Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Richard Jackson, 4 April 1763

From Richard Jackson

ALS: American Philosophical Society

4 Apl 1763

Dear Sir

I received your favour by the Packet, as well as those by the Carolina,7 I had before the Pleasure to hear of your safe Arrival from Mr. Strahan,8 which was the more acceptable, because the time that had elapsed since your sailing was rather too long and gave your friends room for Apprehensions. I have before wished you Joy on Mr. Franklin’s Promotion, I doubt not, it will give as much pleasure to the Province of New Jersey as to him and your friends; I saw him a Day or two before he left London, and acquainted him with my Situation, as to a seat in Parliament. I was then pretty secure, but I shall never be sanguine again as long as I live, though I was not disappointed on this Occasion, in fact I was chose for Weymouth the Week in which the Parliament met in Nov. and have made as Prudent a Use of my Seat since that Time as I have been able.9 A Seat in P., in this Kingdom is (you know) usually built on Negotiations, and these Negotiations, (in the Course of which I met with some Trouble) took up most of my last Summer, so that, I could complete but the Skeleton of my work.1 I think however the more difficult part is finished, perhaps I might have said so, if I had only begun it. I shall certainly compleat it this Summer, though I do not mean to publish it as compleat as I make it. It will be necessary it should not be too long.

The Speaker has frequently inquired after you,2 in a very particular Manner, he did so when I dined with him yesterday, expressly great pleasure in hearing of your safe Arrival and insisted on my remembering to send his Compliments.

I can yet get no satisfactory Information about Mr. Barker or his family, I wish I had some Circumstances concerning his Business.3

I think I collect from Charles, who you see is now Comptroller at the Post Office, that his Discontent conceived against the Assembly of Pensylvania, was upon their Refusal to abide by his and the Opinion at the Council upon the Supply Bill.4

I met Mr. Penn yesterday who was very civil to me.

Though nothing could give me more pleasure than to hear of your safe Arrival and Health I had less pleasure in hearing of the Joy universally expressed at Philadelphia on the Occasion; in truth this was nothing but what I well knew before would be the Case, notwithstanding Dr. Smiths Opinion or Intelligence.

I was the better pleased with your Account of Madeira, because the Day I received your Letter, was the 2d of our sitting on a Committee to inquire into its State, in order with other facts to lay a foundation for extending the Indulgence already given to Rice (in Europe to the S[outh] of Cape Finisterre) thither.5 Mr. Gordon a Gentleman who resided there many years6 assured us, that he had seen the Numbers returned as Communicants from every Parish, by the respective Priests, into the Bishops Chamber, and that they amounted to 76000, these are all of both Sexes above 8 years. He was seemingly very cautious as well as exact in all his Evidence, and no ways interested, and if not mistaken makes the Number more than the greater mentioned to you. However I always suspect exaggeration as you do.7

Upon running over your Letter again, I suppose Mr. Hughes hears nothing more of Barker, than you mention to me, if the Heir has been or is now in the East India Service, I shall easily procure intelligence of him, at the India House but if he actually was in the East Indies some years ago, it is I fear 2 to 1, he is since Dead. I will the first Day I go into the City, inquire at the India House. They have the Name of every Man in India.

I had from Mr. Moore the Clerk of Assembly,8 through the hands of Messrs. Sargent & Aufrere, a Manifest of Forces employed by your Province in 1760 and 1761.9 It came not to me till some Months after it reached London being misdirected, yet soon enough, because I fear it will be of no Use, as the Lords of the Treasury have resolved not to depart from the Generals Returns who has allowed the Province 1350 in 1760, but none in the last year. I know not the reason for this, unless he is pleased to suppose that the 265 men employed in 1761 were for the Provincial Defence only; yet they were under his Command. Perhaps it is a Mistake. I shall write by the Packet to Mr. Moore, and as the Money will not be probably distributed a great While, there will be time for the General, upon Application made to him to set this Right. I am Dear Sir with the sincerest Respects and Esteem your most Obedient faithfull humble Servant

Rd Jackson

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7BF’s short letter of December 2, by the packet, and longer one of December 6, by the Carolina, which had been captured but released. See above, pp. 160–1, 162–5, and accompanying notes.

8London Chron., Dec. 30, 1762–Jan. 1, 1763, reported BF’s arrival at Philadelphia.

9Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, II, 669, gives the date of Jackson’s election for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis as Dec. 1, 1762. He succeeded John Olmius, Baron Waltham, who had died on October 5. Namier quotes Charles James Fox as writing Lord Bute, November 17: “Lady Waltham does not intend her son [to succeed his father], but one Mr. Jackson.” From what Jackson wrote BF immediately below, he had apparently negotiated unsuccessfully for a different seat during the previous summer.

