Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Thomas Wharton, 24 June 1765

From Thomas Wharton

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Philada: June 24. 1765

My Dear friend Benjamin Franklin

I wrote thee per Capt. Robinson on the 15th Instant1 to which please to refer.

And as I sett out with a resolotion to inform thee of every material Occurrance which hapn’d during thy Absence; Occasions my troubling thee with these few Lines; I doubt not that several of thy Friends have inform’d thee of the Uneasiness, which the Act of Parliament relative to the Stamp duties Create, not only on Account of the Mode pursued whereby our Assemblies are render’d little better then Corporations but that Part, whereby the Judge of the Admiralty is Capable of determining a matter of Property, heretofore only to be Assertained by a trial by Jury; and thereby depriving Us, of one of the most Essential priviledges of An Englishman;2

I yesterday read a Letter sent by the Speaker of the House of Assembly for Boston Government to the Speaker of our House, wherein is decently Intimated their sentiments of the Act, And Proposes a Meeting of a Committee from each Assembly on the Continent, on the 3d of October at New York, in Order Jointly to draw Up an Address to his Majesty, in dutifull and Loyall terms, setting the Matter forth in its proper light, as well as to represent the state of our Colonies, trade &c. to the Parliament;3

Which we hope will have a proper effect, As its much more Consistent, then the Method pursued by Virginia;4

Our House being Adjournd to Septem they cannot Meet ’till that time, unless the Governor sees cause to call them; wherefore its intended to summon the Members who reside in Philada Bucks and Chester Counties in a few days, that they may give their sentiments relative to the Measure, from whence an Answer may be form’d and sent to the Boston Assembly; for Altho’ the Members cannot form themselves into a House, yet if those of three Counties shall Conclude on any Step, it can scarse be doubted but the Assembly in their Septem sitting will confirm it; I remain thy Assurd friend

Tho Wharton

Addressed: For / Benjamin Franklin / Esqr. / Deputy Post Master General / of North America / In / Craven Street / London

Endorsed: Mr T. Wharton June 24. 1765

1Not found.

2The Stamp Act stipulated that violations of its provisions were cognizable in the vice-admiralty courts, where causes (except felonies) were decided by a single judge without a jury, according to the rules of civil law. The standard work on the vice-admiralty courts is Carl Ubbelohde, The Vice-Admiralty Courts and the American Revolution (Chapel Hill, 1960).

3The Massachusetts letter of June 8, 1765, reached Speaker Joseph Fox more than three weeks after the Pa. Assembly had adjourned on May 18, 1765. Fox convened such assemblymen as “were in and near” Philadelphia, laid the letter before them, and found them amenable to its proposal of a Stamp Act Congress. Accordingly, the members unanimously agreed to recommend the Mass. proposal to the full Assembly when it convened on Sept. 9, 1765. Of their decision, Fox informed Samuel White, Speaker of the Mass. Assembly, in a letter of June 27, 1765. On Sept. 10, 1765, the day after it reconvened, the Pa. Assembly considered the Mass. proposal and resolved to send three of its members to the meeting at New York. At the same time, it appointed a committee, including John Dickinson and William Allen, to prepare instructions for the Pennsylvania delegation. The next day the instructions were read and approved, and Fox, Dickinson, John Morton, and George Bryan were appointed delegates. 8 Pa. Arch., VII, 1765–9. Fox, however, remained in Philadelphia and was reelected speaker. For the proceedings of the Stamp Act Congress see Morgan, Stamp Act Crisis, pp. 103–113.

4The resolves adopted by the Virginia House of Burgesses on May 30–31, 1765. Precisely which of the several versions in circulation, reflecting various degrees of defiance, Wharton had seen in Philadelphia in June is not clear. For the vexed problem of the Virginia Resolves, see ibid., pp. 88–98, and below, pp. 212–14.

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