Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Richard Jackson, 27 December 1763

From Richard Jackson

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Temple December 27, 1763

Dear Sir

I write to you by every Packet, but having heard that a Vessel sails for Philadelphia to morrow am desirous of troubling you with a few Lines which I hope will be in Time. I have had but one letter from you a great While,5 but though this would be Matter of Chagrin to me at all Times, the Occasion of my Loss gives me much more concern, I flatter myself however your Cure is now perfectly effected, I assure you with great Truth I am capable of no greater pleasure; than it would give me to hear you are perfectly recovered and free from any inconvenient Consequences. When I have the satisfaction of knowing this myself, I shall give pleasure to a 1000d People here by telling it to them.

I did not forget to name you in the Manner you deserve to Lord Egmont,6 but affairs here never were so mutable. Lord Egmont is 1st Lord of the Admiralty and Lord Hide in the former Place,7 I do not at all know this Lord, but shall take care he shall be acquainted with your Merit. It is now said Lord Egmont and Lord Sandwich are to change Places, that is the latter to return to his Place.8 I wish Lord Egmont was in Lord Halifax’s Place, who has now the Superior Administration of American Affairs, perhaps few so unfit for it.9 This Mutability of Offices is no proof of an unstable Ministry, it seems more established than ever, I need not inform you that Mr. Grenville is at the head of it,1 and I have a good Deal of Access to him, and have too received a very considerable Mark of his good will and Esteem, and what is generally too deemed a Mark of his Confidence;2 but I suspend my opinion on the Subject; when I know more I will write fuller on this Subject, at present American Affairs are in a Critical Situation. I have taken great pains and made the Utmost Use of my Access to Men of Rank and Weight and hope I have not thrown my Pains away. Some Men whose Judgment I esteem equal if not superior to any of the Nation, seem to think as I wish they should. In the mean time I publish nothing for obvious Reasons, though I have begun to print.3 There are many things, while I have the honour to be in favour with Administration, that will [be] more serviceable in private than Publick, but which if I find I cannot do the Service to the Colonies (and my Mother Country too, for I consider their Interests as inseperable as far [as] I go) I wish, in the station I am in, may as well be made publick as not.

You rightly conjecture, Major Barker at Manilla is the Gentleman whom you seek after,4 I made the same guess, and have been a good deal since employed in inquiring whether, he was returning to England, or was to continue in the Companys Service there and in the latter Case, how I could treat with him. From the best Information I could get I expect him in England in February or March. I find others have the same View. Mr. Sherwood5 told me he had such a Commission.

I wish I could give you more satisfaction, on Messrs. Coxes Application, but I fear the whole will prove very Uphill work.6 It is not however my fault I assure you, I have taken a great deal of Pains, and will yet engage them in as little Expence as I can make sufficient. The Indian War, the Strength this adds however groundlessly to many inveterate Prejudices, the length of time this Claim has been deserted, and what is worst a Report of the Attorney and Sollicitor General, the last my friend deGrey and Dr. Hay Kings Advocate7 against Lord Cardigans Claim of St. Vincent and S[ant]a Lucia though the Duke of Montagus Desertion was only because forced by France.8 I dare say I need not assure you that I do not magnify difficulties, either to make those Gentlemen give up their Claim or augment any merit of mine, I have some Reliance on Materials at the Board of Trade, that I have a promise of an Access to.

I write Mr. Galloway by the same Ship, this goes in, but in great haste in answer to one of his. I flatter myself the Province stands justifyed in the Eyes of Administration against any Complaint of G[eneral] Amherst.9 Mr. Allen has much contributed to this,1 to whom I have opined my Sentiments fully on the General Interests of America, especially those that may be affected by expected Measures in Parliament. I am much pleased with Mr. Allen.

A Revenue to be raised in America for the Support of British Troops is not now to [be] argued against: it would answer no Purpose to do so. I only contend that it should be built on a foundation consistent with the Constitutions of the Colonies, and on the Principles of Relation between the Mother Countries and her Colonies; it is not disputed that the M[othe]r Country is Mistress of the Trade of its Colonys, this Right has always been challenged and exercised, by England and all other Countries, the M C [Mother Country] may prohibit foreign Trade, it may therefore tax it. And the Colonys have a Compensation, in Protection but I dread internal Taxes.

I beg you will make my Compliments to Mr. Galloway. I shall always esteem myself much honoured as well as instructed by his Correspondence, and shall never think his Letters too frequent or too long, though great Variety of Business, and hurry of Spirits may shorten or obscure mine.

