Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Isaac Norris, 21 November 1758

From Isaac Norris

Letterbook copy: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Pensylva Novr. 21st. 1758

Dear Friend [BF]7

It is easy to perceive the Disposition of the People by the last Election under the Burthen of their heavy Taxes and several severe Losses upon particulars from the Conduct of some of the Military Gentlemen towards such as have supplied Our Western Army with Carriages,8 they are yet willing to bear these and every Thing else in their Power in hopes of preserving their Priviledges as Englishmen.

The Art and every other Means used towards the Electors on One Side; The perfect Indifference in those who are chosen, and indeed the Difficulty of getting them to serve on the other, shew, that the Attack upon what the People apprehend their Just Rights, is carried to great Lengths and without the political Disguises necessary on these Occasions. Are not then Our Rulers egregious Bunglers here who manage this Affair with such Ill Success, and so likely to continue, during their weak Administration. And I heartily wish them no better on that Side of the Water notwithstanding any Inclination to infringe the Rights of their Countrymen in America.

We are now daily expecting to hear the Event of our Western Army who Left Loyalhannen9 about ten days ago in order to attack Fort du Quesne; This Expedition has cost the Crown a surprizing Sum of Mony and the Colonies not Less in proportion to their Abilities and I wish the Success may in some Manner answer the Expence of which I have no sanguine Expectations.1 The House is now sitting upon a Call from the Governor in pursuance of a Letter from General Forbes requesting to know what this Province will do towards supporting twelve Hundred Men to garrison the Forts and Entrenchments the Army has made in their Advances towards the Ohio; but I shall refer to the Answer a Committee are now preparing by order of the House which I hope will be finished Time enough to go by this Conveyance2 as well as the Minutes of the last Indian Treaty at Easton3 all which we intend to Authenticate to enable you to act according to the Situation of Affairs during the sitting of the Parliament either before the Parliament or wherever the Application is to be made on Account of the Province.

Several Members of the House were with me fearing we might be deficient in the Necessary Supplies of Mony but as this Sitting of the House is like to be Short and I have already wrote on this Head, I hope you will be free either with my Self or the Committee on this necessary Article, in the Mean time I shall inclose an Order for two Hundred Pounds Sterling to be paid into your Hands which use freely if necessary ’till we can learn the Situation of Our Finances Here and of the Mony wanted there.4 As for Our other Agents I have procured an Order from the Last Assembly for their Salary &c. which will come within our next Supply Bill at our next Sitting.5 I am your Assured Friend


Endorsed: BF recd [?] ackgd 18 Jan 1759.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Brackets in the original.

8According to General John Forbes, commander of the expedition against Fort Duquesne, “several Waggoners” had been “abused,” presumably for tardiness and carrying light loads. Incidents may also have arisen from an act of the Pa. Assembly, Sept. 20, 1758 (Statutes at Large, Pa., V, 372–4), which offered large inducements for carrying supplies to Raystown. The teamsters who responded would not drive their teams west of Raystown, and Forbes resorted to impressment to get his expedition moving. Forbes to Denny, Sept. 9; to Abercromby, Oct. 8; to Bouquet, Oct. 10, 1758, in Alfred P. James, ed., Writings of General John Forbes (Menasha, Wis., 1938), pp. 207, 225, 228.

9Loyalhanna, the site of Fort Ligonier, was an Indian town forty miles east of Fort Duquesne.

1On Nov. 24, 1758, the French demolished Fort Duquesne and departed; Forbes’s troops occupied its ruins the next day.

2Governor Denny received Forbes’s letter of Oct. 22, 1758, on November 6 and summoned the Assembly to meet on November 15. On the 22d the House adopted a committee report which evaded Forbes’s request by postponing the consideration of “the raising of Supplies” until its next meeting. On December 6, the Assembly adjourned until February 5. Votes, 1758–59, pp. 5, 10–11, 16. BF seems not to have received a copy of the committee report; see below, p. 236.

3Over 500 Indians, including representatives from all the Six Nations, attended the conference at Easton, Oct. 7–26, 1758. Foremost among their complaints was the Albany Purchase of 1754, by which the proprietary agents had acquired title to all the lands in Pa. west of the Alleghenies; see above, V, 349–50 n and (map) p. 225. On October 20 Denny, in the name of the Proprietors, restored these western lands to the Indians and settled all other disputes except that over the Walking Purchase. This action helped to draw the Indians away from the French and contributed materially to the demise of French power in the Ohio Valley. For this conference see “Benjamin Chew’s Journal of a Journey to Easton, 1758,” Carl Van Doren and Julian P. Boyd, eds., Indian Treaties printed by Benjamin Franklin, 1736–1762 (Phila., 1938), pp. 312–18, and the biographies of Croghan, Weiser, Pemberton, and Teedyuscung cited earlier in these volumes. The minutes of the conference were published, Nov. 17, 1758, and went through a second edition the next February. On Jan. 19, 1759, BF complained that he had not yet received them, although he had seen their publication advertised in Pa. Gaz.; see below, pp. 236–7.

4Immediately following this letter in Norris’ letterbook is a copy of an order on Giles Baily and Archibald Drummond of Bristol, Nov. 21, 1758, to pay BF £200 sterling from funds due to Norris’ daughters Mary and Sarah under the will of their great uncle Dr. William Logan (1686–1757) of Bristol. BF received this order and another for £300 Norris sent him two days later (see the next document), on Jan. 3, 1759. “Account of Expences,” p. 23; PMHB, LV (1931), 115; Accounts with Isaac Norris, above, pp. 147–8.

5On Sept. 30, 1758, the House voted Robert Charles and Richard Partridge £100 each. Votes, 1757–1758, p. 122. The “next Supply Bill” was passed April 17, 1759. Votes, 1758–1759, p. 63.

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