Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Shirley, 17 September 1755

From William Shirley2

Copy: American Philosophical Society; also copy: Library Company of Philadelphia

Oswego Septr. 17th. 1755.


I have just receiv’d your two favours of the 1st. and 4th. of September;3 in Answer to the former I inclose you a Copy of a Paragraph in my Letter to Colonel Dunbar upon that Subject.

As to the Affair of the Waggons and Horses which you engag’d for the Use of the late General Braddock’s Army, I think it of the utmost Consequence that all such Engagements or Contracts made for the publick Service, should be most punctually comply’d with and had I known the Circumstances of this, I should before now have enabled you to have made good those you enter’d into by the late General’s Order for the Expedition to the Ohio, not only because common Justice demands it, but that such publick Spirited Services deserve the highest Encouragement: I now write to Governor Morris to appoint three good Men to liquidate and adjust those Accounts, and shall direct Mr. Johnson the Paymaster immediately to pay what they report to be due for that Service according to the Inclos’d Warrant.4

Though I am at present engag’d in a great Hurry of Business, being to move from hence in a very few Days for Niagara,5 I cannot conclude without assuring you that I have the highest Sense of your publick Services in general and particularly that of engaging these Waggoners, &c. without which General Braddock could not have proceeded.

I am with great Esteem, Sir, Your faithfull Humble Servant.

W Shirley

P.S. I beg the Favour of you to send me the Sums, to which the Accounts shall be liquidated as soon as they are adjusted.

Benjamin Franklin Esqr:

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2Governor Shirley, who had been appointed a major general early in 1755, succeeded to the command of the British forces in North America following Braddock’s death.

3Neither letter has been found. The first related to the enlistment of servants (see below, p. 227), the second to payment for the Pennsylvania wagons and horses supplied to Braddock through BF’s efforts and lost in consequence of the defeat, for which BF had pledged compensation. See above, pp. 13–17, 19–22, and APS Proc., CI (1957), 551–8.

4Shirley’s letter to Morris and the warrant here mentioned, have not been found. On Jan. 31, 1756, Morris commissioned Edward Shippen and others to audit and settle the unsatisfied claims, citing in his commission his authorization from Shirley. I Pa. Arch., II, 583, 598–9, 638–9. The commissioners’ detailed accounts are in Lewis B. Walker, ed., The Settlement of the Waggoners’ Accounts Relating to General Braddock’s Expedition (n.p., 1899). In describing this episode in his autobiography BF pointed out that the total approved claims “amounted to near twenty Thousand Pound, which to pay would have ruined me.” Par. Text edit., p. 358.

5Shirley planned an attack upon Fort Niagara, but abandoned it before moving out from Oswego.

Index Entries