From Thomas Wharton
ALS: American Philosophical Society
Philada. May 9. 1766
My Dear Friend.
I had the pleasure of writing thee a few Lines per Packet.8 Since which our Assembly met and have this day adjourned to meet the 2d of June next. It is with great pleasure that, I acquaint thee, that the reason for this short Adjournment is, that they may take the earliest Opportunity of returning to the King, Lords and Commons their unfeigned Thanks for the Repeal of the Stamp-Act. The Account of which (its not doubted) will reach this by that time. I understand the New York Assembly stands prorogued to the 20th. Instant for the same good end; and I have not a doubt but the New-Jersey House will chearfully prosecute the same Steps.
We have taken the lead to publish in our Papers, several Pieces tending to excite a prudent behaviour in the Inhabitants of the Continent on their receiving the Account of the Repeal, and I doubt not but that our People will conduct themselves well on the occasion.9
And rest assured my Friend, that the publication of sundry Paragraphs of Letters from London, respecting thy Conduct, and the emminent Services thou has done the Continent in general and this Province in particular has so effectually silenced the calumniating Principles of the Party that, they know not what to say.1
I find Doctr. Fothergill’s Letter to W.A. has had a good effect;2 as I am assured he has taken some pains to instruct their People, that it would be prudent not to be over zealous on the occasion.
Our worthy Friend G. Ashbridge3 has spared no pains to acquaint the Country Members of every thing which could tend to rivet their Affections for thee; And through the concuring Circumstances which we were enabled to acquaint them with the storm which was threatned by the Party vanished. Even the Giant4 himself could scarce find anything to vent his sentiments on; but was obliged to introduce it by asking if the Committee had Letters, and what they contained—to which he was so fully answered that he did not attempt to reassume the subject.5
I find J.F. is much pleased with receiving a Letter from thee,6 and altho’ it would be right for him to make returns therefor, yet, I hope my Friend will not discontinue his Correspondence with that Gentleman.
G. Croghan set off on the 4th Inst. for Pittsburgh and the Illinois in order to complete the great and salutary Work of fixing those numerous Tribes of Southern Indians in the English Interest.7
On the 5th Inst. came on the election of Managers for our Hospital, when the same sett were elected, except A. Strettell and D. Roberdeau in the stead of H. Harrison deceased and T. Gordon removed into the Country.8 We have admitted this last Year 454 Patients and our Expences have amounted to upwards of £1600. A Sum far superior to our Income! Yet from the charitable Disposition of our Inhabitants and some with you—especially the benevolent Doctr. Fothergill—our Fund is not lessened;9 but if we could receive the Interest arising on the Money which in the Year 1770 We are to receive from the London Land Company. it would be of particular Service.1
Thy family are all well. I remain with sincere respect thy real friend
P S I am pleasd to hear that my Friend Cowley has Acted so much in our favour. I have receivd a Letter from Him, wherein He mentions thee with great respect, I intend shortly to write Him.2
Addressed: For / Benjamin Franklin / Esqr. / Deputy Postmaster General / of No. America / In Craven street / London / per / Via Ireland
8. Not found; Wharton’s letter of April 26 was sent by a ship bound for Liverpool, not by the packet.
9. Several such letters were printed, in full or in extract, in Pa. Gaz., and Pa. Jour., May 1 and 8, 1766. The text of the repealing act reached Philadelphia on the Minerva, Capt. Thomas Wise, on the morning of May 19. Both Pa. Gaz. and Pa. Jour., issued supplements containing the text of the act the same day, and in their issues of May 22 described the local celebration. Both papers stressed the propriety and restraint of the demonstrations, the Journal commenting that “notwithstanding the great and glorious cause of our present rejoicings, not one single instance of that kind of triumph so much dreaded by our friends and wished for by our enemies in England, has escaped the warmest son of liberty in this city.”
1. In its issues of May 1 and 8, 1766, Pa. Gaz., printed extracts from six letters particularly praising BF’s services; the same issues of Pa. Jour., printed three of these extracts.
2. Though not specifically identified in print as to writer or recipient, the letter from Fothergill to William Allen may have been one of those mentioned in the second note above.
3. George Ashbridge of Goshen, Chester Co., was a member of the Assembly, 1743–73.
4. William Allen.
5. On the criticism of BF for failing to write directly to the speaker and Committee of Correspondence, see above, pp. 260–2, 276–7.
6. Probably BF’s letter of March 1 to Speaker Fox, sent by the packet, not that of February 24, sent by a private individual.
7. George Croghan’s trip to conciliate the Indians had been approved by Sir William Johnson and General Gage. It was part of Johnson and Croghan’s plan that he should lay the groundwork for a settlement in which they and other land speculators were interested.
8. Amos Strettell, an assemblyman, was a political opponent of BF. Daniel Roberdeau, a former assemblyman politically allied to BF, had served as a Hospital manager, 1756–58. Henry Harrison, former mayor of the city, died Jan. 3, 1766, Pa. Gaz., Jan. 9, 1766. Thomas Gordon (above, VII, 392 n) advertised in Pa. Jour., June 26, 1766, that a quantity of his household furniture was to be sold and that his house in Lodge Alley was available for lease.
9. The Hospital annual report was printed in Pa. Gaz., July 10, 1766. It showed £1591 9s. current operating expenses. New contributions of £709 12s. 4d., included a gift of £250 from Dr. Fothergill, and legacies received totaled £380 8s. 4d. Other sources of what may be called current income appear to have produced a total of £1190 16s. 7½d.
1. Certain lands granted by William Penn in 1699 had passed into the hands of individuals who formed a company called the Proprietors of the Pennsylvania Land Company in London, and in 1720 the rights were divided into 8,800 shares. By 1760 most of the land had been sold but claimants to some of the shares could not be found. In 1760 Parliament passed an act establishing a group of trustees, headed by Dr. Fothergill, who were to hold the unclaimed shares and place the money due them in the Bank of England, distribute the amounts due to individuals whose claims could be proved, and retain the rest until June 24, 1770, at which time the remaining funds were to be paid over to the Pennsylvania Hospital. A decision of the lord chancellor was recorded in the minutes of the Hospital Managers, May 26, 1766, authorizing the investment of the funds—by then amounting to nearly £6500 sterling—in 3 percent bank annuities. Thomas G. Morton and Frank Woodbury, The History of the Pennsylvania Hospital 1751–1895 (Phila., 1895), pp. 250–4.
2. On Thomas Crowley, eccentric London Quaker, see above, p. 121 n. In PMHB, xvii (1893), 212, is printed a letter from Crowley, Feb. 24, 1766, to an unidentified correspondent, in which he warmly praises BF’s services in promoting repeal of the Stamp Act. This may well be the letter to which Wharton has reference.