579 | To John Pownall


    Boston Jan. 16 1768

    Dear Sr

    Together with the Duplicates of my former Letters1 & inclosures I send you a 5th Farmer’s Letter, which seems not to be wrote by the same Hand as the others, but certainly comes from the same Junto.2 The Printers of the Faction here own that they have had them in Manuscript; which they have made plain by printing some of them before they arrived here from other Presses, they also own they know the Author; and it is allmost admitted by them that they originate at N York. I in my own Mind have fixed upon the Man, being one of Rank & Ability: but the Circumstance from whence I derive this Notion is so minute accidental & confidential that it will not Justify the using the a Name: however it serves to confirm the Opinion that they originated at N York.

    On the back of the 5th Letter you will see a Speech of L_ C_m.3 This was reprinted at N York under the Name of L_ C_n:4 and it was read in our House last Thursday5 as a Speech made very lately. It is said to have given a final Turn to the Resolution of sending a Remonstrance against the Acts,6 which has past the House and will probably be sent by the same Ship which carrys this. I have not been able to get a sight of it; but I have heard of some very bold Passages in it. All the Arguments used upon this Occasion are derived from the Reasoning against the Right of taxing the Colonies in Parliament and the Distinctions used between external and internal Taxes. This is carried to such a Length by the Popular Writers here, that they have declared that every Appropriation of Port Duties to the Purposes of a revenue make it an internal Tax and as such, an Infringment of ^their^ Rights. So here is an End of Port Duties, at least such thereof as raise Money.

    I told the Speaker7 a few Days ago before the Session that if they were determined to remonstrate, they should do it in such a Manner, as the high Terms with which they treat the Matter might not be made publick, for that the Parliament was at present by no means disposed to bear patiently any further Arraignments of their Authority.8 I am told this Business is conducted so that Mr Deberdt will be at Liberty to strike out the Offensive Parts,9 if he intends to make use of the Substance in Parliament. These People declare against an American Representation, and yet conduct their Business as if their sole Purpose was to inforce it. I told the Speaker that they would drive the Ministry into this Measure, whether they liked it or not: and the Leaders must design so to do; otherwise they would not be continually enlarging their Pretensions, and giving for reason their not being represented; they would not exult in L_ C_n’s Speech, the whole Argument of which concludes for the Necessity of such a Representation. For my own Part I have long been convinced of the Expediency of such a Measure: but it now appears to be the only Thing left to reconcile the two Countries upon Principles admissible by both

    I am &c

    J Pownall Esq:

    L, LbC     BP, 6: 62-65.

    In handwriting of Thomas Bernard. Enclosures (not found): “Duplicates” of Nos. 577 and 578 and copies of their enclosures; FB’s speech to the Council and the House of Representatives, 30 Dec. 1767 (for which see JHRM, 44: 88). FB stated that he enclosed a copy of the fifth essay in “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania.” His comments on New York in the first paragraph of this letter to Pownall might indicate that he was referring to a reprint in one of the New York newspapers (for which see note 2 below). However, for reasons given in note 3 it is possible he enclosed the first imprint in the Pennsylvania Chronicle, 21-28 Dec. 1767. FB later dispatched pamphlet copies of the Farmer’s “Letters” which he described as a “Bill of Rights” for the American Colonies on account of its central argument attacking the Townshend duties: that any parliamentary tax imposed on the colonists, regardless of kind, was unconstitutional.10 No direct reply from Pownall has been found.