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that the colonies had appointed them the guardians of their rights and liberties, and that they felt the deepest concern, that whilst they were pursuing every dutiful and peaceable measure to procure a cordial and effectual reconciliation between Great Britain and the colonies, his excellency should proceed in a manner that bore so hostile an appearance, and which even the oppressive acts complained of did not warrant. They represented the tendency this conduct must have to irritate, and force a people, however well disposed to peaceable measures, into hostilitics, which might prevent the endeavors of the congress to restore a good understanding with the parent state, and involve them in the horrors of a civil war.
The congress also published a DECLARATION OF RIGHTS, to which they asserted the English colonies of North America were entitled, by the immutable laws of nature, the principles of the English constitution, and their several charters or compacts.
They then proceeded to frame a petition to the king, a memorial to the people of Great Britain, an address to the colonies in general, and another to the inhabitants of the province of Quebec.
These several acts were drawn up with uncommon energy, address, and ability: they well deserve the attention of statesmen, and are to be found in the annals of American history.
The petition to his majesty contained an enumeration of the grievances of the colonies, humbly praying redress. It was forwarded to England by the secretary of congress (Charles Thomson), under cover to Dr. Franklin ; and as a document of considerable interest, will be inserted at length, and the proceedings thereon circumstantially noticed, in the progress of these memoirs.
Dr. Franklin, at this momentous period, was unceasing in his endeavors to induce the British
government to change its measures with respect to the colonies. In private conversations, in letters to persons connected with government, and in writings in the public prints, he continually expatiated upon the impolicy and injustice of its conduct towards America; and stated in the most energetic mannet, that notwithstanding the sincere attachment of the colonists to the mother-country, a continuance of ill-treatment must ultimately alienate their affections. The ministers listened not to his advice and solemn warnings; they blindly persevered in their own schemes, and left to the Amerieans no alternative but opposition, or unconditional submission. The latter accorded not with the principles of freedom which they had been taught to revere; to the former they were compelled, though reluctantly, to have recourse.
Dr. Franklin, thus finding all his efforts to restore harmony between Great Britain and her colonies
ineffectual; and being looked upon by government with a jealous eye, who, it was said, entertained some thoughts of arresting him, under the pretence of his having fomented a rebellion in the colonies, (of which he received private intimation,)determined on immediately returning to America, and to this effect embarked from England in March, 1775.
During the passage, he committed to paper a memorable and lasting monument of his noble efforts to effect a reconciliation, and prevent a breach between Great Britain and her colonies, (contrary to the insidious accusations of his enemies.) This was a narrative of the negotiations he had latterly been concerned in, to bring about so desirable an object, and one he had so much at heart. This, like the first part of these memoirs, was addressed to his son, Governor Franklin; and intended no doubt to be incorporated in them, had he lived to proceed so far in his history. It forms a complement to his political transactions while in England, fully justifies and exalts his character, and is a document of no mean interest in the annals of the American revolution. From these considerations, the editor conceives he should be inexcusable in suppressing, new-modelling, or curtailing so valuable a tract; but on the contrary, has great satisfaction, as will no, doubt the reader, that Dr. Franklin again resumes the pen in a further continuation of these memoirs.
On board the Pennsylvania Packet, Capt. Osborne,
bound to Philadelphia, March 22, 1775.
Having now a little leisure for writing, I will endeavor, as I promised you, to recollect what particulars I can of the negotiations I have lately been concerned in, with regard to the misunderstandings between Great Britain and Americu.
During the recess of the last parliament, which had passed the severe acts against the province of the Massachusetts Bay, the minority having been şensible of their weakness as an effect of their want of union among themselves, began to think seriously of a coalition. For they saw in the violence of these American measures, if persisted in, a hazard of dismembering, weakening, and perhaps ruining the British empire. This inclined some of them to propose' such an union with each other, as might be more respectable in the ensuing session, have more weight in opposition, and be a body out of which a new ministry might easily be formed, should the ill success of the late measures, and the firmness of the colonies in resisting them, make a change appear necessary to the king.
I took some pains to promote this disposition, in conversations with seyeral of the principal among the minority of both houses, whom I besought and conjured most earnestly, not to suffer, by their little misunderstandings, so glorious a fabric as the present British empire to be demolished by these blunderers; and for their encouragement assured them, as far as my opinions could give any assurance, of the firmness and unanimity of America, the continuance of which was what they had frequent doubts of, and appeared extremely apprehensive and anxi. ous concerning it.
From the time of the affront given me at the council board in January, 1774,'.I had never attended the levee of any minister. I made no justification of myself from the charges brought against me: I made no return of the injury by abusing my adversaries; but held a cool sullen silence, reserving myself to some future opportunity; for which conduct I had several reasons not necessary here to specify. Now and then I heard
Now and then I heard it said, that the reasonable part of the administration was ashamed of the treatment they had given me. I suspected that some who told me this, did it to draw from me my sentiments concerning it, and perhaps my purposes; but I said little or nothing upon the subject, In the mean time, their measures with regard to New England failing of the success that had been confidently expected, and finding themselves more and more embarrassed, they began (as it seems) to
See an account thereof, APPENDIX, No. 5.