Work in Progress

As a follow up to Genesis of Martyrs: Don’t Tread on Me ~ Saga 1, the next novel in The Don’t Tread on Me Sagas will be released about the second week of September.  I had anticipated releasing it during the first half of this year, but because of the intensity of the subject matter, I found it necessary to revisit and rewrite extensively. The first chapter, which may have minor modifications prior to the day of release (it currently is being reviewed by Beta Readers), of Cursed by Bias Diplomacy is copied below:

Note:  Copywrite is held by Terry L. Wilson, All Rights Reserved.

Unrest in London

“I suppose we never had since we were a people so few friends in Britain….” Benjamin Franklin

For centuries the Cockpit at the Palace of Whitehall has been a venue of entertainment for the Crown and nobility in London. Beginning with Henry VIII, the eight-sided chamber and its gallery would pack with rowdy gamblers attending cock fights staged for the king. A century later the Cockpit was converted by Charles I as a venue for theatrical productions hosting the best thespians of the era. This continued until a fire destroyed much of the Palace of Whitehall, and the chamber was relegated for other governmental uses.

.     Today promises entertainment to rival the most savage of any cock fight and the best of any theatrical production. Dimly lit with suspended whale oil lamps, the antechamber is packed with nobility in wait for doors into the Cockpit-in-Court to open. Echoes fill the antechamber revealing a rumble of many concurrent conversations. Anticipation is prominent expecting a drama unlike anything before. The Crown’s Privy Council will consider a petition from the House of Representatives of the Massachusetts Bay Colony Assembly, and because degrading news has just arrived from Boston, every man expects a lashing of the lower house’s agent.

.     Positioned directly next to the Cockpit entrance are two men expecting to be first to gain access once the doors swing open. They have come to offer moral support to their friend during what most expect to be a relentless grilling of him by the solicitor-general, Alexander Wedderburn. Their conversation adds to the rumble echoing from the antechamber’s walls and ceiling.

.     “If I were Doctor Franklin, I question if I’d even show up,” Edmund Burke, a member of the British House of Commons, states. “I’d probably be on a ship back to the colonies.”

.     “He would definitely avoid the wrath he’ll bear before the Privy Council, but then…” Joseph Priestley comments. “Benjamin is the most unpredictable man I have ever known. On Christmas day I was stunned when he published that admission of guilt in the London Chronicle. Why he admitted to forwarding Whately’s letters to Boston… he told me he did it because Whately’s brother and Temple were about to have another duel.”

.     “It’s sad neither man was killed during their first duel,” Burke quips while snickering. “None of what’s about to happen…” he motions through the door to the Cockpit “…would be occurring.”

.     “Probably not. At least the focus of the Privy Council would remain on the petition to recall Hutchinson and Oliver.” Priestley displays his disgust with a shake of his head. “Benjamin’s admission about the letters… and now yesterday’s news from Boston…”

.     “Three shiploads of tea dumped into a harbor about a week before Christmas…” Burke interrupts. “Had the rest of Parliament listened to me, none of these problems would be happening.” He motions his arm toward the crowd of men who fill the antechamber and continues speaking. “I’d say about everyone you see in here…” he points at the door to the Cockpit “…and in there, including Lord Hillsborough and even the Archbishop of Canterbury, are heavily invested in the East India Company. It’s nearly bankrupt. The tea duty and Parliament’s issue of a monopoly to the East India Company is nothing but an attempt to save these men’s investments.”

.     “I conject the real culprit was allowing the colonial governors to select a limited number of tea brokers.”

.     “How so?”

.     “According to Doctor Franklin… he revealed in a conversation with me about a month ago. Benjamin told me he received word that most of Boston is agitated because of the three men Governor Hutchinson selected as brokers. They were his two sons and a nephew. The other tea merchants in the province are being forced out of business.” Priestley snickers and continues, “That is unless they deal in smuggled Dutch tea.”

.     Burke chuckles as he once again motions toward the other men in the antechamber. “That would serve these men right.”

