Digital Paxton: Digital Collection, Critical Edition, and Teaching Platform

Battle at the Ballot Box: Royalization and the 1764 Election

Many of those who criticized both the Paxtons and the Quakers thought the problem lay in Pennsylvania’s proprietary form of government, and that the solution would be for it to become royal colony, like most of the others. Benjamin Franklin’s pamphlet Cool Thoughts on the Present Situation presented one of the most influential arguments for royal government. Opponents of royalization included John Dickinson, who later became to delegate to the Stamp Act Congress, and Isaac Norris, who resigned as speaker of the assembly after the passage of the petition. Both men feared that Pennsylvanians might lose civil and religious liberties under monarchical rule.

The debate continued into the 1764 elections, which hurt Franklin and his allies. Franklin lost his seat, while Paxton apologists and sympathizers voted their representatives into the assembly. In demanding greater representation in the provincial legislature, the Paxtons anticipated future calls for representation during the American revolution.

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