Benjamin Franklin Papers

William Franklin to Joseph Galloway, 26 August 1760

William Franklin to Joseph Galloway

ALS: Yale University Library

London, Tuesday, Augst. 26. 1760

My Dear Friend,

The Mail was made up and sent for Falmouth on Saturday last, so that whether this may reach you by that Conveyance is uncertain. But as I imagine you must all be extremely anxious about the Fate of your very important Acts, and glad to know of every Thing relative to them from time to time,3 I have scribbled over as fast as possibly I could, two Papers which have occur’d since my Father’s last Dispatches,4 in hopes of getting them to Falmouth by the Post (which is just upon the Point of setting off) before the sailing of the Pacquet. The first is a Copy of the Attorney and Sollicitor Generals Report on the Question (which I some time ago sent to the Speaker) about His Majesty’s Right of repealing particular Clauses in Acts;5 the other is a Copy of a Letter from my Father to Mr. Pitt, imploring his Protection for the Province.6 What Intention the Lords of the Committee could have in proposing so strange a Question, it is difficult to say; but some are inclin’d to suspect that it covers a Design that may not be altogether to our Advantage.7 It’s being referr’d to our Adversaries Council has all along been look’d upon here by some disinterested People as an extreme partial Procedure. They go so far as to say, that as the Attorney and Sollicitor General are the only proper Persons for His Majesty to consult on such Matters, that they ought by no means to be concern’d as Advocates for either Side, as they must in all Probability become so bias’d thereby as not to be able to give His Majesty that impartial Advice the Occasion may require.8 [Between you and I, it is said, that we may look upon them all to be a Pack of d—d R—ls; and that unless we bribe them all higher than our Adversaries can do, and condescend to do every Piece of dirty Work they require, we shall never be able to attain common Justice at their Hands.]9 You’ll see that they have acknowledg’d (and it would have been strange indeed if they had not) that His Majesty must exercise his Right of Repeal in the entire, where all the Parts of the Act are relative to the same Subject. But then they go on to make some Distinctions, and to establish some Doctrines, which tho’ somewhat specious, are liable I think to many Objections, and if admitted may be productive of dangerous Consequences. I mean what they say with regard to Laws being void ab Initio, and Laws consisting of different Parts on different Subjects. I have not Time to give you my Sentiments in that respect, but I dare say they and many more will occur to you upon reading the Report. Those 2 Paragraphs, however, tho’ express’d in general Terms, seem to be levell’d against some of our particular Acts now before them, and intended to fix a Precedent for some future Occasion. Whether we may promise ourselves any Advantage by the Application to Mr. Pitt is uncertain; but methinks it can do no Harm.1 The Words which have a Line drawn thro’ them2 were sent exactly in the same Manner to Mr. P. that he might see what was in the Writer’s Thoughts to say, if the Occasion had been proper. This is a new Species of Rhetoric, which (as there is no hanging a Man for his Thoughts) would be of considerable Service to those who write and publish Libels, if they could get them printed in that Manner. Many of the Merchants of London who trade to Pensylvania have sign’d a Petition in favour of the Paper money Acts,3 which will be presented tomorrow. This Matter would have been much more forward had it not been for the cold Water thrown on it by D[avi]d Barclay and Company4 and I hope the Friends of the Province will remember them accordingly. The Report of the Board of Trade, My Father’s Notes thereon,5 and the Paper drawn up to induce the Merchants to petition in our Behalf have been all sent you. If after Consideration of them, you and the Speaker, and any other of the Members of Assembly would send us such Observations on them as occur, they may possibly come Time enough to be of Service to my Father, in drawing up what he may find necessary to publish to the World on the Occasion.6 For that the Plan of Attack must be chang’d from the Proprietors to the Board of Trade seems to me highly probable. Till the iniquitous System of Government which they would establish in the Colonies, for their own selfish Purposes, is fully expos’d, I think we can hope for no good from that Quarter. I write my Sentiments freely to you as I know no undue Use will be made of them.

The Books of Husbandry which were lost in House, I shall send other Copies of by either Faulkener or McDougal, who sail in a few Days.7 By the first I have sent you Venus, and I hope her Ladyship will prove acceptable.8

I have not Time to wonder or I should most prodigiously, at not having heard from you this Twelve-month; in which Time I have wrote you 5 or 6 Letters;9 so that you have repaid all my former Negligences, with Interest.

There is News this Day come to Town of the K. of Prussia’s having by forc’d Marches from Saxony got before M. Daun into Silesia, and there attack’d General Laudoun and totally defeated Him, having kill’d 7, of 8,000, and taken 4,000 Prisoners, 90 Pieces of Cannon, and all their Baggage.1 That the Battle to be fought Tomorrow, which is the great and important Day big with the Fate of Pensylvania,2 may be as successful on our Side, is the sincere and fervent Prayer of, Dear Galloway, Your very affectionate humble Servant

Wm: Franklin

P.S. We have received no Minutes of your Proceedings since Governor Hamilton’s Arrival,3 except a Copy of his propos’d Amendments, and a few Messages relative to the last £100,000 Act inclos’d in a Letter from the Speaker.4 But the Act itself (which would now be of use) nor any other public Paper has been sent, which I am much surpriz’d at. The Proprietor says he has authentic Accounts of great Injustice done him in the Assessments. Of this we know nothing particular. If he means in Cumberland County I should be inclin’d to suspect it was a concerted Thing in order to throw an Odium on the Assembly, as he and his Party have such Influence there as to be able to procure whatever they Please.5

To Mr. Galloway

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3For the Board of Trade and Privy Council Committee hearings and reports on nineteen Pa. acts of 1758–59, see above, pp. 125–73, and below, pp. 196–211.