.     Abruptly the rumbling echoes that engulf the room diminish. The many conversations cease as three men appear in the antechamber and move through the crowd toward the entry of the Cockpit-in-Court.


His mind swamped by anger, apprehension and thoughts of betrayal, Benjamin Franklin, accompanied by two men, enters the packed antechamber. He hears the rumble of multiple conversations cease. He is keenly aware that the crowd’s attention rapidly focuses on him. Led by John Dunning and John Lee, he slowly makes his way through the parting congregation toward the doorway of the Cockpit-in-Court.

.     Not allowing his mental anguish to show, he maintains his typically confident body language. He doesn’t shy from direct eye contact with all he passes, but most of them quickly cast their eyes away from him. Nearly all have enjoyed many a drink… a meal… a conversation with this interesting man from the colonies. They have enjoyed his stories and humorous satires time and again. Now they fear their past association or friendship with Franklin might be construed negatively by others. It might affect their political position among the assembled elite of the British Parliament and its officials.

.     He approaches one man who has long proven to be his adversary, Lord Hillsborough. Numerous times Franklin has called upon the man’s home only to be informed, “The Lord is not at home.” Each time it was evident that the recently replaced British Secretary of State for the Colonies was at home and desired not to meet with this agent from the colonies.

.     With the man glaring at him, Franklin displays the slightest of a smile and addresses him in a congenial tone of voice, “My Lord. If at this hour I were to call on your house, I know for certain you would not be at home. But then… you never have been.”

.     Feeling a sense of satisfaction, Franklin continues to follow his two companions through the parting crowd of men to the doorway into the Cockpit. As John Dunning pounds on the heavy door, Franklin shakes the hands of his two friends, Edmund Burke and Joseph Priestley, and comments, “My gratitude to both of you. I was not sure anyone would come on my behalf.”

.     “Friends must always support friends,” Priestley states. “I’m not sure our being here will help. I’ve noticed Lord Le Despencer has also shown. He’s already in the Cockpit. We all pray these proceedings go well for you.”

.     “I thank each of you.”

.     The door swings open, and John Dunning address the castle guard who stands inside the passage. “Doctor Franklin has arrived.”

.     “Please enter gentlemen.”

.     Franklin enters the large chamber. Situated in the center of the octagon shaped room is a long wooden table. Seated along both sides of the table are men of the Crown’s Privy Council. At the head of the table sits the Lord President of Council, the Earl Gower. Standing immediately behind those seated are additional members of the Privy Council. No less than thirty-six have shown up, an unusually large number for a council meeting. All are drawn in expectation of drama to unfold.

.     “Doctor Franklin…” the Earl Gower states as he points to the other end of the table. “Take your place there.”

.     Franklin and his two escorts proceed as instructed while the mass that filled the antechamber quickly flow into the chamber vying for positions to watch the proceedings. Many scurry up a flight of steps to the balcony wrapping the room, and they take positions crowding the balustrade. Those remaining on the floor crowd as near as they can around the table. All but the Privy Council members who sit will stand throughout the session. No other chairs are available.

.     Franklin stands erect. He maintains an expressionless face awaiting the start of the proceedings. He notes his two friends are standing directly behind seated committee members. Burke is behind Earl Gower and Priestley behind the chair next to him. To Franklin’s surprise, the British Prime Minister, Lord North, does not have a seat but stands behind the chair opposite to where Priestley stands.

.     Two men seated, Lord Le Despencer and the Earl of Rochford, are men Franklin assumes might speak on his behalf. Franklin has been serving under Le Despencer, the British Postmaster General, as the Postmaster General for the Colonies, and he has been able to make the postal system in North America profitable. Rochford, on the other hand, has invested heavily through Franklin in the Ohio Company expecting to strike it rich from land development.

.     A few minutes pass. The crowd originally filling the antechamber is now in place in the Cockpit, and Gower taps a gavel on the table. He speaks, “We’ll have order. Today’s session is a continuance of a hearing of December eleven last considering a petition by the House of Representatives of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay to replace the governor and lieutenant governor of the colony. The prior hearing was suspended allowing the agent for the colonial body to obtain council.”

