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framed, was vetoed by the Governor, who claimed the appointment of officers, and made other arbitrary demands which were inadmissible. The Paxton riots showed the danger of the absence of an organized military force. Franklin published an account of the loss of the militia bill
, and he did not spare the Proprietary party in his animadversions. Other difficulties ensued between the Assembly and the Governor, in which the latter showed himself intractable. Persuaded that the evils of the Proprietary system were incurable, Franklin, in the early part of 1764, published a tract entitled “ Cool Thoughts on the Present Situation of Public Affairs,” in which he proposed the substitution of a Royal for a Proprietary government. Numerous petitions to the king in favor of the change were sent in to the Assembly. A petition from the Assembly to the king, to the same effect, was drafted by Franklin, and warmly discussed. John Dickinson, a wealthy lawyer of Philadelphia, was one of the ablest supporters of the Proprietary interest. It being proposed to send Franklin to England as bearer of the petition, Dickinson remarked, in a speech to the Assembly: “The gentleman proposed has been called here to-day a great luminary of the learned world. Far be it from me to detract from the merit I admire. Let him still shine, but without wrapping his country in flames. Let him, from a private station, from a smaller sphere, diffuse, as I think he may, a beneficial light; but let him not be made to move and blaze like a comet, to terrify and distress."
Norris, Speaker of the Assembly, was also opposed to Franklin's project, and, refusing to sign the petition, he resigned his seat, and Franklin was chosen in his stead, and signed the petition as Speaker. He was ably seconded in his opposition to the existing system by Joseph Galloway, an eminent lawyer. A speech which the latter delivered in reply to Dickinson was published with a preface by Franklin, which is one of his most adroit and caustic political essays.
At the annual election, in the autumn of 1764, the Proprietary party made great efforts to defeat him; and, after having been elected to the Assembly fourteen successive years, Franklin lost his election by a majority of about
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 å 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
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 Dela
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.
IV. 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 under stood 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,
“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
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.
There 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