Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Richard Jackson, [13 April 1764]

From Richard Jackson

AL (incomplete): American Philosophical Society

[April 13, 1764]3

[First part missing] K. William. I send you a List of Papers I found entered in Books in 1699 besides these there is a long Memorial of Dr. Coxes in 17194 I suppose just before his Death, to the B of T pressing much to have his claim insisted on at the Court of France by the Commisssary then going there on the Subject of Ste Lucie &c. This Memorial contains much the same Matter as his former Paper and his printed Book and as it says not a Word of K. Williams Grant it is impossible to suppose such a grant exists. No Instruction was given to the Commissarys on this Head. I then looked over the Instruction.

I do not however quite give up the Claim, whatever may become of our Project, but as I am satisfied that after the length of Time elapsed since the grant to Sir Robert Heath, and the Settlement of the Carolinas in the Country granted, it is too hazardous (especially since the Determination of the Council on Lord Cadigans Claim to St. Lucie and St. Vincent) to venture a Petition on the meer Rights.5 I think it most Advisable to put the Claim on foot in Conversation, where it may never reach those who have laid down Principles inconsistent with Mr. Coxe’s Claim and if we can but remove (which I Hope I see a prospect of) the Prepossessions against Settlements on the Mississippi and in what is called the back Country, I hope a Project for a Settlement on that River may be approved and the Title of Messrs. Coxes, may be at least considered as a Title to favour, being till then kept on [torn] as an Obstacle to any Designs the Crown might entertain of ma[king Co]lonies in that part of America.

I have had 2 or 3 interviews with Sir Matthew Featherstone on this Subject as well as with Mr. Sargent.6 We dined at Sir Matthews House a Week ago, however I expect little from either of them at present.

A Project for putting all the Colonies in America on an equal footing with respect to Paper Currency has been on foot at the Board of Trade most part of this Winter,7 you know my Sentiments on that Subject, I have been always inclined against a Paper Currency, I mean a legal Tender Paper Currency and though I conceive Difficultys occurring for want of it at times, I am satisfied they are to be removed by a Bank, subject to none of the Objections made to a P. C. and (if insurmountable Objections should arise in the Way of a Publick Bank, I wish it were a Provincial one) by private Bankers on a sufficient Foundation.

However when there was a Meeting at the Board of Trade of the Lords, the former Governor of Provinces, Commanders of Forces &c. at which I was present,8 I gave my Opinion flatly against any Bill in Parliament this Session, founded chiefly on this, that I thought it one thing to prevent an Evil, another to cure it, and that no Provision could be made by way of Remedy, but might produce great Mischiefs for want of our knowing the exact state of the Paper Currency, in every Province, as well as the Objections that might be against the Bill. Besides which I urged that I judged it rather an Indecorum to make Laws respecting People so remote without their even knowing what we were about. Mr. Penn was of the same Opinion on this Point. Nobody else said much on the Subject against a Bill, except that both Monckton and [Sir Charles Hardy?]9 agreed that they had seen the good Effects and even Necessity of Paper Money. The Board seemed to have dropped their Project for this year, it was [under]stood the Treasury would not support a Bill in the House. About a fortnight before the House was to rise, upon my Return from Norfolk where I went to support the Election of the Sollicitor Generals Brother,1 I found a Bill [remainder missing].

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3On June 18, 1764, BF acknowledged the receipt of Jackson’s letter of April 13, 1764, and it seems almost certain that the present fragment is a part of that letter. It was certainly written later than March 26, 1764, because it mentions the Privy Council’s decision on Lord Cardigan’s claim, which was handed down on that date. Supporting the assumption that the fragment was written in April is Jackson’s statement that he returned to his seat in Parliament about “a fortnight before the House was to rise,” its date of adjournment being April 19, 1764, and found a bill forbidding the American colonies to issue legal-tender paper currency lying before the House (at least this is what one strongly infers to have been his meaning). Such a bill was introduced in Parliament on April 4 and passed on April 19, 1764. See Lewis B. Namier, “Charles Garth,” English Historical Review, LIV (1939), 640.

4For Jackson’s efforts to confirm the claim of the descendants of Dr. Daniel Coxe to “Carolana,” a venture in which BF was also involved, see above, X, 368–70.

5The application of the Earl of Egmont for a grant of the island of St. John (Prince Edward Island) in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the petition of the Earl of Cardigan for recognition of claims to St. Lucia and St. Vincent (above, X, 414) provoked a brief controversy in London Chron., Feb. 11–14, 14–16, 1764, on the desirability of colonial proprietorships in general, with the Penn family and its alleged great estate prominently mentioned. Perhaps Jackson felt that his position as agent for the Pa. Assembly would make it unwise for him to press publicly the Coxe claims, which were based on a grant somewhat similar to that held by the Penns.

6BF had been concerned with Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh (above, X, 214 n) and John Sargent (above, VII, 322 n, IX, 359 n) in an abortive scheme to obtain a land grant in America and recommended these gentlemen to Jackson as worthy participants in the Coxe grant. See above, X, 214 n.

7As a result of the depreciation of paper money in Virginia and North Carolina the Board of Trade conducted hearings in December 1763 on the currency problem in Virginia and the next month held broader hearings on the paper-money problem in all of the continental American colonies. The hearings lasted well into February with the Board on February 9 signing a representation calling for the prohibition of future issues of legal-tender paper money in the colonies and for the retirement by given dates of the legal-tender paper then circulating. What happened then is obscure but from “the correspondence of the agents, it seems clear that as late as March 24, the Commissioners of Trade dropped the idea of bringing a bill into Parliament that year.” On March 29, however, Anthony Bacon, a No. Car. merchant and M.P. for Aylesbury, “unexpectedly revived” the proposal in the Commons, and on April 19 the Currency Act of 1764 was passed. Board of Trade Journal, 1759–63, p. 418; 1764–67, pp. 3, 4, 6, 11, 14, 15, 18–20; Acts Privy Coun., Col., IV, 630–1; Jack M. Sosin, “Imperial Regulation of Colonial Paper Money, 1764–1773,” PMHB, LXXXVIII (1964), 174–98.

8This meeting took place on Feb. 2, 1764. Among others, Thomas Penn and William Allen were present. Board of Trade Journal, 1764–7, p. 15.

9Robert Monckton was the governor of New York; above, X, 290 n. Hardy had been governor of the same province, 1755–57; above, VI, 450 n.

1Thomas de Grey of Merton, Norfolk. He was elected on April 11, 1764, and served until 1774. London Chron., April 10–12, 1764; Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, II, 306–7. For his brother, William de Grey, see above, X, 23 n.

Index Entries