From Joseph Galloway
ALS: American Philosophical Society
Philada. Octr. 28th. 1766.
It was with real Concern, we received the News of a Change of Ministry, as we conclude it will Retard, and, we fear will totally prevent the Change of Government, which we have made so noble a Struggle to obtain.7 Our Proprietary Enemies hesitate at Nothing that tends to discourage every further Application for Relief. The C.J.8 is continually publishing the great Interest of the Proprietaries with Lord Shelbourne, and his great Friendship for them—His Intermarriage with a Neice of Lady Juliana &c. &ca., And a few Days ago in the Course of the Debates in the House,9 he declared, that he had received a Letter from a Gentleman of undoubted Credit, (whose Name he took Care to conceal, tho called on to mention it) assuring him That you had applied to Secretary Conway for a Hearing on the Petitions at the last Season of Buisiness, “That the Secretary Rebuked you on the Occasion”, and told you, “that the Petitions were laid aside by his Majesty in Council sine Die, with an Intent never to be resumed, desired that you woud not again attempt to obtain any further proceedings on them, For if you did, you might depend, you wou’d meet with such an Answer as woud be neither agreable to you or to the Assembly you represented.” Altho the Chief Part of our Friends do not beleive this Declaration or any thing else that comes from the same Quarter without some Proof to Support it, Yet as it has some weight with the Weak and Credulous, I should be glad to have it in my Power to deny it. Be so good therefore, if it be not improper, to inform me in this Matter1—and further how the Petitions for a Change of Government is likely to be affected by the Change of Ministry—What is the Prospect of the Change? What Course it is likely to take, and where effected, if it shoud be effected? And particularly if any thing is wanting, which the Assembly can do, to Strengthen your Hands. Because from the present Temper of both Assembly and People, I think they will leave nothing undone, to get rid of the present Government, provided their priviledges remain safe. And if any other Mode shall be thought more likely to be crownd with Success, than the present I am confident, they will do all in their Power to effect their Purpose. Shoud you think it prudent to commit the Information I have mentioned to writing, you may be assured, whatever you communicate to me shall be confined to the Limits (whatever they be) prescribed by your Self and not one Iota further.2 And yet, the Propriety of doing this, is entirely Submitted to you, who, being on the Spot where the thing is to be Transacted, must be the best Judge. Beleive me, my Dear Friend, with great Sincerity yours Affectionately
Benja. Franklin Esqr.
[In the margin:] I enclose with this a Letter to Mr. J.3 open, which be pleased to Seal and deliver to him unless you think he may think I am forward in giving the Explanation of the Sense of the House. Then retain it.
I received your Favor per Capt. Chancellor on Saturday last5—I was not uneasy about the Copies of my Letters, I was much so on Account of our poor Friend H —who of his own Hand, without consulting his Friends, I fear has wrote many indiscreet things to the Commissioners of the Stamps and the Treasury and they as indiscreetly have suffered them to become publick. He is now truly distressed—and much disliked by the People of both Parties. A few of his Friends are determined to support him, and I hope in a Short Time, he will recover his Spirits, tho not his Popularity. Humanum est errare—But it is the Nobility of Humanity to pass over with Tenderness the Mistakes of our Friends. You will have Seen before this comes to hand, what wicked Pains have been taken to Slander him and my Self. Their Venom affected him, but has raised me still higher in the Favor and Opinion of my Country. I wish some Method coud be fallen on to raise him once More above the Malice of his unrelenting Enemies.
Our Friends never discovered greater Firmness or more Activity than in the last Election—The Wharton Family in particular Your Antient and my late, worthy friend Mr. Roberts, &c. &ca. &ca. And so Complete has our Victory been, that it is generally thought, the Proprietary Party another Year will not attempt an Opposition.6 Dear Friend once more Adieu.
Our new Mode of Electing is acknowledged by Both Parties to be a very good one. It gives great dispatch, and prevents much Perjury and Fraud, so that we hope it will meet with the Royal Approbation.7
Our Worthy Friend Joseph Wharton the Elder just now comes in and desires to be kindly remembered to you, and that I would assure you of his best Prayers and wishes.
7. Rumors of the impending change in the Ministry were reported in Pa. Gaz. and Pa. Jour., Sept. 11, 1766, and the news became steadily more circumstantial and detailed in the later issues of that month.
8. William Allen, whose attacks on BF and support of the Penns in the Assembly have been mentioned several times in letters to BF.
9. Probably during the debates on the instructions sent to Jackson and BF on October 18, for as soon as that matter was concluded the Assembly adjourned to Jan. 5, 1767. 8 Pa. Arch., vii, 5943–8. If the conversation between BF and Conway took place approximately as reported in the passage that follows, it almost certainly happened sometime between Nov. 22, 1765, when the Privy Council postponed consideration of the petition “for the present,” and May 24, 1766, when Conway exchanged his secretaryship for the Southern Department for that for the Northern Department and so gave up his responsibility for colonial affairs. It seems unlikely that Conway would have treated BF quite as brusquely as Allen reported, however discouraging he may have been.
1. Nothing has been found in BF’s letters to Galloway or elsewhere in his papers either to confirm or to deny the accuracy of Allen’s report.
2. Galloway may have remembered how a copy of a letter by BF to the former speaker, Isaac Norris, in 1758, calling Thomas Penn a “low Jockey,” had fallen into Penn’s hands and had caused much trouble; above, VII, 360–2; viii, 312–13. Galloway was promising no similar leaks during his speakership.
3. Richard Jackson, BF’s fellow agent. Galloway’s letter to him has not been found.
4. This postscript appears on the same sheet as the earlier part of the letter.
5. Probably BF’s letter of September 27, in which he reported that Hugh Williamson was reading letters from Galloway to BF, or vice versa, aloud in the coffee house; above, pp. 425–6. Galloway’s comments below suggest a belief that Williamson was also responsible for making public John Hughes’s indiscreet letters to British officials, recently printed in Pa. Jour.
6. For the anti-proprietary party’s clear victory in the election of October 1, 1766, see above, p. 447 n.
7. A new law enacted Feb. 8, 1766 (Statutes at Large, Pa., vii, 32–40) introduced several reforms in the system. The voters in each township or district were to meet prior to the Assembly election and choose one inspector (two from each ward in the city) to join with other inspectors and officials in the county or city election in handling the voting in ways that would help to insure against fraud. Uniform polling hours were specifically set for the first time, and the voting in Philadelphia was transferred from the Court House in the middle of Market Street (declared by the act to be “inconvenient and improper” for the purpose) to the State House (Independence Hall). Sister Joan de Lourdes Leonard, “Elections in Colonial Pennsylvania,” 3 Wm. and Mary Quar., xi (1954), 385–401, esp. 394–8.