Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Richard Jackson, 11 August 1764

From Richard Jackson

Copy: American Philosophical Society; ALS (fragment): American Philosophical Society4


Inner Temple, 11th. Augst. 1764

Dear Sir

I am just come to town, time enough before the Packet sails, or rather, I should say, before the Mail goes from London, to read your favours of the 25th together with the Dispatch brought from the Committee of Correspondence, by Mr. Hammet,5 to return a short Answer; I shall send a longer by a ship that Sails tomorrow from the River,6 by which too, I shall write to Mr. Coxe, to whom I have wrote several times, though I have reason to fear some of my Letters have miscarried.7 I am sensible I ought to preserve the Dates of my own Letters, and transmit the dates of those I receive, but though I took a Clerk to assist chiefly in this part of my business; I am so frequently obliged [to] sit down to write Letters just before a Ship Sails or the Post goes out, that he has no time even to take the Dates, much less copy them, as I often wish he might, and I have not an opportunity of looking for the Dates of my Bundles of Letters received though they lye by me.

I confess I am a little unwilling to be so explicit on the Question asked me respecting the delivery of the Petition, as I should be in conversing ore tenus on the subject.8 I have already wrote several Letters from whence my Opinion may be pretty clearly known,9 and I have opened my mind more fully to Mr. Allen1 (whom I well know to be a friend of the Proprietarys) than I should have done, perhaps, had it been any thing but what it is.

Shortly, I think that the Assembly are clearly right in the late Controversy between them and the Governor.2 I have more than once told the Proprietary and Mr. Allen, that the Assembly might well go further in loading his property without Injustice and the latter has frequently acknowledged it.3

I think too, that the present is not an unfavourable opportunity of presenting the Petition and pursuing the Application; I mean not substantially unfavourable because I think, the Delay of the Publick Service has palpably arose from the Conduct of the proprietary Government. And I think that the Application if made, will in the End meet with Success, I mean if kept up, perhaps for a Course of years, and this I have frequently I think convinced Mr. Allen of. On the other hand I think the Application will be Attended with a good deal of Expence4 and perhaps may meet with some mortifying circumstances of Reception (not from his Majesty who is a Prince of the most boundless Grace) and at last end in a Burthen on the Province, that may be disagreable.

I think besides, that Good and Gracious as the King is, the Liberties of the Province, will be always safe in his Hands if it were possible for him always to manage and direct this part of the Administration himself, for what the Province has not a Strict Right to, (if such Privileges, there should be) he would probably indulge them in the Exercise of, of his Grace and favour. But new Ministers may arise, and we cannot flatter ourselves that even the King will live for ever. Power may come into the hands of Profligate Men who may prostitute their high Rank, their great Parts and Skill in the Law to the Infamous purposes of establishing the Doctrines that have by degrees enslav’d almost every part of Europe but this Island.

I think therefore that for the present, if the Proprietary is disposed to give way; it may be better, ’till future Misconduct on his part makes it necessary, to delay presenting the Petitions. If future Events should make such an Application necessary or if the Assembly still think it right to present them forthwith you may command my best Services.

I have not had time to peruse fully your thoughts on Paper Money.5 You know mine, I did however endeavour as far as I could to postpone our Bill, I think the Government will not chose to meddle with the Mosquito Shore, but shall take an opportunity of mentioning this matter. We have hopes that Sugar will grow [to] the southward of St. Augustine and above Pensacola. My Compliments to Govr. Franklin and best respects to the Committee of Correspondence par[ticu]larly Mr. Galloway. I am very proud of their good Opinion and wish I could serve them more Effectually than I have done or fear can do.

I have seen Articles in the papers from America I do not like respecting myself and which I do not pretend to be true in fact I have very little Weight or Influence here and perhaps the less for such Publications.6 I am Dear Sir Very affectionately Yours

Rd: Jackson.

To Benjamin Franklin Esq

Endorsed: Copy of a Letter sent to Benjn Franklin Esqr

Address on the ALS: To / Benjamin Franklin Esq / at Philadelphia / by the Packet / a single sheet

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4One page of the original of this letter bearing Jackson’s signature, together with the address page, has survived. It covers roughly one half of the penultimate and the whole of the last paragraph of the letter.

5For BF’s letter of June 25, 1764, see above, pp. 234–40. The “Dispatch” sent by the Pa. Assembly’s Committee of Correspondence has not been found, but a good idea of its contents can be formed from the Assembly’s instructions to the committee of May 28, 1764; see above, p. 198. London Chron., Aug. 2–4, 1764, reported the arrival of the Dragon, Capt. Francis Hammett, off Tor Bay.

6If Jackson sent such a letter, it has not been found.

7In his letter of June 25 BF urged Jackson to write “Messrs. Coxe” in the confirmation of whose claims to Carolana both men were interested.

8Apparently a reference to BF’s request in his letter of June 1, 1764, for Jackson’s sentiments on the “Seasonableness or Unseasonableness” of presenting the petition for royal government to the King. See above, p. 219.

9Jackson is probably alluding to his letters to BF of June 4 and June 14, 1764, neither of which has been found, and possibly to other letters, not now extant, to the Assembly’s Committee of Correspondence. See below, pp. 326–7.

1Chief Justice William Allen (above, III, 296–7 n) returned to Pa. on Aug. 13, 1764, after spending close to a year in England. He exerted his influence there on behalf of the colonies and was credited in Pa. Gaz. with having had “considerable Influence in preventing” the passage of the Stamp Act in 1764. Pa. Gaz., May 10, 1764.

2The controversy over the assessment of the Proprietors’ located, uncultivated lands.

3Weeks before Jackson wrote, the Proprietors had instructed Governor Penn to yield to the Assembly’s views on this matter, and Allen doubtless knew it. Yet he appears to have kept the information away from Jackson in England, just as he and the governor did from the Assembly leaders in the colony until after the election. See above, pp. 213–14 n.

4In a letter of Sept. 1, 1764, Franklin informed Jackson that William Allen claimed that he (Jackson) had told him that the Crown would force the province to pay the Penns £100,000 to extinguish their rights to the government of Pennsylvania as well as £5000 per annum to support a royal governor. See below, pp. 327–8.

5For many matters mentioned in this paragraph, see above, pp. 234–40.

6Examples of the publications of which Jackson was complaining appeared in Pa. Jour. in the spring of 1764. In the April 5 issue an extract of a letter from London, Feb. 7, 1764, praised Jackson as a man who had “great weight with all the Ministry, and whose honesty will prompt him to stand in our Interest: He has often been to the Board of Trade, and has succeeded so well, as to gain them over to our Interest.” The May 10 issue stated that “it was chiefly owing to him [Jackson] that the stamp act did not take place.”

Index Entries