I agree perfectly with you in your sentiments about a Plethora of Money,2 the Advantages of Commerce are derived from the Industry it inforced and the Money it gains should be impounded, that which passes into Circulation often does great Mischief, and casually that impounded as all impounded things will sometimes do when they break down their Banks. Every Body speaks in favour of Col. Bouquet but those whose Business it should chiefly be to do so, I do not mean but that some of them do so too.3 It would have given me immense Pleasure to have seen Pittsburgh in its Prosperity in time of Peace, yet I do not despair, the Indian War is calamitous and the sufferers are to be pittied, yet I comfort myself with viewing the State of England after all the Ravages committed by the Danes.

I thank you for your good wishes as to my Marriage.4 I assure you I have been chiefly prevented from Marrying by a Resolution I have taken to enjoy a full Political Independence, this I am sure I shall do while I remain single, I think I shall do so now even though I should marry, unless I should have 10 Children but that Number or any Near it is a strong Temptation in this Corrupted Country. I am too apt, besides to think all Conditions of Life like a Merchants Ledger ballanced at bottom though they differ at first sight in length, Value or other Circumstances, to be very entent about changing those I chance to be in. I am Dear Sir with the most unfeigned Esteem your most Obedient Affectionate humble Servant

R Jackson

I inclose a List of Acts sent to me by Mr. Wilmott Agent for the Proprietors,5 which I sent a Duplicate of by the last Packet to you and intended but omitted sending this to Mr. Galloway.

Dr. Pringle altogether declines any Concern in our Schemes,6 only because he says he makes it a Rule to prevent Views of Profit from intruding on the Quiet necessary a Life of Literary Pursuit and Speculation.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Probably BF’s letter of Sept. 22, 1763 (see above, pp. 341–2), in which he mentioned his “dislocated Arm,” to which Jackson refers here.

6In his letter of June 10, 1763 (above, p. 286), BF had asked Jackson to speak “a few kind Things of me to my new Master Lord Egmont,” joint postmaster general. Egmont had received the more important position of first lord of the Admiralty on September 10, holding that office until 1766.

7Thomas Villiers, 1st Baron Hyde of Hindon (1709–1786), had occupied diplomatic posts in Poland, Saxony, Austria, and Prussia, 1737–48, and was M.P. for Tamworth, 1747–56, vacating his seat upon his elevation to the peerage. He had served as one of the lords of the Admiralty, 1748–56. Sworn of the Privy Council, Sept. 2, 1763, he succeeded Egmont as postmaster general ten days later, holding his position until July 1765 and again from December 1783 to his death. He was chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, 1771–82 and 1783–86. He was created Earl of Clarendon, 1776. DNB; Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, III, 587–8.

8Jackson meant that Lord Egmont, now first lord of the Admiralty, and Lord Sandwich, secretary of state for the Northern Department, were to exchange ministries, but this event did not take place. John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (1718–1792), served in the Admiralty, 1744–51, becoming first lord in 1748. He was secretary of state for the Northern Department, August 1763 to July 1765. During this time he incurred great obloquy and the nickname “Jemmy Twitcher” (from The Beggar’s Opera) by turning on his former crony John Wilkes and denouncing the latter’s Essay on Woman in the House of Lords. He was joint postmaster general (with another boon companion, Lord Le Despenser), 1768–71, and again first lord of the Admiralty, 1771–82. Scandals relating to his private life, and corruption, mismanagement, and neglect in the Navy during this later Admiralty service made him the object of bitter and violent invective, perhaps not entirely deserved. DNB; George Martelli, Jemmy Twitcher A Life of the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, 1718–1792 (London, 1962); G. R. Barnes and J. H. Owen, eds., The Sandwich Papers (4 vols., London, 1932–38); Frank Spencer, ed., The Fourth Earl of Sandwich Diplomatic Correspondence 1763–1765 (Manchester, 1961).

9George Montagu Dunk, 2d Earl of Halifax (above, VIII, 67 n, IX, 71 n), was secretary of state for the Southern Department and hence the minister directly in charge of colonial affairs.

1George Grenville (1712–1770), brother of Lord Temple and brother-in-law of William Pitt and of Lord Egremont, was educated at Eton; Christ Church, Cambridge; and the Inner Temple. M.P. for Buckingham, 1741–1770, he developed unusual skill as a “Parliament-man.” He was a lord of the Admiralty, 1744–47; lord of the Treasury, 1747–54; treasurer of the Navy for three periods between 1754 and 1762; secretary of state for the Northern Department, May–October 1762; then first lord of the Admiralty until April 1763. When Bute resigned, Grenville, Halifax, and Egremont (later succeeded by Bedford) assumed control of the administration with Grenville as first lord of the Treasury and chancellor of the Exchequer. Though his name is usually associated in American history with the Stamp Act, responsibility for that measure was divided among several leaders. George III thoroughly disliked him, personally and officially, and on July 10, 1765, succeeded in dismissing him and the ministry he headed. During the rest of his life Grenville was in opposition to the administrations that followed his. DNB; Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, II, 537–44.

