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Q. Do the Americans pay any considerable taxes among themselves ?
A. Certainly many, and very heavy taxes.
Q. What are the present taxes in Pensylvania, laid by the laws of the colony?
A. There are taxes on all estates real and personal; a poll tax; a tax on all offices, professions, trades and businesses, according to their profits; an excise on all wine, rum, and other spirits; and a duty of ten pounds per head on all negroes imported with some other duties.
2. For what purposes are those taxes laid ?
A. For the support of the civil and military establishments of the country, and to discharge the heavy debt contracted in the last war.
Q. How long are those taxes to continue?
4. Those for discharging the debt are to continue till 1772, and longer, if the debt should not be then all discharged. The others must always continue.
Q. Was it not expected that the debt would have been sooner discharged ?
[relative to America) which were presented to the house by Mr. Secretary Conway, &c.”
Feb. 15. Benjamin Franklin, Esq. having passed through bis examina. tion, was exempted írom farther attendance. : Feb. 24. The resolutions of the committee were reported by the chairman, Mr. Fuller, their seventh and last resolution setting forth “ that it was their opinion that the house be moved, that leave be given to bring in a bill to repeal the stamp act.” A proposal for re-committing this resolution was negatived by 240 votes to 133. (See the Journals of the House of Commons.)
This examination of Dr. Franklin was printed in the year 1767, under the form of a shilling pamphlet. It is prior in point of date to some of the foregoing pieces; but I readily submitted to this derangement, thinking by this means to provide the reader with a knowledge of the proceedings on which the examination was grounded. B. V.
A. It was, when the peace was made with France and Spain. But a fresh war breaking out with the Indians, a fresh load of debt was incurred; and the taxes, of course, continued longer by a new law.
Q. Are not all the people very able to pay those taxes ?
A. No. The frontier counties, all along the continent, baving been frequently ravaged by the enemy and greatly impoverished, are able to pay very little tax. And therefore, in consideration of their distresses, our late tax laws do expressly favour those counties, excusing the sufferers; and I suppose the same is done in other governments.
Q. Are not you concerned in the management of the post office in America?
A. Yes. lam deputy post-master general of North Ainerica.
Q. Don't you think the distribution of stamps by post to all the inhabitants very practicable, if there was no opposition?
A. The posts only go along the sea-coasts; they do not, except in a few instances, go back into the country; and if they did, sending for stamps by post would occasion an expence of postage, amounting, in many cases, to mnch more than that of the stamps them. selves.
Q. Are you acquainted with Newfoundland ?
Q. Do you know whether there are any post-roads on that island ?
A. I have heard that there are no roads at all, but that the cominunication between one settlement and another is by sea only.
Q. Can you disperse the stamps by post in Canada ?
A. There is only a post between Montreal and Quebec. The inhabitants live so scattered and remote from each other in that vast country, that posts cannot be supported ainong them, and therefore they cannot get stamps per post. The English colonies too along the frontiers are very thinly settled.
Q. From the thinness of the back settlements, would not the stamp act be extremely inconvenient to the inhabitants, if executed ?
4. To be sure it would; as many of the inbabitants could not get stamps when they had occasion for them, without taking long journeys, and spending perhaps three or four pounds, that the crown might get sixpence.
Q. Are not the colonies, from their circumstances, very able to pay the stamp duty?
A. In my opinion there is not gold and silver enough in the colonies to pay the stamp duty for one year.
l. Don't you know that the money arising from the stamps was all to be laid out in America ?
* « The stamp act says, that the Americans shall have no commerce, make no exchange of property with each other, neither purchase nor grant nor recover debts; they shall neither marry nor make their wills, unless they pay such and such sums” in specie for the stamps which must give validity to the proceedings. The operation of such a tax, had it obtained the consent of the people, appeared inevitable; and its annual productiveness, if I recollect well, was estimated by its proposer in the house of commons at the committee for supplies, at 100,0001. sterling. The colonies being already reduced to the necessity of having poper-mo. ney, by sending to Britain the specie they collected in foreign trade, in order to make up for the deficiency of their other returns for Britain's manufactures; there were doubts where could remain the specie sufficient to answer the tax. B. V.
A. I know
A. I know it is appropriated by the act to the Amer rican service; but it will be spent in the conquered colonies, where the soldiers are; not in the colonies that
Q. Is there not a balance of trade due from the COlonies where the troops are posted, that will bring back the money to the old colonies ?
A. I think not. I believe very little would come back. I know of no trade likely to bring it back. I think it would come from the colonies where it was spent, directly to England; for I have always observed, that in every colony the more plenty the means of remittance to England, the more goods are sent for, and the more trade with England carried on.
Q. What number of white inhabitants do you think there are in Pensylvania?
A. I suppose there may be about one hundred and sixty thousand.
Q. What number of them are Quakers ?
A. Perhaps another third; but I cannot speak with certainty.
Q. Have any number of the Germans seen service, as soldiers, in Europe?
A. Yes, many of them, both in Europe and America.
Q. Are they as much dissatisfied with the stamp duty as the English?
A. Yes, and more; and with reason, as their stamps are, in many cases, to be double
* The stamp act provides that a double duty should be laid “ where the instrument, proceedings, &c. shall be engrossed, written, or printed,
Q. How many white men do you suppose there are in North America?
A. About three hundred thousand, from sixteen to sixty years of age*.
Q. What may be the amount of one year's imports into Pensylvania froin Britain ?
A. I have been informed that our merchants compute the imports from Britain to be above 504),0001..
Q. What may be the amount of the produce of your province exported to Britain?
. It must be small, as we produce little that is wanted in Britain. I suppose it cannot exceed 40,0001. i Q. How then do you pay the balance ?
A. The balance is paid by our produce carried to the West Indies (and sold in our own islands, or to the French, Spaniards, Danes, and Dutch) by the same [produce] carried to other colonies in North America, (as to New England, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Cà
within the said colonies and plantations, in any other than the English language.” This measure, i presume, appeared to be suggested by motives of convenience, and the policy of assimilating persons of foreign to those of British descent, and preventing their interference in the conduct of law business till this change should be effected. It seems lowever to have been deemed tou precipitate, immediately to extend this clause to newly. eonquered countries. An exemption therefore was granted, in this particular, with respect to Canada and Grenada, for the space of five years, to be reckoned from the commencement of the duty. (See the Siamp Act.) B. V.
* Strangers excluded, some parts of the northern colonies double their numbers in fifteen or sixteen years; to the southward they are longer : but, taking one with another, they bave doubled by natural generation only, once in twenty-five years. Pensylvania, I believe, including strangers, has doubled in about sixteen years. The calculation for February 1766, will not then suit 1779. B. V.