In 1766, Benjamin Franklin was working in London and was called before Parliament to testify about the colonists’ attitudes toward the Stamp Act.
The British parliament
To present the colonists' views on taxation and the Stamp Act
Franklin's testimony before Parliament was influential in the repeal of the Stamp Act.
Q. What is your name, and place of abode?
A. Franklin, of Philadelphia.
Q. Do the Americans pay any considerable taxes among themselves?
A. Certainly many, and very heavy taxes.
Q. For what purposes are those taxes laid?
A. For the support of the civil and military establishments of the country, and to discharge the heavy debt contracted in the last [Seven Years'] war. . . .
Q. Are not all the people very able to pay those taxes?
A. No. The frontier counties, all along the continent, have been frequently ravaged by the enemy and greatly impoverished, are able to pay very little tax . . .
Q. Are not the colonies, from their circumstances, very able to pay the stamp duty?
A. In my opinion there is not gold and silver enough in the colonies to pay the stamp duty for one year.
Q. Don’t you know that the money arising from the stamps was all to be laid out in America?
A. I know it is appropriated by the act to the American service; but it will be spent in the conquered colonies, where the soldiers are, not in the colonies that pay it . . .
Q. Do you think it right that America should be protected by this country and pay no part of the expense?
A. That is not the case. The colonies raised, clothed, and paid, during the last war, near 25,000 men, and spent many millions.
Q. Do you think the people of America would submit to pay the stamp duty, if it was moderated?
A. No, never, unless compelled by force of arms . . .
Q. What is your opinion of a future tax, imposed on the same principle with that of the Stamp Act? How would the Americans receive it?
A. Just as they do this. They would not pay it.
Q. Can anything less than a military force carry the Stamp Act into execution?
A. I do not see how a military force can be applied to that purpose.
Q. Why may it not?
A. Suppose a military force sent into America; they will find nobody in arms; what are they then to do? They cannot force a man to take stamps who chooses to do without them. They will not find a rebellion; they may indeed make one.
Q. If the act is not repealed, what do you think will be the consequences?
A. A total loss of the respect and affection the people of America bear to this country, and of all the commerce that depends on that respect and affection.
Q. If the Stamp Act should be repealed, would it induce the assemblies of America to acknowledge the right of Parliament to tax them, and would they erase their resolutions [against the Stamp Act]?
A. No, never.
Q. Is there no means of obliging them to erase those resolutions?
A. None that I know of; they will never do it, unless compelled by force of arms.
Q. Is there a power on earth that can force them to erase them?
A. No power, how greatsoever, can force men to change their opinions . . .
Q. What used to be the pride of the Americans?
A. To indulge in the fashions and manufactures of Great Britain.
Q. What is now their pride?
A. To wear their old clothes over again, till they can make new ones.