Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Isaac Norris, 28 July 1760

From Isaac Norris2

Letterbook copy: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

July 28 1760

Dear Friend B Franklin

It is some time since I wrote—my last being of the 15th April3 since which I have recd yours 9th January 19. 21. 29 Feb and 11 March with several Copies.4 The Proprietors endeavouring to repeal our late Laws is what we might expect from their Conduct towards us for some Years past.5 But the Confusion the dissallowance of our Mony Act,6 and especially those granting Supplies to the Crown7 would throw the Province into and the Necessity as well as reasonableness of the Acts themselves I trust will protect us from so great a Calamity notwithstanding the known Inclinations of some who perhaps will sit as Judge upon them. The Care of them is now intrusted with our Agents and we must wait the Event: You are too exactly acquainted with their consequence and importance to need any further Advice on that Head.

Governor Hamiltons passing our last Grant to the Crown,8 must I apprehend make this Opposition more Difficult to the Proprietors. And I trust it will not be in their Power to succeed in ruining their Province for the paultry Advantage they propose to themselves of being exempted from Taxes, which I am informed are amaizingly small in proportion to the rest of the Inhabitants and their great Estate amongst us.9 As it has ever been my Opinion that we have been contending for a Matter of Right rather than Mony I am well pleased the Commissioners and Assessors have acted with so much moderation. To the Acts already past we are using our utmost Endeavours in settling a Quota Bill for the several Counties which I have great Hopes may be brot to some perfection at our next meeting;1 But as it requires the best Notices we can procure we were under a Necessity of postponing it at our last Sitting, for want of the Returns from many of the Counties which had not finished their Assessments according to the Directions of the last Act passed by Governor Denny tho’ I think they are all returned sometime since to the Committee appointed by the House to receive and examine them in Order to lay them before the Assembly in September next. In pursuance of those Acts we have already obtained and the Quota Bill the Province in all probability will in a little Time come to as near a proportion of the Share of each Particular as the Nature of publick Taxes will admit at least as near as any of the other Colonies—Or our Mother Country.

Our American Military Affairs have a fair Appearance.2 May they succeed, and may that Success never—never be thrown away.

I have inclosed a First Bill of Exchange N 1876 drawn by J. Hunter on Messrs. Thomlinson &c. for One Hundred Pounds Sterling which please to receive.3 Col. Hunter4 came to Town a few Days ago with his Family a sharp, short Indisposition has prevented my seeing them tho’ they are in our Neighbourhood, at a New House built by Dr. Moore near your Plantation,5 but as I am finely recovered I do propose to wait upon them in a Day or Two. I suppose they will spend the Summer with us at least and I am pleased we are so near together.

When you see my Friend R. Charles6 pray make my Complements to himself and Family. I have not heard from him a long while.

There are, I hear, Dissentions in the Church.7 Several Persons of Rank and Note amongst us are lately Dead. And others are born. I hear your Family is well.

Pray accept Yourself and tender to Billy (by the Time he returns home it must be William) my kindest good Wishes.


This Letter lay in Town for want of an Opportunity of sending it till the Date of the succeeding Letter of the 24 August when CN returnd it and I wrote what follows page 112—which went by Captain Friend.8

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2This letter is canceled in the letterbook and apparently was never sent, being superceded, as the memorandum at the end shows, by the one dated August 24.

3See above, pp. 43–7.

4None of these letters have been found.

5See above, pp. 125–31, for the proprietary opposition to the laws passed by the Pa. Assembly, 1758–59.

6The Re-emitting Act, passed June 9, 1759; see above, VIII, 419 n, and this vol., pp. 145–53.

7Primarily the Supply Act of April 1759 (above, VIII, 326–7 n), but Norris may also have been thinking of the Supply Act of April 1760 (above, p. 43 n), which because of its similarities to the former act, would probably be similarly dealt with.

8See above, p. 43 n. In letters of May 24 and June 6, 1760, Thomas Penn told Hamilton that he approved the governor’s passing this bill under the circumstances. Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa.

9A committee of the Pa. Assembly reported, March 12, 1761, that while the inhabitants of Pa. in one year had paid £27,103 12s. 8d. under the Supply Act of April 1759, the proprietary taxes had amounted to only £566 4s. 10d. Thomas Penn himself admitted that “the tax does not seem great, and we by no means think it hard that we should supply such a one for the public service.” 8 Pa. Arch., VI, 5216; to Richard Peters, March 10, May 8, 1760, quoted in William R. Shepherd, History of Proprietary Government in Pennsylvania (N. Y., 1896), p. 465 n.

1See above, p. 29 n.

2Pa. Gaz. in July 1760 carried numerous accounts of the French failure to recapture Quebec, of their subsequent retreat to Montreal, and of the flourishing condition of the British armies under Amherst and Murray which were expected to attack them.

3BF recorded the receipt of this bill on Oct. 27, 1760. “Account of Expences,” p. 56; PMHB, LV (1931), 128.

4For Col. John Hunter, agent for Thomlinson & Hanbury, money suppliers of the British forces in North America, see above, VI, 223 n.

5Possibly Samuel Preston Moore (above, IV, 295 n), and a pasture BF owned in the Northern Liberties of Philadelphia; see above, II, 310.

6For BF’s fellow agent, Robert Charles, see above, VI, 230 n.

7In 1759–60 the Anglican Church in Philadelphia, Christ Church, was rent by controversies caused by the Rev. William McClanachan (1714–1765?). First a Presbyterian and then a Congregational minister, McClanachan conformed to the Church of England at Boston in 1754. Dissatisfied with his position as an Anglican missionary in Maine, he went to Virginia in 1759 to seek a more remunerative parish and visited Philadelphia in the spring of that year. Permitted to preach in Christ Church, McClanachan, an “avowed Methodist,” immediately attracted a considerable following by imitating George Whitefield’s “wild incoherent rhapsodies,” as William Smith called them. Supporters in the vestry appointed him assistant minister, but opponents interceded with the Bishop of London, who refused to license him to preach, whereupon McClanachan and his followers left Christ Church (June 1760), met for a while in the State House, and then founded St. Paul’s Church. See Horace W. Smith, Life and Correspondence of the Rev. William Smith, D. D. (Phila., 1880), I, 215–60; Frederick L. Weis, “The Colonial Clergy of the Middle Colonies,” Amer. Antiq. Soc. Proc., n.s., LXVI (1956), 266.

8For Norris’ letter of August 24, entered at p. 112 of his letterbook, see below, pp. 184–6. “CN” was his brother Charles. Pa. Gaz., Aug. 28, 1760, reported the clearance of the James and Mary, Capt. James Friend.

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