Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Thomas Wharton, 5 October 1765

From Thomas Wharton

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Philada. October 5. 1765

My Dear friend

I had the pleasure of receiving thy favour of 13th July3 for which I thank thee; the intent of this is Principally to inform thee, that We have been most Industrously employd for many Days past, in our Election Affairs which terminated but this Evening4 and We have the happiness to know that our Labour is not Lost, having got in every Man We Proposd and of Coarse the Court side none, at all, they are I Norris J Fox, J Galloway, J Richardson, R Evans, T Livezey, Ml Hilligas5 and Hy Pawling; and thus it has fared with every Election thro’ the Province except Berks were We have lost our Worthy friend J Ross6 for which we are very Sorry. The lowest of our Ticket is 420 Votes above the Highest of theirs,7 indeed such another struggle We never saw, and the party are now Quit, the Pole was kept open for three days successively.

This day the Letters per the August packet came to Hand as well as the Vessell with the Stampd Paper came up to town,8 but such confusion and disorder it Created as thou never saw with Us, the Inhabitants collected to the State house by beat of Drum, and nothing Less then the distruction of our dear Friend J Hughes or [and?]9 the surrender of his Office were the Objects, [and?] finding Matter, thus Circumstancd, and He being reduced to a very low state by a severe Indisposition,1 He at last Promisd that He would resign on Second day next.2 I can say no more not having time to Copy this, fearing I shall not be able to get it on board;

Our City Election is Odly circumstanced, We having sett up James Pemberton in Opposition to G Bryan, and on counting the Votes they turnd out exactly equal, so that unless the Assembly find a difference We shall have another trial.3

J Dickinson G Bryan and J Morton, are now at New York, in Consultation with the Committees from the other Colonies, relative to the Stamp Act,4 Rem[aining?] in great hast thy Affectionate friend

Tho Wharton

Addressed: For / Benjamin Franklin / Esqr / Deputy post Master General / of North America / In / Craven street / London / per Capt  / via Bristol

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Not found.

4The most extended treatment of the 1765 Pa. election is Benjamin H. Newcomb, “Effects of the Stamp Act on Colonial Pennsylvania Politics,” 3 Wm. and Mary Quar., XXIII (1966), 257–72. The writer is undoubtedly correct in emphasizing the successful efforts of the anti-proprietary party in getting out the vote in Philadelphia Co. Whether the Stamp Act played as large a part in the result as the writer suggests, rather than strictly local political issues carried over from 1764, is perhaps open to question.

5Thomas Livezey (d. 1790) and Michael Hillegas (1728–1804) were city merchants, the former also owner of mills on the Wissahickon.

6Above, XI, 531 n.

7According to a sheet of election results probably sent to BF by Galloway (see the document immediately below), Isaac Norris, a candidate on both tickets, received 4332 votes in Philadelphia Co. Others on the anti-proprietary ticket for this county ranged from Joseph Fox with 2466 to Joseph Galloway with 2400. Votes for the seven defeated candidates ranged from 1980 for John Dickinson (who had earlier announced that he did not wish to be a candidate again) down to 1912 for Jacob Winey. The winning candidates in the county (other than Norris) each received on the average 494 more votes than the losers. In the article cited in a previous note Newcomb prints (p. 268 n) a comparison of the votes received in 1764 and 1765 by the candidates who ran in both elections, but with several small errors in the figures and the complete omission of the name of Henry Pawling, who won on the proprietary ticket in 1764 with 1955 votes and on the anti-proprietary ticket in 1765 with 2427. On Pawling’s voting record in the Assembly, see above, XI, 393, 468, 523.

8The Royal Charlotte, Capt. B. Holland, carrying the stamped paper for Pa., Md., and N.J., had reached Newcastle by October 3, and remained there under guard of the man-of-war Sardine until Saturday, October 5, when both ships arrived at Philadelphia. Upon their appearance around Gloucester Point “all the Vessels in the Harbour hoisted their Colours half Mast high, the Bells began to ring, being first muffled, and continued so until the Evening, and every Countenance added to the Appearance of sincere Mourning, for approaching Loss of Liberty.” Pa. Gaz. and Pa. Jour., Oct. 3, 10, 1765.

9A tear in the MS at this point makes the reading of this word uncertain, but “or” looks more probable than “and.”

1Whatever the reader’s views may be with regard to the Stamp Act and the men appointed as distributors in the colonies, John Hughes deserves a little sympathy at this point: he was suffering painfully from a carbuncle. See below, p. 300.

2A full account of the events of Saturday, Oct. 5, 1765, and later in connection with this affair is given in Morgan, Stamp Act Crisis, pp. 249–54, based on unpublished letters from Hughes to the British officials and on accounts and documents printed in Pa. Gaz., Oct. 10, 1765, and Pa. Jour., Oct. 10, 1765, and Sept. 4, 1766, Supplement. Wharton was in error in saying that Hughes promised on Saturday, the 5th, to resign on Monday, the 7th. What he did tell the delegation from the crowd at the State House that visited his sickbed on Saturday was that he would do nothing “to carry that Law into Execution here, until it is generally complied with in the other Colonies.” Later that day he received a written demand for “Assurance, under his Hand, that he will not execute that Office,” and would provide “a fair, candid and direct Answer” by 10 o’clock Monday morning. On the 7th, following a further interview with the delegation, he signed a paper repeating his oral pledge of Saturday and extending its effect to the three Lower Counties as well as Pennsylvania. Pa. Gaz., and Pa. Jour., Oct. 10, 1765. The account in the two papers is in virtually identical language.

3In the election for assemblymen from the city Thomas Willing, running unopposed, received 1973 votes, but James Pemberton and George Bryan each received 902. On October 17 the new Assembly voted “after some Debate” that the speaker initiate proceedings for a special election to break the tie. The election took place on October 23; Pemberton won and took his seat, Jan. 7, 1766, when the Assembly met again after the customary autumn recess. Galloway’s report on election results, cited above; 8 Pa. Arch., VII, 5788, 5795, 5799; Pa. Col. Recs., IX, 287–88; Pa. Gaz., Oct. 24, 31, 1765. The rival paper, Pa. Jour., ignored the special election.

4Pa. Gaz., Sept. 26, 1765, reported that the delegates had set out that day to attend the “General Congress,” and a week later reported that they had arrived in New York on the 28th. Joseph Fox, also appointed a delegate, did not go, probably because he expected to be elected speaker of the new Pa. Assembly when it convened, as indeed he was.

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