Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from William Hodgson, 18 April 1783

From William Hodgson

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London 18 April 1783

Dear sir

I take the liberty of inclosing you the Act for the Repeal of the prohibitory acts relative to America the Bill rec’d the Royal assent Yesterday,6 there is another act in some degree of forwardness for taking away the necessity of certain documents that American Ships were required to bring—7 I hope it will be all that at present is necessary to remove the Obstruction to mutual Intercourse betwixt the two Countries—it is said with some degree of Confidence that Mr Hartley is shortly to pay you a Visit to settle a Commercial Treaty, I hope it will be effected to mutual satisfaction— I am indebted to you upon Ballance of the Prisoners Acct something considerable about I believe £140— I have not Time to night to send you particulars, but it is at your Command whenever you please to call for it—8 I hope you will forward the Act to America the first Vessell it may have a Tendency to remove Difficulties I am very sincerely Dr sr your most Obliged Friend & Hble Servt

William Hodgson

His Excellency B. Franklin Esqr

Addressed: To / His Excellency / Benj: Franklin Esqr / Passy / Grand

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6For the April 17 act repealing the Prohibitory Act, see Journals of the House of Commons (51 vols., reprint, London, 1803), XXXIX, 387. Copies retained by the American commissioners are at the Mass. Hist. Soc. and Library of Congress. BF instructed WTF to send a copy to Robert R. Livingston on April 26, the day he accompanied the newly-arrived David Hartley to Versailles; WTF’s brief cover letter, also informing Livingston of Hartley’s arrival, is at the National Archives. For background on the repeal, proposed by Fox on April 9, see the annotation of Laurens to BF, April 4.

7On April 11 the House of Commons amended the bill abolishing certificates for American ships at the suggestion of William Eden, an opponent of liberal trade regulations, who worried about opening the carrying trade of the British West Indies to the United States. The documents were described in the bill as “any Manifest, Certificate, or other Document being required for any Ships belonging to the United States of America.” Eden’s amendment vested the king in Council with the authority to regulate all matters of British-American trade relations until Dec. 20. It passed in the House of Commons on April 25 and in the House of Lords two weeks later; the king gave his assent on May 12: Journals of the House of Commons, XXXXX, 387, 394, 409, 414, 415; Giunta, Emerging Nation, II, 92.

8Hodgson did not submit his account (XXXVII, 31n) until Oct. 24; it showed a balance of £49 7 s. 6 p. owed to BF.

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