Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Isaac Norris, 7 April 1757

From Isaac Norris

Letterbook copy: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

April 7th. 1757

My Friend B Franklin

The Clerk calls upon me to sign the Indian Trade Bill now sent down by the Governor who adheres to his Amendments and as the House after agreeing to some of the Amendments now adhere to the Bill there is an End of that salutary provision to induce the Indians to come heartily into our Interest by making it their Own. We think it a Strange innovation that Committees of the Council should be brought into Laws, to settle Our Accounts and dispose of the public Mony but it is a Scheme those Gentlemen have been long aiming at, hitherto, without Effect.9 I have sent on the other Side a loose Schedule of My Account,1 when I can get Home I will write more largely as Matters offer, And then I will close the Account of Osborne’s Books2 as it stands in my Books. I see Osborne is concernd in Two Books of practical Husbandry and of Practical Gardening be pleased to desire Osborne to send them to me (I mean if you think they are fit for my Library) and Robt. Charles will pay the cost on your shewing him this my Request for I have not wrote to him about it.3

My Brother spoke to you about the Book of Gardening under the Title of Eden &c. and I presume gave the whole long Title that he would have for his own Use. I would have both the Gardening and Agriculture being much inclined to amuse my Self among my Dirty Acres if I can contrive some way or other to stay a little more at Home. I am (after wishing you a good Voyage) Your Assured Friend


[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9The Assembly had tried numerous times since November 1755 to secure the governor’s approval of a bill to remedy abuses in the Indian trade; see above, VI, 253–5, 449–51. The declared objective, to regulate the trade in order to make friends rather than enemies of the Indians, was laudable enough, especially in wartime when Indian allies were of critical importance. The bills, however, all insinuated that traders operating under proprietary license had abused the Indians thus causing their hostility to the province, and all provided for such tight Assembly control of the trade that proprietary agents would be barred from it in the future. Furthermore, the governor objected to the bills’ “encroachment” on executive prerogatives. The Assembly sent a new bill to Governor Denny on March 12, which Lord Loudoun and Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia considered on the 21st, the same day that Denny in Council returned it to the Assembly with proposed amendments. The next day, after accepting only trifling changes, the Assembly sent the bill back, and on April 5 Denny again returned it, whereupon the Assembly dropped the matter after again declaring its unwillingness to give in. Among other things, the Assembly disapproved a proposal that a committee of the Council and one of the Assembly together audit the books of the Indian commissioners. Votes, 1756–57, pp. 100, 102–3, 107; Pa. Col. Recs., VII, 444, 449–50, 455–9; I Pa. Arch., III, 114–15, 119; Loudoun Notebooks, March 21, 1757 (Huntington Lib.). BF had been interested in regulating the Indian trade at least since 1753 (see above, V, 154), and the problem was to figure prominently in his English mission; see, for example, BF to Isaac Norris, June 9, 1759, on hearings before the Board of Trade, May 29, 1759, on the Pennsylvania Indian trade bill passed April 8, 1758.

1Not copied into Norris’ letterbook.

2Thomas Osborne (d. 1767), foremost London bookseller of his day, but distrusted by both BF and Dr. Johnson for his exorbitant prices and sharp practices. Above, III, 318–19, 322; DNB.

3In September 1758 BF bought from Osborne and sent to Charles and Isaac Norris copies of the following: A Compleat Body of Husbandry containing the Soil … Natural and Artificial Manures, etc. (London, 1756), and Eden: or a Compleat Body of Gardening (London, 1757), both works attributed alternatively to Thomas Hale and John Hill; and Edward Lisle, Observations on Husbandry (London, 1757). BF to Isaac Norris, Sept. 16, 1758 (Lib. Cong.); Osborne’s bill to BF, receipted Sept. 27, 1758 (Hist. Soc. Pa.); Isaac Norris’ accounts with Robert Charles and BF, under date of 1758 (Lib. Co. Phila.); “Account of Expences,” p. 35; PMHB, LV (1931), 114. The uncertain authorship of the first two works listed is discussed in G.E. Fussel, More Old English Farming Books … 1731 to 1793 (London, 1950), pp. 37–8.

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