Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Joseph Galloway, 23 November 1764

From Joseph Galloway

AL (incomplete): American Philosophical Society

Philada. Novr. 23. 1764.

Dear Sir

I wrote you from New Castle, the Substance of the Address of the Lower Counties’ Assembly,7 In which they inform the Crown, That altho they are Governed under the Same Charter with the People of Pennsylvania, yet that their Laws are different. Will it be amiss to inform the Crown, shoud our Intended Change meet with any Obstructions from this Address, That, by the Deed from the Duke of York to W. Penn, he was only Entitled to the Soil and not to the Powers of Government, the Soil being only granted—and that consequently Mr. Penn Exceeded his Power in extending the Charter to the Lower Counties.8 And that therefore the Charter being granted by a person not having the power of granting is void. And as to their Laws, The Ministry must certainly be surprized to find a Government carried on, and Laws made for upwards of 60 Years, without transmitting any of them for their Approbation. This conduct is not only treating the Crown with great disrespect, but is invading its prerogatives in a Dangerous Point. I apprehend the Reason of the Crowns reserving a Power to repeal or Confirm the Laws of the Colonies, is that it May by a Superintendant Power be able at all times to prevent the ill Consequences that [would] flow from Statutes made inconsistent with the Allegeance of the Subject, or contrary to the Royal Prerogative, But if a Colony should have it in its Power by a Juggle between the two Branches of the Legislature to pass Laws without ever presenting them to the Royal Eye or Ministerial Inspection, Sedition disloyalty, and Infringments of the Kings Prerogative may be promoted and sanctifyed by the solemnity of Laws, and all their attendant Mischiefs ensue, without the least Possibility of redress. I call it a Juggle, because you well know, That the Assembly of that Government have been indulged by the Proprietaries in many things which they have refused here; particularly the Loan Office Act which was passed about the Same Time in which the one in Pennsylvania was assented to by the Governor,9 An Act Liable to the Same Objections, made by the Proprietaries to the one passed here. And yet they presented the latter for the Royal disapprobation and exerted all their Industry to obtain a repeal, while the former they permitted, with all the rest of the lower County-Laws to sleep unpresented. Nay more their present Governor, appointed by a new Act, a new Set of Trustees to carry the former Law into Execution. Does not a Conduct of this sort in a Proprietary Governor fully Justify the Assertion of the Lords of Trade, That his Majestys Prerogative is too weighty to be Entrusted to the Feeble Hands of private Individuals who from Attachments to their own private Interests, Views and Schemes, are ever ready to Violate or Surrender it up to Serve their own purposes of a private nature.1 Mr. Wharton has promised to send you the Act with the Supplement or I should do it by this Opportunity.

The Proprietary Party Still are industrious in endeavouring to prevent our Design to Change the Government; The Corporation of this City have been for several days engaged in Petitioning the Proprietaries not to Surrender the Government to the Crown. But in Case this cannot be avoided, to use his Interest to preserve their Charter Priviledges.2 The Presbyterians likewise have been as Active in preparing and Signing a Petition, to the Same purpose, only differing in the Conclusion, that in Case the Change takes place to preserve their religious Priviledges.3 These Petitions are to go over with Mr. Hamilton.4

The Confusion of the Government does not seem yet to be at an End, and I am convinced never will unless one more just, impartial and respectful than that of a Proprietary shoud Succeed. Every day furnishes further Proofs. At the last Election at Lancaster a Dutchman who Came into the Country young and is very capable of Executing the Office was Elected and appointed Sheriff of that County.5 The Irish Presbyterians being disappointed in not having one of themselves elected to that Office, refused to Serve on either Grand or Petty Juries, Tho’ regularly Summond by the Sheriff, because he was a Dutchman. So that there was a failure of Justice last Term in that County. The Sheriff, in endeavouring to serve a process on one of those people, was violently Assaulted, had both Ears of his horse Cut off, and was Obliged to fly to save his Life. And here the Matter rests, For I cannot Learn there are any Measures taking to bring the Offenders to Justice, and were they taken, I much doubt their Success: such is the debility of this Proprietary Government!

