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each charge proven true, if some man of character would give a like sum to the hospital for each charge shown to be false. But neither Dickinson nor any of his friends replied.
"Thus," wrote Israel Pemberton the libertine, the King Wampum of the caricatures, "thus Benjamin Franklin is again employed in another negotiation. It is alleged by those who have urged it most that his knowledge and interest will do great service to ye colonies by obtaining some alleviation of those inconveniences we are subjected to by some late acts of Parliament, and of prevention of others with which we are threatened. His dependence on ye ministry for ye Posts he and his son hold forbids my expectation of his opposing their measures with much spirit; and some of us, who know his fixed aversion to ye Proprietaries and their governor, are not without apprehensions, if he can recommend himself by an immediate change of it, that he will soon attempt it."
ON the evening of the 10th of December, 1764, Franklin reached London. As one of the agents from Pennsylvania, his duty was to present the petition with all the speed he could. But he found the three colonial agents striving to prevent the introduction of the stamp act, and joined heartily with them.
From the time the colonies were strong enough and rich enough to furnish men and money to the royal cause, such supplies had always been obtained by requisition. The requisition was a circular letter from the Crown to the governors, was transmitted by the governors to the assemblies, made known the wants of the king, bade the assemblies take these wants into serious consideration, and expressed a firm reliance on the prudence, duty, and affection of loyal subjects to vote such sums of money and enlist such bodies of men as the king needed. To this no objection was ever made. The king obtained the money, and the
people raised it by taxes their chosen representatives imposed.
But now, on a sudden, the British ministry determined to change the plan. Henceforth parliament was to lay internal taxes; and the taxes they proposed to lay and did lay, were fifty-four in number, and comprised the stamp act. It is commonly believed that this famous tax was the first of its kind known in America. But this is a mistake, for twice had stamp taxes been willingly laid and willingly borne, and, when they expired, as willingly renewed. The first was imposed for one year by Massachusetts in 1755, and reenacted in 1756. The other was passed by New York in December, 1756. It ran for one year, was renewed in 1757 for another year, and created neither discontent nor opposition. Against stamp duties, New York and Massachusetts could therefore make no complaint. It was against stamp duties laid without consent of the colonies that the four London agents protested vigorously on the 2d of February, 1765. Grenville admitted them to audience, listened patiently to the old plea, no taxation without representation, and dismissed them, as firmly convinced of the wisdom of his plan as ever. On the 22d of March parliament passed the act. In May news of the passage reached Amer
ica, and it was soon known in Philadelphia that John Hughes, the man who had so stoutly defended the good name of Franklin, was stamp distributer for Pennsylvania.
Shortly after the passage of the act, Grenville sent for the colonial agents, and, through the secretary, invited each to name a proper person to act as stamp-agent in America. They complied, and Franklin named his old friend John Hughes. The conduct of Franklin in this affair exhibits strange ignorance of the temper of his countrymen. That there would be grumblings, complainings, and threatenings he was fully aware. That there would be open
defiance and mob violence seems never to have entered his mind. He looked upon the stamp tax as established, and supposing no opposition would be made, he shrewdly determined to secure from it all the benefit he could. To one friend he wrote: "Depend upon it, my good neighbor, I took every step in my power to prevent the passage 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 for 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 hindered the sun's setting. That we could
not do. But since 't is 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." Acting on his own advice, he now attempted to make a good night of it, and sent over a quantity of unstamped paper to his partner, David Hall, for assurances had been given that the paper could be stamped in America. Had this been allowed, the profit to the firm would have been considerable. But it was not allowed, and the paper went back to England to be stamped, at great cost to Franklin.1
1 His letter regarding it bears date August 9th, 1765. "I receiv'd yours of June 21 and 22. I have wrote my Mind fully to you in former Letters, relating to the Stamp Act, so that I have but little to add except what you desire to know about the 2/ on Advertisements. It is undoubtedly to be paid every Time the Advertisement is inserted. As to the paper sent over, I did it for the best, having at that time Expectations given me that we might have had it Stamped there, in which case you would have had great advantage over the other Printers, since if they were not provided with such Paper, they must have either printed but a half sheet Common Demi, or paid for two Stamps on each sheet. The Plan was afterwards altered notwithstanding all I could do...
"I would not have you by any means drop the newspaper,