.     Gower looks at Franklin and asks, “Doctor Franklin. I trust you are represented by council?”

.     Franklin maintains his erect and expressionless demeanor as, in a muffled voice, John Dunning says, “My Lord. I am John Dunning. I’ve been retained as Doctor Franklin’s council. With us…” he adds “…is Mister John Lee. He has also been retained as council for Doctor Franklin and the colony’s House of Representatives.”

.     “Council…” Gower instructs “…please speak louder so that all in attendance may hear.”

.     “Please forgive me my Lord. I am recovering from an illness, and I assure you my lungs do not have the strength to speak louder.”

.     “Very well. We shall proceed.” Gower gazes at a gentleman seated at the table and says. “I believe we have a number of submitted documents related to this hearing. Would the clerk please identify them?”

.     “Yes my Lord. We have a transmittal letter written by Doctor Franklin addressed to Lord Dartmouth for the petition from the Province of the Massachusetts Bay House of Representatives. We have the petition mentioned as well as resolves from the same body. We also have about two dozen copies of letters written by the Province of the Massachusetts Bay governor and lieutenant governor addressed to the late Thomas Whately.”

.     “About three weeks ago, during the suspended hearing, council for the governors objected to the validly of these copied letters,” Gower states. He looks at a man standing to his right between two seated Privy Council members. “Does council still object to admission of the copies?”

.     “No My Lord,” Alexander Wedderburn responds. “Upon further review of the copies, I concur they represent the actual letters. I might say they will support the defense of the governors rather than damage it. The conditions the governor and lieutenant governor described in these letters will never be considered by the men assembled here as offences. I assure you the Privy Council will find the content of these letters to prove virtues and merits by the governors.”

.     No one in attendance is prepared for Wedderburn’s response as murmurs of surprise ripple throughout the chamber.

.     Displaying a perplexed expression on his face, Gower says, “If that be the case, would the clerk read all of the documents? That would include the Whately letters.”

.     As the clerk reads, Franklin continues to stand erect without allowing his demeanor to change. With complete knowledge of the contents of each document, he allows his mind to wander. He reflects on the many years he has spent in London, the many friends who have accepted him with open arms and the good he has done as agent, first for the Province of Pennsylvania, and after retention by the lower house of the Bay Colony, for them.

.     He’s angered a bit that the Whately letters were made public. He sent them to Thomas Cushing, the speaker of the Bay Colony House of Representatives. They were sent to reveal that Thomas Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver, the current governor and lieutenant governor, had been less than forthright to Parliament addressing the severe conditions affecting the colony and Boston. Franklin never expected the clerk of that body, Sam Adams, to obtain and have the letters published.

.     Franklin chuckles in his thoughts. Uproar concerning the letters helped fuel replacement of a nemesis, Lord Hillsborough, as British Secretary of State for the Colonies. But then, Franklin never expected Thomas Whately’s sudden death and Whately’s brother William, as executor of the estate, to accuse John Temple of stealing the letters and sending them to America. This led to a duel with cutlasses between the two men. Whately was wounded, and once a second duel, with pistols, was announced, Franklin publically announced that he forwarded the letters.

.     Aware that replacement of the Bay Colony governors has had mixed support by British nobility, Franklin knows these proceedings would have had a better chance of success without being muddled by his involvement with the Whately letters and yesterday’s news of tea destruction in Boston. He expects his character and honor will be challenged before the session is over. He foresees Wedderburn to divert attention from the merits of the petition. He anticipates the man will focus an attack slandering him, the colony’s agent. The solicitor-general is infamous using such a ploy.

.     Maintaining his composure, Franklin allows his focus to return to the proceedings. The clerk continues to read aloud from the copies of the Whately letters.

.     “I never think of the measures necessary for the peace and good order of the colonies without pain. There must be an abridgment of what are called English liberties. I relieve myself by considering that in a remove from the state of nature to the most perfect state of government there must be a great restraint of natural liberty. I doubt whether it is possible to project a system of government in which a colony three thousand miles distant from the parent state shall enjoy all the liberty of the parent state. I am certain I have never yet seen the projection. I wish the good of the colony, when I wish to see some further restraint of liberty rather than the connection with the parent state should be broken for I am sure such a breach must prove the ruin of the colony.”

