Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Thomas Pownall, [9 September 1756]

To Thomas Pownall

Extract: Huntington Library; Public Record Office, London3

[September 9, 1756]

The circular Letter You show’d me the Draft of, explaining the Particulars of what Assistance was required and expected from the Colonies to the King’s Forces, has not been communicated to the Assembly;4 Nevertheless, I have now the Pleasure to tell You, that an Act yesterday passed the House, and I believe will receive the Governor’s Assent,5 in which I procured the following Paragraph to be inserted, Viz. “And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That Ten Thousand Pounds, Part of the Sixty Thousand Pounds hereby given and granted to the King’s Use, be and is hereby appropriated towards a General Fund for the common service and Defence of the Colonies, and subject to the Orders of the Rt. Honourable John Earl of Loudoun, Commander in Chief of all his Majesty’s Forces in North America, to be disposed of and paid in such Manner as he shall think fit to direct for the said service.”6

I hope the Example will be follow’d by the other Colonies.

The Clothing sent last Year from this Government was 1339 warm Waistcoats, 1000 Pair mill’d stockings, and 332 Pair knit Mittens. They were intended to be given to such of the Troops as were to garrison the Forts on that cold Frontier, for their Comfort in the Winter.7 I am told that Major Mathews,8 who received the Quantity You mention, never distributed them to the Men. Pray enquire into the Truth of that. I write to Mr. Stephenson9 to deliver the Remainder to Lord Loudoun’s Order.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3The first of these extracted copies is in the papers of Lord Loudoun. He sent copies, omitting the last paragraph, to William Pitt, April 25, 1757 (P.R.O., C.O. 5:48, fos. 273, 315, 318), and to the Duke of Cumberland, Pargellis, Military Affairs, p. 474. The second extract is the one sent to Pitt.

4On September 3, the Assembly asked if “the late Governor” had not received some letters “from Lord Loudoun, expressing his Expectations from this Province at the present Juncture.” Denny immediately forwarded copies of four letters from other officials and a formal note from Loudoun, July 23, 1756, announcing his arrival in New York, but none of them explained any “Particulars” expected by Loudoun. Votes, 1755–56, pp. 140–1; I Pa. Arch., II, 718–19. The circular letter drafted for Loudoun’s signature and shown to BF in New York in late July apparently never was sent; the only circular letters appearing in the records of the various colonies are the note of July 23, and the letter of August 20 mentioned above, p. 496, neither of which had detailed Loudoun’s “Expectations.” The Assembly asked about them probably because it knew that letters from Loudoun and from England read in Council at Easton, July 30, 1756, had not been transmitted to the House. These letters were among those Denny now sent to the Assembly. I Pa. Arch., II, 729. The draft BF had seen in New York of a letter containing “Particulars” may have been incorporated into Loudoun’s letter to Denny of Sept. 22, 1756, which did explain his expectations in detail. Pa. Col. Recs., VII, 269–71.

5Following its renewed consideration of an appropriation bill and its request for a copy of the governor’s instructions regarding such measures which was promptly sent to it (above, p. 496, and Votes, 1755–56, p. 135), the Assembly asked Denny if he would disregard the troublesome instructions that had delayed or blocked so many earlier money bills. Denny responded politely that he could not in honor disobey the instructions, whereupon the House resumed its action on the bill and after making “sundry Alterations” on the 7th, passed it the next day. Ibid., pp. 139–43. Denny did not give his assent. See the next group of documents.

6This paragraph does not appear in the bill as finally enacted into law, and it varies in unimportant details from the version printed in Votes, 1755–56, p. 143. BF’s success in gaining the Assembly’s approval of this provision probably fulfilled a promise he had made to Loudoun and Pownall in New York. See above, p. 488. In a circular letter, March 13, 1756, which Morris sent to the Assembly June 29, the day after its arrival, Secretary of State Henry Fox had asked for contributions to just such a general fund as this clause in the draft bill contemplated. Pa. Col. Recs., VII, 179–80; Votes, 1755–56, p. 106.

7See above, p. 391, for this clothing delivered to James Stevenson of Albany.

8Probably Major Edmond Mathews, at this time relieved of his rank and manhandled by a mob in Albany for alleged commissary irregularities. R. E. Day, comp., Calendar of the Sir William Johnson Manuscripts in the New York State Library (Albany, 1909), p. 624; The Papers of Sir William Johnson, II (Albany, 1922), 493, 530.

9Not found.

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