Benjamin Franklin Papers

Pennsylvania Assembly: Address to William Denny, 23 August 1756

Pennsylvania Assembly: Address to William Denny7

Printed in Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives, 1755–1756 (Philadelphia, 1756), p. 130.

The Assembly minutes, August 19, record: “The House being informed, that the Gentleman who is appointed to succeed our present Governor, is now on the Road hither from New-York, and will be in Town some Time To-morrow, Adjourned to Five a Clock To-morrow Afternoon.”8 In the rush to honor Denny and perhaps to be the first to reach his ear, Richard Peters went to New York on August 16, Israel Pemberton and other Quakers met him in Princeton on the 19th, more citizens greeted him in Trenton, and Morris and others escorted him from Bristol on the 20th. Jacob Duché’s Philadelphia County Regiment mustered at the county line, the independent association company greeted him at Frankford, and Franklin’s City Regiment was “Drawn up in Second Street, near the Church.” A celebration followed which brought “Joy [to] the Countenances of People of all Denominations.” Festivities continued with a “genteel” entertainment given by the City Corporation and the next day “a handsome Dinner was provided by the Assembly at the State-House.”9 Before adjourning for its dinner, the Assembly appointed BF and others to draft an address of welcome, approved on the 23rd, to which Denny responded promptly thanking the Assembly for its “very affectionate Address,” and expressing his desire to promote the security and happiness of the people.1

[August 23, 1756]

To the Honourable William Denny, Esq; Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Pennsylvania, and of the Counties of New-Castle, Kent, and Sussex, on Delaware,

The Address of the Representatives of the Freemen of the said Province of Pennsylvania, in General Assembly met.

May it please the Governor,

We are sincerely thankful to Almighty God, that he has been pleased to protect the Governor thro’ the Dangers of the Sea, and bring him in Safety to his Government. We heartily congratulate him on his Accession; and hope, from the excellent Character we have received of him, his Administration will be as happy for the Province, as we shall endeavour to make it easy and comfortable to himself.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7William Denny (1709–1765), A.B., Oxford, 1730; captain in the British Army; early member of the Society of Dilettanti. He was made a colonel for North America only and appointed governor of Pennsylvania in May 1756, recommended by the Duke of Cumberland as a good man for a wartime governor. His polite attempt to submerge party disputes in a concentration on the war effort, laudable enough in itself, left the fatuous Denny isolated and despised. Richard Peters found him “a triffler, weak of body, peevish and averse to business”; his predecessor, Morris, reported that his object “seems to be money”; a prominent Quaker moaned “he is a wavering, weak, unstable gentleman, and under his administration, Lord have mercy upon us”; and the Indians at one time wondered whether he was man or woman. Although BF in the Council’s presence called him a Bashaw, Denny seems to have been complaisant enough for BF to recall later that “Between us personally no Enmity arose.” By the end of his administration he had disgusted everyone, having among other things beaten and virtually imprisoned his wife, sold flags of truce to smugglers, and disobeyed his instructions in exchange for salary payments from the Assembly. Recalled in 1759, he spent the rest of his life in ease and idleness. See especially, Nicholas B. Wainwright, “Governor William Denny in Pennsylvania,” PMHB, LXXXI (1957),170–98; and also ibid., XLIV (1920), 97–106; Pargellis, Military Affairs, pp. 368–70; Par. Text edit., p. 390; I Pa. Arch., III, 112.

8Votes, 1755–56, p. 128.

9Pa. Gaz., Aug. 26, 1756; and see above IV, 169 n; Richard Peters to Thomas Penn, Aug. 17 and Sept. 4, 1756, Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa.

1Votes, 1755–56, pp. 129–30.

Index Entries