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general of the colonies, and appointing him to some office under the government. After speaking of this overture, in a letter to his son, he adds; “So great is my inclination to be at home and at rest, that I shall not be sorry, if this business falls through, and I am suffered to retire with my old post; nor, indeed, very sorry, if they take that from me too, on account of my zeal for America, in which some of my friends have hinted to me, that I have been too open. If Mr. Grenville comes into power again, in any department respecting America, I must refuse to accept any thing that may seem to put me in his power, because I apprehend a breach between the two countries; and that refusal might give offence.” And he says further; “I am grown so old, as to feel much less than formerly the spur of ambition; and, if it were not for the flattering expectation, that, by being fixed here, I might more effectually serve my country, I should certainly determine for retirement, without a moment's hesitation.” This is all that is known of the negotiation. There is no evidence that any office was directly proposed to him. The overture itself evinces a desire on the part of the government to profit by his talents, influence, and knowledge of American affairs. The scheme was probably laid aside for the reason he suggested. His well known sentiments in regard to the American controversy, and the boldness and constancy with which he had maintained them by his writings and otherwise, left no ground for hope, that he would either support or approve the measures, which it was resolved to pursue. For the same reason he could not accept an appointment, knowing as he did the designs of the ministers, and their determination to carry them out at all hazards.
The rumor, which could scarcely fail to arise from the above transactions, found its way to America, and was industriously circulated to his disadvantage by his political adversaries in Pennsylvania. He was accused of seeking office under the ministers, and of thus betraying the confidence reposed in him by his country. Such a charge needs no refutation. His writings, and the whole tenor of his conduct during his residence in England, are proof alike of its falsehood and of the malicious intent with which it was propagated.
The popular party in Pennsylvania, who sought a change of government, looked to him as the most suitable candidate for governor under the new system, if it should ever go into operation. When his sister hinted this to him in a letter, he replied; “There is no danger of such a thing being offered to me, and I am sure I shall never ask it. But, even if it were offered, I certainly could not accept it, to act under such instructions, as I know must be given with it. So you may be quite easy on that head.” The appointment would of course be made by the King, and the instructions must have been in conformity with the doctrines then in vogue respecting colonial subordination, which Franklin had opposed from the time they were first promulgated. Some of the principal people in Massachusetts also wished him to become the successor of Sir Francis Bernard, as governor of that province, believing he would be acceptable to all parties, and be able to conciliate the unhappy differences, which Bernard had contrived to stir up and foment. But, even if there had been any serious attempt to place him in this office, the same objections existed as in the former case.
Dr. Franklin is appointed Agent for Georgia.-Causes the “Farmer's Letters” to be republished in London. — His Opinion of them.—Chosen President of the American Philosophical Society.— Promotes the Culture of Silk in Pennsylvania. — Encourages his Countrymen to adhere to their Non-importation Agreements. –Journey to France.—Appointed Agent for New Jersey.—His Answers to Mr. Strahan's Queries. – Repeal of some of the American Revenue Acts. – Intimations that he would be removed from Office.— His Remarks on that Subject. — Chosen Agent for the Assembly of Massachusetts. – Singular Interview with Lord Hillsborough. — Objectionable Footing on which the Colonial Agents were placed by his Lordship. — Dr. Franklin makes a Tour through the North of England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. — His Reception by Lord Hillsborough in Ireland. — Irish Parliament.
— Richard Bache.- Bishop of St. Asaph.
DURING the year 1768, Dr. Franklin was on the point of returning to America. In the present agitated condition of public affairs with respect to the colonies, he despaired of drawing the attention of the British rulers to the principal purpose of his mission, a change of government in Pennsylvania, although the Assembly had renewed their application every year with increased urgency, and the last time by a vote of every member except one. His private concerns, he said, required his presence at home, and the general business of the province could be transacted by his associate, Mr. Jackson, who resided in London.
At this juncture he received intelligence, in a letter from Governor Wright, of his having been appointed agent for Georgia. He then felt it his duty to wait for the papers and instructions of the Georgia Assembly, which would probably demand his special care. The appointment had been made without any previous intimation, and therefore he was under no obligation to accept it; yet he was unwilling to decline a trust, which had been spontaneously conferred upon him by so respectable a portion of his countrymen, and which he might possibly execute for their benefit. This kept him till winter; other business followed, and he found himself detained in England much longer than he had anticipated.” Having read, with approbation and pleasure, the celebrated “Farmer's Letters,” written by John Dickinson, he caused them to be republished in London, with a commendatory Preface from his own pen. Besides the patriotic motive for this publication, it afforded him an opportunity of showing, that the extreme warmth, with which Mr. Dickinson had opposed his appointment in the Pennsylvania Assembly, had not produced on his part any diminution of friendship or personal regard. This was still further manifested by their harmonious intercourse after he returned again to his own country. The Farmer's Letters were written against the late revenue acts. The depth of research, force of argument, and perspicuity of style, which appeared in these letters, made them popular with all classes of readers in America. Franklin had a high opinion of their general merits, but he thought there was one important point, which was not well established nor clearly explained. The Farmer acknowledged the power of Parliament to regulate the trade of the colonies, yet he denied the right of laying certain duties, which would seem to be included in the power of regulation. If Parliament was to be the judge, this distinction amounted to little. Every state in Europe claimed and exercised the right of laying duties on its exports. In Franklin's opinion the grievance was not, that Britain imposed duties on exported commodities, but that she prohibited the colonists from purchasing the like commodities in the markets of other countries, thus forcing them to pay such prices as she pleased, and depriving them of the advantages of a competition in trade. It was true, that Parliament had exercised this power, and compelled obedience, under the vague pretence of regulating trade; but it had been done in violation of the principles upon which the relations between Great Britain and the colonies had originally been established. As early as the year 1743, when Franklin was much engaged in philosophical studies, he projected a society, which was to include the principal men in America, who were fond of such pursuits, and who would thus be enabled to combine their efforts for the promotion of science. The plan met with favor, and an association was formed. The original members, besides Franklin, were Thomas Hopkinson, John Bartram the botanist, Thomas Godfrey the mathematician, Dr. Thomas Bond, Dr. Phineas Bond, William Parsons, Samuel Rhoads, and William Coleman, of Philadelphia; Chief Justice Morris, Mr. Home, John Coxe, and Mr. Martyn, of New Jersey; Cadwallader Colden and William Alexander, of New York. Other members were soon added, whose names are not known. Hopkinson was president, and Franklin secretary. This association proceeded with some degree of vigor at first, but it gradually declined. It was re
* Whilst the King of Denmark was on a visit to London, he sought the acquaintance of Dr. Franklin, who was one of the sixteen invited guests at a dinner, when the King dined in public, on the 1st of October, 1768. The company consisted mostly of foreign ambassadors and officers of distinction. The other English gentlemen, who were present besides Dr. Franklin, were Lord Moreton, Admiral Rodney, General Hervey, Mr. Dunning, and Dr. Maty.