« 上一頁繼續 »
what time, say I, in answer, were they made slaves? I speak from actual knowledge when I say that the profit to Great Britain from the trade of the colonies, through all its branches, is two millions per annum. This is the fund that carried you triumphantly through the war; this is the price America pays you for her protection; and shall a miserable financier come with a boast that he can fetch a peppercorn into the exchequer at the loss of millions to the nation ? I know the valor of your troops, I know the skill of your officers, I know the force of this country; but in such a cause your success would be hazardous. America, if she fell, would fall like a strong man: she would embrace the pillars of the state, and pull down the constitution with her. Is this your boasted peace? not to sheathe the sword in the scabbard, but to sheathe it in the bowels of your countrymen’ The Americans have been wronged, they have been driven to madness by injustice. Will you punish them for the madness you have occasioned ? No, let this country be the first to resume its prudence and temper; I will pledge myself for the colonies, that, on their part, animosity and resentment will cease. Upon the whole, I will beg leave to tell the house in a few words what is really my opinion. It is that the Stamp Act be repealed absolutely, totally, and immediately. At the same time let the sovereign authority of this country over the colonies be asserted in as strong terms as can be devised, and be made to extend to every point of legislation whatsoever; that we may bind their trade, confine their manufac
tures, and exercise any power whatsoever, except that of taking their money out of their pockets without their consent.” It was while this important debate was going on, that Franklin, early in February,” was summoned to give his evidence before the House of Commons. Franklin's fame induced an unusual attendance in the galleries, and his replies to the questions propounded had an important bearing upon the final settlement of the matter before Parliament. He was asked whether, in his opinion, the people of America would submit to the stamp duty if it was moderated: he answered emphatically, “No, never, unless compelled by force of arms.” To the question, “What was the temper of America
* About a month previous to this, Franklin, writing from London to a friend, thus expresses himself: “In my own private judgment, I think an immediate repeal of the Stamp Act would be the best measure for this country; but a suspension of it for three years, the best for that. The repeal would fill them with joy and gratitude, re-establish their respect and veneration for Parliament, restore at once their ancient and natural love for this country, and their regard for everything that comes from it hence;, the trade would be renewed in all its branches; they would again indulge in all the expensive superfluities you supply them with, and their own new assumed home industry would languish. But the suspension, though it might continue their fears and anxieties, would at the same time keep up their resolutions of industry and frugality, which, in two or three years, would grow into habits, to their lasting advantage. However, as the repeal will probably not now be agreed to, from what I now think, a mistaken opinion, that the honor and dignity of government is better supported by persisting in a wrong measure once entered into, than by rectifying an error as soon as it is discovered ; We must allow the next best thing for the advantage of both countries, is, the suspension. For, as to executing the act by force, it is madness, and will be ruin to the whole.”
towards Great Britain, before the year 1763?” he replied, “The best in the world. They submitted willingly to the government of the crown, and paid, in their courts, obedience to acts of Parliament. Numerous as the people are in the several old provinces, they cost you nothing in forts, citadels, garrisons, or armies, to keep them in subjection. They were governed by this country at the expense only of a little pen, ink, and paper; they were led by a thread. They had not only a respect, but an affection for Great Britain, for its laws, its customs, and manners, and even a fondness for its fashions, that greatly increased the commerce. Natives of Britain were always treated with particular regard; to be an Old Jongland man was, of itself, a character of some respect, and gave a kind of rank among us.”—“And what is their temper now %" it was asked. “O, very much altered,” he replied. “Did you ever hear the authority of Parliament to make laws for America questioned till lately 3" “The authority of Parliament,” said he, “was allowed to be valid in all laws, except such as should lay internal taxes. It was never disputed in laying duties to regulate commerce.” To the question, “Can you name any act of Assembly, or public act of any of your governments, that made such distinction?” he replied, “I do not know that there was any; I think there was never an occasion to make such an act, till now that you have attempted to tax us; that has occasioned resolutions of Assembly, declaring the distinction, in which I think every Assembly on the continent, and
every member in every Assembly, have been unanimous.” The sentiments of Washington were in accordance with those expressed by Franklin. He spoke of the Stamp Act as “unconstitutional, and a direful attack on the liberties of the colonists.” And not long after, when the obnoxious act had been repealed, he thus wrote in a letter to a friend: “The repeal of the Stamp Act, to whatever cause owing, Ought much to be rejoiced at ; for, had the Parliament of Great Britain resolved upon enforcing it, the consequences, I conceive, would have been more direful than is generally apprehended, both to the mother country and her colonies. All, therefore, who were instrumental in procuring the repeal, are entitled to the thanks of every British subject, and have mine cordially.” On the 22d of February, General Conway, who had opposed from the first, the attempt to enforce the Stamp Act, now brought in a bill for its total repeal. The debate upon it was long and interesting; but, as Burke said afterwards, “the House, by an independent, noble-spirited, and unexpected majority, in the teeth of all
the old mercenary Swiss of the state,
in despite of all the speculators and augurs of political events, in defiance of the whole embattled legion of veteran pensioners and practised instruments of court, gave a total repeal to the Stamp Act, and if the scheme of taxing the colonies had been totally abandoned, there would have been a lasting
* Franklin's Works, vol. iv., p. 109. f Sparks's “Life of Washington,” p. 107.
