Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 160

as possible. I
agreed to go with him the next morning. Accordingly, Mr. Hanbury called
for me and took me in his carriage to that nobleman's, who received me
with great civility; and after some questions respecting the present
state of affairs in America and discourse thereupon, he said to me: "You
Americans have wrong ideas of the nature of your Constitution; you
contend that the king's instructions to his governors are not laws, and
think yourselves at liberty to regard or disregard them at your own
discretion. But those instructions are not like the pocket instructions
given to a minister going abroad, for regulating his conduct in some
trifling point of ceremony. They are first drawn up by judges learned in
the laws; they are then considered, debated, and perhaps amended in
Council, after which they are signed by the king. They are then, so far
as they relate to you, the law of the land, for the king is the
legislator of the colonies."

I told his lordship this was new doctrine to me. I had always understood
from our charters that our laws were to be made by our Assemblies, to be
presented indeed to the king for his royal assent, but that being once
given, the king could not repeal or alter them; and as the Assemblies
could not make permanent laws without his assent, so neither could he
make a law for them without theirs. He assured me I was totally
mistaken. I did not think so, however, and his lordship's conversation
having a little alarmed me as to what might be the sentiments of the
court concerning us, I wrote it down as soon as I returned to my
lodgings. I recollected that about twenty years before, a clause in a
bill brought into Parliament by the ministry had proposed to make the
king's instructions laws in the colonies, but the clause was thrown out
by the Commons, for which we adored them as our friends and friends of
liberty, till by their conduct toward us in 1765 it seemed that they had
refused that point of sovereignty to the king only that they might
reserve it for themselves.

After some days, Dr. Fothergill having spoken to the proprietaries,
they agreed to a meeting with me at Mr. T. Penn's house in Spring
Garden. The conversation at first consisted of mutual declarations of
disposition to reasonable accommodations, but I suppose each party had
its own ideas of what should be meant by "reasonable." We then went
into consideration of our several points of complaint, which I
enumerated. The proprietaries justified their

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Text Comparison with The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 3 [of 3]

Page 10
_of_ UNION _for the_ COLONIES _was formed_;--II.
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"And as the choice therefore of the grand council by the representatives of the people, neither gives the people any new powers, nor diminishes the power of the crown, it was thought and hoped the crown would not disapprove of it.
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That compelling the colonies to pay money without their consent, would be rather like raising contributions in an enemy's country, than taxing of Englishmen for their own public benefit.
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_ SIR, Since the conversation your excellency was pleased to honour me with, on the subject of _uniting the colonies_ more intimately with Great Britain, by allowing them _representatives in parliament_, I have something further considered that matter, and am of opinion, that such an union would be very acceptable to the colonies, provided they had a reasonable number of representatives allowed them; and that all the old acts of parliament restraining the trade or cramping the manufactures of the colonies be at the same time repealed, and the British subjects _on this side the water_ put, in those respects, on the same footing with those in Great Britain, till the new parliament, representing the whole, shall think it for the interest of the whole to re-enact some or all of them: it is not that I imagine so many representatives will be allowed the colonies, as to have any great weight by their numbers; but I think there might be sufficient to occasion those laws.
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22, 1757.
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At the next meeting many of these petitions were delivered to the house with that.
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" What! without enquiry! without examination! without a hearing of what the assembly might say in support of it! "wholly disregard" the petition of your representatives in assembly, accompanied by other petitions, signed by thousands of your fellow-subjects as loyal, if not as wise and as good, as yourselves! Would you wish to see your great and amiable prince act a part that could not become a dey of Algiers? Do you, who are Americans, pray for a _precedent_ of such contempt in the treatment of an American assembly! such "total disregard" of their humble applications to the throne? Surely your wisdoms here have overshot yourselves.
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_ In some of the most northern colonies they may be obliged to do it, some part of the winter.
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Unfortunately also for Mr.
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Henry the VIIth indeed granted a commission to Sebastian Cabot, a Venetian, and his sons, to sail into the western seas for the discovery of new countries; but it was to be "_suis_ eorum propriis sumptibus et expensis," at their _own_ costs and charges[143].
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Under such circumstances, when, at her instance, we made nations our enemies, whom we might otherwise have retained our friends; we submit it to the common sense of mankind, whether her protection of us in these wars was not our _just due_, and to be claimed of _right_, instead of being received as a _favour_? And whether, when all the parts of an empire exert themselves to the utmost in their common defence, and in annoying the common enemy, it is not as well the _parts_ that protect the _whole_, as the _whole_ that protects the _parts_? The protection then has been proportionably mutual.
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I thought too, that the man had mentioned something of beaver, and I suspected it might be the subject of their meeting.
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Thus much in my own vindication.
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He, that pays ready money, escapes, or may escape, that charge.
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Treat your wife always with respect; it will procure respect to you, not only from her, but from all that observe it.
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Those, who are to be unhappy, think and speak only of the contraries.
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Wrapt in the speculations of this wretched game, you destroy your constitution.
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Of this we have an early example in the book of Judges (too pertinent to our case, and therefore I must beg leave a little to enlarge upon it) where we are told, _Chap.
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