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what time, say I, in answer, were they tures, and exercise any power whatsomade slaves ? I speak from actual ever, except that of taking their money knowledge when I say that the profit out of their pockets without their conto Great Britain from the trade of the sent." colonies, through all its branches, is two It was while this important debate millions per annum.
This is the fund
was going on, that Franklin, early in that carried you triumphantly through February,* was summoned to give his the war; this is the price America evidence before the House of Commons. pays you for her protection; and shall Franklin's fame induced an una miserable financier come with a boast usual attendance in the gallerthat he can fetch a peppercorn into the ies, and his replies to the questions proexchequer at the loss of millions to the pounded had an important bearing nation? I know the valor of your upon the final settlement of the mattroops, I know the skill of your officers, ter before Parliament. He was asked I know the force of this country; but whether, in his opinion, the people of in such a cause your success would be America would submit to the stamp hazardous. America, if she fell, would duty if it was moderated: he answered fall like a strong man: she would em- emphatically, “No, never, unless combrace the pillars of the state, and pull pelled by force of arms." To the quesdown the constitution with her. Is this tion,“ What was the temper of America your boasted peace? not to sheathe the sword in the scabbard, but to sheathe it in the bowels of your countrymen? from London to a friend, thus expresses himself : “ In
About a month previous to this, Franklin, writing The Americans have been wronged, my own private judgment, I think an immediate rethey have been driven to madness by peal of the Stamp Act would be the best measure for injustice. Will you punish them for this country; but a suspension of it for three years,
the best for that. The repeal would fill them with the madness you have occasioned? No, joy and gratitude, re-establish their respect and venlet this country be the first to resume
and natural love for this country, and their regard for its prudence and temper; I will pledge
every thing that comes from it hence;, the trade would myself for the colonies, that, on their be renewed in all its branches; they would again inpart, animosity and resentment will dulge in all the expensive superfluities you supply cease. Upon the whole, I will beg them with, and their own new assumed home indus
try would languish. But the suspension, though it leave to tell the house in a few words might continue their fears and anxieties, would at the what is really my opinion. It is that same time keep up their resolutions of industry and the Stamp Act be repealed absolutely, into habits, to their lasting advantage. However
, totally, and immediately. At the same
the repeal will probably not now be agreed to, from time let the sovereign authority of this what I now think, a mistaken opinion, that the honor country over the colonies be asserted in and dignity of government is better supported by per
sisting in a wrong measure once entered into, than by as strong terms as can be devised, and rectifying an error as soon as it is discovered ; we be made to extend to every point of legislation whatsoever; that we may ing the act by force, it is madness, and will be ruin
eration for Parliament, restore at once their ancient
both countries, is, the suspension. For, as to executbind their trade, confine their manufac
to the whole."
must allow the next best thing for the advantage of
REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT.
towards Great Britain, before the year every member in every Assembly, have 1763 ?” he replied, “ The best in the been unanimous."* world. They submitted willingly to The sentiments of Washington were the government of the crown, and paid, in accordance with those expressed by in their courts, obedience to acts of Franklin. He spoke of the Stamp Act Parliament. Numerous as the people as “unconstitutional, and a direful atare in the several old provinces, they tack on the liberties of the colonists." cost you nothing in forts, citadels, gar- And not long after, when the obnoxious risons, or armies, to keep them in sub- act had been repealed, he thus wrote in jection. They were governed by this a letter to a friend: “The repeal of the country at the expense only of a little Stamp Act, to whatever cause owing, pen, ink, and paper; they were led by ought much to be rejoiced at; for, had a thread. They had not only a respect, the Parliament of Great Britain resolved but an affection for Great Britain,--for upon enforcing it, the consequences,
I its laws, its customs, and manners,—and conceive, would have been more direful even a fondness for its fashions, that than is generally apprehended, both to greatly increased the commerce. Na- the mother country and her colonies. tives of Britain were always treated All, therefore, who were instrumental with particular regard; to be an Old in procuring the repeal, are entitled to England man was, of itself, a character the thanks of every British subject, and of some respect, and gave a kind of have mine cordially.”+ rank among us.”__“And what is their On the 22d of February, General temper now ?" it was asked. “O, very Conway, who had opposed from the much altered,” he replied. “Did you first, the attempt to enforce the Stamp ever hear the authority of Parliament Act, now brought in a bill for its total to make laws for America questioned repeal. The debate upon it was till lately?” “The authority of Parlia- long and interesting; but, as ment," said he, “was allowed to be Burke said afterwards, “the House, by valid in all laws, except such as should an independent, noble-spirited, and unlay internal taxes. It was never dis- expected majority, in the teeth of all puted in laying duties to regulate com- the old mercenary Swiss of the state, merce." To the question, “ Can you in despite of all the speculators and name any act of Assembly, or public angurs of political events, in defiance act of any of your governments, that of the whole embattled legion of vetmade such distinction?" he replied, “I eran pensioners and practised instrudo not know that there was any; I ments of court, gave a total repeal to think there was never an occasion to the Stamp Act, and if the scheme of taxmake such an act, till now that you ing the colonies had been totally abanhave attempted to tax us; that has oc- doned, there would have been a lasting casioned resolutions of Assembly, declaring the distinction, in which I think every Assembly on the continent, and
† Sparks's "Life of Washington," p. 107.
