Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Joseph Galloway, 23 January 1765

From Joseph Galloway

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Philada. Jany. 23. 1765

Dear Sir,

I wrote you a few Lines this morning,9 in a hurry, not expecting to meet with another Opport[unit]y by this Packet, but in that I am agreably disappointed, by an Express that Sets of[f] for N. York in the morning.1

The Assembly has been now Setting Since the Seventh of this Instant, and no Terms of Accommodation from the Governor has yet appeard, nor is there any probability thereof. It Seems, instead of them, the Governor has Sent down to the Provincial Commissioners of Appeal, A Letter, Direction or Mandate, a Copy of which [I] Inclose.2 From a View whereof we find that altho at last the Proprietors, from the dread of displeasure of men who he has found means grossly to deceive consents to an Equitable Taxation of their uncultivated Located Lands; yet they cannot prevail on themselves to do the people of Pennsylvania the same Justice with respect to their [torn] the Injustice is proportionately much higher.3

But with what Propriety, this Letter was directed to the Commissioners of appeal, I am not able to discover. The words of the Law is to be the Rule of Assessment to the Commissioners and Assessors, They have taken a Qualification to obey and execute them, and as they are plain and Explicit and enacted by men who well understood the different Qualities of this kind of property. How then can the Commissioners of Appeal deviate from the words of the Law which are, that the “Uncultivated Lands belonging to the Proprietors shall not be assessed higher than the lowest rate at which those of the Inhabitants Shall be assessed,” and the best of the latter are by the Same Law directed to be assessed at £15 per Cent. and the lowest or worst at £5 per Cent. only? Did the Governor Conclude he had the Power of the Pope to dissolve those Gentlemen from their Qualifications. Or is not this Letter of a piece with all the rest of their Iniquitous and trifling Conduct? For, why have not the Governors in all this Time lay[d] this desire of the Proprietarys to have this part of their Lands tax’d with Equity before the Assembly, the only place to obtain it. Is it because they are afraid to own themselves unjust in their late Claim? Or is it because they Suspect that if they shoud agree to do Justice to the people in this respect they will demand it also with respect to his City Lots, which trifling as it is in the whole, their Sordid Souls cannot Consent to Give up?

The Majority, you left at your Departure in Assembly, continue firm and resolved in their Desires to get rid of a Proprietary Government. The Minority are So Sensible of their want of Power that the[y] have not made the least Attempt to Oppose or prevent it by any measures in the House. And the people are every day growing more unanimous in the Same Wishes.

Mr. Croghan tomorrow Set of[f] for Carlisle on his way to the Illinois Country, to take possession thereof In behalf of the Crown, and Expects to Complete his Design by the month of May, he is to be attended by another Gentleman, an Officer of the Army and 100 of the Troops from Fort Pitt.4 But before he departs from that Place he proposes to obtain Hostages from the Delawares and Shawanese for his safe passage through their Country and his return. In Short the precautions he intends to take shoud he Succeed in them renders it very probable he will meet with success, and do that at a trifling Expence which has Cost the Crown and this Province [as] I am informed near half a Million.

Your Family were well a few hou[rs ago] as was the Governor your Son who left My House this Morning. But I conclude they will write. I am Dear Sir Your Affectionate humble Servant

Jos. Galloway

Addressed: To / Benjamin Franklin Esquire / Deputy Post Master general / of No. America in / Craven Street / London / Per Packet

Endorsed: Mr. Galloway Jan: 23. 1765

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Not found.

1The severe weather had caused delays in shipping at New York and Philadelphia. Pa. Gaz., Feb. 7, 1765, reported that after being held back by ice in New York harbor, the Harriot packet and some other ships had left during a gale on January 26 but had been forced to put back.

2During the September and October Assembly sessions Governor Penn had maintained personal silence about the Proprietors’ concessions regarding equal taxation of their located but unimproved lands. On January 17 he tried to bypass the Assembly by directing the commissioners of appeals, assessors, and county commissioners to interpret the Supply Act of 1764 in a manner conforming to his instructions received the previous summer but directly contrary to the wording he had insisted on before approving the bill in May. See above, XI, 213–14 n.

3About three or four words are lost by the tear in the MS. These may have been “Lots in Towns where” or “City Lots where,” as the last part of the next paragraph suggests. When the commissioners and assessors of Philadelphia Co. forced Penn to apply to the Assembly for a supplementary act, January 30, and he had received the proposed bill, he sent it back, February 9, with an amendment “respecting the Taxation of the Proprietarie’s Lots in Burroughs and Towns.” Pa. Col. Recs., IX, 244. The nature of this amendment is not indicated, but the directions the governor had received related only to the taxation of “located uncultivated lands” and did not mention the Penns’ unoccupied town lots as such. It seems probable, therefore, that the Assembly bill provided that both the Proprietors’ rural “located uncultivated lands” and their urban lots should be taxed on the same basis as other men’s property “of the same circumstances of situation, kind and quality,” while the governor refused to apply the principle of equality to urban lots. In any case, the Assembly declined to accept his amendment and the bill failed of passage. 8 Pa. Arch., VII, 1741.

4Acting under authority of General Gage and Sir William Johnson, George Croghan (above, V, 64 n) was going west for the public purpose of persuading the Indians to accept peaceably the British occupation. Privately he was also planning, with the support of his secret partners, Baynton, Wharton & Morgan, and other merchants, to reopen the profitable fur trade with the Indians. He took with him large stocks of goods, ostensibly as presents but largely intended for trading purposes. Accompanied by his cousin Thomas Smallman and Lieutenant Alexander Fraser, an officer of one of the Highland regiments, he left Philadelphia on the day Galloway wrote this letter. Nicholas B. Wainwright, George Croghan Wilderness Diplomat (Chapel Hill, [1959]), pp. 213–15; Clarence W. Alvord and Clarence E. Carter, eds., The Critical Period 1763–1765 (Colls., X, Illinois State Hist. Lib., Springfield, 1915), p. 491 n.

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