peace to the whole empire.” The motion was carried by two hundred and seventy-five against one hundred and sixty-seven. During the debate, as this eloquent advocate of the repeal of the Stamp Act further says, “the trading
interest of the empire crammed into
the lobbies of the House of Commons with a trembling and anxious expectation, and waited, almost to a winter's return of light, their fate from the resolution of the House. When, at length, that had determined in their favor, and the doors thrown open, showed them the figure of their deliverer in the wellearned triumph of his important victory, from the whole of that grave multitude there arose an involuntary burst of gratitude and transport. They jumped upon him like children on a long absent father. They clung about him as captives about their redeemer. All England joined in his applause. Nor did he seem insensible to the best of all earthly rewards, the love and admiration of his fellow-citizens. Hope elevated and joy brightened his crest.” The ministry, however, were by no means disposed to go the length of Pitt on this point. They placed the repeal on the ground of expediency, not of right and justice, and they caused another bill to be previously passed, in which it was declared, that “Parliament had, and of right ought to have, power to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever.” In the House of Lords, the highest legal authorities differed on the question. The celebrated Lord Mansfield maintained that the sovereign power of Parliament included the right of
taxation: on the other hand, Lord Camden, formerly chief justice Pratt, expressed himself in these strong words: “My position is this—I repeat it; I will maintain it to the last hour— taxation and representation are inseparable. The position is founded in the law of nature. It is more; it is itself an eternal law of nature. For whatsoever is a man's own, it is absolutely his own. No man has a right to take it from him without his consent. Whoever attempts to do it, attempts an injury. Whoever does it, commits a robbery.” The king was opposed to the repeal, but was loth to proceed to force: others of the peers, including, it is said, most of the bishops, were in favor of compelling obedience at all hazards. The bill was finally passed, by a vote of a hundred and five against seventy one. On the 19th of March, the king, having repaired to the House of Peers, gave his assent to the Act of Repeal, and that of the Dependence of the colonies towards Great T3ritain. The American merchants at that e Q 9. Ho'66. time in London, went, in a
body, to testify their joy and gratitude
upon this occasion. The ships which lay at anchor in the Thames, displayed their colors in token of felicitation. The houses were illuminated in all parts of the city; salutes were heard, and bonfires were kindled in all quarters. In a word, none of the public demonstrations, usual on similar occurrences, were omitted, to celebrate the goodness of the king, and the wisdom of Parliament.
* See Bancroft, vol. v., p. 446-8.
I.-FRANKLIN'S LETTER TO W. ALEXANDER.
DEAR SIR, PASSY, March 12th, 1778.
In the pamphlet you were so kind as to lend me, there is one important fact mis-stated, apparently from the writer's not having been furnished with good information ; it is the transaction be. tween Mr. Grenville and the colonies, wherein he understands that Mr. Grenville demanded of them a specific sum, that they refused to grant any thing, and that it was on their refusal only that he made a motion for the Stamp Act. No one of these particulars is true. The fact was this :— Some time in the winter of 1763-4, Mr. Grenville called together the agents of the several colonies, and told them that he purposed to draw a revenue from America, and to that end his intention was to levy a stamp duty on the colonies by act of Parliament in the ensuing session, of which he thought it fit that they should be immediately acquainted, that they might have time to consider, and if any other duty equally productive would be more agreeable to them, they might let him know it. The agents were therefore directed to write this to their respective Assemblies, and communicate to him the answers they should receive : the agents wrote accordingly. I was a member in the Assembly of Pennsylvania, when this notification came to hand. The observations there made upon it were, that the ancient, established, and regular method of drawing aids from the colonies was this. The occasion was always first considered by their sovereign in his privy council, by whose sage advice, he directed his secretary of state to write circular letters to the several governors, who were directed to lay them before their Assemblies. In those letters the occasion was explained for their satisfaction, with gracious expressions of his majesty's confidence in their known duty and affection, on which
he relied, that they would grant such sums as VoI. I.-37
should be suitable to their abilities, loyalty, and Zeal for his service. That the colonies had always granted liberally on such requisitions, and so liberally during the late war, that the king, Sensible they had granted much more than their proportion, had recommended it to Parliament, five years successively, to make them some compensation, and the Parliament accordingly returned them two hundred thousand pounds a-year to be divided among them. That the proposition of taxing them in Parliament was therefore both cruel and unjust.* That by the constitution of the colonies their business was with the king in matters of aid ; they had nothing to do with any financier, nor he with them ; nor were the agents the proper channels through which requisitions should be made ; it was therefore improper for them to enter into any stipulation, or make any proposition to Mr. Grenville about laying taxes on their constituents by Parliament, which had really no right at all to tax them, especially as the notice he had sent them did not appear to be by the king's order, and perhaps was without his knowledge; as the king, when he would obtain any thing from them, always accompanied his requisition with good words; but this gentleman, instead of a decent demand sent them a menace, that they should certainly be taxed, and only left them the choice of the manner. But all this notwithstanding, they were so far from refusing to grant money, that they resolved to the following purpose : “That they always had, so they always should, think it their duty to grant aid to the crown, according to their abilities, whenever required of them in the usual constitutional manner.” I went soon after to England, and took with me
* “There is neither king, nor sovereign lord on earth, who has beyond his own domain, power to lay one farthing on the subjects, without the grant and consent of those who pay it; unless he does it by tyranny and violence.”— Philippe de Commines, Chap. 108.