I hear, The Governor, to show how little he regards the remonstrances from the Assembly respecting the Mal-Conduct of the Justiciary Officers, has reinstated Wm. Moore of Chester County as the President of Chester Court,6 and has turnd out Mr. Hannums a very Worthy man for this only reason because he has supported the Measures prosecuted in favor of the Crown respecting a Change of Government.7 And I am also well informed Mr. Pawling is to be left out in this County with several others for the Like reason8 —and several Presbyterians are to fill their Places, Mr. Bryan of this City is one.9 A Strange Government this in which Loyalty and Affection to the Sovereign is made Criminal, while a Servile Submission and Implicit Obedience to the unjust and Oppressive Measures of a private Subject is the only path to Promotion.1

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Galloway’s letter from New Castle has not been found. Benjamin Chew sent Thomas Penn a copy of the Delaware Assembly’s address to the King with his letter of Nov. 23, 1764. Chew proposed the address and drafted it, and the Assembly adopted it without a dissenting vote after the members were satisfied that it could be worded in such a way as to avoid the appearance of meddling with the affairs of another government. Chew explained to Penn that its principal design “was First to manifest their Affection for you and your Family and to do justice to your Characters; Secondly by a Side wind to counteract the Petition from the Assembly of this province.” Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa.

8Territorial and political rights in the Three Lower Counties (the present state of Delaware) were highly confused, and their status was never fully resolved during the colonial period. In 1682 the Duke of York leased the territory to William Penn by two deeds of enfeoffment, although his own claims were based purely on conquest, not on his charter of 1664. At no time, as duke or as king, did James, or his successors on the throne, formally confer rights of government on Penn, in spite of several applications by the Proprietor of Pennsylvania. In 1703, however, the Privy Council did allow him to appoint a common governor for Pennsylvania and the Lower Counties, subject to royal confirmation and an acknowledgment by Penn (to be repeated by his successors) that such approval did not diminish the Crown’s right and claim to the Counties. After the establishment of separate assemblies the laws passed for the Counties were never sent to the Privy Council for approval. There were few Quakers in the Counties, and jealousies and mistrust continued between the neighboring regions. For a summary account of this complicated matter, see Charles M. Andrews, The Colonial Period of American History, III (New Haven, 1937), 292–6, 321–6.

9The Re-emitting Act of 1759; for the Board of Trade’s adverse report on the Pa. act and its disallowance by the Privy Council, see above, IX, 146–53, 204–5, 210.

1In its report of June 24, 1760, the Board of Trade had severely criticized the Penns for failing to uphold the prerogative until “their Interests were affected, as Individuals.” Above, IX, 171.

2On Nov. 19, 1764, the Philadelphia Corporation resolved to petition the Proprietors expressing disapproval of the proposed change in government and asking, if the change could not be prevented, that the rights of the people and those of the Corporation under its charter be continued. Minutes of the Common Council of the City of Philadelphia. 1704 to 1776 (Phila., 1847), pp. 703–5.

3The record of this petition has not been found.

4See above, p. 458 n.

5John Barr received the highest number of votes in the election of 1764 and was appointed sheriff. 2 Pa. Arch., IX, 787; [Thomas Balch, ed.], Letters and Papers Relating Chiefly to the Provincial History of Pennsylvania, with Some Notice of the Writers (Phila., 1855), pp. 206–7. No detailed account has been found of the subsequent disturbances reported in this paragraph.

6On William Moore’s alleged libel of the Assembly in 1755, in which William Smith became involved, and their imprisonment on orders of the House, see above, VI, 245–7; VII, 141 n, 385 n; VIII, 28–41. Moore had first been appointed presiding justice in Chester Co. in 1741 and had been regularly reappointed until 1761, when his name was omitted from the commission of the peace. He was again appointed, Nov. 19, 1764, and continued in office until the Revolution; 2 Pa. Arch., IX, 697–700.

7Galloway’s statement is in error. John Hannum (1742–1799), who had first been appointed a justice of the peace in 1761, was reappointed in 1764 (Pa. Col. Recs., VIII, 573; IX, 205; 2 Pa. Arch., IX, 699), but declined to qualify. It was John Morton who was left out; see below, p. 485.

8Henry Pawling had been a J.P. for Philadelphia Co. since 1752, but was left out of the new commission of Nov. 19, 1764; Pa. Col. Recs., IX, 205; 2 Pa. Arch., IX, 727–8. He had been elected to the Assembly in October 1764 on the proprietary ticket, but angered the leaders of that party by voting consistently with the majority party in the critical votes of the October session; see above, pp. 390, 393.

9On George Bryan, see above, VI, 386–7. He and Thomas Willing had defeated BF and Samuel Rhoads in the city election in October.

1This paragraph completes the fourth page of the only surviving folio of this letter, which up to this point is entirely in Galloway’s hand. Someone else has added at the bottom in pencil “J. Galloway,” as if it were a signature, but the usual complimentary close is lacking. Evidently the original letter continued on to a second folio now lost.

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