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and most of these renounced the office in consequence of the threats of the populace. Some of general Gage's regiments having encamped on the plains in the neighbourhood of Boston, and placed a guard upon the neck of the peninsula, the inhabitants of Worcester county affected to suppose that this was intended to starve the town into a compliance with the British measures, and sent to inform the inhabitants that there were ten thousand men ready to march to their assistance. General Gage now fortified Boston Neck, and seized upon the ammunition and stores prior to the approaching annual muster of the provincial militia. · Franklin's life and conduct as a statesman is essentially connected with these events, but the general dignity and influence of his character were happily preserved by his present detention in England, whence his genius could direct the storm, without his being disturbed too much by it personally. The first meeting of a General Congress was in fact a suggestion of bis, not only in his original plan of a union of the colonies, suggested at Albany, but more particularly in a letter addressed from England, in July, 1773, to his friend Thomas Cushing, Esq.
“ As the strength of an empire,” says he in this masterly paper, “ depends not only on the union of its parts, but on their readiness for united exertion of their common force; and as the discussion of rights may seem unseasonable in the commencement of actual war, and the delay it might occasion be prejudicial to the common welfare; as, likewise, the refusal of one or a few colonies would not be so much regarded, if the others granted liberally, which, perhaps, by various artifices and motives they might be prevailed on to do; and as this want of concert would defeat the expectation of general redress that otherwise might be justly formed; perhaps it would be best and fairest for the colonies, in a General Congress, now in peace to be assembled (or by means of the correspondence lately proposed), after a full and solemn assertion and declaration of their rights, to engage firmly with each other, that they will never grant aids to the crown in any general war, till those rights are recognised by the king and both houses of parliament; communicating to the crown this their » resolution. Such a step, I imagine, will bring the dispute to a crisis; and whether our demands are immediately complied with, or compulsory measures thought of to make us rescind them, our ends will finally be obtained ; for even the odium accompanying such compulsory attempts will contribute to unite and strengthen us; and, in the meantime, all the world will allow that our proceeding has been honourable."
This Congress met at Philadelphia, Sept. 17th, 1774. The first act of Congress declared their determined resolution to oppose the measures of the British parliament relative to Massachusetts Bay; after which they wrote to general Gage, commander of the king's troops in that province, declaring their resolution to unite for the preservation of their common rights, in opposition to the oppressions of parliament, and lamenting that his Excellency should have proceeded in a manner that bore so hostile an appearance, calculated to force them into open warfare with the parent state.
They professed a desire for peace, and a full know- . ledge of the horrors to which all the peaceable inhabitants of the colonies would be exposed by the termination of those disputes in civil war..
They also published a Declaration of Rights derived to them as English colonists, from the laws of nature, the principles of the British constitution, and the respective provincial charters. ,
And drew up a Petition to the King, a Memorial to their Fellow Subjects of Great Britain, an Address to the Colonies in general, and another to the Inhabitants of the New Quebec Province.
The energy, ability, and wisdom of these public papers were, such, that lord Chatham, no ordinary judge, told Dr Franklin before he left England, that
he had never met with any thing superior to them in all history.
At this tremendous crisis, in the public prints, in letters to statesmen, and in private conversation, Dr Franklin was unceasing in his efforts to induce government to change its measures. He expatiated on the impolicy and injustice of the conduct at present pursued, and stated in the most explicit manner, that notwithstanding the sincere attachment of the colonies to Great Britain, a continuance of the present measures must alienate their affections at last. In the autumn of 1774, lord Stanhope introduced him to Mr Pitt, who received him with great cordiality, and .requested the favour of his frequent calls. He inquired particularly into the affairs of America, and spoke feelingly against the severity of the Massachusetts' laws. Franklin observed, that but for those divisions, the States might have gone on adding province to province, as far as the South Sea. That he lamented the ruin impending over so desirable a plan, and hoped, if his lordship and other great men of the nation would unite and exert themselves, the cause of America might yet be rescued out of the hands of the present blundering ministers, and so desirable an end obtained.--He replied, that our author's idea of extending the empire was a sound one, worthy of a great, benevolent, and comprehensive mind. He mentioned an opinion generally entertained of America's aiming at independence, to which Franklin replied, by assuring him that he had never heard the least expression of a wish for separation in all America.
About the same time, Dr Franklin was told at the Royal Society, that a certain lady, who proved to be a sister of lord Howe's, desired his acquaintance, as a well known player at chess, and Mr Rapier, his informant was, if agreeable, to introduce him. Dr Franklin readily consented, not conjecturing, he says, at the time, that. any political business was to be connected with his visits; but one evening, after playing a game at chess, lady Howe said, “And what is to be done with this
dispute between Great Britain and the colonies, I hope we are not to have a civil war ? • They should kiss and be friends,' said Franklin, What can they do better?' 1 have often said,' replied she, that I wished government would employ you to settle the dispute for them. I am sure nobody could do it so well; don't you think the thing is practicable ?' * Undoubtedly, madam,' rejoined Franklin, if the parties are both disposed to reconciliation; for the two countries have really no clashing interests to differ about. It is rather a matter of punctilio, which two or three reasonable people might settle in half an hour; but the ministers will never think of employing me in that good work, they choose rather to abuse me.' "Ay,' said she, “they have behaved shamefully to you, and, indeed, some of them are now ashamed of it themselves. This is a mere abstract of the conversation, and Franklin thought it, upon the whole, accidental.
About this time Mr David Barclay called on Dr Franklin, to converse with him respecting a meeting of the merchants to petition parliament; after which he entered upon the present dangerous situation of America, the nature of the present measures, and the great merit that person would have, who could effect a reconciliation, and avert the dark storm that seemed impending ; to which he added his full persuasion, that for this object no man had so much in his power as Franklin. The latter replied, he saw no prospect of it. Accommodation was always impracticable, except both sides were ready to agree upon equitable terms, which he believed was not the case. He considered the object of the present ministry was, to drive the Americans into open rebellion, that they might have a plausible pretext for putting the States under a military execution, and gratify an old prejudice which still rankled in the breasts of many gentlemen in the British parliament against the whigs and dissenters, who had taken refuge in those culonies. In reply, Mr Barclay wished the Doctor to think
more favourably of ministers ; he thought they would be happy to escape from their present embarrassment on any terms which would preserve the honour of the government.
Dr Franklin spent an evening, shortly after, with his old friend Dr Fothergill, and Mr Barclay. The conversation turned chiefly on American affairs, and the many calamities likely to be connected with the late differences. They both urged Dr Franklin to exert himself in order to bring affairs to a reconciliation, and hoped he would sketch out some plan which might be shewn to ministers, duly regarding the claims of both nations. Dr Franklin expressed his willingness to listen to any friendly intimation; a further meeting was appointed, when he produced Hints for Conversation upon the subject of Terms that might probably produce a durable union between Britain and the Colonies.
1. “The tea destroyed to be paid for.
2. “ The tea-duty act to be repealed, and all the duties that have heen received upon it to be repaid into the treasuries of the several provinces from which they have been collected.
3. “ The acts of navigation to be all re-enacted in the colonies.
4. " A naval officer appointed by the crown, to reside in each colony, to see that these acts are observed. · 5. “All the acts restraining manufactures in the colonies to be repealed.
6. “ All duties arising on the acts for regulating trade with the colonies, to be for the public use of the respective colonies, and paid into their treasuries, The collectors and custom-house officers to be appointed by each governor, and not sent from England,
ty." In consideration of the Americans maintaining their own peace-establishment, and the monopoly