.     “If nothing else in the letters…” Franklin thinks. “This single statement by Thomas Hutchinson should convince the Privy Council of the need to replace him as governor.” He eyes the men seated around the table, and most appear unfazed, possibly bored, by the reading of such an incriminating statement. “How can members of the Crown’s Privy Council not be offended by Hutchinson’s call to abridge liberties of any Englishman?”

.     “My Lord,” the clerk addresses the Earl Gower. “This finishes the reading of every document.”

.     “We will, at this time, hear arguments in support of the petition,” Gower states. “Mister Dunning you may proceed.”

.     “I thank you my Lord,” Dunning responds in a voice slightly louder than a whisper. “I will be brief. It is my belief the petition, resolves and the letters read by the clerk need very little clarification. I contend, regardless of one’s position of acceptable actions by the colonial governor and lieutenant governor, widespread dismay of both is held by much of the Englishmen residing in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay. The documents just read by the clerk bears this out. The petition is not a suit of law. It is not an impeachment. Other than the documents read by the clerk, no other evidence exists, but these documents prove the discontent in the Bay Colony. I also contend, and I believe each man present concurs, tranquility must be reestablished in the colony to allow a resumption of commerce and benefit of rule of law between the mother country and its subjects.”

.     Dunning pauses to clear his throat. “Because of general contempt held for the governor and lieutenant governor in the colony, the desired tranquility most likely cannot be achieved without their replacement. Of all of the American colonies, the Bay Colony has long been the most troublesome for Parliament and the Crown. Others, such as New York, have troubled the Crown and Parliament, but the Bay Colony has repeatedly been a concern for decades.”

.     After coughing and once again clearing his throat, Dunning continues, “During these decades, Governor Hutchinson has been a powerful figure in the colonial government. First he served as chief justice of the general court. He became lieutenant governor, acting governor on occasions and then the governor. During these years, his brother-in-law, the current lieutenant governor, has held significant government positions. Each man has been targeted by disenchanted and downtrodden men as far back as nine years ago. Both men’s homes were ransacked by mobs. Mobs of thousands of men we refer to as rabble, but many of these same men fought valiantly for the Crown in both King George’s War and the Seven Year War. Why did these heroes resort to violence aimed at the governor and lieutenant governor?”

.     He pauses as if to hear an answer to his rhetorical question. “I’ll tell you why. It’s for a reason similar to why they have just destroyed three shiploads of tea. Parliament gave this governor the authority to select three tea brokers in the colony. These brokers are the only men allowed to deal tea. Other existing tea merchants are left with no product to sell. Their businesses are ruined. So who did Governor Hutchinson select? He appointed his two sons and a nephew. That’s who.”

.     Dunning stares at each member of the Privy Council, and he asks, “Is the governor concerned with the well-being of the colony and the liberties Englishmen of the colony are due? Or… is he concerned with growing the wealth of his family? I contend ample reason is present to replace the governors of the colony. Ask yourself. What chance is there to restore tranquility as long as these governors remain?”

.     After pausing for a minute, he addresses Gower, “My Lord. I’ve finished the argument on behalf of the Massachusetts Bay Colony House of Representatives.”

.     A murmur echoes from the hard surfaces of the Cockpit as those in attendance whisper thoughts among themselves. Franklin, who continues to stand erect and stoic, is satisfied with Dunning’s message. Only he wishes Dunning’s voice could have been more powerful. Franklin doubts many who cram the chamber were able to hear the argument.

.     The chamber quiets in response to tapping of a gavel by Gower. “Since neither the governor nor lieutenant governor is present,” The Earl Gower states, “I presume they both are represented by council.”

.     “They both are my Lord,” Alexander Wedderburn replies as he pushes his body closer to the table between two seated Privy Council members. “I believe it unnecessary to identify myself. Everyone in this chamber knows me.”

