WSJ; Notable & Quotable: Benjamin Franklin To James Lovelll, July 1778

To lay duties on a commodity exported, which our neighbors want, is a knavish attempt to get something for nothing. The statesman who first invented it had the genius of a pickpocket, and would have been a pickpocket if fortune had suitably placed him.

The nations who have practiced it, have suffered four-fold, as pickets ought to suffer. Savoy, by a duty on exported wines, lost the trade of Switzerland, which thenceforth raised its own wine; and (to waive other instances) Britain by her duty on exported tea, has lost the trade of her colonies.

But as we produce no commodity that is peculiar to our country, and which ma ot be obtained elsewhere, the discouraging the consumption of ours by duties on exportations, and thereby encouraging a rival ship from other nations in the ports we trade to, is absolute folly, which indeed is mixed more or less with all knavery. For my own part, if my protest were of any consequence, I should protest against our ever doing it, even by way of reprisal. It is a meanness with which I would not dirty the conscience or character of my country.