Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Martin Howard, Junior, 14 May 1765

From Martin Howard, Junior7

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Newport Rhode Island May 14. 1765.8

Dear Sir-

I had the Honour to write you some time past and mentioned to you the Petition Joseph Harrison Esqr. is possessed of, signed by a few here who wish for a royal Government; As you was engaged in a Project some what similar, I thought it not improper to communicate the Affair to you. The Intelligence I have recieved respecting it, is not very favourable, but I have understood, that your Views with regard to your Province bear the same Aspect, perhaps however by this Time, things may have taken a different Turn.

Doctr. Moffatt sent you under the Care of Mr. Harrison a pamphlet entitled a Letter from Hallifax containing Remarks upon our Governors Rights of Colonies9 this has produced several Replys, and involved me in a Paper War, wherein I have taken the Side of Mother Country against her Ungrateful Sons.1 I would send you the Defence of the Hallifax Letter which I lately published, if this Conveyance [were?] more direct, it would give you some Idea of the Unfilial Temper of the Colonists to the Mother Country—the part I have taken has made me not a little obnoxious, and furnishes me with a Plea for what follows. The English prints acquaint Us that it is probable, a Native of each Colony will be appointed Reciever of the Stamp Duties.2 Should this be the Case, it may possibly fall in your Way, as you are an American, to recommend some person for that purpose. If no other Connection claims the Preference I would ask your Friendship to name me for that office, or any other in the Stamp Office which you may think worth accepting.3 Doctr. Moffatt writes Mr. Harrison by this Conveyance and mentions the same thing, to him. And I have interested my Friend the Surveyer General Mr. Temple, in the same Business, and I have now only to ask your Pardon for this Freedom.

Party is high at Philadelphia, and it seems every Measure of Decency is renounced by your Antagonists there. If this quarter of the World afforded any thing that could give you Entertainment I would communicate it. Mr. Ward4 is elected Governor of this Colony for the present Year by a great Majority.

I am with much Respect Sir. Your most Obedient and most humble Servant

Mar Howard Junr.

Doctr. Franklin

Addressed: To / Benjamin Franklin Esqr / L.L.D. / In / London.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7For Martin Howard, conservative Rhode Island lawyer, and the letter of Nov. 16, 1764, to which he refers in the first sentence here, see above, XI, 459–61.

8This letter is entered twice in the Hays Calendar, correctly under this date, and incorrectly under date of May 14, 1768.

9The two pamphlets mentioned here were [Martin Howard, Jr.], A Letter from a Gentleman at Halifax, to his Friend in Rhode-Island, containing Remarks upon a Pamphlet, entitled, The Rights of Colonies Examined (Newport, 1765), and its predecessor, [Stephen Hopkins], The Rights of Colonies Examined. Published by Authority (Providence, 1765). Both are reprinted (in their original sequence) with illuminating introductions and notes in Bernard Bailyn, ed., Pamphlets of the American Revolution 1750–1776, I (Cambridge, Mass., 1965), 499–544. On Dr. Thomas Moffatt and Joseph Harrison, see above, XI, 191 n, and 460 n, respectively.

1The “Paper War” included replies to Howard by Hopkins and James Otis, to which Howard responded with A Defence of the Letter from a Gentleman at Halifax, to his Friend in Rhode-Island (Newport, 1765), mentioned in the next sentence of this letter. This pamphlet evoked vigorous answers from Hopkins and Otis. Bailyn, ed., Pamphlets, I, 728–9 and 545–79.

2London Chron., Feb. 16–19, 1765, reported that, since the American agents had failed in their opposition to stamp duties, a motion was being prepared in the Commons “that the commissioners for the receipt of this duty may be appointed from the natives of each province, where the tax is to take place.”

3The appointment as stamp distributor in Rhode Island went to the colony’s attorney general, Augustus Johnston, not to Howard, but neither he nor his friend Doctor Moffatt escaped the fury of the Newport mob the following August. They were hanged in effigy along with the stamp distributor, and their houses were thoroughly sacked. Morgan, Stamp Act Crisis, pp. 144–8.

4Samuel Ward, brother-in-law of BF’s friend Catharine Greene. Leader of the conservative faction in Rhode Island politics in opposition to Stephen Hopkins, he had previously served as governor in 1762–63. Above, V, 504 n.

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