Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Richard Jackson, 27 June 1763

To Richard Jackson

ALS: American Philosophical Society

New York, June 27. 1763

Dear Sir,

Since my Arrival here, News is brought from all Quarters of the Indians having suddenly and pretty generally commenc’d Hostilities, without having first made any Complaint, or alledging any Reason.9

I find the General1 is of Opinion, that it is the Effect of a large Belt sent last Year among them by the French Commander in the Ilinois Country, which was stopt sometime in one of their Towns, but afterwards carried round thro’ the Nations: and he thinks, it will cease when those French come to know that a Peace is concluded between England and France. But others here say, the Indians are disgusted that so little Notice has lately been taken of them, and are particularly offended that Rum is prohibited, and Powder dealt among them so sparingly. They have received no Presents: And the Plan of preventing War among them, and bringing them to live by Agriculture, they resent as an Attempt to make Women of them, as they phrase it: It being the Business of Women only to cultivate the Ground: their Men are all Warriors.2

Perhaps these Causes have jointly contributed to produce the Effect. I think too, that we stoop’d too much in begging the last Peace of them;3 which has made them vain and insolent; and that we should never mention Peace to them again, till we have given them some severe Blows, and made them feel some ill Consequences of breaking with us. The Papers will tell you most of our News.4 The inclos’d Letter has some Particulars not yet publish’d.5

Your Favour by Mr. Tunnicliff reach’d me here.6 I have recommended him for a Purchase of Land to Lord Stirling,7 who has great Tracts in the Jerseys out of the Indians way, and says he should like such a Man for a Neighbour, being himself employ’d at present in making great Improvements near Baskinridge where he purposes Building a Seat. I have recommended him also to Mr. Hughes,8 who is well acquainted with Country Affairs, and capable of giving him the best Advice. When I return to Pensilvania, which I hope will be about the Beginning of September, I shall readily afford him such Assistance as may be in my Power.

I have wrote to you lately, and little now occurs to add. I see in the Account of our Success at the Manillas, on which I congratulate you, one Barker mention’d as an Officer. It is probably the same we have been enquiring after.9 I hear our Assembly is to meet on Occasion of these Indian Disturbances, before the time to which they stood adjourn’d.1 With the greatest Esteem, I am, Dear Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

P.S. This Renewal of Indian War in the Northern Parts, would incline our People much more to a southern Settlement. I long to hear your Sentiments of the Coxes Affair.2

The Indians engag’d its said are the Outaways and Chippaways with some Seneca’s and Delawares.3

R Jackson Esqr

Endorsed: New York June 27 1763 B Franklin Esqr

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9See above, pp. 273–4 n, for the beginnings of the Indian uprising.

1Gen. Jeffery Amherst, the British commander-in-chief in North America.

2Howard H. Peckham places the blame for the uprising chiefly on Amherst’s shortsighted policy of refusing to supply the western Indians with presents, ammunition, and rum, although he does not discount French intrigue and the encroachment of settlers on Indian lands. Pontiac and the Indian Uprising (Chicago, 1961), esp. pp. 101–7.

3BF is probably referring to the Indian treaty at Lancaster, Pa., in August 1762, at which the Indians requested the removal of troops from Fort Augusta and the regulation of traders there and at which Governor Hamilton tried unsuccessfully to obtain the Indians’ permission to build a trading post at the head of the Susquehanna River. Johnson Papers, III, 873–5.

4N.-Y. Mercury, June 27, 1763, carried an account of Pontiac’s unsuccessful attempt to take Detroit by a ruse, his subsequent attacks on outlying settlers, and his failure to take the fort by a direct assault. The June 20 issue carried accounts of Indian depredations on settlers and traders around Fort Pitt.

5According to Carl Van Doren, David Hall’s letter to BF of June 23, 1763, above, pp. 293–4. Letters and Papers of Benjamin Franklin and Richard Jackson 1753–1785 (Phila., 1947), p. 106.

6For John Tunnicliff, an Englishman who had come to America to buy lands, see above, p. 227 n. He probably carried Jackson’s letter to BF of April 4, 1763; see above, pp. 241–5.

7For William Alexander, “Lord Stirling,” see above, p. 151 n.

8BF’s good friend, John Hughes.

9N.-Y. Mercury, June 13, 1763, carried an account of the British siege and capture of Manila, Oct. 6, 1762. Maj. Robert Barker, from whom John Hughes, with BF’s assistance, was trying to buy land in N.J. (see above, pp. 157–8), was commended in the account for his “most excellent skill” in commanding the British artillery during the battle.

1On April 2, 1763, the Pa. Assembly adjourned until September 12, but reconvened at Amherst’s request on July 4. 8 Pa. Arch., VI, 5425.

2See above, pp. 212–14.

3Pontiac is generally agreed to have been an Ottawa, although one of his parents may have been a Chippewa or a Miami. He was supported by his own tribe and by the Chippewa, Potawatomie, Huron, Delaware, Shawnee, Mingo, and Seneca. Peckham, Pontiac and the Indian Uprising, pp. 15–16, 96–107 passim.

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