Benjamin Franklin Papers
You searched for: “declaratory act”
sorted by: date (ascending)
Permanent link for this document:

From Benjamin Franklin to Joseph Fox, 24 February 1766

To Joseph Fox

ALS: Princeton University Library

London, Feb. 24. 1766.

Dear Sir,

I have now the Pleasure of informing you, that on Friday last, in a Committee of the whole House, Mr. Secretary Conway mov’d that it should be recommended to the House to give leave to bring in a Bill for repealing the American Stamp Act, which Motion was seconded by Mr. Cooper:5 But an Amendment to the Motion being propos’d by the late Ministry, viz. instead of Repealing to say explaining and amending,6 the Debate began, which lasted till two the next Morning, when it was carried for the total Repeal, by 275 against 167. Many of those who were for explaining and amending meant to reduce it to a Stamp on Cards and Dice only, and that merely to keep up the Claim of Right. The British Merchants trading to America have been extreamly zealous and hearty in our Cause; I hope they will receive the Thanks of the several Assemblies. The House will next proceed to reconsider all the Acts of Trade, designing to give us every reasonable Relief.7 I doubt not, but that if the Bill passes, a decent, dutiful, grateful Behaviour in us Americans will show that these Favours (for such they are thought here) are not ill bestowed. The present Ministry have been truly our Friends, and have hazarded themselves greatly in our Behalf. It would be a Pity if any future Misconduct of ours should turn to their Prejudice. With great Esteem, I am, Dear Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

Addressed: To / Joseph Fox Esqr / Speaker of the Honble. House of / Representatives / Pennsylvania / per favour of / Mr Penrose8

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Henry Seymour Conway was secretary of state for the Southern Department and hence in general ministerial charge of colonial affairs. Grey Cooper (above, X, 185 n), M.P. from Rochester and secretary to the Treasury, was a personal friend of BF. Four members of the House of Commons, Nathaniel Ryder, Charles Garth, Horace Walpole, and Grey Cooper, have left accounts of the debates in the Committee of the Whole that led to the passage of the Declaratory Act and the repeal of the Stamp Act. For a description of these accounts, with citations to the last three, see Gipson, British Empire, x, 387 n, and on the debates themselves, ibid., pp. 386–95. For another treatment by the same writer, based largely on the Ryder account and quoting extensively from it, see his “The Great Debate in the Committee of the Whole House of Commons on the Stamp Act, 1766, as Reported by Nathaniel Ryder,” PMHB, lxxxvi (1962), 10–41.

6The amendment was proposed by Charles Jenkinson, who had been secretary to the Treasury (Cooper’s present post) in the Grenville ministry. Lord Rockingham to George III, Feb. 22, 1766, Sir John Fortescue, ed., The Correspondence of King George the Third, i (London, 1927), 275.

7Subsequent joint efforts by the merchants, the West Indian planters, and the colonial agents resulted in some favorable modifications of the trade laws, but no general revision took place. See Jack M. Sosin, Agents and Merchants British Colonial Policy and the Origins of the American Revolution, 1763–1775 (Lincoln, Neb., 1965), pp. 81–6.

8Which member of this family this might have been has not been determined. Speaker Fox laid BF’s letter before the Assembly, June 5, 1766, after it convened following an adjournment of three weeks. 8 Pa. Arch., vii, 5884. Very premature news of the “Repeal” of the Stamp Act in Irish newspapers had reached Philadelphia on March 24. Pa. Gaz., March 27, 1766. Texts of the resolutions of the Committee of the Whole, including that for repeal, were printed in Pa. Gaz. and Pa. Jour., May 1. The brig Minerva arrived on the 19th with the full text of the repealing act, which both newspapers printed as one-page supplements the same day. Their issues of May 22 reprinted the text and gave accounts of the local celebration.

Index Entries