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Monday, September 28, 2015

Benjamin Franklin and Paper Money

Benjamin Franklin and Paper Money

Benjamin Franklin vigorously defended the right of the colonies to issue their own script but he never seems to have told Parliament, as Gary North Alleges the following may be apocryphal;

"In the Colonies, we issue our own paper money. It is called Colonial Scrip. We issue it to pay the government's approved expenses and charities. We make sure it is issued in proper proportions to make the goods pass easily from the producers to the consumers. . . . In this manner, creating ourselves our own paper money, we control its purchasing power and we have no interest to pay to no one. You see, a legitimate government can both spend and lend money into circulation, while banks can only lend significant amounts of their promissory bank notes, for they can neither give away nor spend but a tiny fraction of the money the people need. Thus, when your bankers here in England place money in circulation, there is always a debt principal to be returned and usury to be paid. The result is that you have always too little credit in circulation to give the workers full employment. You do not have too many workers, you have too little money in circulation, and that which circulates, all bears the endless burden of unpayable debt and usury. [Web of Debt, pp. 40-41]" []

A Case of Putting words in someone's mouth

North is probably right about the apocryphal nature of the quote, but what Franklin did say was about the reasons reasons for rebellion was that they owed:

"To a concurrence of causes: the restraints lately laid on their trade, by which the bringing of foreign gold and silver into the Colonies was prevented; the prohibition of making paper money among themselves, and then demanding a new and heavy tax by stamps; taking away, at the same time, trials by juries, and refusing to receive and hear their humble petitions." [bartleby]

In other words, the colonies were in rebellion because Parliament at the behest of the Bank of England and other Tory forces were seeking to starve the colonies of money. And Franklin says as much:

"The Stamp Act says we shall have no commerce, make no exchange of property with each other, neither purchase nor grant, nor recover debts; we shall neither marry nor make our wills, unless we pay such and such sums; and thus it is intended to extort our money from us or ruin us by the consequence of refusing to pay it." [bartleby]

Franklin Was Defying Parliament

Bad Banking can turn a loyal country into a disloyal one. This Gary North alleges that Franklin would never have defied Parliament's prohibition on printing money. But Franklin did exactly that:

"Q. Do you think the assemblies have a right to levy money on the subject there to grant to the Crown?"
"A. I certainly think so; they have always done it."
"Q. Are they acquainted with the Declaration of Rights? And do they know that, by that Statute, money is not to be raised on the subject but by consent of Parliament?"
"A. They are very well acquainted with it."
"Q. How, then, can they think they have a right to levy money for the Crown or for any other than local purposes?"
"A. They understand that clause to relate to subjects only within the realm; that no money can be levied on them for the Crown but by consent of Parliament. The Colonies are not supposed to be within the realm; they have assemblies of their own, which are their parliaments, and they are, in that respect, in the same situation with Ireland. When money is to be raised for the Crown upon the subject in Ireland, or in the Colonies, the consent is given in the Parliament of Ireland or in the assemblies of the Colonies. They think the Parliament of Great Britain can not properly give that consent till it has representatives from America, for the Petition of Right expressly says it is to be by common consent in Parliament, and the people of America have no representatives in Parliament to make a part of that common consent."

Franklin was outraged about the efforts to restrict the currency of the colonies. He might have said what Ellen Brown puts in his mouth, maybe in private. He might have actually said this to Parliament, but it didn't get into the published version. Even so she's filling in between the lines where there is no record. This outrages Gary North because he's a staunch defender of the modern privateering banking system and so any anachronisms from before we had reserve banking and extensive use of paper money raise his hackles. What Ellen Brown does is a kind of Exegesis that is probably only appropriate with mythical and legendary figures. But the longer words in what Franklin actually said say it much more clearly than the apocryphal quotes.

Franklin returned to the colonies after the Stamp act was repealed. And when later the colonies rebelled successfully, he was reviled as the "evil genius" of the American Revolution. This is true, except for the evil part. If Parliament had listened to him the USA would have remained a loyal colony. But he also touched nearly every one of the more capable leaders of the revolution. Including ones who were children when it started.

Between Paper money and the Postal System he was Postmaster of, he birthed the two major unifying forces of this country. A common currency and a networked Post Office.

Franklin on Money
This guy Gary North, claims that the famous franklin quote is bogus []
But Franklin's speech to Parliament refutes any idea that Franklin accepted Parliament's authority to prohibit paper money:
The Web Pages that have North's panties in a bunch:

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