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To Benjamin Franklin from Sir Edward Newenham, 28 October 1783

From Sir Edward Newenham

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Dublin 28 octr: 1783

Dear Sir

Your Excellency will see by the Enclosed how delicately I mentioned the affair of the treaty;1 the Very post that brought me your Letter2 brought me several from America; I MOST Earnestly entreat you will inform me by RETURN OF THE POST whether Ireland is mentiond, & if it is, at what Period; it is incumbent on me, to be precise in that point, as I have pledged myself to the House, to state, from Time to Time, the progress of that Treaty—the Public Expectations are high, & this City is in a state of the Greatest anxiety—do, my Dear & much respected friend, assist my Country as I & my friends assisted Virtue when oppressed by the hand of Power—all in this affair depends on your Excellency— Parliament seems determined to Support me in any motion, that may appear requisite; my Object is the Honor of Ireland, & that the states of North America & Ireland may Ever be friends to Each other— I am in the Strictest Sence of the word, a Citizen of the world— I adore Virtue where ever I find it—whether on this or the other side of the Atlantic—

By the Secretarys reply, he seems to think that the Treaty will not Speedily be concluded;3 You have now the public Debates of the Irish Parliament to warrant your Excellency in demanding of M Hartly whether Ireland is to be included by Name or Not—the British Ministry will find various ways of evading this buisiness, if they Can— Your Excellency will see, that in pursuance of my agitating the Question, Mr: Forster one of the Ministry, moved for a Bill to facilitate the Commercial interscourse between Ireland & America,4 I wish I had a Copy of the British treaty, as far as it is gone, that I might take Care to have Matters rightly Settled on the discussing of Mr: Forsters Bill—

The Protecting Duties as taken up by Mr Gardiner5 will occasion much contest, we call them Protecting Duties, Government stiles them prohibitory Duties, & therefore will Support the English Woollen & silken Trade—and the English Breweries—

I Know not how to apologize for this trouble; it is in your own breast I claim my pardon.—

Lady Newenham, still anxious for the Bust, desires her best & Sincerest respects to your Excellency & your Grandson—

I have the Honor, to be, with the most perfect respect & Esteem your Excellencys Most Obt: & Most Humble sert

Edward Newenham

Mr Flood & Mr Grattan have had a most Violent Altercation—it is imagined they cannot part untill one falls;6 I shall send the result next post—they are not half full in the present publication—

Addressed: His Excellency B: Franklin / Minister Plenipotentiary / from the United States / Passy

1Newenham most likely enclosed a copy of that day’s Dublin Evening Post, which published a summary of the Oct. 27 debates in the Irish House of Commons, including a full account of Newenham’s speech on the inclusion of Ireland in a commercial treaty between Great Britain and the United States.

2Of Oct. 2, above.

3Thomas Pelham (ODNB) was chief secretary of the Irish administration (Dublin Castle). His response to Newenham’s address, briefly summarized in the Dublin Evening Post, cast doubt on Newenham’s optimistic belief that the treaty was close to being concluded. Pelham promised, however, to “inform his Majesty’s ministers that a doubt had arisen that the interests of Ireland would not be attended to, and urge them to demonstrate the contrary, which they were well inclined to do”: The Parliamentary Register: or, History of the Proceedings and Debates of the House of Commons of Ireland … (17 vols., Dublin, 1784–1801), 11, 28–9.

4John Foster (ODNB), M.P. for County Louth, had acted as the chancellor of the Irish exchequer since 1777 even though he did not officially obtain that position until 1784. After Newenham’s address he requested and received permission to prepare the bill mentioned here: A. P. W. Malcolmson, John Foster: the Politics of the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy (Oxford and New York, 1978), pp. 43–9; Parliamentary Register, 11, 29; The Journals of the House of Commons of the Kingdom of Ireland … (31 vols., Dublin, 1782–94), XXI, 115.

5The popularity of protective tariffs, such as those proposed by Luke Gardiner, M.P. for County Dublin (ODNB), induced Newenham to support them, even though he remained unconvinced that they would alleviate the high unemployment in the Dublin textile trade: James Kelly, Sir Edward Newenham MP, 1734–1814 … (Dublin, 2004), p. 200.

6The rivalry between prominent reformers Henry Flood and Henry Grattan (ODNB) came to a head in the Irish House of Commons on Oct. 28, Flood’s second day as an M.P. During a debate on financial policy, Grattan called Flood an apostate who had supported sending “4000 men to butcher our brethren in America.” Flood responded by challenging Grattan to a duel and denouncing him as a “mendicant patriot who was bought by my country for a sum of money, and then sold my country for prompt payment.” In turn, Grattan charged that Flood’s career so far had consisted of an “intemperate,” a “corrupt,” and now a “seditious” stage. A duel on Oct. 30 was prevented only when the police detained Flood and Grattan on their way to the meeting ground: Parliamentary Register, 11, 39–43; James Kelly, Henry Flood: Patriots and Politics in Eighteenth-Century England (Dublin, 1998), pp. 349–53.

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