremities by refusing to listen to their petitions and remove their real grievances. The temper and matter of this Preface were such, as to gain from the public a fair hearing to the resolutions themselves, which spoke in so high a tone, that they would necessarily give great offence to the partisans of the ministry, and in some measure cool the zeal of those in England, who wished well to the American cause.
The Massachusetts Assembly convened a short time after the Boston resolutions were passed. They took the same subject and the general state of the province into consideration. The result was another petition to the King, which was likewise transmitted to Dr. Franklin. He immediately waited on Lord Dartmouth, told him there could be no more delay, and requested him to deliver this petition to his Majesty, and also the one which had been held in suspense. The minister promised to comply with his wishes.*
About this time Dr. Franklin published anonymously two pieces, remarkable for the style in which they
* It has generally been said, that Dr. Franklin was the first to suggest a Continental Congress. In a private letter to Mr. Cushing, dated July 7th, 1773, after mentioning the proposal of the Virginia House of Burgesses to establish committees of correspondence, he says; "It is natural to suppose, as you do, that, if the oppressions continue, a congress may grow out of that correspondence. Nothing could more alarm our ministers; but, if the colonies agree to hold a congress, I do not see how it can be prevented." In an official letter, of the same date as the above, which was to be read to the Assembly, he dwells more at large upon the subject, and advances such solid reasons for a congress, as to amount to a recommendation. "As the strength of an empire," he says, "depends not only on the union of
are composed. They were entitled, Rules for reducing a Great Empire to a Small One, and An Edict by the King of Prussia. An admirable vein of irony runs through both these pieces. In the former, all the late measures of the British government, in relation to the colonies, are brought together under twenty distinct heads, and so represented, by an ingenious arrangement and turn of expression, as to constitute general rules, which, if put in practice, would enable any ministry to curtail the borders of a great empire and reduce it to a small one.
The Edict purports to have been promulgated with much solemnity by the King of Prussia, imposing restraints on the trade and manufactures of the Island of Great Britain, for the purpose of replenishing the coffers of his Prussian Majesty; it being alleged as a reason in the preamble, that the early settlements were made by Germans, who were subject to his ancestors, having flourished under their protection, and whose descendants were bound to obey the laws of
its parts, but on their readiness for united exertion of their common force; and as the discussion of rights may seem unseasonable in the commencement of actual war, and the delay it might occasion be prejudicial to the common welfare; as likewise the refusal of one or a few colonies would not be so much regarded, if the others granted liberally, which perhaps by various artifices and motives they might be prevailed on to do; and as this want of concert would defeat the expectation of general redress, that otherwise might be justly formed; perhaps it would be best and fairest for the colonies, in a general congress now in peace to be assembled, or by means of the correspondence lately proposed, after a full and solemn assertion and declaration of their rights, to engage, firmly with each other, that they will never grant aids to the crown in any general war, till those. rights are recognised by the King and both Houses of Parliament; communicating at the same time to the crown this their resolution. Such a step I imagine will bring the dispute to a crisis." From these extracts it appears, that there had been a hint about a congress in one of Mr. Cushing's previous letters; but it is believed, that no other direct recommendation of the measure can be found at so early a date as the above.