Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Thomas and Richard Penn, 9 February 1758

From Thomas and Richard Penn

Letterbook copy: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

February 9th: 1758.


We acknowledge that your proposal, which we assented to, was not the first, or only one, you made; but those others, were such, as we thought very unreasonable for you to expect, or for us to come into, considering the Circumstances in which, the Affair stands, at present.6

We have not, on the present, or any former occasion, prohibited, or restrained, just and equitable Measures, for the valuation of Estates, being pursued; Our present Orders are not, in their Nature, restrictive, or prohibitory, but are permissive; You well know that, by our former Orders, we, on our parts, laboured and contended for Justice and Equality, as well, towards the Inhabitants, as ourselves; We are glad to hear from you, that the Assembly dislike their own former Bills, and are disposed to come into just measures; In doing whereof, they will not meet with opposition, but ready concurrence from Us.7 We are Your affectionate Friends

T: P:
R: P:

Benjn: Franklin Esqr.

Endorsed: I delivered, this Day, a Letter to Mr. Franklin, of which the above is a Copy.

J Aiskell.8

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6See above, pp. 366, 370, for earlier letters from the Penns on this controversy. BF may have answered their letter of February 2, in a communication not found, asking again for consideration of the “other Matters” he had mentioned on January 31. Apparently the Proprietors thought that on January 27 he had agreed on behalf of the Assembly to a renewal of the supply act of the previous year without change (see above, pp. 145–52) but was now making further demands. Lack of minutes or of BF’s own letters makes it impossible to tell whether the Proprietors misconstrued his meaning or whether there had in fact been such an agreement. In either case, by January 31 BF had decided either to explain the misunderstanding to them, or perhaps to seek even better terms than the mere renewal of the 1757 act. If he had received Isaac Norris’ letter of Nov. 24, 1757 (see above, p. 282), he may also have decided that Governor Denny could be brought to concede more than his instructions permitted. BF appears to have wanted new proprietary instructions permitting some changes in the method of assessing estates.

7See above, p. 370 n, for the Proprietors’ secret direction to Peters to facilitate a change in the method of assessing estates. On February 10 Thomas Penn commented to Peters: “what has passed between us and Mr. Franklin you will see by the Copys of Letters enclosed. Since the last we have not heard from him, but as he was not content with what he agreed we should at first do, wanting to gain his great point, I expect he has not done writing yet. It is some satisfaction to see that this just and equitable Tax is now allowed not just and equitable, and that when we agree to their Measures, they quarrel with their own proceedings.” Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa. Penn’s resolve to reject Assembly protests against his instructions to the governors had doubtless been strengthened by the solicitor general’s favorable opinion of them given on Jan. 13, 1758: “I am of Opinion that most of the Restrictions, layd upon the Governor, by the Instructions of the Proprietarys, are expedient, and even necessary for the Good of the Colony, and the Mother Country; and all of them are just, lawful, and agreeable to the Spirit of the Charter, granted by the Crown.” MS copy, Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa.

8Not identified.

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