Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Isaac Norris, 15 April 1760

From Isaac Norris

Letterbook copy: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

15th. Aprl. 1760

Dear Friend B Franklin

It is so long since we received any Accounts of our Publick Affairs in England, that I hope the old Saying “that No News is good News,” may be our Case,6 with respect to the Bills Pass’d by Governor Denny the last Year, should the ReEmitting Act (of which I own I was very Apprehensive) be repealed it would now throw us into extream Confusion.7 As for the Supply Bill8 I never fear’d it, and now less than ever, since Governor Hamilton has not venturd to refuse Our last Act passd a few Days Ago for Granting £100,000, and £2700 [sic] Men, in which the Proprietary Estate is taxed as in the Law past by Governor Denny. It is True Governor Hamilton gave his Assent to it with an Ill Grace as will appear by the inclos’d Paper of Amendments and his Message to which I refer.9 The Verbal Message of the 8th April Instant refers to An Anecdote which I will hint to You, as I apprehend it.1 When the House Resolved on the Sum of £1,500 to defray the Expences of the Agency in soliciting the Affairs of this Province at the Court of G.B, on the 3d. February, and 1st April 1757, I need not inform You they ordered Immediate Payment for £750 Sterling, part of that Sum Out of the L. Office,2 but when the Reemitting Act expird,3 and the Annual Sinking of the Money, let out Upon Loan brought the Int[erest] Mony to a Meer Triffle, the House became very sensible that They shou’d soon be in the Condition the Proprietors had long labourd to bring upon the Province That the People shou’d have no Power over their own Mony. They therefore on the 20th. March 1759, gave a Certificate for the whole Sum of £1500, “To be Paid out of the Next Supplies to be Granted for discharging of the Publick Debts, and other Purposes for the King’s Use,”4 and they were very Justifiable in ordering that Certificate to be signed, As the Members were at that Time apprehensive they shoud be Necessitated to pass their Supply Bill with an Exclusion of the Proprietary Estate, (and I say the More upon this Occasion As I had some Concern in Procuring that Certificate.) Thô I must Confess that as it has since turn’d out there seems some hardship in making the Proprietors pay a Part of that Charge, Governor Denny or his Council got, from one of Our Members, who did not well understand it, a hint (as we suppose) of this Transaction and therefore on the sending Up the former Supply Bill, He sent a Message by the Secretary to Enquire what Orders upon the Treasurer remaind Unpaid which were comprehended in that Clause of the Bill then offer’d to him.5 We made the Secretary explain himself with Precision, and when he insisted on his Message and confind it to the Orders on the Treasurer which then remaind Unpaid We told him, That there were none and Governor Denny afterwards Past the Bill, (which One of our Country Members said, “was like swallowing a Chesnut with the Bur on”).6 But since that Bill Past, Our Votes have been made Publick,7 and it there appears that a Certificate was signd in the House, on the 20th March 1759, for the Aforesaid Sum of £1500 Sterling To be Paid as I have informd You above. This Probably produced the Message of the 8th. April, Inst. But behold There was No part of That Mony Unpaid or to be paid Out of the last Supply Bill, and Governor Hamilton had No Right to Enquire any further, so that for any Thing I can find they must remain in Statû Quo prius, “till our Accounts come to be made Publick.”8 This situation of that Affair, I presume, has Induced the Members, to whom I repeatedly mentiond the Necessity of Making A New Order for the Remainder of the £1500 Sterling to let it lye As it now does Upon the Resolves of February and April 1757, and 20th. March 1759, But this ought Not, and will not Alter your Conduct of Useing what I have remitted, As the Publick Occasions shall require for their Service. Bills of Exchange have Risen for some Time from 5 to 7½ per Cent but I Apprehend These new Contractors will be Under a Necessity of Lowering them a Little, if the Campaign shou’d be Carried on Vigourously in America This Year. If that shou’d be the Case, I shall Continue to Remit a few More Bills of Exchange, if I receive some Payments the People Indebted to me gave me Reason to expect, but in the Mean Time, what Apology Can I make for the Trouble it gives You in Negotiating My Concerns There in Mony Matters. This incloses a 3d Bill of Exchange John Hunter, on Messrs. Tomlinson & Co. No. 3638 for £100,9 and I must request the favour that You will be Pleasd to pay to my Kinsman Samsn Lloyd1 of Birmingham, for a few Goods he shipd for my Account Viâ, Bristol, the greatest part of which is Arriv’d and the rest came to Bristol too late to be put on board. The whole Amounts to about £51 or 2, of which he will, in pursuance of my Letter to him, Produce the Account, which cou’d not be exactly sent to me for want of some small Charges on the Goods. I hope the Passing of the Last Supply Bill will near finish Our Squables with the Proprietors on that Head, and we also hope the Death of F.J. Paris2 will be no loss to this Province which has felt the Effects of his great Pains and Active Industry for Many Years Past, to do us all the Mischief in his Power. I am Your Assured Friend


The House have appointed a Committee to Consider the Governors Message, and report Their Opinion at the next Sitting.3

[Endorsed:] B F received this Lettr. ackd June 14th. 17604

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6BF’s most recent letter to Norris was apparently that of Dec. 8, 1759 (not found); see above, pp. 28–9.

