Benjamin Franklin, the First Civilized American

By Phillips Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIII In London for the Third Time

I

FRANKLIN quickly finds that he must put on one side the business of getting the Pennsylvania petition into the hands of George III, and assist the other American colonial agents in London in their fight against the Stamp Act, which George Grenville, minister of the treasury, has prepared for action by Parliament. It imposes taxes on fifty-four classes of objects, from almanacs and advertisements to legal papers and college degrees. To scattered farmers living at a distance from towns it threatens to be an unmitigated nuisance, to small tradesmen it is a hardship; but the chief objection of the American colonists is that the taxes are to be imposed by a Parliament in which none of their representatives are permitted to sit. They have already had stamp taxes of their own.

"The first was imposed for one year by Massachusetts in 1755," says John Bach McMaster, "and re-enacted in 1756. The other was passed by New York in December, 1756 . . . It was against stamp duties laid without consent of the colonies that the four London agents protested vigorously on the 2nd of February, 1765."1

Protests are indulgently disregarded. Parliament passes the measure by a large majority. Franklin, still the loyal subject, does not seem to be greatly cast down by his defeat.

I took every step in my power," he wrote, "to prevent

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1
Benjamin Franklin as a Man of Letters.

-203-

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