previous next

[140] knowledge of American conditions, and dexterity and boldness in defending the patriot cause. In January, 1768, he contributed to The London chronicle an article entitled Causes of the American Discontents before 1768, and later in the year he wrote a short preface for a London reprint of Dickinson's Letters from a Farmer.

For the next five years Franklin was occupied with his duties as colonial agent of Massachusetts, Georgia, and other colonies. His writings during that period consist almost wholly of letters, and of articles on electricity and economic subjects. Then, in September, 1773, he attacked the colonial policy of Hillsborough in Rules by which a great Empire may be reduced to a small one, following this, early in 1774, with an article On the rise and progress of the differences between great Britain and her American colonies. The publication of the Hutchinson letters, although it brought official censure and cost Franklin the loss of a remunerative office, did not materially affect his reputation or weaken his influence; but a Tract relative to the affair of Hutchinson's letters, written in 1774, was, possibly from prudential reasons, not published.1

That persistent opposition to Parliament, whether through elaborated constitutional arguments or by such practical devices as commercial non-intercourse, might in the end raise the issue of independence, had early been perceived; and the earnest protestations of loyalty to the crown which are found in the resolutions of the Stamp Act Congress or the declaration and resolves of the First Continental Congress, if read chiefly in the light of subsequent events, do not seem entirely unequivocal. Not until late in 1775, however, after armed collisions had occurred at Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill, after Gage had been hopelessly besieged at Boston, and after a second Continental Congress, assuming the general direction of affairs, had begun the organization of a revolutionary government, appointed Washington commander-in-chief, and taken the first steps toward obtaining foreign aid, did the demand for independence, or even the disposition seriously to consider it, become general.

Of the writings which contributed immediately to the final break, the foremost place must be given to Thomas Paine's

1 For Franklin, see also Book I, Chap. VI.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Benjamin Franklin (3)
Thomas Paine (1)
Thomas Hutchinson (1)
Gage (1)
John Dickinson (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1774 AD (2)
1775 AD (1)
September, 1773 AD (1)
January, 1768 AD (1)
1768 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: