Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from [Samuel Wharton], 13 October 1765

From [Samuel Wharton]5

AL (incomplete): American Philosophical Society

Philada. Octr. 13th 1765

Dear Sir

As I am without any of your Favors, I shall proceed to give you a Relation of such Matters, as have occur’d, for some time before and since Our Election.

The proprietary Party were greatly dispirited before there was an Expectation of a Change in the Ministry. But from the Moment They received that Intelligence, until We got an Account of it’s being perfected, They were in every Part of the Province, declaring, That now you had lost all your Influence and a change of Government would never take place. In short, such was their strange Infatuation, That the Day the News reached us,6 of the Ministry being changed, The Chief Justice went to the Coffee House and like another Stentor proclaimed to every Man, He met with That the Change of Ministry was One of the most happy Events, in favor of America and That there was not, the least Fear of an Alteration, of our Government; for that the Proprietors, had great Weight and Interest, with the present Ministers.7

The Day was spent, by the Enemys of the Province, in [blotted] Congratulations upon a Revolution, That They determind to be favorable to their Party and at night, the Bells rang, Bonfires were made and every Demonstration of Joy, given.

In the Evening, a large Mob was collected at the Coffee House and the Party declared, That your House, Mr. Hughs’s Mr. Galloways and Mine should be leveled with the Street; for that you had obtained the Stamp Act and We were warm Advocates for the carrying it, into Execution.

This Behaviour roused Our Friends. A Number of Them therefore, called upon the Magistrates to do their Duty, Whilst Others (among whom, was every Mechanick, Who rowed you from Chester to the Ship8) met at the Widow Gray’s and associated for the Preservation, of the Peace of the City. Intelligence of this, being brought to the Coffee House,9 The Abettors to the pulling down of Our Houses, began to dread, that the same might be executed upon theirs, Therefore quietly retired to their respective Homes. When the sober Inhabitants, ordered the Watchmen to extinguish the Fires.

The next Day the Proprietary Officers and their Presbiterian Allies, began afresh, in preparataris, to the Election, basely to calumniate you, confidently urging, That you had proposed the double Stamps upon Dutch papers &c.1 and That unless every Friend of yours, was removed from the House, you would be continued in England and new and greater Invasions, would be made, upon Our Priviledges.

In a few Words, They industriously sounded the Alarm of Danger and pleased themselves with the Hope, That the Stamp Act might give Birth, to as much prejudice, among the Ignorant, against You As the harmless Word, Boor had done last year. They did not stop here, But to do Them Justice, They formed some tolerable Plans, to divide us, in Bucks and Chester.

In the latter, They employed some of the Quaker Justices, Who live about Downing’s Town, On Lancaster Road, To represent to their Friends in that Quarter, That the Place, where the County Town [remainder missing.]2

Benjamin Franklin Esqr.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Identified by the handwriting.

6For other accounts of the events of September 16, after authentic news reached Philadelphia of the fall of the Grenville ministry, see the letters from John Hughes and DF, above, pp. 266, 271–4. Wharton adds some details not found in those letters.

7If Chief Justice William Allen had by then received Thomas Penn’s letter of July 13, 1765, he certainly overstated the Proprietor’s optimistic comment on the change in ministry. Penn had said: “I hope I shall stand as well with this Ministry as is necessary for me. General Conway, our Secretary of State, I do not know, but shall be recommended to him by some of his greatest Friends, but as he is a Man of honour, and I have no dirty Schemes to propose, I think we must agree.” Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa.

8BF had been “rowed on board the Ship King of Prussia … by Ten Freeholders of the White-Oak Company, in their Barge, they attending on Purpose.” From an anonymous letter from Philadelphia, Nov. 23, 1764, printed in North Carolina Magazine … for 1764, pp. 226–7, as quoted by J. Philip Gleason in “A Scurrilous Colonial Election and Franklin’s Reputation,” 3 Wm. and Mary Quar., XVIII (1961), 83. The White Oak Barges, apparently a largely social organization of artisans and “Mechanicks,” conducted an annual fishery and other gatherings on the New Jersey side of the Delaware beginning in 1767. Carl Bridenbaugh, Cities in Revolt Urban Life in America, 1743–1776 (N.Y., 1955), p. 363. Its members were obviously anti-proprietary in political sentiment.

9The London Coffee House on the corner of Front and Market Streets, operated by William Bradford and a gathering place for the proprietary faction and its supporters.

1The Stamp Act provided that any document written or printed in any language other than English should pay double the tax imposed on one in English, but for a five-year period this provision should not apply in Quebec or Grenada. Presumably the charge that BF was responsible for this feature of the act would remind the German inhabitants of the colony that he had once called them “Palatine Boors.”

2The surviving text breaks off here, at the end of the second page. What scheme the proprietary party undertook at Downingtown, which Wharton seems to have gone on to describe, has not been determined. Downingtown, approximately halfway between Philadelphia and Lancaster, had earlier been called Milltown because saw, hemp, fulling, oil and other mills were located there. John Downing established the King in Arms tavern there in 1760. PMHB, XLII (1918), 24, 27–8.

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