Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Edmund Quincy, Junior, 5 November 1764

From Edmund Quincy, Junior1

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Boston Novr: 5th: 1764

Worthy Sir

I had not deferrd doing myself the Pleasure of writing you for some time past on the Subject I mentiond to you when here, but the Loss of my Wife,2 besides several Avocations has prevented, nor should I have troubled you now, but to inform you that I publish’d in Edes & Gills paper3 last Post Day a Letter from my Bro’ Huske to the Committee of Merchants here;4 a Gentleman has in this days paper Remark’d upon it in which he insinuates that as a person of Figure he describes &c. as the principal Author and Abetter of this mushroom Policy is intended for One in Philadelphia; since which I hear some Persons not acquainted supposd Mr. Huske pointed at You, I know it can be only guess Work, and I beg you to be assured He means a person now Residing in London whose treatise on the Subject I hope soon to receive and shall forward it You. Interim I have the Honor to be with perfect Esteem and Regard Sir your most Obedient Humble Servant

Edm: Quincy Jr

The Honble: Benjamin Franklin Esq

1Edmund Quincy, Jr. (1726–1782), son of BF’s friend and correspondent Edmund Quincy, Sr. (above, IX, 399 n), was a merchant who spent part of his life in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

2Ann Huske Quincy, the daughter of Ellis Huske, formerly postmaster of Boston and chief justice of New Hampshire (see above, IV, 318 n), died on June 8, 1764.

3Benjamin Edes (1732–1803) and John Gill (1732–1785), both leading patriots during the American Revolution, were the publishers of the Boston Gazette.

4In 1748 Quincy’s brother-in-law, John Huske (1724–1773), left Boston, where he had been a merchant, to seek his fortune in England. There he gained the reputation of being a “tough, unscrupulous adventurer” who made and lost money fast. In 1763 he was elected to Parliament from Maldon and served until his death. Americans conceived very unfavorable notions of his role in the passage of the Sugar and Stamp Acts. Indeed, in Boston he was held to be the author of the latter act and was burned in effigy. In the Oct. 29, 1764, issue of the Boston Gazette Quincy published Huske’s letter of Aug. 14, 1764, to the committee of Boston merchants attempting to clear himself of his countrymen’s suspicions. In the course of the letter he contended that the necessity of a stamp duty “or other inland tax” seemed to have arisen in Grenville’s mind partly “from the indiscreet conversation of some Americans, who deny the rights of Kings, Lords, and Commons, to impose such a tax on America,” and that when he proposed stamp duties Grenville had told the Commons that such a “doctrine had been urg’d on him.” Huske continued with an involved passage in which he seems to have been saying that the person regarded by the colonists as the one to whom they were “indebted for the postponing of the Stamp duty” was also “the principal author and abettor of this mushroom policy” of denying Parliament’s right to impose internal taxes on the colonies, and hence had been largely responsible for provoking Grenville into proposing stamp duties. When this fact came to be “truly known” in America, this person, not otherwise identified by Huske, “must be despis’d.” In the Nov. 5, 1764, issue of the Boston Gazette a writer signing himself “Britannus Americanus” identified “the principal author and abettor of this mushroom policy” as probably “a person of figure in Philadelphia.” It is not clear whom Huske had in mind; if Quincy was correct when he told BF in the present letter that it was “a person now Residing in London,” he may have been thinking of Richard Jackson or Thomas Pownall. “Britannus Americanus,” on the other hand, may have thought the reference was to BF, although his “person of figure in Philadelphia” was more probably Chief Justice William Allen, who had been in England when Grenville proposed a stamp duty to the Commons, while BF had left there more than a year and a half before. For Huske, see Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, II, 658–62.

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