Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Henry Bouquet, 16 August 1764

To Henry Bouquet

ALS: British Museum

Philada. Augt. 16. 1764

Dear Sir

Returning just now from the Board of Commissioners, I found your agreable Favour of the 10th Instant.3 We had a Meeting on Tuesday, when your Letter to the Governor was laid before us, his Honour not present, and the Board thin.4 I think none but myself spoke then for the measure recommended; so, to prevent its being too hastily refus’d, I moved to refer it to this Day, when we might have a fuller Board. The principal Objection was, that the Act did not empower us to go farther. To day we got over that Objection and all others, and came to a Resolution which will be communicated to you, by the Governor I suppose, and the Money sent by Capt. Young.5 We have fully, as we understand it, comply’d with your Requisition. And ’tis a Pleasure to me to have done every thing you wish’d me to do in the Affair, before the Receipt of your Letter.

I recollect that I once, in Conversation, promised you some Papers I had by me, containing Hints for Conducting an Indian War. I have since found them, and on looking them over, am of Opinion you will meet with nothing new in them that is of any Importance; however, to keep my Promise, I now send them enclosed.6

The June Packet is arrived from England, as is also our Friend Mr. Allen; but we have no News by them that is material.7 France and England are both diligently repairing their Marine; but I suppose ’tis a Matter of course, and not with Intention of any new Rupture. The Ministerial Party is said to be continually gaining Strength, and the Opposition diminishing.8 Abroad the Poles are cutting one another’s Throats a little, about their Election: But ’tis their Constitution, and I suppose reckon’d among their Privileges to sacrifice a few Thousand of the Subjects every Interregnum, either to the Manes of the deceas’d King, or to the Honour of his Successor. And if they are fond of this Privilege, I don’t know that their Neighbours have any right to disturb them in the Enjoyment of it: And yet the Russians have enter’d their Country with an Army, to preserve Peace! and secure the Freedom of the Election!

It comes into my Mind that you may easily do me a Kindness; and I ought not, by omitting to acquaint you with the Occasion, deprive you of the Pleasure you take in serving your Friends. By this Ship I hear that my Enemies (for God has bless’d me with two or three, to keep me in order) are now representing me at home, as an Opposer and Obstructor of his Majesty’s Service here.9 If I know any thing of my own Heart, or can remember any thing of my own Actions, I think they might as justly have accus’d me of being a Blackamore. You cannot but have heard of the Zeal and Industry with which I promoted the Service in the Time of General Braddock, and the Douceurs I procur’d for the Officers that serv’d under him.1 I spent a Summer in that Service without a Shilling Advantage to myself, in the Shape of Profit, Commissions, or any other way whatsoever. I projected a Method of supplying Gen. Shirley with £10,000’s worth of Provisions, to be given at his Request by this Province, and carried the same thro’ the House so as to render it effectual; together with a Gift of some Hundreds of warm Wastecoats, Stockings Mittens, &c. for the Troops in their first Winter Service at Albany. And at Lord Loudon’s Request I so manag’d between the Governor and Assembly as to procure the Passage of the £60,000 Act then greatly wanted, and which met with great Difficulty. On your Arrival here, you know the Readiness with which I endeavour’d to serve the Officers in the Affair of their Quarters. And you have been a Witness of my Behaviour as a Commissioner, in the Execution of the present Act, and of my Forwardness to carry at the Board every Measure you proposed to promote the Service. What I would request is, that you would take Occasion in some Letter to me to express your Sentiments of my Conduct in these Respects, so far as has come to your Knowledge, or fallen under your Observation.2 My having such a Letter to produce on Occasion, may possibly be of considerable Service to me. With the most perfect Esteem I am, Dear Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

Mrs. Franklin and Sally join me in Prayers for your Success and happy Return.

I send you enclos’d our last political Pamphlet, to amuse you on some rainy day.3

Col. Bouquet.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3See above, pp. 266–7.

4Bouquet’s letter to Penn, Aug. 10, 1764, I Pa. Arch., IV, 199–200; Sylvester K. Stevens and Donald H. Kent, eds., The Papers of Col. Henry Bouquet, XVI (Harrisburg, 1943), 59. No minutes of the provincial commissioners for either Tuesday, Aug. 14, 1764, or Thursday, August 16, have been found.

5For Capt. James Young, commissary general and paymaster of Pa. troops, see above, VII, 153 n. He wrote Bouquet, August 16, that the commissioners had directed him to supply funds sufficient to pay £3 to each man and 20s. per man to the recruiting officer for raising 200 enlistees to complete the Pa. regiment. He had already paid Captain Ourry (Bouquet’s quartermaster and commissary) £300 and now authorized the colonel to draw on him for £500 more as needed. Papers of Col. Henry Bouquet, XVI, 67.

6One of these papers may have been a copy of the postscript of BF’s letter to James Read, Nov. 2, 1755, suggesting the use of dogs, the procedure to be followed by scouting parties so that they would not be surprised during night encampments, and the bringing together of remote settlers into stockades; above, VI, 235–6. See also above, pp. 225–6.

7Pa. Gaz., Aug. 16, 1764, reported the arrival of the Philadelphia Packet, Capt. R. Budden, on which were Chief Justice William Allen and his family. Allen, indeed, had certainly brought with him very important news: that the Proprietors were willing to accept the interpretation of the Privy Council’s order of Sept. 2, 1760, for which BF and the Assembly had contended but which Governor Penn had so vigorously opposed. The governor and the chief justice, however, were very careful to keep this information secret until after the fall election. See above, pp. 213–14 n.

8Pa. Gaz., Aug. 16, 1764, printed an extract from a London letter dated June 5, which may have been one from Strahan to BF (not found). It reported political quiet in Great Britain, a relative balance between the factions, and “a Breathing Time” for the ministry. BF’s comments on Polish affairs, which follow in this paragraph, were based on news printed in other columns of this issue of the Gazette.

9Thomas Penn wrote Benjamin Chew, June 8, 1764 (a letter probably carried on the Philadelphia Packet), that he had complained about BF to “some Persons in the Administration, and in particular to the Secretary of State,” Lord Halifax. According to Penn, Halifax said he thought BF’s behavior was “a kind of Rebellion against his Majesty’s Government, and that Mr. Franklin must be turned out, if he does not alter his conduct.” Lord Hyde, postmaster general, to whom Penn “gave a full account, as did Mr. Allen,” was of the same opinion and “has promised to write him very closely upon this subject, and to tell him all the Officers of the Crown are expected to assist Government, whether in the hands of the Crown or of Proprietarys, and if he does not, he will be displaced.” Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa. Lord Hyde may have written BF such a warning, also by the Philadelphia Packet, but no letter of the sort from either of the postmasters general or from their secretary, Anthony Todd, has been found. BF may have received an intimation of Hyde’s views from some personal friend in London.

1On these and other services mentioned in this paragraph, see above, VI, 3–7, 13–28, 206–9, 390–2, 477–9; VII, 38–61, 63–5, 145–53, 181–2. It may be observed that in this recital BF confined himself strictly to his efforts on behalf of the British Army and said nothing of his activities in the defense of Northampton Co. during the winter of 1755–56, when only Pa. troops were involved. His support of forces operating directly under British commanders would be the most likely to impress members of the ministry at home.

2For two drafts of a similar request to General Shirley in 1756, see above, VI, 477–9. For Bouquet’s prompt response to BF’s appeal, see below, pp. 321–3.

3Probably The Speech of Joseph Galloway, Esq., with BF’s preface, which had been published on August 11; see above, pp. 267–311.

Index Entries