Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Franklin, [13 July 1766]

From William Franklin

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Suppose about July 10. or 11.
[July 13, 1766]5

Honoured Father,

I have just returned from Amboy, and have received your Letter per the Packet of May 10.6 Mr. Wharton’s Clerk has this Moment call’d on me to let me know he is going Express to N.Y. in hopes of overtaking the Packet. I have stopt him that I might send you an Extract of Sir Wm.’s last Letter relative to the Colony.7

I before sent you an Answer to the Enquiry made by Sir Alexr. Dick.8 Mr. Pennington informs me that he has sent Mr. Penn an Account of the Land he enquir’d about in N. Jersey; nor can I obtain any other Account of it but the same Mr. Pennington has received. He is afraid of young Penn selling the Manor to the Proprietor for much less than it could be sold for here, and wishes you would caution him against it.9

There has been lately several Murders of Indians in the different Provinces. Those committed in this Province will be duely enquired into, and the Murderers executed, as soon as found guilty. They are all apprehended and secured in Gaol.1

I congratulate you on the Resolutions of Parliament relative to Commerce.2 They are in general much approv’d. I am in hopes that the People of the Colonies, particularly Persons of Property, will conduct themselves so as to give great Satisfaction to the present Ministry. In New York there has been some Riots on Account of Lands in the Great Manors; but they are now quell’d, and their Chief, one Pendergrass, taken Prisoner.3

All the Provinces seem in quiet, except Virginia and Massachuset’s Bay. The Governor of the first won’t let his Assembly meet, as he understands they are disposed to pass a Bill of Rights, and act otherwise in such a Manner as to keep up the Spirit which they kindled before.4 In the latter, the Assembly, by the Influence of that Firebrand Otis, has imprudently turn’d out all the Crown and other Officers out of the Council.5

I have come off with Flying Colours in the Brush I had with my Assembly.6 In order to get the better in the Dispute, they asserted a Number of downright Falsehoods, and finding themselves embarrass’d by this means, and that they had given me great Advantage, they fairly yielded and desired me to proceed no further in the Affair. I had them to be sure prodigiously in my Power; but however like a generous Enemy, upon their crying out They had got enough, I witheld my hand. For the future I believe they will be more cautious. I have just heard that Lord Hope is coming here Tomorrow on a Visit to me.7

Before this reaches you you will probably hear of Uncle Peter’s Death.8 We are much concern’d at it, particularly as it happen’d so unexpectedly, he having been lately better to all Appearance than for many Months before. I have not heard how the Post Office is dispos’d of, but I wish Coz. Davenport had it.9

The Proprietary Party give out that Col. Wm. Skinner (Brother to our Attorney General) is coming over Governor of this Province.1 He has an Interest with Col. Fitzroy, the D. of Grafton’s Brother, who married his Relation Miss Warren.2 The Governor of Barbados has Leave to return Home for a 12 Month, when he expects to resign.3 In Haste Your dutiful Son


[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5WF apparently failed to date this letter when he wrote it, and the tentative dating may be in BF’s hand. The correct date, however, appears to be July 13. WF mentions having “just returned from Amboy,” and before he sent off the letter he crowded in a statement that Lord Hope was coming to visit him “Tomorrow.” DF’s letter (immediately below), the first part of which must have been written on the 14th, relays Sally’s report that she and her brother, whom she had been visiting, had returned “on Satterday night,” which would be July 12, and that Lord Hope was to be at Burlington to dine “this day,” that is, the 14th.

6For the brief surviving extract from this letter, see above, p. 276.

7Either Johnson’s letter to WF of June 20 or that of July 8, both of which relate to the proposed western colony; they are printed in Johnson Papers, xii, 107–8, 136.

8See above, p. 322. It is not clear whether the land in N.J. Edward Penington was inquiring about for Penn (mentioned in the next sentence) was the same land Dick was interested in or some wholly different tract.

9Several letters from Penington to BF had expressed the fear that Thomas Penn was taking advantage of young Springett and that he, Penington, would lose a substantial commission if the sale of Pennsbury Manor from one Penn to another were to go through.

