Benjamin Franklin Papers

James Hamilton to Jared Ingersoll, 8 July 1762

James Hamilton to Jared Ingersoll8

Extract from a transcript: Massachusetts Historical Society9

Governor Hamilton of Pennsylvania and Jared Ingersoll had become friends while both were in England in 1758–59, and they corresponded occasionally thereafter. The letter from which an extract is printed below deals chiefly with the threatened settlement by the Connecticut Susquehannah Company on lands within the charter boundaries of Pennsylvania which agents of the company had bought from the Indians at Albany in 1754.1 Near the end occurs a paragraph which so well illustrates the feelings of proprietary leaders in Pennsylvania towards Franklin and his English mission that it merits inclusion here as a summary statement of their attitude.

Philadelphia July 8th 1762

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Your Friend Mr. Franklin, and mine if he pleases, (for it will much depend on himself) is dailey expected from England. I cannot find that his five years negotiation at a vast expence to the province, hath answered any other purpose with respect to the publick, than to get every point that was in controversy, determined against them. Yet what is this to Mr. Franklin? Hath it not afforded him a life of pleasure, and an opportunity of displaying his talents among the virtuosi of various kingdoms and nations? and lastly hath it not procured for himself the Degree of Doctor of Laws, and for the modest and beautiful Youth, his son, that of master of Arts, from one of our most famous universities?2 Let me tell you, those are no small acquisitions to the public, and therefore well worth paying for.

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[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Jared Ingersoll (1722–1781), lawyer and Conn. public official, B.A., Yale, 1742, began the practice of law in New Haven in 1744 and in 1751 became King’s attorney for the county. He was the colony’s agent in England, 1758–61, and again 1764–65. Appointed Stamp Act distributor for Conn., he was forced by a mob to resign. In 1768 he was named judge of one of the new British Vice Admiralty courts with headquarters in Philadelphia, to which city he moved in 1771. During the Revolution he was loyalist in sentiments but lived quietly in Philadelphia until forced to return to New Haven on parole in 1777. DAB; Lawrence H. Gipson, Jared Ingersoll A Study of American Loyalism in Relation to British Colonial Government (New Haven, 1920). BF may have met Ingersoll during one of his visits to New Haven; in any case they became good friends while they were both serving as colonial agents in England. On Jan. 23, 1761, BF lent Ingersoll as Conn. agent £2000 of the Pa. parliamentary grant then in his hands, Ingersoll providing security. His fellow agent repaid the loan, March 27, with £14 accrued interest. “Account of Expences,” pp. 58, 59; PMHB, LV (1931), 190.

9In the Parkman MSS. The ALS was formerly among the Ingersoll Papers in New Haven Colony Hist. Soc., but cannot now be found, nor is it included in the extensive selection from those MSS printed in New Haven Colony Hist. Soc. Papers, IX (New Haven, 1918).

1See above, V, 350 n, and map facing p. 224.

2Obviously a reference to BF’s and WF’s honorary degrees from Oxford; above, pp. 76–8. More precisely, BF’s “Degree of Doctor of Laws” was the one he had received from St. Andrews in 1759 (above, VIII, 277–80), while the Oxford degree was that of “Doctor of Civil Law.”

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