Page:American History Told by Contemporaries, v2.djvu/410

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382
[1763-1764
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make them some compensation, and the Parliament accordingly returned them ₤200,000 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 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. . . .

Benjamin Franklin, Complete Works (edited by John Bigelow, New York, etc., 1888). VI, 142-145.