Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Reading - Ben Franklin on Loyalist and Promises

In 1782 while negotiating the Treaty of Paris Ben Franklin wrote a parable expressing his views on Loyalist. Mr. Franklin by all accounts was a very moderate and forgiving negotiator with the English after the war. He was over joyed to renew old friendships that had been interrupted by the war and eager to abandon practices he found unseemly for a Nation even in a time of war like, Privateers. However Mr. Franklin thought very little of American Loyalist, including his own son, and refused any terms for reparations the English government  attempted to add to the treaties of peace.

I find this particular tale interesting because in many ways it applies to our current circumstances of wide spread government largess, public service unions and welfare state. While we no longer have a King making promises we do in fact have a ruling body that is doing so and promises are being made that not only divide us along gender and racial terms but obviously these promises cannot be honored no matter what the outcome.

Lion, King of a certain forest had among his subjects a body of faithful dogs, in principal and affection strongly attached to his person and government, but through whose assistance he had extended his dominions, and had become the terror of his enemies.

Lion, however, influenced by evil counselors, took an aversion to the dogs, condemned them unheard, and ordered his tigers, leopards, and panthers to attack and destroy them.

The dogs petitioned humbly, but their petitions were rejected haughtily; and they were forced to defend themselves, which they did with bravery.

A few among them, of a mongrel race, derived from a mixture with wolves and foxes, corrupted by royal promises of great rewards, deserted the honest dogs and joined their enemies.

The dogs were finally victorious: a treaty of peace was made, in which Lion acknowledged them to be free, and disclaimed all future authority over them.

The mongrels not being permitted to return among them, claimed of the royalists the reward that had been promised.

A council of the beasts was held to consider their demand.

The wolves and foxes agreed unanimously that the demand was just, that royal promises ought to be kept, and that every loyal subject should contribute freely to enable his majesty to fulfill them.

The Horse alone, with a boldness and freedom that became the nobleness of his nature, delivered a contrary opinion.

"The King," Said he, "has been mislead, by bad ministers, to war unjustly upon his faithful subjects. Royal promises, when made to encourage us to act for the public good, should indeed be honorably acquitted; but if to encourage us to betray and destroy each other, they are wicked and void from the beginning. The advisers of such promises, and those who murder in consequence of them, instead of being recompensed, should be severely punished. Consider how greatly our common strength is already diminished by our loss of the dogs, If you enable the King to reward those fratricides, you will establish a precedent that may justify a future tyrant to make like promises; and every example of such an unnatural brute rewarded will give them additional weight. Horses and bulls, as well as dogs, may thus be divided against their own kind, and civil wars produced at pleasure, till we are so weakened that neither remains but abject submission to the will of a despot, who may devour us as he pleases."

The council had sense enough to resolve: that the demand be rejected.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!


  1. Ben had his faults and perhaps liked the ladies too much, but one cannot fault his logic and patriotism and common sense. He worked tirelessly for his country's good, unlike our leaders of both parties today. The "king's" mongrels are still here, emboldened by a spineless congress and apathetic citizen.

    1. Tewshooz - In many ways Franklin was way too liberal (especially socially) even for me today. Which is kinda hard to believe but.

      Anyway I must admit I admire his writing skills and ability to spin a parable or in the above case I guess it is actually a fable since he uses animals. The man could certainly write to the people's emotions and wasn't always very upfront about who was actually writing it either.

  2. I well written stop and think post.

  3. There are a lot of folks who have picked up the idea that there were as many loyalists as patriots at the onset of the war. My close reading indicates to me that this was not the case outside of a small group of the mercantile class. There was a certain amount of indifference among recent immigrants, but British policies, particularly the use of their Indian allies went a long way toward insuring that most household farmers were pissed at the British.

    The Americans had had their won assemblies for a long time. The Loyalist were viewed as traitors to this tradition. So they weren't viewed as people who simply decided on some philosophical grounds to back the King. They were viewed, as Franklin noted, as lackeys and hanger-ons.


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