Colonial American History Stories – 1770 – 1774
Chapter title – January 04, 1770 – First of the Colonist’s Advocate Letters
Benjamin Franklin resided in London during the turbulent years from 1764 through 1775. From his perch in the English capital, he watched as relations between England and her North American colonies unraveled. Initially sent to persuade the King to transform Pennsylvania from a proprietary colony to a royal one, he spent much of his time trying to persuade the English parliament to repeal the Stamp Act, and later the Townshend duties. His testimony before Parliament in January 1766 probably played a role in Parliament’s repeal of the hated Stamp Act.
The Townshend Acts take their name from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Charles Townshend. These acts, passed during the years 1765 through 1767. The two most objectionable to the Americans were the Quartering Act and the Townshend Duty Act. Passage of these acts angered the colonists, leading to a boycott of British goods. The increasing tensions between the two countries led Franklin to write a series of letters in an attempt to convince Parliament to repeal the acts.
Colonist’s Advocate Letters
Franklin wrote these letters during a time in which he was quite busy with other duties. So important were they, in his estimation that he committed to a rare publication schedule. He wrote the letters, probably in collaboration with James Burgh, a British Whig Member of Parliament, over a two-month period. The letters commenced in January and continued at a pace of about two a week, ending in March. In April Parliament repealed all the taxes except for the tax on tea, which they left in place.
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