4Probably BF’s letters and postscripts to Norris of June 27, July 12, 15, and 17, 1760, which have not been found but which Norris acknowledged September 20 and 26.

5The “Question” was one the Privy Council Committee sent, July 15, 1760, to the law officers of the Crown (Pratt and Yorke, who were also counsel to the Penns in the hearings on the Pa. laws) as to whether under the Pa. charter the King might disallow clauses in an act of Assembly without disallowing the rest of the act. The Committee’s question and the law officers’ opinion, dated August 19, are printed in full in Statutes at Large, Pa., V, 660–1, 735–7. For an account of this incident and a summary of the opinion, see below, pp. 196–7. WF probably sent a copy of the Committee’s question to Norris with his letter of July 15 (not found). See below, p. 223.

6Not found.

7Thomas Penn was as displeased as were the Franklins at the Privy Council Committee’s raising the question of a partial disallowance. See below, p. 197 n.

8See above, p. 128 n.

9In the MS this sentence is enclosed in brackets and canceled by zig-zag lines, but the words are left fully legible. WF explains this cancellation later in the paragraph.

1In his Journal of Negotiations in London, begun at sea, March 22, 1775, BF recalled that during his first mission he had made “several Attempts,” all unsuccessful, to meet the then William Pitt (later Lord Chatham), but the first minister “was then too great a Man, or too much occupy’d in Affairs of greater Moment. I was therefore oblig’d to content my self with a kind of nonapparent and un-acknowledg’d Communication thro’ Mr. Potter and Mr. Wood his Secretaries.” Lib. Cong.

2As indicated in a footnote above. If, as WF goes on to say here, BF had similarly written, and then canceled, the same sentence in a letter to Pitt, it seems most unlikely that he had begun it with the words “Between you and I.”

3Not found, and there is no record of such a petition at this time in the appropriate volumes of Board of Trade Journal and Acts Privy Coun., Col.

4David Barclay (1682–1769), the son of Robert Barclay (1648–1690) who wrote the celebrated Apology for the … Quakers (1678), was a wealthy London merchant engaged primarily in the North American trade. His sons John (1728–1787) and David (1729–1809) expanded the family business and invested in brewing and banking, founding what is now Barclays Bank. The firm subscribed generously to the Academy of Philadelphia in its early years; above, IV, 35. The younger David acted as intermediary in the informal peace negotiations between BF and certain highly placed Englishmen during the winter of 1774–75. The Barclays were connected by marriage with the Penns, handled mercantile commissions for Thomas Penn, and were sureties for Gov. James Hamilton and later for Gov. John Penn. Hubert F. Barclay and Alice Wilson-Fox, A History of the Barclay Family (3 vols., London, 1934); Arthur Raistrick, Quakers in Science and Industry (N.Y., 1950), pp. 69, 286, 322–3. On June 6, 1760, Thomas Penn wrote Hamilton that he had persuaded “Mr. Barclay and his Sons” to talk with other merchants about the danger from “an encrease of paper money” in the colony. Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa. Apparently this maneuver met with some success.

5Not found.

6BF does not seem to have published anything to the world on this occasion.

7The Juliana, Captain House, was taken by a French privateer early in 1760; see above, p. 15 n. The Friendship, Captain Falconer, reached Deal, outward bound, September 3, and had arrived at Philadelphia by November 13. London Chron., Sept. 2–4, 1760; Pa. Gaz., Nov. 6, 1760. The Boreas, Capt. Henry Allan McDougall, reached Deal September 20, made two ineffectual sorties, but was unable to get away for more than seven weeks, spent more time at Falmouth, and arrived at Philadelphia only in mid-February. London Chron., Sept. 20–23, Oct. 23–5, Nov. 8–11, 11–13, 1760; Pa. Gaz., Jan. 15, Feb. 19, 1761.

8Probably Robert Strange’s engraving of Guido Reni’s “Venus Attired by the Graces.” R.T.H. Halsey, “Benjamin Franklin: His Interest in the Arts,” Benjamin Franklin and His Circle (N.Y., 1936), p. 5.

9Only WF’s letters to Galloway of Dec. 28, 1759 (Yale Univ. Lib.) and June 16, 1760 have been found.

1Frederick II defeated the Austrian Field Marshal Baron Gideon Ernst von Laudon near Liegnitz on Aug. 15, 1760, and then fought a bloody but inconclusive battle with Field Marshal Count Leopold Joseph Maria Daun at Torgau on November 3. Gipson, British Empire, VIII, 59–60.

2The hearing before the Privy Council Committee on the Pa. laws, which began on August 27.

3James Hamilton arrived in Philadelphia Nov. 17, 1759. Pa. Gaz., Nov. 22, 1759.

4See above, p. 43.

5On April 2, 1760, Hamilton laid before the Pa. Assembly a representation signed by Richard Hockley, the Penns’ receiver general, and by Secretary Richard Peters, purporting to show that in Cumberland Co. the Proprietors had been taxed for income they had not received. Hockley and Peters contended that the local assessors had assumed that every person who occupied land in the county paid the Proprietors a quitrent, on which a tax was then levied, when in fact many of the landholders were squatters and many more held land by warrant only and were not therefore legally obliged to pay rent. This paper was almost certainly one of the “authentic Accounts of great Injustice” which Penn said he had. Pa. Col. Recs., VIII, 472–7; 8 Pa. Arch., VI, 5123–5. Penn wrote Peters, June 9, 1760, approving of his representation, which would be very useful in the hearings against the Supply Act. Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa.

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