Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Isaac Norris, 24 August 1760

From Isaac Norris

Letterbook copy: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

24th Augt, 1760

Dear Friend B. Franklin

It is some Time since I wrote last, which I perceive by Your last, was come to hand, being Dated on the 15th April past, Your Several Dates of 9th January, 19th, 21st 29th february and 11th March With Several Copies, got to me in Due Time, and a few Days Ago the 14th June by the Packet,7 it will be Needless to Say, That all the Letters by Capt. House Miscarried,8 but I have been inform’d That Several of them were Infamously Picked up, opend and forwarded to Philadelphia. Several Stories are Propagated Concerning Them, to which I give little Credit being long used to the reports of the Gentleman in whose Custody they Are said to be,9 I have enclos’d a first Bill of exchange No. 1876 Drawn by Col. J. Hunter on Messrs. Thomlinson &c. for £100 Sterl. which pray receive,1 as it becomes Due. The Proprietarys endeavouring to repeal our late Laws, is Consistent With their Conduct towards us for many Years past,2 but the Confusion and Ruinous Consequences, the Disallowance of our Mony Bills, especialy Those granting aids to the Crown, Would throw the Province into, I Trust will Protect Them, as well as the reasonableness of the Acts themselves, especialy as they will be strengthen’d, by Governor Hamilton’s Passing our last Supply Bill, of which I advised You in my Last of 15th April. It is Surprising how little the Proprietarys Taxes amounted to, for the Estate they hold, Compard with the Taxes the Inhabitants and other Owners of Lands here are rated. So That I have been inform’d some of the Proprietarys Officers have said the Proprietarys themselves Will Scarcly beleive it, Till Their Accounts are bro’t in, by what I have heard of them they are too Low, but as it was ever my Opinion, we have been Contending for a Matter of Right, rather than Mony, I am pleas’d, the Comissioners and Assessors have err’d on that Side, all our Laws, by exempting the Unlocated Lands, Can never Tax their estate in full Propotion to the other Inhabitants and land holders, but as we are useing our utmost endeavours to Settle A Quota Bill Against our Next Seting, I do not Doubt, we Shall in a little while, 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, and Much nearer Than our Mother Country,3 I need not enlarge on Any General Heads which Concern this Province, because they are so well known to You and we have no doubt of your Care and Abilities to defend us Against those who have an evil eye over us, and yet Unfortunatly, Must have too great a share in Judging our Cause. At our Next Seting, We shall Consider your proposals for the Disposal of Parliamentry Grants, and be Then enabled to provide a remedy and give Orders less Subject to the Objections Made in England, Some of which I apprehend Would have Come into my mind had I been Able to Attend the House in their last Session, When That Law was Pass’d by Governor Denny.4 That Gent[leman] is going Passenger with Capt. Hamet5 a few days hence, he has Promisd to Call Upon me before his Departure, and if any thing further occurs worth Notice, I shall add and Commit it to his Care, Governor Hamilton’s Behavour has been very Civil hitherto, he Declares That he has the greatest Inclination to live on good Terms with the People, Acts of Justice Towards them, will soon have all the Good Effects, he, or his Constituents Can Wish or Desire; I am my Good friend, Your Affectionate Assured friend

I Norris

Original by Captn. Friend6
Duplicate by Capt. Hamet
First Bill of Exchange N 1876 £100. 0. 0

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7For Norris’ letter of April 15, see above, pp. 43–7. None of BF’s letters here acknowledged have been found.

8The Juliana, Capt. House, was taken by a French privateer early in 1760. See above, p. 15 n.

9Nicholas Scull; see below, pp. 221–2.

1BF received this bill on Oct. 27, 1760. “Account of Expences,” p. 56; PMHB, LV (1931), 128.

2For Thomas Penn’s opposition to eleven of the nineteen acts passed by the Pa. Assembly in 1758–59, see above, pp. 125–31.

3Many of the phrases used in this discussion of proprietary taxes and a quota bill appear in Norris’ letter to BF of July 28, 1760; see above, pp. 180–1.

4In response to Parliament’s appropriation of £200,000 to reimburse the colonies for their expenditures in the campaign of 1758 (see above, VIII, 333), the Pa. Assembly passed the so-called Agency Act, Sept. 29, 1759 (Statutes at Large, Pa., V, 460–2), which appointed BF agent to receive the colony’s share of the money, directed him to deposit it in the Bank of England, and added somewhat ambiguously that it was to remain there “subject to the drafts and bills of exchange of the trustees of the general loan office.” After the money was received in Pa. it was to be used to sink outstanding bills of credit “unless the same shall be otherwise disposed of by act of assembly.” Penn opposed the act initially on the score that the money ought to be paid “to Persons appointed by the whole Legislature [i.e., the governor and Assembly] and not to the Agent.” Later he also pointed out that the grant to Pa. and the Delaware counties was made jointly, “so that I think we shall keep it out of Franklin’s hands,” and that it was contrary to the Bank’s policy to allow a deposit made by one person to be drawn on by others, as the Agency Act seemed to provide. Thomas Penn to Richard Peters, Aug. 3, Dec. 8, 1759, Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa. In its report on this act the Board of Trade considered the first and third of these objections but did not find them of sufficient force to warrant disallowance, especially since prompt payment was most desirable. The Board agreed, however, that the Assembly ought not to have excluded the Proprietors from the disposition of the money. See above, pp. 164–7. By the time the Privy Council got around to dealing with the matter the six-months’ time limit for consideration of the act had expired anyway, so it could not have disallowed the measure in any case. See below, p. 209.

5Pa. Gaz., Sept. 4, 1760, recorded the clearance of the Dragon, Capt. Francis Hammett.

6Pa. Gaz., Aug. 28, 1760, recorded the clearance of the James and Mary, Capt. James Friend.

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