Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Edward Tilghman, William Murdock, Matthew Tilghman, Charles Carroll, Thomas Ringgold, and John Hammond, 26 November 1761

To Edward Tilghman, William Murdock, Matthew Tilghman, Charles Carroll, Thomas Ringgold, and John Hammond6

ALS not found; reprinted from National Intelligencer, July 7, 1824; draft (last part only): American Philosophical Society

London, Nov. 26, 1761


In mine of the 7th of August to Mr. Ringold, I acknowledg’d the Receipt of yours of May 9th, which had then just come to hand,7 but without the mentioned Address. Soon after, taking the Opportunity of the Vacation of Business in the Public Offices here, I went abroad and was absent making the Tour of Holland and Flanders with my Son, till towards the End of September. At my Return I received a Duplicate of your first Dispatches, with the Address. Having carefully read your Votes, and acquainted myself with every thing proper to be said in defence of your House, I endeavoured to see Mr. Pitt, in order to deliver him your Letter, and at the same time make him acquainted with the Particulars for which you had referr’d him to me. He was always extreamly difficult of Access, and more so about the Time of his intended Resignation, which follow’d before I could have an Opportunity of Speaking with him.8 I then sent your Letter to him with the Address inclos’d, by my Son, who assists me here, supposing Mr. Pitt would deliver the Address to his Successor Lord Egremont, as he accordingly did. As soon as the Bustle occasion’d by the Resignation was a little over, we made Enquiry after the Address at the Secretary’s Office, in order to urge the Presenting it. After several Attendances together and separately to no Purpose, my Son at length met with Mr. Wood, who was under Secretary to Mr. Pitt, and continues in the same Office under Lord Egremont. He enter’d into a free Discourse on the Conduct of your Province, and express’d a great deal of the Resentment entertain’d against your Assembly by the Ministry here, with whom you at present stand in a very bad Light. My Son, who knows your Affair as well as I do, took occasion to justify you, and to satisfy him that you had been much misrepresented, by informing him of many Particulars in your favour that were quite unknown to the Ministers, owing to your not being allow’d an Agent here, which he seem’d greatly surpriz’d at.9 As to the Address he said, it had not been presented, nor would be, the foreign Matter mix’d in it, making it quite improper; for that if it was presented, it must of course be printed in the Gazette; and then there would appear a heavy Charge against an Officer or Servant of the Crown, publish’d by Authority, without his having had any Opportunity of being heard in his own Defence, which was not thought equitable. That the Assembly themselves would be very sensible of the Irregularity, and probably complain of it as an Injury, if a Charge of their1 Governor against them, should be inserted here in the Gazette, without Enquiry or Hearing. He was glad however for their sakes to learn that they desir’d an Enquiry from a Consciousness that they could justify themselves; and concluded with Advising that they should make their Address of Congratulation distinct from their Complaint, and send them separately, and they might be assur’d that the Address would be favourably receiv’d, and an Enquiry order’d immediately to be made as they should desire.

I am extremely sensible, Gentlemen, of the Honour done me by the Confidence you have plac’d in me; and it would be no small Pleasure to me to be able to render any Service to the Assembly of Maryland. If such an Enquiry should be order’d while I reside here, you may depend no Pains or Care shall be wanting on my Part to place your Conduct in a just Light, and to remove the Imputations it at present labours under. In the mean time, I shall take every Opportunity in Conversation or otherwise of vindicating you, where it may be proper and seasonable.2

With great Respect, I am, Gentlemen, your most obedient humble Servant,

B. Franklin.

To E. Tilghman, } Esqrs.—Maryland.
Wm. Murdock,
Mat. Tilghman,
Cha. Carroll,
Thos. Ringold,
Jno. Hammond,
[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6For the background of this letter see the headnote to the document immediately above. The men addressed were all members of the anti-proprietary or “country” party in the Md. House of Delegates:

Edward Tilghman (1713–1786) of Queen Anne Co., was high sheriff, 1739–42; assemblyman, 1746–50, 1754–71; speaker, 1770–71; member of the Stamp Act Congress, 1765.

William Murdock, a very active assemblyman representing Prince George Co., was a member of the Stamp Act Congress, 1765.

Matthew Tilghman (1718–1790), brother of Edward, represented Talbot Co., 1751–58, 1768–74, and Queen Anne Co., 1760–61; speaker, 1773–74; delegate to the Continental Congress, 1774–76; president of the Md. Constitutional Convention, 1776; and member of the Md. Senate, 1776–83. DAB.

Charles Carroll (“the Barrister,” 1723–1783), a distant cousin of the more famous Charles Carroll of Carrollton, was educated at Eton and at Clare Coll., Cambridge; called to the bar from the Middle Temple; returned to Md. in 1746. He represented Anne Arundel Co. for many years and was president of the Md. Convention of 1775.

On Thomas Ringgold see the first footnote to the preceding document.

John Hammond matriculated at Oriel Coll., Oxford, 1758; Middle Temple, 1760. He succeeded his recently deceased father Philip as delegate from Anne Arundel Co. in the session beginning April 13, 1761.

7Neither letter found.

8William Pitt resigned as secretary of state, Oct. 5, 1761, when the Cabinet would not support his demand for an immediate declaration of war against Spain. Sir Charles Wyndham, ad Earl of Egremont (1710–1763), took his place.

9Controversies between the House of Delegates and the governor and Council, very similar to those in Pa., including the issue of taxation of proprietary estates, had produced a virtual stalemate in Md. and had prevented the passage of adequate appropriations for carrying on the province’s share of the war effort.

1The surviving page of BF’s draft begins at this point.

2On April 15, 1762, the House of Delegates voted that an address of condolence and congratulation be prepared and sent to George III. As drafted and adopted, April 24, the address was in general confined to condolences on the death of George II and congratulations on the new King’s accession and marriage; but the House could not resist including a passage begging his Majesty “to suspend every unfavorable Sentiment of the People of Maryland or their Representatives ’till the real Causes of it are laid open to your royal Consideration.” The House voted that the address should be sent to BF for presentation by a committee, four of whose six members were among the men to whom BF had addressed the present letter. Md. Arch., LVIII, 132, 146, 148, 172–4. Writing to Cecilius Calvert, May 11, 1762, Governor Sharpe indicated that the House of Delegates had prepared the new address in consequence of BF’s advice. Ibid., XIV, 53.

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