.     “We are all aware of the Crown’s solicitor-general.” Gower comments while nodding his head.

.     “As solicitor-general for the Crown, I represent the governors of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Neither Governor Hutchinson nor Lieutenant Governor Oliver is here. Three thousand miles of ocean keeps them in America. The governor has been summoned by the Crown, but he is not expected in London until after Boston Harbor will reopen come the spring thaw.”

.     “Very well.” Gower smirks. “Proceed with your arguments for the governors.”

.     With a booming voice and reinforced by extensive animation, Wedderburn addresses the Privy Council. “This case that comes before your Lordships is justly entitled to all the attention that draws so great a number of Lords and so large an audience. We examine a question of no less magnitude than whether the Crown shall ever have the power to employ a faithful and steady servant in administration of a colony.” He pounds his fist on the table and forcibly asks, “When did subjects obtain powers granted the Crown by the British Constitution?”

.     The gathered assembly in the Cockpit erupts in cheers and yells of “Here, here!”

.     Pointing at Franklin, Wedderburn continues, “Doctor Franklin is an agent of only the House of Representatives…. the lower house. He does not represent the General Court of the colony which is the higher house. If the governors are so deplorable, why then didn’t the total colonial assembly petition the king to remove their governor and lieutenant governor? The General Court is composed of men unaffected by seditious sentiment a vocal minority spews. It’s composed of men who understand a governor holds office at the pleasure of the Crown and not at the consent of the governed.”

.     Again he pounds the table and calls out, “I contend that Doctor Franklin is nothing better than minority rabble that infects the streets of Boston.” He pauses and glares at Franklin who remains composed without revealing any emotions. “Our Doctor Franklin is like the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Most of the men crowding this chamber have come to know him. Ask yourself. Has he been a guest in your parlors? Has he delighted you with his parables and his satirical stories? Because they consider him delightful, do your misses ask you to invite him to visit more often?”

.     A number of men nod their heads in the affirmative.

.     “I thought so.” Wedderburn chuckles. “Now… after developing a congenial relationship with you… how many of you, over the years, have experienced Doctor Franklin asking for your help in swaying Parliament to support unmerited actions for the colonies at the detriment of the British Empire? Because you have, and your misses have, accepted this serpent into your homes, how many of you have taken a bite of the apple helping this scheming and seditious man?”

.     Franklin listens and is angered by what he hears, but he continues to maintain his composed demeanor. He is determined not to allow Wedderburn or any of the gathered Lords to observe a crack in his self-imposed armor.

.     Wedderburn continues his fiery oratory by focus on the merits of King George’s selection of Hutchinson as governor. He emphasizes a man who is native to the Bay Colony with exceptional historical perspective of the colony’s original constitution, a man who for many years presided over the colony’s courts of law and a man, who as governor for four years, never has had a single alleged act of misconduct brought against him.

.     Pointing at Dunning, Wedderburn states, “During council’s arguments, mention was made of the deplorable destruction to the homes of both Hutchinson and Oliver. A few men, traitors to the Crown, incited large mobs to attack these homes of gentlemen who have devoted their lives in service to the Crown. These traitors have a long history of inciting men to riot each time Parliament enacts fair and equitable taxes. The waging of both King George’s War and the Seven Year War nearly depleted the Royal Treasury. A substantial drain was due to heavy and brutal engagements in the colonies against French, Spanish and Indians who threatened colonial Englishmen. I contend that only traitors would resist paying tax to the motherland of a fair share of expenses to protect its child.”

.     Again he pounds on the table. “The traitors I talk about are the same men who have taken control of the colonial House of Representatives, and I contend…” he points aggressively at Franklin “…Doctor Franklin could very well be one of them.”

.     This statement results in screams of approval.

.     “Traitors have petitioned against the governors, and the prayer by the accusers is his Majesty will punish two fine gentlemen by disgraceful removal. If they shall appear to have either betrayed the rights of the Crown or to have evaded the rights of the people, your Lordships will then advise his Majesty no longer to trust his authority with those who have abused it. But if no crime is deemed and no act of misconduct proven, your Lordships will then do justice to their characters which every innocent man has a right to expect. Grant them that protection and encouragement. It is due to officers in their station.”

