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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 183


_Q._ Do the Americans pay any considerable taxes among themselves?

_A._ Certainly, many, and very heavy taxes.

_Q._ What are the present taxes in Pennsylvania, laid by the laws of the

_A._ There are taxes on all estates, real and personal; a poll tax; a
tax on all offices, professions, trades, and businesses, according to
their profits; an excise on all wine, rum, and other spirits; and a duty
of ten pounds per head on all negroes imported, with some other duties.

_Q._ For what purposes are those taxes laid?

_A._ For the support of the civil and military establishments of the
country, and to discharge the heavy debt contracted in the last war.

_Q._ How long are those taxes to continue?

_A._ Those for discharging the debt are to continue till 1772, and
longer if the debt should not be then all discharged. The others must
always continue.

_Q._ Was it not expected that the debt would have been sooner

_A._ It was, when the peace was made with France and Spain. But a fresh
war breaking out with the Indians, a fresh load of debt was incurred;
and the taxes, of course, continued longer by a new law.

_Q._ Are not all the people very able to pay those taxes?

_A._ No. The frontier counties all along the continent having been
frequently ravaged by the enemy, and greatly impoverished, are able to
pay very little tax. And therefore, in consideration of their
distresses, our late tax laws do expressly favour those counties,
excusing the sufferers; and I suppose the same is done in other

_Q._ Are not you concerned in the management of the _postoffice_ in

_A._ Yes. I am deputy postmaster-general of North America.

_Q._ Don't you think the distribution of stamps _by post_ to all the
inhabitants very practicable, if there was no opposition?

_A._ The posts only go along the seacoasts; they do not, except in a few
instances, go back into the country; and if they did, sending for stamps
by post would occasion an expense of postage, amounting, in many cases,
to much more than that of the stamps themselves. * * * *

_Q._ From the thinness of the back settlements, would not the stamp-act
be extremely inconvenient to the inhabitants, if executed?

_A._ To be sure it would; as many of the inhabitants could not get
stamps when they had occasion for them, without taking long journeys,
and spending perhaps three or four pounds, that the crown might get

_Q._ Are not the colonies, from their circumstances, very able to pay
the stamp duty?

_A._ In my opinion there is

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Text Comparison with Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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While I was intent on improving my language, I met with an English grammar (I think it was Greenwood's), at the end of which there were two little sketches of the arts of rhetoric and logic, the latter finishing with a specimen of a dispute in the Socratic[21] method; and soon after I procur'd Xenophon's Memorable Things of Socrates, wherein there are many instances of the same method.
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+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+ | TEMPERANCE.
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I happened soon after to attend one of his sermons, in the course of which I perceived he intended to finish with a collection, and I silently resolved he should get nothing from me.
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] The officers of the companies composing the Philadelphia regiment, being met, chose me for their colonel; but, conceiving myself unfit, I declin'd that station, and recommended Mr.
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Hanbury called for me and took me in his carriage to that nobleman's, who receiv'd 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.