, a gentleman of considerable learning and political knowledge,
, a gentleman of considerable learning and political knowledge, was born in 1722, and educated at Lincoln. His first appearance in public life was when appointed secretary to the commissioners for trade and plantations in 1745, subjects with which he must have made himself early acquainted, as he had not yet reached his twenty-fourth year. In 1753 he went to America, and in the following year was concerned in a matter which eventually proved of great importance. At the beginning of what has been called the seven years’ war with France, which commenced in America in 1754, two years before it broke out in Europe, a number of persons, styled commissioners, being deputed from each colony, assembled at Albany, to consider of defending themselves against the French, who were making alarming encroachments on their back settlements. This assembly was called the Albany Congress, and became the precedent for that other more remarkable congress established at the revolution in 1773. As soon as the intention of the colonies to hold a congress at Albany was known in England, Mr. Pownall immediately foresaw the danger to the mother country, if such a general union should be permitted, and presented a strong memorial to lord Halifax, the secretary of state, on the subject, in 1754. The plan which the congress had in view was, to form agreat council of deputies from all the colonies, with a governor-general to be appointed by the crown, and empowered to take measures for the common safety, and to raise money for the execution of their designs. The ministers at home did not approve of this plan; but, seeing that they could not prevent the commissioners meeting, they resolved to take advantage of this distress of the colonies, and turn the subject of deliberation to their own account. For this purpose they sent over a proposal, that the congress should be assisted in their considerations by two of the king’s council from each colony, be empowered to erect forts, to levy troops, and to draw on the treasury in London for the money wanted and the treasury to be reimbursed by a tax on the colonies, to be laid by the British parliament; but this proposal was peremptorily rejected, because it gave the British parliament a power to tax the colonies. Although Mr. Pownall did not agtee with the ministry in the whole extent of their proposal, yet they thought him so well acquainted with the affairs of the colonies, that in 1757 they appointed him governor of Massachusetts bay.