Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Richard Jackson, 25 September 1764

To Richard Jackson

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Philada. Sept. 25. 1764

Dear Sir

I wrote to you the 1st Instant, and a few Lines last Week per the Packet.7 Your Favour of June 30. is come to hand.8 The Assembly rose on Saturday last.9 Mr. Allen took a great deal of Pains to persuade the House to recall their Petition, but without the least Effect.1 The Letter sent you by the Committee of Correspondence, with the Petition, being communicated to the House,2 he fell into a violent Passion about that Part of it which says, that while the Judges are appointed by the Proprietor during his Pleasure, the People have no Security of an impartial Administration of Justice; this he took as a direct Attack upon his Character as a Judge, and would construe it so, tho’ by no means intended, exposing himself not a little by the unreasonableness of his Anger. The new Election comes on in a few Days, in which, ’tis thought by those who speak to me, very little Change will be made.3 But as at present only one Party comes about me, I can form no certain Judgment.

Before the House rose, they, in settling the Incidental Charges, order’d a Certificate for Seven Hundred Pounds Currency due to you for your Salary, being the Sum necessary to purchase Bills for £400 Sterling.4 This Certificate is in my Hands, and I shall receive the Cash for you out of the first Money rais’d to discharge Publick Debts.

I think they make Terms of Granting Lands rather hard.5 But however, if I am engag’d in the Grant you mention, I will do my Endeavour to forward the Settlement, by going to the Spot my self, examining all Advantages, and encouraging the People by Accounts of them, &c. I very much like the Partners.6

My Son happens to be with me, and desires his respectful Compliments to you. Mr. Galloway also desires his, and acknowledges the Receipt of your Letter per last Ship, and will write soon.

Nothing is now talk’d of all over America, but Frugality and Oeconomy, abating the Use of West-India and English Luxuries, particularly the former.7 Our Papers are all full of these Discourses. I send you some Specimens of them. They will have some Effect, but not so much as the Writers expect from them. Habits are not easily changed. And as to Cloathing ourselves with our own Wool, ’tis impossible. Our Sheep have such small Fleeces, that the Wool of all the Mutton we eat will not supply us with Stockings. However, as we cannot, under the present Restrictions of our Trade make Pay for so much as we us’d to do, Necessity will enforce Frugality, and oblige us to use less of your Goods, or such as are coarser in kind. I am, dear Sir, with the greatest Respect Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

R. Jackson Esqr.

Endorsed: 25th Sept. 1764 Benjn. Franklin Esqr

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7See above, pp. 326–31, 339–40.

8Not found.

9September 22.

1BF had said the same thing in his letters of September 1 and 20, but because no formal vote relating to a recall took place, the minutes make no mention of Allen’s efforts.

2The Assembly had directed its Committee of Correspondence, May 28, to lay before the House at its next sitting “a minute Account of their Proceedings” in instructing Jackson on the petition to the King. Votes, 1763–64, p. 87. Apparently the committee did so, but the Votes do not record any such report. Allen told Thomas Penn, Sept. 25, 1764, that on his motion the committee laid its letter to Jackson before the House “last night” (he must have meant the 22d, for the Assembly adjourned that day) and that it “contained pretty near the substance of their mad resolves.” Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa.

3See below, pp. 390–4.

4Votes, 1763–64, p. 113, lists the “incidental Charges” for which certificates were prepared, allowed by the Assembly, and signed by BF as speaker at the end of the session, including an entry: “To Richard Jackson, Esq; Agent for the Province in London, two Years Salary of £200 Sterling, per Annum, at 75 per Cent £750.” The discrepancy of £50 in this arithmetic is not explained; if the exchange was 75 percent, BF’s figure of £700 currency was correct.

5In the spring of 1764 Jackson had expressed a hope of interesting BF in a grant of land in Nova Scotia and BF had been receptive to the idea; above, pp. 186–7. Jackson was one of 23 men in Great Britain who received large grants there in June and July 1764. Of these, 19, including Jackson, received 20,000 acres each; the others lesser amounts. General instructions of March 16, 1764, to Montagu Wilmot, the new governor of Nova Scotia, extended to that province new and more stringent requirements of occupation and improvement of land, which had been included the year before in instructions to the governors of Quebec and the Floridas. Acts Privy Coun., Col., IV, 579–80, 815–16; Leonard W. Labaree, ed., Royal Instructions to British Colonial Governors 1670–1776 (N.Y., [1935]), II, 528–32, 695.

6This paragraph suggests that BF had no real expectation at this time that he would be leaving for England later in the fall to prosecute the Assembly’s petition to the King. But as early as the previous spring WF seemed to think his father would be going to England soon. To William Strahan, May 1, June 18, 1764, PMHB, XXXV (1911), 436, 438. What individuals Jackson had mentioned to BF as prospective partners in the Nova Scotia grant has not been determined.

7The passage of the Sugar Act of 1764, which laid burdensome restrictions on colonial trade, and the Currency Act of the same year, which seriously curtailed the colonial medium of exchange, aggravated the already noticeable post-war depression in America. Appeals for frugality and prophecies of a boycott of British goods were common in the newspapers in the summer and autumn of 1764, several of these probably intended, at least in part, as warnings to Great Britain of a sharp reduction in the colonial market which would follow if the unpopular acts were allowed to stand. Edmund S. and Helen M. Morgan, The Stamp Act Crisis Prologue to Revolution (Chapel Hill, [1953]), pp. 29–33. The preface to Poor Richard Improved for 1765 suggested some expedients the colonists might adopt to avoid ruinous importations from outside.

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