* Franklin's Works, vol. iv.,
peace to the whole empire.” The mo
The mo- taxation: on the other hand, Lord tion was carried by two hundred and Camden, formerly chief-justice Pratt, , seventy-five against one hundred and expressed himself in these strong sixty-seven. During the debate, as this words: “My position is this—I repeat eloquent advocate of the repeal of the it; I will maintain it to the last hourStamp Act further says, “ the trading taxation and representation are insepinterest of the empire crammed into arable. The position is founded in the the lobbies of the House of Commons law of nature. It is more; it is itself an with a trembling and anxious expecta- eternal law of nature. For whatsoever tion, and waited, almost to a winter's is a man's own, it is absolutely his own. return of light, their fate from the reso- No man has a right to take it from him lution of the House. When, at length, without his consent. Whoever attempts that had determined in their favor, and to do it, attempts an injury. Whoever the doors thrown open, showed them does it, commits a robbery. the figure of their deliverer in the well- The king was opposed to the repeal, earned triumph of his important vic- but was loth to proceed to force: others tory, from the whole of that grave mul- of the peers, including, it is said, most titude there arose an involuntary burst of the bishops, were in favor of comof gratitude and transport. They jump- pelling obedience at all hazards. The ed upon him like children on a long bill was finally passed, by a vote of absent father. They clung about him a hundred and five against seventy as captives about their redeemer. All one. On the 19th of March, the king, England joined in his applause. Nor having repaired to the House of Peers, did he seem insensible to the best of gave his assent to the Act of Repeal, all earthly rewards, the love and ad- and that of the Dependence of the colmiration of his fellow-citizens. Hope onies towards Great Britain. The elevated and joy brightened his crest." American merchants at that
The ministry, however, were by no time in London, went, in a means disposed to go the length of body, to testify their joy and gratitude Pitt on this point. They placed the upon this occasion. The ships which repeal on the ground of expediency, lay at anchor in the Thames, displayed not of right and justice, and they caused their colors in token of felicitation. another bill to be previously passed, in The houses were illuminated in all which it was declared, that“ Parliament parts of the city; salutes were heard, had, and of right ought to have, power and bonfires were kindled in all quarto bind the colonies in all cases what- ters. In a word, none of the public soever."
demonstrations, usual on similar occurIn the House of Lords, the highest rences, were omitted, to celebrate the legal authorities differed on the ques- goodness of the king, and the wisdom tion. The celebrated Lord Mansfield of Parliament. maintained that the sovereign power of Parliament included the right of
* See Bancroft, vol. V., p. 446 -8.
FRANKLIN'S LETTER TO W. ALEXANDER.
APPENDIX TO CHAPTER X.
diately acquainted, that they might have time to really
I. FRANKLIN'S LETTER TO W. ALEXANDER. should be suitable to their abilities, loyalty, and
zeal for his service. That the colonies had alDEAR SIR,
Passy, March 12th, 1778.
