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"From the Pennsylvania Chronicle. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania to the inhabitants of the British Colonies ..."

From the Pennsylvania Chronicle. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania to the inhabitants of the British Colonies ...

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"a dangerous innovation"
In this second of "Farmer" Dickinson's twelve letters, the author turns his attention to another matter: Parliament's levying of duties through the Townshend Acts. Dickinson's defense of the rights of all Englishmen, published in newspapers to his "Beloved Countrymen", is immensely popular in the colonies. He raises the legal question: how can Parliament demand the colonists' money without obtaining their consent?

To view all four pages of this newspaper, please see the online display of the The Supplement to the Boston Chronicle, 21 December 1767.

Questions to Consider

1. Why does Dickinson consider the "act for granting the duties on paper and glass &c" unconstitutional? What is the act to which he is referring?

2. According to Dickinson, does Parliament have the legal authority to regulate trade? What reasons does he give to justify his statement? In what circumstances would imposing certain duties be appropriate?

3. How does the purpose of the Revenue Act differ from preceding legislation in his view? Why does Dickinson call it a "dangerous innovation"?

4. What is the "single question" that needs to be answered? If the answer to it is yes, in Dickinson's opinion, what does that mean?

Further Exploration

5. Why does Dickinson quote William Pitt? Who was Pitt and what were his views on the relationship of England with her colonies?

6. What happened to Dickinson in the years after he wrote this letter and America moved closer to declaring independence? Did his views change? Did times change? Could you have predicted this outcome? Why or why not?