Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Lachlin MacLeane, [November 1767]

To Lachlin MacLeane

Copy: American Philosophical Society

[November 17677]


Sir Wm. Johnson’s Letter of May 30, 1767 of which you have been so kind as to communicate an Extract to me, has no Relation to the propos’d Boundary Line between the English Colonies and the Indian Country. It is merely a Line of Division between the two Colonies of Pensilvania and Maryland, now running by Agreement of the two Proprietaries,8 and as it is to run East and West, and go across the Allegany Mountains thro’ Lands not yet purchas’d of the Indians, who are apt to be extreamly jealous and uneasy when they see Men with surveying Instruments in their Country, thinking they come to take away their Land, it was necessary to explain this Matter to them before hand, and obtain their Leave, letting them know that all the two Proprietors meant, was to mark out a Boundary, on the different Sides of which they might purchase from the Indians, without interfering with each other, when the Indians should be dispos’d to sell. I am, &c.


[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7BF almost certainly wrote this letter within a few days of receiving MacLeane’s letter of November 24, to which it is a reply.

8The Mason and Dixon Line. In June 1766 the line had been run as far west as the Allegheny Mountains, when further surveying was stopped by Indian objections. Following the agreement effected by Johnson, the rest of the line was run in the summer of 1767 as far as the Catawba Path at the second crossing of Dunkard Creek. PMHB, XXXVIII (1814), 415–16.

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