Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Richard Jackson, 26 January 1764

From Richard Jackson

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Inner Temple 26 Jany 1764

Dear Sir

I have wrote to you by every Packet that has sailed and one that has not, I mean that of the present Month, which not being in England at the time, has been detained for the next, in the mean time, I write a line or two, by a Merchant Vessel that sails tomorrow or next day.6

I got pretty early intelligence of Major Barker’s arrival in England,7 but at the same time was informed of his Resolution to go to America, there to look after take Possesion of, and cultivate his Estate; I had long before discovered that this was the Gentleman you had in view; but thought it best to see him myself which I did an hour after I had wrote my last Letter, which however has not yet gone.

I found my Information well grounded and have no doubt he intends going to America in April. He is a sensible well-behaved man and as he has a great deal of military Merit, and is a friend of some Gentlemen of my Acquaintance who have long served in India, and who are too good Judges of Merit to bestow their friendship on one who did not deserve it, I think it is my Duty to recommend him to my friends in America and wish you would give him such Assistance as falls in your Way. Perhaps Mr. Hughes’s Acquaintance with him may help him to the Purchase of any Part of Major Barker Estate that he may determine to sell, should he come to such a determination.

Measures are taken for bringing several American Questions before Parliament.8 They are so numerous that I am quite at a loss where to begin, and I am so employd not only in attending the House, but in combating what I deem the most dangerous Errors in American Politicks in 100 Places, in many of which I am to begin with first Principles, that I am fit for little but sleep when I return home. Mr. Allen knows somewhat of my Assiduity on these Subjects.9 I have Access to almost every Place any friends of the Colony’s would wish to have Access to1 but I am not sensible of my making any Impression proportioned to my Endeavours, perhaps it is I, that am wrong.

I have long since given up all hopes of preventing some Parliamentary Tax to be imposed on N America as well as the W Indies for the maintenance of the Troops kept there, how far it is necessary to keep any considerable Number I will not say, but I have long argued that those kept there are for the most part maintained for the Intrests of G Britain only.

I am most averse to an Internal Tax, God knows how far such a precedent may be extended, and I have frequently asked, what internal Tax they will not lay.

Customs as well as Prohibitions on Trade, have been at all times, laid by England from the time of the long Parliament.2 I wish this to be the Rule of Conduct on this Occasion.

There is a Bill in Embryo for restraining your Paper Currency and of all N america within the limits prescribed to the N England Governments by the Stat 24 Geo. 2d. I have not seen the Draught of it, if it be prepared. They will certainly carry it, if they are determined so to do.3 My Compliments to my friends particularly the Governor of N Jersey and his Lady. It is 11 at Night and I have not dined. I am Dear sir your Affectionate humble Servant

Rd Jackson

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6By May 1, 1764, BF had acknowledged receiving Jackson’s letters of Nov. 12, 1763 (above, X, 368–72), Nov. 26, and Dec. 9, 1763 (neither has been found), Dec. 27, 1763 (above, X, 411–16), Jan. 14, 1764 (not found), and the present letter. See below, p. 185.

7For Major Robert Barker, from whom BF’s friend John Hughes was trying to buy lands in western N.J., see above, X, 157 n. Contrary to Jackson’s expectation stated in this letter, Barker did not go to America. He was knighted and returned to India and served the East India Co. with the rank of colonel. DNB; A. M. Davies, Clive of Plassey (London, 1939), p. 429.

8The foremost American question confronting Parliament at this time was how money was to be raised from the colonies to pay for the British troops that were to remain in America to protect them. That a revenue was to be raised in America, Jackson had written BF on Dec. 27, 1763, was not “now to [be] argued against.” The proposal to alter the duties on the colonial importation of foreign molasses, embodied in the Sugar Act of April 5, 1764, had already been discussed for some months by British politicians. See above, X, 371–2, 415.

9William Allen, chief justice of Pa. (above, III, 296–7 n), visited England in the summer of 1763 and returned home in August 1764. Reports from London printed in Pa. Gaz., May 10 and June 4, 1764, declared that Allen had been “indefatigable” in opposing a stamp act and had used his “Acquaintance with the first Personages in the Kingdom, and the greatest Part of the House of Commons” to prevent the passage of such a measure that session.

1Jackson was appointed secretary to the chancellor of the Exchequer, George Grenville, in 1763 and served until the fall of that administration in July 1765. He claimed to have a “good deal of access” to the chancellor. Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, II, 670, and above, X, 412–13.

2The English Parliament which convened in 1640 was not technically dissolved until 1661, although Cromwell put a temporary end to its sessions in 1653. Cromwell’s Navigation Act (or Ordinance) of 1651 and Charles II’s first Navigation Act (1660) laid the foundation for the system of English control of colonial trade.

3For the Board of Trade hearings and the parliamentary maneuverings that led to the passage of the Currency Act of April 19, 1764 (4 Geo. III, c. 34), which forbade further emission of legal-tender paper currency in the colonies south of New England, see Jack M. Sosin, “Imperial Regulation of Colonial Paper Money, 1764–1773,” PMHB, LXXXVIII (1964), 174–98. For the repercussions of the act in the colonies, see Jack P. Greene and Richard M. Jellison, “The Currency Act of 1764 in Imperial-Colonial Relations, 1764–1776,” 3 William and Mary Quar., XVIII (1961), 485–518. See also Jackson’s comments, below, pp. 176–7.

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