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money at interest, and in short, so much of their vast estate, as to reduce their tax, as far as appears to us, below that of a common farmer or tradesman.
"That though the proprietaries' instructions are by no means laws in this province, we have so far complied with them, as to confine the sum given to be raised in one year. And had we complied with them in the other particulars, the raising any thing near the sum required by the present exigencies of the province, would be absolutely impossible. ,
"That the apparent necessity of so large a sum for his Majesty's service, and the, defence of this his province, founded upon the Governor's own estimate, has obliged us to an effort beyond our strength, being assured that hundreds of families must be distressed to pay this tax.
"That we have, in the due exercise of our just rights by the Royal and Provincial charters, and the laws of this province, and as an English representative body, framed this bill, consistent with those rights.
"That the bill is agreeable to justice and equity with regard to the proprietaries, and is not repugnant to the laws of our mother country, but as nearly agreeable thereto as our different circumstances will permit, nor is it contrary to any royal instruction whatever. That great as the sum is, and hard for this people to pay, we freely offer it to our gracious King for his service, and the defence of this colony from his Majesty's enemies.;
"That the proprietaries refusing to permit us to grant money to the Crown in this time of war, and imminent danger to the province, unless we will consent thus to exempt their estates from the tax, we conceive to be injurious to the interests of the Crown, and tyrannical with regard to the people.
"That we do further humbly conceive, neither the proprietaries, nor any other power on earth, ought to interfere between us and our Sovereign, either to modify, or refuse our free gifts and grants for his Majesty's service.
"That though the Governor may be under obligations to the proprietaries, we conceive he is under greater to the Crown, and to the people he is appointed to govern; to promote the service of the former, preserve the rights of the latter, and protect them from their cruel enemies.
"We do, therefore, in the name of our most gracious Sovereign, and in behalf of the distressed, people we represent, unanimously Demand it of the Governor as our Right, that he give his assent to the Bill we now present him, for granting to; his Majesty One Hundred Thousand Pounds for the defence of this province, (and as it is a money Bill, without alteration or amendment, any instructions whatsoever
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from the proprietaries notwithstanding) as he will answer to the Crown for all the consequences of his refusal at his peril.
(Signed by order of the House) Isaac Norris, Speaker."'
January 28, 1757.
This spirited remonstrance, in which it might be almost said that argument and satire are blended, failed to produce any other effect upon the Governor than of confirming his refusal, and of drawing from him a laboured justification, grounded upon parliamentary usage in England, and the supposed hardship of taxing the unimproved lands of the Proprietaries. His objections were replied to seriatim by the House, and at considerable length, but with that perspicuity for which Franklin was ever distinguished. At the conclusion it was "Ordered, February 28, 1757, That Mr. Roberdeau and Mr. Yorke do wait upon the Governor with the Bill for granting one hundred thousand pounds for the defence of the province, and acquaint him, That upon receiving his honour's message of the 12th instant, sent down with our last supply Bill, the Committee to whom that message was referred, have reported fully upon all the objections against that Bill, which, after mature deliberation, the House have approved, and find those objections are rather excuses for not passing the Bill, than reasons against it:—That the Bill itself is only a supplement to an Act, which, after a full hearing before the Lords of Trade, has very lately received the Royal assent; and we confined ourselves to that Act, with as few alterations as possible, apprehending the Bill would be free from all objections under the Royal sanction so lately obtained :—That by the estimate the Governor laid before us this session, he computes the sum of one hundred and twenty-seven thousand pounds as necessary to be raised for the defence of the province in the ensuing year; and yet upon the most exact computation we have been able to make, no more than thirty thousand pounds could be raised upon the province in one year by his restricted powers, and not one third of his proposed estimate, by the addition of all the other measures he has proposed, if the House were so insensible of the duty they owe to their constituents as to take their money laws from him only:—That therefore we desire to know his final result upon this Bill, which we once more send up for his concurrence; and if he should, notwithstanding, continue to refuse his assent to it as it now stands, we must refer it to his honour to pay the forces by him raised, or to disband them, as he shall judge he can best answer for his conduct to his Majesty, whose colony we apprehend to be in imminent danger, and for the defence whereof we have in vain endeavoured to make the necessary provision as far as lay in our power."