.     While making eye contact with the many members of the Privy Council, Wedderburn pauses for a moment before continuing with a pleading voice, “My Lords. I have presented the history of the people for the last ten years. We reviewed the behavior of Mister Hutchinson in all occurrences…. including the very laudable and friendly part he acted on every occasion for the good of the colony. Consider my argument upon that footing.”

.     He points at the clerk and stresses, “The reading to your Lordships included the Assembly’s address. Letters were read. You’ve heard resolves praying removal of His Majesty’s governor and lieutenant governor, and…” Wedderburn viciously points at John Dunning and shouts “…the counselor has told your Lordships there is no cause to try. There is no charge…. no accusers and no proofs. We are told the governors are disliked by the Assembly and ought to be dismissed, because…” Wedderburn snickers. “They have lost the confidence of those who complain against them.”

.     Laughter fills the chamber.

.     Once the laughter ceases, Wedderburn aggressively points with both index fingers at Franklin. “The doctor would have us believe a charge… a cause… a proof is contained in the letters…. that the governor and lieutenant governor have lost the confidence of the people upon account of some papers. Letters wrote to the late Thomas Whately. Personal letters… innocent letters… not public letters as Doctor Franklin professes. He contends theft of these letters, sending them to Boston and publishing them in a pamphlet for everyone to read is not a crime. If your Lordships…” Wedderburn changes his delivery to a respectful voice “…had your personal letters stolen and published for all to read, would you consider the deed a crime?”

.     Nearly every man gathered nods in the affirmative. Many comment to others near them telegraphing disgust.

.     “Because of one Hutchinson letter…” Wedderburn declares “…the governor has been accused by Boston rabble for causing deployment of His Majesty’s regiments to Boston. They claim this resulted in what has been termed the Boston Massacre.” Slamming his fist on the table he bellows, “Long before Hutchinson wrote his letter, both prior Governor Sir Francis Bernard and General Gage communicated a desire to deploy troops into Boston. The town has long been lawless. The majority of inhabitants… men loyal to the crown… have been constantly intimidated and accosted by the doctor’s confidents. To regain law and order soldiers became necessary.”

.     Prior to continuing, Wedderburn cackles. “It makes one wonder. What ignorance infects the troublemakers of Boston? How could they expect, when accosting His Majesty’s soldiers, armed men will not defend themselves? These honorable peacemakers were charged with murder. It led to the longest trial ever in the Massachusetts Bay, and a jury… comprised totally of men from the colony… rightly acquitted every soldier of murder.”

.     Franklin listens intently as Wedderburn expands on his verbal assault of him. Franklin is angered, but he maintains his composure not allowing a hint of a building rage to be observed by anyone. Following each verbal dagger directed at him, he shows no reaction to the applause and cheers that erupt. Men packing the chamber are amazed by the composure, the lack of emotion, commanded by someone whose honor is aggressively shredded.

.     In his defense of the governors, Wedderburn’s accusation against Franklin lays blame for protests and riots in Boston a result of his own secret design…. to having Hutchinson displaced as governor making room for Doctor Franklin as a successor.

.     More than an hour has passed since Wedderburn began speaking. He pauses and looks directly at the Earl Gower and states, “My Lord. I am prepared to enter into the proof of this. I call upon Doctor Franklin for my witness, and I am ready to examine him.”

.     “My Lord,” John Dunning responds. “Doctor Franklin does not choose to be examined.”

.     Wedderburn slams the tabletop and bellows, “My Lord! Doctor Franklin keeps hidden how he came to possess the late Thomas Whately letters. On what grounds can he choose not to be examined?”

.     “Today’s proceeding is consideration of a petition to recall the two governors,” Gower responds. “Disquisition of said letters is a matter for another forum. Doctor Franklin cannot be compelled to respond.”

.     With a display of frustration, Wedderburn screams, “Let Doctor Franklin forever be known as a man of letters.” He pounds the table. “Not a learned, but a shaded man of letters.”

