Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Joseph Galloway, 17 February 1758

To Joseph Galloway

ALS: Yale University Library

London, Feb. 17. 1758

Dear Sir,

I received your Favour of December 5th. by Mr. Hunt;9 but the Papers refer’d to are not yet come to hand, being in his Chest that is still at Bristol.

The Affair of obtaining a Permission to export Grain, &c. from the Colonies to the European neutral Ports, meets with Difficulty while the Parliament have the Regulating the Corn Market in England under Consideration.1 But if this Vessel does not leave Portsmouth before the End of this Month, I hope to write you something more certain on that head.2

My Patience with the Proprietors is almost tho’ not quite spent. They continue to profess a sincere Desire of settling everything with the Assembly amicably on reasonable Terms, but that they may act safely they would have the Attorney and Solicitor General’s Opinion on some Points that relate to the Prerogative of the Crown; this Opinion they say they press for with all Earnestness, but have not yet been able to obtain; and the principal Men among your Friends here, who have Influence at Court, and whose Assistance I am advis’d to secure, will have me to believe the Proprietors are sincere, and that the Difficulties alledged by them of obtaining that Opinion are real and not affected; so I am oblig’d to wait from time to time, or take upon myself the Blame of Rashness, if I should come to open War with People suppos’d to be so well-disposed, who, it will be said, might have been brought to very reasonable Terms by an Agent of more Temper. I think, however, that Matters will not continue in this Situation much longer.3 The Publication of the Defence of the Province, mention’d in mine of Sept. 2.4 will probably be one of the first Acts of Hostility on our Side, as being necessary to prepare the Minds of the Publick; in which the Proprietors will be gibbeted up as they deserve, to rot and stink in the Nostrils of Posterity.

As the extraordinary Lower County Speech and Address has been published here, where never appeared before any Proceedings of that Government, it is plainly done by the Proprietary Tools to continue the Prejudices against the Province. Billy will therefore get the Remarks on it, now come to hand, printed also, and in the same Paper.5

A great Force is now going to America, where, it is said, very vigorous Measures are to be pursu’d this ensuing Campaign. If it should prove such another as the last, the Nation would be quite dispirited. It knows and feels itself so universally corrupt and rotten from Head to Foot, that is has little Confidence in any publick Men or publick Measures; and the Want of that Confidence turns, thro’ Disunion, all their Strength into Weakness. Mr. Pitt’s Abilities, and hitherto steady and disinterested Conduct, indeed seems at present their principal Foundation of Hope. They have reason therefore to pray for some Success this Year to strengthen his Hands and his Interests, as well as for his Life or Health; for if he should fall through, it is thought by many that his Place could scarcely be supplied, and that everything would go into Confusion. His universal Character of Integrity is what gave him his present Power, rather than the Favour of the King which he had not, or Party Interest which was little more than popular Esteem and Opinion. Men of Abilities were in the Ministry before, but one of that kind seem’d to be wanting for a Center of Union, who was, or at least was generally believ’d to be, an HONEST Man. Measures proposed by a Man of Abilities without Honesty, are always suspected, and he becomes weak thro’ the Diffidence of those that should concur with and help him; but the Man of moderate Talents who is believ’d to mean well, and to act uprightly for the common Good, has everyone’s ready Assistance, and thereby is able to do more than the other of superior Parts: But when Ability and Integrity meet in the same Person, his Power of doing Good must be greater, as he can himself plan right Measures, will receive all necessary Advice, can distinguish what is good, and can have all the necessary Assistance in the Execution. It is thought, however, by some, that Mr. Pitt fail’d of the last Particular at Rochfort;6 for that Envy, and an Apprehension lest Success in that Attempt might establish his Power, influenc’d the Inaction now so much complain’d of. But as he seems more confirm’d in his Station, it is hop’d the Commanders for the ensuing Year, will be more solicitous of recommending themselves to his Favour.7 They cannot indeed wish for a finer Opportunity of recommending themselves to the publick Favour, and gaining infinite Applause; for a long Series of ill Success has created such an Appetite for good News, that a small Victory obtain’d would be magnify’d to a great one, and the Man who procures us a Bonfire and a Holiday, would be almost ador’d as a Hero.

The Indian Treaty under the Great Seal,8 Mr. Hunt thinks is also in his Chest; it is not, however, yet come to hand. But Mr. Thomson’s Piece on the Causes of the Indians Uneasiness he has just receiv’d, and I am to have a Sight of it.9 Their Complaints are now in the Hands of the Ministry,1 but when they will have Leisure to consider them, God only knows. For tho’ Securing the Affections of the Indians, by doing them Justice, be a Matter of great Consequence, they have other Affairs at present on their Hands that seem to them of more immediate Importance.2

Billy writes, and will send you some Pamphlets. I am, my dear Friend, with great Esteem, Yours affectionately

B Franklin

Jos. Galloway Esqr.

Endorsed: Benja. Franklin’s Letter Feby. 17. 1758.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Galloway’s letter has not been found. John Hunt (1712–1778), was a London Quaker merchant who had been in Pennsylvania advising the Friends and was now returning to lay Quaker proposals on Indian affairs before British ministers. Amelia M. Gummere, ed., The Journal and Essays of John Woolman (N.Y., 1922), p. 512.

