Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to William Shirley, [30 December 1754?]

To William Shirley

ALS: Massachusetts Historical Society

Monday Morning [December 30? 1754]7


I return your Excellency the Papers you have been pleas’d to favour me with the Perusal of.8 I really can think of nothing to add on the Topics you mention’d to me; but am of Opinion that the Force and Impression of the Matters contain’d in the 5 first and 3 last Pages, would be greater, if they might be read together, and were not disjoin’d by the Accounts of the French Settlements and Encroachments. I think, therefore, they should make a separate Part of the Pamphlet; The Account of the French Settlements and Encroachments another distinct Part; and that divided into shorter Paragraphs.9 And if Your Excellency should be of Opinion that my Paper on the Peopling of Countries, &c. would on this Occasion be of any Use, I would not object to its being annexed.1 With the greatest Esteem and Attachment, I am, Your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble Servant

B Franklin

Addressed: To  His Excellency William Shirley Esqr

Endorsed: Papers Concerng the Settlemt. of N Eng &c.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Probably written in December, when BF and Shirley were in Boston, this letter may have been written on Monday, December 30, the day BF set out for Rhode Island with Catharine Ray.

8The papers were a draft of William Clarke’s Observations on the late and present Conduct of the French (see above, p. 250 n) and, possibly, the “Memorials and other Papers” Shirley had lent Clarke. Clarke’s aim was to demonstrate the great value of the North American colonies and point out the consequences of French encroachments on them. Should Britain lose the colonies and France gain them, he concluded (p. 47), “Great-Britain herself must necessarily be reduced to an absolute Subjection to the French Crown, to be nothing more than a Province of France.”

Clarke composed the pamphlet near the end of 1754, and on February 3 (see below, p. 491) it had not yet gone to the printer. From internal evidence the dedication (to Shirley) could not have been composed before July 1755. The tract was advertised in the Boston Weekly News-Letter, Aug. 21, 1755. Lawrence C. Wroth, An American Bookshelf, 1755 (Phila., 1934), p. 138.

9Some of these suggestions appear to have been taken. Preliminary drafts of the pamphlet are in Mass. Hist. Soc. Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, VIII, 17 n.

1See above, IV, 225–34.

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