Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Peter Collinson, 25 October 1755

To Peter Collinson

Draft: American Philosophical Society

Philada. Oct. 25. 1755

Dear Sir

The above is a Copy of my last.9 I hope you have receiv’d a Bill for £75 Sterling. I sent you the 1st per  in mine of the 27th of August last, when I wrote for one of Mr. Smeaton’s New Air Pumps for the Academy.1 I now send another Bill for £30 Sterling on the same Account together with a List of some Philosophical Implements that will be wanted towards our Apparatus. Please to procure and send them insur’d per first Opportunity. We are already supply’d with some Instruments of this kind, but as they are borrow’d we shall be oblig’d to send for more hereafter.

Just now arriv’d in Town an Express from our Frontiers, with the bad News, that 8 Families of Pensilvanians were cut off last Week about 20 Miles above Harris’s Ferry in the new Purchase near Shamokin.2 Thirteen Men and Women were found scalp’d and dead; and 12 Children are missing suppos’d to be carried away. But as the People on the Frontiers have been and will be furnished with Arms and Ammunition by the Care of the Committee of Assembly,3 ’tis thought they will not quit their Settlements in those Parts.4 Some of those Indians we took for our Friends I find are suspected by their Neighbours, but, I hope, without Ground.

I am, Dear Sir, Your affectionate humble Servant


Per Budden’s Ship
Mr Collinson

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Not found; but perhaps sent October 7 along with BF’s letters to Jackson, Partridge, and Strahan.

1See above, p. 172.

2Shamokin was an Indian village near the forks of the Susquehanna River, the site of the present Sunbury. The attack occurred at nearby Penn’s Creek on October 16 and was reported to Governor Morris by John Harris and other inhabitants of the endangered area in communications dated October 20. Pa. Col. Recs., VI, 645–8. See also below, pp. 231, 232 n.

3See above, pp. 165, 170–1, for this committee. On October 31 Morris told his Council that the committee had infringed the rights of government by sending arms and ammunition to the frontier in his absence. Upon inquiry he learned that Evan Morgan and BF were the offending committeemen, and that each had upon request submitted accounts of the arms and ammunition distributed. Pa. Col. Recs., VI, 663, 679; Votes, 1755–56, pp. 165–7.

Morris had more profound objections, however, than this technical one to the actions of the Assembly committee. He wrote Thomas Penn on November 22 that the munitions dispersal was “a very extraordinary measure, as the people will be thereby taught to depend upon an Assembly for what they should only receive from the Government, and if it is not criminal I am sure it ought to be so.” Ibid., p. 739. Also, see below, pp. 234, 236–7.

4Here BF crossed out the sentence “Thus the War has at length enter’d this long-preserv’d Province.”

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