Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Peter Collinson, 12 August 1753

From Peter Collinson

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Augt. 12: 17534

My Dear Friend

I have much to say but am on the Eve of marrying My Daughter5 and many Orders in hast from Abroad that I can only add a few Lines to Informe you that your bill of 60 pound is Accepted, and I Intend to pay Osbourn £50. The remainder is for your Disposal when I can find time to Lett you know the Ballance.

Your Impartial Account of the state of the Germans6 came very Seaseonably to awaken the Legislature to take some Measures to Check the Increase of their Power. A Coppy was Desir’d by 2 of the Members for the German Affairs to show Mr. Pelham [and] Lord Hallifax.7 With my Thoughts How to remedy or redress Impending Evils I have Drawn up 7 Proposals which you shall see—but alas, I am no ways Equal to that Task but was obliged to Do It but that Province is Yours, Who is so well Versed in your Constitution and the Nature of the People that possibly what I propose may be Impracticable in the Reason of things which I cannot be thought to know or understand. I am much concernd for the French Expedition to Ohio. I gave that Paragraph to the Minister but Alas what can He do without the Concurrence of many More. I am with Cordial Esteem thy Sincere Friend

P Collinson

How your Proprietors are taken up cannot say but it highly becomes them to bestirr themselves for I think its plain their Estate is In Danger. Pray Tell John Bartram I have so many affairs on the Anvil that I think I cannot write to Him.

I expect by first Vessell thy thoughts on the Means most practicable to Secure your Constitution. I wish I had leisure to take more Notice of thine of June 1: Aprill 17 and May the 9.8 I am much obliged for the Various Papers.

Mr. Smith’s a Very Ingenious Man.9 Its a Pitty but He was more Solid, and Less flighty.

The Books Mapps &c. I hope is safely arrived per Capt. Shirly.

Our Connoiseurs are greatly Disappointd for the bad Luck that Attended the View of the transit of Mercury1 but your Zeal to promote that Observation is not Enough to be Commended. Is it 5 degrees, or 25 degrees west of London. I wonder I heare nothing from Mr. Alexander or Mr. Colden on this Transit. I don’t yett hear of any Account of It, from any of our Colonies. Doc. Kersley2 and his Friends used formerly to be Sending their Observations on Coelestial Phenomena.

I writt to you both by the Sarah Cap. Mitchell July 20th.

Monsr. Dalibards Letter Came Just in Time. It ought to have good things in it for its very Dear postage, 5s.3 I have paid Osborn fifty pounds this Day Augt. 16.


Hints Humbly proposed to Incorporate the Germans more with the English and Check the Increase of their Power

1st To Establish More English Schools amongst the Germans.
2dly To Encourge them to Learn English Lett an Act of Parliament pass in Great Britain to disquallifie every German from accepting any Place of Trust or Profit Civil or Military Unless both He and His Children can speake English inteligibly.
3d To prohibit any Deeds, Bonds, or writeings &c. to be Made in the German Language.
4 To Suppress all German Printing Houses that print only German. Half German half English in a Page of Books or publick News papers To be Tolerated.
5th To prohibit all Importation of German books.
6 To Encourage the Marriages of Germans with English and Contra by some Priviledge or Donation from the Publick.
7ly To Discourage the sending More Germans to the Province of Pensilvania When Inhabitans are so much Wanted in Georgia, North Carolina and Nova Scotia &c.
[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Incorrectly dated 1752 by I. Minis Hays, ed., Calendar of the Papers of Benjamin Franklin (5 vols., Phila., 1908), I, 6—which led Van Doren (Letters and Papers of Benjamin Franklin and Richard Jackson, 1753–1785, Phila., 1947, pp. 31–3) to think there must have been another BF letter on the Germans, now lost, to which this was a reply.

5Mary Collinson married John Cator, a businessman, later justice of the peace, sheriff of Kent, and M.P. for Ipswich, 1784. Norman G. Brett-James, The Life of Peter Collinson, F.R.S., F.S.A. (London, [1926]), pp. 222–3.

6See above, IV, 477–86.

7Henry Pelham, First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, Prime Minister, 1743–54, and George Dunk, Earl of Halifax, president of the Board of Trade, 1748–61. The Board of Trade was interested in settling foreign Protestants—Germans and Swiss—in Nova Scotia; and the Virginia Ohio Company was also considering recruiting Germans in Pennsylvania and in Europe, if they could be guaranteed exemption from Anglican parish tithes. Gipson, British Empire, IV, 247; V, 181–2, 200–1. Gent. Mag., XXIII (1753), 390, 392, noted that 4000 Germans had arrived in Philadelphia in the preceding twelve months and that 1500, mostly Germans, had settled at Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

8The letters of April 17 and June 1 have not been found. The missing letters and papers may have been the source of American news in Gent. Mag., which noted (XXIII, 1753, 344) the raising of the State House bell and quoted its inscription.

9Rev. William Smith (see above, IV, 467 n), whom the trustees of the College of Philadelphia were urging to accept an appointment in the institution. In the summer of 1753 he went to England for ordination, but decided to settle in America, where he was named provost of the Academy of Philadelphia, 1754.

1The only London observation of the transit printed in Phil. Trans. (XLVIII, 1753, 192–200) is James Short, “Observations of the Transit of Mercury over the Sun, May 6, 1753.” Brief reports of observations in England and France were printed in Gent. Mag., XXIII (1753), 211, 259, 308. For BF’s interest and encouragement, see above, IV, 406 n, and subsequent pages.

2John Kearsley (1684–1772), physician, architect, political figure, and philanthropist, settled in Pennsylvania, 1717. He was the preceptor of a score of able physicians of the next generation, designed and supervised the building of Christ Church, Philadelphia, 1727, which he served 53 years as warden or vestryman, was a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly, 1726–40, serving on a committee to plan a state house, 1729, and founded and endowed Christ Church Hospital for clergymen’s widows and other aged females. His reports on a comet and an eclipse observed at Philadelphia, 1737, sent to Peter Collinson, were printed in Phil. Trans., XL. (1741), 119, 121. He attacked Adam Thomson’s views on inoculation (see above, IV, 80–1). Carl and Jessica Bridenbaugh, Rebels and Gentlemen (N.Y., 1942), pp. 264–7, 309; DAB.

3Possibly a reply to BF’s letter mentioned in Collinson’s letter of July 20 (above, p. 14). Neither BF’s letter nor Dalibard’s reply has been found.

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