Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Richard Jackson, 1 May 1764

To Richard Jackson

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Philada. May 1. 1764

Dear Sir

I have receiv’d your Favours of Dec. 27. Jan. 14. Jan. 26. and Feb. 11.7

I wrote to you Dec. 24. Jan. 16. Feb. 11. March 8. 14. and 31.8 I could wish your Letters would from time to time mention which of mine come to hand.

Since my last I have had a Conversation with Mr. William Coxe, on the Subject of our being at any or no Expence in the Pursuit of their Right.9 And he tells me, that their Proposal was, to be at all Expence themselves as far as £500 Sterling would go; and if the Expence should exceed that Sum, such Excess to be equally divided between them and us. He thinks his Letter to you very clear in that respect.

We continue in great Disorder here; Reports frequently spreading that the Frontier People are assembling to come down again; and ’tis thought they will certainly be here when the Assembly sit, the Middle of this Month.1 Petitions to the King are handing about, and signing in most parts of the Province for a Change of Government.2 I have written the enclos’d Pamphlet3 to promote it, as I see no Prospect or Probability of any Agreement with the Proprietaries, and, in the Way we are in, publick Business cannot go on, nor the internal Peace of the Province be preserved. I enclose you also a little Piece of Mr. Galloway’s.4 The Rhodeisland People, too, are tired of their Charter Government, as you will see by one of their late Papers, which I send you.5

You have in some of your late Letters mention’d a Post you hold under the Prime Minister, but do not say what it is.6

I long to hear what has been done in Parliament relative to America. Your Objection to internal Taxes is undoubtedly just and solid.7 Two distinct Jurisdictions or Powers of Taxing cannot well subsist together in the same Country. They will confound and obstruct each other. When any Tax for America is propos’d in your Parliament, how are you to know that we are not already tax’d as much as we can bear? If a Tax is propos’d with us, how dare we venture to lay it, as the next Ship perhaps may bring us an Account of some heavy Tax impos’d by you. If you chuse to tax us, give us Members in your Legislature, and let us be one People.

You mention that you could interest me in a Grant in Nova Scotia. I wish then that you would do it if in any Part likely for Settlement.8 As I have some Money to spare, I know not how better to dispose of it for the Advantage of my Children. And since there is no Likelihood of my being engag’d in any Project of a new Government, the Popular Character I have in America may at least be of Use in procuring Settlers for some Part under an old one. St. John’s Island, I see by the Papers, is granted to Lord Egmont.9 The Nantucket Whalers, who are mostly my Relations, wanted a Settlement there, their own Island being too full. At their Request I drew a Petition for them last Year, to General Amherst;1 but he had no Power to settle them any where. They are desirous of being somewhere in or near the Bay of St. Lawrence, where the Whale—as well as other—Fishing is excellent.

This brings me to mention another Affair of the same kind. There are in the Government of Quebec, two Tracts of vacant Land, the Right of which is at present in the Crown. Inclos’d you have a short Account of their Situation. They were discover’d by two Friends of mine, Mr. John Baynton, and Mr. Samuel Wharton, Merchants of this Place,2 who desire to obtain a Grant of them, in which they would be glad to have me joined. Can you obtain such a Grant for us, and will you share my Third with me? If it be practicable and you like the Proposal, the sooner ’tis push’d the better; as ’tis fear’d that Governor Murray, when he receives his Commission may otherwise grant the Land away.3 That Tract in Bay Chaleur4 may probably suit my Nantucket Friends extreamly well.

Three of your Convicts are to be executed here next Week for Burglaries, one of them suspected of a Murder committed on the Highway.5 When will you cease plaguing us with them?

Your Complaints of that old Fever on your Spirits, give me real Concern. Take care of yourself for the sake of your Friends, among whom none can interest themselves more cordially in whatever relates to your Welfare and Happiness, than, Dear Sir, Your affectionate and most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

R. Jackson, Esq.

Endorsed: Philada. May 1st. 1764 Benjn. Franklin Esqr

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Only those of Dec. 27, 1763, and Jan. 26, 1764, have been found; see above, X, 411–16, and this volume, pp. 33–6.

8See above, X, 408–10, and this volume, pp. 19–20, 76–8, 95–7, 105–9, 150–2. BF forgot his March 29 letter, above, pp. 148–9.

9See above, X, 214, 341–2, 370–1, and this volume, p. 152, for the confusion about the terms on which BF and Jackson were to assist the heirs of Dr. Daniel Coxe in obtaining royal confirmation for the “Carolana” land grant.

