Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Richard Jackson, 24 December 1763

To Richard Jackson

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Philada. Dec. 24. 1763

Dear Sir

Since my last of the 19th Inst. which went per Budden,4 our Assembly have voted a Compliance with General Amherst’s Requisition of 1000 Men from this Province, to act offensively in the Spring against the Indians.5 This is the more remarkable, as this Province us’d to be reckon’d backward in such Measures, and New York and the Jersies, have just set us but an indifferent Example; Maryland was not call’d upon, the Reason I know not; and what Virginia will do is yet uncertain: We are therefore the first, as far as we know, that have comply’d fully and heartily as soon as requir’d. I doubt not but you will take care to mention this in our Favour where proper; and let us be prais’d a little by way of Encouragement to be good Boys for the future.

I enclose some of our latest Papers.6 I suppose Peace with the Indians will be talk’d of among you, and some Orders sent over as to the Terms. When the last Peace was made, the Indians invited our Merchants to send Goods into their Country, promising all Safety and Protection to the Traders and their Effects.7 In full Reliance on those Promises, great Quantities of Goods were accordingly sent among them; when they perfidiously broke the Peace, without making the least Complaint of any Injury receiv’d, or demanding Satisfaction for any pretended to be receiv’d, seiz’d the Goods and massacred the Traders in cold Blood.8 It will appear reasonable to all, that if a Peace is granted to them, they ought to make all the Restitution and Satisfaction in their Power: But the Goods are consum’d, and they have no Money. And yet, if they are allow’d to enjoy the whole Benefit of their Villany, without suffering any Inconvenience, they will more readily repeat it the first Opportunity. It is therefore my Opinion, that they should always on such Occasions be obliged to give up some Part of their Territory most convenient for our Settlement, which might be apply’d to the Indemnification of the Merchants.9 Or, where that can’t be done, given to some other Nation of Indians who have been faithful to us, and may want it. I am, with sincere Esteem, Dear Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

Richd. Jackson Esqr.

Endorsed: 24 Decr 1763 Benjn Franklin Esqr

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4See above, pp. 402–5.

5For Amherst’s requisition and for the Assembly’s vote to comply with it, see above, p. 405 n.

6One of these was almost certainly the December 22 issue of Pa. Gaz., which carried extracts of letters from Forts Pitt and Detroit, mentioning the Indians’ desire for peace.

7By “the last Peace” BF may have meant one made at a “huge good-will assembly” held at Fort Pitt in August 1759 by George Croghan, attended by about 1000 Indians; or one at a conference held by Croghan at Detroit in the late fall of 1760; or one at a larger conference held at the same place by Croghan and Sir William Johnson in September 1761. See Howard H. Peckham, Pontiac and the Indian Uprising (Chicago, 1961), pp. 56, 66, 78–9.

8For the beginnings of and causes of the Pontiac Uprising, see above, pp. 273–4 n, 295–6.

9On Dec. 7, 1763, and again on the 12th, a group of merchants engaged in the Indian trade who had suffered at the hands of the natives during the French and Indian War and during the Pontiac Uprising met at the Indian Queen Tavern in Philadelphia and appointed George Croghan and Moses Franks their agents to lay a memorial before the Board of Trade praying for compensation for their losses. The merchants, later known as the “Suffering Traders,” envisaged monetary compensation “from the French Prises,” but Croghan after spending several fruitless months in London began to suggest that his associates work for a land grant instead—precisely the idea BF is suggesting here. This idea was accepted and in 1766 the “Suffering Traders” became the Illinois Company, later the Vandalia Company, and finally the Walpole Company. The extremely complicated evolution of the “Suffering Traders” into a series of land companies and BF’s affiliations with them will occupy considerable space in subsequent volumes. The Papers of Sir William Johnson, IV (Albany, 1925), 264–66, 267–71.

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