Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Isaac Norris, 31 July 1759

From Isaac Norris

ALS: American Philosophical Society; letterbook copy: Historical Society of Pennsylvania; copy: American Philosophical Society1

Fairhill, July 31th. 1759

Dear Friend Benjn Franklin

Just on closing my last Letter which was on the 14th of June last I added a figure 1 before the 4 though it was actually wrote on the 4th of that Month2 and being called off from adding a few lines to explain the difference Situation between those Dates it will be incorrect in some Points unless it is read upon its true time and considered in that Light, for about the 14th I got an Order from the Commissioners for Some publick Mony to be paid to Me for discharging the Agents Salarys as well as for a further Supply to your Self if there should be Occasion in pursuance of two Resolves of Assembly of the 3d of February and 1st of April 1757 which will appear by the Votes of that Year.3

General Amherst4 came to Philadelphia on the 9th of April last, and the time for beginning the ensuing Campain pressing, he left us on the 11th before Noon. At his Request I had a long and free Conference with the General on the Tenth and on the same Day the Commissioners waiting upon him he entered immediatly into the Business of the Supplies for the ensuing Year, A Bill then lying before the Governor for that Purpose, the Issue of those Conferences will appear by General Amhersts Letter to our Governor a Copy of which the Governor favoured me with as well as some other Papers of Importance which I shall inclose.5 No. 1 is a Duplicate of General Amhersts Letter on or rather previous to his passing the Supply Bill. No. 2 is a Copy of a Letter from General Stanwix to pass the ReEmitting Act in the three Lower Counties.6 No. 3 Gen. Stanwix to Governor Denny to pass Our ReEmitting Act &c.7 No. 4 is a Letter From General Amherst in vindication of the Governors Conduct in passing The Bill for Reemitting our Mony and lending £50,000 to Colonel Hunter for the Use of the Crown8 and No. 5 is the Speech Governor Denny made to the Council on resolving to pass the Act for Recording Warrants and Surveys &c.9

As the Governor assured me that he would give his assent to our Supply Bill about Five or Six Days before he enacted it into a Law1 I had the Opportunity of giving you very early intelligence of it by the E[arl] of Leicesters Packet Captain Morris who arrived in thirty Days2 so that you very probably had Notice of it before the End of May.

The Law for Recording Warrants and Surveys &c. is in my Opinion a Just and equitable Law between the Proprietaries and the People and as it is not connected with any immediate Business or Interest of the Crown it may require more attention and well deserves all possible diligence and Care to get it confirmed by the King in which I think no reasonable Expence should be spared. The ReEmitting Act may have its Merit but all Circumstances considered, it passed the House without any concurrence of mine and I have no Share in it; but as it is a Law of the Province and the repeal of it would involve us in great Difficulties I cannot doubt you will use your best Endeavours to get it approved as well as the Act for the Relief of the Heirs Divisees and Assigns of Persons born out of the Kings Leigeance &c. which I think is a Righteous and valuable Law.3

The passing of these Acts, and the Confirmation of them at Home, will go a great way towards settling our Differences with the Proprietors and I hope bring them to a Sence of their true Interest and may probably induce some of them once more to come among us; especially as the Governor assures me he has wrote to Secretary Pitt about ten Months ago to insist on the Proprietors’ being sent over to be answerable for their Own Conduct for he could not under his present Instructions answer for his as a Governor either to His Majesty or the People committed to his Care.4

I am now to inform you That no Person whatever either had or could take a Copy of a free paragraph in One of your former letters relating to the Proprietors from me.5 I know too well the Nature of such open Intelligence and the Ill use which might be made of it to suffer any Thing of the kind; but have been informed you wrote to the same Purport to One of the then Committee and if so it might have been obtained from thence, and yet I must not omitt to say that I thought it my Duty to shew it to the Comittee who had it in their Hands for some Time, but I can and do assure you no Copy was ever taken whilst it remained in My Possession nor at any other Time with my knowledge or Assent, This however may, and I presume will, have its effect upon all those who have a Right to see our publick Intelligences.

