Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

refuse them the liberty of choosing a representative council, to meet in the colonies, and consider and judge of the necessity of any general tax, and the quantum, shows a suspicion of their loyalty to the crown, or of their common sense and understanding, which they have not deserved.

“That compelling the colonies to pay money without their consent, would be rather like raising contributions in an enemy's country, than taxing of Englishmen for their own public benefit.

“ That it would be treating them as a conquered people, and not as true British subjects.

“That a tax laid by the representatives of the colonies might be easily lessened as the occasions should lessen ; but, being once laid by parliament under the influence of the representations made by governors, would probably be kept up and continued for the benefit of governors; to the grievous burden and discontentment of the colonies, and the prevention of their growth and increase.

" That a poweringovernors to march the inhabitants from one end of the British and French colonies to the other, being a country of at least one thousand five hundred miles long, without the approbation or the consent of their representatives first obtained to such expeditions, might be grievous and ruinous to the people, and would put them upon a footing with the subjects of France in Canada, that now groan under such oppression from their governor, who for two years past has harassed them with long and destructive marches to Ohio.

“That if the colonies in a body may be well governed by governors and councils appointed by the crown, without representatives, -particular colonies may as well, or better, be so governed ; a tax may be laid upon them all by act of parliament for support of government, and their assemblies may be dismissed as an useless part of the constitution.

"That the powers proposed, by the Albany plan of union, to be vested in a grand council representative

of the people, even with regard to military matters, are not so great as those which the colonies of Rhode Island and Connecticut are intrusted with by their charters, and have never abused; for by this plan the president-general is appointed by the crown, and controls all by his negative; but in those governments the people choose the governor, and yet allow him no negative. : "That the British colonies bordering on the French are properly frontiers of the British empire; and the frontiers of an empire are properly defended at the joint expence of the body of the people in such empire. - It would now be thought hard by act of parliament to oblige the Cinque Ports, or sea-coasts of Britain, to maintain the whole navy, because they are more immediately defended by it, not allowing them at the same time a vote in choosing members of the parliament: and as the frontiers of America bear the expence of their own defence, it seems hard to allow them no share in voting the money, judging of the necessity and sum, or advising the measures. • " That besides the taxes necessary for the defence of the frontiers, the colonies pay yearly great sums to the mother-country unnoticed :-for 1. Taxes paid in Britain by the landholder or artificer must enter into and increase the price of the produce of land, and manufactures made of it; and great part of this is paid by consumers in the colonies, who thereby pay a considerable part of the British taxes.

“ 2. We are restrained in our trade with foreign nations; and where we could be supplied with any manufacture cheaper from them, but must buy the same dearer from Britain, the difference of price is a clear tax paid to Britain.

“ 3. We are obliged to carry a great part of our produce directly to Britain ; 'and where the duties said upon it lessen its price to the planter, or he sells it for less than it would fetch in foreign markets, the difference is a tax paid to Britain.

" 4. Some manufactures we could make, but are for

bidden, and must take them of British merchants : the whole price is a tax paid to Britain.

5. By our greatly increasing the demand and consumption of British manufactures, their price is cons siderably raised of late years: the advantage is clear profit to Britain, and enables its people better to pay great taxes ; and much of it being paid by us, is clear tax to Britain.

“6. In short, as we are not suffered to regulate our trade, and restrain the importation and consumption of British superfluities (as Britain can the consumption of foreign superfluities) our whole wealth centres finally amongst the merchants and inhabitants of Britain ; and if we make them richer, and enable them better to pay their taxes, it is nearly the same as being taxed ourselves, and equally beneficial to the crown.

“ These kind of secondary taxes, however, we do not complain of, though we have no share in the laying or disposing of them: but to pay immediate heavy taxes, in the laying, appropriation, and disposition of which we have no part, and which perhaps we may know to be as unnecessary as grievous, must seem a hard measure to Englishmen, who cannot conceive, that by hazarding their lives and fortunes in subduing and settling new countries, extending the dominion and increasing the commerce of the mother-nation, they have forfeited the native rights of Britons, which they think ought rather to be given to them, as due to such merit, if they had been before in a state of slavery.

6 These, and such kinds of things as these, I apprehend, will be thought and said by the people, if the proposed alteration of the Albany plan should take. place. Then the administration of the board of governors and councils so appointed, not having the representative body of the people to approve and unite in its measures, and conciliate the minds of the people to them, will probably become suspected and odious'; dangerous animosities and feuds will

arise between the governors and governed, and every thing go into confusion.

" Perhaps I am too apprehensive in this matter ; but having freely given my opinion and reasons, . your Excellency can judge better than I, whether there be any weight in them; and the shortness of the time allowed me will, I hope, in some degree excuse the imperfections of this scrawl.

“With the greatest respect and fidelity, I have the honour to be,

“Your Excellency's most obedient
"And most humble servant,

“B. FRANKLIN.".

It cannot after this be said, that the British executive were left in the dark in reference to the effect of those measures which hastened the dissolution of the connexion between the mother-country and her colonies, in a manner so discreditable both to the wisdom and energy of the former. A dissolution was probably sooner or later inevitable ; but indisputably it was hastened by a theory almost as erroneous, and a practice nearly as imbecile, as that which has been more recently exhibited by Old Spain.

CHAPTER VI.

Franklin's plan slighted in the Pennsylvanian Assembly : his own final opi.

nion of it.-Made a joint post-master-general with Mr Hunter.-Enters deeply into the disputes between the Assembly and the governor of the province. Aids materially the British expedition under general Braddock.-Account of the failure of that expedition.-Franklin advocates the raising of volunteer corps.--Sent to the frontiers for the defence of the province. Erects forts there.—Made colonel of the Philadelphian association.-Lord Loudon, and his military measures.-Franklin's claims with respect to electrical discoveries.-Appointed agent for Pennsylvania in England. Arrives there. Circulates in London information as to the state of the colonies. Accomplishes a settlement between the Assembly and the proprietaries.-The degree of LL.D. conferred upon him at St. Andrew's Edinburgh, and Oxford.

THE Governor characterized Franklin's plan of union, to the Pennsylvanian Assembly, as “ drawn up with great clearness and strength of judgment, and well worthy their closest and most serious attention.” That body however dismissed it almost without a debate, “ by the management of a certain member," Franklin says, in his absence; which he thought very unfair, and felt very mortifying. After the final success of his countrymen at the close of the American war, he reviewed this part of his life with great satisfaction, and says of this plan, “I am still of opinion it would have been happy for both sides if it had been adopted. The colonies, so united, would have been sufficiently strong to have defended themselves; there would then have been no need of troops from England ; of course the subsequent pretext for taxing America, and the bloody contest it occasioned, would have been avoided. But such mistakes are not new. The best public measures are seldom adopted from previous wisdom, but forced by the occasion.”

At about this period, Franklin, in conjunction with Mr William Hunter, was appointed to the office of

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »