Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Isaac Norris, 26 September 1760

From Isaac Norris

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

Philada. Septr. 26th. 1760

Dear Friend Benjamin Franklin

Since my last of the 24th and PS of the 29th of June last I have received the 27 and P S 29 June and Duplicate with Addition of the 12th of July–with a long Letter from your Son of the 15th1 and Duplicate from yourself of the 12th and Addition of the 17th of July2 with the Report of the Board3 partial and Vissibly tending to encrease the Power of that Board, but as it appears by that Report that the Acts were presented by the Proprietaries on or before the 20th of February4 their confirmation or disallowance must by the Limited time be over before now.

We have sent up to the Governor a Bill to enable the Agents to receive the Monies which have been or may be allotted to this Province upon the Parliamentary Grants5 and if I can keep this Letter till we know the Governors Resolution upon that Bill it shall be added. The Bill gives the Agents Power to receive the Monies and Purchase Stock in their own Names for the Use of the Province subject to the Bills of Exchange to be drawn upon Robert Charles and Your Self by the Trustees when thereto required by the Assembly. and Notice given to you under the Great Seal of this Province of such Drafts to be made by their Order upon which you will have a Power to sell and transfer the said Stocks for the Purpose.

We are at present among Rocks and Sands in a Stormy Season and it depends on you to do every Thing in your Power in the present Crisis for it is too late for us to give you any Assistance. Had it been in my Power you should not have had so many Difficulties to struggle with, but the House were of another Mind as well in the Tack and other Parts of our Re-Emitting Act,6 as the Bargain and Engagements with Governor Denny for which there was no Necessity7 but possibly all may, under Providence, end better than Expectation and8 for if the Time should be suffered to elapse or the principal Acts be confirmed we shall be made more easy in our Controversies with the Proprietaries for the Future, especially as the War in Canada is at an End and the French entirely subdued in that Quarter.9

The Two Pamphlets, sent I suppose, by Captain House,1 never came to my Hands but I procured and read them as well as your Judicious Answer to One of them upon which pray receive my Complements among the others, for I approve and value it much.2 The Chief Justice3 told me he was of the same Sentiments and by what I can learn it gives general Satisfaction here.

I send inclosed a third Bill of Exchange N 1876. drawn by J. Hunter on Messrs. Thomlinson &c. for One Hundred Pounds Sterling and a First bill of Exchange No. 1770 Drawn by Col. Hunter on the same Gentlemen for One Hundred Pounds Sterling which please to receive.4

The House have received the Governors Amendment to our Bill for appointing Your Self and R Charles to negotiate our Part of the Parliamentary Grant. I shall enclose a Copy of the Bill and Amendments which need no Comment.5

I am informed the Vessel is just going6 and am obliged to close. Your Affectionate Friend

Isaac Norris

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

1For these letters, see the document immediately above.

2Not found.

3See above, pp. 125–73.

4BF had presented to the Privy Council the Agency Act, concerning the parliamentary grant, on Feb. 16, 1760, but the proprietary agent, Henry Wilmot, had not presented the other eighteen laws of 1758–59 until the following March 13. See above, pp. 126–7.

5The Agency Act of 1759 had authorized BF to receive the colony’s share of the parliamentary grant for military expenses of 1758 and directed him to deposit the money in the Bank of England subject to drafts and bills of exchange by the trustees of the General Loan Office. By September 1760 the Assembly had learned both that the rules of the Bank would not permit such a procedure and that Parliament had made a further grant of £200,000 to be distributed among the colonies in reimbursement of their expenses during the campaign of 1759. Consequently Norris drafted a bill authorizing BF and Robert Charles to receive this money and invest it in interest-bearing public stocks until drawn out by bills of exchange. See the document immediately above. The Assembly passed this measure, Sept. 24, 1760, and sent it to Governor Hamilton. 8 Pa. Arch., VI, 5137–8, 5140. While it met the difficulties posed by the Bank’s rules, it by no means satisfied the governor, because it failed to allow him any voice in choosing the persons to receive the money in England or in determining when and for what purposes it was to be transferred to Pa. and expended there. Ibid., p. 5248. Consequently Hamilton returned the bill on September 25 “with a Paper of Amendments thereon.” These included substitution of David Barclay, Jr., and John Barclay for Robert Charles to act with BF. The House considered the amendments on the morning of the 26th (the day Norris wrote this letter), accepted “Two triffling ones,” but rejected the others, and sent the bill back to Hamilton, as the speaker told BF in the letter immediately below. 8 Pa. Arch., VI, 5141, 5144; Pa. Col. Recs., VIII, 501–3. Hamilton remained dissatisfied, the bill was dropped, and the Assembly of 1759–60 ended its last session, September 27, without further action on the matter. For proceedings early in the next Assembly, see below, pp. 234–5, 236–7.

6The Re-emitting Act (above, pp. 146–7 n), signed by Governor Denny on June 20, 1759, combined two disparate matters: a loan of £50,000 to John Hunter, agent for the money contractors of the British forces in America, and the re-emission of the provincial bills of credit. In its report of June 24, 1760, the Board of Trade attacked the latter clause because it was “a tack to the loan.” Statutes at Large, Pa., V, 716.

7Thrice during 1759 the Pa. Assembly paid Governor Denny £1,000— on April 17 after he signed the £100,000 Supply Act, on June 20 after he signed the Re-emitting Act, and on July 7 after he signed the “Act for Recording Warrants and Surveys”; see above, VIII, 419–20 n. In addition to these payments, in effect bribes, the Assembly resolved, July 7, 1759, that in case the Proprietors sued Denny “for the Breach of any Instruction, in passing any of the said Bills,” it would “as far as in them lies, support the said Governor in Defence of such Suit.” 8 Pa. Arch., VI, 5028.

8The “and” was obviously a slip of the pen; it does not appear in the letterbook copy.

9On Sept. 8, 1760, Montreal, at which all of the French troops in Canada had collected, capitulated to Gen. Jeffery Amherst, the commander of the largest of the three British armies which had converged upon the city. Pa. Gaz., Sept. 25, 1760, carried news of the French surrender. See Gipson, British Empire, VII, 444–67.

1Capt. House’s ship, Juliana, was taken by a French privateer early in 1760.

2For these pamphlets on Canada vs. Guadeloupe, see above, pp. 52–3. BF’s “judicious Answer” was, of course, the Canada Pamphlet.

3William Allen.

4For the first of these two bills, see above, p. 182. BF recorded the receipt of the second one on Nov. 20, 1760. “Account of Expences,” p. 56; PMHB, LV (1931), 129.

5The bill mentioned in the second paragraph of this letter. No copy of it has been found.

6The letterbook copy bears the following notations not found on the ALS: “Via Bristol by a Snow belonging to Jno Taylor.” “First Bill of Exchange £100. 0. 0. N 1770.” “Sent Copy of the Bill and Governors Amendments Copied by the Clerk.” The snow was the Gordon, Capt. Ferdinando Bowd; see the document immediately above.

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