“An Edict by the King of Prussia” – 1773

David Viviano, Matt Borges, Ian Ryan


Benjamin Franklin wrote “An Edict by the King of Prussia” for Philadelphia’s Public Advertiser in September of 1773.  This satirical article mocks the dominating relationship that Great Britain held over the Colonies by paralleling the illogical relationship between Prussia and Great Britain.  Franklin, from a Prussian point of view, highlights the restrictions and laws that Prussia intends to impose on Britain.  These laws are implemented as compensation for funding the Seven Years War, and for populating England with Prussian citizens.  Through this article, Franklin illustrates the overreach and power of Great Britain to the public.

Writing as the King of Prussia, Franklin suggests new laws be implemented against Britain.  One specific law was to tax merchandise being imported or exported from Britain.  Franklin wrote, “We do hereby ordain, that all Ships or Vessels bound from Great Britain to any other Part of the World, or from any other Part of the World to Great Britain, shall in their respective Voyages touch at our Port of KONINGSBERG, there to be unladen, searched, and charged with the said Duties.”  This law, being proposed by Franklin as the King of Prussia, correlates to similar laws being imposed on the American colonies.  Colony ships were forced to navigate to Great Britain in order for inspections to be performed and taxes to be issued.  The King of Prussia also proposes that all natural resources, procedures of production, and specific products of Britain belong to Prussia.  The King’s declaration states:

     And WHEREAS there have been from Time to Time discovered in the said              Island of Great Britain by our Colonists there, many Mines or Beds of Iron              Stone…But We are nevertheless graciously pleased to permit the Inhabitants of      the said Island to transport their Iron into Prussia, there to be manufactured,        and to them returned, they paying our Prussian Subjects for the                                Workmanship, with all the Costs of Commission, Freight and Risque coming          and returning, any Thing herein contained to the contrary                                          notwithstanding.

This law, pertaining to laws imposed on the American colonies, takes away valuable resources, removes production jobs, and costs the colonists more money in fees and taxes.  This edict proposed by Prussia, if legitimate, would have been protested vehemently by the citizens and government of Great Britain.  Similarly, the people of the American colonies, whom actually faced these mandates, should express their opposition to the overreach of the British government.

As a devout patriot, Benjamin Franklin took notice of the oppressive nature of British rule.  He, as well as other colonists, were upset with unjust laws sanctioned by Britain.  Such laws include the Stamp Act, Tea Act, Quartering Act, and Navigation Acts – laws that restricted the colonies ability to operate freely and provide for their well-being.  This tyrannical approach led colonists to produce satirical works and propaganda to encourage the people to stand up for their rights, ultimately leading to the start of the Revolutionary War.

One thought on ““An Edict by the King of Prussia” – 1773”

  1. After reading “An Edict by the King of Prussia” by Benjamin Franklin, the summary that you guys provided was excellent and helped me further understand what Franklin was writing about in this essay. It is interesting how Franklin took tow writing satire in order to express his opinions and dislikes towards the laws that England implemented on the American colonies. His opinions were of no surprise since Franklin was a well known Patriot, however it is interesting that he came up with the idea to take on the persona of the King of Prussia in order to get his point across. Overall, your analysis and summary of the essay was great.

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