Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Thomas Wharton, 30 December 1765

From Thomas Wharton

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Philada. Decemr. 30. 1765

My Dear Friend

I wrote thee a few Lines on the 18th Inst.—and two days past was favoured with thy Letter of the 26th Sepr.8 for which I thank thee: the same being deliver’d me by N. Evans who arrived in Cap. Sparks.9 Which day and the following arrived also Capts. Hammitt and Robinson, and We are pleased to find that the Cargoes of these three Vessels do not make up the value of One formerly.1 The perusal of thy Letter to our Friend Galloway2 affords me real satisfaction, in that thou mentions the “Petition being really presented, and that thou has no reason to doubt of its success.” Our Proprietor, and James Hamilton wrote their Friends that it was not presented, nor do they beleive thou will do it, and that they have nothing to fear, indeed it’s said that Rd. Peters has declared since his return that it was not delivered, nor could he learn that thou had done the least in the Affair; thus the Matter stands.3 We who are for a change have the utmost Confidence in thee, and doubt not thy having laid such a Foundation on which thou’l be able to rear this noble Structure: a Change from the Shackles of a Prop—y Governm—t, to the Freedom of a Royal One.

Understanding thou art not subject to the Expence of Postage—I have enclosed thee our last News-Paper, which as it contains the general Sentiments of the Eastern People, so it is a lively Picture of the C—rt side here.4 Capt. Sparks imprudently landed a small Package of Stamp’d Paper on the wharf: It was immediately communicated to the People, who gathered in great Numbers and it was with difficulty that they were induced to be Quiet; and the Package re-shipt till it could be put on board Cap. Hawker:5 Captn. Robinson took a more prudent step, his Owner immediately applied to J. Hughes, who informed him that he could not take the least charge of them; then the Captain made application to the Governor, who has engaged to send them also on board Cap. Hawker.6 Thus We at present rest.

There’s no business as yet done in our Courts, nor is the Port of N’York opened. I remain thy affectionate Friend.

Tho Wharton

Addressed: For / Benjamin Franklin Esqr. / Deputy Post master General of / North Ame [blotted] / In / Craven Street / London

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Neither of the letters mentioned here has been found.

9For Nathaniel Evans, returning to Philadelphia after ordination by the Bishop of London, see above, X, 423 n. Pa. Gaz., Jan. 2, 1766, reported the arrival on December 26 of the brig Mary and Elizabeth, Capt. J. Sparks, with the Rev. Richard Peters, the Rev. Nathaniel Evans, and Miss Elizabeth Graeme among the passengers, and the arrival of the ships Prince George, Capt. J. Robinson, and Dragon, Capt. F. Hammett, all three from London.

1While news of the non-importation agreements could not have reached London before these vessels sailed, it would appear that individual merchants had begun to cut down their orders from Great Britain some time earlier, probably in expectation of a sharp decline in American sales in consequence of the impending Stamp Act.

2Not found; probably a letter of September 26, which Galloway later acknowledged having received.

3BF had told John Hughes, August 9, of an appointment with Secretary Conway for the 14th, when he supposed the petition would be presented; above, p. 235. On Jan. 14, 1766, a letter from Richard Jackson to the Committee of Correspondence, dated Nov. 9, 1765, was laid before the Assembly, in which he reported that the petitions had been presented. 8 Pa. Arch., VII, 5827. On November 22 the Privy Council took up the petitions and voted to postpone consideration “for the present.” Acts Privy Coun., Col., IV, 741. In a letter of Nov. 30, 1765, to Governor Penn (certainly not yet received when Wharton wrote) Thomas Penn reported that the petitions had been considered by the King in Council “and resolved not to be proper for further consideration, but by his Majesty’s order postponed, sine die, that is (to use my Lord Presidents own expression) for ever and ever.” Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa.

4The issue of Pa. Gaz. for Dec. 26, 1765, contained news of further actions against the Stamp Act in Boston, Connecticut, and New York, a demonstration in Maryland to the same purpose, and a report that the inhabitants of the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis had followed the example of the mainland colonies in effectively resisting the act. There was no important news from Philadelphia. Wharton probably meant by his reference to “the C-rt side here” a suggestion that the same sort of disturbances would take place in Pennsylvania as were happening elsewhere if the proprietary leaders should gain the upper hand.

5Pa. Gaz., and Pa. Jour., Jan. 2, 1766, reported that one small package of stamped paper had arrived aboard the Mary and Elizabeth, which by the “Imprudence” or “indiscretion” of Sparks’s mate was landed on the wharf, with the consequences Wharton describes here. Hawker commanded H.M.S. Sardine.

6Captain Robinson of the Prince George had fourteen packages of stamped paper on board, but neither he nor any member of his crew attempted to land them. A skit in London Chron., March 20–22, 25–27, 1766, in the form of a biblical parody entitled “The First Book of the Marks,” describes the colonial resistance to the Stamp Act. Chap. II, verses 14–20, set forth the Philadelphia episode involving Captains Robinson and Sparks, only slightly disguising their names as “Thomas the son of Robin” and “William the Spark.” The entire skit concludes with this verse: “23. So there was great joy in the land, and the people cried out with a loud voice, No S---p, no S---p upon us or our children or our children’s children.”

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