previous next
[306] the cabinet as chancellor, Yorke, and Charles Towns-
chap. XV.} 1765. July.
hend, were among its earliest and most strenuous supporters; and the duke of Cumberland was the last man in England to temporize with what he might think to be rebellion. The agents of the colonies seeing among the ministry some who had been their friends, took courage to solicit relief; but for many weeks Franklin1 admitted no hope of success. An order in council2, sanctioned by the name, and apparently, by the advice of Lord Dartmouth—perhaps the worst order ever proposed by the Board of Trade, so bad that it was explained away by the crown lawyers as impossible to have been intended—permitted appeals to the privy council from any verdict given by any jury in the courts of New-York; while the Treasury Board, with Rockingham at its head, directed the attorney and solicitor general to prepare instruments for collecting in Canada, by the king's authority, the same revenue which had been collected there under the government of Louis XV.; and without any apparent misgiving, proceeded to complete the arrangements for executing the stamp act.

1 That Franklin believed the Stamp Act would be carried into effect appears from the verbal remark to Ingersoll, attributed to him; from his conduct; and from his correspondence. Take, for example, this extract from his letter to Charles Thomson, never before correctly published:

London, July 11th, 1765.
* * *—--‘Depend upon it, my good neighbor, I took every step in my power to prevent the passing of the Stamp Act. Nobody could be more concerned in interest than myself to oppose it, sincerely and heartily. But the tide was too strong against us. The nation was provoked by American claims of Independence; and all parties joined in resolving by this act to settle the point. We might as well have hun-
chap. XV.} 1765. July.
dered the sun's setting: that we could not do. But since 'tis down, my friend, and it may be long before it rises again, let us make as good a night of it as we can. We may still light candles. Frugality and industry will go a great way towards indemnifying us. Idleness and pride tax with a heavier hand than kings and parliaments; if we can get rid of the former, we may easily bear the latter.’

For the opportunity of printing the above paragraph correctly, in Franklin's own words, I am indebted to Mrs. Chamberlain, of Newark, Delaware, who has the original in her possession. The copy was made for me, with the utmost exactness, by Mr. A. II. Grimshaw, of Wilmington, and carefully compared with the original by Mr. Grimshaw and one of his friends.

There is another version in circulation, which makes Franklin say: ‘Idleness and pride tax with a heavier hand than kings and parliaments. If we can get rid of the former, we may easily get rid of the latter.’

This is not what Franklin wrote. To ‘bear’ with kings and parliaments and to ‘get rid of’ kings and parliaments, are very different things. Franklin was long-suffering, and waited some years yet before he advised to get rid of kings. He himself printed a part of this letter, but with amplifications, in the London Chronicle of Nov. 14 to 16, 1765, from which it was copied into Weyman's New-York Gazette of Feb. 3, and other papers. In all of them, as well as in the letter itself, the words are, ‘bear the atter,’ and not, ‘get rid of the latter.’

2 Report of the Lords in Council, 26 July, 1765.

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)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Newark (Del.) (Delaware, United States) (1)
Canada (Canada) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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 (5)
Grimshaw (2)
Weyman (1)
Charles Thomson (1)
Rockingham (1)
Jared Ingersoll (1)
Chamberlain (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.
1765 AD (3)
July (2)
July 26th, 1765 AD (1)
July 11th, 1765 AD (1)
November 14th (1)
February 3rd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: