Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Augustus Gottlieb Spangenberg, 1 March 1756

To Augustus Gottlieb Spangenberg

ALS: Archives of the Moravian Church, Bethlehem

Philada. March 1. 1756

Reverend Sir

As the Forts are built, and the Ranging Companies in Motion beyond the Mountains, to cover the Inner Parts of the Country, I think the People may now very safely stay at their Places. The Government is at a great Expence to afford them this Defence; If they have no regard to it, but run away in so shameful and cowardly a Manner every time an Indian or two appears in any Part of the Province, and abandon their Plantations, I believe the Government will not think it worth while to keep up those Guards merely to secure empty Houses and uncultivated Fields, but will demolish the Forts, withdraw the Companies from your Frontier, and send them to other Parts to defend a better and more manly People. Of this be pleased to acquaint them; and farther that the Commissioners desire no Allowance may be made of Provisions on Account of the Government to any Refugees at your Place after this time; for some of them, as long as they can live in Idleness with you, and be fed, will think little of returning to their Places, or of the Duty of caring and labouring for their own Livelihood.2

The £100 advanc’d your Brethren was only to prevent your being in Advance for us: It is to be accounted for when we settle, and what Provisions you have furnish’d to the Poor according to my Letter will be allowed.3 I am, with the greatest Respect, Reverend Sir, Your most obedient Servant

B Franklin

Mr. Spangenberg

Endorsed: Diaconat. Indianer Krieg. in Sp. weg der Flüchtlinge.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2See above, pp. 412–13, for Spangenberg’s letter eliciting this sharp response. Accounts of continuing Indian attacks in Northampton Co. appeared in nearly every issue of Pa. Gaz., and the refugees, many of whose homes and store houses had been burned, continued to pour into Bethlehem. The Moravians had to provide for them in one way or another, though they shared some of BF’s misgivings about the abuse of their charity. See Joseph M. Levering, A History of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1741–1892 (Bethlehem, 1903), pp. 332–43, for an account of the refugee problem sympathetic to the Moravians.

3See above, p. 379. On April 16, the Moravians were given £171 8s. ¾d. “for Maintenance of Refugee Inhabitants, and Indians.” Votes, 1755–56, p. 168. Presumably this amount was in addition to the £100 advanced earlier. Moravian records indicate that there were more than 500 refugees, white and Indian, in their settlements at the end of January 1756, and that the Brethren had borrowed over £700 to feed and clothe them. Levering, History of Bethlehem, pp. 334–8.

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