7For the act re-emitting the Pa. bills of credit, signed by Governor Denny on June 20, 1759, see above, VIII, 419 n.

8That of April 17, 1759; see above, VIII, 326–7 n.

9After presenting the £100,000 supply bill to Governor Hamilton on March 8, 1760 (see above, p. 29 n), the Pa. Assembly adjourned until March 17, but because of bad weather and a fit of gout which immobilized Speaker Norris, it did not resume its business until March 24, meeting then and for the next several days in Charles Norris’ house. On March 25 Richard Peters delivered the bill to the House with a series of amendments proposed by Hamilton and his council on March 18. These were designed to assure the governor’s participation in the disposition of the public revenue and to protect the Proprietors by having commissioners appointed to hear appeals from the popularly elected assessors. The House at once unanimously rejected these changes and then returned the bill to the governor on April 1. The next day Hamilton sent the House a message defending his amendments and desiring the House to reconsider them. Having done so, the House informed Hamilton on April 5 that it saw “no Reason to recede” from its bill and desired him to pass it as it stood. This the governor with the advice of his council decided to do on April 8, notifying the House of his intentions on April 10 and complaining of the “Hardships” imposed upon him by the bill and observing that the Proprietors might be “greatly injured” by it and the “legal Powers of Government … very much prejudiced and wounded.” Nevertheless, Hamilton signed the bill on April 12, 1760. 8 Pa. Arch., VI, 5115–18, 5121–9, 5132; Pa. Col. Recs., VIII, 460–3, 480. Norris to Sampson Lloyd, March 31, 1760, Hist. Soc. Pa.

1Hamilton’s verbal message of April 8, 1760, delivered to the House by Peters, stated that since the supply bill authorized the trustees of the provincial Loan Office “to pay and discharge all such Certificates and Draughts as have been heretofore made, by Order of Assembly to the Provincial Treasurer, for Services done the Public, which yet remain unpaid,” he wanted to be informed “what the Sum total of those Certificates and Draughts may amount to, and likewise the Services for which they were made and given.” The next day the House furnished the governor “with the List of Certificates and Draughts of Assembly on the Provincial Treasurer” and he “was pleased to say, it was very well.” 8 Pa. Arch., VI, 5126–7.

2See above, VII, 166–7.

3That of March 7, 1746 (N. S.), which directed the trustees of the provincial Loan Office to re-emit until Oct. 15, 1756, all the bills of credit which they received. Statutes at Large, Pa., V, 7–15.

4See Votes, 1758–59, p. 45, and above, VIII, 405.

5Peters delivered this message on March 28, 1759. See Votes, 1758–59, p. 50.

6The certificate of March 20, 1759, was an acknowledgement of a debt due, which “ought to be paid out of the next Supplies to be granted,” and was not in form or in intent an order “on the Treasurer which then remained Unpaid.” The Assembly was therefore technically justified in failing to tell the secretary about it.

7Pa. Gaz., Nov. 29, 1759, advertised Votes, 1758–59, as “just published.”

8The account of expenditures under the Supply Act of April 17, 1759, appeared in Votes, 1759–60, advertised as “Lately published” in Pa. Gaz., Nov. 27, 1760. This contained a record of the £2362 10s. currency paid to Norris, June 14, 1759, it having been “advanced by him to Benjamin Franklin, Esq; Agent.” 8 Pa. Arch., VI, 5154.

9For this bill, see above, p. 29 n.

1Sampson Lloyd (1699–1779), Norris’ second cousin, was an ironmaster at Birmingham and co-founder (1765) of the banking firm, Taylor & Lloyd (later Lloyds Bank). He had sent Norris glass, ironware, and nails and was advised in a letter of March 31, 1760, that BF would pay for them. Norris to Lloyd, March 31, 1760, Hist. Soc. Pa. For the Lloyd family in England, see Samuel Lloyd, The Lloyds of Birmingham (3d edit., London, 1909) and Arthur Raistrick, Quakers in Science and Industry (N.Y., 1950).

2On Dec. 16, 1759.

3Hamilton had sent two messages to the Assembly, April 2 and 10, highly critical of the supply bill, but in the second one agreed to pass it because of “the Necessity of the Times.” The House thereupon appointed a committee to consider these messages and report at the next sitting. The Assembly adjourned April 12, but when it met in September for its final sitting this committee made no report. 8 Pa. Arch., VI, 5122–5, 5127–9, 5134–57.

4No letter from BF to Norris of this date has been found.

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