2The connection between Jackson and Grenville is somewhat obscure, but Jackson seems to have served the chancellor of the Exchequer in some sort of secretarial capacity. Carl Van Doren, Letters and Papers of Benjamin Franklin and Richard Jackson 1753–1785 (Phila., 1947), pp. 23, 190.

3Nothing that Jackson had “begun to print” at this time has been identified; he may have been referring to some anonymous contribution to a newspaper.

4See above, pp. 156–8, 163, 297.

5Joseph Sherwood (d. 1773), a Quaker lawyer of Austin Friars, London, agent for R.I., 1759–73, and for N.J., 1760–66.

6See above, pp. 212–14, 369–71.

7On William de Grey, now solicitor general, who with Jackson had served as counsel for BF and Charles at the hearings on the Pa. acts in 1760, see above, VII, 61 n; IX, 23 n. On George Hay, a specialist in civil and canon law, see above, VIII, 5 n.

8George Montagu (formerly Brudenell), at this time 4th Earl of Cardigan and later Duke of Montagu (1712–1790), claimed the islands through a grant by George I to his wife’s father, the 2d Duke of Montagu, in 1722. An attempt by that duke to establish an English settlement had been frustrated by the French, who asserted prior rights, and Montagu’s deputy governor and settlers had been driven off. In 1761 Cardigan and his wife petitioned for the recognition of their rights or a compensating grant elsewhere if the islands were to go to France by the prospective peace treaty. Following an adverse report by the law officers, Dec. 24, 1763, the Privy Council formally declared the grant of 1722 void in March 1764. DNB (under George Montagu, and John Montagu, 2d Duke of Montagu); Acts Privy Coun., Col., IV, 618–19; Board of Trade Journal, 1759–63, pp. 401, 424; Calendar of Home Office Papers, 1760–65, pp. 54, 320, 322, 332.

9On Oct. 19, 1763, Halifax wrote Governor Penn expressing the King’s “Surprise and Displeasure” at the discovery, upon reading Amherst’s dispatches, that the Pa. Assembly had “inflexibly persisted, in refusing or neglecting to pay any Regard to the pressing Instances” in which Amherst had urged measures of defense against the Indians. Upon reading this letter, Jan. 9, 1764, the House appointed a committee to review the general’s letters to the governors of Pa. since news of the uprising had reached him in June. The committee reported at length, March 3, quoting Amherst’s letters, stating what the colony had done in response, and vigorously denying any neglect. Votes, 1763–64, pp. 23–4, 53–7. Jackson’s letter to BF of Nov. 12, 1763 (above, p. 372), had also referred to the “ill Impressions” Amherst’s dispatches had created.

1Chief Justice William Allen (above, III, 296–7 n) had sailed for England, April 27, 1763, with his two daughters; he returned in August 1764. Pa. Gaz., April 28, 1763; Aug. 16, 1764.

2In his letter of March 8, 1763, BF had complained to Jackson of the great increase in prices in Pa. during his absence in England and attributed the rise chiefly “to the enormous Plenty of Money among us.” The Crown had spent £800,000 sterling, he said, “for Provisions Carriages and other Necessaries in the Service” in Pa. alone, and the province had emitted between £500,000 and £600,000 in bills of credit, most of them still outstanding. The situation in N.J. and N.Y. was similar. See above, p. 209.

3In the same letter BF had praised the military and civil government at Pittsburgh under Col. Henry Bouquet, and Jackson was probably hitting at Amherst here for not sufficiently commending the colonel.

4In the concluding sentence of the first part of the same letter BF had wished his bachelor friend “every kind of Happiness, and among the rest that of a good Wife, when you chuse it.” Jackson never did marry.

5The Pa. acts of which Henry Wilmot had sent a list were those passed on March 4 and April 2, 1763, referred by the Privy Council to the Board of Trade on December 9 and 15, and allowed to remain in force through lapse of time. Statutes at Large, Pa., VI, 230–93; Acts Privy Coun., Col., IV, 809; Board of Trade Journal, 1759–63, p. 425.

6BF had suggested that Dr. John Pringle be allowed to take a share, along with Jackson and BF, in their prospective speculation in the Coxe land project; see above, p. 214.

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