1On June 26, 1766, two well-known Indian women were murdered near Moore’s Town, Burlington Co., by two men traveling to New York. The authorities quickly arrested one of the suspects in New Jersey and the other later in Philadelphia. Each accused the other of the murders, but both were convicted and hanged. “A few of the principal Indians of Jersey” accepted an invitation to witness the double execution, “and behaved with remarkable Sobriety.” Pa. Gaz., July 10, 17; Aug. 7, 1766.

2For BF’s report to the Pa. Assembly on the prospective actions by Parliament, see above, pp. 236–40. The resolutions actually adopted by the Commons committee on May 9 were printed in Pa. Gaz., July 10, 1766.

3See above, p. 325 n.

4Lieutenant Governor Francis Fauquier dissolved the Virginia House of Burgesses, June 1, 1765, after the adoption of the Resolves opposing the Stamp Act, and by a series of prorogations prevented the new House from meeting and organizing until Nov. 1, 1766. This action and the exchanges that then took place are discussed in Gipson, British Empire, xi, 7–9.

5When the new House of Representatives of Massachusetts met at the end of May, it elected James Otis speaker and Samuel Adams clerk. Governor Bernard rejected Otis, as he had a right to do, but the House substituted Thomas Cushing, a strong supporter of the Otis faction. In the annual election of the Provincial Council, the House of Representatives turned out the governor’s principal allies, including Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson, Secretary Andrew Oliver (the erstwhile stamp distributor), his brother Judge Peter Oliver, and Attorney General Edmund Trowbridge, replacing them with much more radical leaders. Reporting on these actions, John Adams commented in his diary: “What a Change! . . . Thus the Triumph of Otis and his Party are compleat.” L.H. Butterfield et al., eds., Diary and Autobiography of John Adams (Cambridge, 1961), i, 313.

6The editors have found nothing in the records to explain the contents of this paragraph in so far as they may relate to the session of the Assembly that convened on June 19. If the reference is to events of the previous year, WF’s boast of success seems a little late.

7This sentence is crowded in at the end of the paragraph and was obviously added after the rest of the letter was completed. Charles Hope (1740–1767), as the son and heir of the 2d Earl of Hopetoun, had the courtesy title of Lord Hope. Because of ill health he undertook a long sea voyage, visiting several of the American colonies. He returned to England in the spring of 1767 but died at Portsmouth “after a tedious illness” a few days after landing. London Chron., June 6–9, 1767.

8See the document immediately above.

9Josiah Franklin Davenport (C.13.4), BF’s nephew, mentioned often in these volumes. BF apparently had less confidence in his business capacity than did WF, and steadfastly declined to appoint him to any place in the postal service (see BF’s draft letter to Davenport, Feb. 14, 1773, Lib. Cong.). In any case, BF had previously agreed with John Foxcroft that the Philadelphia postmastership should go to the latter’s brother, Thomas Foxcroft, when it next became vacant.

1William and Cortlandt Skinner were sons of the Rev. William Skinner of Perth Amboy. Cortlandt studied law, rose to become attorney general of N.J., entered the Assembly in 1761, and was elected speaker upon Robert Ogden’s resignation in 1765. William entered the provincial military service during the Seven Years’ War, transferred to the British Army in 1757, and served with distinction in European campaigns. He was in England when WF wrote this letter. He never received any appointment as a provincial governor. 1 N.J. Arch., ix, 8–9, 14–15, 277–9, 449–50 n, 548.

2The interlocking connections between these and some other Anglo-American families of considerable prominence are perhaps too complicated to justify exposition here.

3Charles Pinfold (c.1717–1788) had been governor of Barbados since 1756. He left the island for England May 27, 1766, and the next governor, William Spry, judge of the Admiralty Court at Halifax, was commissioned in August 1767. Annual Report, Amer. Hist. Assn., 1911, i, 410, 415. If WF was hoping that he might succeed Pinfold, it was probably because the Barbados governor’s salary and perquisites were certainly more than double those of the New Jersey governor.

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