Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from Sir Edward Newenham, 25 November 1783

From Sir Edward Newenham

ALS: American Philosophical Society

25 Novr 1783—

Dear Sir—

You will see by the enclosed,1 what has been done in the Grand National Convention; The Variety of Sentiment & Contending Interests are Objects almost unsurmountable objections to any Plan; the Speeches are not fully enserted, but the Substance is—In my private opinion—all will end in a just & Equitable place Bill, which in a few sessions will prove a real reform—and to which there cannot be so many Objections—

I Still keep up the Idea of our entering into a Treaty Seperately & distinctly with the united States of North America, but I cannot do it without your Excellencys Assistance & Advice; I hope, therefore, (on the part of a Nation), who always Supported the Just Claims of the United States to be honoured with your Advice; I am anxious to unite both Countries in the bonds of friendship & Commerce; America never had a more Sincere or warmer advocate & friend than I & my friends here, were—when the Very mention of our Principles were deemed Treason—

Our Parliament is dayly sinking in the Estimation of the public; Prodigality & Profusion—Venality & its attendant consequences, direct its proceeding—the People will be Drove to Violent resolutions; Such Conduct cannot long be endured, it must—be resisted—from Vice to Vice they are dayly running, & every hour adds new distress to the People— I wish we were a thousand Leagues removed from a Selfish Wicked Ministry, whose sole View is the Slavery of the People & the Aggrandising of themselves—2

So much was their own friends ashamed of them, that the Prime [Serjeant] (who hourly expects to be made a Judge) left them on my motion for Supporting the City Petition— Leinsters Corrupted Duke, & Shannons profligacy gave way to truth, & their Squadrons joined us on that division— At 8 oClock, the house was Cleared & Kept Shut for two Days; Such violent Speeches never occurred in any Parliament; the People have been grosly insulted—3

I am obliged to make this a Short Note—but am desired to assure your Excellency & your Worthy Grandson of Lady Newenhams & my Constant wishes for your health & Prosperity; I entreat the honor of a few Lines from you—when convenient—

I have the Honor to be with Every sentiment of Respect & Esteem your Excellencys Most Obt & Humble st

Edwd Newenham

you will please, when read, to Send the papers to my much respected friend, the Marquiss Le Fayette—

Addressed: His Excellency Dr Franklin / Passy / Paris—

1Newenham probably enclosed one or more issues of the Dublin Evening Post, which the Grand National Convention had appointed on Nov. 14 to publish its proceedings: The History of the Proceedings and Debates of the Volunteer Delegates of Ireland, on the Subject of a Parliamentary Reform … (Dublin, 1784), p. 44.

2Three days earlier, Newenham had been in the minority when he opposed addressing the king to increase the salaries of the lord lieutenant and his secretary: The Parliamentary Register: or, History of the Proceedings and Debates of the House of Commons of Ireland … (17 vols., Dublin, 1784–1801), 11, 197–204.

3On Nov. 24, Travers Hartley, M.P. for Dublin City, introduced a petition on behalf of the Council of the Chamber of Commerce of Dublin, calling for more equitable commercial relations between Ireland and England. Several members objected that the House could accept petitions only from individuals, not from a “self-erected body” unauthorized by the government. Newenham protested that refusal to receive the petition would “absolutely dissolve the bonds of the governing and governed.” Prime Serjeant Thomas Kelly spoke in favor of receiving the petition and declared he would support the government “in every honourable measure, and in none but honourable measures.” This statement received loud applause from the gallery, which was thereupon cleared of visitors, and the House voted to ban all spectators. William Robert Fitzgerald, 2nd Duke of Leinster, and Richard Boyle, 2nd Earl of Shannon, were leading supporters of the Irish administration in Parliament: Parliamentary Register, 11, 205–10; Edith M. Johnston-Liik, History of the Irish Parliament, 1692–1800 … (6 vols., Belfast, 2002), III, 248–51; IV, 159–62, 374–5; V, 15.

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