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an use, which even he with all his shrewdness, did not perhaps advert to, when it was made, or at least expect it would be adverted to by any body else. It must be remembered that, at the time he obtained the reservation of quit rents, he artfully distinguished between his two capacities of proprietary and governor, insinuating that "government must be supported with splendour and dignity, and that by this expedient they would be exempt from other taxes." For the support of the Governor and Government, they were therefore submitted to; for the support of the Proprietary, when absent from his government, and when the government charge was otherwise supported, they were paid: and as he and his agents went on,' not only to reserve such rents out of all the parcels of lands they disposed of, but even to rise in their demands, as the value of lands rose; so it could not but follow that in process of time these quit rents would of themselves become an immense estate. When, therefore, the proprietary no longer acted as governor, nor even resided in the province, nor expended a fifth of his income there, could it be supposed, that this estate, thus attained, and thus perverted from its original purpose, should not be liable, in common with all other estates, to contribute to those charges it was first in the entire allotted for, and the whole amount of which it so manifold exceeded? No property in England is tax free: no difference in the amount or value of property makes any difference in the duty of subjects; and nothing is more consonant to reason, than that he who possesses most, should contribute most to the public service. And yet for want of a specific clause to declare their property taxable, the proprietaries contrived to insist on having it exempted from every public obligation, and upon charging the difference on the public, who, it cannot be too often remembered, gave it in the first instance as the price of an exemption from all other taxes.
This constituted the principal ground of the disputes between the governors and the assembly; but there was another cause of controversy, which occasioned much heat. The assembly in 1753 being desirous of increasing the provincial paper currency in proportion to the increase of the province, by an addition of twenty thousand pounds, prepared a bill for that purpose, which governor Hamilton rejected as unseasonable, but at length offered to pass it with a suspending clause, reserving it for the royal approbation, which the assembly refused to accept as contrary to precedent and subversive of the rights of the province. The governor was equally determined, and during the contest on this subject, several alarming messages were sent from him to the assembly, stating the progress of the French on the frontiers: but notwithstanding these communications, the dispute concerning the supplies still continued. At length when the news came of the defeat of General Braddock, the assembly voted an aid of fifty thousand pounds to be raised by a tax on all real and personal estates; but this money-bill was returned by the governor with an amendment exempting the whole of the proprietary estate from any part of that impost; but the proprietaries afterwards having submitted voluntarily to the payment of five thousand pounds towards the public burthen, another money bill was passed, exempting their estate from taxation for that time.
New differences, however, arose between the governors and the assembly. The French and the Indians gained ground. Supplies for the defence of the province were of course demanded; but the money-bills framed for that purpose were rejected, as contrary to the instructions which the governors had received from the proprietaries in England, prohibiting their assent to such bills unless the money arising from the excise should be placed at the disposal of his Majesty, in such way, as the governor should direct. The assembly, on the other hand, insisted that all instructions of the proprietaries, not warranted by the laws of Great Britain, were illegal and void of themselves; and that these instructions in particular were both arbitrary and unjust, an infraction of the charter, a total subversion of the constitution of the province, and an open violation of their rights as British subjects.
Having passed these and some other warm resolutions, the assembly came to the following determination, "that the house, reserving their rights in their full extent on all future occasions, do, nevertheless, in duty to the king and compassion for the suffering inhabitants of their distressed country, and in humble, but full confidence of the justice of his majesty, and a British parliament, wave their rights on this present occasion only; and do further resolve, that a new bill be brought in for granting a sum of money to the king's use, and that the same be made conformable to the said instructions."
Such was the state of Pennsylvania at the time when this luminous exposition of its history and grievances was published, the conclusion of which is so nervous, eloquent, and characteristic of the mind and pen of Franklin that the reader of his memoirs will more than excuse the insertion of it in this place.
"The true state of Pennsylvania is now before us. It is apparent the assemblies of that province have acted from the beginning on the defensive only; the defensive is what every man, by the right and law of nature, is entitled to. Jealousy is the first principle of defence; if men were not to suspect, they would rarely, if ever, be upon their guard. Magna Charta is apparently founded upon this principle; nay, provides, that opposition should be always at hand to confront and
Vol. i. U
obviate danger. Penn, the founder of the colony, founded it upon Magna Charta: and, as we have seen, the birth-rights of his followers were rather enlarged than diminished by his institutions. That the latter part of his active life, therefore, was employed in undermining his own foundations, only serves to excite our concern, that so few should be of a piece with themselves; and to make him answerable in part for the trespasses of his heirs. Fatally verified, however, we see, both there and every where else, the fable of the axe, which having been gratified with as much wood only as would serve it for a handle, became immediately the instrument to hew down the forest, root and branch, whence it was taken. It is as apparent, on the other hand, that these proprietaries have acted an offensive part; have set up unwarrantable claims; have adhered to them by instructions yet more unwarrantable; have availed themselves of the dangers and distresses of the province, and made it their business (at least their deputies have) to increase the terrors of the times, purposely to unhinge the present system, and by the dint of assumptions, snares, menaces, aspersions, tumults, and every other unfair practice whatsoever, would have either bullied or wheedled the inhabitants out of the privileges they were born to; nay, they have actually avowed this perfidious purpose, by avowing and dispersing those pamphlets in which the said privileges are insolently, wickedly, and foolishly pronounced repugnant to government, the sources of confusion, and such as, having answered the great end of causing an expeditious settlement, for which alone they were granted, might be resumed at pleasure, as incompatible with the dictatorial power they now challenge, and would fain exercise.
