Dorothea Mordan’s Good Day Neighbor Column, 6/2023 and 7/2023.
Part 1: Representation
The United States of America is celebrating its birthday soon, a worthy time to reflect on points in history that bring big changes.
Much recorded history exists about the American Revolution and the creation of our Constitution, a covenant between the Colonies to form a Union of States. It is all available to read via any public library, or the internet. The Colonists and the King experienced many years of disputes and insults, small and large, building to an irreconcilable situation-taxation without representation.
In this history there are a few well documented big moments that sealed the decision for individual Founding Fathers to rebel against the King. One such was Benjamin Franklin’s appearance before the Privy Council in London 1774.
By this time he was known as Dr. Franklin because of honorary doctorates for his scientific accomplishments from the University of St. Andrews and the University of Oxford. He was a prolific writer of commentary, had the job of American Postmaster, appointed by the British Crown, and was anxious to use his connections at home in America, and he was in London to be a liaison between fed up colonists and an immovable monarch. About a year earlier, a member of Parliament had given Franklin letters written by the Crown-appointed governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson. Hutchinson’s letters outlined in detail how the King could subjugate the colonies with taxes and other penalties. Franklin sent the letters to an associate in Massachusetts, hoping to show that the King was being advised by Hutchinson, and maybe calm the revolutionary fever. And, he added, please don’t publish them. You can guess how that turned out. Almost instantly, there was a petition from the colonists to have Hutchinson replaced.
Government officials in England were furious that a governor’s letter had been made public. When it came out that Franklin was the one who leaked the letters, there was a call for him to come to the hearing for the petition to remove Hutchinson. The British officials running the hearing had a different purpose. There was no hearing on the merits of the petition or complaints about the Governor. The entire event focused on accusations of Franklin misusing personal letters (they weren’t) and fomenting rebellion (he wasn’t, yet). While Franklin stood…