Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Israel Pemberton, 19 March 1759

To Israel Pemberton

LS:2 Boston Public Library

London, March 19, 1759.

Dear Sir,

I received your Favour of December 11, and January 19.3 By those Ships you will receive some of the printed Enquiries,4 to which Post’s first Journal is added, which being more generally interesting, occasions the other to go into more Hands and be more read. Extracts of your and Mr. Thomson’s Letters are also added to make the Thing more compleat. Mr. Hall has Orders to deliver 25 to you and Mr. Thomson;5 and I hope you will promote the Sale of the rest, that the Charges of Printing &c. may be lessen’d.

I congratulate you heartily on the Re-establishment of Peace on your Borders, in which the Endeavours of your Association6 have had so large a Share. I pray that it may long continue: But if we abandon Pittsburg at the Instances of the Indians, I think the French will not fail to return; the Indians are too much divided and irresolute to prevent them; and they will easily again be debauch’d from our Interest. I hope therefore that Place will be retain’d; and at least a small Tract distinctly mark’d out round it, from which those who inhabit the Fort may raise their Provisions, but not suffered to extend Settlements beyond such Bounds as are agreed on; till future Treaties shall make farther Agreements. A Hunting Country ought without Doubt to be secur’d to our Friends; but a strong Place and a small compact Settlement there of sober orderly People, must I think, in the Nature of Things, contribute greatly to the Security of the Colonies; by retaining the Friendship of the Indians thro’ the Benefits of Trade and Neighbourhood of Arts; and by bridling them if they are seduc’d by our Enemies; or at least standing in the Gap and bearing the Blows as a Shield to our other Frontiers.

I have just receiv’d the Copy of Post’s second Journal which will be of good Use;7 and I am extremely oblig’d to you for your Care in sending every Thing that is necessary to give us proper Information of the present State of Indian Affairs.

My Petition relating to Teedyuscung’s Claims8 lay long in the Council Office before there was a Council to consider it. As soon as a Council met, it was read and referr’d to the Board of Trade.9 As yet they have done nothing in it, but I understand they intend to appoint Commissioners out of the neighbouring Provinces to make Enquiry, examine Evidences, and report what they can find to be the Truth of the Case.1

It is every where represented here by the Proprietor’s Friends, that this Charge of the Indians against him, is a mere Calumny, stirr’d up by the Malice of the Quakers, who cannot forgive his deserting their Sect.2 I expected he would be imprudent enough to publish the Report of his Council in his Justification;3 but I hear Nothing of it, and suppose he does not quite like it. There are some shameless Falshoods in it that are easily expos’d. The Affidavits mention’d in it are not come to hand;4 I wish I could see them.

I believe it will in time be clearly seen by all thinking People, that the Government and Property of a Province should not be in the same Family. ’Tis too much Weight in one Scale. I am of Opinion, the Crown would not be displeas’d with an Application to be taken under its immediate Government, and I think our Circumstances would be mended by it.5

My Son joins in best Respects and Wishes for you and yours, with, Dear Sir, Your affectionate Friend and humble Servant

B Franklin

Mr. Pemberton

Addressed: To / Mr Israel Pemberton / Mercht / Philada / per Pacquet / via N. York

Endorsed: London March 19th. 1759. From Benjn. Franklin.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2Apparently in WF’s hand.

3For the letter of Dec. 11, see above, pp. 211–13; that of Jan. 19, has not been found.

4On Charles Thomson’s An Enquiry into the Causes of the Alienation of the Delaware and Shawanese Indians from the British Interest and BF’s part in its publication, see above, pp. 199–200.

5See below, p. 322.

6The “Friendly Association for Regaining and Preserving Peace with the Indians by Pacific Measures,” a group founded in 1756 by Pemberton and other Quakers. See above, VII, 18 n.

7BF saw to the publication of Post’s “second Journal.” Strahan’s press issued it on June 5, 1759, under the title The Second Journal of Christian Frederick Post, on a Message from the Governor of Pensilvania to the Indians on the Ohio. Five hundred copies were published at a cost of £6 15s. On July 12, 1759, BF noted that he had sent David Hall 300 copies of the second Journal. “Account of Expences,” p. 43; PMHB, LV (1931), 123.

8See above, pp. 264–76.

9This statement is not wholly accurate. The Privy Council referred the petition to its Committee on Plantation Affairs, Feb. 2, 1759, but the Committee did not refer it to the Board of Trade in turn until April 12, more than three weeks after BF wrote this letter. Acts Privy Coun., Col., IV, 402; Board of Trade Journal, 1759–63, p. 32. These two steps were routine procedure in such matters; BF apparently thought of them as a single, already completed action.

1The source of this rumor is not known; on the Board of Trade’s recommendation the Privy Council, Aug. 29, 1759, ordered Sir William Johnson, superintendent of Indian affairs, to conduct the inquiry. Acts Privy Coun., Col., IV, 402–3.

2The Delaware Indians had charged the Proprietors with forgery and land fraud. Thomas Penn had given up Quaker dress and opinions on defense as early as 1743, and after his marriage in 1751 regularly attended the Church of England, in which his children were baptized, though he never received the Sacrament. Howard M. Jenkins, “The Family of William Penn,” PMHB, XXI (1897), 339, 343.

3This report, purporting to exonerate the Proprietors, was completed by a committee of the Pa. Council, Jan. 6, 1758, but was not entered in its minutes until Jan. 20, 1759. Pa. Col. Recs., VIII, 246–61. BF, who had received a copy, called it a “miserable” performance. See above, p. 158.

4Several of these were by men who had in some way participated in the Walking Purchase of 1737.

5Since the spring of 1758, at least, BF had been contemplating royal government as a solution of the difficulties in Pa. See above, pp. 6–21, 88.

Index Entries