I will close this Letter with the Advice of two First Bills of Exchange now Transmitted. John Hunter on Messrs. Thomlinson & Company for £500. each6 and refer to a further Account of the Bills of Exchange in a Separate Paper: and if any Thing material shall come to my Notice will continue to trouble you as Occasion and Opportunities present themselves. I am with great Respect your Assured Friend

Isaac Norris

PS to the above Letter  By the Chippenham Captain Spain7

An Account of the Bills of Exchange8 Sterling
1 My Order on the Executors of Doctor Logan £200
2 John Hunter on Messrs. Thomlinson & Company No. 732 300 0
3 Anthony Stoker on George Campbell £200 0
Ditto on Ditto 131 8 0
Ditto on Ditto 30 17 2
362 5 2
4 John Hunter on Messrs. Thomlinson & Company No. 1049 200 0
5 Peter Razor on Richard Partridge 40 0
6 Josha Howell on Messrs. Wm and Richard Baker
No. 5020 £1000 0
Ditto on Ditto  No. 5021 1000 0
2000 0 0
7 John Hunter on Messrs. Thomlinson & Company
No. 14929 £ 500 0 0
Ditto on Ditto  No. 1493 500 0
1000 0 0
£4102 5 2

Of These

No. 1 and 2 are come to Hand per Advice

3 I have already Sent the First Second and Third

4 I now enclose the Third Bill sent two before

5 ———— The Third Bill ut supra

6 I now Send the Second Bills

7 I send the First Bills herewith

I wrote the above Letter some Days ago we are now come to the 5th of August and have just received an Account of the Reduction of Niagara and Ticonderoga, and that the Forces are landed before Quebeck and are bombarding it, of which you will receive more particular Accounts from N York or directly by Express. This will make our Western Expedition unactive[?] and in all probability successful. ’Tis said that Six Hundred Prisoners were taken on the surrender of Niagara. Col. Amherst sailed in the Packet a few Days ago with an Account of the taking of Ticonderogo. Niagara surrendred since on the 26th of July.1

NB Niagara surrendered on the 24th of July

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

1The postscript, not found with the ALS, and only in shortened form in the copy, is printed from the letterbook copy.

2See above, pp. 389–92.

3See above, p. 405, for the commissioners’ order of June 12, 1759; the Assembly resolves are in Votes, 1756–57, pp. 78, 107.

4Maj. Gen. Jeffery Amherst was British commander-in-chief in North America; see above, p. 328 n.

5On April 11, 1759, Amherst wrote Denny that Norris and other Assembly leaders had obstinately refused his entreaties to pass a supply bill exempting the proprietary estates from taxation. He therefore urged Denny to waive his instructions and approve the bill as it stood. Pa. Col. Recs., VIII, 331–2. For the general’s efforts to get Pa. to enact a supply bill, see above, p. 326 n. The enclosures do not survive with Norris’ ALS.

6Upon the death of Forbes, March 11, 1759, Amherst appointed Brig. Gen. John Stanwix (above, VII, 45 n) to take his place as commander of British troops in Pa. Pa. Col. Recs., VIII, 298. Stanwix wrote Denny (letter not found) urging approval of a Delaware act to reissue £20,000 in currency for a further sixteen years. PMHB, XLIV (1920), 120–1; J. Thomas Scharf, History of Delaware. 1609–1888 (Phila., 1888), I, 142–3.

