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Fiendish conduct of John Penn-Petition to the crown-Debt of
England — Two causes of conflict — Franklin sent to Eng. land- His embarkation-Wise counsel to his daughter — The stamp act—American resolves-Edmund Burke—Examination of Franklin-Words of Lord Chatham-Dangers to English operatives—Repeal of the stamp act-Joy in America—Ross Mackay-New taxes levied-Character of George III–Accumulation of honors to Franklin-Warlike preparations-Human - conscientiousness-Unpopularity of William Franklin-Marriage of Sarah Franklin-Franklin's varied investigations—Efforts to civilize the Sandwich Islands.
It is scarcely too severe to say that Governor John Penn was both knave and fool. To ingratiate himself with the vile Paxton men and their partisans, he issued a proclamation, offering for every captive male Indian, of any hostile tribe, one hundred and fifty dollars, for every female, one hundred and thirty-eight dollars. For the scalp of a male, the bounty was one hundred and thirty-eight dollars; for the scalp of a female fifty dollars. Of course it would be impossible, when the scalps were brought in to decide whether they were stripped from friendly or hostile heads.
Curiously two political parties were thus organized. The governor, intensely inimical to Franklin, led all the loose fellows who approved of the massacre of the friendly Indians. Franklin was supported by the humane portion of the community, who regarded that massacre with horror.
There was much bitterness engendered. Franklin was assailed and calumniated as one of the worst of men. He, as usual, wrote a pamphlet, which was read far and wide. Earnestly he urged that the crown, as it had a right to do, should, by purchase, take possession of the province and convert its government into that of a royal colony. It should be remembered that this was several years before the troubles of the revolution arose. The people were in heart true Englishmen. Fond of their nationality, sincere patriotism glowed in all bosoms. They ever spoke of England as "home.” When the Assembly met again three thousand citizens, influenced mainly by Franklin's pamphlet, sent in a petition that the province might revert to the crown. The Penns succeeded in presenting a counter petition signed by three hundred.
The British cabinet, in its insatiable thirst for universal conquest, or impelled by necessity to repel the encroachments of other nations, equally wicked and equally grasping, had been by fleet and army, fighting all over the world. After spending every dollar which the most cruel taxation could extort from the laboring and impoverished masses, the government had incurred the enormous debt of seventy-three millions sterling. This amounted to over three hundred and sixty-five millions of our money.
The government decided to tax the Americans to help pay the interest on this vast sum. But the colonies were already taxed almost beyond endurance, to carry on the terrible war against the French and Indians. This war was not one of their own choosing. It had been forced upon them by the British Cabinet, in its resolve to drive the French off the continent of North America. The Americans were allowed no representation in Parliament. They were to be taxed according to the caprice of the government. Franklin, with patriotic foresight, vehemently, and with resistless force of logic, resisted the outrage.
It will be perceived that there were now two quite distinct sources of controversy. First came the conflict with the proprietaries, and then rose the still more important strife with the cabinet of Great Britain, to repel the principle of taxation without representation. This principle once admitted, the crown could tax the Americans to any amount whatever it pleased. Many unreflecting people could not appreciate these disastrous results.
Thus all the partisans of the Penns, and all the office holders of the crown and their friends, and there were many such, became not only opposed to Franklin, but implacable in their hostility. The majority of the Assembly was with him. He was chosen Speaker, and then was elected to go again to England, to carry with him to the British Court the remonstrances of the people against “taxation without representation," and their earnest petition to be delivered froin the tyranny of the Penns. More unwelcome messages to the British Court and aristocracy, he could not well convey. It was certain that the Penns and their powerful coadjutors, would set many influences in array against him. Mr. Dickinson, in the Assembly, remonstrating against this appointment, declared that there was no man in Pennsylvania who was more the object of popular dislike than Benjamin Franklin.
But two years had elapsed since Franklin's return to America, after an absence from his home of six years. He still remembered fondly the“ dense happiness" which he had enjoyed in the brilliant circles abroad. This, added to an intensity of patriotism, which rendered him second to none but Washington, among the heroes of the Revolution, induced him
promptly to accept the all important mission. He allowed but twelve days to prepare for his embarkation. The treasury was empty, and money for his expenses had to be raised by a loan. A packet ship, bound for London was riding at Chester, fifteen miles below the city. Three hundred of the citizens of Philadelphia, on horseback, escorted Franklin to the ship.
He seldom attended church, though he always encouraged his wife and daughter to do so. It was genteel ; it was politic. A family could scarcely command the respect of the community, which, in the midst of a religious people, should be living without any apparent object of worship. The preacher of Christ Church, which the family attended, was a partisan of the Penns. Sometimes he “meddled with politics." Franklin in his parting letter, from on shipboard, wrote to his daughter:
“Go constantly to church, whoever preaches. The active devotion in the common prayer-book, is your principal business there, and if properly attended to, will do more towards amending the heart, than sermons generally can do. For they were composed by men of much greater piety and wisdom, than our common composers of sermons can pretend to be. Therefore I wish that you would never miss the prayer days. Yet I do not mean you