Benjamin Franklin Papers

On Governor Belcher’s Speech, 24 September 1730

On Governor Belcher’s Speech6

Printed in The Pennsylvania Gazette, September 24, 1730.

In our last we gave our Readers the most material Paragraphs of Governor Belcher’s Speech to the Assembly of his other Government of New-Hampshire; and in our next shall insert his Speech at large to the Assembly of the Massachusetts, which we have by this Post. It may suffice at present to observe from it, that he has brought with him those very Instructions that occasion’d the Difference between Governor Burnet and that People,7 which were what he went home commission’d as Agent for the Country, to get withdrawn, as an intolerable Grievance. But by being at Court, it seems, he has had the advantage of seeing Things in another Light, and those Instructions do now appear to him highly consistent with the Privileges and Interest of the People, which before, as a Patriot, he had very different Notions of.8

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6Jonathan Belcher (1682–1757), wealthy merchant, member of the Massachusetts Council, represented the Assembly in England in its salary controversy with Governor Burnet in 1728. While Belcher was still in London Burnet died, and Belcher got the appointment as governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Jan. 8, 1730. His instructions about salary were even more stringent than Burnet’s, but he now defended the executive’s prerogative. The Assembly remained obdurate and again the issue was joined. Dismissed in 1741, he obtained the governorship of New Jersey, 1746. In 1751 he sought BF’s advice about electrical treatment for his palsy. Leonard W. Labaree, Royal Government in America (New Haven, 1930), pp. 363–5; DAB.

7See above, p. 159.

8BF continued his discussion of Belcher’s controversy with the Massachusetts Assembly in the Pa. Gaz., July 24, 1732. This account consists of quotations and abstracts from the House’s reply of June 30 to the governor’s message of June 1. BF’s draft of the abstracts is in Hist. Soc. Pa.

BF’s concern over the controversy is mentioned in a rhymed description of a Junto meeting, composed by Nicholas Scull (1687–1761), a member, probably in the spring of 1731:

Bargos [Franklin] whos birth is by fair Boston claimd

And Justly is for a great Genius fam’d

Proceeded next to sing New Englands fate

Her case how Des’prate and her foes how great

How B——r crost the seas to plead her cause

Secure her freedom and support her laws

How like a Rock unmovd the Hero stod

Exposd to danger for his countrys good

And as the only means for her Reliefe

Wisely Procurd himself to be her Cheife

How cloth’d with Power how he Perceives his faults

Her Power and Granduer gives us strength of thought

He tells New England now, her cause is wrong

Thus with her sovreign to contend so long

Perswades her sons two thousand pound is just

The King Commands it and obey they must

Yet they maintain what their forefathers held

Nor to their monarch will their freedom yeild.

N[icholas] B. W[ainwright], “Nicholas Scull’s ‘Junto’ Verses,” PMHB, LXXIII (1949), 82–4.

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