Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Isaac Norris, 4 June 1759

From Isaac Norris

Letterbook copy: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Fairhill June 4th. 1759.4

Dear Friend B Franklin

The Bills of Exchange I have remitted are as follows—to wit—

+1 My Bill or Order on the Executors of Doctor Logan for } £200. 0. 0  Sterling
+2 John Hunter on Messrs. Tomlinson Hanbury &c. No 732
I have your Letter of the 18th of January acknowledging the Receipt of these5
} 300. 0. 0
+3 Anthony Stoker on Geo. Campbell
payable in London6   £200. 0. 0
Ditto On Ditto 131. 8. 0
Ditto On Ditto 30. 17. 2
362. 5. 2
+4 John Hunter on Messrs. Tomlinson &c. No 10497 } 200. 0. 0
  5 Peter Razer On Richard Partridge protested since paid8 } 40. 0. 0
I shall send duplicates of No 3. 4 and 5 as hereunder } £1102. 5. 2
Inclosed I likewise send First Bills of Exchange9
+6 Joshua Howell on Messrs. Wm. and Richard Baker. No. 5020 } £1000. 0. 0
Ditto On Ditto 5021 1000. 0. 0
 It will then stand thus That £3102. 5. 0
All these are Come to Hand { The Thirds Bills of Number Three
The Second Bill of Number Four
The Second Bill of Number Five and
The First Bills of Number Six i.e. N 5020 and 5021 will be inclosed herewith.1

There are unforseen Changes in consequence of this American War. In Philadelphia Houses2 are high and Bills of Exchange easy to be procured and very considerably under Par which has tempted me to sell several of my Houses and every Thing else I could convert into Mony to invest them in Bills of Exchange.3 But what I now transmit will not be wholly mine, and as soon as it can be done I will give Notice of what belongs to the Province. As the Bills are good, the Distinction is not so immediatly necessary, but for fear you might be in want of Mony for the Publick and the Province suffer on that Article I took the earlyest Opportunities I could find, at the Request of a considerable Number of the Members, to supply any Defect on that Head. Whilst the Issue of our Bill4 was unknown and its Success almost dispaired of which must have involved us (in the Consequences of its failure) in the greatest Difficulties in Mony Matters, and no very small Ones in our Civil Affairs but by resolving to venture ev’ry Thing rather than subject our selves to that miserable Disease which preyd continually upon our Vitals we have at length procured that Justice of joining the Proprietary Estates with our Own towards defraying the Expence of the War, And I do not doubt that we shall chearfully exert our Selves in Our several Stations to extricate the Province from the Load of Debt brought upon us by the present War when we consider that the Property of all, contribute, under the present Law by an equal taxation to the general Defence.

But when I suppose that the Property of all is equally taxed, I need not distinguish to my Friend BF who is so well acquainted with our Situation and Affairs that even as the Law stands the Proprietary Estate cannot be equally taxed, since we do not touch their unlocated Lands which will be as much theirs as any other Part of their Property and may be sold whenever the Enemy is expelled and the Frontier once more considered as Safe and fit for Inhabitants as the Internal Parts of the Province. The Property thus excluded by our Law was not long since estimated by themselves to be nearly Nine Tenths of the Whole, as appears by an Estimate in your Hands.5 But tho’ by the Law thus circumstanced and by this Remark it may appear that the Proprietors cannot contribute their full proportion of the Expences, I should not think it Right to tax the unlocated Lands; And I believe the Assessors Will be careful in assessing those that are located so as by no Means to exceed the Proportions of the located Estates and property of the other Inhabitants which are to be defended (as far as we are able to defend them) at the common Charge of all.6 I shall make this a Seperate Letter and close it and refer any further Advices to what I may have Occasion to inform you of when either my Self, or the Committee transmit the Laws for the Supplies and Indian Trade with the Minutes relating to them under the G[reat] Seal and the proof of the Clerk. I am &c.


Please to put all the Bills (after using what you have Occasion for on the Public Account) into the Bank as by my former Orders. I N

Endorsed: B Franklin received this Letter V. his Letter dated The 6th August 1759. which I received 8th. 10th. 1759.

In the margin: Pd. to [illegible] for 6 Gallon 6 2 Qt. 12 Qt. 6 Pint Decanters and 12 Water Glasses from a Quart to half a Pint.7

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4In the ALS sent to BF, Norris dated this letter June 14, not 4; see below, p. 418.

5For these two bills, see above, pp. 176, 177. BF’s acknowledgement was dated Jan. 19, 1759, not 18; see above, p. 236.

6For three bills listed together here, see above, pp. 290, 303.

7See above, p. 303.

8See above, p. 327–8. The words “protested” and “since paid,” in two different hands, which also appear in the margin, were clearly added later and at different times. The bill was protested because Partridge had died. BF recorded the resulting transactions in “Account of Expences,” pp. 27, 50; PMHB, LV (1931), 118, 126.

9BF recorded the receipt of these two bills on Aug. 2, 1759; “Account of Expences,” p. 44; PMHB, LV (1931), 125.

1Following this line in his letterbook Norris wrote later “See Page 101,” referring to the page where he repeated this tabulation in his letter of July 31; see below, p. 422. He added the following memorandum, obviously not a part of the letter sent to BF: “B Franklin acknowledges the Receipt of all these Bills together with my Letter on the same date, page 99 [the rest of the present letter]. See B Franklins Letter of the 6th. July 1759 which came to my hands by the Packet Via N York and I received by Post October 10th. 1759.” No letter from BF dated July 6, 1759, has been found; Norris probably should have written “August 6” (as in the marginal endorsement of this letter), but that letter does not survive. The Earl of Halifax, Capt. Bolderson, arrived in N.Y., Oct. 5, 1759, six weeks after leaving Falmouth. N.-Y. Mercury, Oct. 8, 1759.

2After “Houses” Norris first wrote, then crossed out, “and Lots.”

3Writing to Richard Jackson, March 8, 1763, after his return to Philadelphia, BF commented on the enormous rise in prices caused by wartime inflation. Among other things, he reported, “Rent of old Houses, and Value of Lands” had “trebled in the last Six Years.” APS.

4The supply bill enacted April 17, 1759; see above, pp. 326–7.

5“My Estimate of the Province, T. Penn,” a copy of which Galloway had sent to BF in July 1758; see above, pp. 151, 360–7.

6Distrust of the colonial assessors was one of the reasons for the Penns’ opposition to the supply bill of 1759 before the King in Council. To secure its passage, BF and Robert Charles, at Lord Mansfield’s suggestion, signed an agreement, Aug. 28, 1760, pledging to secure an act of the Assembly which would insure equitable assessment. According to BF, the Assembly did not think such an act necessary because it had appointed a “Committee to examine the Procedings of the Assessors” on which it had put “several particular Friends of the Proprietaries,” who after “a full Enquiry” had “unanimously sign’d a Report that they found the Tax had been assess’d with perfect Equity.” Autobiog. (APS-Yale edit.), pp. 265–6. For the report of the committee of the Assembly, see 8 Pa. Arch., VI, 5216.

7This notation probably relates to glassware Norris asked BF to buy and send him. In their accounts are records of two such shipments, neither itemized: one on Jan. 11, 1760, for £7 13s., the other on Feb. 20, 1761, for £9 3s. 11d. “Account of Expences,” pp. 51, 59; PMHB. LV (1931), 126, 130; Norris’ MS Account Book, 1735–1765, described above, pp. 147–8.

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