ways granted liberally on such requisitions, and In the pamphlet you were so kind as to lend so liberally during the late war, that the king, me, there is one important fact mis-stated, appa- sensible they had granted much more than their rently from the writer's not having been furnished proportion, had recommended it to Parliament, with good information ; it is the transaction be- five years successively, to make them some comtween Mr. Grenville and the colonies, wherein he pensation, and the Parliament accordingly reunderstands that Mr. Grenville demanded of them turned them two hundred thousand pounds a-year a specific sum, that they refused to grant any to be divided among them. That the proposition thing, and that it was on their refusal only that of taxing them in Parliament was therefore both he made a motion for the Stamp Act. No one of cruel and unjust.* That by the constitution of these particulars is true. The fact was this the colonies their business was with the king in
Some time in the winter of 1763-4, Mr. Gren- matters of aid ; they had nothing to do with any ville called together the agents of the several financier, nor he with them ; nor were the agents colonies, and told them that he purposed to draw the proper channels through which requisitions a revenue from America, and to that end his in- should be made ; it was therefore improper for tention was to levy a stamp duty on the colonies them to enter into any stipulation, or make any by act of Parliament in the ensuing session, of proposition to Mr. Grenville about laying taxes which he thought it fit that they should be imme- on their constituents by Parliament, which had
really no right at all to tax them, especially as consider, and if any other duty equally productive the notice he had sent them did not appear to be would be more agreeable to them, they might let by the king's order, and perhaps was without his him know it. The agents were therefore directed knowledge ; as the king, when he would obtain to write this to their respective Assemblies, and any thing from them, always accompanied his communicate to him the answers they should re- requisition with good words ; but this gentleman, ceive : the agents wrote accordingly.
instead of a decent demand sent them a menace, I was a member in the Assembly of Pennsyl- that they should certainly be taxed, and only left vania, when this notification came to hand. The them the choice of the manner. But all this notobservations there made upon it were, that the withstanding, they were so far from refusing to ancient, established, and regular method of draw
grant money, that they resolved to the following ing aids from the colonies was this. The occasion purpose : "That they always had, so they always was always first considered by their sovereign in should, think it their duty to grant aid to the his privy council, by whose sage advice, he direct- crown, according to their abilities, whenever reed his secretary of state to write circular letters quired of them in the usual constitutional manner.” to the several governors, who were directed to I went soon after to England, and took with me lay them before their Assemblies. In those letters the occasion was explained for their satisfaction,
* “ There is neither king, nor sovereign lord on earth, with gracions expressions of his majesty's confi
who has beyond his own domain, power to lay one farthing
on the subjects, without the grant and consent of those who dence in their known duty and affection, on which
pay it; unless he does it by tyranny and violence."he relied, that they would grant such sums as Philippe de Commines, Chap. 108.
an authentic copy of this resolution, which I pre- seven hundred and sixty-five, there shall be raised,
a stamp duty of three pence.
cery or equity within the said colonies and plantI am ever, with sincere esteem, dear sir, your ations, a stamp duty of one shilling and sixmost obedient, humble servant,
4. For every skin or piece of vellum or parchment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall be engrossed, written or printed, any copy of any petition, bill, answer, claim, plea, replication, re
joinder, demurrer, or other pleading, in any such WHEREAS, by an act made in the last session court, a stamp duty of three pence. of Parliament, several duties were granted, con- 5. For every skin or piece of vellum or parchtinued, and appropriated towards defraying the ment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall expenses of defending, protecting, and securing be engrossed, written or printed, any monition, the British colonies and plantations in America ; libel, answer, allegation, inventory, or renunciaand whereas it is first necessary, that provision be tion in ecclesiastical matters, in any court of promade for raising a further revenue within your bate, court of the ordinary, or other court exermajesty's dominions in America, towards defray-cising ecclesiastical jurisdiction within the said ing the said expenses; we, your majesty's most colonies and plantations, a stamp duty of one dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of Great shilling. Britain, in Parliament assembled, have therefore 6. For every skin or piece of vellum or parchresolved to give and grant unto your majesty the ment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall several rights and duties hereinafter mentioned ; be engrossed, written or printed, any copy of any and do most humbly beseech your majesty that it will, (other than the probate thereof,) monition, may be enacted, And be it enacted by the king's libel, answer, allegation, inventory, or renunciamost excellent majesty, by and with the advice tion, in ecclesiastical matters, in any such court, a and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, stamp duty of sixpence. and commons, in this present Parliament assem- 7. For every skin or piece of vellum or parchbled, and by the authority of the same, That from ment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall and after the first day of November, one thousand be engrossed, written or printed, any donation,
II.-THE STAMP ACT.