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ing it was, to make a very sparing use of it, and never to use it at all to the prejudice of one part of the empire for the advantage of another part. By such a prudent course he imagined the supremacy might be established, but otherwise it would be disputed and lost. The colonies had submitted to it in regulations of commerce; but this was voluntary, as they were not bound to yield obedience to acts of Parliament by their original constitution. An assumed authority might safely be exercised when it aimed only to do good and render equal justice to all; but, if it erred in this respect, its dignity might be impaired, and the most likely method of restoring it would be to correct the error as soon as an opportunity offered. And thus the British legislature might easily keep its dignity from harm, in relation to the colonies, by repealing the revenue acts intended to operate against them. To Mr. Strahan's inquiry, whether the Americans would be satisfied with a partial repeal, he replied in the negative. He said it was not the amount to be paid in duties that they complained of, but the duties themselves and the reasons assigned for laying them, namely, that the revenue might be appropriated for the support of government and the administration of justice in the colonies. This was encroaching upon their rights, and interfering with the power of their Assemblies. In fact, if this principle were allowed, it might be so extended as to reduce the Assemblies to a nullity, and thus subject the people to a servile dependence on the will and pleasure of Parliament, without having any voice in making the laws they were to obey. Till the principle itself should be abandoned, therefore, he was persuaded there would be no chance of a reconciliation. Other questions were asked, which he answered in the same spirit, giving it as his unqualified opinion, that the people would not be quieted by any thing short of a total repeal of all the acts for collecting a revenue from them without their consent. If this were done, and they were restored to the situation they were in before the Stamp Act, he believed their discontents would subside, that they would dissolve their agreements not to import goods, and that commerce, returning again into its old channels, would revive and flourish. He added, however, that he saw no prospect of any such salutary measures, either in the wisdom of ministers, or in the temper of the British legislature. When Parliament assembled, the subject was brought forward; and in April, 1770, after an experiment of three years, the British ministry finding the Americans still obstinate in refusing to import goods, and trade declining, procured a repeal of the duties on all the commodities enumerated in the revenue act, except tea. This was done with a view to commercial policy, and not with any regard to the rights of the colonists, or the least pretence that it was meant to remove the cause of their complaints. On the contrary, the insignificant tea duty was retained for the express purpose of upholding the sovereignity of Parliament. The consequence was, that it rather increased than allayed the popular ferment in America; for it implied, that they estimated their grievances by the amount of money demanded of them, and not by the principle upon which this demand was made. They renewed their non-importation agreements with more zeal than ever. The freedom with which Dr. Franklin wrote to his correspondents in America, and the sentiments he repeatedly uttered respecting the disputes between the VOL. I. B B

two countries, gave offence to the British government. Copies of some of his letters were clandestinely obtained and forwarded to the ministers. Intimations were thrown out, that he would be made to feel their resentment, by being removed from his place in the American postoffice. As he had never been charged with neglect in this station, but, on the contrary, by long and unwearied exertions, had raised the postoffice from a low condition to a state of prosperity and productiveness, a removal could only be intended as a punishment for his political conduct and opinions, or rather for his perseverance in defending what he believed to be the true interests and just claims of his country. He was determined, therefore, not to give up the office, till it should be taken from him, although he was plentifully abused in the newspapers to provoke him to a resignation. A retreat, under such circumstances, did not comport with his ideas either of self-respect or of consistency. Abuse from adversaries, the displeasure of ministers, and the loss of his office, were not to be coveted; but they could be borne, and they would never drive him to sacrifice his principles, or to desert a cause, which he had embraced from a conviction of its justice and a sense of duty. “As to the letters complained of,” said he, “it was true I did write them, and they were written in compliance with another duty, that to my country; a duty quite distinct from that of postmaster. My conduct in this respect was exactly similar to that I held on a similar occasion but a few years ago, when the then ministry were ready to hug me for the assistance I afforded them in repealing a former revenue act. My sentiments were still the same, that no such acts should be made here for America; or, if made, should as soon

as possible be repealed; and I thought it should not
be expected of me to change my political opinions
every time his Majesty thought fit to change his min-
isters. This was my language on the occasion; and
I have lately heard, that, though I was thought much
to blame, it being understood, that every man who
holds an office should act with the ministry, whether
agreeable or not to his own judgment, yet, in con-
sideration of the goodness of my private character (as
they were pleased to compliment me), the office was
not to be taken from me. Possibly they may still
change their minds, and remove me; but no appre-
hension of that sort will, I trust, make the least al-
teration in my political conduct. My rule, in which
I have always found satisfaction, is, never to turn aside
in public affairs through views of private interest; but
to go straight forward in doing what appears to me
right at the time, leaving the consequences with Prov-
idence.”
The person most active on this occasion was Lord
Hillsborough, who had taken umbrage at Dr. Frank-
lin's conduct of late, finding him in the way of all
his schemes for humbling the Americans and forcing
upon them his official mandates. How far the other
ministers participated in his feelings of hostility is un-
certain, but Franklin was permitted for some time long-
er to retain his office.
For many years he had corresponded on political
affairs with gentlemen in Massachusetts, who had been
much influenced by his opinions and advice. Some
of his best letters were written to the Reverend Dr.
Samuel Cooper, a man of strong abilities, skilful with
his pen, extremely well informed on all the public
transactions of the time, and a zealous defender of the
rights and privileges of the colonists. Dr. Franklin

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confided in his discretion and good sense, and opened his mind to him freely, receiving in return accurate intelligence of what was doing in America, with sound and judicious observations on the state of the country, and the impressions produced on the minds of the people by the policy and acts of the British government. The correspondence was shown, from time to time, to the prominent men in Massachusetts, who thus became acquainted with Dr. Franklin's private sentiments, as well as with his labors in promoting the cause of his country, both of which met with their entire approbation. It was natural, therefore, that they should wish to secure his services for the province, and more especially as he was a native of Boston, and had always manifested a warm attachment to the place of his birth. He was accordingly chosen by the Assembly to be their agent, as expressed in the resolve, “to appear for the House at the court of Great Britain,” and to sustain their interests, “before his Majesty in Council, or in either House of Parliament, or before any public board.” The appointment was made on the 24th of October, 1770, and was to continue for one year; but it was annually renewed whilst he remained abroad. Mr. Cushing, the Speaker of the Assembly, transmitted to him a certificate of his election, and other papers, setting forth in detail the grievances of which the people complained, and instructing the agent to use his best efforts to have them redressed. The first step he took, after receiving these papers, was to wait on Lord Hillsborough, the American Secretary, both to announce his appointment officially, and to explain the purport of his instructions. The interview was a very singular one. Franklin had but just time to mention Massachusetts, and to add, that the

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