Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Peter Collinson, 15 June 1756

To Peter Collinson

ALS: University of Pennsylvania Library

Philada. June 15. 1756.

Dear Friend

I can now only acknowledge the Receipt of your Favours of Feb. 12, 21, 24, 29, and April 1.6 together with two Boxes, containing Parcels for the Library and John Bartram, all safe and deliver’d.7 Enclos’d is a 2d Bill for £20 Sterling; the first went in March. When receiv’d please to credit my private Account with it. I send also two other Bills of £50 each, one on Account of the Academy, towards the Apparatus; the other on my private Account. You have pleas’d me much with the Expectation of a new Governor:8 All the Stiffrumps except One, that could be suspected of opposing the Service from religious Motives, have voluntarily quitted the Assembly; and ’tis proposed to chuse Churchmen in their Places.9 These Changes in both Branches promise us some fair Weather, which I have long sigh’d for. Smith, now known to be the Writer of the Brief State, &c. still endeavours to keep up a Flame; but is become universally odious, and almost infamous, as you will see in the Papers. He will do no longer here:1 I am just setting out for New-York, whence shall fully write you per Packet. With the utmost Esteem and Affection, I am, Dear Sir, Your obliged humble Servant

B Franklin

[In the margin:]

Bills2 { Mary Steevens on A[lexr. Grant] Esqr. £20 dated Jan. 1. 56
Thos. Saul, Halifax, on William Baker Esqr. £50 Feb. 24.
Do. of Do. on Do.  £50 March 19.

P. Collinson Esquire

Addressed: To / Peter Collinson Esquire / Mercht. / London / per Capt Mesnard3

Endorsed: Reced July 21
 answord by Mesnard Sept: 7th then sent Him Logans Letter4

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6Not found.

7See above, pp. 171, 172, for magazines ordered by the Library Company and electrical apparatus for the Philadelphia Academy. On Feb. 18, 1756, Collinson had sent Bartram books, magazines, drawing paper, and seeds, which Bartram acknowledged on May 30. Darlington, Memorials, pp. 205, 207. The apparatus arrived in November 1756.

8Collinson may have reported the rumor (also in Pa. Gaz., June 3, 1756) that BF’s friend Thomas Pownall would succeed Robert Hunter Morris as governor. See above, p. 453 n.

9On June 4, Quaker Assemblymen informed the House that “as many of our Constituents seem of Opinion that the present Situation of Publick Affairs call upon us for Services in a military Way, which, from a Conviction of Judgment, after mature Deliberation, we cannot comply with, we conclude it most conducive to the Peace of our own Minds, and the Reputation of our religious Profession to persist in our Resolutions of resigning our seats.” Votes, 1755–56, pp. 101, 103–4. Their seats were filled by Thomas Leech and Daniel Roberdeau, both prominent Anglicans, from Philadelphia Co., and by others who were either Anglicans or were closely related to Anglican families. Ibid., 103–5; Thomas H. Montgomery, “List of Vestrymen of Christ Church, Philadelphia,” PMHB, XIX (1895), 522, 524. The “One” Quaker pacifist retaining his seat was probably Joseph Trotter of Philadelphia, who had voted against the £60,000 appropriation bill, the Militia Act, and the Mutiny Act. Votes, 1755–56, pp. 13, 31, 74. Far from seeing these resignations as ending Quaker influence in local politics, Peters asserted that the new members would be “just such as the Quakers and Mr. Franklin please to recommend,” and hence the resignations “preserved the Quakers” in the province. Peters’ letters through the spring of 1756 also show great dismay over what he regarded as near treasonable behavior by many Philadelphia Anglicans. They were split in two: BF’s “Poyson has never reached the Plumsted’s, the Ingliss’s, the McCalls, nor those who live in the South part of Town and applied for a New Church [St. Peter’s] … but the Old Churchmen, Evan Morgan, Jacob Duchee, Thomas Leech and their Friends and Relations are infected, they are mere Franklinists … creatures … partisans … minions” of his. Peters to Penn, April 25 and 29, June 1, 3, and 26, 1756; Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa.

1See above, p. 52 n, for William Smith’s pamphlet A Brief State. He had recently caused a letter to be printed impugning Daniel Roberdeau’s honesty. Various individuals as well as Anglican, Presbyterian, and Quaker groups then printed testimonies to his good character. Nathaniel Grubb, an Assemblyman from Chester Co., also published a denial that he had aspersed the Scotch-Irish as Smith had claimed in A Brief View of the Conduct of Pennsylvania, For the Year 1755 (London, 1756), first advertised for sale in Philadelphia on May 27, 1756. Pa. Gaz., June 10 and 17, 1756; Pa. Jour., May 27, June 10 and 17, 1756. The last of these papers, appearing four days before the election in which Roberdeau was a candidate for Assemblyman, also contained a virulent attack on Smith by “Humphry Scourge.” See above, pp. 420–2 n, for BF’s continuing feud with Smith.

2BF frequently sent to England bills of Mary Steevens (Stevens) drawn on Alexander Grant (probably Sir Alexander, d. 1772, a London merchant with West Indian interests). The other persons mentioned in these bills have not been identified.

3Pa. Gaz., June 17, 1756, reported clearance of the ship Carolina, Stephen Mesnard, Master, for London. See also ibid., June 10, 1756.

4In Collinson’s hand. On Dec. 19, 1756, BF wrote acknowledging receipt of his letter of September 7.

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