"And this being the truth, the plain truth, and nothing but the truth, there is no need to direct the censures of the public; which, on proper information, are always sure to fall in the right place. The parties before them are the two proprietaries of a province and the province itself. And who or what are these proprietaries? In the province, unsizeable subjects and insufficient lords. At home; gentlemen, it is true, but gentlemen so very private, that in the herd of gentry they are hardly to be found; not in court; not in office; not in parliament.
"And which is of most consequence to the community; whether their private estate shall be taxed, or the province shall be saved? Whether these two private gentlemen, in virtue of their absolute proprietaryship, shall convert so many fellowsubjects, born as free as themselves, into vassals; or, whether so noble and useful a province, shall for ever remain an asylum for all that wish to remain as free as the inhabitants of it have hitherto made a shift to preserve themselves.
Sub Judice lis est.
"This Review" (says a respectable Editor of a late reprint of it in Philadelphia) "attracted much attention, and made a very deep impression in favor of the Pennsylvanians, against whom many prejudices had been previously excited. Much asperity followed against its author, who, though he did not absolutely disavow it, thought it preferable to enjoy the secret satisfaction arising from its beneficial effects, than to claim the literary honor that might attach to it."
A writer also who was a cotemporary, speaking of this " Review" says " Pennsylvania had in our author a most zealous and able advocate. His sentiments are manly, liberal, and spirited. His style close, nervous, and rhetorical. By a forcible display of the oppressions of his clients, he inclines the reader to pity their condition, and by an enumeration of their virtues he endeavours to remove the. idea, which many entertained of their unimportance; and that, abstracted from their consideration in a political light, they claim our regard by reason of their own personal merits."
The publication in question, though anonymous, undoubtedly produced a considerable effect; and by bringing the grievances of the colonists closely under the consideration of the British public, tended materially to facilitate the object of the author and even to enlarge his views with regard to the inconvenience of the prom prietary government. Finding that the family of the founder would not relax in their demands, and that the publication of this explicit statement had exasperated them in no ordinary degree, the agent for the province brought the cause of his clients, in the shape of a petition before the privy council. Such indeed was his activity and so confident were the provincialists of the success of their cause in his hands, that during his residence in England the assembly passed a law for the imposition of a tax in which no exemption was made in favour of the proprietary estates. This bill received the assent of Governor Denny, which plainly evinced that his Excellency felt not only, the reasonableness of the measure itself, but the certainty that his employers must soon yield to the persevering efforts of their opponents. The proprietaries on receiving the intelligence of this advance in the cause of independence, exerted themselves to prevent the royal sanction from being given to the money bill which their own governor had passed, but which they represented assubversive of their chartered rights, and tending to ruin themselves and their posterity by bringing upon them all the expenses necessary for the defence and support of the province. The cause, however, proceeded before the Lords of the Council, and though the Pena family did not want powerful support, and very able advocates, such was the force of simple truth and the evidence of plain facts, that the agent of the colony soon perceived the advantage which had been gained by his prudent management and seasonable publication. After some delay and much tedious discussion, a proposal of accommodation was made on the part of the proprietaries, that Mr. Franklin should engage for his employers not to assess the estates in question beyond their due proportion. To this proposition no objection could be offered, for it in fact conceded the very ground of litigation, and established by consent of the contending parties and under the authority of government, all the rights to which the inhabitants of Pennsylvania laid claim, and of which they had been so long deprived. This termination of the controversy brought the abilities of Franklin into full exercise, and the engagement into which he entered was so scrupulously fulfilled as to raise him in the estimation of those persons who had for a considerable time looked upon him with jealousy, and considered him as inimical to their interests. The conspicuous light in which this business placed his talents and integrity sufficiently appeared, indeed, by the circumstance that when the conclusion of the dispute became known in America, the colonies of Massachusetts, Maryland, and Georgia, were anxious to have him for their agent in England; which appointment suiting his views and connexions was readily accepted, and as honourably discharged.
His conduct, however, in the Pennsylvanian differences, though so unequivocally marked by the public approbation of those who were the most competent to judge of its merits, has not passed without censure; and the late 'biographer of William Penn, finding it necessary to vindicate that extraordinary character from the various charges and surmises brought against him by various writers, among the rest took notice of the Historical Review, published by Franklin, and the spirit in which it was composed. Mr. Clarkson observes that this book was the production of Franklin, "though it was attributed to one Ralph, to prejudice the people against the proprietary family, in order to effect a change of government from proprietary to royal; which was afterwards attempted, but which to his great chagrin failed. This failure laid the foundation of his animosity to Great Britain, which was so conspicuous afterwards." *
Here the biographer, in his zeal to defend the founder of Pennsylvania, has committed the very fault which he has endeavoured to fasten as an error upon Franklin; for it certainly is not true that the latter wrote his book to effect a change in the
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1 Memoirs of the private and public Life of William Penn. By Thomas Clarkson, M, A. Vol, II, p. 386.