Benjamin Franklin Representative selections, with introduction, bibliograpy, and notes

By Benjamin Franklin

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the Mother Country might
not so soon have happened."[i-264] The sending of British regulars to
America and the resulting efforts at taxation were not least among the
sparks which set off the Revolution.

Franklin's _Three Letters to Governor Shirley_ (1754), while expressing
no credulous views of the wisdom of the people, maintained in one breath
that the colonists were loyal to the Constitution and Crown as ever
colonists were and in another that "it is supposed an undoubted right of
Englishmen, not to be taxed but by their own consent given through their
representatives."[i-265] (Shirley had apparently written that the
Council in the Albany Plan should be appointed by England, and not by
the colonial assemblies.) Franklin held for the colonists' right to
English civil liberty and the right to enjoy the Constitution. Here
again we find a factor later magnified into one of the major causes of
the Revolution.

In addition to being lethargic in the defense of the Pennsylvania
borders, the proprietor refused "to be taxed except for a trifling Part
of his Estate, the Quitrents, located unimprov'd Lands, Money at
Interest, etc., etc., being exempted by Instructions to the
Governor."[i-266] Thereupon Franklin turned from colonial affairs
(which had indeed proved obstinate) to pressing local matters, when in
1757 he was appointed agent to go to London to demand that the
proprietor submit his estates to be taxed. In the _Report of the
Committee of Aggrievances of the Assembly of Pennsylvania_[i-267] (Feb.
22, 1757) it was charged that the proprietor had violated the royal
charter and the colonists' civil rights as Englishmen, and had abrogated
their natural rights, rights "inherent in every man, antecedent to all
laws."[i-268] Later it was but a short step from provincial matters to
colonial rights of revolution. In this _Report_ we see Franklin
associated for the first time expressly with the
throne-and-altar-defying concept of natural rights.

Although we have yet to review the evidence which shows that Franklin at
one stage in his political career was an arch-imperialist, we need to
digress to observe an intellectual factor which, if only fragmentarily
expressed in his political thought during his activities in behalf of
Pennsylvania liberties, was to become a momentous sanction when during
the war he became a diplomat of revolution. From the Stoics, from
Cicero, Grotius, Puffendorf, Burlamaqui, and as Rev. Jonathan
Mayhew[i-269] observes, from Plato and Demosthenes, from Sidney, Milton,
Hoadley, and Locke; in addition, from Gordon and Trenchard (see _Cato's
Letters_ and _The Independent Whig_), Blackstone, Coke--from these and
many others, the colonists derived a pattern of thought known as natural
rights, dependent on natural law.[i-270] There is no better summary of
natural rights

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Text Comparison with Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself. [Vol. 1 of 2] With His Most Interesting Essays, Letters, and Miscellaneous Writings; Familiar, Moral, Political, Economical, and Philosophical, Selected with Care from All His Published Productions, and Comprising Whatever Is Most Entertaining and Valuable to the General Reader

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I stayed, soon bring myself into scrapes; and farther, that my indiscreet disputations about religion began to make me pointed at with horror by good people, as an infidel or atheist.
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per week; as much as we could then afford.
Page 42
Those who continued sotting with their beer all day, were often, by not paying, out of credit at the alehouse, and used to make interest with me to get beer, their _light_, as they phrased it, _being out_.
Page 70
"The nearest thing to having experience of one's own, is to have other people's affairs brought before us in a shape that is interesting; this is sure to happen from your pen.
Page 90
"That few in public affairs act from a mere view of the good of their country, whatever they may pretend; and though their actings bring real good to their country, yet men primarily considered that their own and their country's interest were united, and so did not act from a principle of benevolence.
Page 96
The choice was made that year without opposition; but the year following, when I was again proposed (the choice, like that of the members, being annual), a new member made a long speech against me, in order to favour some other candidate.
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I have been continued one of its trustees from the beginning (now near forty years), and have had the very great pleasure of seeing a number of the youth who have received their education in it distinguished by their improved abilities, serviceable in public stations, and ornaments to their country.
Page 118
One of his friends, who sat next to me, said, "Franklin, why do you continue to side with those Quakers? had you not better sell them? the proprietor would give you a good price.
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Page 131
" This kind of fort, however contemptible, is a sufficient defence against Indians who had no cannon.
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a similar one I made soon after with a kite at Philadelphia, as both are to be found in the histories of electricity.
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You must know it is not usual to admit persons that have not requested to be admitted; and a recommendatory certificate in favour of the candidate, signed by at least three of the members is by our rule to be presented to the society, expressing that he is desirous of that honour, and is so and so qualified.
Page 154
The philosophers were disposed to account for the phenomena rather from a difference in the quantity of electricity collected, and even Du Faye himself seems at last to have adopted this doctrine.
Page 157
From these considerations, it appeared to be the interest of Great Britain to gain the possession of Canada.
Page 172
As truth was the sole object of his researches, he was, of course, no sectary: and as reason was his guide, he embraced no system which that did not authorize.
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_ Do you think it right that America should be protected by this country, and pay no part of the expense? _A.
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_ Are there any _fulling-mills_ there? _A.
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It was accordingly recommended to Parliament in the most honourable manner for them.
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There are some (I am ashamed to hear it) who would extenuate the enormous wickedness of these actions, by saying, "The inhabitants of the frontiers are exasperated with the murder of their relations by the enemy Indians in the present war.