Benjamin Franklin Papers

Philadelphia Common Council to James Hamilton and Reply, 25 November 1748

Philadelphia Common Council to James Hamilton and Reply

Printed in The Pennsylvania Gazette, December 1, 1748; also copy: MS Minutes, Philadelphia Common Council, The Free Library of Philadelphia.

Franklin was chosen a member of the Philadelphia Common Council, Oct. 4, 1748. Mayor Charles Willing proposed, Nov. 24, a congratulatory address to James Hamilton, newly appointed governor, upon his arrival in Pennsylvania; the Council agreed, and named Willing, William Allen, Benjamin Shoemaker, Thomas Hopkinson, and Franklin to draft the address. The committee laid the draft before the Council the next day; after some amendments, it was ordered engrossed and was presented to Hamilton.8

[November 25, 1748]

To the Honourable James Hamilton, Esq;9 Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Pennsylvania, and Counties of Newcastle, Kent and Sussex, on Delaware;

The humble Address of the Mayor and Commonalty of the City of Philadelphia, in Common Council assembled.

May it please Your Honour,

We, the Mayor and Commonalty, beg Leave to congratulate You, in the sincerest Manner,1 on Your happy return to Your Country, and Accession to the Government; Events that fill the Hearts of the People of all Ranks and Denominations with unfeigned Joy.

We cannot but esteem it a peculiar Happiness to have a Gentleman appointed our Governor, who is so perfectly acquainted with our publick Affairs, and whose real Regard for the Welfare of this Province, and Affection for its Inhabitants, are so well known to us.

From the long Acquaintance we have had with Your amiable private Character, and the Benevolence of Your Disposition; and from our Experience of Your Integrity and Ability in the Discharge of the several publick Offices You have heretofore sustained among us; we assure ourselves that this City and Province will be happy under Your Administration; and that we shall always have the highest reason to be thankful to our Proprietors for an Appointment so favourable to the People.

Signed by Order of the Board,

Charles Willing, Mayor


To which the Governor was pleased to make the following Answer.

I am extremely obliged to you for this early Mark of Respect; but more particularly so, for the favourable Opinion you are pleased to entertain of my private Character: And altho’, on the one Hand, I am conscious to myself how far short I fall of what your Partiality in Favour of a Countryman may have induced you to ascribe to me; yet, on the other, I am proud to say, that with regard to the sincere Affection I have for the Inhabitants of this City and Province, you have done me no more than Justice.

As I have lately had the Honour to be admitted to some Share of Confidence with your Proprietors, I can, with the greater Certainty, declare to you their real Regard for the People, and the great Satisfaction they take in the Welfare and Prosperity of this Province; and I am persuaded I cannot so effectually recommend myself to their future Favour, as by making use of the Powers they have been pleased to intrust me with, for the Benefit and Advantage of all those under my Government; which I beg you to assure yourselves it is my hearty Inclination to do.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Minutes of the Common Council ofPhiladelphia, 1704 to 1776 (Phila., 1847), pp. 506–8.

9James Hamilton (c. 1710–1783), son of Andrew Hamilton (see above, I, 333); educated in Philadelphia and England; succeeded his father as prothonotary of the Supreme Court, 1733; member of the Assembly, 1734–39; mayor of Philadelphia, 1745–46; provincial councilor, 1746. During a visit to England he was appointed governor and returned to Philadelphia, Nov. 23, 1748. His appointment was generally approved, but he resigned, 1754, after several years of frustrating conflict with the Assembly over defense, paper money, taxation of proprietary lands, and related issues. He served again as governor, 1759–63. A man of wealth and public spirit, he was trustee of the College and Academy and a patron of young Benjamin West. When the Philosophical and American Societies merged in 1769, Hamilton was president of the older body and was the unsuccessful candidate for the presidency of the newly constituted APS in opposition to BF. His sister Margaret was the wife of Chief Justice William Allen. DAB; Pa. Col. Recs., V, 362–3.

1“In the sincerest Manner” omitted from the copy in the MS Minutes of the Council.

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