Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Thomas Wharton, 11 November 1766

From Thomas Wharton

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Philada. Nov 11 1766

My Dear Friend.

My last was on the 24th. Ult. since which I received thy kind Favour of the 13th. Sep.5 for which I thank thee. And rejoice to find the Tour thou took into Germany, proved servicable to thee; and restored the Health of One, whom many look upon, as the great Instrument in saving both our Mother-Country and this Continent from Ruin.

The kind sentiments, thou expresses relative to my little Babe, have closely affected its Parents.6

Immediately on receiving thy Letter, I communicated thy Sentiments to our Friend, G. Ashbridge, which afforded him real Pleasure.7

I return thee my thanks for thy kind Intentions of writing to Springet Penn:8 I know, that, Edward Penington is his Agent; but he hath no power to sell.

It will give me particular Pleasure to receive from thee, the Police of Amsterdam:9 And it must afford every true Lover of Mankind real satisfaction to find, that so large and populous a City, is govern’d, with such order, that it does not become necessary to make a Capital-Execution in 7 years!1 We are in great Hopes, that, the Work-House now erecting will greatly contribute to restore the Manners, and rectify the Lives of many dissolute Persons;2 as well as Implant in the Minds of the rising Youth, the Habit of Frugality and Industry. Our present Building is about 600 Feet in length by 44 in depth, and forms a hollow Square, with a Piaza all the way in Front, looking into the Yard.

It gives us great Pleasure, that, thou approves the Illinois Scheme; and altho’ it was at that time thought it might be prudent to take in two Persons, such as thou should approve of, yet I conceive it will by no means be disagreable to our Company should thou enlarge the Number, if a proportionable number of Acres be granted.3

Our Governor, a few days past received a new Commission, which, I understand vests him with that power for three Years longer.4

The Bearer hereof, John Morton, being on a visit to his aged Parents, has requested the pleasure of delivering this Letter to thee, in order that he may see a Person, whom he much respects.5 He is a Man of a fair Character, and one who has contributed to the Freedom of this City.

Our friend, Ross6 is in the Country, shall not fail of informing him of thy kind Sentiments—as soon as I have the pleasure of seeing him.

Our Friend, Galloway sent thee by the Packet, (which sailed a few days past) the Resolves of our Assembly and their Instructions relative to the Change of Government;7 and as he has informed thee of the additional Clause shall not trouble thee with my Sentiments.8

I find by a N’York-Paper of the 10th. Inst., that, its possitively asserted, that Governor Moore has received Instructions from London to assent to Bills, which may be offered by the Assembly for the Emission of Paper-Currency.9

We are informed that, Sir. Wm. Johnson has had a Treaty with Pondiac and a great number of Southern-Indians, at Oswego; and that he has settled Matters to their Satisfaction.1

I know of nothing particularly new among us at this time; Therefore conclude with informing thee, that my Father desires his sincere Respects may be paid thee, and be pleased to accept the same from Thy real Friend

Tho Wharton

To Benjamin Franklin Esqr

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Neither Wharton’s letter of October 24th nor BF’s of September 13th has been found.

6For the birth of a son whom Wharton named for BF, see above, p. 252, and for the baby’s death, above, p. 338.

7In May Wharton had reported the helpfulness of George Ashbridge of Goshen, assemblyman from Chester Co., in defending BF to the “Country Members”; above, p. 273.

8Wharton was interested in acquiring some Philadelphia lots Springett Penn had inherited; above, p. 283. If BF wrote to Springett on this matter prior to the young man’s death, the letter has not been found.

9Probably a pamphlet or an official or unofficial report dealing with the administration of Amsterdam, including its protective services. BF could have acquired such a document, perhaps through his friends the Hopes, while passing through Holland on his way to or from Germany.

1It should be remembered that in the eighteenth century most crimes regarded as major were punishable by death.

2On the new almshouse or “Bettering House,” see above, p. 262 n. In a letter dated Sept. 12, 1766, Governor John Penn wrote his uncle, Thomas Penn, that the managers were applying for two lots in the city belonging to the Proprietors and had begun to erect “a very large building” on the site. Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa.

3The Articles of Agreement for the Illinois Co., had permitted the addition of two other members, but in his letter of Sept. 12, 1766, to WF, his father had expressed the wish that he had been allowed to name more than two British participants, thereby increasing “the weight of interest” in Great Britain; above, p. 415. He had probably expressed the same wish in the missing letter of September 13 to Wharton.

4On Nov. 15, 1766, John Penn informed his Council that he had received from the Proprietors a new commission reappointing him lieutenant governor of the province of Pennsylvania and the Lower Counties for three years from Dec. 1, 1766, when his present commission would expire; and that he had also received two orders in council, both dated August 8, one formally approving his appointment and the other authorizing the governor of New York, “or any other of His Majesty’s Governors in the neighbouring Provinces,” to administer the oaths Penn was required by law to take. Penn informed the Council that he planned to get Governor Sharpe of Maryland to perform this service. Pa. Col. Recs., ix, 345–7. His ignoring of the more conveniently located but politically hostile governor of New Jersey was obvious.

5This John Morton has not been identified. He could hardly have been the John Morton of Chester Co., with whom BF had been associated in the Assembly and who would need no introduction. That man had just been appointed sheriff of Chester Co.

6John Ross.

7Above, pp. 465–7.

8The “additional Clause” was probably the passage in the instructions directing that, if the petition for a change in government “should be finally rejected” by the Privy Council, the agents were not to petition Parliament without first getting the approval of the Assembly.

9This report was printed in Pa. Gaz., Nov. 13, 1766. Additional instructions, dated July 15, 1766, were sent to Gov. Henry Moore of New York, revoking his former instructions on paper money and permitting him to assent to a measure for issuing not more than £260,000 in bills of credit under certain conditions, including ample provision for their retirement within five years and the inclusion of a clause suspending the act until the King’s pleasure should be known. Leonard W. Labaree, ed., Royal Instructions to British Colonial Governors 1670–1776 (N.Y., 1935), i, 228–9.

1For Johnson’s treaty at Oswego, July 23–31, 1766, with Pontiac and the Southern (more accurately, Western) Indians, see N.Y. Col. Docs., vii, 854–67. Johnson commented on this meeting to Baynton, Wharton, and Morgan, Sept. 16, 1766, saying it had been “much to my satisfaction and beyond my expectations.” Johnson Papers, xii, 182.

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