an authentic copy of this resolution, which I presented to Mr. Grenville before he brought in the Stamp Act. I asserted in the House of Commons (Mr. Grenville being present) that I had done so, and he did not deny it. Other colonies made similar resolutions. And had Mr. Grenville, instead of that act, applied to the king in council for such requisitional letters to be circulated by the secretary of state, I am sure he would have obtained more money from the colonies by their voluntary grants, than he himself expected from his stamps. But he chose compulsion rather than persuasion, and would not receive from their good-will what he thought he could obtain without it. And thus the golden bridge which the ingenious author thinks the Americans unwisely and unbecomingly refused to hold out to the minister and Parliament, was actually held out to them, but they refused to walk over it. This is the true history of that transaction ; and as it is probable there may be another edition of that excellent pamphlet, I wish this may be communicated to the candid author, who I doubt not will correct that error. I am ever, with sincere esteem, dear sir, your
most obedient, humble Servant, B. FRANKLIN.
II.--THE STAMP ACT.
WHEREAs, by an act made in the last Session of Parliament, several duties were granted, continued, and appropriated towards defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing the British colonies and plantations in America; and whereas it is first necessary, that provision be made for raising a further revenue within your majesty's dominions in America, towards defraying the said expenses; we, your majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of Great Britain, in Parliament assembled, have therefore resolved to give and grant unto your majesty the several rights and duties hereinafter mentioned ; and do most humbly beseech your majesty that it may be enacted, And be it enacted by the king's most excellent majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That from and after the first day of November, one thousand
seven hundred and sixty-five, there shall be raised, levied, collected, and paid unto his majesty, his heirs and successors, throughout the colonies and plantations in America, which now are, or hereafter may be, under the dominion of his majesty, his heirs and successors, 1. For every skin of wellum or parchment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall be engrossed, written, or printed, any declaration, plea, replication, rejoinder, demurrer, or other pleading, or any copy thereof, in any court of law within the British colonies and plantations in America, a stamp duty of three pence. 2. For every skin or piece of vellum or parchment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall be engrossed, written or printed, any special bail, and appearance upon such bail in any such court, a stamp duty of two shillings. 3. For every skin or piece of vellum or parchment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which may be engrossed, written or printed, any petition, bill or answer, claim, plea, replication, rejoinder, demurrer, or other pleading in any court of chancery or equity within the said colonies and plantations, a stamp duty of one shilling and sixpence. 4. For every skin or piece of vellum or parchment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall be engrossed, written or printed, any copy of any petition, bill, answer, claim, plea, replication, rejoinder, demurrer, or other pleading, in any such court, a stamp duty of three pence. 5. For every skin or piece of vellum or parchment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall be engrossed, written or printed, any monition, libel, answer, allegation, inventory, or renunciation in ecclesiastical matters, in any court of probate, court of the ordinary, or other court exercising ecclesiastical jurisdiction within the said colonies and plantations, a stamp duty of one shilling. 6. For every skin or piece of vellum or parchment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall be engrossed, written or printed, any copy of any will, (other than the probate thereof,) monition, libel, answer, allegation, inventory, or renunciation, in ecclesiastical matters, in any such court, a stamp duty of sixpence. 7. For every skin or piece of wellum or parchment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall be engrossed, written or printed, any donation,