Page:American History Told by Contemporaries, v2.djvu/409

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
No. 133]
381
Grenville's Scheme of Taxation


133. Grenville's Scheme of Taxation (1763-1764)

BY COMMISSIONER BENJAMIN FRANKLIN (1778)
 
Grenville was at this time the English prime minister. — Bibliography on his scheme: Winsor, Narrative and Critical History, VI, 62-68; Channing and Hart, Guide, § 134. —For Franklin, see No. 68 above.
 
Passy, 12 March, 1778.

DEAR SIR: In the pamphlets you were so kind as to lend me there is one important fact misstated, apparently from the writers not having been furnished with good information. It is the transaction between 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 the motion for the Stamp Act. No one of the particulars was 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 aid 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 to 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 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