Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Joseph Galloway, 20 September 1765

From Joseph Galloway

Extract: Public Record Office; also printed in The Pennsylvania Journal, September 4, 1766, Supplement, and September 11, 1766.2

Extract of a Letter from Joseph Galloway, Esqr.
dated Philada. Sept. 20. 1765.

The Publick Papers will inform you of the present distracted State of the Colonies, and the many Outrages and Riots that have been occasioned by a Dislike to the Stamp-Act; all which have been incited by the principal Men of the Colonies where they have been committed. Measures have not been wanting to create the same Temper in the People here, in which some have been very active. In hopes to prevent their ill Effects I wrote a moderate Piece, sign’d Americanus, publish’d here and at New York, and since in Virginia, wherein you will see my Sentiments on the Subject.3 I am told it had a good Effect in those Places as well as here, being much approved by the moderate Part of the People, yet we should not have been free from Riots here, if another Method had not been taken to prevent them; viz. by assembling quietly (at the Instance of Mr. Hughes’s Friends, and not by any order from the Government of the City) near 800 of the sober Inhabitants, posted in different Places, ready to prevent any Mischief that should be attempted by the Mob, which effectually intimidated them, and kept all tolerably quiet; only they burnt a Figure that they call’d a Stamp-man, and about midnight dispers’d. Great Pains have been taken to persuade and frighten Mr. Hughes into a Resignation of his Office, but he continues firm, and will not resign in any manner that shall do Dishonour to his Appointment: And I think will be able to put his Commission in Execution, notwithstanding the Example set by other Colonies.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2The MS extract, in BF’s hand, is part of the series of extracts from several correspondents he sent to the ministry in November 1765, described above, p. 263. The text as printed in Pa. Jour., Sept. 4, 1766, follows there (as it did in BF’s MS) the extracts from John Hughes. In the issue of September 11 an unidentified correspondent asked the Bradfords to reprint Galloway’s “Americanus” paper (discussed in the next note) from the Journal issue of Aug. 29, 1765, and to preface it with this extract from his letter of Sept. 20, 1765. The Bradfords did so. In both printings of the extract and in the reprinting of the “Americanus” paper they took the liberty of introducing italics or small capitals, not found in the originals, in order to emphasize those passages that seemed to place Galloway in the most unfavorable light.

3Pa. Jour., Aug. 29, 1765, devoted about three-fourths of the first page to this article signed “Americanus.” It had already appeared in John Holt’s New-York Gazette, or Weekly Post-Boy, Aug. 15, 1765. No issues of the Virginia Gazette of appropriate dates have survived. Galloway pointed out the heavy financial burden imposed on the British government by its obligation to defend the colonies, and he contended for its right to expect the colonies to contribute some certain share of these costs. Experience had shown the inadequacy of the requisition system used in the last war: while some of the legislatures had granted their proportions in time, others had been “late, too late to be of real service, and some never complied at all.” If the colonists thought the present impositions too heavy, “dutiful remonstrances” would make clear that British regulation of colonial commerce rendered the colonies incapable of contributing so much. Since Americans claimed the right of levying their own taxes, they should “point out some rational method” of doing so, by the establishment of “an united legislature of the colonies” or by sending representatives to the British parliament. The call from Massachusetts for a general conference provided a favorable opportunity to make such representations.

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