Franklin’s Dispute With America

Benjamin Franklin, a founding father of America, often did not agree with how the country was forming.  In many of his writings, he speaks of arguments, issues, and on-going power struggles that the two divided parties had in developing the new nation.  In his letter entitled Dispute With America, Franklin writes to Lord Kames. The letter, dated 1767, suggests that people on both sides of the ocean were concerned about the calls for colonial independence. It also signifies that Franklin believed Kames was an ally who could help him resolve issues between the nations peacefully. The letter read, “You may thereby be the happy Instrument of great Good to the Nation, and of preventing much Mischief and Bloodshed” (Franklin Disputes With America).  Possibly, the most telling events in the letter contained references to what he was doing at the meetings that helped to document how the country was forming.  Franklin wrote, “I was extreamly busy, attending Members of both Houses, informing, explaining, consulting, disputing, in a continual Hurry from Morning to Night” (Disputes With America). Franklin also spoke about expenses accumulated from the European wars, and how Great Britain expected colonists to pay for them by creating taxation programs aimed at recovering some of their losses.  The colonists began to fight back when Parliament passed laws like the Sugar Act of 1764 (import tax on sugar and other imports), the Stamp Act of 1786 (and goods made with paper) and the Quartering Act of 1765 (providing for British soldiers’ care).  By1767, Franklin had witnessed the repeal of the Stamp Act and the start of the Declaratory Act of 1766 that gave Britain power over the colony and colonists. By rationalizing how Parliament’s act had been unfair, it helped Franklin to justify why it was necessary to break unions.  His letter, at times, resembled a divorce with the belief they would still be friends when it was over.  Franklin’s well-reasoned letter reflects a man who knew that words mattered.  He also understood that it was important to describe the problem, the players, and the outcome so that his friend had the details to go back to Parliament detailing the colonists’ real motivations.  Franklin’s ability to try to reason so that war did not happen shows why he was respected in both the colonies and Great Britain during the foundation of America.


Read the full letter here: http://www.ushistory.org/franklin/essays/disputes-with-america.htm



Works Cited

Franklin, Benjamin. Disputes With America, UsHistory.org, 1767 Feb 25.



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