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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 66

of unruly schoolboys. Conservative in his omission of any appeal to
"natural rights," he was radical in his legalistic distinctions between
parliamentary rights to levy certain kinds of taxes. His position in
1766 and for several years following was one of seeking legal
definitions of the colonial status. Considering the popular excesses in
the colonies, Franklin's view was anything but illiberally radical.
Trying to counteract "the general Rage against America, artfully work'd
up by the Grenville Faction,"[i-305] fearful that the unthinking rabble
in the colonies might demonstrate too lustily against duties and the
redcoats,[i-306] Franklin saw, as a result of the constitutional
dilemma, the true extent of the fracture:

But after all, I doubt People in Government here will never
be satisfied without some Revenue from America, nor America
ever satisfy'd with their imposing it; so that Disputes will
from this Circumstance besides others, be perpetually
arising, till there is a consolidating union of the

His chief demand was for a less ambiguous relation between the mother
and her offspring, for a unified, pacific commonwealth empire. Until he
left for the colonies in 1775, he tirelessly sought through
conversation, conference, and articles[i-308] sent to the British press
(in addition he "reprinted everything from America" that he "thought
might help our Common Cause") to reiterate patiently the colonies'
"Charter liberties,"[i-309] their abhorrence of Parliament-imposed
internal taxes, and the quartering of red-coated battalions. Constantly
hoping for a favorable Ministry (of a Lord Rockingham or a Shelburne),
and bemoaning the physical infirmities of Pitt which rendered him
politically impotent, Franklin felt almost romantically confident at
first of a change that must come. All the while, like Merlin's gleam,
visions of a world-encircling British empire haunted the Pennsylvania
tradesman. A letter to Barbeu Dubourg discloses at once his belief in an
imperial federation[i-310] and in the sovereignty of the colonial
assemblies: "In fact, the British empire is not a single state; it
comprehends many; and, though the Parliament of Great Britain has
arrogated to itself the power of taxing the colonies, it has no more
right to do so, than it has to tax Hanover. We have the same King, but
not the same legislatures."[i-311] Marginalia by Franklin's hand in an
anti-colonial pamphlet written by Dean Tucker indicate how completely
he (and here he represented colonial, not private, opinion) had failed
to see the growth of parliamentary power: "These Writers against the
Colonies all bewilder themselves by supposing the Colonies _within the
Realm_, which is not the case, nor ever

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Text Comparison with The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Page 0
Meantime Franklin was concerning himself more and more with public affairs.
Page 15
My refusing to eat flesh occasioned an inconveniency, and I was frequently chid for my singularity.
Page 19
" There was a consultation held in our printing-house among his friends, what he should do in this case.
Page 22
She invited me to lodge at her house till a passage by water should offer; and being tired with my foot travelling, I accepted the invitation.
Page 24
I joined them, and thereby was led into the great meeting-house of the Quakers near the market.
Page 25
A few days after, Keimer sent for me to print off the Elegy.
Page 50
I soon perceiv'd that the intention of engaging me at wages so much higher than he had been us'd to give, was, to have these raw, cheap hands form'd thro' me; and, as soon as I had instructed them, then they being all articled to him, he should be able to do without me.
Page 53
We continu'd there near three months; and by that time I could reckon among my acquired friends, Judge Allen, Samuel Bustill, the secretary of the Province, Isaac Pearson, Joseph Cooper, and several of the Smiths, members of Assembly, and Isaac Decow, the surveyor-general.
Page 73
Brockden, the scrivener, said to us, "You are young men, but it is scarcely probable that any of you will live to see the expiration of the term fix'd in the instrument.
Page 80
This my little book had for its motto these lines from Addison's Cato: "Here will I hold.
Page 89
My ideas at that time were, that the sect should be begun and spread at first among young and single men only; that each person to be initiated should not only declare his assent to such creed, but should have exercised himself with the thirteen weeks' examination and practice of the virtues, as in the before-mention'd model; that the existence of such a society should be kept a secret, till it was become considerable, to prevent solicitations for the admission of improper persons, but that the members should each of them search among his acquaintance for ingenuous, well-disposed youths, to whom, with prudent caution, the scheme should be gradually communicated; that the members should engage to afford their advice, assistance, and support to each other in promoting one another's interests, business, and advancement in life; that, for distinction, we should be call'd The Society of the Free and Easy: free, as being, by the general practice and habit of the virtues, free from the dominion of vice; and particularly by the practice of industry and frugality, free from debt, which exposes a man to confinement, and a species of slavery to his creditors.
Page 94
; for, tho', after spending the same time, they should quit the study of languages and never arrive at the Latin, they would, however, have acquired another tongue or two, that, being in modern use, might be serviceable to them in common life.
Page 100
He us'd, indeed, sometimes to pray for my conversion, but never had the satisfaction of believing that his prayers were heard.
Page 110
Peace being concluded, and the association business therefore at an end, I turn'd my thoughts again to the affair of establishing an academy.
Page 111
At length one mention'd me, with the observation that I was merely an honest man, and of no sect at all, which prevail'd with them to chuse me.
Page 116
He then desired I would furnish him with a list of the names of persons I knew by experience to be generous and public-spirited.
Page 121
In 1754, war with France being again apprehended, a congress of commissioners from the different colonies was, by an order of the Lords of Trade, to be assembled at Albany, there to confer with the chiefs of the Six Nations concerning the means of defending both their country and ours.
Page 153
commission for my service, "O, sir," says he, "you must not think of persuading us that you are no gainer; we understand better those affairs, and know that every one concerned in supplying the army finds means, in the doing it, to fill his own pockets.
Page 154
Even in the simple operation of sailing when at sea, I have often observ'd different judgments in the officers who commanded the successive watches, the wind being the same.
Page 159
After a full enquiry, they unanimously sign'd a report that they found the tax had been assess'd with perfect equity.