Benjamin Franklin Papers

Memorial to the Earl of Loudoun on the State of the Forces of Pennsylvania, 22 July 1756

Memorial to the Earl of Loudoun on the State of the Forces of Pennsylvania8

AD: Huntington Library

New York, July 22. 56.

The Frontier of Pensilvania, from Delaware to the Maryland Line is now cover’d by about 15 Stockado’d Forts, garrison’d, some with 75 Men each, some with 50, and some intermediate Posts with smaller Parties.

Between 4 and 500 Men are gone up to Shamokin, with every Necessary for Building a strong large Fort there; and are now actually at work upon it.9

It is suppos’d that about 1500 Men are now in actual Service, raised by and in the Pay of the Province of Pensilvania.

They were inlisted for a Year, half of which is now expired with great Part of them.

They are inlisted in the Manner directed by the Act of Parliament for Punishing Mutiny and Desertion, and are under the Government of that Act, by Virtue of an Act of Assembly that brings over and extends that Act of Parliament to Pensilvania.1

Their Pay is 6 Dollars per Month, each private Man. They are cloth’d at their own Expence. The Pay is generally reckon’d too high.

Their Arms chiefly belong to the Province.

Few of the stockado’d Forts have any Cannon. Some have Swivels, some Wall Pieces, some Blunderbusses, some only Small Arms.

The £55,000 rais’d for supporting them is all spent; another Bill granting £40,000 more to the King’s Use is pass’d by the Assembly and sent up to the Governor, for his Assent: But it is said it will not receive the Assent, as it taxes the Proprietary Estate in common with the other Estates of the Province towards its Defence.2

If Money for their Support is not by some Means soon obtained; those Troops cannot be kept up, and the Forts must be destroyed, lest the Enemy take Possession of them.

Then the Frontier Settlements for many Miles will be abandoned.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8See above, p. 462, for another memorial BF drew up and presented for Lord Loudoun’s information. Writing to Shirley this same day, Morris commented on BF’s mission to Loudoun: “The Information I can give Lord Louden will in great measure be supplyd by Mr. F———, who waits at New York on purpose, and being connected with Pownal, will have all the credit he can desire. I know not what part Lord Louden may act, but to me it seems very impolitick to countenance, in any shape, a man that has in so remarkable a manner obstructed the Kings affairs, and gone to such lengths to embody the Germans here against the Crown, by making them believe that there was a fixed design to enslave and reduce them to a state of vasselage, worse than what they fled from in their own Country. The Post office, I believe, have given him to understand that his conduct is disapproved of, which in my mind was paying him too high a Compliment, and I suppose he and P——— are to contrive some way of reinstating him in their favour, and possibly the Earl may be drawn into the measure.” I Pa. Arch., II, 716. Morris’ draft letter to Loudoun, July 5, 1756, makes no reference to BF and the information he could offer. Ibid., pp. 691–2.

9See above, p. 444 n.

1See above, pp. 433–7.

2This bill without designation of the amount to be granted had been presented to the Assembly on June 1 by a committee including BF, but was not acted upon that session. Taken up again on June 29 (BF not present), the sum of £40,000 was agreed upon the next day, and the bill passed on July 3. Morris showed his contempt for it by leaving town without reading it. Votes, 1755–56, pp. 98, 107, 109, 114, 116. See above, pp. 256–66, for the dispute over taxes to raise money for defense.

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