1The Board of Trade had ordered, Oct. 9, 1756, that provisions from the North American colonies be sent to other British possessions only. Directed principally against exports to Dutch islands in the West Indies which were immediately reshipped to French possessions, the embargo was a great blow to Philadelphia merchants and stimulated a lively illegal trade in the city. They particularly wanted to re-open trade with Portugal and the Wine Islands, which, they asserted, would furnish a market for at least one-third of Pennsylvania’s surplus, and would in no way benefit France. Pa. Col. Recs., VII, 386–7; Victor L. Johnson, “Fair Traders and Smugglers in Philadelphia, 1754–1763,” PMHB, LXXXIII (1959), 141–5. Galloway wrote approvingly, June 15, 1758, of BF’s attention to this matter, which, however, was not adjusted as the Philadelphia merchants wished.

2BF’s letter was probably carried by one of the ships that left Spithead under convoy on March 11 and reached Philadelphia in mid-May. Pa. Gaz., May 18, 1758.

3See the preceding document for BF’s latest negotiations with the Proprietors.

4BF probably meant December 2, not September, which seems too early a date for plans about Richard Jackson’s An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania, finally published under BF’s guidance in June 1759.

5See above, p. 282, for the Delaware address and the reply to it. The reply apparently was not printed in London Chron.

6Pitt organized an amphibious expedition against Rochefort near the mouth of the Charente River, Bay of Biscay, for the summer of 1757. Owing to the contractors’ mismanagement the ships did not reach their destination until nearly the end of September and after one minor success the expedition withdrew, largely on the score of the lateness of the season. Gipson, British Empire, VII, 122–3.

7William Strahan wrote of a different reason for Americans to applaud Pitt: “The defence of our Colonies in America is so much at heart with Mr. Pitt, that those who are not sufficiently sensible of their Importance say he is America mad.” To David Hall, Feb. 22, 1758, APS; printed with slight alteration in Pa. Gaz., June 15, 1758.

8Of July–August 1757; see above, p. 264 n.

9Though this suggests John Hunt cooperated with BF, in fact his activities undercut BF’s agency. Hunt and his companion, Christopher Wilson, left Philadelphia carrying Charles Thomson’s An Enquiry into the Causes of the Alienation of the Delaware and Shawanese Indians, and under admonitions reflected in Israel Pemberton’s comment to Dr. John Fothergill, Jan. 6, 1758: “I desire B Franklin may soon see [An Enquiry … and supporting documents], but hope neither he nor his Son will make any Public use of them: but what thou and R. Partridge and J. Hunt” and other Friends approve. Hunt and Wilson reached London on January 21, and on the 26th conferred amicably with the Penns for three hours. They told the Proprietors that Richard Peters and others had sent misleading reports about leading Pennsylvania Quakers, who in fact were friends of the Penn family and interests. The Penns promptly agreed to seek an accord with the Quakers on Indian policy. Two days later Hunt and Wilson talked to Lord Granville who was also receptive to their proposals to settle disputes with the Indians. Hunt and Dr. Fothergill drew a plan for regulating the Indian trade according to Quaker views, which they gave to Granville who in turn agreed to show it to the King. Only Pitt’s serious illness prevented Granville from bringing the emissaries and their plan before him immediately. On February 18, Hunt and another Quaker, Richard How, talked again with Granville. Dr. Fothergill was “the principal person on whom [Hunt] depend[ed] for Assistance.” Hunt sent his only copy of Thomson’s Enquiry to Granville on February 20, and talked to him about it on the 25th, “after which we intend to send [the Enquiry] to B. Franklin,” who, Hunt assured Pemberton, would not be allowed to make any public use of it without Quaker consent. BF apparently had not yet seen the Enquiry on May 26, 1758, when Hunt wrote James Pemberton that it was “in the hands of some of our great Men who appear to be much pleas’d with it.” At the same time London Quakers depreciated BF’s activity: Thomas Crosby wrote James Pemberton on Feb. 10, 1758, that BF “has [not] done much as yet.” All the above letters in the Pemberton Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa. These comments, set beside Hunt’s failure to consult BF about his conferences with the Penns and Granville, make it apparent that the Quakers hoped to persuade British ministers on their own of the correctness of their Indian policy. They deliberately kept BF in the dark about their plans lest he somehow receive credit the Quakers very clearly wanted reserved for themselves as a religious society. See above, p. 173, for earlier Quaker coolness toward BF’s agency.

1Complaints about Indian affairs in Pennsylvania had been before the Board of Trade for over a year. Records of the Easton Treaty of 1757, laid before it on Dec. 16, 1757, contained complaints by the Indians of unfair treatment by proprietary agents. Journal of the Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, 1754–1758 (London, 1933), pp. 277–8, 346, 353, 357. BF, however, did not present a formal petition on behalf of Teedyuscung until Feb. 2, 1759.

2The Quakers reported, on the other hand, that the attention of the ministers was fixed on Indian affairs. Christopher Wilson to Rachel Pemberton, Feb. 7, 1758; Pemberton Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa.

Index Entries