7On June 9, 1759, the Pa. Assembly passed a bill (not to be confused with the Delaware act mentioned immediately above) providing for the reissue of bills of credit previously re-emitted, and for striking £36,650 to enable the Trustees of the Loan Office to lend £50,000 for six months to John Hunter, agent for the money contractors of the British forces in America. The Council objected strenuously to the measure on several counts, among them that it joined two separate matters in one bill, that it threatened to lower the value of the bills in circulation, and, above all, that by its terms it substantially reduced the amount in sterling the Proprietors would receive in payment of quitrents. Denny returned the bill, June 13, asking that the proprietary receipts be restored to their former level and that Hunter be allowed, as he had asked, an additional £25,000 loan and twelve months, instead of six, for repayment. The Assembly yielded on the duration of the loan to Hunter but refused the other proposed changes. On June 16 Denny produced to the Council a letter from Stanwix (not found) urging him to approve the bill and, in spite of a formal protest by the Council members, gave his assent on the 20th. The Assembly immediately presented him £1000. Votes, 1758–59, pp. 76, 77, 78, 80–1, 83, 87; Pa. Col. Recs., VIII, 342–3, 350–2, 353–4, 356, 357–60, 362.

8Amherst’s letter in vindication has not been found.

9This measure concerned the basic documents involved in transfers of land from the Proprietors to individuals. It shifted the final authority for recording such papers from the provincial secretary and surveyor general, officials responsible solely to the Proprietors, to a new officer, the recorder, responsible to the public at large. The Council and other proprietary supporters vigorously opposed the bill, but on July 7, 1759, Denny approved it, telling the Council that if the Board of Trade had any objections to it they would lay it before the King, “who is the most equal as well as Supreme Judge of the Rights of the Proprietaries and the People.” As soon as the great seal was affixed at the usual formal ceremony, Norris presented Denny an order for £1000, as he had done twice earlier that year, April 17 and June 20, on the passage of bills the Assembly wanted but the Council opposed. Pa. Col. Recs., VIII, 333, 362, 375–6.

1See above, pp. 326–7.

2So the Pa. Gaz. reported on July 12, 1759. It appears, however, that Norris’ letter of April 12, 1759, which contained the “very early intelligence” went by the General Wall packet, Capt. Walter Lutwidge. See above, p. 328 n.

3On June 20, 1759, Gov. Denny signed an “Act for the Relief of the Heirs, Devisees and Assigns of Persons born out of the King’s Ligiance …” which stated that unnaturalized persons might convey “lands, tenements, and hereditaments” by deed or will and that these conveyances were to be “taken to be as good, effectual and available in the law to all intents, constructions and purposes as if such persons so conveying and devising had been natural-born subjects within this province.” This act, and the two last mentioned, were repealed by the King in Council on Sept. 2, 1760. See Statutes at Large, Pa., V, 443–5.

4Denny’s suggestion was ignored; he was succeeded by James Hamilton. Yet on June 18, 1763, Thomas and Richard Penn commissioned Richard’s son, John Penn, lieutenant governor of Pa. He arrived in Philadelphia in October, 1763, and except for a two-year absence in England, 1771–73, governed Pa. until 1776. During his absence his brother Richard Penn served as lieutenant governor.

5See BF’s letter of Jan. 14, 1758, in which he compared Thomas Penn to a “low Jockey”, above, VII, 360–4.

6BF recorded the receipt of these bills on Nov. 6, 1759. “Account of Expences,” p. 48; Eddy, in PMHB, LV (1931), 125, erroneously gives the date as Nov. 2, 1759.

7On Aug. 16, 1759, the Pa. Gaz. recorded the clearance of the Chippenham, Capt. Edward Spain, for London. She sprung a leak, however, and had to return to Philadelphia. Consequently, Norris sent this and his next two letters in the Dragon, Capt. Francis Hammett, which planned to sail for London on Aug. 23, 1759. See below, p. 427.

8Through the first six items this account is identical with that in Norris’ letter of June 4, 1759; see above, pp. 389–90.

9Nos. 1492 and 1493 are the bills mentioned in the final paragraph of the main text of this letter.

1See above, p. 408 n, for the progress of British arms during the summer of 1759. The version of this postscript in the copy omits the data on bills of exchange and contains only the final paragraph of news. It ends: “Niagara Surendred on the 24th of July” and omits the line correcting the date.

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