Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Hughes, 9 August 1765

To John Hughes

Photostat: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

London, Aug. 9. 1765

Dear Friend

Since my last I have received your Favour of June 20.9 The Account you give me of the Indiscretion of some People with you, concerning the Government here, I do not wonder at. ’Tis of a Piece with the rest of their Conduct. But the Rashness of the Assembly in Virginia is amazing!1 I hope however that ours will keep within the Bounds of Prudence and Moderation; for that is the only way to lighten or get clear of our Burthens.

As to the Stamp-Act, tho’ we purpose doing our Endeavour to get it repeal’d, in which I am sure you would concur with us, yet the Success is uncertain. If it continues, your undertaking to execute it may make you unpopular for a Time,2 but your Acting with Coolness and Steadiness, and with every Circumstance in your Power of Favour to the People, will by degrees reconcile them. In the meantime, a firm Loyalty to the Crown and faithful Adherence to the Government of this Nation, which it is the Safety as well as Honour of the Colonies to be connected with, will always be the wisest Course for you and I to take, whatever may be the Madness of the Populace or their blind Leaders, who can only bring themselves and Country into Trouble, and draw on greater Burthens by Acts of rebellious Tendency.

In mine of June 29.3 I sent you the Bill of Fees I had paid, amounting to £5 10s. 0d. Since which I have paid another Demand of £2 4s. 6d. Treasury Fees for a second Warrant, &c. the first not having included the Lower Counties.4 I now send with this, your Commission, with a Letter from the Secretary of the Stamp Office, with whom you are to correspond.5

As to our Petition, the new Secretary of State, General Conway, has appointed next Wednesday to give us an Audience upon it, when I suppose it will be presented.6 And I have very little doubt of a favourable Progress and advantageous Issue. I am, my dear Friend, Yours affectionately

B Franklin

John Hughes Esqr

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Not found.

1Copies of a version of the famous resolves adopted by the Virginia House of Burgesses in May 1765 reached BF with letters from Thomas Wharton and Charles Thomson written in June; see above, pp. 212–14. It is possible that Hughes also may have sent him a copy of the resolves.

2Grenville deliberately planned to appoint as distributors in the older colonies “respectable” local men, rather than to send strangers; hence he consulted BF and other agents for suggestions. The agents accepted “this plausible and apparently candid Declaration,” and BF offered the name of John Hughes. “We none of us, I believe,” he explained several years later, “foresaw or imagined, that this Compliance with the request of the Minister, would or could have been called an Application of ours, and adduced as a Proof of our Approbation of the Act we had been opposing; otherwise I think few of us would have named at all, I am sure I should not.” Thomas Whately to John Temple, May 10, 1765, 6 Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., IX, 52; BF to Josiah Tucker, Feb. 26, 1774, Lib. Cong. It seems certain that BF would not have suggested Hughes’s name in any case had he foreseen the trouble it would bring upon his friend. The appointments of Hughes for Pa. and William Coxe for N.J. were reported in Pa. Gaz., May 30, 1765.

3Not found.

4BF recorded the payment of £5 10s. fees for Hughes’s commission on June 29, 1765, and £2 18s. “fees on his second Warrant and sundry Expenses” on August 9, in Journal, 1764–1776, pp. 3, 4, and Ledger, 1764–1776, pp. 7, 14.

5Since there is no indication by what vessel BF sent this letter, the commission, and the letter from John Brettell, secretary of the Stamp Office, mentioned here, it is not certain precisely when Hughes received these documents. It is believed, however, that the commission arrived at Philadelphia only on Saturday, October 5, aboard the Royal Charlotte, Capt. B. Holland, the same vessel that brought the stamped paper. Morgan, Stamp Act Crisis, pp. 249, 250; Pa. Gaz. and Pa. Jour., Oct. 10, 1765.

6No mention of this August interview with Conway appears in later letters from BF. The Pa. Assembly’s petition for royal government was not officially presented, however, until the first week of November 1765. On Nov. 22, 1765, the Privy Council postponed consideration of it “for the present” and apparently never again considered it. Thomas Penn to John Penn, Nov. 9, 1765, Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa.; Acts Privy Coun., Col., IV, 741.

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