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on the trial of Captain Preston, did not hesitate to say,—'I feel myseif deeply affected that this affair turns out so much to the shame.of the town in general,' ministers took advantage of the disturbed state of the public mind, by making it a pretext for rendering the governor and judges of Massachusetts independent of the province, by transferring the payment of their salaries from the assembly to the crown. In consequence of this proceeding, Governor Hutchinson, who had never been popular, became still more than ever an object of dislike. Such being the disposition of the people of Massachusetts towards their chief magistrate, their indignation against him was raised to the highest pitch in the year 1773 by an incident, the consequences of which had a most unhappy aspect on the fortunes of Great Britain. The servants of government naturally look with a jealous eye, upon the bold asserters of popular rights; and as naturally imagine that they shall most gratify their masters by the recommendation of a steady and active resistance against what they are apt to deem the encroachments of popular claims. In this spirit Mr. Hutchinson and Mr. Oliver, the former the Governor and the latter Lieutenant-Governor of the colony of Massachusetts, had addressed some letters to individuals who had put them into the hands of his Majesty's ministers, in which letters they vituperated the American patriots, called upon government to adopt more vigorous measures than they had hitherto done in support of their authority, recommended restraints upon liberty and an infringement of charters, and even the “taking off’ of the principal opponents to British domination. These letters having come into the possession of Dr. Franklin, he thought it his duty, as agent of the House of
What did the judge say?
Representatives of Massachusetts, to send them to his constituents. Their perusal excited, as might have been expected, the indignation of the assembly, the members of which unanimously resolved, “That the tendency and design of the said letters was to overthrow the constitution of this government, and to introduce arbitrary power into the province;' and, moreover, passed a vote, that a petition should be immediately sent to the King, to remove the Governor, Hutchinson, and the Lieutenant-Governor, Oliver, forever from the government of the province.' Dr. Franklin, after having transmitted the petition in question to Lord Dartmouth, the then Colonial Secretary, appeared to support it in person at the Council Chamber on the 11th of January, 1774; but, finding that he was to be encountered by counsel employed on behalf of the accused functionaries, he prayed that the hearing of the case might be adjourned for the space of three weeks, which was granted him. In the mean time speculation was all alive as to the means by which Dr. Franklin had obtained possession of the letters; and a Mr. Whateley and a Mr. Temple, both connected with the colonial office, mutually suspecting each other of the unfaithful communication of them, a correspondence took place between those gentlemen, which ended in a duel, in which Mr. Whateley was dangerously wounded. For the prevention of further mischief of this sort, Dr. Franklin published, in the ‘Public Advertiser, a letter exonerating both the combatants from blame in this case, and taking the whole responsibility of the procuring the documents on
What raised the people's indignation to the highest pitch in 1773?
himself. When the Doctor appeared again before the council in support of the Massachusetts petition, he was assailed by Mr. Wedderburne, who acted for the Governor and the Lieutenant-Governor, in terms of most elaborate abuse. "The letters,' said the caustic advocate, "could not have come to Dr. Franklin by fair means. The writers did not give them to him, nor yet did the deceased correspondent. Nothing, then, will acquit Dr. Franklin of the charge of obtaining them by fraudulent or corrupt means, for the most malignant of purposes; unless he stole them from the person that stole them. This argument is irrefragable. I hope, my Lords, you will mark and brand the man, for the honor of this country, of Europe, and of mankind. Private correspondence has hitherto been held sacred in times of the greatest party rage, not only in politics, but religion. He has forfeited all the respect of societies and of men. Into what companies will he hereafter go with an unembarrassed face, or the honest intrepidity of virtue? Men will watch him with a jealous eye—they will hide their papers from him, and lock up
their escrutoirs. He will henceforth esteem it a libel to be called a man of letters-homo trium literarum.* But he not only took
away the letters from one brother, but kept himself concealed till he nearly occasioned the murder of the other. It is impossible to read his account, expressive of the coolest and most deliberate malice, without horror. Amidst these tragical events, of one person nearly murdered, of another answerable for the issue, of a worthy governor hurt in his dearest interests, the fate of America in suspense,-here is a man, who, with the utmost insensibility of remorse,
* Fur, thief.
What did Mr. Wedderburne say of the doctor?
and avows himself the author of all. I can compare it only to Zanga in Dr. Young's Revenge
• Know, then, 'twas-I;
I ask, my Lords, whether the revengeful temper attributed, by poetic fiction only, to the bloody African, is not surpassed by the coolness and apathy of the wily American?? Less fervid eloquence than this of Mr. Wedderburne's would have been sufficient to sway the decision of the council, who declared the petition of the Massachusetts assembly to be scandalous and vexatious. Franklin was dismissed from the office which he held of postmaster-general of the colonies. Wedderburne was afterwards advanced in his profession, till he attained the chancellorship and a peerage; and George III. lost thirteen provinces. Till this moment Franklin had labored for conciliation; but though, during the time of the hearing of the arguments before the council, he preserved his countenance unmoved, the insults of Wedderburne so exasperated his feelings, that when he left the council-room he declared to his friend Dr. Priestley, who accompanied him on this memorable occasion, that he would never again put on the clothes which he then wore till he had received satisfaction. He dressed himself in this well-saved' suit when he signed at Paris the treaty which forever deprived the crown of Great Britain of its dominion over the United States. It is only within these seven years that it has been ascertained, that Governor Hutchinson's letters were put into Franklin's hands by a Dr. Williamson, who, without any suggestion on his part,
How was the doctor affected?
had procured them by stratagem from the office where they had been deposited.*
BOSTON PORT-ACT, AND REPEAL OF THE CHARTER OF MAS
The determination of the colonists to use no tea which had paid duty was so generally persevered in, that seven teen millions of pounds of that commodity were accumulated in the warehouses of the East India Company. With a view of getting rid of this stock, and at the same time of aiding ministers in their project of taxing the North American colonies, the company proposed that a law should be passed authorizing them to receive a draw back of the full import duties on all teas which they should export. To this proposal the British government agreed, in hopes that, as by this arrangement the colonists, on paying the duty of three-pence per pound on the landing of the tea in their harbors, would be able to buy it at a cheaper rate than they could do from the contraband dealers, their patriotic scruples would be silenced by their love of gain. In this notion, however, minister were mistaken. Strong resolutions were entered into throughout the provinces, declaring, that whosoever should aid or abet in landing or vending the tea which was expected, ought to be regarded as an enemy to
* This curious fact is stated, with many particulars, in a memoir of Dr. Williamson, by Dr. Hosack, of New-York.
What determination was persevered in?