Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Isaac Norris, 4 January 1760

From Isaac Norris

Letterbook copy: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Fairhill, Janry 4th. 1760

Dear Friend B Franklin

The Bearer Charles Monk9 calling here in his way to N York from whence he is going to England. I send by him this short Letter for which I detain him on his Journey to inform you we have nothing very new or important in America since the reduction of Quebeck.1 Our Forces are quiet and General Stanwix continues at Pitsburg (as I hear laid up with a Fit of the Gout).2 Major Gates3 left the Troops there very lately well and in good health. At our last sitting in December our House reduced our Forces to 150 Men intended to Garrison Fort Augusta Littleton and Fort Allen with a Design to protect our Indian Trade.4

General Stanwix had kept the Province Forces, as the former Generals had done, at Pitsburg designing to have them there this Winter and bring the Regulars into Winter Quarters5 if we had continued them, and if he had done so it would have been the Fourth Winter these poor Creatures had remained there from their Homes almost perishing for want of Necessaries whilst the Regulars were sent down (as they were last Year) to commit shocking Insults on the Inhabitants in their Quarters. The Highlanders who bear a most wretched Charracter here were particularly mischievious at Lancaster, last Winter, forced themselves into private Houses killed several in a most shameful Manner and committed every Disorder which could be expected or feard from such worthless miserable Creatures (set on as ’tis said by their Officers).6 These and other Reasons as well as the Peaceable Prospect on our Frontiers and our Inability to support the Charge we have been at for several Years past, determined the House to ease the Province of the heavy Expence we were incurring every Year by the failure of our Taxes to discharge the Grants to the Crown.

We have not heard from you by the last Packet or Captain Nicholson who arrived just before the Winter set in,7 so that it is a long Time since our last advices from you either to myself or the Committee. I am Your Assured Friend


(Ensclosed in this Letter I sent)

3d Bill Exchange for £200. Joshua Howell on Messrs. Wm and Richard Baker. No. 20018

NB as I had not Four Bills I must get another drawn by Joshua Howell if those three already Sent should Miscarry–in order to which I took a Certified Copy of the above Third Bill examind by [Israel?] Morris before I sent it enclosed in the above Letter.

NB I have an Account from BF of the rect of the above Bill No. 2001 for £200 Ster

BF recd this ackd. Feb9

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Not identified.

1The French garrison at Quebec capitulated on Sept. 18, 1759, five days after Wolfe’s decisive victory on the Plains of Abraham.

2Gen. John Stanwix (above, VII, 45 n), Forbes’s successor as commander of his Majesty’s forces in Pa., was superintending the erection of a “respectable Fort” at Pittsburgh. On Dec. 24, 1759, he wrote Governor Hamilton that he had a “pretty severe fit of the Gout.” Pa. Col. Recs., VIII, 427; I Pa. Arch., III, 697.

3Horatio Gates (c. 1728/9–1806), the American commander at Saratoga in 1777, was at this time military secretary to General Stanwix and acting major in the 45th Regiment. Samuel W. Patterson, Horatio Gates (N.Y., 1941), p. 19.

4This resolve passed the Assembly on Dec. 7, 1759. The next day Hamilton requested the House to reconsider its action and to “suspend the coming to any final Resolution” on the disbanding of the provincial forces until it considered Stanwix’ letter to the former governor, William Denny, Oct. 18, 1759, in which the general suggested that he would need a substantial number of provincials for winter service. On the same day the Assembly decided to adhere to its resolve and adjourned until Feb. 11, 1760. Pa. Col. Recs., VIII, 425–9.

5Norris was misinformed about Stanwix’ winter plans. The general meant to keep 150 Pa. troops, 150 Va. troops, and 400 Royal Americans at Pittsburgh, send the remainder of the “two old Battalions” of Pennsylvanians to posts guarding the line of communications between Pittsburgh and Fort Augusta, and disband the colony’s “new Levies.” Stanwix to Hamilton, Dec. 8, 24, 1759, I Pa. Arch., III, 693–4, 696–7.

6Pursuant to an order of the Pa. Assembly, March 13, 1759, to investigate the complaints of numerous inhabitants of Lancaster and Chester counties against Col. Archibald Montgomery’s 77th Regiment, the Assembly’s Committee of Grievances reported, April 6, 1759, that the “Oppression” practiced by Montgomery’s Highlanders was “of so extraordinary a Nature, that it calls for immediate Redress.” The Committee accused the Highlanders of assaults, seizure of property, and exaction of money, but not of murder. Votes, 1758–59, pp. 31–2, 56–9, 67, 71, 73.

7The “last Packet,” the General Wall, Capt. Walter Lutwidge, left Falmouth on Oct. 18, 1759, and arrived in New York, Dec. 10, 1759; the William and Mary, Capt. William Nicholson, arrived in Philadelphia, Dec. 18, 1759, after a ten-week voyage from London. Pa. Gaz., Dec. 13, 20, 1759; N.-Y. Mercury, Dec. 17, 1759.

8For this bill, see above, VIII, 437.

9No letter from BF to Norris of Feb. 1760 survives.

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