The evolution of Benjamin Franklin's thought in relation to the role and the authority of the British Parliament over the North American colonies, 1763-1775



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Purpose: It was the purpose of this study to trace the evolution of Franklin’s thought in relation to the role and authority of the British Parliament over the North American colonies. Special consideration was given to (1) the years between 1763 and 1775; (2) the various crises in imperial relations that occurred during this period; and (3) Franklin’s reactions to the parliamentary legislation and assertions which caused these crises. Methods: The methods used to obtain data for this study consisted of (1) investigating the better biographies on Benjamin Franklin: (2) investigating general works which dealt with the period in question; (3) examining the letter, essays, and press articles written by franklin during the period under consideration; and (4) examining the related writing of other colonial leaders. Findings: From the following evidence presented in this study the following conclusions appear to be in order: 1.In 1754 Franklin questioned the wisdom and fairness of British restraints on colonial commerce and manufacturing but made no attempt to question the right of the British Parliament to legislate in this area. 2.In 1754 he did question the right of the British Parliament to levy direct taxes on the colonists and felt that colonial representation in the British Parliament might prevent any future separation. 3.During the crisis over the Grenville revenue measures and the proposed stamp tax, franklin was slow to grasp the seriousness of the problem, and being preoccupied with matters in Pennsylvania offered no real leadership in opposition to the new policy. 4.When the colonists began to protest against the stamp tax, Franklin recovered and assumed a position of leadership in the movement for repeal. 5.In 1766 Franklin began to develop the idea that the British Parliament enjoyed no authority over the colonies. 6.He continued to formulate this idea and by 1770 he had become certain that the colonies were separate states bound to Britain only through a common prince. 7.Franklin had freely expressed his view on the authority of the British Parliament to his friends, and his ideas surely exerted some influence on the thinking of other colonial leaders. 8.Franklin wanted to hold the empire together and worked toward this end until hope of reconciliation had vanished.



Benjamin Franklin, authority of Parliament, 1763-1775, no authority