« AnteriorContinuar »
After a very pleasant passage of about six weeks, Dr. Franklin arrived at the Capes of Delaware, was landed at Chester, and thence proceeded by land to Philadelphia, where every mark of respect, attachment, and veneration, was shown him by his fellow-citizens; and the very day after his arrival he was elected by the legislature of Pennsylvania, a delegate to congress. In short, his public services met with the most flattering rewards that a patriot could possibly desire.
Shortly after his arrival, he thus notices the then state of the colonies, in a letter of May 16, 1775, to a friend in London.
“ You will have heard, before this reaches you,
of a march stolen by the British troops into the country by night, and of their expedition back again. They retreated twenty miles in six hours.'
“ The governor of Massachusetts had called the assembly to propose Lord North's pacific plan; but before the time of their meeting, began cutting of throats: you know it was said he carried the sword in one hand, and the olive branch in the other; and it seems he chose to give them a taste of the sword first. He is doubling his fortifications at Boston, and hopes to secure his troops till succor arrives. The place, indeed, is naturally so defensible, that I think them in no danger.
“ All America is exasperated by his conduct, and more firmly united than ever. The breach between the two countries is grown wider, and in danger of becoming irreparable.”
And to the same friend he wrote some weeks after:
“ The congress met at a time when all minds were so exasperated by the perfidy of General Gage, and his attack on the country people, that propositions for attempting an accommodation were not much relished; and it has been with difficulty that we have carried in that assembly, another humble petition to the crown, to give Britain one more chance, one opportunity more of recovering the friendship of the colonies; which however I
1 The affair of Lexington.
think she has not sense enough to embrace, so I conclude she has lost them for ever."
Never was a prediction more completely verified. The following is a copy of the petition referred to by Dr. Franklin, and to which an answer was refused to be given.
TO THE KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY.
MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN, We your Majesty's faithful subjects of the colonies of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the counties of Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, in behalf of ourselves, and the inhabitants of these, colonies, who have deputed us to represent them in general congress, entreat your Majesty's gracious attention to this our humble petition.
The union between our mother-country and these colonies, and the energy of mild and just governmeut produced benefits 50 remarkably important, and afforded such an assurance of their permanency and increase, that the wonder and envy of other nations were excited, while they beheld Great Britain rising to a power the most extraordinary the world had ever kuowa.
Her rivals, observing that there was no probability of this happy connexion being broken by civil dissensions, and apprehending its future effects, if left any longer undisturbed, resolved to prevent her receiving such continual and formidable accessious of wealth and strength, by checking the growth of those settlements from which they were to be derived.
In the prosecution of this attempt, events so unfavorable to the design took place, that every friend to the interest of Great Britain and these colonies, 'entertained pleasing and reasonable
In the same letter he adds, “ My time was never more fully employed. In the morning at six, I am
expectations of seeing an additional force and exertion immediately given to the operations of the union hitherto experienced, by an enlargement of the dominions of the crown, and the removal of ancient and warlike enemies to a greater distance.
At the conclusion, therefore, of the late war, the most glorious and advantageous that ever had been carried on by British arms, your loyal colonists, having contributed to its success, by such repeated and strenuous exertions, as frequently procured them the distinguished approbation of your Majesty, of the late king, and of parliament, doubted not but that they should be permitted, with the rest of the empire, to share in the blessings of peace, and the emoluments of victory and conquest.
While these recent and honorable acknowledgments of their merits remained on record in the journals and acts of that august legislature, the parliament, undefaced by the imputation or even the suspicion of any offence, they were alarmed by a new system of statutes and regulations, adopted for the administration of the colonies, that filled their minds with the most painful fears and jealousies; and, to their inexpressible astonishment, perceived the danger of a foreign quarrel quickly succeeded by domestic danger, in their judgment, of a more dreadful kind.
Nor were these anxieties alleviated by any tendency in this system to promote the welfare of their mother-country. For though its effects were more immediately felt by them, yet its influence appeared to be injurious to the commerce and prosperity of Great Britain.
We shall decline the ungrateful task of describing the irksome variety of artifices, practised by many of your Majesty's ministers, the delusive pretences, fruitless terrors, and unavailing severities, that have from time to time been dealt out by them, in their attempts to execute this impolitic plan, or of tracing through a series of years past, the progress of the unhappy differences