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clergy favoured it. Week after week it denounced the method, and warned the people. Finally, Increase Mather publicly called attention to the scandalous sheet, and besought the people to crush it, lest the judgments of God be brought down upon the land for its high-handed wickedness.

That the treatment of James Franklin by the authorities was not justified by thoughtful citizens in other parts of the country is evident from the following extract from the Philadelphia Mercury: -

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The injustice of imprisoning a man without a hearing must be apparent to all. An indifferent person would judge from this conduct, that the Assembly of Massachusetts are oppressors and bigots, who make religion only an engine of destruction to the people. We pity the people who are compelled to submit to the tyranny of priestcraft and hypocrisy." Then followed a sarcastic postcript, over which the reader may smile: "P.S.-By private letter from Boston, we are informed, that the bakers are under great apprehensions of being forbid baking any more bread, unless they will submit to the Secretary as supervisor general and weigher of the dough, before it is baked into bread and offered to sale."

The closing sentence referred to the action of the Legislature in enacting that Franklin should publish nothing more without first submitting it to the Secretary of the Province and receiving his endorsement-legislation that will be quoted in the next chapter.

Franklin continued to issue the Courant after his imprisonment with more plainness and exposure of public wrongs than he did before. For several months he handled the Governor and public officers severely, never forgetting those ministers who supported the cause of the King instead of the cause of New England. He little thought that he was fighting a battle for the ages to come. From his day the press in our country began to enjoy liberty. He began

a conflict which did not end until liberty of speech and press was proclaimed throughout the land.

Men have often contended for right, and started enterprises, the results of which the divinest prophet could never have foretold. When John Pounds, the poor Portsmouth shoemaker, with a passion for doing good to those who needed it most, gathered a few street-arabs into his shanty to teach them something good, while he hammered. his leather and mended shoes, he did not dream that he was inaugurating a benevolent enterprise that would spread throughout the Christian world. But he did, and to-day the millions of old and young in the Sabbath schools of the world are but the growth and development he began in his shop. In like manner, the Franklin brothers inaugurated a measure that culminated in the complete freedom of the press.



OR six months the Courant continued its attacks


upon the Government, after the editor came out of prison. It took up, also, the inconsistencies of church members, and discussed them with great plainness. But the number of the paper for January 14th, 1723, was too much for aristocratic flesh and blood, and almost too much for blood that was not aristocratic. The Council was incensed, and adopted the following order :

"IN COUNCIL, January 14th, 1723. "WHEREAS, The paper, called The New England Courant, of this day's date, contains many passages in which the Holy Scriptures are perverted, and the Civil Government, Ministers, and People of the Province highly reflected on,

"Ordered, That William Tailer, Samuel Sewell, and Penn Townsend, Esqrs., with such as the Honourable House of Representatives shall join, be a committee to consider and report what is proper for the Court to do thereon."

The House of Representatives concurred in the measure, and it was rushed through, as measures are likely to be when the dander of legislators is up, and the committee reported as follows:-

"That James Franklin, the printer and publisher thereof, be strictly forbidden by the Court to print or publish The New England Courant, or any other pamphlet or paper of the like nature, except that it is first supervised

by the Secretary of the Province; and the Justices of His Majesty's Sessions of the Peace for the County of Suffolk, at their next adjournment, be directed to take sufficient bonds of the said Franklin for twelve months' time."

As soon as the Council took this action, the Courant club was called together, and the whole matter canvassed. "The next thing will be an order that no one of us shall have a pair of breeches without permission from the Secretary of the Province," remarked one, sarcastically. "The Secretary has not brains enough to pass judgment upon some of our articles, and he is too English to judge rightly of New England necessities."

"We should appear smart, tugging our articles over to the Secretary each week for his permission to print them," suggested James. "I shall never do it as long as my name is James Franklin."

"Nor I," added one of the club.

"Nor I," another.

"Nor I," another still.

There was but one mind in the company, and all were disposed to fight it out on the line of freedom of the press.

"But do you notice," added one of the club, “that no one but James Franklin is forbidden to publish the Courant? Some other person can publish it.”

"Sure enough, that is so," responded James, "and here is our way out of the difficulty."

"Of course you cannot publish it yourself," addressing James, "in defiance of this order of the Council."

"Of course not; but Benjamin Franklin can do it, as he is not forbidden. How would that do?"

"That cannot be done, because he is only an apprentice," suggested a former speaker. "They can prove that he is your apprentice readily."

"Well, I can meet that difficulty without any trouble," said James, who was intent upon evading the order of the Court.

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Pray, tell us how? By changing the name of the

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"Not by any means.

Now is not the time to part with

a name that the Magistrates and Ministers are so much in love with."

"How, then, can you meet the difficulty?”

"Well, I can return his indenture, with his discharge upon the back of it, and he can show it in case of necessity. At the same time he can sign a new indenture that will be kept a secret."

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Capital! exclaimed one; "I never thought of that. The measure is a practical one, and I move that we reduce it to practice at once."

I support it with all my heart, not only as practical, but ingenious," added another. "It is honourable to meet the tyranny of the Council with an innocent subterfuge like that."

All agreed to the plan, and adopted it enthusiastically.

"Benjamin Franklin, Editor of the Courant," exclaimed a member of the club, rising from his seat and patting Benjamin on the shoulder. "Don't that sound well, my boy? Rather a young fellow to have in charge such an enterprise, but a match, I guess, for the General Court of the Province."

"The youngest editor, proprietor, and publisher of a paper in the whole land, no doubt," suggested another. "But it is as true here as it is in other things, 'Old men for counsel, young men for war.' We are at war now, and we don't want an editor who will cry peace when there is no peace."

"A free man, too," suggested another facetiously, "an apprentice no longer, to be knocked about and treated as an underling. At the top, with the laurels of manhood on the brow of sixteen!

Benjamin had not spoken, but he had listened. Affairs had taken an unexpected turn. In the morning he had no

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