.     Franklin, once a stir in the chamber silences, bows slightly at the waist, smiles and addresses Gower, “My Lord.” He immediately proceeds to the doorway leading to the antechamber and exits the Cockpit-in-Court.


“Wedderburn’s abuse of you was vindictive and unnecessarily cruel,” Joseph Priestley laments. “I’m not the only man who left the Cockpit with this sentiment. After you left the chamber yesterday afternoon, I mingled in the antechamber for probably an hour, and from private conversations with others… that includes Lord North… many feel you were mistreated. I must warn you though. I did hear comments that you should be locked away in Newgate.”

.     Franklin chuckles and asks, “So the prime minister agrees with the petition?”

.     “He agrees the personal attack of your character was unjust. My sense is he does not support replacement of Hutchinson and Oliver. We won’t know for sure until the Privy Council reconvenes to take action.”

.     “Did you hear when that will be?” Franklin asks and laughs. “I remember leaving before a date was set.”

.     “That you did,” Priestley comments and snickers. “They’ll meet to formulate their recommendation three Fridays from now.”

.     Priestley lifts a full cup of steaming hot coffee from a saucer, lightly blows across the rim and slowly sips the beverage. He looks at Franklin seated across the table still littered with plates and bowls from the breakfast the two men just completed. Franklin is gazing as if deep in thought.

.     “Joseph,” Franklin breaks a momentary silence. “I spent much of the night in thought. I’ve the conclusion that I can no longer be very effective as an agent. Not after yesterday.”

.     “I tend to agree with you Benjamin, but not because of yesterday. Once word arrived about the tea in Boston, I don’t believe anyone could be an effective agent. I mentioned I spoke with many of the men in the antechamber following yesterday’s session, and the anger most hold because of the tea is nearly universal. I left with the sense that Parliament and, most definitely, the Privy Council will bring forth serious sanctions against Boston…. possibly all the colonies.”

.     “I fear they will. It would probably be wise… No, it would be wise for the Town of Boston to reimburse the East India Company for the tea that was destroyed. Short of that, I am afraid actions the Crown might take could ignite armed resistance. We could be faced with a civil war that would not be good for either Britain or the colonies.”

.     Shocked by Franklin’s statement, Priestley asks, “How could the colonists hope to wage war against the might of the British Army. I’d think such action would be suicide.”

.     “It might as you say be suicide, but then…” Franklin chuckles “…it may be suicide for the British Army.”

.     “That’s ridiculous.”

.     “Not necessarily. A long standing law passed by Parliament has required every community in the colonies to maintain a militia. Nearly every man trains regularly. They all have at least one musket. Many have battle experience fighting the French and Indians, and most militia units have officers who have fought alongside British officers during the Seven Year War.”

.     “You honestly believe they could win a war against Britain?”

.     “I can’t say they could, but they would be a formable enemy. These men know the terrain they would fight on as well as the backs of their hands. They have proven their bravery and when confronted have proven their resolve.” Franklin chuckles and continues, “What the colonies don’t have is the British manufacturing machine. They have the raw materials needed to support a war effort, but replacement of weapons would be a challenge. I’m hesitant to say they could win a war. They could, but it is likely the toll on British forces would be extensive. Win or not.”

.     Priestly shakes his head and mutters, “I hope a war won’t be necessary.”

.     “I agree,” Franklin replies. “I mentioned I spent much of the night in thought. I considered sailing back to Philadelphia. I know my misses is ill of health, and it’s been years since I’ve been at her side. Because of the Whately letters and yesterday’s Privy Council, it makes sense to do so.”

.     “I’ll miss you. You’re such a good friend.”

.     “I would also miss you, but I decided to stay for a while. Even though I have probably lost a great deal of credibility, I need to do what I can to encourage caution by Parliament. Sanctions they might impose could be a disaster. I must do what I can to avoid a war.”

.     “I pray you are successful.”

.     “I too do. I also pray. Additional incriminating news does not arrive from Boston. We don’t need another reason for retaliation by the government.”