TAH Lesson 5: Taxes, Taxes, Taxes…

16th, 24th and the 27th amendments


The Testimony of Benjamin Franklin in the British Parliament 1766
HistoryWiz Primary Source
Q. What is your name, and home?

A. Franklin, of Philadelphia.

Q. Do the Americans pay any considerable taxes to their own colonies?

A. Certainly many, and very heavy taxes.

Q. What are the present taxes in Pennsylvania, laid by the laws of the

A. There are taxes on all estates, real and personal; a poll tax; a tax on
all offices, professions, trades, and businesses, according to their profits;
an excise on all wine, rum, and other spirit; and a duty of ten pounds per
head on all imported slaves.

Q. What purposes are those taxes?

A. For the support of the civil and military establishments of the country,
and to discharge the heavy debt contracted in the French and Indian
war. . . .

Q. Are all the people able to pay those taxes?

A. No. The frontier counties, all along the Appalachians, have been often
ravaged by the enemy and are very poor, they are able to pay very
little tax. . . .

Q. Are the colonies,  able to pay the stamp duty (tax)?

A. In my opinion there is not enough gold and silver in the colonies to
pay the stamp tax for one year.

Q. Do you think it is 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 nearly 25,000 soldiers, and spent many millions during the last war.

Q. Were you not reimbursed (paid back) by Parliament?

A. We in Pennsylvania gave out about 500,000 pounds, and the reimbursed less than 60,000 pounds. . . .

Q. Do you think the people of America would submit to pay the stamp
duty, if it was changed?

A. No, never, unless compelled by force of arms (soldiers with guns). . . .

Q. What was the temper (feelings) of America towards Great Britain before the
year 1763?

A. The best in the world. They obeyed the government of
the Crown (King), and paid, in all their courts, obedience to acts of
Parliament. . . .

Q. What is your opinion of a future tax, like the Stamp Act? How would the Americans receive it?

A. They would not pay it.

Q. What is the opinion of the Americans on Parliaments right to tax and rule?

A. They will think it is unconstitutional and unjust.

Q. Can anything less than a military force the Stamp Act into

A. I do not see how a military force can be applied for 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

A. A total loss of the respect and love by the people of America to

Q. If the Stamp Act should be repealed, would the assemblies
of America to accept the right of Parliament to tax them?

A. No, never.

Q. Is there a power on earth that can force the Americans to accept Parliaments power again?

A. No power, how great so ever, can force men to change their
opinions. . . .

Q. What used to be the pride of the Americans?

A. To purchase the fashions (clothes) and manufactures (products) of Great Britain.

Q. What is now their pride?

A. To wear their old clothes over again, untill they can make new ones.

Source: The Parliamentary History of England (London:
1813), XVI, 138-159.

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