Great events it has been frequently observed spring from little causes, and though the contest between the Governor and the Assembly of Pennsylvania was far from being in itself of trivial import, considering the variety of interests which it involved, yet as being a local and private concern, no extensive consequences could reasonably have been expected to flow from it. To the philosophical historian, however, who watches the influence of casual occurrences upon the actions and opinions of eminent men, it will appear more than probable that this struggle for an equalization of rights in one province, led the way, or at least incidentally prepared the people of America for a more general resistance to arbitrary impositions. The refusal of the proprietaries to take their part of the public burthens, while they enjoyed all the increasing advantages resulting from the security thereby afforded, brought questions under discussion which might otherwise have lain dormant. Certain it is that these disputes, by calling the energetic mind of Benjamin Franklininto a new field of inquiry, and clothing him with the diplomatic character, enlarged the sphere of his observation, and fitted him for those extraordinary services in which he acquired the greatest glory by contributing to that of his country.:
On his arrival in England he found that innumerable and weighty obstacles were thrown in his way by the art and industry of those who had an interest in prejudicing the public mind against the force of his representations. For this purpose the newspapers were constantly supplied with paragraphs under the form of intelligence from Pennsylvania, but in reality manufactured in London, and conveying gross reflections upon the Assembly and the inhabitants of the province, who were described as actuated by selfish motives and a refractory spirit, because they persisted in withstanding the claim of the proprietaries to an exemption from that taxation which was necessary to the defence of their own estates. To increase the mortification of the provincial agent, he saw that the people were so little acquainted with the internal condition of the colonies, as almost to regard with indifference any complaint of grievances which issued thence. Besides this, the public attention being fixed upon the progress of the war in Germany, rendered it a still more arduous task to remove the impressions produced by interested individuals against the equitable claims of the inhabitants of a settlement in another part of the world. If to these formidable impediments be added the natural reluctance of government to interpose in local disputes arising from the ambiguity, or even the abuse of royal grants, it will be seen that the representative of the Pennsylvanian Assembly had more to dishearten than to encourage him in the mission which had been entrusted to his zeal and management. Considering the complexion of European politics at that period, and the superior influence of those with whom he had to negociate or contend, his situation was of a description that would have depressed men of vigorous intellect and of the most enlarged experience in the intrigues of public business. But it was well perhaps for the immediate benefit of the particular province to which he stood related, and also for the future advantage of the American States, that these difficulties occurred, as they not only brought into exercise the powers of him who was fitted to overcome them, but laid the foundation of connexions and improvements that in all probability would not otherwise have taken place.
One of the first objects attended to by Mr. Franklin, was the current of public opinion on the concern in which he was peculiarly interested, and to observe the means adopted to give that opinion a bias unfavorable to the cause which he had to support. Finding that the press was employed for this purpose, he resolved to avail himself of the same source of information, and fully aware of his own strength, no less than of the justice of what he defended, he entertained the confident assurance of being able to refute calumny by facts, and to correct the errors arising from misrepresentation by simple and conclusive reasoning. • .f
An opportunity soon offered to bring the subject fairly before the public, in consequence of the insertion of an article in a paper called the "citizen, Or General Advertiser," stating that recent letters from Philadelphia brought dreadful accounts of the ravages committed by the Indians on the inhabitants of the back provinces; and that notwithstanding these cruelties the disputes between the Governor and the Assembly were carried on to as great a height as ever, the messages on both sides being expressed in terms which gave very little hopes of a reconciliation. The intelligence then went into particulars, by saying the bill to raise money was clogged, so as to prevent the Governor from giving his consent to it ; and that the obstinacy of the Quakers in the Assembly was such, that they would in no shape alter it; so that while the enemy was in the heart of the country, cavils prevented any thing being done for its relief. The evident object of this paragraph was to create general indignation against the Assembly, by making it appear that the members of it were of so factious a disposition as to sacrifice the welfare of their country for the gratification of private ends, and so dead to all the finer feelings of humanity as to abandon their helpless fellow creatures to savage ferocity rather than lay aside their particular differences. It did not require the sagacity of Benjamin Franklin to discover that this fabrication originated in a spirit of alarm occasioned by the circumstance that an accredited agent on the part of the province was in London; but reflecting that, as such, it did not become him on the one hand to enter upon the public discussion of the concern which he was employed to bring to an amicable conclusion, nor on the other to preserve an absolute silence which might prove detrimental to the interests of those whom he represented, he therefore judiciously caused a reply, bearing the name of his son, to be inserted in the same journal; from which he had the satisfaction of seeing it transplanted into other papers of greater importance and more extensive circulation. In this letter, dated from the Pennsylvania Coffee House, London, September 16, 1757, the author repels the insinuation thrown out against one province, as if it quiescently suffered more from the Indians than any other, by shewing that the contrary was the fact, and that the rest of the colonies were as much exposed to savage depredation as Pennsylvania. In the next place he observes, that the inhabitants on the frontiers of that province were not Quakers, and that so far from entertaining the passive principles of this sect, they were supplied with arms, and had frequently repelled the enemy. On the subject of the disputes so invidiously mentioned in the pretended news, it was shown that they were occasioned chiefly by new instructions or commands sent from England, forbidding the Governors to sanction any laws imposing taxes for the defence of the country, unless the proprietary estate, or much the greatest part of it, was exempted from the burthen. With respect to the Quakers, who had been represented as the instigators of the contention, the author of the letter satisfactorily proved by the adduction of facts, that they constituted but a small part of the existing population of the province, and were no more active in the disputes than the rest of the inhabitants, who, with the exception of the proprietary officers and their dependents, had joined in opposing the instructions and contending for their rights. In farther vindication of the Quakers it was observed, that notwithstanding their scruple about bearing arms, they had contributed largely for the defence of the country; and that, to prevent any obstruction in the Assembly from their peculiar opinions, they had for the most part declined sitting in the Assembly. Having thus cleared unfounded objections and illiberal aspersions, the letter proceeded to a statistical account of the province, and of the spirit of the people, from which the British public might see that every thing had been done there to secure the frontier and to protect the trade of the neighbouring governments, without any contributions either from those colonies or the mother country. This paper was well adapted to draw the attention of thinking men to the real state of Pennsylvania, and the nature of the grievances complained of by the great body of its inhabitants, whose misfortune it was to have their cause little understood, where only they had to look for a remedy. To remove this obstacle more effectually, and to bring the subject so fully before the public as to render all the