1What “work” Jackson was preparing is not known. It probably dealt with colonial affairs, but he apparently never completed and published it. See above, p. 164 n.

2Probably the current speaker, Sir John Cust, not his predecessor, Arthur Onslow; see above, pp. 32 n, 164 n.

3On behalf of John Hughes, BF had asked Jackson to locate a Robert Barker and buy for Hughes his lands in western N.J.; see above, pp. 156–8, 163, 164.

4Robert Charles, former Pa. agent, was now comptroller of the Inland Office of the Post Office. On the reasons for his resignation of the agency see above, IX, 332 n.

5By an act of 3–4 Anne, c. 5 (1704), Parliament placed rice on the list of “enumerated commodities,” thereby forbidding its export from the colonies to any place in Europe except England. By acts of 1730 and 1735 this rule was relaxed to permit the export of rice from South Carolina and Georgia to any European port south of Cape Finisterre (that is, to Spain, Portugal, and the Mediterranean). 3 Geo. II, c. 28; 8 Geo. II, c. 19. Charles M. Andrews, The Colonial Period of American History, IV (New Haven, 1938), 95–8. On March 4 and 10, 1763, the House of Commons referred to a committee two petitions for liberty to extend the permitted area to include Madeira and other islands off the African coast. The committee reported favorably, but after several postponements and some debate Parliament was prorogued before any action took place. Journals of the House of Commons (Reprint of 1803), XXIX, 526–7, 541–2, 555, 568, 605–6, 613, 617, 621, 623, 625, 666.

6His Christian name was James (ibid., p. 605), but he is not further identified.

7The House of Commons committee report said that Gordon placed the population of Madeira at 100,000 (ibid., p. 605), but did not give his figures for the number of communicants. BF told Jackson (above, p. 163) that “They pretend to have ninety Thousand Souls on the Island, but I did not hear of any actual Numeration, and I suppose that the Account is exaggerated.” Presumably the inclusion of adult noncommunicants and children under eight would account for the difference between the two reports of Gordon’s testimony and for Jackson’s comparison of it with BF’s figure.

8Charles Moore (1724–1801). When WF resigned as clerk of the Assembly, Feb. 18, 1757, the House appointed Thomas Moore (1724–1799) in his place, but he found the office “too much interfering with his other Engagements in Business” and resigned the following March 2, whereupon his twin brother Charles was appointed. Votes, 1756–57, pp. 93, 97. Thomas and Charles were younger brothers of Samuel Preston Moore, provincial treasurer (above, IV, 259 n); Samuel Preston and Charles married sisters, Hannah and Milcah Martha Hill, and, making the family bond even closer, their wives were already their first cousins. Charles had graduated in medicine at Edinburgh in 1752 and practiced in Montgomery Co., Pa. Charles P. Keith, The Provincial Councillors of Pennsylvania (Phila., 1883), p. 74.

9When the officials of the British Treasury were preparing in June 1762 to distribute the parliamentary grant for repayment of colonial expenses in the campaign of 1760, they had as yet received no exact return from General Amherst as to the number of troops each colony had raised in that year—the basis always used for such distributions. Some of the agents contended that their colonies had provided more men in proportion than in 1759; others held that the proportions had been essentially the same as before. At a meeting on June 25, 1762, the spokesmen for the colonies agreed that, rather than wait for full information from Amherst, they should receive the same proportionate shares as they had the year before; if, when Amherst’s return arrived, it should show that any colony had received too much, then the excess would be deducted from the grant for the 1761 campaign and distributed among the colonies which had been underpaid for 1760. Amherst’s return eventually did show that Conn. and Pa. had been overpaid for 1760 (though his figure for Pa. troops was lower than what the colony though it should have been) and that in consequence Pa. owed £10,947 sterling to other colonies. Unfortunately, Amherst said Pa. had contributed no troops for 1761, hence it was entitled to no part of the parliamentary grant for that year. Because the Barclays and Sargent Aufrere had transmitted to the colony nearly all its share of the grant for 1760, they could not now make good on their prior commitment. It was agreed among the agents in London, May 19, 1763, that responsibility for the £10,947 owed by Pa. to other colonies should be transferred to Philadelphia and the Assembly be advised to appropriate and distribute that amount, according to an agreed proportion, among the six colonies entitled to larger shares for 1760. The Pa. Assembly accepted this arrangement, though there were several delays, and the necessary act became law March 23, 1764. Pa. Col. Recs., IX, 47–52, 115, 160; 8 Pa. Arch., VI, 5441; VII, 5505–6, 5509, 5511–12, 5514, 5572, 5583; I Pa. Arch., IV, 121, 130, 149–51, 159, 169; Statutes at Large, Pa., VI, 329–31.

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