1Having adjourned on March 24, 1764, the House reconvened on May 14 and sat until May 30, 1764. No frontiersmen disturbed their deliberations, although several petitions were presented from inhabitants in the frontier counties, praying for the redress of their grievances, including their unequal representation. Votes, 1763–64, pp. 75, 76, 82. Muhlenberg recorded in his journal, March 29, 1764, however, a visit from a frontiersman from beyond Easton, who opposed the Assembly petition for a change in government as a “Quaker invention” to avoid doing anything to protect the frontiers. If the Indians resumed their attacks during the planting season, he said, “the frontier settlers from four counties would flock to Philadelphia by the thousands and speak to the government.” Theodore G. Tappert and John W. Doberstein, eds., The Journals of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, II (Phila., 1945), 54–5.

2See above, pp. 145–7.

3Cool Thoughts; see above, pp. 153–73.

4Perhaps the piece entitled An Address to the Freeholders and Inhabitants of the Province of Pennsylvania, attributed to Galloway; see above, p. 154.

5BF probably sent Jackson the April 23, 1764, issue of the Newport Mercury, which contained a letter by “Z. Y.,” supposed to be either Martin Howard, Jr., or Dr. Thomas Moffatt (see below, p. 191 n), both of whom were BF’s friends and correspondents, advocating the revocation of the Rhode Island charter of 1663 and the establishment of royal government in the colony. For Howard, Moffatt, and their group of Rhode Island conservatives, see Edmund S. and Helen M. Morgan, The Stamp Act Crisis (Chapel Hill, [1953]), pp. 47–52.

6In his letter to BF of Dec. 27, 1763 (see above, X, 412–13) Jackson spoke of having “received a very considerable Mark” of Prime Minister George Grenville’s “good will and Esteem”; he was referring to his appointment as secretary to Grenville in his capacity as chancellor of the Exchequer, a post which Jackson held until sometime in 1765. Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, II, 670.

7See Jackson’s letters of Nov. 12, Dec. 27, 1763, and Jan. 26, 1764; above, X, 371, 415, and this volume, pp. 33–6.

8BF’s Nova Scotia land dealings are clouded in obscurity. What is known is that in either the winter of 1764 or the spring of 1765 he and a number of unidentified associates, presumably from Philadelphia, applied to Governor Montague Wilmot for a grant of 200,000 acres and that in October 1765, in connection with Alexander McNutt and several other people, he was granted 100,000 acres on the north side of the Saint John River. W. O. Raymond, “Colonel Alexander McNutt and the Pre-Loyalist Settlements of Nova Scotia,” Royal Society of Canada Proc. and Trans., 3d ser., V (1911), section II, 86–7, 91–2; William O. Sawtelle, “Acadia: The Pre-Loyalist Migration and the Philadelphia Plantation,” PMHB, LI (1927), 269–85.

9For John Perceval, 2d Earl of Egmont, at this time first lord of the Admiralty, see above, X, 286 n. Pa. Gaz., April 26, 1764, mentioned the certainty of St. John Island being granted to him, but his plan came to nothing.

1See above, X, 429–31.

2John Baynton (1726–1773) and Samuel Wharton (1732–1800) were partners in a mercantile firm bearing their names (after 1763 the firm became Baynton, Wharton & Morgan) which specialized in the Indian trade. The company suffered heavily during Pontiac’s Uprising, and for several years thereafter Wharton attempted to reimburse these losses by obtaining a grant of land from the Indians. He succeeded at Fort Stanwix in 1768, receiving the cession of a large tract in what is now West Virginia from the Six Nations. Wharton was sent to England in 1769 to procure royal confirmation for this grant, but he soon was involved in a much larger land speculating venture, the Walpole Company, of which BF was also a member. BF and Wharton’s relations were very close for several years thereafter. Wharton, an incorrigible land speculator, visited BF in Paris in 1779 to discuss a project to get Congressional recognition for the Vandalia claim. A letter from Baynton and Wharton to BF, Nov. 3, 1764 (below, pp. 427–8) gives some particulars of the Canadian tracts in which they were interested; the letter of March 11, 1764, from which they then quoted may have been the “short Account” BF sent to Jackson with the present proposal.

3Gen. James Murray (see above, X, 223 n), governor of the town of Quebec since 1760, was appointed governor of the whole province on Nov. 21, 1763, serving until 1766.

4A bay in the Gulf of St. Lawrence at the present boundary between New Brunswick and Quebec.

5Dr. Friedrich Wilhelm Autenried (Autenrieth, Handenried), John Williams (alias John Hines), and John Brinckloe (alias John Benson) were convicted of burglary in April. The first two were hanged, May 12, 1764, but Brinckloe was told at the foot of the gallows that he had been reprieved. Pa. Col. Recs., IX, 172–4; Muhlenberg Journals, II, 43–72 passim, 76–7; Pa. Gaz., May 17, 1764.

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